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Alumnus Kyle Wiley expands technology access for COVID-19 researchers

Kyle Wiley (AB ’11) is the senior advisor to the chief commercialization officer at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and is an integral part of the DOE’s response to COVID-19. Wiley and his team have given researchers access to powerful computing resources, including two of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, to boost research during a period which relies on accelerated timelines and innovation.

Wiley’s role is to offer strategic advice to the CCO, to speak to external parties on behalf of the Office of Technology Transitions, and to engage with the 17 national DOE labs on a variety of initiatives. Like many others, his responsibilities have shifted in the face of a pandemic and Wiley is now a part of the battle against COVID-19.

Kyle Wiley tours a Shell ethane cracker plant in Pennsylvania.

Kyle Wiley tours a Shell ethane cracker plant in Pennsylvania as part of his work with the U.S. Department of Energy.

Wiley and his team prioritized expanding access to resources for public and private researchers across the country. This included providing resources to those looking for innovative ways to combat COVID-19 through the DOE’s Lab Partnering Service and COVID-19 Technical Assistance Program (CTAP). These initiatives give access to vital resources, experienced researchers, and information about facilities that may be useful in fighting the pandemic.

CTAP provides funding to DOE’s national lab system to assist non-DOE entities working to combat the virus. It also allows national researchers to offer assistance to U.S.-based entities facing technical challenges. Their team has seen the most success in two areas: supercomputing (the HPC COVID-19 Consortium) and technical assistance. The HPC COVID-19 Consortium is a private-public partnership between the federal government, industry and academic leaders to provide researchers access to high-performance computing resources. This partnership enables extensive research and modeling to understand COVID-19’s threat and create strategies to address it. The program has several active projects.

Wiley’s office has granted researchers access to the computational capacity to support research programs that are studying the virus. Meanwhile, DOE scientists are studying components of the virus to understand its replication process. Relying on previous experience from modeling of other infectious diseases, they can better understand how COVID-19 might behave and the supercomputers allow for quicker testing and effective drug screening.

Even as Wiley works on projects related to COVID-19, he continues his work with the technology commercialization fund and raises awareness for partnerships among minority business centers. The technology commercialization fund supports programs for applied energy research, technology development, demonstration and commercial application helping to mature promising energy technologies with potential for high impact.

Wiley’s road to the DOE began as a political science student at UGA. With the help of one of his professors, former UGA faculty member Morgan Marietta, he landed an internship with then-Congressman Paul Broun (BS ’67). That work experience, combined with an understanding of political science he gained from his time at UGA, have been instrumental to his career in the nation’s capital.

Prior to joining the DOE, Wiley held a number of positions, including assistant to the president of the Heritage Foundation, a Koch Associate at the Charles Koch Institute, and a specialist in Barnes & Thornburg’s Government Services and Federal Relations practice.

His work just goes to show: Dawgs never hesitate to jump into action, innovating and assisting in times of need.

Submit a photo wearing a UGA-themed mask

Wondering how you can help keep yourself and others safe as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic? One simple way is to wear a mask! 

Masks reduce the spread of COVID-19 from respiratory droplets, especially in public settings—like a college campus. Wearing a mask, combined with social distancing (6 feet) and frequent sanitation, is critical as we navigate the pandemic. Some people may not know they are infected due to a lack of symptoms, so it’s important to take precautions and correctly wear a mask at all times, especially in instances when social distancing may be difficult. If wearing a mask is not possible due to mental or physical conditions, consult a health care provider for alternative safety methods. 

Let’s show our strength as a Bulldog Nation; masks are a symbol of respect for our family, friends, and fellow Dawgs. 

Wearing a UGA-themed mask? Send us a photo to be featured on our socials! 

Brighten your screen while working from home

Video conferencing is an essential tool for those working from home and sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many video conference platforms, such as Zoom and Teams, allow users to bring a little creativity and inspiration to the work day with custom backgrounds. So we asked, why not let UGA alumni artists help you step up your background game?

These creative Bulldogs hold degrees from across campus, and their creations are the perfect backdrop to brighten even the most mundane virtual meeting. We have sized these to the specifications for Zoom, but anticipate they can be used in other platforms.

Meet the Artists

Laura Deems (BFA ’17)

Laura Deems is an Atlanta-based abstract artist who earned her bachelor’s degree from UGA. She has a background in textile design and a fascination with color theory, and this quote from her website puts it better than we could: “The canvas ceases to serve as a window to convey images and ideas for her, becoming a field for the visual marriage of line and color. The immediacy and freedom of her bold marks against swaths of brilliant hues are the defining vehicle of her work that collectors and designers alike just can’t get enough of.”

Natalie French (BSA ’05, DVM ’12)

Natalie French is a self-taught artist and designer who prefers the “calming, whimsical feel” of watercolor. She started her company, Tulip Magnolia Art + Design, in 2015 when she was 8 months pregnant with her second daughter. She is a licensed veterinarian and practiced equine medicine after vet school, and now spends time with her two daughters and painting. She enjoys spending time outside, which influences her adventure shirts.

Natalie Kilgore (AB ’06)


Natalie Kilgore started her stationery business, Natty Michelle Paperie, in 2009. In the beginning, she designed wedding stationery and hand-drawn maps for couples getting married. Over 10 years later, she has now expanded her business to offer a variety of handmade products that feature her artwork, including prints, gifts, and apparel. She frequently collaborates with other small businesses in Georgia and across the country to develop new product lines, such as letterpress goods, woodcut ornaments, and screen printed T-shirts. Natalie works out of her home studio just outside of Athens, and lives with her husband and two children. Shop her collection online or follow her on Instagram.

Clay McLaurin (BFA ’00)


Trained as a textile designer, Clay McLaurin started his career designing for a jacquard mill in New York City. He then moved from designing to teaching at the Rhode Island School of Design and at UGA’s Lamar Dodd School of Art. Well-versed in textile knowledge, Clay brings his personal discoveries to life in a collection of textiles and wall coverings for the home. Clay is the founder of Clay McLaurin Studio; his works can be found in showrooms in the United States, Australia, England, and Canada.

Isabella Nixon (BFA ’20)

Isabella Nixon is a recent UGA graduate and former member of the Student Alumni Council with a degree in interior design from the Lamar Dodd School of Art. Isabella’s art skills include free-hand drawing, architectural drafting, computer-aided design, AutoDesk, SketchBook, physical and electronic models, and other graphic media. She has presented ideas both visually and verbally by integrating knowledge of historic and contemporary architecture and interior design. Isabella has a strong passion for photography, graphic design, and the arts.

Ryan Sichelstiel (ABJ ’15)


Ryan Sichelstiel hails from South Georgia. In 2015, he graduated from UGA with a degree in advertising and studio art and a certificate in personal and organizational leadership. As a New York City-based senior hybrid graphic designer, Ryan has experience with both print (layout and editorial) and digital (social media, banner ads, iconography, web design, presentation).

Women of UGA Leadership Council members rise to the occasion

Three members of the Women of UGA Leadership Council saw a need in their communities or workplaces during the current COVID-19 pandemic and chose to respond in big ways. We hope their stories inspire others to seek the opportunities to offer encouragement and assistance in their own communities and circles of influence. Find out more about Women of UGA.

The Power of a Picture: Caitlin Murphy Zygmont (ABJ ’02) and Devon Moore Targer (BBA ’96)

A small gesture can make a great impact. Realizing the power of a simple smile, two University of Georgia alumnae set out to boost morale in their neighborhood and making a difference in their community.

When Caitlin Murphy Zygmont (ABJ ’02) and Devon Moore Tarter (BBA ’96) became next-door neighbors, they became friends too. Both began to search for a way to help when the pandemic arose, while keeping themselves and their children safe. Caitlin reach out to Devon when she came across The Front Steps Project, in which photographer travel to people’s homes to photography them on their front steps, from a distance, to raise money for charity. They raised more than $9,000 for The Giving Kitchen and Table & Aid. To date, the pair has safely photographed and edited more than 170 family portraits!

Caitlin

Devon (left) and Caitlin (right)

Caring for the Caregivers: Laura Jalbert (BSW ’99, MSW ’00)

While many support efforts are focused on the front-line workers in hospitals, we know that caregivers and family members within Assisted or Independent Living communities around Metro Atlanta also find themselves on the front lines. Laura Jalbert (BSW ’99, MSW ’00) saw a need in those groups, so she and her staff at Mindful Transitions designed and volunteer in support groups to aid the unique needs of caregivers affected by separation from loved ones due to social distancing measures. Participants for the groups include resident caregivers (often spouses) living within the community as well as loved ones who live outside of the community. The groups are being conducted online via Google Meet and are each limited to ten participants.

In the Caregiver Support Group, Mindful Transitions staff facilitates supportive discussion of the unique challenges of being a caregiver right now. The group allows the participants to meet with other community members who are also seeking support and growth as they navigate this new frontier. This group is designed to support caregivers who are providing care both in their homes and those who, because of social distancing, currently provide care from afar. The group focuses on supporting the experience of members, helping them understand they are not alone, and providing tools for healthy coping.

Mindful Transitions Logo

The team at Mindful Transitions is also offering volunteer support group services to staff and professional caregivers in congregate living environments like Assisted Living, Independent Living, and Skilled Nursing. These Professional Caregiver Support Groups are for professional staff who care for older adults as an effort to help them cope with the extreme stress levels and grief associated with caring for the daily needs of older adults, while they manage taking care of themselves and their own families. The group focuses on supporting the experience of members, helping them understand that they are not alone, and providing tools for healthy coping.

If you know someone who is interested in joining these confidential groups, please contact Janie at jmardis@mindfultransitions.com or (802) 777-8232. These services are provided at no charge.

Mindful Transition Volunteer Project Team

Janie Mardis, LCSW-Coordinating the Volunteer Project
Maria Walker, LCSW-Volunteer (UGA-BSW ’91)
Denise Greenberger, LCSW-Volunteer (UGA-BSW ’83, MSW ’85)
Irit Lantzman, LCSW-Volunteer (UGA-MSW ’08)
Amy McWilliams, LCSW-Volunteer (UGA-MSW ’04)

Being a Guide During Uncertain Times: Quanza Griffin (ABJ ’01)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently has 4,367 staff members dedicating time to prevent and control the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Many of them stepped up to work nonstop on these goals, including Quanza Griffin (ABJ ’01), a member of the 2018 UGA 40 Under 40 class.

Quanza and CDC director Robert Redfield.

Quanza and CDC director Robert Redfield.

Quanza is a public health advisor with 20 years of public health experience at the federal and state level, and put that to use when she answered the call and to deploy to the CDC Emergency Operations Center as the lead operations coordinator for the Community Intervention Task Force (CITF). The CITF creates guidance documents to help public and private sectors ensure they are able to operate and adapt during the pandemic. Quanza put in long hours during this time, working more than 16 hours a day for seven days a week to ensure the task force had the necessary staff, budget, systems, and policies in place to meet key deadlines.

“As the lead operations coordinator, my goal was to provide excellent customer service to the hundreds of staff on the task force. Many of our scientists worked on developing guidance documents that sometimes required a very short turn-around to be shared with CDC and other federal leaders,” said Quanza. “My goal was to make their jobs less stressful by focusing on other important functions needed to keep the team operating.”

Quanza managed a team of 10 people with a variety of roles. Daily activities included leadership decisions related to function and operations of the task force, development of policies and spend plans, forecasting, and last, but probably most important, keeping office space exciting with snacks and fun.

“There would be times we would be in deep conversations and hear a random, silly noise coming from someone’s computer as they played with noise makers. As anyone could imagine, there were some tense days and nights, but we found ways to keep the atmosphere light and fun. Before my deployment ended, many of the team sent great pictures of their fur babies and children. Keeping a nice ambiance amongst our task force helped us get the work done.”

Quanza says the most challenging part of being deployed was the time away from her kids, Kylah (age 6) and Christopher (age 4). “I had to sacrifice a lot of quality time with them to focus on the response. I am thankful for supportive family who stepped up and helped out during this time,” she said.

Quanza and her kids

Quanza and her kids

During Public Service Recognition Week (May 3-9), Quanza was nominated by fellow public health professional for outstanding contributions to public service and the mission of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). She received an HHS virtual Star Card Award.

Quanza is not alone in her dedication to the health and safety of the American public, as there are thousands of CDC staff working nonstop in response to this pandemic. The Bulldog community is thankful to everyone who is helping to make our world healthier and safer. Learn more about staying safe and healthy on the CDC’s coronavirus website. Follow the CDC on social media Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Keep up-to-date with UGA Alumni and ways you can help during this time on our COVID-19 news and resources page.

CED alum integral in launching COVID-19 information hub

Lawrie Jordan (BLA ’73) is an alumnus of the College of Environment and Design and current executive at Esri, one of the largest geographic information system companies in the world. Lawrie was integral to the launch of Esri’s free-to-use COVID-19 Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Hub, a website with a wealth of resources for anyone to use. We connected with Lawrie to ask him questions about the Hub, his role in developing it, and his time at UGA.

What tools can be found on Esri’s COVID-19 GIS Hub? Who are they for?

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Esri surged its Disaster Response Team and worked closely with Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to stand up a dynamic dashboard showing the global growth of the disease. This cloud-based tool leverages the power of geography and location analytics, with authoritative data from JHU and WHO being updated multiple times a day and successfully sustaining more than 1 billion hits per day worldwide. You can see the COVID-19 GIS Hub in action here.

Building on that foundation, the Hub provides an expansive set of online resources to lend support to communities, organizations, and individuals in need. These tools primarily consist of new maps, apps, informational dashboards, and supporting services that are focused on addressing specific needs associated with COVID-19, including:

Lawrie Jordan (BLA '73)

Lawrie Jordan (BLA ’73)

  • Vulnerable Populations
  • Available Hospital Beds
  • COVID-19 Testing Sites
  • Travel Restrictions
  • Contact Tracing (under development)
  • Predictive Analytics
  • Business Continuity
  • Small Business Recovery
  • Approaches to Safely Reopening

These are just a few of the tools available, and the full range can be seen at the Esri COVID-19 GIS Hub site.

What is your role in developing and launching the COVID-19 GIS Hub?

I’ve been fortunate to have worked with all forms of geospatial information for more than 40 years, with emphasis on imagery from satellites, aircraft, and drones. GIS technology provides us with an optimal environment to combine those sources of data with additional social, economic, statistical, health, and other natural resource layers. This enables us to see patterns, changes, and trends that affect us over time in totally new ways, including the multiple impacts of a crisis such as this pandemic.

At Esri we collaborate as a “team of teams,” and one of my roles is to provide thought leadership and industry outreach. I work with my colleagues and teammates to raise awareness across the world of new capabilities such as the COVID-19 GIS Hub, and to help inform and connect those in need. Tools such as this give us a new view of current conditions, as well as a new vision of what an improved future can look like.

What is a lesson you learned at UGA that you still carry with you while working at Esri?

One of the most valuable lessons that I learned as a UGA student (and frankly a recipe for overall success in your career and life) is the importance of “bringing your A-game” to everything that you do, and to “play all in, all the time.” CE+D’s Landscape Architecture course curriculum, the outstanding faculty, and the CED Design Studio environment naturally lends itself to this, and it sets the table for a high-energy pattern of productivity and innovation to thrive.

To follow this “all-in” recipe consistently, however, there’s a positive string attached. You have to stay healthy both physically and mentally, which adds two more important ingredients to the mix: regular exercise and a good diet.

And finally, the “secret ingredient” in this recipe is to put others first. Be of service to others and focus on helping them be successful first, rather than yourself. When you do this, you’ll find that you will succeed in numerous ways, far surpassing your own expectations. And then everything just gets better.

From Fauci to philanthropy: one Georgia family’s story of mentorship and generosity

Left to Right: Suzanne, Shelly (AB ’19) and Steven Peskin’s family story is rich in mentorship, giving and Bulldog spirit.

Anthony Fauci is now a household name.

It happened quickly, as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country and government officials looked to experts like Dr. Fauci for guidance.

But for Suzanne Peskin’s family, Anthony Fauci was a household name long before we all became living room epidemiologists and socially distanced hermits. That is because Dr. Fauci, affectionately known in Suzanne Peskin’s family as “Tony,” is a family friend and former mentee of Suzanne’s father, Dr. Sheldon “Shelly” Wolff (BS ’52).

A Georgia Genesis

Drs. Herman Peskin (BS ’50) and Sheldon Wolff (BS ’52) met as students at UGA. Here, they pose for a photo at the wedding of Dr. Wolff’s daughter Suzanne to Dr. Peskin’s son Steven.

The Peskin family’s story is filled with examples of mentorship and philanthropy going back to Dr. Wolff’s undergraduate days in Athens. Originally from New Jersey, Dr. Wolff found himself in the South when UGA was the only school to offer him a full college scholarship. He came to Athens as a music major and eventually served as drum major of the Redcoat Band. During his time at UGA, Dr. Wolff changed plans, switching his major from art to science and setting his sights on medical school.

Dr. Wolff’s roommate was Phillip Peskin (BBA ’53). He and Philip joined Tau Epsilon Phi (TEP) fraternity and attended activities at the Hillel House, a Jewish student center near campus. Through TEP, Dr. Wolff also met Phillip’s older brother, Herman Peskin (BS ’50). Being far from home, Dr. Wolff enjoyed holidays meals during Jewish high holidays like Yom Kippur at the Peskin family home near Athens.

After college, Dr. Wolff and Phillip went their separate ways. Dr. Wolff attended medical school in Germany before transferring to Vanderbilt University to complete his degree. During his last year of medical school, he married Lila Leff before becoming an internal medicine resident in New York City.

Fauci and Friends

In 1960, Dr. Wolff joined the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Bethesda, Maryland. He later became the clinical director, serving at NIAID for 17 years. He valued research and enjoyed seeing the results of it improve patients’ lives. During that time, Dr. Fauci arrived at NIAID as a clinical associate working under Dr. Wolff. A friendship began between the two men that would last the rest of Dr. Wolff’s life. Dr. Fauci would later say that Dr. Wolff “clearly stands out as the person who made the greatest impact on (his) career.”

Dr. Wolff left NIAID in 1977 to become a professor and chair of the department of medicine at the Tufts University School of Medicine and physician-in-chief at the New England Medical Center Hospital in Boston. Dr. Fauci would go on to enjoy a successful career in public health research, working under six presidents on a variety of disease outbreaks, including HIV/AIDS and now the novel coronavirus.

“Shelly set me on the road to becoming a physician-scientist,” Dr. Fauci said in a 2007 award acceptance speech. “Besides being a generous mentor, he became one of my closest friends and ultimately the best man at my wedding.”

Dr. Wolff and Dr. Fauci became so close that, after her father died, Suzanne Peskin would occasionally call Dr. Fauci for advice on medical decisions. Suzanne knew she could trust that Dr. Fauci’s advice would be nearly identical to what her father would have said. Today, Suzanne believes that her father’s pandemic advice would be as simple as, “listen to Tony Fauci.”

Two Become One

But there is even more to this Bulldog story.

Dr. Wolff was working in Boston in 1981 when Steven Peskin, Herman Peskin’s son, was interviewing for a residency position at the hospital where Dr. Wolff worked. This was far from Steven’s hometown of Augusta. In the spirit of what was done for him during his undergraduate years at UGA, Dr. Wolff invited Steven to a Yom Kippur dinner. That is how Steven met Dr. Wolff’s daughter, Suzanne, who was a senior at Boston University.

Steven ended up matching for an internal medicine program in Boston that year and started dating Suzanne in 1982. They married three years later.

Steven later pursued an MBA on the advice of Dr. Wolff, who believed the degree would be useful as the field of medicine evolved. Steven eventually used that degree to transition to the corporate side of health care. He and Suzanne moved around the country, eventually settling in New Jersey. They have two children, Benjamin and Shelly, the latter named for Dr. Wolff.

The Bulldog Legacy Continues

Shelly Peskin (AB ’19), whose grandfathers met as students at UGA, keeps the family’s Bulldog legacy alive.

Shelly Peskin (AB ’19) is single-handedly carrying on her family’s Bulldog legacy, following in the steps of both of her grandfathers. According to her mother, Shelly decided to attend UGA during a trip to the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club during high school. During the trip, she toured UGA and visited the Hillel House. While there, she felt at home and connected to the place where her grandfathers had bonded as undergraduates.

When Suzanne and Steven attended UGA orientation with Shelly, they were inspired to join the Parents Leadership Council (PLC), a community of highly engaged parents who seek to foster a world-class learning experience for UGA students.

They viewed the PLC as an opportunity to plug in and give back to the university for all it has given their family. They wanted to feel as connected to UGA as they could, especially while their daughter began her journey in Athens. Suzanne and Steven served on the PLC from 2015 until Shelly graduated in 2019.

Everything came full circle for the family in 2017 when they endowed a need-based Georgia Commitment Scholarship in honor of Drs. Wolff and Herman Peskin. The opportunities given to their fathers fueled Steven and Suzanne’s spirit of generosity. Dr. Wolff’s music scholarship and Herman Peskin’s G.I. bill education allowed them to become successful doctors–and mentors for other successful professionals. The family wanted to help similar dreams come true for UGA students in the years to come. The first recipient of the scholarship started at UGA in fall 2018 and is now a rising third-year.

“(Our fathers) were able to achieve enormous success in their lives due to the generous scholarship opportunities that were made available to them,” Suzanne said. “They were both children of hard-working immigrants that came to America with nothing more than a strong work ethic and the desire to give their children the opportunity to be successful. That is our hope for the recipients of the Georgia Commitment Scholarship that is named in their memory.”

Dr. Wolff passed away due to complications from cancer in 1994. Suzanne is proud that her father’s legacy lives on in the people he mentored, trained, taught and treated during his life as a doctor and researcher.

“He left this world a better place,” Suzanne said. “Just far too early.”

 

You can also make a difference in the life of a student. Become a mentor.

Learn more about the Parents Leadership Council.

UGA grad in NYC saves the (birth)day for young bulldog in ATL

Frances (BS ’06) and Thomas (AB ’08) Beusse met Jacob Moats (AB ’01) at the NYC Dawgs’ Auburn game-watching party at American Whiskey last November. When former UGA Alumni Association board member Barbara Woods (BFA ’81) introduced the trio, they quickly bonded over their mutual love of Georgia football. At the end of the game (which UGA won 21-14), they went their separate ways; the Beusses back to Georgia and Jacob to his home just across the East River in Queens.

Jacob Moats (left) and Frances Beusse (center) were introduced during a game-watching party in NYC by Barbara Woods (right).

A few months later, the COVID-19 outbreak brought a whiplash of change to everyone’s lives–especially for those living in the Big Apple, a hot spot during the pandemic. In Atlanta, it was also carrying a great toll. Amid the upheaval, it was a particularly disappointing situation for the Beusses’ son, Quinton, who found himself sheltering at home and facing the prospect of a fifth birthday without a key ingredient: friends and grandparents.

But like many other kids his age, Quinton loves superheroes and, of course, the Georgia Bulldogs. That got Frances and Thomas thinking about creative ways to make sure the day was still special for Quinton.

Frances saw on Instagram that Jacob and a few friends did superhero cosplay for conventions and photo shoots, so she messaged him to ask if she could hire him to record a superhero video for Quinton’s birthday.

Jacob was happy to help a fellow Bulldog and didn’t shy away from a chance to get into character. He not only refused to accept payment for his participation, he even enlisted his friends to help.

“It was just something small that we could do to help out,” Jacob says. “With all that’s going on right now, we need to help each other, especially if it’s something easy to do.”

Jacob and his friends donned their superhero gear and recorded several videos from their homes. When compiled together, the videos of Batman, Robin, The Flash, Batgirl, Wonder Woman and Spiderman assigned Quinton ‘missions’ to complete in his backyard. Those missions ranged from “leaping buildings” (ie: a cardboard Gotham City created by Frances), to battling villains by shooting at their photos with silly string—the Beusses’ fence taking the bulk of the pain. Quinton executed each activity decked out in his own Batman costume—complete with padded muscles and a cape—and enjoyed every minute of his mission to save Gotham from the likes of Joker, Catwoman and Two-Face.

“Jacob was beyond generous to help me when, in all honesty, the only thing he knew about me was that I was a Bulldog,” Frances says. “I was so thankful that he gave his time and energy to lift my son’s spirits. It just shows what the Bulldog community does for one another.”

Despite facing limits on social gatherings to halt the spread of COVID-19, Bulldogs around the world are, like Jacob and the Beusses, finding inventive ways to connect and care for one another. In our book, that’s a one-two punch … KA-POW!

Do you know a Georgia Bulldog helping others during the COVID-19 outbreak? We’d love to hear their story!

Artists in quarantine: Q&A with Ryan Sichelstiel

Ryan Sichelstiel (AB ’15) is a senior hybrid graphic designer based in New York City. He has experience with both print and digital media and has worked with clients ranging from Walmart and T-Mobile to the University of Georgia. Ryan recently celebrated his one-year anniversary working for Celtra, a creative technology company. However, COVID-19 has seen all of us adjusting to a “new normal,” and for Ryan, that includes working remotely from his hometown of Perry, Georgia. We caught up with Ryan to better understand an artist’s experience in quarantine.  

How have you adjusted to moving back home? 

After graduation, I worked in the Disney College Program for six months and then moved to New York. I’ve been up there since. It’s definitely different to be back, but the thing that’s been somewhat reassuring is that everyone else is going through this, too. It’s not like you’re missing out on things, but it feels weird to know that life is on pause indefinitely.  

Where are you on the quarantine spectrum?  

I’m ready for things to get back to normal. I’m a raging extrovert, so I miss people, my walks to work, and my local coffee shop. It’s been a bit of an adjustment, but I’m trying to enjoy being home.  

How are your ‘creative juices’ handling the pandemic? 

They have been flowing. For me, walking around in New York, you get inspiration everywhere. Here, it’s difficult because you’re sitting in the house for 66 days — not that I’m counting. A joke became a tradition in that I find memes and videos and save them. I then create a diary of the previous day using those videos; I post, like, 15-20 every day. That’s a fun thing to push my creativity a little bit and think, “Well, how does this video fit into the scenario where Grandma told me to put some more sunscreen on?” 

How has the pandemic affected your flow of work? 

Some clients have pulled back, but it’s still been pedal to the metal. A lot of retail clients have taken advantage of this time to offer sales since people are online shopping all the time. We’ve been working with them to recreate ads specifically for the pandemic and changing their messaging. For example, the creative features a lot more loungewear now.

What is one of your favorite projects that you’ve created? 

As a student, I worked at the UGA Visitors Center and our boss, Eric Johnson, always said, “Awaken the possibility in others.” He allowed me to paint one of the bulldog statues in the Visitors Center with my own design. I also painted a mural on the back wall of the space. It was a cool experience because, as a college student, you’re trying to figure out what you want to do and to have someone let you paint something like that is the coolest thing. He instilled confidence in me and gave me the opportunity to prove my worth.

What do you hope students, alumni, and faculty are reminded of when they view your Athens- and UGA-centric paintings? 

Everyone’s [perspective on] Athens is different. I hope what people see when they look at my work is that they don’t see that specific artwork. They see Athens and try to envision: what do I think of when I think of Athens?  

Do you think it’s artists’ responsibility in quarantine to create works that reflect what we’re going through during this pandemic?  

I don’t want to say it’s a responsibility. It’s a weird time, and no one’s been through anything like this. With creatives, everything we do is expected to be “chef’s kiss”  brilliant. What’s nice about this period is that you’re on your own. You’re kind of locked up and it’s nice to be able to reflect for more self-fulfillment. I have more room in Perry, so I have my old paint supplies, sketchbooks, and pens and can just create for my own mental health; to chill out, relax, explore, and create. It’s nothing that’s been paid for or needs to be done by tonight.  

Since you’re a self-proclaimed Disney aficionado, which Disney movies do you suggest people watch during the quarantine?  

Good Dinosaur, Onward, and Peter Pan.  

 

If you’re an artist in quarantine, consider sharing your story with the UGA Libraries.  

NYC alumni raise funds for Bulldog game-watching venue

Robbie York (ABJ ’05) has made his home in electrifying New York City where he and three partners run American Whiskey Bar and Restaurant in lower Manhattan. During college football season, American Whiskey is a magnet for the 6,100 UGA graduates living in the New York City area. This Bulldog haven proudly displays a red and black banner year-round – a comforting symbol for those far from Athens.

American Whiskey

When American Whiskey was forced to close its doors in March due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, NYC Dawgs sprang into action to protect their home away from home.

The NYC Alumni Chapter leadership board immediately made personal donations to help cover the staff’s salaries and expenses. It was important to the chapter leaders to support the personnel who do so much to match Sanford Stadium’s game-day energy each Saturday in the fall.

After the NYC alumni board made an initial donation, a GoFundMe campaign was launched to continue supporting the staff as it became more uncertain when the restaurant would open its doors again. All the donations received via the GoFundMe campaign went directly to the staff.

“It amazes me to see the community we’ve built in New York City, and that our alumni feel so connected to our New York chapter that they want to donate,” said Shelby Clayton, president of the NYC Dawgs. “That’s a testament to UGA as an institution, a place where we have common ground to rally together to support those who have supported us.”

As of May 1, more than 320 donors have contributed to the GoFundMe campaign  and raised over $41,000, with the first $10,000 matched by Dawgs 365, a Georgia fan sports group. Even former Georgia football standouts like Aaron Murray (BS ’12), Arthur Lynch (AB ’13) and Tavarres King (BSED ’12), rallied for the cause.

“Donations have been from all over. We have raised a little over $51,000 for our staff,” York says. “The NYC Dawgs were first to ‘answer the bell’ and since then we have received support from Dawgs_365 on Instagram, UgaSports.com, and regular game-watching party attendees. We are overwhelmed and humbled by the response as a whole.”

Robbie York

Robbie York (center) was recognized in September in Athens as a 2019 UGA 40 Under 40 honoree.

The NYC Dawgs and American Whiskey also teamed up to host a virtual G-Day tailgate on April 18. More than $800 was raised that day through a variety of games alumni and fans played on Zoom.

G-Day Zoom

The NYC Dawgs hosted a virtual D-Day event on April 18.

If there’s anything this story reveals, it’s that Bulldogs Never Bark Alone. No matter where how far they may travel from Athens, the UGA alumni family supports each other. And during these uncertain times, Bulldogs know that’s all we need: each other.

Do you know a Georgia Bulldog helping others or their alma mater during the COVID-19 outbreak? We’d love to hear their story!

UGA Vet Med alumni step up to welcome 2020 grads to the profession

Like all UGA schools and colleges, the 2020 College of Veterinary Medicine convocation did not happen in person this month. So, in an effort to celebrate these new DVMs (Doctors of Veterinary Medicine), Vet Med enlisted the help of 65 alumni to send hand-written congratulatory notes to each new graduate, and to share fun videos.

There was a delightful welcome from Sugar Hill Animal Hospital (see photo above), featuring West Hamryka (DVM ’90), Kristie Johansen (DVM ’12), Jonathan Bentley (DVM’13), Jennifer Schuler (BSA ’04, DVM ’07) and Layne Doggett (BSA ’12, DVM ’18). Unfortunately, we can’t share it here since it features copyrighted music, but here are some  of the other creations developed by proud UGA alumni:

Beyond these messages of encouragement, all of Vet Med’s alumni have been supportive of their alma mater since UGA transitioned to online courses. Check out this stirring “finish strong” message from Trey Callahan (DVM ’19).

Are you a UGA College of Veterinary Medicine graduate interested in supporting students, faculty or fellow alumni during these trying times? Email Ellen Sims, CVM’s assistant director of alumni relations.