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University of Georgia Alumni Association unveils 2014 Bulldog 100 rankings

The University of Georgia Alumni Association honored the 100 fastest growing companies owned or operated by UGA alumni during the fifth annual Bulldog 100 Celebration Jan. 25 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.

The 2014 fastest growing business was Social Empowerment Center, founded and owned by UGA graduates and husband and wife duo, Rachelle and Edward Hutchinson. Located in Lawrenceville, Social Empowerment Center offers support to families in crisis, including mental health and indigent services. This was the company's first appearance on the Bulldog 100. Rachelle D. Hutchinson, a 2000 graduate of UGA's School of Social Work, is the first female and the first minority business owner to lead the No. 1 company since the program began in 2010.

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UGA researchers discover origin of unusual glands in the body

The thymus gland is a critical component of the human immune system that is responsible for the development of T-lymphocytes, or T-cells, which help organize and lead the body's fighting forces against harmful organisms like bacteria and viruses.

The main body of the thymus lies beneath the breastbone in the upper chest. But scientists were surprised several years ago when two teams of researchers discovered that both mice and humans have extra thymus-like glands distributed throughout their necks.

Now, researchers at the University of Georgia have published findings in Nature Communications that reveal where these extra glands come from and help explain what roles the extra thymuses may play in the complex network of the body's natural defense systems.

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Two UGA geneticists receive $1 million NSF CAREER Awards

Andrea Sweigart and David Nelson, assistant professors in the department of genetics in the University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, have each been awarded grants from the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program. The five-year, $1 million grants support junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

"NSF CAREER awards are among the NSF's most prestigious. They are designed to identify the best and brightest up-and-coming scientists," said Allen Moore, professor and head of the department of genetics. "Our department is thrilled to have two awardees this year, which replicates our success in 2012. In addition to being outstanding researchers, all four faculty have undergraduate researchers in their laboratories, thereby exposing our students to the very best evolutionary and molecular genetics research."

Sweigart and Nelson join Kelly Dyer and Douglas Menke as recipients of the NSF CAREER award from the department of genetics since 2012.

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Georgia College Advising Corps staff member recognized by President Obama

Lawrence Harris, a college adviser at Clarke Central High School in Athens and a member of the Georgia College Advising Corps, a program sponsored by the University of Georgia's Institute of Higher Education and part of the national College Advising Corps, was recognized by President Barack Obama at the White House summit on expanding college access held on Jan. 16.

"Lawrence went to the University of Georgia, and like a lot of first-generation college students it wasn't easy for him," Obama said. "He had to take remedial classes. He had to work two part-time jobs to make ends meet. At one point, he had to leave school for a year while he helped support his mom and his baby brother. Those are the kinds of just day-to-day challenges that a lot of these young people with enormous talent are having to overcome. Now, he stuck with it. He graduated.

"But now he's giving back. He's made it his mission to help other young people like him graduate, as a college advisor at Clarke Central High School in Athens, Georgia. And today the National College Advising Corps, the program that placed Lawrence in Clarke Central, is announcing plans to add 129 more advisors who will serve more than 80,000 students over the next three years."

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UGA presents Presidents Fulfilling the Dream Awards

The University of Georgia presented three awards to community members working toward equality, diversity and justice Jan. 17 as part of the 11th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Breakfast sponsored by UGA, the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government and the Clarke County School District.

Mark Dawkins, associate dean for academic programs and an associate professor of accounting in the Terry College of Business; Ernest Hardaway, assistant superintendent of human resources for the Clarke County School District; and Dervin Cunningham, a fourth-year biological science major, all received the 2014 President's Fulfilling the Dream Awards for their work in the Athens-Clarke County community to make King's dream of equality and justice a reality.

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Grady College professor to serve as consultant for polio eradication initiative

Glen Nowak, a professor in the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, has been tapped to provide communication leadership for a key part of the global polio eradication effort.

As part of a six-month assignment with the Task Force for Global Health, Nowak, director of the UGA Center for Health and Risk Communication, will be helping develop and implement a communication strategy for a worldwide effort to get 124 countries that are currently only using oral polio vaccines to introduce at least one dose of inactivated polio vaccine to their childhood immunization programs by the end of 2015.

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Georgia Gov. Deal includes construction of UGA Science Learning Center in budget

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has included $44.7 million for the construction of a Science Learning Center on the University of Georgia's South Campus in his budget proposal submitted to the General Assembly on Jan. 15.

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved UGA's request for design and construction of the approximately 122,500-square-foot facility in September as part of its fiscal year 2015 budget request to the governor.

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Poison-breathing bacteria may be boon to industry, environment

Buried deep in the mud along the banks of a remote salt lake near Yosemite National Park are colonies of bacteria with an unusual property: they breathe a toxic metal to survive. Researchers from the University of Georgia discovered the bacteria on a recent field expedition to Mono Lake in California, and their experiments with this unusual organism show that it may one day become a useful tool for industry and environmental protection.

The bacteria use elements that are notoriously poisonous to humans, such as antimony and arsenic, in place of oxygen, an ability that lets them survive buried in the mud of a hot spring in this unique saline soda basin. 

UGA has applied for patents to protect these unique processes as well as the bacterium itself, and they are currently testing the bacteria's efficacy in different environments and conditions to discover how the bacteria react when they are exposed to a variety of metals simultaneously.

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New aspirin-based prodrug may prevent damage caused by chemotherapy

Researchers at the University of Georgia have developed a new prodrug that promises to reduce many of the negative side effects caused by cisplatin, a commonly prescribed chemotherapy treatment. Reducing these negative side effects will not only provide the patient with a better quality of life during and after treatment, but it may also make oncologists less hesitant to prescribe cisplatin.