Pavlic on Palestine

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Creative writing professor and poet Ed Pavlić just returned from the West Bank, where he toured the region with other writers as well as government and NGO officials. He offers some poignant observations about the current conflict in this piece for Africa Is A Country:

I know. It’s the oldest of old hats to note the distended shapes American journalism creates to preserve the Israel-first, false impression of some symmetry or parity between interests and powers in the contested territory split, shared, and struggled over by people known as Palestinians and Israelis. Even the names are disputed. Many Palestinians would refute the idea of “Israelis” and simply say Jews. Many Israelis have contended that, in fact, there are no “Palestinian” people. It’s territory—rhetorical, ethical, religious, ethnic, and geographic—so complexly, at times, hideously, contested that many people in the West, certainly in the U.S., simply look away. As a person who, since childhood, has lived a life athwart American racial codes and territories, I’ve always kept an eye on Israel / Palestine for the focused, if challenging, clarity it can offer one’s perspective on American experience. That might sound strange. But, it’s true. In a recent tour of the West Bank with the Palestinian Festival of Literature, in fact, I found much clarified.

...

There’s active and latent anger and violence everywhere in the region. But, according to these sources, even in so-called “Palestinian” territory (occupied by and often under the control of Israeli military personnel), there’s absolutely no parity in the legal, military, and social contests between Israeli power and Palestinian struggle. One is a contemporary bureaucratic state whose legal system vigorously operates to sustain and increase its hold on geographic territory and is possessed of a cornucopia of surveillance and weapon systems to back it up. The other is a disparate array of factionalized, anti-colonial resistance that uses smuggled and home-built weapons when not employing such high-tech systems as slingshots and cutlasses or simply throwing stones. Simply put there’s no contest here.

Friends of Israel do it no favors with our silence. The crisis continues, with news harder to come by as journalism suffers beneath its own conventions. Thanks to Pavlić for trying to elucidate some of the underlying conditions. Be sure and read the whole thing.

This week in UGA history

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photo (60).jpg213 years ago, by just a few days (July 25, 1801), there appeared a classified ad in the Augusta Chronicle (alas, no link from that year) announcing that:

The Senaticus Academicus had chosen a site for the university, "an institution deeply interesting to the present age, and still more to an encreasing posterity."

[Re-]discovered in Nash Boney's excellent A Pictorial History of the University of Georgia. May we be today and always deeply interesting to the present age - and my personal hope that the Senatus Academicus (one of two major governing boards of UGA prior to the creation of the Board of Regents) is re-animated in its original latin.

Summer Commencement

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The summer semester is winding down on campus and that can only mean one thing--summer commencement is quickly approaching.  This summer, commencement is being held on Friday, August 1 at 9:30 a.m. at Stegeman Coliseum.  The 2014 summer commencement is a combined Graduate and Undergraduate event. Doors open at 8 a.m.  For those unable to attend,the ceremony will be broadcast live on Channel 15 of the University Cable System and Channel 181 of the Charter Cable System.  It will also be streamed live here.

Francis "Abit" Massey, a 1949 graduate of the University of Georgia and president emeritus of the Georgia Poultry Federation, will deliver the summer Commencement address at the ceremony. Massey led the Georgia Poultry Federation for 48 years, and in 2009 was named president emeritus.

For more information about the event, visiting Athens and other college and department convocations, be sure to check out the great resource page that UGA has put together for the event: http://commencement.uga.edu/.

Congratulations to all of the Summer 2014 graduates! Have fun and enjoy the celebration of this momentous occasion.

Nature article highlights UGA malaria researcher

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R_cellbio2012_01.jpgCongratulations are in order to University of Georgia professor Vasant Muralidharan, an assistant  professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of cellular biology. His research was recently highlighted in the journal Nature.  Muralidharan, who studies the biology of the deadly malaria eukaryotic parasite, worked with with a group of researchers as a post-doc at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis to investigate a means to trap and kill the parasite. You can read more and hear an accompanying audio piece about this published research here

Scientists may be able to entomb the malaria parasite in a prison of its own making, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report July 16 in Nature.

As it invades a red blood cell, the malaria parasite takes part of the host cell’s membrane to build a protective compartment. To grow properly, steal nourishment and dump waste, the parasite then starts a series of major renovations that transform the red blood cell into a suitable home.

But the new research reveals the proteins that make these renovations must pass through a single pore in the parasite’s compartment to get into the red blood cell. When the scientists disrupted passage through that pore in cell cultures, the parasite stopped growing and died.

Muralidharan now works on his research here at UGA and his work is a great addition to the collaborative efforts of researchers at the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases. His lab website describes the crux of his research interests as follows:

Spotlight on Geography

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The department of geography at UGA is a leading center of scholarship--both in the classroom and in the field--about earth’s landscapes and human relationships to the environment.  Each semester, the department creates a newsletter compiling the latest research, awards, alumni news and profiles of students and faculty.  

Of note in this edition is an article about Jerry Shannon and his research on food deserts, a term used for geographical areas where health food is inaccessible or prohibitively expensive. Shannon, a temporary assistant professor in the department of geography, authored the article, "What does SNAP benefit usage tell us about food access in low-income neighborhoods?" published in the April print edition of the journal Social Science and Medicine.  This edition of the newsletter also features an article about Sarah Mizra, a 2014 Harry S. Truman Scholarship recipient majoring in geography and Spanish.  The award recognizes students with exceptional leadership potential with a commitment to a career in government or public service.  Also, be sure to read through the great list of departmental news, including many awards, fellowships and grants given to students and faculty in the department.

Investigating Pneumonia

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Duncan-Krause-pneumonia.jpgA collaborative group of researchers at the University of Georgia has received a grant to study the leading cause of pneumonia in older children and young adults.  Researchers will study Bacterium Mycoplasma pneumoniae with a five-year, $1.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

A fundamental goal of the new research project is to better understand how the bacterium eludes the immune system and common antibiotic treatment, which can often lead to persistent infection or life-altering conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

"These bacteria have evolved to live in the human respiratory tract and have developed ways to avoid the natural defenses that keep us safe," said Duncan Krause, principal investigator for the project and professor of microbiology in UGA's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. "We want to understand the chemical features of Mycoplasma pneumoniae and the conditions inside the human body that cause these persistent infections so we can one day develop more effective treatments."

Alongside Krause is a team of co-investigators from various departments and colleges on the UGA campus including Thomas Krunkosky, associate professor of veterinary biosciences and diagnostic imaging in the College of Veterinary Medicine; Jason Locklin, associate professor in the Franklin College and the College of Engineering; Michael Tiemeyer, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the Franklin College; and Bingqian Xu, associate professor in the College of Engineering.

Working together, these researchers will employ a series of experiments to determine how M. pneumoniae moves within the human airways.

M. pneumoniae travels like a rock climber, attaching and releasing chemical bonds as it traverses human tissues one foothold at a time. Eventually, the bacteria reach areas of the respiratory tract where new chemical bonds allow it to stick and multiply, leading to infection and illness.

The research team will examine the molecular features of both M. pneumoniae and the surface of the human airway to determine why they glide over certain areas and are static on others.

"The human airway is lined with complex sugar molecules called glycans that contribute to the chemistry of mucus membranes in those tissues," said Krause, who is also director of UGA's Faculty of Infectious Diseases. "The differences in these glycans may be the key to understanding how and where M. pneumoniae moves and why it causes these chronic infections that are so difficult to treat."