News

  • Retirees
  • Griffin Campus
  • Athens Campus
  • Cooperative Extension
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Seventeen UGA employees retired Oct. 1. Retirees, their job classification, department and years of service are:

  • Food Science and Technology
  • Peanut Mycotoxin and Innovation Lab
  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
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For millennia, farmers used compost to return nutrients to depleted soil. Now researchers are searching for a way composting can help battle aflatoxin.

Ghana native Esther Yeboah Akoto, who is currently pursuing her master’s degree in food science and technology at the University of Georgia, is working to help farmers diminish aflatoxin contamination in their soil by composting field waste.

“We know that composting has been around for a very long time. It’s a technique that growers have used for thousands of years,” said Akoto, who is conducting her research in conjunction with U.S. Feed the Future's Peanut Mycotoxin and Innovation Lab at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

“More recently, we know about aflatoxin and its effect on health. Could composting provide a way to remove aflatoxin-contaminated produce from the food supply?”

Researchers around the world are working to minimize naturally occurring molds that can grow on peanuts, maize and other crops. Those molds diminish the quality of peanut crops and generate mycotoxins such as aflatoxin, a dangerous compound that can cause physical and mental stunting in children, cause cancer and, in high doses, even kill. Obviously, the most effective intervention is to minimize mold growth in the field and in storage, but farmers may never completely get rid of something as ubiquitous as mold.

  • College of Engineering
  • Archway Partnership
  • Community
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University of Georgia senior Mariana Ozier looked like a professional engineer, scribbling notes as she walked a site pegged for redevelopment in Griffin.

She and Spalding County Community Development Director Chad Jacobs discussed zoning, building plans and possible locations for a storm water detention pond. It was exciting, Ozier said, to be part of a group that was working on a real project, not just something from a textbook.

"Just getting to see how we can help make it happen and how our work is going to impact what they want to do is pretty cool," she said. "I do feel like a professional engineer."

Ozier, along with UGA College of Engineering classmates Mitchell Massengill and Alec Trexler, were in Griffin as part of their capstone senior design course.

They are assisting with a project on a possible mixed-use development and aquatics center. The students' job will be to help determine the infrastructure needs for the development and their estimated costs.

Engineering expertise is one of many university resources that the UGA Archway Partnership offers to communities across the state.

Archway's collaborations with the College of Engineering have led to many opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to get hands-on experience before they join the workforce.

  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Cooperative Extension
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University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead and other university administrators celebrated the opening of the 2016 Sunbelt Agricultural Expo by visiting the opening day of the three-day trade show Oct. 18 in Moultrie. 

This is the fourth consecutive year Morehead has taken part in the Expo festivities since becoming president of UGA in 2013. As he has in previous years, Morehead toured the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences building at Spence Field where he spoke with student ambassadors and visited with key agricultural leaders in Georgia.

"I always enjoy returning to South Georgia for this exciting event and seeing firsthand the critical role that the University of Georgia plays in supporting the state of Georgia's agriculture industry," Morehead said. "Coming to Sunbelt is a highlight of mine every year, and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to show support for our wonderful College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences."

  • Research
  • Turfgrass and Weed Science
  • Griffin Campus
  • Crop and Soil Sciences
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Like most college students, David Jespersen was unsure of what he wanted to study. At first, he was intrigued by psychology, but the required biology and science classes drew him to plant sciences. As a result, he's now the newest member of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences' turfgrass research team.

"Something about the plant sciences grabbed my interest as being practical and underappreciated," said Jespersen, who now conducts research on the UGA campus in Griffin.

Jespersen earned a doctorate in plant biology with an emphasis in turfgrass physiology from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

A native of New Jersey, Jespersen is adjusting to life in the South and the relentlessly intense heat of Georgia summers.

"Summers (in New Jersey) are kind of hot. It hits the 90s (degrees Fahrenheit) and there's an occasional heat wave hitting 100 (F)," he said, just a few days after sharing his research results in humid, near-100-degree weather at the outdoor UGA Turfgrass Field Day, a research event held biennially in August.

He is also adjusting to working on a smaller extended university campus.

"Everyone on the Griffin campus is very friendly, but it's not as lively as a large campus," he said. "It's definitely a lot easier not to get distracted and to focus on research."

  • STEM
  • Franklin College of Arts and Sciences
  • Griffin Campus
  • Microbiology
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A group of Griffin High School biology students visited the University of Georgia Griffin Campus last week to conduct a science experiment under the direction of college students. The UGA students were fulfilling their service learning component of their “Basic Skills in the Laboratory” class, taught by Margie Paz, a senior lecturer in the microbiology department of the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

“Participating in this service-learning activity helped the college students meet the requirement of UGA’s new experiential learning initiative, which began this semester. Every UGA undergraduate student must now participate in a hands-on, learning opportunity outside of the classroom.

The GHS students who participated in the experiment are all currently enrolled in biology classes and were selected for the experience by their teachers. The high school students performed a genetic engineering experiment using green fluorescent protein (GFP) under the supervision of the UGA Griffin students. The experiment helped the GHS students understand the scientific process involved in the GFP gene’s expression, Paz said.

  • Griffin Campus
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Lew Hunnicutt hit the ground running 11 months ago when he was named the new assistant provost and campus director of the University of Georgia Griffin Campus. One of his top priorities is to clear up the misconception that the campus is not really a part of UGA. “We ARE the University of Georgia. We just happen to be located in Griffin,” said Hunnicutt.

On one of his first visits to Athens, Hunnicutt noticed the plethora of fiberglass Uga bulldog mascots located around town. He quickly learned that the statues were originally part of a fundraiser for charities led by the Athens-Oconee Junior Women’s Club. More than 35 larger-than-life “Dawgs” adorned the downtown corridor of the Classic City for 10 years before being auctioned off to benefit AIDS research.

Hunnicutt quickly set in motion plans for the Griffin Campus to have its first Uga Bulldog mascot statue. The statue came painted solid white, but Greg Huber, training coordinator in the UGA Center for Urban Agriculture, donated his time to transform it into a traditionally painted Uga.

Southern Crescent Technical College Automotive Collision Instructor Robert Hagen assisted with the first Bulldog statue by adding the final touch — automotive clear coating to help Uga survive the outdoors. “It was great to see how the Southern Crescent students reacted to the statue,” Huber said. “They all gathered around and took each other’s pictures with it. It was already doing its job.”

  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Entomology
  • Research
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Georgia farmers are never surprised to see fall armyworms munching on their precious corn, sorghum and forage hay crops. They just hope for a low number of armyworms. This year’s population of the tiny destroyers, described as an “Armageddon-type outbreak” by University of Georgia entomologist David Buntin, is far from low.

A small grains pest expert with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Buntin spends his days tracking insects that can destroy Georgia row crops and working to determine the best methods of controlling them and establishing pesticide thresholds, or the number of insects that need to be present before a farmer should apply a pesticide.

“This year, the fall armyworms are way, way above the treatment threshold. They are here in much, much higher numbers,” he said. “As of the end of August, almost every pasture in central and north Georgia has been sprayed at least once and, for many of them, twice.”

Each year, the worms migrate up from the Caribbean and Florida. This year, they showed up early in corn and sorghum fields. Now they are in pastures earlier than normal.

  • Graduate School
  • J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development
  • College of Engineering
  • Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication
  • College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Archway Partnership
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Two years after she received her bachelor's degree from the University of Georgia, Rachael Hart Earls was excited to return to her alma mater to begin her doctoral studies. But as she prepared for life in a laboratory as a neuroscientist, she worried that she would feel isolated and wondered if there was a way to create synergies between her academic goals and her desire to work with people outside of the lab.

She found the answer in Graduate Scholars LEAD (Leadership, Engagement and Development), a program launched this summer by the Graduate School. Funded by a $495,000 Innovations in Graduate Education grant from the National Science Foundation, the 
program fosters the development of critical thinking skills, teamwork, communication and leadership. 

"I was sold right away," Earls said of the program, which includes an eight-week summer academy facilitated by faculty from the J. W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, College of Engineering, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, and College of Veterinary Medicine. It also includes a follow-up grand challenges course, through which students are working this fall to design a meaningful solution for a community in need.

  • Cooperative Extension
  • Horticulture
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Fall is the perfect time to admire blooming shrubs and trees. In many areas of the state, people take great pride in adorning their landscape with spectacular shrubs that exhibit color, shape and texture.

Some people would love to have a better-looking landscape, but are fearful of picking out the proper plants. By making careful selections, you can enhance your landscape and add showstoppers that create curb appeal.

It is essential to first take a good inventory of your existing landscape. Educate yourself on your landscape’s sunlight exposure, slope, drainage and soil type. All of these factors can have a huge effect on what you can successively grow. By nature, some plants prefer shade, while others thrive in full sun. Some plants adapt to either location. Some plants prefer moist environments, while others must have impeccable drainage to survive.

It is also important to pay attention to the mature size of the plants. There is nothing worse than placing a small, 1-gallon container plant in an area where there is no room for expansion, especially if the shrub will ultimately grow to a mature height and spread of 15 to 20 feet.