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Hurricane Dorian

Hurricanes in Georgia: what you need to know from Dr. Marshall Shepherd

As hurricane season approaches its peak and storms are forming, we wanted to learn more about what to expect this year, how to prepare and what the future looks like for hurricane forecasting. For these pressing questions, we turned to Dr. Marshall Shepherd, who is director of the UGA Atmospheric Sciences program, the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences, a Forbes contributor, the host of Weather Geeks on The Weather Channel, and the former president of the American Meteorological Society. Let’s just say he’s a big deal when it comes to weather and climate.

Marshall Shepherd

What does a typical hurricane season look like in Georgia?

We have not had an actual land-falling hurricane in over a hundred or so years, and interestingly, it’s because the coast of Georgia sort of aligns in such a way that there’s something in the Atlantic ocean called the Bermuda High, a large high pressure system. Because of the way the air circulates around that high pressure system in the northern hemisphere is a clockwise circulation, it means when those hurricanes are coming out of the tropics, they tend to end up on the left side of that high, and so they’re already starting to curve and head northward, so they don’t really sort of move into the coast. 

So I would say for hurricane seasons here in Georgia, although our coast can certainly be impacted by a land-falling storm, it is unlikely because of that curvature. However, as we saw in 2018 with Hurricane Michael and we’ve seen in the past with storms like Tropical Storm Alberto and even with Irma, it is possible. Hurricane season for Georgia is two-faceted: one in the sense that we theoretically can get land-falling hurricanes on our coast but we rarely do because of the curvature, and secondly, we often can get storms that move into our state once they make landfall elsewhere.

Hurricane Michael and Irma are good examples of that, and they also illustrate something that I always try to convey about hurricane impacts, which is that we shouldn’t get too fixated on category all the time, because the impacts associated with a storm like an Irma or a Michael can certainly impact us in Georgia.

Often hurricanes are downgraded to tropical storms by the time they get to Athens. What are the main threats that impact Athens in hurricane season?

With storms that are going to impact us in north and central Georgia, we’re typically going to see lots of rainfall. Even though the storm is weakened from a hurricane, as we saw with Irma or Michael, it still can have tropical storm force winds, which, coupled with rainfall, can be a hazard for falling trees, causing power outages. When storms make landfall in the panhandle of Florida, we can experience tornadoes in the outer rain bands as those bands spiral out to land. The worst impacts of a land-falling hurricane tend to be on the right-front quadrant of the storm, and so that’s where the worst storm surge is on the coast, but it’s also where you get the strongest winds and where you’re most likely to have those spin-up tornadoes.

Hurricane Dorian

What are some of the precautions Georgians can take to prepare for hurricane season?

Hurricane season for Athens is probably going to be rainfall, wind and loss of power, and so it’s important to prepare the way you would for any storm where you might lose power. Some things to have on hand:

  • Extra batteries
  • Your cell phone and extra charging capacity
  • Nonperishable food items in case you can’t cook for a while.

Before a storm arrives, remove items from your deck or outside your home that could become projectiles in 50 or 60 mile-per-hour winds. I recommend keeping an eye out for large trees around the home, because when you have a lot of rain and wind, those things can fall.

Editor note: UGA Extension reminds Georgians to put more than milk and bread in emergency food supply.

When does hurricane season begin for Georgia?

Typically, August tends to be like the first hill on a roller coaster. We can certainly get a very active season once we get into September and October. In August, the formation point for hurricanes tends to shift more to the western Caribbean, but by September we’re getting to what we call the Cape Verde hurricane season. We start getting waves coming off of the African coastline and some of them, if the conditions are favorable, can develop. [As of late August], the busiest part of the season still looms ahead of us.

What factors influence how active each hurricane season is in Georgia?

Various things. For example, if we’re in an El Nino, which we were for much of the past year, that can tend to lessen hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean and the Atlantic Basin because it brings the jet stream too far south and hurricanes don’t like a lot of wind shear. During La Nina, it tends to be the opposite because the jet stream stays to the north. So those are the background factors. We always start by looking to see if we’re in a La Nina, El Nino or a neutral year. I think we’re trending from a weak El Nino to somewhat of a neutral situation, which is perhaps why some experts have upped their estimations for this year’s activity.

Another factor for the Atlantic hurricane season that’s actually quite impactful right now is that there’s a lot of Saharan dust coming off Africa, and that dust actually can inhibit the formation of these waves. If you look at satellite images, there’s quite a bit of dust over the Atlantic ocean. Other than that, you just need warm water and not a lot of wind shear in the atmosphere, so if you can get all of those conditions and you can get these things to develop, then you can certainly get more active hurricanes. 

Now what determines where they go is dependent on the center of that high pressure system that I mentioned. If that thing is further out towards Europe, then as they start curving around, they’re going to curve out to sea. If that high is closer to the United States, then it’s more likely that they’ll curve and affect Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. So we’re always looking for the location of that semi-permanent high pressure system.

What kinds of research is UGA doing regarding hurricanes?

There’s research being conducted in various places across campus, including our Atmospheric Sciences program. My research group’s work is funded by NASA and is focused on the Brown Ocean Effect. It’s this notion that sometimes hurricanes, when they make landfall, don’t weaken as we expect, and they can maintain their strength or intensify if the soil is moist or it moves over a swamp or wet land mass. I have a group looking at that with a sophisticated mass of models; it’s really interesting hurricane and tropical cyclone work.

There’s interesting research out of the Skidaway Institute for Oceanography about these robotic drones, and they can plunge deep into the water and measure water temperature, salinity and some other things. That’s huge, because we often hear about hurricanes and the sea surface temperature, but it’s really the depth of the warm water, something we call the ocean heat content, so these drones allow us to learn about the structure of that deep water. One of the things that happens as hurricanes come along and tap into that warm water is they churn up water, and often they churn up cold water, which self-limits development. But if it’s churning up warm water, that’s still sufficient to support hurricanes. We’re pretty good with hurricane track forecasts, but hurricane intensity forecasts lag behind, and part of the reason is we lack the understanding of what’s going on in the deep ocean water, so I think that research by the University of Georgia is game-changing.

Is there anything else Georgians should know about hurricane season?

There’s a lot of fake information about weather out there on social media, so I would recommend people follow credible sources of information about weather. The first place I start is the National Hurricane Center.

Thank you to Dr. Shepherd for taking the time to share this information with us, especially as Hurricane Dorian threatens the Southeast in the coming days. Be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

New class graduates from nonprofit leadership program at UGA 

In 2017, National Nonprofit Day was established to acknowledge the difference that nonprofit organizations are making. In celebration of this day, and the nonprofit trailblazers who lead such incredible organizations, we’re highlighting UGA’s Executive Leadership Program for Nonprofit Organizations (ELPNO), a program of the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.

 

This story was written by Charlie Bauder and was originally posted to UGA Today on March 15, 2019. 

As executive director of the Atlanta Hospital Hospitality House, Melissa Ehrhardt had attended many leadership conferences and assumed they were all much the same.

The Executive Leadership Program for Nonprofit Professionals at the University of Georgia proved her wrong.

2019 ELPNO participants take part in discussions at the Fanning Institute.

“I was beyond surprised and grateful to find that the UGA ELPNO was like nothing I had ever experienced before,” Ehrhardt said. “I learned more in one week at ELPNO of what is expected of me as an executive director than I had in a year at my job. I walked away with more confidence and excitement in what I get to do.”

Ehrhardt and 24 other nonprofit professionals from Georgia and neighboring states took part in the annual conference, held at the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach. 

ELPNO is a partnership between the Fanning Institute, the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University, and the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The weeklong program explores national trends, best practices and frameworks for strategic leadership. Faculty from UGA and around the nation lead sessions on topics like governance, revenue development, financial stewardship, ethics and nonprofit leadership competencies.

Presenters speak to the 2019 ELPNO during their week-long intensive program.

“We gear the program content towards existing and emerging leaders in nonprofits who influence their organization’s mission, strategy, programming and policy,” said Julie Meehan, a Fanning Institute faculty member. “By developing their individual leadership skills and exploring the latest trends and tools in the nonprofit world, ELPNO graduates not only enhance their personal leadership abilities, they leave prepared to build stronger organizations.”

Board governance, financial training and fundraising are three topics that Ehrhardt said she would put into practice out of ELPNO.

“As a new executive director in the nonprofit world, all of those things were foreign to me,” she said. “I did not understand them or my role with them. I am excited to be able to implement the information I gained into my organization and help take us to another level. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to attend ELPNO.”

In 11 years, over 250 nonprofit professionals representing more than 200 organizations have completed ELPNO.

“Connecting with other ELPNO alumni opens the door to resources, advice and perspective that benefits new graduates and those who completed the program years ago,” said Sayge Medlin, Fanning Institute faculty member. “That support just serves to help nonprofit leaders grow even more.”

The application period for ELPNO 2020 is now open. Priority deadline is October 1 and final deadline is November 15. Early applications are encouraged as space is limited.

How Computer Science became one of UGA’s most popular majors

Journalism, business administration, pharmacy, computer science: believe it or not, these majors are in ascending order of total enrollment at the University of Georgia.  

In fact, computer science has the fourth highest enrollment among all majors at UGA. And the graduate degree computer science program is the fastest growing program on campus, having seen a 60 percent enrollment increase from fall 2013 to fall 2018. 

Combine that with the undergraduate program’s 153 percent rise in enrollment in the last five years and you have, undeniably, one of UGA’s most popular departments. We talked with several CS alumni to ask them about their experience and find out more. 

Established in 1984, the Department of Computer Science in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at UGA has expanded to include more than 195 enrolled graduate students and over 1,100 undergraduates. Lori Kittle (BS ’86) was among the first graduates with a degree in computer science.  

“I simply felt like the future would be all about the computer, although I certainly did not envision all the advances that have occurred,” said Kittle. Along with the coursework, Kittle said, “One of my favorite memories at UGA is making lifelong friendships with my fellow CS classmates.” 

Kittle attributes her successful career, including a stint as the Chief Information Officer at Landry’s, Inc.—a $4 billion restaurant, hospitality, and entertainment businessto her education at UGA. She demonstrated her appreciation of the department when she created a scholarship fund for computer science students. Kittle also serves on the department’s advisory board, which provides industry input that helps guide curriculum for the program.  

Like Kittle, Maja Culum (BS ‘19) chose to study computer science because she knew “coming into the university that technology was becoming prevalent within every field,” and there was no way around interacting with it. Culum, who was hired full-time in the UI/UX department at NCR Corporation, believes studying computer science at UGA allowed her to “choose a role within the tech industry that suited her strengths and interests.” 

“That’s what I like most about Computer Science: it’s never limiting, and there’s so much to choose from,” said Culum. My experience in the Department of Computer Science at UGA was both challenging and incredibly rewarding. The professors are knowledgeable and always willing to help, which encouraged me to stick with the major despite the challenges. 

The comprehensive coursework and faculty expertise Culum credits have also led to the growing recognition of the department. Dr. Thiab Taha, UGA Computer Science department head, believes the diversity in research expertise and the increasing number of courses provides students the opportunity to choose the path they are most interested in.  

Students interested in engaging in technology-centric extracurricular activities can join one of many clubs and groups, including Data Dawgs or UGA Hacks, which hosts a hackathon every spring on campus. The UGA Computer Science department also houses the Institute for Cybersecurity and Privacy, which was designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research (CAE-R) through academic year 2022. 

Muhammed Ahmed’s (BS ‘18) passion for problem solving drew him to major in computer science at the University of Georgia, but it was the countless opportunities available within the department that he loved most about his studies.  

“Majoring in computer science helped me secure my dream job,” said Ahmed, a data scientist at Mailchimp. “The program provided me with a strong technical foundation and the soft skills I need to communicate effectively. I had the chance to learn through clubs, research projects, hackathons and many on-campus events.” 

All of the above are reasons a firm like Forrester Research calls Atlanta one of the US’ five elite tech talent markets. As businesses continue to take advantage of this rich market, UGA CS graduates are reaping the benefits, finding positions in global organizations like NCR, The Home Depot and AT&T.  

There appears to be no slowdown in the rise of computer science at UGA, either. Employers and partners of the university are finding new ways to directly engage students through career and internship fairs, UGA Hacks’ hackathon, student organizations and industry panels. And as UGA CS alumni continue their career progression and become the leaders of those employers and UGA partners, UGA’s tech talent pipeline will only become stronger. 

Connecting the Bulldog Family – UGA Mentor Program

Sandra Derrick (BSHE ’76, MED ’80) and Anna Schermerhorn ‘20 pose at the UGA Arch

Sandra Derrick (BSHE ’76, MED ’80) and Anna Schermerhorn ‘20 pose at the UGA Arch

Sandra Derrick (BSHE ’76, MED ’80) is a Double Dawg from the College of Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) with a passion for giving back to her alma mater. Derrick served on the FACS Alumni Association Board of directors as president, and this past spring she participated in the UGA Mentor Program pilot. Her mentee, Anna Schermerhorn ‘20, will be a UGA Mentor Program student ambassador this fall.

Did you have experience being mentored or being a mentor before?

I’ve never been involved with a mentor program before – so I had no experience to draw from.

What was your biggest hesitation about becoming a mentor?

My biggest hesitation was that I wouldn’t have any information to share with my mentee or that what I shared would not be of help. I’ve been out of college for some time, so I was unsure that what I had to say and share would help.

What has been the biggest surprise?

My biggest surprise was how much fun I’ve had! Anna, my mentee, has been so wonderful. She has been much more than I hoped, but of course I knew that any UGA student would be beyond amazing! Anna and I just clicked. She is nice and friendly, and always asks for my ideas and thoughts—then she always listens to what I think and what I have to share. She brought flowers to me at our last meeting in Athens, and we’ve kept in touch during the summer with all the things she’s doing. I’m sure we will visit in Athens this academic year, too.

Sandra Derrick (BSHE ’76, MED ’80) and her mentee Anna Schermerhorn ‘20 meet for the first time

Sandra Derrick (BSHE ’76, MED ’80) and her mentee Anna Schermerhorn ‘20 meet for the first time

Why has this been so meaningful for you?

This has been such a meaningful experience. I love UGA and FACS, so I had the opportunity to put the two things I love together with an amazing UGA FACS student. I’ve gotten to help Anna make connections with so many people and she’s reached out to others to network. She even obtained an internship program this summer through a connection!

Anna will probably be of help to the UGA FACS Alumni Association Board of Directors this year by serving on the Student Engagement Committee. We have already set the wheels in motion for her to assist, and I just love seeing her make those connections and share her passion for life! She is going to do such amazing things, and she already has, but I have a front row seat just watching her bloom.

Sandra Derrick (BSHE ’76, MED ’80) with flowers given by her mentee Anna Schermerhorn ‘20

Sandra Derrick (BSHE ’76, MED ’80) with flowers given by her mentee Anna Schermerhorn ‘20

What would you tell someone considering participating in the UGA Mentor Program?

Just jump right in! It’s something that I would love for others to experience, and I don’t want folks to miss out on such an amazing opportunity.

I know how valuable it is for both students and alumni, so I really want others to be involved in such a worthwhile program.

It doesn’t take time away from work or family, and alumni will feel so energized working with a mentee–they just won’t be able to get that smile off their face. Plus, you will make a friend for life. Seeing what others become is one of the most amazing things ever, especially a UGA student. Just knowing that you’ve had a small part in what they’ve become is like nothing else. It’s what the UGA family, especially the UGA FACS family, is all about! Family.

‘Moon Rocks!’ marks Apollo 11 anniversary

This story was written by Sara Freeland and was originally posted to UGA Today on July 7, 2019.


Fifty years ago, on July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin landed on the moon–the first time humans set foot on another celestial body. As the nation and the world celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, the University of Georgia is taking an in-depth look at this historic milestone and the future of space exploration. 

Fifty years ago, people around the world stopped what they were doing to watch Apollo 11 land on the moon.

Today, most of the world’s population wasn’t even born when the moon landing took place.

But the significance of this historic milestone still resonates.

“It is fascinating that people feel such a connection to the moon landing and it still inspires curiosity,” said Sarah Anderson, a University of Georgia graduate student in history. “Everyone has a story about their viewing experience.”

Anderson curated “Moon Rocks!,” an exhibition hosted by UGA’s Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies to mark the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. Anderson previously worked for two years at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

“Space inspires a sense of adventure and excitement. Astronauts were portrayed as All-American, hard-working, accessible heroes—a person that children could aspire to be. Astronauts provided hope of advancement and achievement for average Americans,” Anderson noted. “The exhibit explores this a little more, as well.”

Ultimately, what she hopes to accomplish with the exhibition is to bring generations together—those who witnessed the moon landing and have their own story of watching it on the television while holding rabbit ears with those who were born afterward and grew up with astronauts live-streaming space station experiments.

“Bringing in an exhibition that can provide that intergenerational experience is really important,” she said. “Something that people can reminisce and visit with their families and learn from their families is really important to do as an institution.”

On display in the galleries in the Richard B. Russell Special Collections Library through December, the exhibition features magazines, political cartoons, satellite models and photos taken from space of the Earth and the lunar landing. The display also includes a piece of the Apollo 9 spacecraft and a medallion that went to the moon and back.

The “Moon Rocks!” exhibition is on display at the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries through December. (Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)

Moon rocks on display

On July 16, 50 years after the Apollo 11 launch from Cape Canaveral (formerly known as Cape Kennedy), the libraries will host an event with moon rocks on loan from the Georgia Capitol Collection for one day only. The rocks, along with a state of Georgia flag that went to the moon and back, were given to Georgia by former President Richard Nixon, who gave every state moon rocks and small fragments from the Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 lunar missions after the landing.

The event will also show archival footage of the July 20, 1969, moon landing and have space-themed snacks, including astronaut ice cream and Tang.

To create the exhibition, Anderson found artifacts related to space travel in two collections: the Richard B. Russell Jr. Collection and the Herman E. Talmadge Collection.

Russell, namesake of the libraries building, was on the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences from its conception in 1958 until his death in 1971. The collections include gifts to Russell, magazines he collected, photographs, political cartoons, and letters between Sen. Talmadge and NASA. The exhibition also includes satellite and spacecraft models that Russell displayed in his office. Talmadge was the main advocate in bringing moon rocks collected on the Apollo 16 mission from the Lunar Stone Mountain to Stone Mountain in Georgia.

The Moon Rocks! exhibition features magazines, political cartoons, satellite models and photos taken from space of the Earth and the lunar landing. The exhibition was curated by Sarah Anderson, a UGA graduate student. (Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)

Behind the scenes

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, the Access and Outreach Unit of the Russell Library wanted an exhibition related to the historic event. Anderson, who was interning there, had experience handling spacecraft artifacts from her work at the Air and Space Museum.

A graduate student in the museum studies certificate program, Anderson graduated from UGA with a bachelor’s degree in history in 2013 and then worked at both the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware.

A history buff, she initially took the National Air and Space Museum job to learn about World War II and Air Force history. Family history was part of the inspiration—her grandfather served as a radio operator on a B-17 in the U.S. Air Force during World War II.

At the Air and Space Museum, she worked command module hatches that went into space as well as spacecraft models. She worked with the parachutes deployed for landings after the Apollo command modules reentered Earth’s atmosphere and slowed the modules down to lessen the impact of the water landing. Working with these objects made her want to learn more about the history behind the space race and space travel.

Along with other staff at the Air and Space Museum, she began watching Space-X launches on NASA TV and watch NASA send cargo to the International Space Station.

“Seeing these objects that went into space gives you this connection to history that you wouldn’t have otherwise. It makes history more tangible and relatable. It makes you want to learn more about them,” she said. “I had the opportunity to see a multitude of objects that had traveled to an area that I will never be able to explore. I get to see and touch artifacts that have been on true adventures and have inspired awe through generations.”

Her internship at the Paul E. Garber Facility turned into a job and she also served as lead contractor for the medium artifact team. She learned about archival photography, the care of artifacts and how to maintain the integrity of pieces “so that they can be observed and analyzed for generations,” she said. “We would work with pieces that hadn’t been looked at in a while, and providing a stable housing environment for these artifacts is crucial.”

Her team created custom long-term storage structures for the parachutes, which are 25 meters wide. They also worked on ensuring care of artifacts not on display in the warehouses. Her team was in charge of medium artifacts, which means artifacts between 50 and 5,000 pounds. “I drove a forklift every day, which was a unique skill to learn, one that you don’t expect when you decide to work in museums,” Anderson said. “Collections work is delicate and detailed but moving large objects requires heavy machinery.”

Alumni create a theater experience for the deaf and the hearing

This story was written by Heather Skyler and was originally posted to UGA Today on July 8, 2019.

Have you ever watched a movie with subtitles and gotten frustrated by reading lines of dialogue at the bottom of the screen while you’re missing the action above the text? This is somewhat akin to how a deaf person has to watch a live show with a sign language interpreter. Constantly looking off to the side while the drama takes place on stage can ruin the immersive quality of theater.

Two University of Georgia alumni sought to remedy that problem when they founded a theater in Athens called Hands In!, an educational nonprofit that produces original works in American Sign Language (ASL) with a special interest in theater and jukebox musicals.

Here’s how a Hands In! production works: Both Deaf and hearing actors perform, but everyone signs their lines (a capital “D” signifies deaf culture as a whole, rather than the clinical term “deaf”). Voicers offstage speak the lines as they are being signed, so the hearing audience can understand what’s happening as well.

Christopher Carpenter (AB ’16) and Jordan Richey ’19 are both hearing members of the Hands In! cast.

Hands In! isn’t a new idea. The first Deaf theater company, National Theater for the Deaf, was founded in London in 1967 and others exist around the world, but they are not yet on the radar of most theatergoers and Hands In! is the only theater of its kind in Athens.

Haley Beach (BSED ’19) was earning her degree in communication sciences and disorders at UGA when she and UGA alumna Amara Ede (BSA ’14) co-founded the theater company in March 2018. Beach graduated from UGA in May 2019 and is currently pursuing certification to become a sign language interpreter.

In 2017, Beach and Ede put on their first show, which they wrote and directed, at UGA’s Baptist Collegiate Ministries. When the ministries shut down for renovations, Beach and Ede lost the use of their stage. Despite having no budget, they decided to start their own theater company because they had recognized a need that wasn’t being met.

“There was no community for Deaf arts in Athens,” said Beach. “And they really just needed a platform. And I think the hearing community needs this type of theater experience too. The whole point of what we do is to bring ASL awareness to the hearing community and provide a platform for the Deaf community.”

Beach isn’t deaf, but she got interested in ASL when she interpreted for a dinner theater performance of “The Little Mermaid” at the Baptist Collegiate Ministries. “A woman there suggested I be a counselor at Deaf camp. I fell backwards into it really and just fell in love with the language and the culture and the people. I feel privileged to be a part of their community. I took four ASL classes at UGA and joined ASL Dawgs.

Luke Bundrum ’19 is Deaf and is the president of ASL Dawgs, an organization that helps connect UGA students with the Deaf community. He is also an actor in Hands In!’s next show, “Wanderland,” which is based on “Alice in Wonderland.” Luke has two roles: Tommy and the March Hare.

A fourth-year social studies education and history major at UGA, Bundrum helped with the early conception of Hands In! and performed in their first show, “Nottingham.” Bundrum was born deaf and got a cochlear implant at age 3. “Being Deaf is a challenge in life, but with supportive friends and community, I am able to succeed on my own,” he said. “It’s rare for a Deaf student to attend a rigorous liberal four-year college such as UGA, and I have been blessed to get this far in life.”

Most of the performers in Hands In! productions, however, are hearing, such as UGA student Jordan Richey ’19, who got involved when Beach reached out to her about auditioning. After sending Beach videos of past performances, Richey was asked to play the lead, Maid Marian, in the theater’s reinterpretation of “Robin Hood.” She learned ASL while she learned her lines for the show.

Jordan Richey didn’t know ASL when she was cast as the lead in “Nottingham.”

“I would video Haley and Amara doing the signs then I could go home and practice making the shapes,” said Richey. “It was different than how I would normally approach memorizing lines.

“It’s not word-for-word translated to English. A lot of it is context based. For example: ‘Let’s go to the car’ might be changed to be ‘Me, you, go car.’ Four signs. You use your body and face to show the urgency.” She now considers herself conversationally fluent in sign. “By the end I could carry on a conversation with the Deaf kids in the show.”

Richey grew up in Royston, Georgia, and moved to Athens in eighth grade. She began UGA in the vocal performance program at the School of Music but said it wasn’t the right fit for her because she leans toward musical theater.

She switched to the speech therapy program in the College of Education, and realized it was a perfect fit. Currently a senior at UGA, she also teaches voice lessons at Oconee Youth School of Performance.

Hands In! has an ASL consultation board comprised of Deaf members only, and they strive to incorporate Deaf actors in their shows. Their next show, “Wanderland” will play July 11, 12, 13 and 14 at UGA’s Cellar Theater.

UGA Career Center wins Technology Excellence Award from NACE

Whitney Prescott, associate director of external engagement and communications at the UGA Career Center, received the Technology Excellence Award from NACE.

Whitney Prescott, associate director of external engagement and communications at the UGA Career Center, received the Technology Excellence Award from NACE.

Our very own UGA Career Center was recognized by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) for its technological achievement for excellence in best practices using technology and/or social media outlets.

NACE represents 9,100+ four-year and two-year college career services and 3,000 HR professionals across the country. NACE awarded Whitney Prescott, the Career Center’s associate director of external engagement and communications, for their team’s use of Instagram based on program needs, relevance and creativity. The Career Center has grown its Instagram followers from 297 to over 11,000 in just three years—the most of any college career center in the country.

“Whitney has done an incredible job connecting with students by producing innovative, captivating and useful content,” said Scott Williams, executive director of the UGA Career Center.

The UGA Career Center creates a two-way communication channel capable of increasing engagement among students, alumni and employers. Its massive 2,365% increase in Instagram followers can be attributed to effective calls-to-action like attending a career fair, story takeovers by employers to give behind-the-scenes look at companies and giveaways for students responding to requests.

“From an employee engagement perspective, the Instagram takeover was a huge hit,” said Kirby Miles, campus lead for talent acquisition for Newell Brands. “Not only did we have great exposure to current students, we were also able to reach future UGA students and even alumni, creating great brand awareness and a potential pipeline of talent to come.”

You can follow along as the Career Center continues to generate award-winning content on Instagram @UGACareerCenter.

UGA students, alumni receive NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

This story was written by Sam Fahmy and was originally posted to UGA Today on June 17, 2019.

Doctoral student Jordan Chapman said he was attracted to the University of Georgia by the opportunity to conduct research at the intersection of geoscience and archeology, while Morgan Ashcraft chose to pursue her Ph.D. at UGA so that she could apply nanotechnology to drug delivery systems. Isabella Ragonese is studying the interactions between global climate change and animal behavior through the Interdisciplinary Disease Ecology Across Scales Program.

These doctoral students are among seven UGA graduate students to earn highly competitive National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships this year, and six UGA alumni also have earned the fellowship, which includes three years of financial support that includes an annual stipend of $34,000 plus a $12,000 cost of education allowance and networking and professional development opportunities.

“The NSF Graduate Research Fellowships recognize the best and the brightest,” said Graduate School Dean Suzanne Barbour. “That so many UGA graduate students have been and continue to be recipients of the NSF GRF is a testament to the outstanding training environment that our institution provides at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.”

Chapman is pursuing doctorates in geology as well as in anthropology under the mentorship of Jeff Speakman, director of the university’s Center for Applied Isotope Studies, and professor Victor Thompson in the department of anthropology, part of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. His research combines archaeology and cutting-edge technologies to explore historical power dynamics on plantations along the Georgia coast. “As I began to take courses, I realized that archaeology was a broad and interdisciplinary field,” he said. “This eventually led to my interest in geology—and, hoping to pursue both—my focus settled on the subfield of geoarchaeology.”

After graduation, he plans to continue to conduct research and to inspire members of underrepresented groups to pursue careers in science through the Black Science Coalition and Institute, a nonprofit he founded.

Ashcraft, who earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Cleveland State University, is pursuing a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences in the College of Pharmacy. “I chose UGA for graduate school because there were a number of research projects here that I was interested in, primarily Dr. May Xiong’s work in nanomedicine,” she said, adding that she is currently working to create new antibiotic therapies for the treatment of bacterial infections.

Ragonese is pursuing her doctorate in ecology through the IDEAS program, which trains scientists to view infectious diseases through scales that range from the cellular to the global.

“The Odum School of Ecology is a great place to study infectious disease ecology,” Ragonese said, “and there is a wonderful sense of community here.” After graduation, she plans to conduct applied research at a government agency or non-governmental organization.

Like Chapman, Ashcraft and Ragonese, the additional NSF Graduate Research Fellows pursuing degrees at UGA come from highly regarded universities that range from nearby Emory to Whittier College in California and the University of Michigan, among other institutions.

Outstanding alumni

UGA’s recipients of NSF Graduate Research Fellowships also include alumni who used their UGA educations as foundations for graduate studies at some of America’s most highly regarded universities.

Patrick Griffin, who earned his B.S. in genetics, was an Honors student during his time at UGA and is currently studying aging in the department of genetics at Harvard Medical School. “My mentor at UGA was (associate professor) Bob Schmitz,” he said, “and I was also greatly helped by (professor) Janet Westpheling. UGA was a wonderful environment to learn about basic science and gain experience presenting my research to others through events like the CURO Symposium.”

Like Griffin, Aleia Bellcross credits faculty mentors and opportunities such as CURO with preparing her for success in graduate school. Bellcross is pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry at Northwestern University with a focus on atmospheric chemistry.

“UGA prepared me in a lot of ways for graduate school,” she said. “I was very fortunate to gain early research experience with professor Geoffrey Smith and his group, where I benefited from strong mentorship and a supportive environment. UGA provided all the resources of a large R1 institution, but still felt like a small and close-knit community.”

Hayley Schroeder, who earned bachelor’s degrees in ecology and entomology at UGA, is pursuing a doctorate in entomology at Cornell and ultimately plans to focus her career on the conservation of insects that are important to agriculture. She earned the CURO graduation distinction and coordinated Project Monarch Health, a citizen science project based at UGA through which volunteers across North America sample wild monarch butterflies to help track the spread of a parasite that can harm monarchs.

“At UGA, I was pushed not only to ask my own research questions and develop my own ideas, but also to communicate them as well through outreach events, conferences and citizen science,” she said. “Incorporating the general public can strengthen the data you collect and increase the impact of your results. This is a lesson I will carry with me throughout my career as a scientist.”

A complete list of UGA’s 2019 recipients of NSF Graduate Research Fellowships and their fields of study is below:

UGA graduate students

Morgan Ashcraft, bioengineering, Cleveland State University
Philip Michael Newberry, ecology, Emory University
Jordan Chapman, archaeology, Penn State University
Isabella Ragonese, ecology, Skidmore College
Cydney Seigerman, cultural anthropology, University of Michigan
Trevor Tuma, science education, Whittier College

UGA alumni

Gwendolyn Watson (BS ’17), industrial/organizational psychology, Clemson University
Patrick Griffin (BS ’15), genetics, Harvard University
Aleia Bellcross (BSES ’17, BSCHEM ’17), environmental chemical systems, Northwestern University
Hayley Schroeder (BS ’18, BSES ’18), ecology, Cornell
Emma Brannon (BSBCHE ’18), chemical engineering, University of Michigan
Sarah Robinson (BS ’17), biostatistics, Rice University
Dionnet Bhatti (BS ’15, BS ’15), neurosciences, The Rockefeller University

Representatives Aaron Konnick, Samantha Green and Isobel Egbarin from UPS accept the UGA Top 25 Employer Award. (Photo credit: Justin Evans Photography)

UGA recognizes companies that hired the most grads

The UGA Career Center and our Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations honored the top 25 employers of the Class of 2018 on May 9 at the Buckhead Club in Atlanta. These employers hired 14% of Class of 2018 graduates who now have full-time jobs.

According to UGA’s Career Outcomes Survey, the top 25 employers hired 757 graduates from the Class of 2018.

The top 25 employers for the Class of 2018 (in alphabetical order) are:

Alight Solutions
Amazon
AT&T
Chick-fil-A
Deloitte
Delta Air Lines
Emory University
EY
Georgia-Pacific
IBM
Insight Global
KPMG US LLP
NCR Corporation
Newell Brands
Oracle Corporation
PricewaterhouseCoopers
State Farm
SunTrust Banks
Teach for America
The Home Depot
The Vanguard Group
The Walt Disney Company
United Parcel Service (UPS)
United States Army
University of Georgia

Delta Air Lines hired Sarah Wobrock, a 2018 Terry College of Business graduate. “I am thankful for the support I received at UGA and for Delta’s commitment to hire recent graduates,” Wobrock said. “Delta Air Lines has challenged my ability to think outside the box.”

Employers also benefit from the partnership between UGA and companies. Kevin Carmichael directs corporate university relations for NCR.

“This recognition allows us to strengthen our partnerships on campus, highlight our amazing university recruitment team and further show how new hires, community partners and customers are part of our company story.”

These companies hire UGA graduates because they know how well the university prepares students for their careers.

“My high school dream of working for Delta Air Lines was made possible by the UGA-sponsored opportunities outside of the classroom,” said Wobrock. “I was a member of the Institute for Leadership Advancement, where we practiced goal setting and studied leadership qualities. I was a regular attendee of the UGA career fairs, where I had practice crafting my resume and speaking with employers.”

Companies can post a job or internship, register for a career fair, or schedule campus interviews through HireUGA, reaching over 70,000 UGA alumni and current students. In addition, there are multiple other opportunities for partnering with UGA. Companies can fund scholarships or professorships and offer matching gift opportunities to their employees who donate to the university. These companies also offer internships and mentoring programs for students. Several companies even host UGA corporate alumni events.

400+ Georgia Commitment Scholarships serve state

Georgia Commitment Scholarships top goal more than a year early

The Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program has reached its initial goal—creating more than 400 need-based scholarships—13 months ahead of schedule. Through this program, donors are helping to support University of Georgia students with the greatest financial need, one of the top priorities of the university’s Commit to Georgia Campaign.

“I am deeply grateful to all of the donors who have made this program a success,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “Increasing scholarship support for students has a positive ripple effect on our state and the world. UGA alumni go on to become leaders in all sectors—from business and education to technology and health care—and it all starts with access to a UGA education.”

The GCS Program was announced by Morehead in January 2017. Through the program, the UGA Foundation matches—dollar for dollar—any gift in the amount of $50,000, $75,000 or $100,000 to establish an endowed, need-based scholarship for undergraduate students—creating new, permanent pathways to higher education.

Over 270 donors, including individuals, families, corporations and private foundations, have taken advantage of this opportunity to date. Among them are award-winning correspondent and UGA alumna Deborah Roberts; Georgia business leaders Arthur Blank, Tom Cousins and Pete Correll; UGA Foundation trustees; UGA faculty and staff; and UGA alumni groups.

More than $3 million in match money is still available to create additional scholarships. *As of 5/10/19, this is closer to $2.5 million

“I’m excited that we’ve reached our goal, but I’m more excited to see how many more people will get involved,” said Bill Douglas, chair of the UGA Foundation Board of Trustees. “UGA’s alumni and friends have proven themselves extremely generous through this program, and I have no doubt that they will continue to support students through Georgia Commitment Scholarships until every last matching dollar is spoken for.”

Georgia Commitment Scholarships are awarded by the Office of Student Financial Aid. From that point forward, the endowment grows perpetually, increasing the size of the scholarship award over time and helping generations of students earn UGA degrees.

Many of those students are already benefiting from the GCS Program: over 240 scholarship recipients were on campus in the past year.

“If it weren’t for the kindness and generosity of the donors to my Georgia Commitment Scholarship, I wouldn’t be at UGA,” said one GCS student from Moultrie, Georgia. “This scholarship also has allowed me to grow in my major and get more involved at UGA.”

Providing a well-rounded college experience is a key component of the GCS Program. As a partner in the program, the Division of Academic Enhancement offers tutoring, workshops, academic coaching and other support to help GCS students transition to college life, achieve academic success while on campus and plan for life after graduation.

As a major component of the Commit to Georgia Campaign’s effort to remove barriers for students, the GCS Program is a critical element of UGA’s fundraising success over the past two years.