Category: research

Faculty in the Media, April 2014


Joye on the deck of a boat

University of Georgia oceanographer Mandy Joye talks about the work scientists will be doing in the Gulf of Mexico on board the research vessel Atlantis and and the submersible Alvin, background. JOHN FITZHUGH — SUN HERALD

On the leading issues of day, new discoveries, prestigious awards and newly published studies, Franklin Faculty continue to speak out and receive coverage across a variety of media. A sample:


Joye leads research group back to examine Gulf floor on the fourth anniversary of the BP oil spill – Nearly four years after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, researchers – led by UGA’s Samantha Joye – are venturing back into the waters, reports the Gulfport Sun Herald.  “Our work is aimed at understanding the long-term impacts of the 2010 blowout,” said Joye.  Article also filed by the Associated Press.

UGA research team lead by assistant professor of chemistry Shanta Dhar discovers a new way to deliver a promising drug that may one day make it a viable treatment for numerous forms of cancer, the ABH reports. 

Rethink education to fuel bioeconomy, says report – article quotes Joy Doran-Peterson, a associate professor of microbiology

High Speed trading used to Mean Carrier Pigeons, column by associate professor of history Stephen Mihm at

Georgia Virtual History Project digitizes and mobilizes state's past – ABH article quotes Christopher Lawton, a history lecturer

Lawton also quoted in a story on Georgia Virtual History Project explores Sapelo’s diverse histories – ABH

Temporary assistant professor Jerry Shannon quoted in Small retail grocers, improved transit might be key to shrinking 'food deserts' –

Noted UGA chemist honoredGregory H. Robinson, Foundation Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, has been named UGA’s recipient of the Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award for 2014

NSF grant allows UGA researchers to monitor deep-sea plumes – ABH reports that Daniela Di Iorio, an associate professor in the Franklin College of Arts & Sciences, receives an $818,395 grant to develop instrumentation to monitor deep-sea plumes, a process made challenging by high pressures and water temperatures above 300 degrees Celsius at great depths.

UGA African American Choral Ensemble celebrates 25 years of ‘togetherness’ – ABH – article quotes Gregory Broughton, ensemble director and associate professor in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music.


New drug formulation for cancer treatment


Shanta-Dhar.jpgGreat new research from the department of chemistry:

The drug dichloroacetate, or DCA, was touted as a cure-all, but after years of work, scientists are still searching for ways to make the unique treatment as effective as possible.

Now, researchers at the University of Georgia have discovered a new way to deliver this drug that may one day make it a viable treatment for numerous forms of cancer. They published their findings in the American Chemical Society's journal ACS Chemical Biology.

"DCA shows great promise as a potential cancer treatment, but the drug doesn't find and attack cancer cells very efficiently in the doses researchers are testing," said Shanta Dhar, an assistant professor of chemistry in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. "We have developed a new compound based on DCA that is three orders of magnitude more potent than standard treatments."

Every cell in the body needs energy to divide and grow, and most of them do this by breaking down sugar. When cells misbehave, they are normally deprived of their food and die in a process called apoptosis.

Dhar is becoming one of the foremost cancer researchers in the country, and this new work (and accompanying technology) only re-emphasize that case. So very much goes into getting to the stage where we can promote published results from our faculty, and having the institutional pieces of the puzzle in place where our researchers can do their best work is where these real benefits to society can be glimpsed. Hard to overstate the implications of this new research, the product of great perserverence and dedication by Dr. Dhar and her team. And it's also occasion to remember how many things have to happen in concert to make it all possible.

Image: Shanta Dhar, with graduate assitant Sean Marrache, in her lab.

Ice sheet melt into the oceans: what to expect


meltwaterGreenland exteriorThe effects of climate change have been [mostly] slow moving and difficult to detect, up to now. But where glacial melt is occuring, the changes are rather dynamic - and that's only what can be observed above the water line. UGA researchers and other scientists are working together to understand the impact of melting glaciers on the world's oceans:

A new $1.49 million interdisciplinary science grant from NASA will support efforts by University of Georgia faculty in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences departments of geography and marine sciences to measure the effects of climate change on biological productivity in the ocean. The three-year research project on "From the Ice Sheet to the Sea: An Interdisciplinary Study of the Impact of Extreme Melt on Ocean Stratification and Productivity Near West Greenland" is a collaboration between UGA and scientists from the City College of New York, Rutgers University and Stanford University.

The study will examine the connection between Greenland ice sheet melt water and ocean productivity using remote sensing and modeling tools as well as data gathered on site. The work will examine the effect of melt on ocean circulation and mixing and investigate the role of ocean stratification and nutrients on ocean productivity.

The seriousness of this issue, notwithstanding reluctance from some quarters, is impossible to overstate. It would seem to be a major signal to all that NASA, the world's leading scientists and every other research organization across the globe speak without caveat about that seriousness. Perhaps further findings from research like this will produce the necessary political will to turn the tide, so to speak. As of now, the tide continues to be the force ahead of the change to come. Thanks to our faculty for working to understand it better.

Image: meltwater runoff from the ice sheet margin in Greenland during summer 2013, courtesy of Thomas Mote.

2014 CURO Symposium


Once again the best in UGA undergraduate research, heavy with Franklin College students, will be presented at the annual symposium by the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities March 31 and April 1 at the Classic Center in downtown Athens:

Since its inception in 1999, the CURO Symposium has provided a public space for students from all academic disciplines to share their research with their peers, the UGA research community and others.


Among the more than 150 student research projects to be presented at the CURO Symposium are:

• "Perceptions about Global Development," a poster by Alexa DeAntonio, a third-year biological sciences major. DeAntonio has been examining the public's awareness, attitude and knowledge of the developing world and the role the media plays in shaping those perceptions.

• "Octopaminergic Gene Expression and Flexible Social Behavior in the Subsocial Burying Beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides," an oral presentation by Mary Douthit, a fourth-year biology major. The project looks at how genetics influences the social behavior of the burying beetle species Nicrophorus vespilloides.

Great work by many talented students. The opportunity to conduct research during the undergraduate years allows students to test out a variety of career paths within and outside of the laboratory. The symposium is open to the public, so be sure to check it out.

The Neuroeconomics of decision-making


mackillop-james.jpgTerrific new study from the Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology Laboratory in the department of psychology:

Although choosing to do something because the perceived benefit outweighs the financial cost is something people do daily, little is known about what happens in the brain when a person makes these kinds of decisions. Studying how these cost-benefit decisions are made when choosing to consume alcohol, University of Georgia associate professor of psychology James MacKillop identified distinct profiles of brain activity that are present when making these decisions.

"We were interested in understanding how the brain makes decisions about drinking alcohol. Particularly, we wanted to clarify how the brain weighs the pros and cons of drinking," said MacKillop, who directs the Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology Laboratory in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.


"These findings reveal the distinct neural signatures associated with different kinds of consumption preferences. Now that we have established a way of studying these choices, we can apply this approach to better understanding substance use disorders and improving treatment," he said, adding that comparing fMRI scans from alcoholics with those of people with normal drinking habits could potentially tease out brain patterns that show what is different between healthy and unhealthy drinkers. "In the past, we have found that behavioral indices of alcohol value predict poor treatment prognosis, but this would permit us to understand the neural basis for negative outcomes."

And importantly:

While MacKillop acknowledges the impact this research could have on neuromarketing-or understanding how the brain makes decisions about what to buy-he is more interested in how this research can help people with alcohol addiction.

Interesting research that ventures into several directions at once, which one might guess mirrors the nature of how we make decisions. 

Image: James MacKillop, courtesy of UGA Photo services.

Understanding the Past, 1/10th of a second at a time


Nicolas_Poussin paintingAn interesting take from one of the Chronicle of Higher Ed blogs on the humans systems implications of our increasing ability to subdivide time into tinier and tinier increments:

Yet we are still some way off coming to terms with analyzing these developments. They require mathematical expertise that is still in short supply. One of the most exciting academic developments of recent years has been the way in which mathematics and statistics suited to these phenomena have begun to sprout. Just as mathematicians have developed who specialize in life sciences, it seems likely that the same will happen in the social sciences and that, before long, such mathematicians will no longer be a rare breed.

Equally, there is a conglomeration of activity that brings together the arts and humanities, design, and computational science based around what might be called the aesthetics of immediacy, a longstanding Western cultural tradition first found in the realm of timekeeping (as my book with Paul Glennie, Shaping the Day, on the genesis of clock time shows), which is changing yet again as technological improvements allow new kinds of temporal representation.

Happy Monday.

Image: Time defending Truth against the attacks of Envy and Discord, 1641, by Nicolas Poussin, oil on canvas. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Introvert in an Extraverted World


campbell interiorProfessor and head of the department of psychology Keith Campbell is also a best-selling author whose research uncovers great insights on that delicate state of affairs we refer to as the human condition. Next week, he will give a lecture on how introversion impacts learning March 4 at 2 p.m. in the Reading Room of the Miller Learning Center:

The lecture is titled "Being an Introvert in an Extraverted World: The Case of Education" and is hosted by the UGA Student Affairs department of academic partnerships and initiatives.


"There are so many situations where extraversion helps, such as a job interview, to finding a date, to participating in class," Campbell said. "This is more important now than ever because people change jobs more often, date more and delay marriage, and are expected to actively participate in classrooms."

Another terrific event that anyone at all can turn into a learning experience. How lucky you are to be on your campus.

Sulfur into clouds


UGA-ESP instrumentIn a naturally-occuring process, sulfur makes its way from microbes in the ocean up into the atmosphere where it plays a part in the formation of clouds. The phenomenon has long been know, but now scientists are learning more about how it actually happens:

A new $2 million National Science Foundation grant will allow the UGA-led research group to further document how genes in ocean microbes transform sulfur into clouds in the Earth's atmosphere.

Co-principal investigators on the grant are Franklin College of Arts and Sciences professors Mary Ann Moran of the department of marine sciences and William "Barny" Whitman of the department of microbiology. The team is joined by Ronald Keine, a marine scientist at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama, and James Birch and Chris Scholin, scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California.


Engineers at Monterrey Bay had created an autonomous ocean-going instrument that houses a miniaturized molecular lab that sits in the ocean, takes in water, extracts DNA from cells, analyzes DNA and sends the information back to shore via radio modem, providing scientists with real-time ocean data.

"They were looking for good uses of their unique instrument that would be scientifically valuable," Moran said. "We deployed primers for bacterial DMSP genes in their ocean-going molecular lab and caught an example of DMSP pathway regulation as it happened, for the first time ever."

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.

UGA Librairies Research Grant



Apply for a Research Grant with UGA Libraries - Seven undergraduate research awards up for grabs

By Jessica Luton


Have a great idea for research but need a little funding help? The University of Georgia Libraries’ Undergraduate Research Awards are currently accepting applications for seven cash prizes totaling $2,000 for students who demonstrate distinction in research and academic inquiry. Find the requirements for applying here

Established in support of the University’s mission of instruction, research and service mission, these scholarships are meant to encourage scholarship and emphasize the research process using library resources and services.

This is a great opportunity for undergraduate students, especially those that may be embarking on a research project for the very first time.

Students must be enrolled in the CURO or Honors programs OR submit abstracts of their projects to the CURO Symposium by Feb. 14, in addition to applying for the research award.

Take advantage of this unique opportunity. But act fast. Deadlines are quickly approaching.  Read more about the UGA Libraries Undergraduate Research Award here and learn more about applying for the CURO Symposium here.