Category: graduate students

Four Thirty-Three: Spotlight on Scholarship


In 1952, American experimental composer John Cale composed a three-movement composition, Four minutes, thirty-three seconds, or Four thirty-three. Written for any instrument or combination of instruments, the score instructs the performer(s) not to play their instrument(s) during the entire duration of the piece throughout the three movements. The piece purports to consist of the sounds of the environment that the listeners hear while it is performed, although it is commonly perceived as "four minutes thirty-three seconds of silence". The title refers to the total length in minutes and seconds of a given performance, 4′33″ being the total length of the first public performance, and a standard length of 'canned music.' Cage intended to sell the composition to the Musak Company.

A reflection of the influence of Zen Buddhism on Cage, the piece challenged audiences to reconsider the function of art and the borders between traditional art disciplines and between artistic practice and philosophy.

For the 2014 Spotlight on the Arts Festival, the Arts Council is riffing on this idea in a competition aimed at UGA graduate students:

The UGA Arts Council is seeking graduate students to participate in the inaugural “4 minutes, 33 seconds: Spotlight on Scholarship” competition. The event, which will award two prizes of $433 each, will give the campus community insight into the scholarship and research in the arts conducted by University of Georgia graduate students.

For the competition, graduate students have 4 minutes, 33 seconds to describe their research. They can use up to 33 visual aid slides to help explain the topic. The event is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10 in the Chapel, as part of the Spotlight on the Arts festival.

Points will be awarded based on performance, originality and passion, as well as conciseness, comprehension, engagement and ability to convey the research to a non-specialist audience. Sound and props are permitted.

Two winners will be chosen: one by a panel of faculty within and outside the arts and another chosen as an audience favorite. The winners will receive support for their research in the form of an award of $433 each.

Today is the dealine for entries. Graduate students can apply by emailing and CC’ing your department’s Arts Council representative (for a list of Arts Council representatives, see The email should contain your name, degree objective and a paragraph that clearly, succinctly and compellingly describes your research topic and its significance to a non-specialist audience. A subcommittee of the Arts Council will determine the participants.

Here's Cale's Paris 1919



Geology to partner with Chevron to support graduate assistantships


Chevron5.jpgAthens, Ga. – The Chevron Corporation and the University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of geology will partner to support two research assistantships for geology graduate students. The new stipends, part of Chevron’s University Partnership Program, were announced Sept. 26 at a ceremony on the UGA campus.

Chevron’s President of North American Exploration and Production and UGA Geology alumnus Jeff Shellebarger (BS’78 MS’80) visited campus to take part in the ceremony and to speak with geology students, faculty, and alumni. 

“Chevron is investing in geology, a strong statement of support for a program worthy of such student/research investment,” said Sara Cook, director of development for the Franklin College. “Our alumni go on to be leaders in competitive industries all over the world and Jeff is a prime example of the impact of quality that comes from the UGA Franklin College experience.”

Through the partnership with the department of geology, Chevron will support two research assistantships for geology graduate students. Each assistantship will be funded at $21,000 and allow the department to recruit students to study geophysics and stratigraphy. In addition, Chevron will support a team of five graduate students in geology to travel to the Imperial Barrel Award competition in Denver, CO. They will also be able to travel to Houston, TX to meet with Chevron consultants for training prior to the competition, as well as have access to equipment and software. 

“Chevron is proud to support the UGA geology department with a gift of $50,000 made through our University Partnership Program,” said Bill Hunter, manager, Chevron University Affairs. “We believe that UGA geology students receive an outstanding education in the basic geologic fundamentals required for a successful career in the oil and gas industry and Chevron looks forward to recruiting UGA students to help us meet energy demands around the world.”

“Funding from Chevron in the form of RA stipends and IBA team support will allow us to recruit high caliber graduate students to work on research related to energy resources,” said Douglas Crowe, professor and head of the department of geology. “As we move forward in the 21st century we face enormous challenges to continue to find and produce sufficient energy to allow society to grow and prosper, and this partnership is certainly a step in the right direction."


Changes in the Life Sciences


Integrated_Life_Sciences_2dai.jpgNot the sciences themselves, but a new UGA graduate education approach. The Integrated Life Sciences:

giving entering graduate students in the life sciences one of the nation's broadest range of research opportunities through its redesigned and expanded Integrated Life Sciences program.

More than 50 students recently started their studies in the relaunched program, which allows them to gain hands-on experience in three labs before selecting a major professor and research focus. The students can choose those labs from among a slate of more than 200 faculty members and 14 participating doctoral programs in four different colleges.

Nancy Manley, director of the program and a professor of genetics in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, explained that the remodeled ILS program expands upon the concept of umbrella programs, in which multiple departments partner in graduate recruitment. Students in the ILS program can rotate through labs in fields as disparate as entomology, biochemistry, infectious diseases and plant biology, for example, or explore interdisciplinary topics such as cancer, climate change, evolutionary biology or neurosciences.

Distinguished Research Professor Allen Moore of genetics gets even more explicit about the issue:

"The problem with graduate education in the U.S. is that we are stuck with a format that was invented in the 1950s when we had botany and zoology. That is not what modern scientists do," Moore said. "What we really do is use techniques from all over the biological sciences and use model organisms anywhere from plants to insects to microbes. We're not stuck in those departments any more."

This is a good sign of response and evolution on the part of faculty leaders who design our graduate programs. As leading-edge researchers, they know where the science is moving and hence the kind of broad expertise they want to hire. Beginning a formal process of training our graduate students for success in the field today is a great acknowledgement of an institutional willingness to change. More opportunities for the most promising graduate students is a priority.

Here's a video of Dr. Manley and some of our students talking about the ILS program.

Image: Jin Dai, a first-year student in the Integrated Life Sciences program, speaks to Jonathan Eggenschwiler, assistant professor in genetics, during a meet-and-greet, courtesy UGA photo services.

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.