Category: graduate students

Art Maymester in NYC


NYCCOMBO.jpgMore on this soon, but 30 students (graduate and undergraduate) in the Lamar Dodd School of Art enjoyed a great experience on a new Maymester program in the spring - a field study in New York City. Students had the opportunity to visit all the big museums plus a number of galleries throughout the city, interact with many UGA alumni as well as incoming LDSOA director Chris Garvin. Now that's a fun way to learn.

Image collage courtesy of Marni Shindelman.

New master's degree collaboration with State Farm Insurance


Our department of statistics serves as an important nexus - instructing majors and graduate students, master's students from other disciplines and providing modeling and analysis for research projects around campus. It's terrific reputation is well-earned and now that renown has dveloped into a promising corporate partnership:

[The department of] statistics and State Farm Insurance Companies will cooperate on a new program beginning this fall that will partner students pursuing a master's degree in statistics with the Fortune 50 company.

The Modeling and Analytics Graduate Network, or MAGNet, program will provide participating students with support—such as paid tuition and fees and financial compensation—while they pursue a master's degree at UGA. In return, students will spend 20 hours a week—40 hours a week during the summer semester—conducting real-life research on projects directed by the Strategic Resources Department of State Farm.

"Our aim is to attract between two and four students for the MAGNet program at the University of Georgia this fall and eventually increase that number to as many as eight students," said Laurette Stiles, vice president of the Strategic Resources Department for State Farm. "Our department is experiencing a growing demand to provide analytics skills and expertise to areas across State Farm as the company enhances our ability to identify and meet customer needs."

The UGA statistics department "is very excited to partner with State Farm on building the MAGNet program at the University of Georgia," said John Stufken, a UGA professor and statistics department head. "The partnership creates a win-win situation by helping us attract strong (master's) degree students who will acquire the skills needed to help State Farm in meeting their growing analytics demands."

Great news all around that stands to substantially benefit our students.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowships


Boris _studentGraduate research fellowships are some of the most important investments of extramural funding. This is 'seed money' for tomorrow's best scientists, many of whom are right here on the UGA campus. Evidence of that is 11 new National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships announced today:

The program fellowships, which recognize and support outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, are among the most competitive in the United States. The NSF received more than 14,000 applications for the 2014 competition, and made 2,000 fellowship award offers.

Seven of the 11 are from the Franklin College:

Karson Brooks, of Dothan, Alabama, received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Alabama in 2013, and he is now working toward a graduate degree in UGA's chemistry department. His research focuses on the modification of polymer brushes and brush systems.

Michael Burel, of Acworth, Georgia, graduated from UGA in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in cellular biology and a certificate in interdisciplinary writing. Now a doctoral student in stem cell biology at the New York University School of Medicine, Burel is working to understand how a single, mutant stem cell can completely dominate and replace a pool of normal stem cells in tissues.

Emily Carpinone, of Tampa, Florida, joined UGA after earning a bachelor's degree from the University of Florida in 2013. She is currently a first-year graduate student in the UGA microbiology department working toward a doctoral degree. Her research focuses on a protein called Vibrio outer protein Q.

Nicholas Kalivoda, of Athens, Georgia, graduated from UGA in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in linguistics. He is now a doctoral candidate in linguistics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Kalivoda's research focuses on the study of patterns in speech sounds, word order and their interconnections.

Michael Lonneman, of Independence, Kentucky, earned his bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of Louisville in 2011. He is currently in the second year of his doctoral program in UGA's anthropology department. Lonneman's research explores how households participating in agriculture in the Dominican Republic are responding to economic and environmental change

Tatum Mortimer, of Waleska, Georgia, earned a bachelor's degree in microbiology from UGA in 2012. She is now a second-year graduate student in the Microbiology Doctoral Training Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mortimer's research focuses on the ecology and evolution of pathogenic bacteria

Addison Wright, of Marietta, Georgia, graduated from UGA in 2013 a double major in history and biochemistry and molecular biology. He is now pursuing a doctoral degree in the molecular and cell biology department at the University of California, Berkeley, where he plans to conduct research on a bacterial adaptive immune system known as CRISPR.

Great stuff. Congratulations to all these students and the Franklin departments they will call home. Some their best work will happen right here at UGA, and that's something we can all be excited about.

Image: 2012 photo of professor Boris Striepen, left, of the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases and Ph.D. student Maria Francia in his lab at the Coverdell Building. Courtesy UGA Photo services

Engaging the Public: A workshop on communicating your research


Because our office is constantly engaged with this, communicating about research and scholarship is a near and dear priority. And of course, as the Franklin College, we are home to so many great scholars and scientists that it is must that we share this expertise as widely as possible.

But communicating with the public, and especially the media, can be a challenge. Now the Graduate School is organizing a workshop series designed to help our faculty communicate their work more effectively.

To help faculty members develop and practice those skills, The Graduate School, OVPR, Provost’s Office, Public Affairs, Grady College, and Department of Theatre and Film Studies are again presenting a two-part workshop on Engaging the Public. Applications are now open.

Session One: Tuesday, March 25th, 1pm-4pm
Session Two: Thursday, March 27th, 1pm-4pm

**You MUST be able to attend both sessions to participate

Participation is extremely limited. To be considered, please email Meredith Welch-Devine ( by 5pm on March 4th with the following information:
1) Your name and department Your name and department Your name and department Your name and departmentYour name and department Your name and department Your name and department Your name and department
2) Your area of research expertise
3) A brief rationale that explains why it is important for you to be chosen for this training
4) Confirmation that you would be able to attend both sessions of the workshop in their entirety
The training group will be selected for diversity across represented departments and career stages. Applicants will be notified of selection decisions by March 7th.
For further information on this workshop, contact the Director of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs, Dr. Meredith Welch-Devine.
▪ Email:

A separate set of workshops on the topic for graduate students and post-docs is scheduled for March 18 and 20. For more information and to apply, go here.

Just Print Play


Faculty and graduate students of the Printmaking and Book Arts area in the Lamar Dodd School of Art are going to Belgium over spring break (March 5-17) to take part in a collaborative residency with Concordia University at the Frans Masereel Centrum.The UGA contingent was invited to participate in the week-long residency at the Frans Masereel Centrum - an arts center for graphics named for the Flemish painter and graphic artist - based on their project, "Just Print Play," which was selected from among a number of international submissions.



To fund the trip and the graduate students printed t-shirts that they sold at home football games and secured additional funding from the President’s Venture Fund. To secure the rest of the necessary funding, the group has turned to Kickstarter and now you can support this terrific international effort from our art students.

Students field tested during Hercules blowout emergency response


drifter deployment on a boatWhen the Hercules 252 rig blew out and began spewing gas, condensate and other hydrocarbons into the Gulf of Mexico on July 23rd earlier this year, UGA marine scientist Samantha Joye and colleagues from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative quickly assembled a team and plan to assess the potential impacts of the accident. Graduate students involved with the project found themselves with the rare opportunity to participate in 'rapid response' science:

Five students – Joy Battles (ECOGIG), Nathan Laxague (CARTHE), Conor Smith (CARTHE), Tiffany Warner (CWC), and Sarah Weber (ECOGIG) – suddenly found themselves at the heart of this important mission, and not as sideline players. Their educational and research background and their personal fortitude were put to the test, working as a full-fledged response team to plan and execute this “herculean” data-gathering operation.

The coordinator of this response effort was University of Georgia biogeochemist and microbial ecologist Dr. Samantha Joye, science lead for the Ecosystem Impacts of Oil & Gas Inputs to the Gulf (ECOGIG) consortium. She said that at-sea experience, learning how to plan and stage cruises, is a requirement for oceanography students. However, this was no ordinary field work. “Planning and executing a rapid response cruise is a different animal as time is of the essence and there is no margin for error,” Joye explained, adding, “They were all faced with an incredible challenge yet they achieved remarkable success. I could not be more proud of them.”


[UGA graduate and current marine science graduate student] Battles and Weber together served as co-chief scientists for a portion of the cruise, guiding the water column and sediment sampling around the blowout site as well as collecting samples for later analyses of methane levels and biological activity related to carbon and nitrogen cycling. Weber explained, “We had to coordinate and execute a strategic sampling plan given the evolving circumstances of the blowout and the capabilities of our scientific gear and personnel.” Though Weber had done similar work, she said, “previous to this cruise…the responsibility had never fallen on my shoulders.”


"As long as humans endeavor to extract oil and gas resources from the Gulf’s seabed, it is important for scientists to study the consequences of such accidental releases.” – Joy Battles, University of Georgia and ECOGIG

Battles continued speaking about the impact on the Gulf’s fragile ecosystems, “It’s easy to overlook the effects of a natural gas leak because gas is invisible to the eye, but methane is an important contributor to global warming and it plays an important role in oceanic food webs.”

Fantastic experience for these students as well as an important update on the situation from Dr. Joye. Read more about this developing situation and the positive impact the consortim of universities involved in research in the Gulf of Mexico are having on this complex situation. Several of our societal goals (energy independence and protecting the environment among them) come into conflict in the Gulf. Staying informed on progress, and regress, in this important ecosystem can be difficult, especially after dramatic events fade from the headlines.

Image: Conor Smith is shown here in a time lapse photo of one CARTHE drifter being deployed from the R/V Acadiana near the site of the Hercules rig. (Photo courtesy of CARTHE)

Graduate Student Research Conference


grad students with posters

Franklin students share scientific research at symposium        

By Jessica Luton

Scientific research, and plenty of it, was on display this week at an interdisciplinary conference on UGA’s Coverdell Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences. The 5th Annual Scientific Research Day, as it is known, is put together each year by the Graduate Students and Postdocs in Science (GSPS), a campus organization that came together a few years ago to help graduate students and post-doctoral researchers in science gain professional development.

The Franklin College of Arts and Sciences was well represented by students from the departments of chemistry, geology, genetics, microbiology and marine sciences, to name a few, but there were many students representing departments all over campus. 

The symposium featured poster sessions and oral presentations by students, as well as a captivating keynote address by Harvard Medical School neurobiologist David Clapham, entitled “Spermatozoa, Cilia and the Struggle of Existence.”

An annual interdisciplinary graduate research conference in the sciences is what you might expect to find on a campus like ours. Yet still I was thoroughly impressed by the enthusiasm on disply – for conducting research, making new discoveries and solving real world problems. Participation in a conference of this sort really helps students blur the boundaries between disciplines, learn from each other and think about things in new and different ways. 

One presentation given by Ashley Askew, a postdoctoral student at the Warnell School of Forrestry with a Ph.D. from Franklin’s department of statistics, was exemplary of the value of interdisciplinary conferences and knowledge exchange. 

Her project focused on a regional comparison of recreational activities through the year 2060, with climate change as a quantifiable factor in her projections, but her methodology, which she explained in great detail, could be used with any sort of research that assesses demand and forecasts trends, she said. 

Clapham’s keynote address at the end of the symposium expanded on the benefits of an interdisciplinary learning and dresearch environment. Trained as an electrical engineer at Georgia Tech, he obtained an M.D. and Ph.D. from Emory University and has continued his marriage of interdisciplinary study throughout his career. 

He completed his residency in internal medicine at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and his post-doctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute in Goettingen, Germany. After several years on the faculty at the Mayo Clinic, he moved to the Children’s Hospital in Boston, where he directs cardiovascular research, and is a professor of nNeurobiology at Harvard Medical School.

Clapham’s research focuses on the role of calcium as a messenger within the cell and between cells, and identifying and characterizing ion channels in the body. His previous research has focused on calcium and ion channel, in regards to developing drugs to alleviate cardiac arrhythmias, but his talk at the symposium focused on fertility, the role of calcium and a gene known as CATSPER that plays an integral part in human reproduction and could lead to a new way to offer birth control without the use of hormones. The research is fascinating and you can read more about his lab here and here

I came away from the event with one overarching point: sharing knowledge and being unafraid to enter into new realms of learning only increases your ability to be a better researcher, no matter what your discipline. 

In the exchange of knowledge, attendees have the opportunity to learn from one another, advance research and offer fresh takes on topics in new and novel ways.   And that’s certainly something to be applauded. Kudos to GSPS for a great symposium.  Be sure to check out the abstracts of this year’s participants at the GSPS website and view the winners of this year’s symposium over at the Red and Black.  

Okie wins Fite dissertation award


We've been on a roll with history department students this week (and let's hear it for the humanities) and so in keeping with the theme, congratulations again, Tom Okie:

On June 15, 2013 the Agricultural History Society announced the winners of its annual publication and societal awards. The awards banquet was part of the Society’s annual conference, which was held in Banff, Alberta, Canada. The Agricultural History Society was founded in Washington, D.C. in 1919 and is the second oldest professional historical society in the United States. It has members around the world and is dedicated to promoting the study of agricultural and rural history. This year's awards included the Gilbert C. Fite Dissertation Award, for the best dissertation on agricultural history, was awarded to William Thomas Okie, “‘Everything Is Peaches Down In Georgia’: Culture and Agriculture in the American South” (University of Georgia, 2012).

Very well done, Tom. Associate professor in the department Shane Hamilton won the award in 2005, so our track record here is very strong. The Fite Dissertation Award is named after former UGA History Professor Dr. Gilbert Fite.


Stone awarded People's Choice Award


Stone_Brian outsideGraduate students often participate in conferences, in formal presentations and conversations about their work with other participants during poster sessions and other events. Most frequently, academic conferences are organized by discipline but the UGA Graduate Student Association tried something different in April with their Interdisciplinary Research Conference and it seems to have been an overwhelming success. Among the unusual outcomes was the presentation of People's Choice Award at the conference, which went to psychology graduate student Brian Stone:

Stone's research focuses on the way the brain uses information from the senses to keep track of where the body is in space. This sensory information lets the brain know what is part of the body and what is an outside object.

By manipulating people's senses in the lab, psychologists have found that the brain can be tricked.

In his presentation, Stone highlighted the connection between sensory psychology and fields like robotics and engineering. Short-term applications include designing better prosthetics.

"(We can use) sensory tricks to incorporate an external object, like a prosthetic, into the body for someone like an amputee," Stone said.

The chance to discuss these broader implications of his research was what drew Stone to present at the Interdisciplinary Research Conference.

The idea of a conference like this is great and the Grad Student Association is to be commended. They know the importance of getting feedback from outside their disciplines and interacting with colleagues from other areas, which is why they organized such a conference. Even picking a favorite presentation is less of a competition and more of an acknowledgement of insightful work. Great job, and congratulations to Stone for being the People's Choice.



Students and faculty in the department of geography have pioneered a terrific new collaboration with NASA set to begin this summer:

University of Georgia's department of geography will partner with NASA through DEVELOP, a national student internship program created to enhance training and development in Earth science. The UGA collaboration is only the second housed strictly at a university in the U.S.

Initial UGA projects include analyzing the marshes of coastal Georgia, examining the correlations between public health and air quality in Washington County, Ga., determining the effects of ozone on hemlock conifers in the Great Smoky Mountains and assessing forest connectivity in Costa Rica.

"The DEVELOP Program gives the university a unique opportunity to engage further with NASA, attract and train a new cohort of student-scientists and extend our results to local communities," said Thomas Mote, professor and head of the department of geography, which is housed in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. "The program is geared toward the use of NASA tools and resources to address local issues, and we're proud that geography has played the lead role in bringing the DEVELOP Program to the university."

Several faculty members in the department of geography have long had associations with NASA; Ph.D. student Steve Padgett-Vasquez, who worked at NASA before coming to UGA, is to be commended for connecting the department with this particular program. DEVELOP will help students gain important experience in research projects that will add to the body of knowledge concerning Earth science. We're glad to welcome this collaboration to the campus.