It's that time of year, and the UGA commencement exercises on Friday May 10 are an exciting culmination of profound investments in and expansions of human potential. We salute all UGA graduates and the feeling of accomplishment that extends to family and friends, and of course to faculty and staff throughout the university.
One thing we missed in the rundown of the Faculty Awards banquet is the announcement of the 2013 Distinguished Research Professors. Among the three awardees is one of our favorite researchers and teachers from the department of chemistry, John Stickney.
Stickney has received worldwide recognition for his contributions to the field of electrochemistry. He singlehandedly invented a method of producing extraordinarily thin semiconductors created one atomic layer at a time through a process he called electrochemical atomic layer epitaxy, or EC-ALE. He patented this approach and founded a company to market equipment for making materials by this process. The materials produced by EC-ALE are of a quality previously unmatched through traditional methods of electrodeposition, and they have great potential in a number of technological applications, including solar energy conversion, as specialty sensors and for catalysis, the process of accelerating a chemical reaction by a catalyst.
I am fortunate to have spent time with Stickney, intervewing and writing about his work several times over the years. The EC-ALE process is fascinating and he can make it sound easy to understand and obvious, a true mark of genius in my view. But more than that, Stickney is as funny and engaging as he is serious and creative about his work. Even in formal settings, he is able to talk about very complex science in a way that makes you want to learn more. He is intrigued and fascinated by his field, and maybe that is one of the keys to thinking creatively about sensors and semiconductors.
The title Distinguished Research Professor is bestowed upon faculty who are internationally recognized for their original contributions to knowledge and whose work promises to foster continued creativity in their discipline. That describes John Stickney perfectly. Congratulations.
Franklin College Honos' student and anthropology major Smitha Ganeshan is the 18th UGA recipient of the Truman Scholarship since 1982 and the only recipient in Georgia this year.
[The] Harry S. Truman Scholarship recognizes juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government and elsewhere in public service.
Ganeshan is a graduate of Northview High School in Johns Creek and a recipient of UGA's Foundation Fellowship. She was one of 62 students to receive the scholarship, which offers up to $30,000 for graduate study.
Ganeshan, who aims to pursue a dual M.D. and Master in Public Policy degree, is active in health care and health policy issues in Athens as well as around the globe.
She volunteers at the non-profit Athens Nurses Clinic, which provides basic primary care and dental services for uninsured patients, and has interned at the Athens Health Network, an organization that works to reduce health care disparities by coordinating health services for the indigent population. She is a co-founder of the Lunchbox Garden Project, an after-school nutrition education and obesity prevention program that was launched in 2011 and now serves two schools in Athens through a grant from UGA's Office of Sustainability.
Around the globe, around your town. We are lucky to be surrounded by exceptional people, who - along with everything else they do - bring out the best in others. Congratulations to Smitha and the department of anthropology, which I know is very proud of her accomplishments. As are we all.
Honors and awards of every stripe have been announced for faculty, staff and students.
Vincent Starai was awarded $1,503,565 by the National Institutes of Health to investigate how the bacterium that causes Legionnaires’ disease, Legionella pneumophila, overcome the body’s defenses. Starai is an assistant professor who holds a joint appointment with the departments of microbiology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and infectious diseases in the College of Veterinary Medicine.
The Department of Energy announced today that it has renewed funding for three bioenergy research centers at $25 million per year, including the BioEnergy Science Center and the Complex Carbohydrate Reseach Center, directed by Regents Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Plant Biology Alan Darvill. In addition, principal investigators for BESC projects include Michael Adams, Distinguished Research Professor of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Microbiology; Maor Bar-Peled, professor, plant biology; Jeffrey Bennetzen, Giles Professor of Molecular Biology and Functional Genomics, department of genetics; Katrien Devos, professor, crop and soil sciences; Michael Hahn, professor, plant biology; Debra Mohnen, professor, biochemistry and molecular biology; Janet Westpheling, professor, genetics; William York, professor, biochemistry and molecular biology; and Ying Xu, professor and the Regents-Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, department of biochemistry and molecular biology.
Academic advisors Wanda Wilcox and Annemarie Hitchcock were announced as two of the three recipients of UGA's Outstanding Advisor Awards for 2013, presented each spring to faculty and staff members for excellence in advising undergraduate students on class selection and course of study, assisting them with academic problems, and providing guidance on related matters such as decisions about graduate school and careers.
Associate history professor Stephen Berry and English professor William Kretzschmar are among seven recipients nationally of the 2013 American Council of Learned Societies Digital Innovation Fellowships.
Earlier this academic year, the NSF awarded a multi-year grant of nearly $750,000 to a group of researchers that includes co-principal investigator J. Marshall Shepherd, to study and advance the understanding of the Urban Heat Island Network phenomenon. The study will examine how they can be "ameliorated through engineering and design practices, and share these insights with a wide array of stakeholders."
The UGA Atmospheric Sciences Program, directed by Marshall Shepherd, was featured in the March 2013 issue of the American Geophysical Union newsletter.
Thiab Taha, a professor of computer science, received $18,000 from the National Science Foundation in support of the eighth IMACS international conference on nonlinear evolution equations and wave phenomena. IMACS is the acronym for the International Association for Mathematics and Computers in Simulation.
Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin and Yuri Milner jointly established a foundation to reward excellence in life sciences, the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation. And a Franklin alumna is among the 11 inaugural winners of the $3 million award:
The newly created Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation on Wednesday announces the first 11 winners of an award intended to inject excitement into the sometimes lonely, underfunded quests to understand and combat cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease and other maladies.
Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook; Brin, who co-founded Google; and Milner, a venture capitalist, have dipped into their fortunes to sponsor awards worth $3m each, compared with a Nobel prize's monetary value of $1.1m.
Cori Bargmann (BS '81) is the Torsten N. Wiesel Professor at Rockefeller University and head of the Lulu and Anthony Wang Laboratory of Neural Circuits and Behavior who studies how animals detect and respond to a sensory stimulus. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has received the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience. She received her degree in biochemistry at UGA and as an undergraduate, studied with former Franklin College Dean Wyatt Anderson:
"I had to sit down on the floor for a while. I thought it must be a practical joke or a Nigerian scam," said Cornelia Bargmann, 51, who has pioneered work on neural circuits and behaviour at the Rockefeller University. "The scale of this is so outsized I think it will have a huge impact on the life sciences." Asked how she would spend the money she hesitated. "It's so far outside my normal planning I don't know. Get the car fixed?"
Congratulations, Cori. Your alma mater is proud and we know you'll find some great ways to put the money to use.
Two of the three research proposals selected for funding by the Centers for Disease Control in a recent competition are from Franklin College faculty:
Funded by the UGA Research Foundation and the CDC, the awards provide pilot research project funding to promote collaboration in scientific innovation and technology development at the interface of human, veterinary and ecological health, increase quality and output of research, and strengthen interactions between CDC and UGA scientists.
"We see this program as an opportunity for the complementary strengths of the CDC and UGA to unite," said Duncan Krause, professor of microbiology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and director of UGA's Faculty of Infectious Diseases. "By collaborating like this, it allows investigators from both institutions to add new dimensions to their research programs and take advantage of expertise they might not otherwise have access to."
Previous collaborations have generated nearly $2 million in additional funding from outside sources since the program began in 2009, and researchers have maintained strong working relationships that have accelerated scientific discovery.
Emphasis mine. Full project descriptions at the link. Congratulations to our researchers for doing everything they can to speed the pace of discovery while maintaining the highest levels of precision and effectiveness. Federal agencies and academia finding constructive new ways to work together raises the impact of both on the public good.
Chemistry professor Richard Dluhy is part of a team of UGA scientists who recently received a $1.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to further flu research. Their method uses nanotechnology-based lasers that can greatly speed the prediction of impending flu strains and with greater accuracy.
Research by department of sociology Ph.D. candidate David R. Johnson was the subject of an Wired Campus story in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
UGA presented four awards to community members working toward equality, diversity and as part of the 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Breakfast sponsored by UGA, the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government and the Clarke County School District. Franklin College is home to two of the four award winners: Mark Farmer, professor of cellular biology and chair of biological sciences, and Stewart T. Zellars, a UGA senior majoring in economics and statistics. The 2013 President's Fulfilling the Dream Awards is given for work in the Athens-Clarke County community to make King's dream of equality and justice a reality.
Shanta Dhar, an assistant professor of chemistry, received the Targeting Mitochondria 2012 Award for Scientific Contribution from the Third World Congress on Targeting Mitochondria and the International Society of Antioxidant in Nutrition and Health, the highest honor given by the conference.
Professor of stratigraphic paleobiology in the department of geology Steven Holland authored an article published in the journal Nature discussing correlations between environmental changes and extinction.
Geography professor and climate scientist Marshall Shepherd was focus of an article in an Athens Banner Herald series about prominent African Americans living in the Athens area.
On Feb.1, professor Brian Boe of the department of mathematics, began a 3-year term as Associate Secretary for the Southeastern Section of the American Mathematical Society.
The UGA Bioenergy Systems Research Institute and the Office of Sustainability have selected 10 undergraduate students to serve as UGA’s University Scholars at the inaugural Southeastern Conference Symposium. Of the ten students, six are from the Franklin College.
It was announced that Henry "Fritz" Schaefer, Graham Perdue Professor of Chemistry, will receive the Chemical Pioneer Award from the American Institute of Chemists for his 'major influence on advances in chemistry.'
Rebecca R. Sharitz, professor emerita from the Franklin College and the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory was named to the inaugural list of Fellows of the Ecological Society of America.
NASA internship finds a home at UGA in the Franklin College’s department of geography.
Carrie Givens, a recent graduate of the UGA marine science doctoral program, will join 49 students from across the country in the prestigious Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship starting this February.
Stephen Kowalewski, a professor of anthropology, is overseeing a $25,000 Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation on behalf of doctoral student Yanxi Wang.
Deepak Mishra, an assistant professor of geography, received funding for research and education involving remote sensing of coastal areas. The National Science Foundation awarded Mishra $32,538 and he also received $25,000 from NASA.
Two of the three research proposals recently elected for funding from the CDC are Franklin-based projects. Boris Striepen and Rick Tarleton, both professors of cellular biology, will collaborate with CDC researchers over the next two years on preventing critically neglected human and animal diseases.
The Atlanta Chapter of the ARCS - Achievement Rewards for College Students - Foundation awarded $70,000 to nine doctoral students in the biomedical and health sciences at the University of Georgia, one of whom received a special $10,000 grant to study global health research abroad:
The ARCS Foundation was founded in Los Angeles in 1958 and is dedicated to helping meet the country's needs for scientists and engineers by providing scholarships to academically outstanding university students. UGA recipients of the award are selected through the UGA Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute.
This year's ARCS Scholars represent five UGA schools and colleges and two institutes-the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Pharmacy, College of Public Health, the College of Veterinary Medicine, the Odum School of Ecology, the Institute of Bioinformatics and the Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute.
Seven of the nine recipients are Franklin College students or in programs with Franklin College affiliations. Congratulations to all and to the faculty in these units who have supported and guided the advancement of this next generation of health researchers.
There's a really good rule of thumb in the Franklin College - one of many, to be sure - that says our graduates are who we are. At the Inaugural Alumni Awards dinner at the Classic Center last night (Oct. 18), the Franklin College honored six of our alumni, whose success speaks to the breadth of our mission as a college of arts and sciences:
“These outstanding graduates have distinguished themselves in their careers and highlight the many contributions that Franklin College alumni make to improving health, enriching quality of life and even answering fundamental questions, such as whether we’re alone in the universe,” said Franklin College Dean Alan T. Dorsey.
The winners of the 2012 Franklin College Outstanding Alumni Award are:
Jennifer Holloway of Athens, a mezzo-soprano vocalist, earned her bachelor’s degree in music from UGA in 2000 and a specialist degree in vocal performance from the Manhattan School of Music. She has performed significant leading roles in major opera houses in North America, South America and Europe, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Maggio Musicale in Florence, Italy. Her voice has been described by The Classical Review as “liquid, lambent and lit from within.”
Roger Hunter of San Jose, Calif., is a project manager for NASA’s Kepler Project. Hunter, who earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1978, is leading NASA’s mission to determine the frequency of planets that have the potential to harbor life. The mission began in 2009 and already has led to the identification of hundreds of Earth-size planet candidates.
James N. Ihle of Memphis, Tenn., is the Edward F. Barry Endowed Chair in Biochemistry at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Ihle, who earned his doctorate from the department of biochemistry and molecular biology in 1971, is a highly cited researcher who has published more than 350 scientific articles, including a landmark paper in Nature that revealed a key step in the process the body uses to rid itself of faulty or unneeded cells.
Melissa Kirkpatrick of Hidden Hills, Calif., is a noted fabric designer. Kirkpatrick, who received her bachelor’s degree in printmaking in 1989, launched her MK Collection line of fabrics, rugs and wall coverings in 2011. Her work has been featured in publications such as Elle Decoration, Interior Design and House Beautiful. The magazine Garden and Gun noted that she “subjects each design to an uncommon level of thought and scrutiny.”
Judith Mank of London, England, is a professor who holds the chair of evolutionary and comparative biology at University College London. Mank, who earned her doctorate in genetics in 2006, is working to understand how evolutionary pressures differ between females and males and how this ultimately results in the differing observable characteristics that so many animals exhibit based on sex.
Christopher Todd Wells of Playa Del Rey, Calif., is a filmographer known for his visual effects work. Wells, who earned his bachelor’s degree in theatre and film studies in 2010, has created visual effects for more than 50 major movies, in many cases serving as visual effects supervisor. Among his credits are “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Toy Story 3,” “Avatar,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “300” and “X-Men: The Last Stand.”
Lots of great coverage of the Franklin College in Columns this week, including a nice front page story on new faculty member Lawrence Sweet:
A clinical neuropsychologist whose research explores the relationship between physical changes in the brain and conditions as diverse as dementia, nicotine dependence and obesity has joined UGA as the inaugural Gary R. Sperduto Professor of Psychology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
Lawrence H. Sweet, who comes to UGA from Brown University, has authored more than 50 peer-reviewed research papers and has received funding from several National Institutes of Health agencies, including the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Cancer Institute. He is the co-editor of the book Brain Imaging in Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Neuroscience and holds a patent for a method for measuring changes in brain activity over time.
Sweet uses a technique known as functional magnetic imaging, or fMRI, to provide objective assessments of brain activity and to predict treatment outcomes. His research has examined the neural weight loss, how cardiovascular disease affects cognitive function and how the brains of smokers respond to various rewards. In 2010, he and a colleague received a patent for a new method that combines brain imaging and a common test of working memory and can be used to determine the effectiveness of drugs for conditions such as dementia or multiple sclerosis, for example.
Also in Columns are stories on NSF career awards to Krashen and Perdisci, the Quantitative Biology Consulting Group and a brief on a recital by clarinet professor D. Ray McClellan. The Franklin College is always at the center of scholarly activity, performance and recognition on campus, as this week's campus newspaper is a good reminder.