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UGA unveils 40 Under 40 Class of 2018

The University of Georgia Alumni Association has unveiled the 40 Under 40 Class of 2018. This program began in 2011 and celebrates the personal, professional and philanthropic achievements of UGA graduates who are under the age of 40. The honorees will be recognized during the eighth annual 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon on Sept. 13 at the Georgia Aquarium.

This year’s class includes alumni from a variety of industries ranging from medicine to music. Among the honorees are Hulu’s Emmy Award-winning Producer Chase Cain, Georgia football alumnus Mohamed Massaquoi, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Complex Care Medical Director Dr. Margaux Charbonnet Murray, Vice President of Mercedes-Benz Stadium Corporate Partnerships Tameka Rish, Director of the National Security Council Latham Saddler, and co-founder of Google’s Area 120 incubator Adrianna Samaniego.

“We look forward to announcing the 40 Under 40 class each year, because this program demonstrates the far and wide reach of our incredible graduates,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of alumni relations. “These young alumni are giving back to their communities and reshaping their professions—they deserve to be celebrated.”

Profiles of the members of the 40 Under 40 Class of 2018 are available here.

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UGA Libraries to preserve local public broadcasts

Some 4,000 hours of programming produced by public radio and television stations between 1941 and 1999 will be digitized and made available to the public, thanks to a federal grant for the Brown Media Archives at the University of Georgia Libraries.

UGA’s archives and the WGBH Educational Foundation will partner with the American Archive of Public Broadcasting to administer the grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to preserve and provide access to the programs, all of which were submitted to the George Foster Peabody Awards.

By adding the programs to the archive, this project will ensure that preservation copies are maintained at the Library of Congress for posterity. This will also expand access from only on-site at the Brown Media Archives to the American Archive of Public Broadcasting’s public website and on-site research locations.

“Each program was submitted to the Peabody Awards by its creators as an exemplar of their finest work. These materials were made for the benefit of the American public, but the American public has not had access to them,” said Ruta Abolins, Brown Media Archives director. “This project rectifies that situation. By preserving and providing access to these programs, we ensure that the original investment of public money in the creation of these programs pays off by extending the value of the work.”

The breadth and depth of the materials selected for preservation under this project will create opportunities to explore diverse topics and also allow researchers to deeply examine given topics from a variety of perspectives. 

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UGA partners with financial technology companies

A partnership between the University of Georgia and financial technology companies in Atlanta is boosting a booming sector in the region and priming Georgia MBA graduates for high-demand jobs.

Through a new program for students with a FinTech emphasis, 10 Terry College of Business MBA candidates partnered with the industry group FinTech Atlanta to apply their expertise to real-world projects from member companies.

The students spent four months working on two projects for FinTech company Global Payments under the guidance of faculty mentors and professional collaborators. The partnership was both educational and profitable, said Christopher Justice, president of Global Payments Gaming Solutions, a division of Global Payments.

“I couldn’t be happier with the results we achieved,” Justice said. “Several of our executives worked closely with the team and found the students to be creative, passionate problem solvers. Over the course of the semester, the two projects took on a life of their own. It’s clear these students provided a unique perspective we were otherwise missing. Because of these projects, Global has improved its product set while increasing the value of the overall sales pipeline. We’re excited about partnering with UGA on future projects.”

The FinTech sector focuses on the use of technology to facilitate everyday financial transactions. More than 100 FinTech companies are based in Atlanta and together process 70 percent of all credit, debit and prepaid card transactions in the U.S.

The unique program allows companies and students alike to reap substantial benefits and make new connections, said Richard Watson, a faculty advisor for the MBA project and the J. Rex Fuqua Distinguished Chair for Internet Strategy at the Terry College.

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First class of doctors graduates from residency program

Georgia needs more doctors. In fact, the entire country does. The University of Georgia and Augusta University are working to address this need.

In June, 10 residents from the initial class of the Medical College of Georgia at the Augusta University/ University of Georgia Medical Partnership Internal Residency Program marched in recognition of finishing their three-year residency program. Each was surrounded by their family members, mentors and other physicians who guided them along the way. Several graduates accepted positions in the state.

According to a 2017 study by the American Association of Medical Colleges, the U.S. is expected to face a shortage of between 40,800–104,900 doctors by 2030. This is fueled by a growing population, and an increase in the amount of aging Americans and retiring physicians. 

And in order to meet the national average of 36.6 physicians per 100,000 people, Georgia needs an additional 1,456 graduate medical education positions in various specialties such as family medicine, internal medicine and general surgery.

The Internal Medicine Residency Program, a joint effort of the AU/UGA Medical Partnership and St. Mary’s Health Care System, received accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in January 2014, becoming Athens’ first medical residency program. This program takes three years to complete and concentrates on producing community-based physicians.

Since the inception of the Medical Partnership residency program, an additional internal residency program has been established at Piedmont Athens Regional bringing an additional 15 residents to the Athens community each year. Combining the two programs, the total number of resident positions in Athens is now 85.

Studies have shown that residency programs help states retain their medical school graduates. According to a 2014 survey by the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce, Georgia kept 80 percent of those students who went to high school, medical school and completed their residency in the state.

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Libby Morris tapped as UGA's interim provost

University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead has named Libby V. Morris as interim senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, effective July 16. A seasoned administrator and prolific scholar, Morris directs UGA’s Institute of Higher Education (IHE) and holds the Zell Miller Distinguished Professorship of Higher Education.

“I want to express my deepest gratitude to Dr. Morris for her willingness to serve once again in this critical role,” said Morehead. “The University of Georgia is on a remarkable trajectory to new heights of excellence, and Dr. Morris will help ensure our great momentum continues and our major initiatives move forward during the national search for a permanent provost.”

This marks Morris’ second stint as interim provost. Morehead selected her for the role in July 2013 when he assumed the presidency following a three-year tenure as UGA’s provost. During her first interim assignment, Morris helped to expand interdisciplinary research and education, including overseeing a presidential hiring initiative to recruit more faculty members with interdisciplinary research interests. She also played a major role in launching the Science Learning Center building project.

“My thanks to President Morehead for entrusting me once again with this assignment,” said Morris. “I am honored to step away from IHE for a limited time to provide leadership and support to the university during this important transition.”

From 2010 to 2013, Morris served as vice provost for academic affairs at UGA, in which she coordinated two major hiring initiatives to boost the number of tenure and tenure-track faculty. She also coordinated the launch of the UGA Arts Council in that role and oversaw the council’s first Spotlight on the Arts festival, which has become one of the university’s signature annual events. Morris has been a faculty member in the university’s Institute of Higher Education since 1989 and has served as its director since 2006. She serves as the current editor of Innovative Higher Education, an international journal focused on innovations in post-secondary education.

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Pamela Whitten named president of Kennesaw State University

The Board of Regents named Pamela Whitten president of Kennesaw State University. She will begin her new position July 16.

Whitten has held the position of senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Georgia since 2014.

“Dr. Whitten brings a deep commitment toward building an outstanding academic experience for students, as well as an uncompromising dedication toward quality research and leadership that will serve KSU and its community well,” said University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley. “We are excited about the feedback from students, faculty and staff who participated in Dr. Whitten’s campus visits. I look forward to seeing KSU thrive as she takes this important role.”

As UGA’s chief academic officer, Whitten oversees instruction, research, public service and outreach, student affairs and information technology—a portfolio that includes 17 schools and colleges with 37,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Among other initiatives, during her tenure UGA hired 56 new faculty to reduce class sizes for undergraduates, increased external research support 37 percent, added 30 endowed chairs and professorships and increased summer enrollment by 25 percent. The campus also launched a new learning requirement to give undergraduates out-of-classroom experience through internships, research and other forms of experiential learning.

Prior to joining UGA, Whitten’s career included working as director for telemedicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center before she joined the faculty at Michigan State University, where she worked her way up through the faculty ranks before eventually serving as dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences.

She is an internationally recognized expert in the field of telemedicine—the remote delivery of health care services and information—and has conducted research with nearly $30 million in funding from agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Commerce. She has co-authored two books and published more than 100 peer-reviewed research articles and book chapters.

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UGA partners with food bank to promote healthy eating

Teaching people to grow, cook and eat healthy foods is the key goal of a partnership between the State Botanical Garden of Georgia at the University of Georgia and the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia. 

Camaria Welch, a graduate student in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, has created a curriculum of lesson plans and activities to help people understand the connection between nature and food, and how to develop healthy eating habits.

During a summer camp at the garden, Welch used the curriculum, called Bee Smart Eat Smart, to help 5 to 10 year olds plant seeds, decorate aprons and read books such as “Blueberries for Sal” by Robert McCloskey. They also did arts and crafts and participated in theater, acting out skits dressed as fruits and vegetables.

In addition to the camp, Welch is implementing a modified version of Bee Smart Eat Smart at the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia’s site in Clayton, Georgia. She will lead cooking classes for parents and children in the teaching kitchen on the Food Bank site.

In April, State Botanical Garden Education Director Cora Keber and Heather Alley, conservation horticulturist at the garden’s Mimsie Lanier Center for Native Plant Species, planted a pollinator garden at the Clayton food bank site, designed to draw bees, butterflies and other native pollinators to the vegetable and fruits growing outside the facility.

The food bank pollinator garden is part of a State Botanical Garden program called Connect to Protect. So far, more than 20 Connect to Protect gardens have been installed in Athens-Clarke County and surrounding areas, as well as in Macon and Atlanta.

The lesson plans, activities and materials that Welch developed for the Bee Smart Eat Smart program will be distributed to schools where Connect to Protect gardens are planted, and used in the State Botanical Garden of Georgia’s Alice H. Richard Children’s Garden, which is under construction and should open by early 2019.

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UGA is cyber ready to help state fight hacker attacks

Cybercrime takes one of our society’s great strengths—the Internet—and exploits its weaknesses. The threat seems inescapable, no matter where you are.

In 2017, a cyberattack forced the cancellation of thousands of medical operations and appointments at hospitals in the United Kingdom, a blackout in Ukraine was traced to malicious software, and Uber disclosed that hackers had breached a database with personal information of more than 57 million drivers and users. It hit closer home this March when cybercriminals held the City of Atlanta’s municipal network for ransom.

And that doesn’t even include the thousands of attempts per day to steal information and money through people’s personal devices.

According to government estimates, cyberattacks cost the U.S. economy between $50-$100 billion a year, and threats from cyberterrorism could put lives at risk. That’s why advancing cybersecurity is one of the University of Georgia’s great commitments.

In 2016, the university pooled its strengths in this field and formed the Institute of Cybersecurity and Privacy (ICSP), housed in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and part of the Georgia Informatics Institutes. The following year, the university was named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research, a designation that underscores the role UGA plays in strengthening America’s cyber defense capabilities. The institute’s research is funded by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Air Force, Department of Homeland Security, and several corporations.

“The University of Georgia is making great strides and is doing things very systematically to increase our cybersecurity research and engagement with the community, with the federal government, and internally,” says Kyle Johnsen, director of the Georgia Informatics Institutes and an associate professor of engineering.

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School of Law opens Veterans Legal Clinic

Beginning this month, veterans living in Georgia can receive legal assistance they may not otherwise have access to or be able to afford through the University of Georgia School of Law’s new Veterans Legal Clinic.

Georgia has the ninth largest population of veterans in the United States, many of whom return home with service-related disabilities and therefore rely on benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to 30-plus-year public service lawyer and educator Alexander W. “Alex” Scherr, who will direct the clinic’s operations.

“Law students will work directly with veterans and their dependents to ensure access to both benefits and services, especially for those with mental or physical disabilities resulting from their time in the military,” he said.

“No veteran should be denied benefits simply because they cannot afford legal assistance. We know that the involvement of an attorney can make a tremendous difference in outcome with regard to denied or deferred claims before the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,” Scherr said. “Our No. 1 goal is to improve how former servicemen and women receive assistance from the nation they have served.”

The school announced it would open the Veterans Legal Clinic last year after receiving initial funding from renowned trial attorney and 1977 law school alumnus James E. “Jim” Butler Jr. in memory of his father, Lt. Cmdr. James E. Butler Sr., who was a fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy. Butler Sr. was also the grandfather of James E. “Jeb” Butler III, a 2008 graduate of the law school.

Individuals seeking help from the clinic can call 706-542-6439 or send an email to veteranslegalclinic@uga.edu.

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CAES launches Certificate in Agricultural Data Science

From remote moisture sensors that produce a real-time feed of soil conditions to drones that use optical data to spot plant disease, new streams of data will fuel the next green revolution.

Remote sensing technologies will offer farmers the ability to customize irrigation and fertilizer applications for areas that have unique characteristics within fields, which will reduce ecological impacts and costs. However, putting precision agriculture strategies into practice requires agricultural scientists who are equipped to interpret the data that these sensors generate.

In fall 2018, the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will launch an Interdisciplinary Certificate in Agricultural Data Science to equip CAES graduate students with the data analysis expertise that they will need to capitalize on this big data revolution.

CAES’ certificate program will be one of the first of its kind in the nation.

Through the certificate, current and future CAES graduate students will plan a schedule of elective and related courses that will complement their agricultural research and expose them to a wide range of principles and practices of data analysis.

“The goal of the graduate certificate is to develop a curriculum that will produce cross-disciplinary and cross-functional, data-smart graduates who can bridge the gaps between the generation, analysis and interpretation of complex data in the agricultural field,” said Harald Scherm, professor and head of UGA’s department of plant pathology. “We’re not looking to train computer scientists, but we want them to be able to discuss data issues and incorporate analysis into their practice.”