Category: Human Nature

Microscopic photos spotlight the art of science


thale cressWhile they are often identified as poles, a spectrum or even a line of demarcation from one kind of investigation into another, science and art can and occasionally do cohabitate, as in the case of UGA research scientist Stefan Eberhard, who utilizes scientific instrumentation for creative purposes:

$2 million NSF grant to Mathematics


Pure-mathformulæ-blackboard.jpgA major new grant to the department of mathematics to help in attracting students to this essential foundational discipline:

Behind every facet of digital communication is a well-trained mathematician, and the University of Georgia mathematics department is on the front lines of training for this ever-increasing field of employment.


"Our objective is to provide an intellectually compelling, pedagogically well-planned and professionally nurturing environment in which undergraduates, graduate students and postdocs will thrive," said the department's Dino Lorenzini, a Distinguished Research Professor of Mathematics.

Modern digital communication offers an array of job opportunities for students with mathematics training. This initiative is meant to help students with an interest in math explore their options, learn more about the field and cultivate the skills needed for employment in the future.

Fantastic news with real impact for our campus. Attracting the best students with comprehensive education opportunities - and not just training - remains the university's strongest calling card. This grant to mathematics will help the department utilize this strength as it provides the very best in preparation for fulfilling careers.

Image: mathemtical formula, via wikimedia commons.

Being Woven


rumi-6.jpgOn this last day of June, we'll turn the blog over to the 13th-century Sufi mystic Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, via the 21st-century mystic, dear friend of the blog and Franklin professor of English emeritus Coleman Barks:

Being Woven – Communal Practice
On Being Woven

There’s a game that’s remembered in Iran called moshaereh, which means ‘being in company with poetry.’ One person says a line from Rumi, then the next person must begin a Rumi line with the word the first person’s ended with. And so on for hours, I’m told, before television deadened the psyche, a family or a group of friends might continue. Rumi was not the only poet used. It might be Hafiz, or Attar, or others. Poetry wove together the fabric of community and kept it lively. We have nothing comparable, except perhaps the nights of trading poems back and forth that sometimes happen in gatherings.

In December of 1273 when Rumi died, representatives of every major religion came to his funeral. In the midst of the crusades and violent sectarian conflict he said.

‘I go into the Muslim mosque and the Jewish synagogue and the Christian  church and I see one altar.’

And he made it clear in other places that someone who considers religion or nation an important human category is in danger of severing the heart from its ability to act compassionately. This is a radical idea now, but Rumi held the conviction in the thirteenth century with such deep gentleness that its truth was recognized.

Of Being Woven, by Rumi, translated into the tradition of American free verse by Coleman Barks:

“The way is full of genuine sacrifice.
The thickets blocking your path are anything 
that keeps you from that, any fear that you may be broken
into bits like a glass bottle.

This road demands courage and stamina, yet it’s full of 
Who are these companions?
They are rungs in your ladder. Use them!
With company you quicken your ascent.
You may be happy enough going along, but with others 
you’ll get farther, and faster.

Someone who goes cheerfully by himself to the customs
house to pay his traveler’s tax will go even more 
lightheartedly when friends are with him.

Every prophet sought out companions.
A wall standing alone is useless, but put three or four walls
together, and they’ll support a roof and keep grain dry
and safe.

When ink joins with a pen, then the blank paper can say 
Rushes and reeds must be woven to be useful as a mat. If
they weren’t interlaced; the wind would blow them away.

Like that, God paired up creatures, and gave them 

This is how the fowler and the bird were arguing
about hermitic living and Islam.

It’s a prolonged debate.

Husam shorten their controversy.

Make the Mathnawi more nimble and less lumbering.

Agile sounds are more appealing to the heart’s ear.


The Impact of Giving


Scholarship and research support from private giving to the Franklin College avails our students and faculty of broad opportunities across every aspect of society. This short video, featuring a student and one of our donors, elaborates on the impact of giving:




REFOCUS program benefits students, scientists


Projectfocuslogo2_000.jpgMore great news today for the future of STEM-related careers. Veteran scientists and engineers will share their love of science and math with the next generation through a program known as REFOCUS.  The program will train professionals to work with teachers in Clarke and six surrounding counties to provide regular science and math enrichment activities to students. 

The program is meant to help students in K-12 understand math and science concepts and expose them to new STEM career choices for the future. The program is based on a program that’s been in place at UGA for the past 12 years.  David Knauft, a professor of horticulture in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, began a program called FOCUS in which UGA students studying STEM subjects were paired with elementary and middle school teachers in Clarke County.

REFOCUS will expand on the Project FOCUS framework, allowing science, technology, engineering and math mentors to be in even more Clarke County classrooms and in classrooms in surrounding counties.

"For quite some time, we have wanted to expand Project FOCUS to include graduate students, postdocs, faculty and retired scientists," said David Knauft, professor of horticulture in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and STEM education advocate. "Thanks to this AAAS funding, we will be able to do so.

"Also, because these individuals have more flexible schedules, we hope to bring REFOCUS to nearby counties, something we haven't been able to do with Project FOCUS."

Another great example of collaboration, between disciplines at UGA and between UGA and area school systems.  Knauft worked with the Clarke County School District; Julie Luft, the Athletic Association Professor of Mathematics and Science Education in the UGA College of Education; and Chuck Kutal, associate dean of the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, to secure a $14,800 grant from American Association for the Advancement of Science to help develop the REFOCUS program.  

The REFOCUS project will start recruiting its first class of STEM mentors this summer and debut the program in Clarke County classrooms this fall.

To get involved in Project REFOCUS, contact Knauft  For more information on Project FOCUS, see

Welcoming a New Class: Orientation is Under Way



It’s a beautiful summer morning here at the University of Georgia.  Some students are on their way to summer classes, but some of the newest class of Bulldawgs is on campus for orientation.  Sessions are held all summer long, and this Monday marks the second group of students welcomed onto campus in the UGA tradition. The orientation experience provides a foundational memory, as students plan for the future, make friends and take in the beauty of the UGA campus. 

A team of outstanding orientation leaders mentors these new students as they embark on their academic paths.  Franklin College is well represented in this leadership group, as you can see here, with orientation leaders pursuing degrees in communication studies, English, sociology and psychology.  They advise on campus traditions, choosing a major, and getting to know the town of Athens. We commend these student leaders for imparting their wisdom and inspiring the incoming class.  

Congratulations and welcome to the incoming class of UGA students! Have fun at orientation!

Research Magazine Highlights Franklin Contributions


UGAresearchmag.jpgAs a research institution, the University of Georgia is host to a bevy of researchers from all areas of academics--the arts, humanities and sciences.  Franklin College, a collection of 30 departments and an additional 30 institutes and centers, is the proud home of many of those research projects.  Each semester, the University’s research achievements and narratives are told via the campus publication Research Magazine.  The Spring/Summer 2014 issue has just been released and it’s  full of research from departments in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

This issue serves to highlight just what a vast impact the arts and sciences has on the University at large.  Research on dementia and the origin of the thymus gland, books on Chilean politics and modern architecture and so much more are highlighted in the most recently released edition.  Don’t miss the feature on a unique project combining the art of dance, physics and animation or the opinion piece from UGA history professor James Cobb. There’s even an interview with Franklin College Associate Dean Noel Fallows on the sport of jousting.  

Each issue serves to highlight the importance of academic research on campus, but without the contributions of Franklin College researchers, the pool of research would be much smaller. Kudos to all who contribute to the large pool of research, but especially to the Franklin College researchers highlighted in this issue.  Congratulations are also in order to the magazine’s editorial team.  Campus research writers, graphic designers and host of others contribute to this magazine to make it happen each semester and the results are always worthwhile.  Take a look at the issue here.

Photo: The most recent cover of Research Magazine.  Courtesy of UGA Research Magazine.

Alums We Love


chris-bilheimerWe love all of our alums and play no favorites here - and we especially love when our graduates and their exploits find their way into the media, as is the case today with great friend of the blog, Chris Bilheimer:

For more than two decades Chris Bilheimer has designed album covers, concert posters, rock T-shirts and more as art director for R.E.M. and freelancer for other bands, notably Green Day, Widespread Panic and Neutral Milk Hotel. Now he’s entered the fashion realm as the creative force behind Helm Boots’ redesign. This spring, the Austin, Texas-based brand unveiled a new logo, website, packaging, store signage and point-of-sale materials. “The original look had a pretty heavy Americana feel to it, and part of the vision was to move away from beating you over the head that it’s made in America,” said Bilheimer, whose wife, Hillary, is Helm’s brand manager. “With what they plan to do in the future, I tried to give them an identity that has a more modern feel.” Bilheimer studied drawing and painting at University of Georgia in Athens...

It's short, you can read it all. The Lamar Dodd School of Art has brought many great people to Athens and UGA, acted as a petri dish for their talents, and loosened them upon a the wider populace to achieve great success. We're proud of Chris and so many others. The people who come here to live, study and work are what make our town and the university what they are.

Staff profile: Jerry Daniel


daniel_jerryFranklin College faculty and staff are the backbone of the college and its successes, continually building and shaping the learning environment that is the University of Georgia. Many staff also devote their time to self-governance on the UGA staff council, an important part of supporting theuniversity mission. One of our outstanding Franklin College staff members, and outgoing chair of the staff council, IT professional Jerry Daniel:

While a bachelor's degree in history-something he earned using the Tuition Assistance Program while working at UGA-may not be a direct path to a career in technology, the skills Daniel learned have helped tremendously. 

"A lot of times you're doing something you've never done before so you have to research and learn about it," he said. "My history degree helps since I can do research work in a library like nobody's business."

As an IT professional associate, Daniel ensures that networks, servers, computers and software are running smoothly. He helps with upkeep for the math department's computer labs that 5,000 students use to take their tests. To do that, he takes a proactive approach to prevent breakdowns at inopportune times.

"My job is to do all the computer upkeep so that faculty can do cutting-edge research and students can learn and get their degrees," Daniel said. "I've always liked helping other people, and this lets me do that."

Another way Daniel helps a lot of people is through his role as chair of the executive committee of the Staff Council. Daniel was elected to that role almost four years ago, and his term will end June 30. 

"It's been very rewarding; I've grown a lot personally and professionally," Daniel said. "I've also met a lot of great people in private businesses and at UGA."

Thanks to a great colleague, one of the many people who make the university such a great place to work and to learn.

Image: Jerry Daniel, courtesy of UGA Photographic Services.

Knox tornado research and social media


Research by associate professor of geography John Knox on the use of Facebook to track tornado debris was one of our biggest stories of last year. A nice story this week on Knox and his research in his hometown paper in Birmingham, AL:

Knox's research can be applied to more than household debris. Toxic waste, for example. What would happen if a tornado hit a Superfund site?

"So maybe at some deep point in the future we'll be issuing watch boxes or warnings or something like that having to do with debris," he said. "That sounds kind of crazy, but it's one of those things that sounds dumb until it actually happens.

"So maybe it's a good thing we've done our research. Because if a tornado hits something where you really care where that stuff is going to fall -- it's not just shingles or photographs but something else -- it'll be something where they need to Google it real quick. And maybe they find our research … maybe someday that's going to happen. Maybe there will be a polygon having to do with debris."

Nice going. Have a great Memorial Day Weekend.