Georgia State University Magazine, Summer 2016

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College wasn’t in the cards

...until you showed up. Hundreds of students in the Class of 2016 would not have graduated without the help of private donations. Consider including Georgia State University in your estate plans and give a gift that reaches beyond campus borders. CON TA CT A PL ANNE D G IVING O F F IC E R T O D AY AT 4 0 4 - 4 1 3 - 3 4 2 5 O R E M AI L GI FT P L ANN IN G @ G SU. E DU.



G E O R G I A S T A T E U N I V E R S I T Y F O U N D A T I O N / P. O . B O X 3 9 8 4 / A T L A N T A , G A 3 0 3 0 2 - 3 9 8 4 / G I V I N G . G S U . E D U

CONTENTS 7 Klasse, Coach! Head Baseball Coach Greg Frady is the first American elected to the German Baseball Hall of Fame. 9 Super Deciders Professor Henry Carey explains the role of the superdelegate in the presidential election.



In the wilds of Kenya, Professor David Wojnowski discovered two unidentified geckos. One now bears his name.

11 Dr. Sue Sue Henderson (M.P.H. ’10) leads the charge in keeping Peace Corps volunteers healthy.

Actual size


REEL VISION Five filmmaking friends, making movies on their terms, just won the top award at the prestigious South By Southwest film festival.



Born into rock ‘n’ roll royalty, Jessica Walden (B.A. ’00) is using her hometown’s rich music history to preserve its legacy.


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FROM THE PRESIDENT Financial problems remain the No. 1 reason students drop out of college and we are committed to aggressively addressing this barrier to graduation.



N THE LAST few months we have had another round of remarkable national attention related to our progress improving student success. We recently hosted U.S. Secretary of Education John King and Undersecretary Ted Mitchell, who toured our newly renovated advising center and met with students and advisers to learn more about what we do to help students succeed. Dr. Tim Renick, our dynamic vice provost and vice president for enrollment and student success, was invited to the White House in March to talk about Georgia State’s $8.9 million First in the World grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant funds a four-year research study in partnership with the University Innovation Alliance (UIA) to examine the effectiveness of predicative analytics and proactive advising in helping 10,000 low-income and first-generation students complete their degrees across the UIA’s 11 member campuses. And I was honored to accept a $2 million gift from SunTrust CEO Bill Rogers


STUDENT SUCCESS INITIATIVES SHOW RESOUNDING RESULTS HALFWAY THROUGH OUR 10-YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN. to help build a first-of-its-kind financial management center to help students address financial issues. The SunTrust Financial Management Center constitutes another important step in guiding our students to success. Financial problems remain the No. 1 reason students drop out of college and we are committed to aggressively addressing this barrier to graduation. We want to continue to find innovative ways to use data to identify problems our students face when there is still time to help. SunTrust will provide financial mentors and the center staff will use the system to contact students and develop a series of outreach programs. Because many students and their parents have limited ability to be on campus during the day, the center will offer online and phone counselors after hours. The center will also provide financial counseling and outreach to low-income and hard-to-reach families that rarely have access to financial guidance from credible institutions. As part of the project, Georgia State will

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develop a detailed playbook on how to use predictive analytics to reach financially at-risk students to share with other educational institutions. It is yet another way we are sharing what we have learned and helping not only our students, but college students around the country as we identify new ways to remove the obstacles to success. Our strategic plan, introduced in 2011, outlined our goal to become “a national model for undergraduate education by demonstrating that students from all backgrounds can achieve academic and career success at high rates.” Five years into the 10-year plan, we have firmly established our position as a national leader in enabling student success. Sincerely,

Mark P. Becker President


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Thank you for the interesting article regarding helicopter parenting. While I understand concerns regarding safety and crime, a student’s time in college is exactly when he or she should become autonomous. ¶ I still remember to this day the first time my mom instilled in me that I was my own advocate. My freshman year, I had been given incorrect advice as to what classes I should be taking to get into the degree I wanted to pursue. I called my mother to complain and see what she could do. I’ll never forget her words to me: “You’re on your own. You can figure this out.” Thank goodness, I was able to follow her initial guidance. It was the best lesson she ever taught me. Jenn Dixon, M.H.P. ‘12 A MISSING MALOOF

The article “One For the Road” about Manuel’s Tavern in the current issue is a great piece of work. I enjoyed the history and the project details. There was one major fact missing. Manuel’s Tavern was owned by two brothers. Manuel was the majority partner, but his younger brother Robert was his partner and a major part of the development and success of the business. It was especially disheartening when the author mentioned that Manuel’s ashes were behind the bar but omitted a third urn containing the ashes of Robert Maloof. Beverly Maloof Hiegel, sister of Manuel and Robert Maloof

Loving this @gsumagazine story about Georgia wines and the @GeorgiaStateU alumni uncorking the industry @joshuagrotheer Joshua Grotheer Excellent testimonial from Dr. Angela Hall-Godsey in @gsumagazine’s article on helicopter parenting in higher ed @bard387 Donna Wroble

VISIT US ONLINE AT MAGAZINE.GSU.EDU Follow us on Facebook at GSUMagazine


It was with great interest and pleasure that we read the article about the wine industry in White County. I do want to let you know of an error in the article. The first gold rush in the United States began, as you mentioned, in White County; however, the date was 1828, long before the California ‘49ers or the Alaskan strikes of the 1890s. Jennie Inglis, White County Chamber of Commerce Editor’s Note: We regret the omission and the error.

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On the day Dr. King was killed, I didn’t attend class. My professor counted this against me, and my father was ready to go have a talk with him. Fortunately, he was dissuaded and I continued my education without his “help.” Karen Nelson McCarthy (B.A. ‘71)

Summer 2016, Vol 7, Number 2 Publisher Don Hale Executive Editor Andrea Jones Editor William Inman Contributors Perri Campis (M.P.P. ‘16) Alexis Green (B.A. ‘16) LaTina Emerson, Charles McNair, Tony Rehagen, Anna Varela Copy Editor Ben Hodges (B.A. ‘08) Creative Director José Reyes for Metaleap Creative Associate Creative Director Eric Capossela Designer Harold Velarde Contributing Illustrators Joe Ciardiello, Adam Cruft, Andy Friedman, Joe McKendry, Diego Patiño, Thomas Porostocky Contributing Photographers Ryan Hayslip, Greg Kahn, Matt Kalinowski, Ben Rollins Send address changes to: Georgia State University Gifts and Records P.O. Box 3963 Atlanta Ga. 30302-3963 Fax: 404-413-3441 e-mail: Send letters to the editor and story ideas to: William Inman, editor, Georgia State University Magazine P.O. Box 3983 Atlanta Ga. 30302-3983 Fax: 404-413-1381 e-mail: Georgia State University Magazine is published four times annually by Georgia State University. The magazine is dedicated to communicating and promoting the high level of academic achievement, research, faculty scholarship and teaching, and service at Georgia State University, as well as the outstanding accomplishments of its alumni and the intellectual, cultural, social and athletic endeavors of Georgia State University’s vibrant and diverse student body. © 2016 Georgia State University

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CAMPUS BIG DATA INSIGHT Robinson College partners with leading financial institutions to form new institute focused on analytics. Starr Companies, a global insurance and investment organization, and SunTrust Banks Inc., a national financial services company, have teamed to create the new Institute for Insight at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business. The Institute for Insight brings students and institutions together to explore new business opportunities that can be drawn from big data analytics. The institute is home to the Robinson College’s newest specialized master’s degree, the master of science in analytics. The degree combines “hard skills” in statistics, computer science and business along with “soft skills” through a deep immersion program where students work with experienced industry data scientists and Georgia State researchers in the institute’s Insight Lab. The institute is being built around an interdisciplinary research faculty. “Through the Institute for Insight, Robinson is exploring and solving data issues, dissecting the problems and creating management plans,” said Richard Phillips, dean of the Robinson College. “Students master a set of mathematical, computational and statistical methods that are then applied in a variety of settings, including marketing analytics, health analytics and risk analytics.” LONG TO STEP DOWN College of Arts and Sciences Dean William Long’s tenure has been marked by success and growth. Dr. William Long has announced he will step down from the deanCONT’D ON P.9



A GEORGIA STATE CAST Chris Escobar (B.A. ’08, M.A. ’13), the festival’s executive director since 2011, says most of his staff are Georgia State grads or students, including program director Kristy Breneman (B.A. ’10) and senior short film programmer Christina Humphrey (M.A. ’16). “The entire programming staff is from Georgia State,” Escobar said. EARLY DAYS Kay Beck, associate professor of communications, is one of the founders of the long-running film festival and is a member of the Board of Directors. ATL-CENTRIC Escobar said the festival has evolved in the last few years to create a more local experience, such as moving from nondescript multiplexes to the Plaza Theatre, the city’s oldest independently owned cinema, and showcasing locally made films. “We’ve moved away from ‘what can happen anywhere’ to ‘what can uniquely happen here in Atlanta,’” he said.

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DER COACH Head baseball coach and former German national team coach Greg Frady will be the first American elected into the German Baseball Hall of Fame. BY ALEXIS GREEN (B.A. ’16)





hen Greg Frady was invited to lunch with members of the German parliament at the Reichstag building in Berlin last spring, a bundle of nerves went with him. However, Frady wasn’t feeling pressured about representing the United States in the way you might expect. “I wasn’t nervous about meeting the politicians,” he said, “it was about knowing which spoon to eat with.” Frady calls that luncheon, where he was honored for his 12 years as head coach and general manager of the German national baseball team, one of the most memorable experiences of his career. This summer, Frady will become the German Baseball Hall of Fame’s first American inductee and 12th overall. Prior to his arrival, the Germans were foundering in international competition. The team was invited to play in the 2003 European championship, lost every game, and at that point had never finished higher than seventh place in a European competition. Today, they’re ranked 17th in the world and have sent two players to the major leagues in the U.S. Although Frady was the architect of that turnaround, the recognition caught him off guard. “It was a big surprise to me, to be honest,” he said. Frady became an expert at balancing his family life with his two positions on opposite hemispheres. Frady’s family spent summers in Germany when his children’s schools were on break, and Frady would often appear to both his baseball teams via satellite. The cross-cultural coaching experiences in Germany have definitely changed the way


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Frady approaches baseball, he said. “I started with young men who were 18 years old and [was] still coaching them when they were 30,” he said. “You see them transition from young adult to fathers and real leaders. They became a lot like family to me.” He gives his experience in Germany credit for making him more patient and open-minded with his team at Georgia State. He even managed to scout and recruit players from his time in Germany to play for the Panthers. “As a coach, I was able to bring back theories, ideas, concepts, information and opportunities to grow my own players so that they would have better opportunities in the future,” he said.

• Saving the Bats Visit for an editorial by researcher Chris Cornelison (M.S.

’11, Ph.D. ’13) on the war against white-nose syndrome, a vicious disease that’s killing bats.

• Best of the Beach Visit for a recap of Beach Volleyball’s stellar season.

The Panthers were in the eight-team field that competed for the national championship.

$2 million

Awarded to the student financial center from SunTrust Foundation to create the SunTrust Student Financial Management Center, a firstof-its kind program to help students address financial issues that can be obstacles to earning their degrees. ship of the College of Arts and Sciences in June at the end of his five-year term. The college has introduced policy innovations and made major achievements under Long’s leadership, including the development of six new undergraduate degree programs, 18 new five-year dual bachelor’s-master’s degree programs, three new graduate concentrations and four new graduate certificates. Long has also been involved in many other groundbreaking initiatives, such as the creation of the Creative Media Industries Institute and the Global Studies Institute. “He has been a tireless advocate of success in both research and learning, setting high standards for achievement for the units within the college,” said Provost Risa Palm. A national search for his replacement is underway. IN THE TEETH Perimeter students bring dental care to Georgia’s most vulnerable. For more than 20 years, Perimeter’s dental hygiene students have teamed up with the Georgia Department of Public Health to provide dental hygiene for low-income and at-risk elementary school students in DeKalb County. This past winter, Perimeter College dental hygiene students provided sealants and fluoride treatments, plus a dose of education to students at Hightower Elementary School in DeKalb County as part of an all-day oral health fair. For some kids, it may be the only dental care they get. “In Georgia, there are many barriers to dental care, including cost, lack of dental insurance, transportation and widespread dental health professional shortage areas,” said Pam Cushenan, a dental hygiene instructor. “We want to make a positive impact on our most vulnerable populations. And our students also gain a great appreciation for how they can make a difference.” CONT’D ON P.10



POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR HENRY “CHIP” CAREY EXPLAINS THE ROLE OF SUPERDELEGATES IN THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL RACE. Exactly what is a superdelegate? An unelected delegate to the Democratic — not the Republican — National Convention who is seated automatically and who votes for whomever he or she wants. They encompass all Democrat members of the House and Senate and state governors, and additional superdelegates are chosen during the primaries and by each state party.

What about the Republican Party? By contrast, the Republican National Convention has only three non-elected delegates per state, the state chairperson

and two district-level committee members. However, they have no discretion and must vote for their state’s leading vote gainer in the caucus or primary.

What’s the history of the superdelegate? After the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the party made changes in its delegate selection process. The purpose was to make the composition of the convention less subject to control by party leaders and more responsive to the votes cast during the campaign for the nomination. Superdelegates are more likely to prefer

better-known candidates. At the 2008 Democratic National Convention, the superdelegates made up approximately one-fifth of the total number of delegates.

Can a superdelegate change his or her mind on their candidate before the convention? Yes. And because they are free to support anyone they want, superdelegates can change the lead and nominate the candidate in second place, i.e. Bernie Sanders instead of Hillary Clinton. • Read more at

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IN THE CITY Perimeter students also provide regular oral health education at battered women’s shelters, homeless shelters and adult day care centers, as well as oral health exams and cleanings in Perry and Moultrie, Ga., during the Georgia Mission of Mercy and migrant farmer health care events. EYE ON CAMPUS SAFETY Georgia State partners with Atlanta Police Department on security camera initiative. Exterior video surveillance cameras at Georgia State are now fully integrated with the Atlanta Police Department’s (APD) Operation Shield Video Integration Center, enabling Atlanta police officers to monitor video footage from 253 campus cameras. “Georgia State University sits in the heart of Atlanta, and through this partnership, we can monitor the areas and provide an extra layer of security to protect Georgia State students, faculty and staff,” said Atlanta Police Chief George Turner. “We believe these cameras can deter crime, help our investigators solve crimes and speed our response to emergency incidents in the areas around campus.” The Georgia State cameras are joining a network of more than 6,000 cameras that are already operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “This system strengthens the long-term partnership between Georgia State Police and APD,” said acting Georgia State Police Chief Carlton Mullis. “Our strong working relationships with law enforcement agencies downtown help to keep our campus community secure.”

DISCOVERY RADIATION RESEARCH Georgia State scientists explore the power of radiation in cancer treatments. A team of researchers from Georgia State is fighting cancers using newly discovered ways that radiation can maximize


responses to immune-based therapeutic approaches to cancer treatment. The researchers have shown that radiation is capable of changing the expression of such genes by influencing key enzymes that control whether a gene is open and expressed or not. “Previously, there were several pathways that were thought to control changes in gene expression within treated cancer cells and most of these were related to well described DNA repair pathways since radiation induces DNA damage,” said Charlie Garnett Benson, assistant professor of biology and lead author on the study. “However, we showed that radiation can change the expression of genes not typically considered a part of the known DNA damage response pathways. More important, some of the modulated genes are known stimulators of killer T cell function,” Academic programs he said. offered at the five The work being campuses of Perimperformed in Beneter College of son’s lab is dediGeorgia State. cated to understanding how the activity of immune cells is increased to fight cancers after radiation treatment, and how best to apply radiation therapy to enhance cancer immunotherapy effectiveness.


HEALTH PROFESSIONALS Lewis School Of Nursing will offer master’s in occupational therapy. Georgia State has received Board of Regents approval to offer a master of occupational therapy degree, the entry-level degree required for occupational therapy, making it the first public college or university in Atlanta and third in Georgia to offer an occupational therapy degree. The Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions began accepting applications for the two-year, full-time program last fall. Students are expected to enroll this fall. Kinsuik Miara, former professor and chair of Occupational Therapy at Florida Atlantic University, has joined the faculty as professor and founding chair. Occupational therapists help people of all ages and walks of CONT’D ON P.12

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DR. SUE As chief of epidemiology and surveillance for the Peace Corps, Sue Henderson (M.P.H. ‘10) keeps the organization healthy. BY ANNA VARELA



r. Susan Henderson started on her career path two decades ago as a Peace Corps volunteer in the small, tropical West African nation of Togo. Her journey has carried her around the world and back again. Now based in Washington, D.C., Henderson is chief of epidemiology and surveillance for the Peace Corps. “I saw an ad when I was nine or 10 of Peace Corps volunteers working in a rural area, and it just seemed like a neat thing to do,” Henderson recalled. “I told my parents I was going to be a Peace Corps volunteer one day.” True to her word, Henderson began a two-year stint in Togo in 1991, living in a concrete house with no running water where she educated villagers about the spread and prevention of the Guinea worm that was common in Togo. “There was no treatment for it,” Henderson said. Through education, which emphasized water filtration, Togo finally eradicated Guinea worm in 2008 — an accomplishment Henderson was able to verify with her own eyes. In 2012, Henderson went to China to implement tobacco reduction strategies as part of the World Health Organization’s Tobacco Free Initiative. A short time later, she accepted a job that took her back to the Peace Corps to serve as a onewoman public health department where she tracks the health of volunteers around the world. “My job now is amazing because I’m able to use so many skills that I have gained along the way,” she said.

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IN THE CITY life to improve their daily lives or regain lost skills. They work with young and old, from children with developmental disabilities to seniors recovering from strokes or other cognitive impairments. Occupational therapy is ranked ninth among the best healthcare jobs and 14th among all occupations, according to U.S. News and World Report. At least a master’s degree in occupational therapy is required to enter the field. In addition, graduates must pass a national certification exam to be licensed. VIRAL UNDERSTANDING Research leader named founding director of new center for microbial pathogenesis. Chris Basler, a world-renowned leader in the study of emerging viruses, including the Ebola virus, has been named founding director of Georgia State’s new Center for Microbial Pathogenesis in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences. His research seeks to understand how the Ebola virus alters and evades immune responses and how this influences the severe disease caused by the deadly virus. In addition, he is devising novel antiviral approaches targeting these viral immune evasion functions. “Dr. Basler will lead the university’s effort to translate laboratory research discoveries to clinical applications and treat life-threatening RNA virus infections, addressing significant health issues of concern to Georgia,” said James Weyhenmeyer, vice president for research and economic development The new Center for Microbial Pathogenesis was established to better understand the molecular basis of life-threatening infectious diseases, such as the Ebola virus disease and tuberculosis, so novel therapeutic strategies can be further developed. Basler will hire additional faculty members under Georgia State’s Second Century Initiative to serve as part of the center. FIGHTING FAT Biologist will apply major grant to combat obesity by exploring epigenetics. Bingzhong Xue, associate professor of biology, has received a four-year, $1.37 million grant from the National Institute



Georgia State’s ranking by Time magazine of top urban campuses offering a world-class education. of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to identify a therapeutic target in obesity. “Obesity as a complex metabolic disease is the result of gene and environmental interactions, and epigenetic mechanisms have recently emerged as important links between environmental factors and obesity,” said Xue. Epigenetics is a mechanism the body uses to regulate gene expression in response to environmental changes without altering the DNA sequence. In the body, white adipose tissue stores extra energy as fat, and brown adipose tissue generates heat using available energy sources from the body. The presence of additional brown adipose tissue in the body may lead to increased energy expenditure rather than storing extra energy in fat tissues. “Inducing brown adipocytes in white fat may represent a novel approach in the prevention and treatment of obesity,” Xue said. “We hope to identify novel epigenetic targets that link environmental factors, such as diet, to obesity.”

The Philip Levine Prize for Poetry includes a $2,000 gift as well as publication and distribution by Anhinga Press. Jurjević, a visiting lecturer in the English Department, wrote “Small Crimes” while pursuing her master of fine arts degree in creative writing and poetry at Georgia State. The collection is centered on the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s and includes themes of conflict, war and relationships, said Jurjević, who is originally from Croatia. “So much of the process of writing poetry isn’t intentional but hinges on discovery,” she said. “You’re guided by nothing more than a hunch, and I kept following that urge like a road back home. In one of her Former Georgia poems, Emily DickState studentinson says ‘narcotathletes playing ics cannot still the professional sports, tooth that nibbles from the NFL to at the soul,’ and the LPGA. often times some kinds of nibbling cannot be resolved. It’s what poetry is — the desire itself. I had to do it.” Jurjević’s poems have been featured in journals such as The Missouri Review, Subtropics and the Southern Humanities Review.


ALL THAT JAZZ Rising saxophone star and School of Music master’s student Chris Otts wins BMI Foundation scholarship.

CREATIVITY LITERARY HONOR Faculty member Andrea Jurjević wins Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. It was a dreary Sunday when Andrea Jurjević received the call that she had been selected as the winner of the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. Out of more than 900 submissions, her first book, “Small Crimes,” was the winner. “I was about to take a nap when they called,” she said. “I was in disbelief because this is my first collection.”

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Thirteen is Chris Otts’ lucky number. The jazz saxophonist, composer and master’s student in the School of Music first picked up the sax 13 years ago. Ever since, music has been a big part of his life, he said. Otts has been named the winner of the the BMI Future Jazz Master Scholarship, awarded annually to a rising jazz star pursuing an advanced academic degree in jazz studies or jazz performance. He received the $5,000 scholarship in April at the Jazz Masters annual luncheon in New York. In New York, he was able to meet and thank the scholarship judging panel, which included bassist Ron Carter of the Miles Davis Quintet and legendary saxophonist Jimmy Heath.

• The Rivalry Visit for a web exclusive story about the inaugural Geor-

gia State-Georgia Southern Rivalry Series. (Spoiler alert: We won this year.)

“I hope that my music can bring new listeners to jazz and help promote the genre and jazz education,” Otts said. Estimates of PIU across the U.S. population run as high as 15 percent.


ATHLETICS FIRST CLASS Georgia State inducted 10 into the inaugural Athletics Hall of Fame.

PIU has been linked with negative mental health consequences such as depression, hostility, social phobia, alcohol abuse, self-injuries and sleep difficulties. Individuals with PIU may have difficulty reducing their Internet use and may lie to conceal their use.


STUDY UNCOVERS HOW FAMILIES ARE AFFECTED BY COLLEGE STUDENTS WITH PROBLEMATIC INTERNET USE. Young adults are at an especially high risk for behavioral addictions, and problematic Internet use (PIU) is now considered a behavioral addiction with characteristics similar to substance abuse disorders. Susan Snyder, a child welfare expert and assistant professor of social work, is part of a research team that conducted the first study to show how college students in the United States diagnosed with PIU perceive its role in their families. The students reported their time on the Internet often improved family connectedness when they and


their family were apart. However, their excessive Internet use led to increased family conflict when family members were together. “We wanted to better understand students with problematic Internet use,” Snyder said, “those who reported spending more than 25 hours a week on the Internet on non-school or non-work-related activities, and who experienced Internet-associated health or psychosocial problems.” Examples of positive connections include the use of Skype, Facebook or email to maintain relationships with family while stu-

dents were away at college. “Too much Internet use caused family relationships to disconnect or become conflicted,” Snyder said. For example, instead of interacting with their family when they were at home, participants reported they were “on the computer the whole time.” Most students with PIU felt their families also overused the Internet. “This study offers a first step toward effective interventions to address PIU among the college-age population,” Snyder said, “and we hope it will inform clinical practice and health policy.”

A select group of 10 Panthers made up the inaugural class of the Georgia State Athletics Hall of Fame. The Hall of Famers were honored in April during the annual Student-Athlete Banquet when they received their plaques during the unveiling of the new Wall of Fame in the Sports Arena. The inaugural class included: Terese Allen, Charles “Lefty” Driesell, Don Floyd (B.C.S. ‘49), Rodney Hamilton (B.B.A. ‘98), Bob Heck (MBA ‘80), Bruce LaBudde (M.Ed. ‘78), Sheryl Martin (B.S. ‘85), Kevin Morris (B.B.A. ‘01), Sarah-Jane Mungo (B.B.A. ‘93) and contributors Su and Bill Reeves (B.B.A ‘59). The Hall of Fame Election Committee was appointed last spring to create guidelines for nomination and selection. The committee decided the inaugural class in early September. A total of 76 nominees were among those on the ballot for the inaugural class. OLYMPIC HOPEFULS Three Panthers train for 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Former cross country star Rachel Hannah (B.S. ’09) is a registered dietician by trade and a professional runner with Olympic aspirations. The Canadian won a bronze medal in last summer’s Pan Am Games, and her sights are set on making the Canadian Olympic team for Rio. Former beach volleyball player Lane Carico began her professional career in 2013 and promptly earned the Association of Volleyball Players NewCONT’D ON P.15

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CHURCH AND STATE Manikka Bowman (M.S. ‘06) puts her faith in public service. BY PERRI CAMPIS (M.P.P. ‘16)



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anikka Bowman has always seen the connection between public policy and theology. “I grew up in Louisiana, and my pastor was a city councilman, so this intersection has always been a part of my frame of reference,” she said. “It’s a built-in organized mechanism. If you want to affect policy at any level, you have to have a base of people who share a belief or passion,” For Bowman, that intersection inspired her, but as a woman it was hard for her to figure out how to fit in. “Particularly in the black church,” she said, “you always see men in those roles.” Bowman was one of the first to receive a joint master’s degree in urban policy and divinity from the Andrew Young School and Columbia Theological Seminary. After graduating, she moved to the Boston metropolitan area, where the ordained clergywoman worked on issues ranging from working to raise wages for laborers to improving food insecurity issues. Last year, Bowman was elected to the Cambridge (Mass.) School Committee, her first foray into politics. “It was a local — but competitive — race,” she said. “I was one of 11 candidates running to fill six spots. I’ve always been passionate about education, and I’ve always seen myself in public office.” Bowman said she chose to run for the school committee because she sees education as the basis for opportunity and participation in the global economy. Her post has given her a new perspective of what holding public office means. “I’ve realized that it’s important to work across differences — from a national to a local level — something that our country is struggling with,” she said. “I’m glad I’ve been able to work with people whom I don’t always agree with, and I understand the importance of that.” She’s not only learned a lot about working with fellow elected officials, but also with the constituents she serves. “No one calls their elected official when things are great,” Bowman says. “A point of growth for me has been to address [constituents] needs. I’ve become sensitive to the bureaucracy of the system and how policy can help.”

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comer of the Year Award. The 26-year-old has continued to play around the world and has earned more than $100,000 in competition. Three-time Olympian and fellow professional player Holly McPeak thinks Carico has a great shot to make the U.S. Olympic team. “ She’s really quick defensively, has really good instincts and is aweNational ranking of some offensivethe College of Law’s ly,” McPeak said. Center for Law, “She wants it, and Health & Society she doesn’t make by the U.S. News & excuses for stuff. World Report. It’s She’s hungry.” the 10th consecuIn addition to tive year it has been Carico, senior Allnamed one of the American beach top 10 health law volleyball player programs. Sara Olivova could contend for an Olympic spot. A native of the Czech Republic, she competed last summer in the Czech Republic under-22 national event, finishing seventh among the 32 pairs.



ALUMNI SOLAR START-UP Henri Nyakarundi (B.S. ’03) is using the sun to solve energy problems that have plagued East Africa for decades. A few years ago, while visiting his mother in Burundi, Henri Nyakarundi found himself unable to manage a simple task he took for granted in Atlanta: charging his cell phone. Like other East African countries, Burundi’s electrical grid struggles to keep up with demand, and Nyakarundi couldn’t find dependable electricity access. “Everybody in the city had a mobile phone, and unfortunately there were huge problems with electricity,” said Nyakarundi, who’s originally from neighboring Rwanda. “It’s even worse now.” Nearly 70 percent of Rwandans own cell phones, and only 22 percent of the popu-


“We’re talking about a population that’s going to double in the next 25 to 30 years, and there’s massive need for agricultural and energy improvements.” lation has access to electrical service, according to the World Bank. Nyakarundi’s solution? Solar-powered mobile kiosks where people can pay a small fee to charge their phones. Each of Nyakarundi’s kiosks serves 30 to 40 people, with some walking miles to get there. Most of those customers need additional services, he said. His stations have brought Wi-Fi access to refugee camps in parts of East Africa. Nyakarundi came to the United States as a teenager in the 1990s after civil war ravaged Rwanda. After graduation, he

started a successful trucking company. But by the late 2000s, seeing Rwanda’s recovery from the war and its growing economy, he was ready to go home. Now, Nyakarundi is seeking to expand into other countries in the next few years. “We’re talking about a population that’s going to double in the next 25 to 30 years, and there’s massive need for agricultural and energy improvements,” Nyakarundi said. Got a promotion? A new addition to the family? Go ahead, brag a little. Visit for news from your classmates and fellow Georgia State alumni.

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* * * * * FADE IN: PARAMOUNT THEATRE, AUSTIN, TEXAS. AWARDS PODIUM AT SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST FILM FESTIVAL. EXTREME CLOSEUP OF WOODEN PLAQUE WITH ENGRAVED BELT-BUCKLE INSET THAT READS: SXSW FILM CHAMPION 2016 CONFETTI FALLS. We hear raucous applause, with VOICEOVER as ADAM PINNEY thoughtfully hums Pharrell Williams’ “HAPPY” and then: ADAM You know, it seems like just yesterday that Mike Brune, and Alex and Katie Orr, and Hugh Braselton and yours truly spliced together our collective dreams at Georgia State and set out to make films together. Now, here we are, winners at South By Southwest, one of the world’s great film festivals.



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N R U T E H TA T 21ST E H T , Y F R O ENTU C five kids met while students of film, theater and creative writing classes at Georgia State. They found themselves to be similar pieces on the same game board — five cinenthusiasts who wanted, more than sleep or square meals, to make films of their own. They shared a taste for onthe-run tacos and off-kilter movies, many of the films laced with dark humor like arsenic. Think Kubrick. Antonioni. David Lynch. The Coen brothers. Still, in some ways their story reads less like a movie, more like a sitcom. Five college buddies, four guys and a girl, start writing, acting, producing, casting, editing — and living — together. (Imagine “Friends” mating with “Seinfeld.”) One of the guys marries the girl, and pretty babies come along, and the rest seek sweethearts, too. Some of the cast and crew scatter to Los Angeles and Chicago, trying young wings, learning the craft and craftiness of filmmaking. Then their home city, to everyone’s surprise, takes a star turn as Hollywood’s brawny little brother. The film industry explodes in Atlanta the way the city did in “Gone with the Wind.” Friends return to the nest, and — all film professionals now — pick up where they never left off … writing, acting, producing, casting, editing … and living close together again. They name their collective “Fake Wood Wallpaper Films.” Magnifying one another’s talents and energies, they have a knack for making things happen. Scripts move to screens. Pipe dreams get real enough to enter the dream factory. The collective somehow bootstraps into existence a series of shorts and low-budget indie films. And then this past March, preposterously, wins all the marbles at South by Southwest with “The Arbalest,” their latest full-length film effort.

characters. Brune slips effortlessly from one Foster Kalt downgrade into another, morphing from a dreamy schlemiel of a young wannabe toy inventor to a bilebitter mogul. All of Fake Wood Wallpaper’s fantastic “Arbalest” accomplishments, from big idea to big award, find their roots at Georgia State.



* * * * * INSERT: LAKE CLAIRE BEDROOM OF ALEX AND KATIE ORR (NIGHT) CLOSEUP of ALEX’s peacefully sleeping face. We HEAR KATIE, very excited: KATIE Alex! ALEX! I got up to nurse the baby, and I just looked at Instagram! It won, Alex! The Arbalest WON! We won SXSW! VOICE OF ALEX, very sleepy No way … hell yeah … ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ… The movie? Think metaphor for one thing — it’s a cinematic symbol of what kids in love with their art and with no fear of busting their humps can conjure from thin air. Adam Pinney (B.A. ‘02) wrote and directed “The Arbalest.” Alex Orr (no degree, but five years of classes) produced it. Mike Brune (rhymes with “Rooney” – B.A. ‘02) stars in it. Hugh Braselton (B.A. 03) filmed it. And Katie Orr, née Rowlett (B.A. ‘03) worked as prop master while teeming with life, carrying her and Alex’s second baby. In “The Arbalest,” the Fake Wood Wallpaper band of brothers-and-sister created a 76-minute period film (1968–1978) about an intellectual property thief named Foster Kalt. Fate taps Kalt (played with great range by Brune) to savor credit, fame and wealth from a Rubik’s Cube invention (the Kalt Cube in the movie) filched at a toy convention from an anonymous dead man in a hotel room. Kalt falls in love with a lovely lass named Sylvia who conspires to steal the cube concept, and he then obsessively woos her for years, in a creepier and creepier unrequited effort to win her love in return. Pinney wrote and directed a Kalt Cube of a movie, twisting and turning time and

Once upon a time, back in their student years, Berlin-born army brat (Atlantan from age 10) Adam Pinney directed a one-act play he wrote about a kid taking part in a Rubik’s Cube competition on the day of a family funeral. Pinney called the play “L’algorithme de Dieu” (God’s Algorithm), which refers to the algorithm for solving Rubik’s Cube — or the shortest number of moves to solve any puzzle. Pinney cast a spindly, charismatic classmate, Mike Brune, as the lead. “Mike was Kramer, on ‘Seinfeld,’” Pinney recalls. “He used to have hair like Kramer in college, spiky, and he looked like a Slim Jim. He’s always been sort of the cartoon character in our group, the comedian, the improviser.” Literally. Brune practiced improvisational comedy locally for 10 years, applying the tricks of that trade to acting. “I feel very at home improvising on a stage — it’s very second nature,” Brune says. “On-camera has always been the hardest type of acting to me. When you have a script and have to hit marks and hit beats, build a character, it makes it more onerous than having no time to build a character and doing it instantaneously.” Brune improvised the Fake Wood Wallpaper name straight from an episode of “Seinfeld.” (“I love ‘Seinfeld,’” he says, “it never gets old.”) Kramer decides to decorate his New York apartment with … wait for it now … fake wood wallpaper for a ski-lodge effect. The cross-pollination proved serendipitous to all. In her theatre class, Katie Rowlett cast a restless, good-looking kid named Alex Orr as the lead in her original play, “Finger Food.” They would later fall in love and marry. “Georgia State did what college is supposed to do,” Katie Orr says. “It developed me in a creative sense, and it gave me the great friends that I still have.” Says Pinney, “Georgia State’s a real place not just to learn, but to meet other M A G A Z I N E. G S U. E D U


people, interact, be inspired. That happened to all of us.” Alex Orr brought his friend Tony Holley into Fake Wood Wallpaper. They met working at an Outback Steakhouse, Alex just 16 and unable to comprehend that certain things in life just weren’t possible. Tony, seven years older, was newly returned from vagabonding in Europe, where he “enjoyed myself to destitution,” as he says. The pair bonded over cinema, then teamed up to create a TV show on the local public access channel. Film would be their next horizon. “I’m not one to make declarative statements that film makes the world change, but I really love the fact that film gives you the ability to escape from everything,” Holley says. “I’ve always thought that the magic of the movies was what it let you escape.” Alex Orr would eventually discover more magic in moving and shaking — producing, in other words — than in acting and shooting. “I don’t love being on set when the cameras are rolling,” Orr says. “I like when someone else has an idea and something on the page. I just have a good time making that into something we can actually see on a screen.” Orr shared a $600 a month starter apartment on Myrtle Avenue in midtown Atlanta with Hugh Braselton. Hugh got turned on to movies at age 13 by a sneak preview screening of “Jurassic Park” he saw with his dad. “When we left seeing that movie,” Hugh says, “I told my dad I was going to make movies when I grew up. I was going to fight my way in, no matter what. I had a real drive for it.”

HUG * * * * *

INSERT: MEXICO, A CANTINA TABLE. SEATED, HUGH BRASELTON AND HIS WIFE (MORNING) CLOSEUP of HUGH’s fingers tapping smart phone screen. VOICE OF HUGH Ahh … finally … WiFi at last down here south of the border on our vacation … honey, how long has it been? Two days at least … and … and … Wow! Look! LOOK BABY! The Arbalest won at SXSW! WE WON!

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SCREAMS. LOUDER SCREAMS. hung out between classes, made short films, kicked around ideas. Everyone wrote scripts, shared them with the group, suffered slings and arrows of feedback, and got better. They developed a sort of shorthand for communication based on intimate understandings of one another’s lives and personalities. A revelation came when Georgia State showed a night of student films, and Atlanta alternative newspaper Creative Loafing chose only the ones created by the five Wallpaper members worthy of review. They all took day jobs but, more and more, found satisfaction and signs of success in dreaming, and working, as an ensemble. In 2007, Fake Wood Wallpaper teamed up on its first featurelength film, “Blood Car.” Its cult-classic premise: A car runs on blood instead of gasoline. (Refueling at the pump takes on a whole new meaning.)


Creative Space

NEW MEDIA CENTER BEGINS INCUBATING INTERDISCIPLINARY ARTS If the Fake Wood Wallpaper gang of five re-enrolled at Georgia State to study film production in the fall, they’d find things have changed pretty dramatically. First off, there are three times the number of entrylevel production classes offered, and there are new, advanced post-production and documentary film courses, as well as seminars that teach production for new web-based and shorter-format distribution. Second, they’d discover a new facility in the new Creative Media Industries

Institute (CMII) that could help them develop and leverage their films in ways they couldn’t have imagined 15 years ago. David Cheshier, director of the CMII, says student “media makers” such as the Fake Wood Wallpaper filmmakers will soon have access to an arts entrepreneurship center where they can find mentorship and access to new technologies. “The continued growth of the media and art sector [will come] from a group of grads from various backgrounds and aca-

demic disciplines who get together to form startups,” says Cheshier. Construction is underway on the facility — at the corner of Park Place and Edgewood Avenue — that will house new media and creative industry labs. The CMII is an interdisciplinary institute that builds on the university’s strengths in media production, research, design, the arts, music management and digital publishing by preparing students for careers that transcend traditional degree programs.

The Georgia State five, with co-producer Holley, applied the tried-and-true Wallpaper formula. Alex Orr directed (and scared up funding). Alex and Pinney scripted. Brune and Katie starred. Braselton manned the camera. The movie pinned Fake Wood Wallpaper Films onto the late-night movie radar. They followed with “Congratulations,” a comedy/drama about a kid who goes missing in his own house. Brune wrote and directed this one, and the ensemble once again puzzled together its time and talents to make the film. More creations came. The Wallpapers branched into shows for Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network. They placed a short in the Rotterdam Film Festival. They honed their craft individually, too. Their personal stars rose alongside the reputation of the collective. A short list of individual credits: At this writing, Brune shoots as an assistant director for an Atlanta-area production that he can’t name for legal reasons. He continues to act and write as well, but says, “I’m a little more at home behind the camera than in front. I love seeing things come together from behind the camera — the prep Charles McNair and planning and shot listing and figuring out the best way to tell publishes nationally the story in a visual way.” and internationally. Alex Orr works as executive producer for two television series: He is the author of “Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell” (Season 3) on Adult Swim two novels, “Pickett’s and Joe Swanberg’s eight-part Netflix anthology, “Easy.” He’s Charge” and “Land line producer for FX’s “Atlanta” and producer of a Swanberg O’ Goshen.” He was movie, “Win It All.” books editor at Paste And, maybe best of all, he’s producer for Katie Orr’s upcoming Magazine from 2005– feature, “Poor Jane” — the next full-length feature film by Fake 2015. McNair lives in Wood Wallpaper. Bogota, Colombia.




“A housewife stops loving her husband, and her life falls apart,” Katie describes it. “I’m hoping to ride the coattails of ‘The Arbalest’ and do some good festivals.” It looks promising. Like “The Arbalest” last year, Katie’s film won acceptance into the notoriously competitive Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) Labs. (Only 10 films make the IFP cut annually.) Pinney edited, plus “Mike and Hugh sort of helped when they could,” Katie says. In addition to editing “Poor Jane,” Pinney has two new scripts under construction. (Why two? “In case I have to throw them both away,” he wryly answers.) All snark aside, with the South by Southwest award in hand, Pinney and his Wallpaper friends have a rising star to hitch to. “The award’s amazing, very exciting,” Pinney marvels. “We made this strange thing, and it’s out in the world with a much bigger audience than any of us every expected. It’s put more eyes on us and put our feet in doors we didn’t get in before.” And Braselton? The others mention him with a kind of awe: “Hugh’s working on these giant movies,” says Katie. Giant. Big-time, big budget, big exposure. Braselton helped shoot the last two “Fast and Furious” flicks, and he starts “Fast and Furious 8” soon. He recently wrapped an assistant cinematographer assignment on “Captain America: Civil War.” He worked on “The Hunger Games.” Georgia State, he says, focused his future. “The film biz is all about meeting the right guys who see something in you that makes them reach out to help,” Braselton says. “At Georgia State, I met the teachers and people who are still my filmmaking compadres. “Evan Lieberman (producer, director, cinematographer and former professor in the Georgia State film department) gave me my first job. Eddy Von Mueller (also a professor) gave me another. Bill Burton (B.I.S. ’90, M.A. ’00, cinematographer) is one of my most significant friends. He taught me so much.” Kay Beck, professor of communication and director of the Digital Arts and Entertainment Lab at Georgia State, taught members of the Wallpaper crew in a producing for film and TV class. She spotted something special. “I recall thinking then that these guys have what it takes,” Beck says. “I thought that I would hear some day about their success.”

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In the wilds of Kenya, Georgia State Professor

david wojnowski

discovered two unidentified geckos. One now bears his name.


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N The story of

Lygodactylus wojnowskii BY





fter the five-hour drive from Nairobi to Chogo-


ria, Kenya, David Wojnowski sipped chai and awaited his lunch at a covered table outside a small restaurant at the base of Mount Kenya. He’d come to climb the peak the next day with his stepson Neil Woodruff, a professional mountain guide. ¶ It was 2009, and Woodruff was there to scout mountain routes for clients, but foremost on Wojnowski’s agenda for the ascent was to track down two chameleons, Trioceros schubotzi, the Mount Kenya side-striped chameleon, and Kinyongia boehmei, the Mount Kenya hornless chameleon. The first is endemic to the mountain’s higher elevations, where it is quite cool, a rare climate for these lizards. The latter is found in the lower, warmer elevations. ¶ Wojnowski, a clinical assistant professor in the College of Education and Human Development and longtime science educator, has been fascinated with reptiles and amphibians as long as he can remember. His first pet was a banded gecko. His father converted an old console television into a terrarium for it. ¶ As the two dove into their lunch, Wojnowski noticed an unusual gecko crawling along a fencepost. At first glance, he figured it to be a Lygodactylus punctatus, the yellowheaded dwarf gecko, but something was different about this one. G E O R G I A S TAT E U N I V E R S I T Y M A G A Z I N E S U M M E R 2 0 1 6


GECKO JUNIOR “I thought, ‘Let me go catch this guy and see if it’s different,’” he remembers. It was déjà vu for Wojnowski. Four years earlier and 600 miles south, he was sipping tea in the Kenyan village of Bungule at the base of Mount Kasigau when he spotted two small geckos skittering along a wood railing. He also caught those thinking he might have stumbled upon a yet undiscovered species of gecko. Compared to the yellow-headed dwarf gecko, as well as the geckos he’d found in Bungule, the Mount Kenya lizard’s head was slightly larger in proportion to its body, the pattern on its throat was different and the yellow coloration along its underside continued past the base of the tail. “That was a big clue that this one was different,” he says. Wojnowski brought the gecko back to the table to take a closer look. “He named off two or three species, what they looked like, and how this gecko was close, but it was still different” Woodruff, his stepson, remembers. “And that was how the whole thing took off. That’s when the idea maybe started clicking that he had found something new. You could kind of watch the light turn on.”

Animal and plant species are named through binomial nomenclature, a scientific system of classifying and naming living things according to their genus and species. Each animal or plant receives a name composed of two parts. The first part identifies the genus to which it belongs, and the second part names the species within the genus. The terms are usually Latin, although they can be based on words from other languages. Usually, the person who discovers the animal or plant has the privilege of giving the living organism a name. To name the new gecko species Lygodactylus wojnowskii, scientists first determined it belonged to Lygodactylus, a genus of about 60 species of small day geckos living mainly in Africa and Madagascar. When they confirmed it was different from other existing species in this genus, they created the species name by using Wojnowski’s last name and adding the letter “i” to Latinize the name, making it wojnowskii.

After lunch, they left to meet their mountain guides, but Wojnowski couldn’t stop thinking about the gecko he just found. He set off to collect a few more. A few days after their climb, he brought the geckos to Patrick Malonza, head of the Herpetology Section at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi, on the hunch they were a new species. But Malonza had a backlog of other reptiles and amphibians to identify, including the gecko Wojnowski found in Bungule four years earlier, so it took him more than a year to get around to making an examination. “So I’m kind of sitting on pins and needles for a year,” Wojnowski says.


Lygodactylus wojnowskii has unusual black and white stripes on its head that almost form the shape of a Y. Its head is also slightly larger in proportion to its body than similar gecko species.

PROOF For Wojnowski, it was an agonizing wait. “One of my childhood dreams was to find a new species of reptile or amphibian,” he says. And Wojnowski, convinced he’d found not one, but two new species of gecko, called in a scientific big gun. He showed photos of the gecko he found near Mount Kenya to Aaron Bauer, one of the world’s leading gecko taxonomists, and asked his opinion on whether he thought it was a new species. “And he says, ‘Yeah, it looks different to me, too,’” Wojnowski says. Wojnowski contacted Malonza to share Bauer’s stamp of approval. Impressed, Malonza sped up the process of evaluating Wojnowski’s geckos. After several extensive rounds of morphometrics, or measurement analysis, he agreed the geckos were different from what he’d seen before. But to confirm, they would need to do some DNA analysis — extensive, comparative DNA analysis. Wojnowski’s wait endured. Wojnowski sought out Dean Williams, a colleague and biologist at Texas Christian University, who was already performing DNA analysis on other lizards. Wojnowski sent DNA samples but was told that it could potentially take several more years because of Williams’ workload. Wojnowski teaches science methods to future science teachers at Georgia State,

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The yellow stripe along the underside of Lygodactylus wojnowskii stopped at the base of the tail. “That was a big clue that this gecko was different,” says Wojnowski. The female has a black pattern on its throat, while the male’s throat is solid black.

and worked for the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources before starting his career in academia, so he’s fully aware of the meticulous review involved in making a scientific discovery such as this. “Finding a new vertebrate species is not an everyday occurrence, and it takes a fair amount of work before it can be considered a new species,” says Williams. “The process includes comparing its morphology to similar species, determining how genetically distinct it is from other similar species, and describing its behavior and ecology relative to other similar species.”


For the DNA analysis, Williams’ lab analyzed fragments of DNA based on their size. This determines if the DNA pattern is different compared to other similar species. Researchers also found physical differences between males and females. The female has a black pattern on its throat, while the male’s throat is solid black. In 2012, Williams’ lab confirmed that the gecko Wojnowski plucked from the fencepost at the foot of Mount Kenya was indeed a new species. In the process, Williams also confirmed that the gecko Wojnowski found in 2005 near the village of Bungule was a new species, too.

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But the wait wasn’t over. Wojnowski’s Mount Kenya geckos wouldn’t be recognized as a new species until a manuscript of the discovery was published in a peerreviewed journal and allowed to be scrutinized by the scientific community. What Wojnowski did know is that his colleagues in the scientific community had picked out a name for his most recent gecko discovery: Lygodactylus wojnowskii. Last December, Malonza, lead author of the scientific paper on Lygodactylus wojnowskii, broke the news: the manuscript had been accepted and would appear in the journal Zootaxa. It was finally official six years after Wojnowski discovered the new species. Because Lygodactylus wojnowskii has more distinct genetic differences from other geckos in this genus, Malonza decided to report their findings about it first. The name of the additional new species that Wojnowski discovered near Bungule will be revealed this year when the scientific paper is published.


The charming, bright green gecko with the English accent that has become the spokesman for GEICO, an American insurance company, actually has several similarities to this new gecko species, Lygodactylus wojnowskii. GEICO’s gecko belongs to the genus Phelsuma and has a close taxonomy, or classification, to the genus Lygodactylus. Lygodactylus wojnowskii was discovered in the town of Chogoria on the eastern lower slopes of Mount Kenya in central Kenya, a country in East Africa. The Phelsuma genus lives nearby on the island of Madagascar off the coast of East Africa. Most geckos are nocturnal, but Phelsuma and Lygodactylus are active in the daytime, which is also known as being diurnal.


“ New species will never be discovered if everyone thinks, ‘Oh, it’s just a lizard,’” says Wojnowski. “One thing I tell my students is noticing subtle differences when trying to identify animals is very important.”

A SCIENTIST ’S DREAM Wojnowski never set out to find a new species. “It still gives me goosebumps to think about it,” he says. After the scientific paper was published, Wojnowski shared with his students the story about discovering the gecko, the long road to determining it was a new species and having it named after him. “I would say he was bouncing with joy,” says Christy Visaggi, a lecturer in the Department of Geosciences who, alongside Wojnowski, teaches an integrated science class on life and earth sciences for preservice early childhood education. “He was so excited, and then being able to share that with future teachers was really meaningful.” Malonza notes that Wojnowski’s discoveries are significant because they have increased the number of lizard species found in Kenya, as well as lizards in this genus found in the east African country. “It is also significant because it raises

Scientists estimate there are more than 8.7 million species on Earth, plus or minus 1.3 million. Only 1.2 million species are officially registered, and new species are being discovered every day.

the conservation profile of central Kenya because of the increased number of species in the area,” he says. Most people would have looked at the gecko on the fence post and assumed it was the same as all the others. “New species will never be discovered if everyone thinks, ‘Oh, it’s just a lizard,’” says Wojnowski. “One thing I tell my students is noticing subtle differences when trying to identify animals is very important.” These small differences are important for protecting diversity in biology. If people think a particular lizard is everywhere, they won’t notice if it starts to disappear, which could lead to the extinction of an entire species, Wojnowski says. All people, not just scientists, play a role in discovering new species, adds Malonza. “If you find anything peculiar, especially a reptile or amphibian, take initiative and take a photo or specimen to the nearest museum or relevant institution for identification,” he says. Wojnowski, now two for two when it comes to finding new species, hopes to find others someday. “If I do retire, I plan on going to exotic places and looking for critters because I think that’s the most fun thing to do in the world,” he says.

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G 28

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(B.A. ’00)







RESTAURANT IS A DOWNTOWN MACON, GA., LANDMARK THAT’S EASY TO MISS. Tucked into the ground floor of a squat, red-brick cube at the corner of Forsyth and New streets, the breakfast and lunch spot is marked only by a white painted-over Coca-Cola light-box sign hanging above the door. The swinging glass door and a small front window let in the sun and eyes of passersby. Since it opened back in 1959, locals have sought out the hidden lunch and breakfast gem for its soul food — pork chops, collard greens, succotash and some of the best fried chicken in the South. Inside, however, the greasy spoon is a time capsule from the 1970s. The servers wear tie-dye T-shirts. Southern rock jams over the bare-bones sound system and framed posters, playbills and autographed photos cover the walls. Molly Hatchet. The Marshall Tucker Band. And of course, Macon’s own Allman Brothers Band. The only thing missing is a plaque or sign explaining the connection. Enter Jessica Walden, a petite blonde stepping out of a sun-drenched Wednesday afternoon into H&H wearing sunglasses, a cheetah-print faux fur coat and jeans, purple knee-high boots clacking on the concrete floor. The waitress knows Walden by sight and brings her iced tea in a to-go cup. Not only is Walden a Macon native and a regular customer, but H&H is the meeting spot and the first stop on Walden’s weekly rock ‘n’ roll stroll tour — a two-and-a-half-hour walk through in-town and downtown Macon featuring the famous, not-so-famous and altogether forgotten scenes of musical events that changed the world. These are the celebrated homes and haunts of legends such as


Little Richard, Otis Redding and Capricorn Records. But also dives and street corners where lesser-known artists were forged, such as blues pioneer Lucille Hegamin and gospel street performer the Rev. Pearly Brown, and places where little-known moments of pop culture history took place. (“Greg Allman proposed to Cher in that alleyway,” Walden points out along the tour.) Walden and her husband Jamie Weatherford, a local candy manufacturer, started Rock Candy Tours in summer 2011 when the Georgia Music Hall of Fame closed its downtown doors because of low attendance and reduced funding. Jessica, Jamie and Walden at home in Macon.

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“Macon’s music history doesn’t have to live in a museum,” says Walden. “It’s on the streets and in these buildings. If these walls could talk, they’d sing.” The cinderblock walls of H&H have a particularly melodious ballad, she says, pointing to the shrine of Southern rock signage. She starts spinning the yarn of one day in the early 1970s when two skinny, longhaired guys walked in and asked owner Mama Louise for help. They were musicians leaving on tour, and they had no money. “They looked so hungry,” Walden says, building drama. Mama Louise gave them two plates of food. The men left and quickly returned with the band and crew. They promised to repay Mama Louise when they returned from the road. That was the Allman Brothers Band. They eventually repaid their outstanding tab, and even hired “Their Mama” to cook for them on tour, making her and H&H famous. “Now,” says Walden, “you have to eat here as part of the pilgrimage.”

*** Walden will be the first to tell you she’s not a historian. Nor is she a musician. She doesn’t even claim to be a music buff. She graduated from Georgia State in 2000 with a degree in journalism and has worked mostly in communication and public relations. But she’s more than just a tour guide. Walden is a living stop on her own tour. As she leaves H&H, having forgotten her iced tea, Walden heads east on DT Walton Sr. Way, formerly Cotton Avenue. She points out Hutchings Funeral Home where Otis Redding’s wake was held in 1967. “Imagine 10,000 people lined up along this sidewalk, waiting to see his body,” she says, not missing a beat as she strides through crosswalks, barely noticing the stoplights, as if she has internalized the ebb and flow of traffic. She stops only when she reaches a windowless concrete façade behind a black wooden barricade, the structure’s crumbling white paint streaked with dirt and rain. By the tinted front door, one can see the shadows of lettering that have been removed, stains that time has almost completely wiped away. They faintly read: “Capricorn Records, Phil Walden & Assoc.”




hil Walden was Jessica’s uncle, a Macon native who had fallen hopelessly in love with the blues, R&B and early rock ‘n’ roll that had sprung up in Macon’s black community in the 1950s. In the late 1950s, as a student booking bands for his fraternity at nearby Mercer University, Phil convinced budding local soul singer Otis Redding to let him become his manager. Phil’s younger brother Alan, Jessica’s father, came aboard a few years later and the three formed RedWal Music in 1965. Through Redding, the Walden boys would meet and manage a number of other acts, including Percy Sledge, who gave their agency its first No. 1 hit with 1966’s “When a Man Loves a Woman,” followed by Redding’s own “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” in 1968. Redding died in a plane crash before the record was released. Two years later, the Walden brothers regrouped and started Capricorn Records, future home of The Marshall Tucker Band, Elvin Bishop and,


MACON HISTORY ABOVE LEFT: In 1965, Alan (top left) and Phil Walden

(far right), Jessica Walden’s father and uncle, joke around with bespectacled RedWal Music intern Jimmy Molton while Otis Redding takes a phone call. LEFT: The historic Capricorn Records studio will soon be revitalized into a modern rehearsal space. ABOVE: The Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd cut their teeth at Grant’s Lounge.

of course, The Allman Brothers Band, in this very building. Alan split off into his own publishing and management company in 1970. The first band he signed was Lynyrd Skynyrd, a band that, along with the Allmans, would define Southern rock over the next decade. And it was into this world that Jessica Walden was born. “She grew up with a lot of music around her,” says Alan Walden, now retired. “Although I’m sure she got tired of hearing her daddy’s long stories about Otis, Skynyrd and The Outlaws.” When she was a child, Jessica got to participate in a few crazy stories of her own when she and her mother would tag along to certain events. One of her earliest memories is of a trip to New York to watch The Outlaws play The Beacon Theatre. Prior to the show, as the opening acts were starting, a dozen or so members of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang had stormed the upstairs dressing rooms and blocked the path to the stage. They refused to move

unless The Outlaws promised not to play their song called “Angels Hide.” “They thought that the song was about the Hell’s Angels hiding,” says Alan. “We tried to explain that it wasn’t about them — it was about trees!” That seemed to calm the bikers, and the show went on. Two-year-old Jessica and her mother were standing right next to Alan as The Outlaws kicked off their set when Alan spotted a gang member just to their left. “I was petrified,” he says. “I was thinking ahead to whom I would grab first to run away with.” But when the band launched into the opening chords of “Angels Hide,” the bikers just clapped and yelled. Alan exhaled. Perhaps it was that early memory, or that she really was tired of all her dad’s stories, or maybe it was because her friends’ parents never wanted to let their children play at the house of a guy who looked like Willie Nelson, but when Jessica got to high school, she did what most teenagers do: She re-

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The Allman Brothers Band immortalized Bond’s Tomb in Macon’s historic Rose Hill Cemetery on the back cover of their self-titled first album. It’s now a stop on a Rock Candy Tour. The cemetery is also the final resting place of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley, two original members of the band.

belled. For Jessica, that meant steering clear of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. “I went to a conservative private school,” she says. “I’d choose reading a book over going to a concert.” “When she would go out, she would call me religiously,” Alan remembers. “She’d always tell me where she was and ask to stay out a little later. I’d always let her. She was a good kid.”

*** Youthful rebellion aside, Jessica couldn’t avoid the fact that royalties from songs like “Freebird,” “Simple Man” and “Sweet Home Alabama” were going to help put her through Georgia State. And as fate would have it, the year before she started college, her Uncle Phil had moved a second incarnation of Capricorn to Atlanta into the Walton Building just blocks from the Georgia State campus. (The original closed in 1979.) There, she went to work as an office assistant in between classes, helping promote the label’s next generation of musicians such as Widespread Panic, 311 and Cake. She was reconnected with her family history and the music history they made. Upon graduation, with that Walden rock pedigree and a journalism degree in tow, she was offered a position in public relations and events with the Georgia Music Hall of Fame back home in Macon. She loved Atlanta and was not anxious to move back to the smaller city. Ultimately, the job was too much to pass up. “I came back kicking and screaming,” she says. “But now I’m in love with it.” Love notwithstanding, the Macon she returned to was not the music mecca of

her childhood. Capricorn was gone. Her dad was retired. Many of the buildings, monuments to Macon and the music that was forged there, were shuttered, neglected and endangered. After four years at the Hall of Fame, two years editing “The 11th Hour,” Macon’s alternative weekly newspaper, Walden took a gig with the College Hill Alliance, working with the city and Mercer University to preserve and enhance the historic neighborhoods on a two-mile stretch of downtown. Her area of expertise was community outreach, and she planned events such as a monthly music series in Washington Park. One of those was the homecoming of sorts for Percy Sledge, her uncle’s first No. 1 performer, that filled the park with more than 5,000 people. Walden started giving informal music history tours of the College Hill area in 2010. But when the Music Hall of Fame closed in 2011, Walden and her husband were spurred into action. She mined her father and researched interviews of her late uncle for information, and he hit the Internet and the local library to research Macon’s storied musical past. Rock Candy Tours now offers several different types of tours, some weekly, others by appointment only. There’s the Friday night Free Birds and Night Owls Tour that takes advantage of Macon’s open container allowance and features Grant’s Lounge, a dive dripping with magic of the bands that have played there, and where Jessica held her own

wedding rehearsal dinner. There are also step-on shuttle and bus tours that go out as far as Rose Hill Cemetery, where Duane Allman is buried. Rock Candy Tour’s purpose is two-fold: First, its goal is preservation. By awakening people to the stories within those disintegrating walls, Walden brings attention to their beauty and significance. And there has been positive impact. The Capricorn office building has been bought by local investors who are searching for a new function. And closer to the river, the old Capricorn recording studio, which was one of the Georgia Trust’s “Ten Places In Peril,” is set to reopen as an extension for the Mercer music school. The second aim is awareness: To showcase Macon’s rightful place among the five M’s of American music (Manhattan, Miami, Memphis, Muscle Shoals and Macon). Thus far, the strolls down music memory lane have attracted fans from all over the world.



fter a couple hours of walking around downtown, past Grant’s Lounge, past the Macon City Auditorium where Little Richard was pulled onto the stage as a young boy by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, past the Douglass Theatre where Otis won his first talent shows, the tour ends back at H&H. Walden says her goodbyes. Time to go home to her husband and their son — named Walden. In addition to bringing revitalization and awareness to Walden’s hometown, Rock Candy Tours has a third, if possibly Tony Rehagen a unintended, consefreelance writer quence — it has reconbased in Atlanta. nected Jessica Walden, He is a contributthe once rebellious ing writer for preppy, with her rock Atlanta Magazine. ‘n’ roll birthright. His work has also “I was delighted appeared in ESPN when she started the The Magazine, tours,” says her father, Men’s Health and Alan, the man who first the book “Next signed Lynyrd Skynyrd. Wave: America’s “I learned some things New Generation about Macon that even of Great Literary I didn’t know.” Journalists.”

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INSIDE INSIGHT JOURNEY’S END • Remember this feeling? Kaila Yancey (B.A. ’16) revels in that incredible moment when she realizes she’s officially a college graduate. Photographers followed Yancey, who earned her degree in journalism with a double minor in marketing and hospitality management, before and after Georgia State’s Commencement on May 7. Visit for a behind-the-scenes video on Yancey’s graduation day.


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