April 2012

President's Pledge Against Global Poverty


A core group of university leaders have organized themselves in a new initiative to address one of the world's most difficult issues:

Today, 28 current and former college leaders will publicly come forward as charter members of the Presidents' Pledge Against Global Poverty. (The site is scheduled to go live at 8 a.m.) In so doing, they commit to join Reverend Svennungsen by donating 5 percent of their total compensation this year to charities that fight global poverty.

The list includes presidents from liberal-arts colleges, religiously affiliated institutions, and a few research universities.

Despite the many and obvious opportunities such a public stance should engender, one reason global poverty is such a difficult issue is the present philosophical stance toward wealth that pervades most of the developed world. Instead of a moral imperative to help the world's poor, there is a greater impetus to protect the wealthy. Austerity is the operative term of many political leaders, its punitive aspects upon the most vulnerable in society notwithstanding.

Kudos to these leaders for attaching their names and institutions to the fight against global poverty - where winning takes the form of evening up the odds just a little, odds faced daily by millions of people desperate for basic necessities. A complete list of participants and more details at the link.


UGA Engineering



Congratulations to our engineering colleagues around campus, which means faculty in many Franklin College departments including chemistry, physics and astronomy, mathematics, computer science, biology and microbiology, marine sciences, genetics, geography, art and anthropology, as well as numerous interdisciplinary research centers created thereof. This list alone explains why it was important for UGA to put together a formal engineering college, and it also shows that successive Franklin College deans have been very supportive of engineering, in word and deed, over the years. As I've written before, without a lot of fanfare Wyatt Anderson and Garnett Stokes in particular were instrumental in collaborating with the engineering leadership and the CAES on joint faculty appointments to demonstrate the viability and importance of engineering, before it was widely embraced at the University. They helped bring to UGA many talented faculty members who are now working at the leading edge of new research frontiers who would have otherwise gone elsewhere. Instead, they were able to join our faculty to help build something new.

This is an example of quiet, visionary leadership that builds capacity for providing great opportunities for students and faculty. In this case, creating the foundations for engineering in a liberal arts environment.

Image: Nano Arch, developed by researchers in the UGA Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center.


Photo of the Day



View of Moscow at sunrise from the top of the Peter the Great monument, from a photo gallery on Der Speigel. Kids in Moscow are taking to climbing up onto some of its highest building, statues and construction sites, and are appropriately adored by the Russian media as "roofers." A law student, the young man who took the photo said that he discovered 'roofing' after doctors told him he could not play sports because of a weak heart. One of his photos was a winner "Best of Russia" photography contest in 2011.

The Chronicles in no way condones climbing up on structures so high they would scare your parents.


Commencement 2012



It may be hard to believe but Commencement 2012 at the University is just around the corner. UGA has a terrific new commencement site up and running, where graduates and their families should be able to find all the information they need on everything, except what they'll do next. That's up to them.

But really, it's a wonderful time in the lives of our graduates and the campus will be replete over the coming weeks with departmental and school convocations and awards ceremonies, where individual units recognize and celebrate the achievements of their graduating students. One of those will be the Hugh Hodgson School of Music Convocation and awards ceremony on May 7, where the school has invited a very interested guest to be the featured speaker:

Timothy Adams Sr., a 36-year veteran of the Cousins School in Covington, Ga., will be welcomed to the University of Georgia, a campus that once had no place for him as an African-American student but where his son, Timothy Adams Jr., is now a professor of music and head of percussion in the school of music.


"Because segregation policies at UGA forced Mr. Adams to seek his bachelor's and master's degrees at other institutions, it is significant that his son Timothy Jr. is now a tenured, full professor on our faculty," said Dale Monson, director of the school of music. "We are honored to have Mr. Adams visit campus and address our graduating students this year."

Healing from Spiritual Violence



There will be a very important panel discussion at MLC on Thursday, April 26 at 6 pm - important for its subject and the groups bringing attention to the subject of spiritual violence:


Spiritual violence is the act of using religious grounds to persecute a particular person or group of people. This can occur without physical violence.

Rev. Renee Dubose, Our Hope MCC

Joel Marcovitch, director of Hillel at UGA

Carolyn Medine, associate professor of religion

Rev. Alison Eskildsen, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens

Sponsors: GLOBES, Office of Institutional Diversity, Black Faculty & Staff Organization and I.M.P.A.C.T. (Sustained Dialogue)

The Franklin College and the University are glad to provide a forum to bring these groups together. Our campus must be a catalyst for discussion and the free exchange of ideas that provide comfort and understanding on issues of crucial importance to the entire community. Learn more about these groups and the role they play in educating the public about the struggles many of our fellow citizens face simply because of race, creed or sexual orientation. Learning, understanding and empathy make us all better people, and better able to create the society we want.


Crime and... Mathematics


The Cantrell Lecture Series in the department of mathematics brings UCLA professor and director of Applied Mathematics Andrea Bertozzi to campus on Wednesday April 25 for an interesting lecture:

The Mathematics of Crime

There is an extensive applied mathematics literature developed for problems in the biological and physical sciences. Our understanding of social science problems from a mathematical standpoint is less developed, but also presents some very interesting problems, especially for young researchers. This lecture uses crime as a case study for using applied mathematical techniques in a social science application and covers a variety of mathematical methods that are applicable to such problems. We will review recent work on agent based models, methods in linear and nonlinear partial differential equations, variational methods for inverse problems and statistical point process models. From an application standpoint we will look at problems in residential burglaries and gang crimes. 

Sounds provocative. So much cultural programming has moved in this direction already (e.g., all the CSI shows) that it seems somehow easy to accept. It's great to see this application of mathematics taken in the direction of teaching.

Wednesday, April 25

3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Zell B. Miller Learning Center (SLC/MLC)

Room 102


Patel Trasoff concert



UGA welcomes David Trasoff, an ethnomusicologist, musician, and expert on the classical music of North India, as the Gordhan L. and Virginia B. “Jinx” Patel Distinguished Visiting Professor in Indian Music Arts in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music.

Origins of the Arts


Can we understand art better without reducing the magic it can work on us? That is not the theme of this article by E. O. Wilson, though it would seem to be one implication of the schema he describes:

 RICH AND SEEMINGLY BOUNDLESS as the creative arts seem to be, each is filtered through the narrow biological channels of human cognition. Our sensory world, what we can learn unaided about reality external to our bodies, is pitifully small. Our vision is limited to a tiny segment of the electromagnetic spectrum, where wave frequencies in their fullness range from gamma radiation at the upper end, downward to the ultralow frequency used in some specialized forms of communication. We see only a tiny bit in the middle of the whole, which we refer to as the “visual spectrum.” Our optical apparatus divides this accessible piece into the fuzzy divisions we call colors. Just beyond blue in frequency is ultraviolet, which insects can see but we cannot. Of the sound frequencies all around us we hear only a few. Bats orient with the echoes of ultrasound, at a frequency too high for our ears, and elephants communicate with grumbling at frequencies too low.

Emphasis mine, as this seems a highly presumptuous word choice.

Just because enough can never be written on this subject does not mean we must agree to that which is.


Deepwater Horizon, two years later



Two, very short years ago today, high pressure methane gas from a BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico expanded into the drilling riser and was released onto the drilling rig, where it ignited and exploded, engulfing the drilling rig (wikipedia). It's no surprise that ecological issues in the Gulf persist, though the gravity of them can be unsettling:

research into the disaster's environmental effects is turning up ailing fish that bear hallmarks of diseases tied to petroleum and other pollutants.

Those illnesses don't pose an increased health threat to humans, scientists say, but the problems could be devastating to prized species such as grouper and red snapper, and to the people who make their living catching them.

There's no saying for sure what's causing the diseases in what's still a relatively small percentage of the fish, because the scientists have no baseline data on sick fish in the Gulf from before the spill to form a frame of reference. The first comprehensive research may be years from publication. And the Gulf is assaulted with all kinds of contaminants every day.

And UGA marine scientists continue to make the case that our spill responses need to be amended:

On the second anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon blowout, a national panel of researchers including University of Georgia marine scientist Samantha Joye is urging the federal government to reassess how it would respond to similar oil spills that might occur in the future.

Amazing student Mathew Lustig



Biology major Matthew Lustig combines his interest in ROTC with a love for Johnny Cash to create his unique UGA experience:

I studied abroad in Australia, which allowed me to study biology, immerse myself in a new culture and make some of the best friends I have at UGA. Upon returning, I tried out and made the UGA co-ed cheerleading team and performed for UGA football, men’s/women’s basketball, gymnastics and volleyball. Meanwhile, I played violin in the UGA Philharmonia Orchestra, taught CPR/AED/first aid classes for the American Red Cross and volunteered at Morningside Assisted Living, where I played classical guitar for the elderly residents. In Army ROTC, I received the USAA Spirit award for “best exemplifying the concept of service to the unit, community, and nation.” I also was iinducted into the Blue Key Honors Society and received the Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities Award through the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

Reminds us what a terrific place this is to be. It's all up to you to make it so.