Halloween edition

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pumpkins_.jpgHaunted college campus lists aside, Happy Halloween everyone! What's better than a ghost-y campus - where do we think all that venerable tradition, character and culture comes from, anyway? - than a town that knows how to celebrate Halloween? Hopefully it's one of the many great experiences UGA students take with them wherever they go from here. Tonight's the night - although, in Athens tonight started one week ago and runs through Sunday - so get out and have fun.

Image: wonderfully carved Cucurbits in the grand tradition.

Examining the history of plants

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Morning_glory.jpgIt sounds like the title of a cable documentary (a good one! And maybe it is) but scientists from North America, Europe and China have published a paper in PNAS that reveals important details about key transitions in the evolution of plant life on Earth:

From strange and exotic algae, mosses, ferns, trees and flowers growing deep in steamy rainforests to the grains and vegetables humans eat and the ornamental plants adorning people's homes, all plant life on Earth shares over a billion years of history.

"Our study generated DNA sequences from a vast number of distantly related plants, and we developed new analysis tools to understand their relationships and the timing of key innovations in plant evolution," said study co-author Jim Leebens-Mack, an associate professor of plant biology in the University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

As part of the One Thousand Plants, or 1KP, initiative, the research team is generating millions of gene sequences from plant species sampled from across the green tree of life. By resolving these relationships, the international research team is illuminating the complex processes that allowed ancient water-faring algae to evolve into land plants with adaptations to competition for light, water and soil nutrients.

Great stuff, congratulations to this international team. More lights come on and we are able to understand our world and how it works a little better.

Image: Morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea) is a beautiful flowering plant and agricultural weed. (Credit: Lindsay Chaney/Brigham Young University)

Negritud in Latin American Art

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Solis.jpgGreat panel discussion on tap tonight in the Lamar Dodd School of Art:

 The Dodd Galleries present a panel discussion on the exhibition "Negritud in Latin American Art" this evening in Gallery 101, 6-7pm.

Join Dodd art instructor Stanley Bermudez discuss his curated exhibition "Negritud in Latin American Art" with Lesley Feracho, associate professor in the department of romance languages and the Institute of African-American Studies and Ximena González-Parada, a PhD candidate in romance languages.​

That's tonight, in Gallery 101. 6-7pm. The exhibition features art from members of the Atlanta art collective Contrapunto and several New York artists, the works in this exhibition exemplify the often over-looked but integral influence of African culture on art of Latin America and the Caribbean. Artists featured in the exhibit include Dio-genes Abreu, Jorge Arcos, Stanley Bermúdez, Ismael Checo, Pedro Fuertes, Dora López, Alexis Mendoza, José Peña, Carlos Solis, Luis Stephenberg, Juana Valdes, & Reinaldo Vargas. Curated by Dodd art professor Stanley Bermudez and Atlanta artist Carlos Solis.

Faculty in the Media, October 2014

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From the Ebola outbreak to the eclipse of the Hunter's Moon to securing the White House, Franklin faculty answered reporter queries and authored popular press articles on a variety of subjects. A sampling from over the past month:

UGA to share National Science Foundation grantTina Salguero, assistant chemistry professor, is on one of nine research teams across the country to share an $18 million NSF grant “to investigate the promise of 2-D layered materials.”  Salguero will work with three University of California-Riverside researchers.

Sea floors host surprise methane-munching microbes, reports Nature.com.  “This is a niche that has been completely unaccounted for,” said professor of marine sciences Samantha Joye.

Is U.S. ready for a pandemic?Bloomberg essay by associate professor of history Stephen Mihm:  “Although the likelihood of a large-scale outbreak of Ebola is almost immeasurably tiny, Americans have begun to ask, ‘Who, really, is in charge of snuffing out a potential epidemic?’”

Guest Op-ed by Athletic Association Professor of Social Sciences Marshall Shepherd in the Washington Post on the Lesson from the weather community on Ebola

“Of Myself I Sing” – A New York Times column on narcissistic posts on Facebook quotes psychology professor W. Keith Campbell that those who are narcissistic offline also narcissistically overshare online.

Distilling more than a century of American Indian history into a digital map – history professor Claudio Saunt’s online interactive map is “a lesson in the power of public history, and a case study for a profession grappling with how to encourage and evaluate digital experimentation,” writes the Chronicle of Higher Education in a feature story.

Study by Ashley Barr, a recent doctoral graduate in the department of sociology explores connections between romantic relationships, health – Health Canal

Seeking Congressional ‘Buy In’ – The approach of asking Congress to approve a military operation “isn’t what the Founders imagined whey they envisioned the powers of ‘war and peace’ in the new United States,” Stephen Mihm wrrote in Bloomberg View.

Northrop Grumman joins NOAA Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador Initiative – Space Ref. Marshall Shepherd, past president of the American Meteorological Society and UGA Athletic Association Professor participated in a panel discussion on Sept. 18

Weather Channel’s Sam Champion to headline event on climate change – AJC article says the event will feature a discussion with a panel of experts, including Marshall Shepherd, director of UGA’s Atmospheric Sciences Program

Humans altering climate is nothing new, but today's scale is more massive – ABH article quotes Victor Thompson, anthropology professor

Q&A on the News (Israeli and Palestinian situation) – AJC answer includes Kevin Jones, assistant professor  of history

Kanye West: Narcissist of the Day – Time Magazine article quotes Keith Campbell

“Heart, mind and eye – the art of Lamar Dodd” – The Saporta Report recalls the life of the eminent UGA-based artist and faculty member on the 105th anniversary of his birth.

Air Force removes God from chain of command – San Antonio Express-News column by Stephen Mihm, associate professor of history, for Bloomberg News, syndicated widely.

Kudos, October 2014

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Signing_Reitz.jpgFranklin faculty and students continue to astound with extraordinary achievements and major contributions in scholarship, research and service. As sampling from the past month:

Elizabeth Jean Reitz was among one hundred-sixty four influential artists, scientists, scholars, authors, and institutional leaders who were inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences at a ceremony in Cambridge on Saturday, October 11.

Distinguished Research Professor of Physics and founding Director of the Center for Simulational Physics David Landau has been appointed to the Academic Advisory Council of the University of Heidelberg, Germany.

Wendy Zomlefer, associate professor of plant biology, received $74,385 from the National Science Foundation as part of a $2.5 million collaborative grant comprising 12 institutions, headed by Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.

Professor of industrial/organizational psychology Kecia Thomas was appointed associate dean for leadership development and diversity for the Franklin College.

Wenxuan Zhong, associate professor in the department of statistics, has been awarded a $1.44 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop predictive statistical models based on epigenetic change patterns.

A national exhibition at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, is highlighting the work of two alumni and one faculty member from the University of Georgia's Lamar Dodd School of Art.

Researchers in the department of psychology have developed a unique method of diagnosing the earliest stages of dementia by applying tasks commonly used to gauge levels of impulsive or risky behaviors related to financial decisions.

Melissa Harshman, associate professor in the Lamar Dodd School of Art and professor of psychology L. Stephen Miller will gain a deeper perspective on modern academic leadership as 2014-2015 SEC Academic Leadership Development Program Fellows.

The Academic Leadership Development Program Fellows program at UGA is part of the broader Academic Leadership Development Program of the Southeastern Conference.

University of Georgia researchers, led by Distinguishex Reseach professor and co-P.I. Michael Pierce have received a five-year $850,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to establish a glycoscience training program for pre-doctoral graduate students that will help train a new generation of carbohydrate researchers.

A team of students in the department of statistics recently won first place and $5,000 at the national SAS Analytics 2014 Conference in Las Vegas a national competition. The SAS Analytics Shootout Team from UGA is comprised of Wenbo Wu, Hejiao Hu, Linwei Hu, Lina Liao, Fei Liu, Xijue Tan, and Guannan Wang. Congratulations ot the team and faculty advisor Jaxk Reeves.

Image: Elizabeth Jean Reitz, Professor of Anthropology, signs the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Book of Members, a tradition that dates back to 1780.

Thomas appointed Associate Dean

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thomaskecia.jpgCongratulations to professor Kecia Thomas, who has been appointed associate dean for leadership development and diversity in the Franklin College:

A professor of industrial/organizational psychology in the department of psychology, Thomas has served on the UGA faculty since 1993.

"As associate dean, Dr. Thomas will have a portfolio that is well-aligned with her academic and professional expertise as an industrial/organizational psychologist who is an award-winning graduate mentor and instructor, an internationally recognized scientist/practitioner in the psychology of workplace diversity and a certified executive coach," said Alan T. Dorsey, dean of the Franklin College. "Given her scholarship, dedication to the college and to the university, and her extensive leadership experience, I am pleased to have Dr. Thomas serve in this important role."

Thomas has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles and chapters, one textbook and four edited volumes. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the American Psychological Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture as well as by school districts, nonprofits and other national organizations.

One of the brightest stars at UGA, known for her scholarship as well as her ability to lead both her peers and our students, Thomas' combination of skills make for a dynamic addition to the university administration. The institutional challenges addressed as diversity issues, present at every university and college in America, represent a particular and extraordinary responsibility. It is here that Dr. Thomas has and will continue to provide important direction and leadership. We are lucky to have her on our team. Great, key appointment for Franklin College, and because of its centrality on campus, for UGA.