Category: award

Linguistics PhD grad wins international dissertation prize


MUnze.gifCongratulations to Dr. Mark Wenthe, currently a parttime instructor at UGA and also a recent PhD alumnus in linguistics in the department of classics, who won an international competition for best dissertation for the year 2013 from the Society of Indo-European Studies (Indogermanische Gesellschaft).

Wenthe's dissertation, ISSUES IN THE PLACEMENT OF ENCLITIC PERSONAL PRONOUNS IN THE RIGVEDA, among the four canonical sacred texts (śruti) of Hinduism known as the Vedas, actually shared the award with Konstantinos Sampanis from the Univ. of Salzburg (Austria). Both scholars received full marks for their work.

Congratulations as well to Jared S. Klein, professor of linguistics, classics, and Germanic and Slavic languages director, program in linguistics in the department of classics. Our scholars are making an impact around the world, as their work is celebrated, noted and honored. Congratulationd again on this outstanding achievement.

ASA Founders Award for Franklin


ChristineFranklin.jpgChristine Franklin, that is. It seems that every week is awards week for Franklin College faculty, as the American Statistical Association honored one of our best with its most prestigious award:

[ASA] recently presented its Founders Award to Christine Franklin, the Lothar Tresp Honoratus Honors Professor in the University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of statistics.

The ASA is the nation's preeminent professional statistical society, and the honor is presented annually to ASA members who have rendered distinguished and long-term service to the association. Franklin was honored during the presidential awards session at the 2014 Joint Statistical Meetings in Boston.

One of three recipients of the Founders Award in 2014, Franklin was recognized for her leadership in curriculum development and teaching statistics, her research and her professional service in helping grow the field of statistics education. An active member of ASA, Franklin is a longtime leader and champion of national efforts in statistics education, particularly in the area of implementing statistics in K-12 education.

"Statistics integrated into the K-12 curriculum is key for students developing the statistical reasoning skills necessary to make sense of the massive data that surrounds them on a daily basis, much of which students generate themselves," said Franklin, who also serves as the undergraduate coordinator for statistics at UGA.

The era big data is fully upon us and Franklin has recognized the importance of statistics education in the K-12 grades. Educators whose research and teaching identify important refinements for our broader educational system see such outstanding contributions as part of their duty. We are lucky to have Dr. Franklin on campus, an inspiration to students and colleagues alike. Our best wishes to her during her upcoming Fulbright Fellowship in New Zealand, where she will continue to work on this very important issue.

Presidential Early Career Award


POTUS-PECASE-Photo-DouberlyOur highly accomplished faculty members are awarded a number of grants and individual honors on a regular basis, which of course keeps the Chronicles blog humming right along. This acknowledge of chemistry professor Gary Douberly by President Obama is yet again a very significant distinction we are quite pleased to share:

[Douberly] was among a group of over 100 leading researchers nationwide who were honored recently at the White House as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, or PECASE, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on science and engineering professors in the early stages of their research careers.

Gary E. Douberly, an associate professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of chemistry, was honored alongside other scientists and engineers April 14 in a ceremony at the U.S. Department of Agriculture with the agency's officials. The group was then greeted at the White House by President Obama, who thanked them for their contributions and outstanding achievements.

PECASE awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.

Fantastic early career acknowledge of service and research, the award also contributes great institutional prestige by being included in the group of 100 outstanding Americans. Congratulations and thanks for your terrific work, Dr. Douberly.

Image: President Barack Obama talks with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) recipients in the East Room of the White House, April 14, 2014. 

Malmberg named University Professor


malmberg_russell head shotA singular, annual UGA honor announced for Franklin College associate dean Russell Malmberg:

University Professor, an honor bestowed on faculty who have had a significant impact on the University of Georgia in addition to fulfilling their normal academic responsibilities.

The honor was first awarded in 1974, and no more than one University Professor can be named in any year.


He has helped grow the university's Integrated Life Sciences program, which allows first-year graduate students to rotate among faculty in participating departments and defer their choice of a major professor until the end of their first year. The program has allowed the university to recruit talented graduate students in areas where it has significant strengths-such as developmental biology and vaccine research-but no formal departments. It also has fostered collaboration among faculty by connecting them through interdisciplinary groups. The program, which began in 2009, has grown to include 11 departments from four colleges and will recruit 50 students annually beginning in the 2014-2015 academic year.

Malmberg helped develop the university's Intensive English Program, which helps international students improve their English skills prior to entering graduate school. The IEP began as a summer program in 2010 with funding from the Provost's Office and has since become a self-sustaining, profit-generating enterprise that attracts students from UGA and institutions worldwide. This year, it began operating as a year-round program. 

The IEP is really work beyond the call of duty, yet incredibly important for many of the top students UGA attracts. It is the duty of those in higher education leadership positions to identify the challenges facing students (and faculty) and to find solutions. That atmosphere creates the dynamic that is the higher ed learning environment itself. People are important. Problem-solving leaders are crucial. Congratulations Dr. Malmberg for the recognition of your work and thank you for making our campus the place that it is.


Goddard Memorial Trophy


Telescope-KeplerSpacecraftThe Franklin College has a special relationship with NASA's Kepler Mission in the person of alumnus and Kepler project manager, Roger Hunter. And so we are especially proud that Hunter and the Kepler Mission will receive the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy from the National Space Club in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on March 7:

The Kepler Team will receive the Club’s preeminent award, the Dr. Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy. Kepler has revolutionized exoplanet science and stellar astrophysics by expanding the galactic census of exoplanet candidates and fundamentally altering our understanding of our place in the galaxy. This honor is afforded Kepler in recognition of their significant contribution to U.S. leadership in the field of rocketry and astronautics.

Hunter is a great supporter of UGA and Franklin College and we are equally enthusiastic about his work with the space program. Our warm congratulations on this great honor.

Image: Artist's rendering of the Kepler telescope, vis Wikimedia Commons.

UGA Service-Learning Awards


betina_kaplan_1_panoramaCongratulations to Bettina Kaplan, associate professor of Spanish, and Peter Smagorinsky of the College of Education who were named recipients of the 2014 Service-Learning Excellence Awards:

The awards, established in 2011 by the Office of Service-Learning, recognize distinction in teaching and research related to academic service-learning.


Since 2002, Kaplan has taught the course "Spanish Practicum for Service-Learning," which she designed to engage students in applying their Spanish knowledge to opportunities including parent-teacher conferences, tutoring and healthcare referrals. She also developed and taught a version of the course for five semesters in UGA's Buenos Aires study-abroad program, as well as a First Year Odyssey course supporting Spanish adult literacy for immigrants in the Athens community. Kaplan was previously recognized as a 2012-13 Service-Learning Fellow.

Both of these faculty members are having a very big impact on their profrssion as well as the institution of higher education. No two more exemplary faculty members, and especially of the service component of our mission, than these two. Big congratulations.

Image of Bettina Kaplan courtesy of UGA Photographic services.

Beckmann honored with Women in Mathematics Award


kazez_sybilla with chalkboardFor all the attention that mathematics education receives nationally in the U.S., it can be difficult to determine where the front lines are in the battle to help more young people succeed. Beyond the classrooms themselves another is in higher education, where teaching strategies are refined and improved in the search to find more effective pedagogical methods. The department of mathematics is home to one of the leading thinkers on the subject, whose efforts have recently been recognized by the Association of Women in Mathematics Award:

Sybilla Beckmann, a 2011 Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, will receive the award in a January 2014 ceremony. The honor recognizes outstanding achievements in any area of mathematics education.

"Math can be approached in such a different way than is typical in math teaching and learning," Beckmann said. "I would love for everyone to appreciate how beautiful and neat mathematical reasoning is. Mathematical ideas can be as exquisite and profound as any of the great achievements in music, literature, or art.

"My special passion is for teacher education because it matters how teachers approach math and it matters that teachers know the math they will teach deeply, and from a teaching perspective."

As the release says, Beckmann's textbook, "Mathematics for Elementary Teachers," is now a standard text for teachers in training. Discovering better ways to 'teach the teachers' is among the more extraordinary efforts of our faculty, efforts than can impact innumerable students, careers and lives. Congratulations to Beckmann on this recognition and our thanks for her efforts to make a difference in mathematics education.

Image: UGA photographic services.

Music student wins top international competition


Jean_Martin-Williams-and-Lauren-HuntBig congratulations to the Hugh Hodgson School of Music and DMA student Lauren Hunt:

University of Georgia doctor of musical arts student Lauren Hunt took first prize Sept. 1 in the International Horn Competition of America's university division. Hunt, who began her studies this fall in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, competed against 53 other hornists for the title.

The International Horn Competition of America was founded in 1975 to promote higher performance standards for domestic hornists. In time, its mission expanded to include international artists who compete every other year in the event's professional and university divisions. This year's competition, held on campus at Kentucky's University of Louisville, included performers from 21 states and 10 countries.

"Everyone hopes to win at competitions like this, but my main goal was to make it past the first round," Hunt said. "Once I had accomplished that, I simply made it a point to have fun and enjoy playing my instrument. I think that's a big reason why I performed as well as I did."

When it comes to the top music schools in the country, awards like this really tell the story. That Lauren is new to UGA and chose to bring her talents here for her doctoral education speaks volumnes about our faculty. Congratulations to our brass faculty members, and especially Jean Martin-Williams and Richard Deane. 

Image: Horn professor Dr. Jean Martin-Williams with Lauren Hunt.

Franklin Alum honored with Benjamin Franklin book award


Brambleman_eCoverWe point out this terrific award for an alum's book for obvious reasons, I think.


Franklin Alum honored with Benjamin Franklin book award

Book tells real history through fictional characters



For author and Franklin alumnus Jonathan Grant, Benjamin Franklin has been a recurring theme. He began his career as an English major (AB, ’76) in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and now he is also been a recent recipient of the Independent Book Publishers Association’s 2013 Gold Benjamin Franklin Award for popular fiction for his book “Brambleman.”

The book is described as a “gritty, supernaturally-tinged tale of racism, redemption, and revenge in Forsyth County, Georgia.”  But while the book is fictional, it is also based on historical facts.  It’s a work of fiction that came about as an outgrowth of his work as coauthor and editor of his late father’s nonfiction book, "The Way It Was in the South: The Black Experience in Georgia."

“There were many compelling stories in that book that I wanted to follow up on,” he said. “One involved the history of Forsyth County, which was the scene of a violent racial purge of more than 1,000 black residents in 1912. Seventy-five years later, when civil rights firebrand Hosea Williams called attention to the community’s lily-white status, he and a small band of marchers were also run out of town. The next week, Williams showed up with more than 20,000 supporters in one of the largest civil rights marches in our nation’s history. Oprah also put Forsyth on the map when she taped one of her most memorable shows in Cumming. All gripping stuff.”

Telling this story, even in fictional form, is meant to broaden the audience that might read it and will hopefully help future generations understand the events that unfolded and how today’s landscape is (or is not) all that different. 

“I brought a deep understanding of Georgia history to the work, and I did a considerable amount of research into the events that occurred in Forsyth County, Georgia in 1912,” he said. “My account of that period adheres closely to the accounts of the time, although names have been changed and literary details added.”

Telling a story with historical significance is of great importance. 

“So many people don’t understand the significance of historical events or their effect on the present. In the South, as William Faulkner once famously said, “the past isn’t past,” he said. 

            “Forsyth County and Georgia have grown tremendously in the quarter-century since Hosea Williams’s marches and many people don’t have the slightest idea what happened once upon a time in the not-too-distant past,” he added.

The prestigious Benjamin Franklin award is meant to honor excellence in editorial and design. It is considered among the highest national honors for small presses and independent publishers.

For Franklin students and alumnus pursuing degrees in writing, being an author is a viable career path in this modern digital publishing setting, but it requires some skills that weren’t once required of authors. 

“It’s becoming more and more difficult to be noticed, but on the brighter side, there are more avenues of expression open than ever before,” he said. “Anyone who writes has to plan on being a publisher, too. I think an MFA degree in creative writing should be a publishing degree, as well. Having your own blog or website is essential, as is using social networking to build a following.”

“Above all, exercise quality control,” he added. “It’s also important to learn how the world works, so that there’s a strong basis of reality in everything you write. And of course the old adage about not quitting your day job (if you have one) is truer than ever.”

For more information on the book visit Grant is also the author of “Chain Gang Elementary,” a novel. 


Thanks, Jessica. Great story, as well as great career advice from a successful alumnus.

English PhD Matthew Nye wins Emerging Writer's Residency and Book Prize


Congratulations to Matthew Nye, a PhD student in English who was selected as the sixth winner of the Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Residency and Book Prize:

[Nye] will be in residence on the campus of Lake Forest College from February 1 to March 31, 2014, where he will work to complete his winning manuscript, Pike and Bloom.

He will receive $10,000 and, upon editorial approval, the finished book will be published by the &NOW Books imprint of Lake Forest College Press, with distribution by Northwestern University Press. He also will take part in the Lake Forest Literary Festival and offer a series of public presentations.


About Pike and Bloom, Professor Tissut writes: “The intricacies of Matthew Nye’s sentence patterns, fraught with embedded motifs that bring the character’s intense inward life to the fore, trap the reader and take her on an exploration of the surprises and hesitancies of language. How else are we to go out into the world, physically or mentally, than by riding this collective, infinitely malleable medium, put to extremely individual uses by each of us? From the—illusory?—ablation of his appendix to his recurring encounters with a nurse associated with Marlene Dietrich, Pike weaves his own verbal universe by dint of pondering, questioning, and surmising.