Food safety research usually involves analyzing live populations of foodborne pathogens like Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli, but University of Georgia food scientist Henk den Bakker fights pathogens by developing computer software.
The 2017 Spring Graduation Celebration & Brick Ceremony were held at the UGA Griffin Campus on Thursday, May 4 at 10 a.m. A total of twenty-five graduates from the five colleges on campus did not allow the rain to dampen their celebration of their accomplishments. More...
Daniel Mwalwayo has spent most of his professional career working to ensure a safe food supply in his home country of Malawi.
This spring, he’s spending three months focused on that goal while training at the University of Georgia through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program. The program, which is administered at UGA by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Office of Global Programs, promotes food security and economic growth by providing training and collaborative research opportunities to researchers and policymakers from developing or middle-income countries.
After nearly a decade working for the national food inspection program in Malawi, Mwalwayo wanted to study how to minimize aflatoxin in processed peanuts, a problem he sees firsthand at home. The Borlaug program matched him with Koushik Adhikari, a UGA food science professor who is an expert in sensory analysis and is working with Mwalwayo on how to survey consumers on peanut consumption and aflatoxin-related issues. Mwalwayo also spent time in the lab of Jia-Sheng Wang, the head of the Environmental Health Science Department at UGA, to learn more about aflatoxin testing techniques.
Thirty-two UGA employees retired April 1. Retirees, their job classification, department and years of service are:
University of Georgia food microbiologist Xiangyu Deng’s work in the emerging field of bioinformatics led to his selection as a Creative Research Medal winner for 2017.
The medal is one of the prestigious honors bestowed annually by the UGA Research Foundation. Awards are given to outstanding faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students in recognition of excellence in research, scholarly creativity and technology commercialization at UGA.
Deng, an assistant professor of food microbiology with the Center for Food Safety (CFS) on the UGA Griffin campus, was recognized for creating a cloud-based software tool that quickly classifies strains of salmonella, one of the most prevalent foodborne pathogens in the United States and worldwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 million foodborne illnesses and 380 deaths in the U.S. each year can be linked to nontyphoidal salmonella.
The SeqSero system identifies serotypes, or distinct strains of salmonella, from infected humans, animals, foods and the environment using whole genome sequencing. This system allows for accurate, fast “fingerprinting” of any salmonella strain and replaces a complicated, time-consuming laboratory protocol. Analysis time using SeqSero takes just minutes — analysis using the old system took days — while adding no extra cost.
The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) has tapped Allen Moore, currently serving as the department head of the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Department of Genetics, to lead the college's research efforts as the CAES associate dean for research.
CAES Dean Sam Pardue announced the decision this week following a months-long national search.
“Dr. Moore brings a diverse background in genetics, ecology and entomology to our college research program,” Pardue said. “Adding his breadth of experience and perspective to our stellar faculty of researchers will help us continue on our trajectory of strong growth.”
Moore, a UGA Distinguished Research Professor, is an expert in evolutionary biology and behavior genetics; molecular and quantitative genetic studies of complex traits, especially social traits; and the development of behavior. He held various research and administrative positions in the biological sciences at the University of Manchester and the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, and in entomology at the University of Kentucky.
Last summer, seven seniors from Pike County High School (PCHS) in Zebulon, Georgia, with an aptitude for science made a commitment to work alongside University of Georgia Griffin campus scientists three days a week for the entire school year. This month, they will complete their yearlong partnership.
The students, Courtney Bagwell, Dylan Blohm, Abigail Chasteen, Nikki Dodson, Megan Pitts, Taylor Thomas and Talisa Watts, are the first group to take part in the off-campus internship.
"The beauty and the flexibility of the (Pike County STEM) Academy is that we have a lot of standards, but we can pick and choose the ones that fit with science and math, and then add in the technology and the engineering through agriculture," said Greg Waits, the program's coordinator and the agriculture education teacher at the high school.
Students are selected for the program based on their test scores in math and science. Then they take advanced classes in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) areas during their freshman, sophomore and junior years before participating in the off-campus experience at UGA-Griffin.
Formally, the students earn Advanced Placement science credits for participating. They also gain a wealth of information and personal experience.
Agriculture is Georgia’s top industry, and students from the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences are learning about the diversity of agriculture during a weeklong tour across the state.
Thirty-three students are spending their spring break immersing themselves in learning more about poultry, Vidalia onions, peanuts, turfgrass and many other commodities that make agriculture an almost $14 billion industry in Georgia.
“This is an amazing tour that allows students to see Georgia agriculture up close and personal. Students learn about the complexity and sophistication of Georgia agriculture,” said Josef Broder, CAES associate dean for academic affairs. “They gain a perspective and appreciation for agriculture that better prepares them for careers in and outside of agriculture.”
The tour began on Monday in north Georgia with stops to learn about apples at Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, Georgia; wine at Wolf Mountain Vineyards in Dahlonega, Georgia; poultry production at the Georgia Poultry Laboratory in Gainesville, Georgia; and nursery production at James Greenhouses, a family-owned and -operated perennial plug operation in Colbert, Georgia.
Landscapers can soon add a bit of Georgia’s historical Piedmont and native prairies to their designs thanks to the creation of three new little bluestem perennial grasses, released through a University of Georgia and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) partnership.
Little bluestem grasses are native to North America and are a major component of the tallgrass prairie. They typically produce green to blue-green foliage. With names that conjure up thoughts of the ‘70s, the new little bluestem varieties are much more colorful than their traditional parents. ‘Cinnamon Girl’ has a red-burgundy glow, ‘Seasons in the Sun’ has a lavender glow and ‘Good Vibrations’ is a mix of colors: red-purple with green-yellow foliage.
The idea to breed the colorful grasses came from USDA scientist Melanie Harrison. Harrison curates more than 500 different species of grasses and safely cold stores them in the USDA Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit facility on the UGA campus in Griffin, Georgia. Most of these grasses will never be grown in home landscapes, but their genes may be used to breed specific characteristics into new grass varieties.
Looking at little bluestems day after day, Harrison began to notice ornamental characteristics.
“My job is to conserve close to 500 different species of grasses, so there’s a lot of variety,” she said. “I thought they were pretty, but I’m not a plant breeder, so I asked Carol (Robacker) what she thought.”
University of Georgia scientists are now better equipped to help businesses launch new food products with the opening of the Food Technology Center, locally known as the FoodPIC building, on the UGA Griffin campus. The facility houses the university’s Food Product Innovation and Commercialization, or FoodPIC, Center.
The $7.4 million project was funded through $3.5 million from the state of Georgia and additional funds from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Griffin-Spalding Development Authority and the University of Georgia.
The state-of-the-art 14,500-square-foot facility was dedicated on Jan. 30 with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Speakers at the ceremony included Board of Regents Chairman Dr. C. Thomas Hopkins Jr., state Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin), Chairman of the Griffin-Spalding Development Authority Board Charles Copeland, Dean and Director of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Sam Pardue, and Pike County STEM Academy student Nikki Dodson, along with UGA President Jere W. Morehead.
“The Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center is an outstanding example of the University of Georgia using its resources to help strengthen our state’s economy,” Morehead said. “We are grateful for the support we have received for the new Food Technology Center, and we are excited to expand the reach of FoodPIC within the global food industry.”