The University of Georgia
FA L L 2 0 1 2
M A G A Z I N E
GRAY MATTER lAURA WhitAKeR, ViKRAM DhenDe, nAtAle SCiolino, 3Mt
"Men ought to know that from nothing else but the brain come joys, delights, laughter and sports, and sorrows, griefs, despondency, and lamentations." —Hippocrates
Ladybirdbugladies, by Kyungmin Park
fal l 2012 C on t e n t s 1 Letter from the Dean 2 Laura Whitaker 10 Vikram Dhende 16 Natale Sciolino 26 3MT™ Event 34 Hyung Hee Kim 37 In Brief Back Cover The Last Word/Game Dawg ©2012 by the University of Georgia. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any way without the written permission of the editor.
m e s s a g e fr o m
Dean Maureen Grasso With the first crisp days of autumn, I feel the growing anticipation of bright beginnings, the opportunity to welcome the incoming class of graduate students, and all that encompasses a new academic year. Only a few months ago, our newest alumni graduated and took the next steps forward into their professional lives. They will take their place in history as educators, scientists, researchers, artists, and stewards of change. They will help solve so many challenges we face today, and in this way ensure America’s economic competitiveness. You will read about Natale Sciolino, a neuroscientist working on research that establishes how exercise affects the brain’s ability to renew itself. (What you read will inspire you to renew your gym membership as well!) Two others, Laura Whitaker and Vikram Dhende, come from vastly different backgrounds and areas of study. They are paying their successes forward in many ways. Laura has gone on to become the imaginative director of a nonprofit organization, while Vikram works as a polymer scientist for an international conglomerate. These graduates are well equipped to be the innovators and entrepreneurs of the 21st century. Our recent graduates step into the future well prepared, and this newest generation of students will do the same. They bring with them the commitment to study, to discourse, to inquire into the nature of things, and, most importantly, a commitment to learning as a lifelong value. This commitment is vital to their success; it equips them to address the present and lead our nation’s highest endeavors. However, their commitment alone is not sufficient for their success. Our graduate students require the support and mentoring of exemplary faculty. They need the support of their peers and family. Moreover, they need support in terms of financial assistance. If we are to build the innovators and entrepreneurs of tomorrow and if our nation is to have the competitive advantage to out think, to out compete, then we must invest today. Fellowships are vital gifts that allow students to focus totally on their scholarship. Your investment is returned in full through our graduate students’ innovation and creativity. Join me in saying “yes” to investing in graduate education, so that our graduate students have the support necessary to become the innovators and entrepreneurs of the future.
Laura Whitaker: BIg HEARTS BIg IDEAS a DREAMS
P lus Big Service
MEAN A LIfE
The bestselling book titled The Happiness Project makes a case for volunteering and being of service to others. Surprisingly enough, or not-so-surprising for the philanthropic-minded, helping others makes us happier. A case in point is Double Dawg Laura Bohnhoff Whitaker. The Bohnhoff family tradition promotes service as the true path to a richer life.
BY CYNTHIA ADAMS PHOTOS BY NANCY EVElYN
LAURA BOHNHOff WHITAkER
Whitaker’s son has frequently come to work with her since the beginning of his life. Whitaker says he does not perceive disabilities at all. “Owen doesn’t see a difference.”
laura Bohnhoff Whitaker (BS '`07, MEd '10) strides into a Starbucks in downtown Athens, Ga., bouncing a toddler on her hip. “I want juice,” the boy cries in a voice that threatens to ratchet upward in decibels. He pleadingly points to various drinks, all colorfully displayed near the register. Whitaker nudges Owen, her son, towards the milk. She calms him with a soft word, popping a straw into the milk box. With a tyke in tow, Whitaker might be confused as a babysitting undergraduate. With long blonde-hair, blue-eyed and slim, wearing jeans and dangling earrings, she looks the role. But this is not the case. laura Whitaker, age 27, is the executive director of Extra Special People, or ESP, in Watkinsville, Ga. She knows how to make children—her own as well as others—tranquil. “laura brings a unique perspective because she was a counselor at ESP,” explains leslie Hale, the ESP public relations maven. Hale is a youthful-looking, red-haired UGA graduate student shifting careers. (She is a former reporter from Naples, fla.) Observing the signs of an industry in crisis, she moved to Athens with her journalist husband and entered the UGA Graduate School. Now, Hale is reinventing herself as a public administrator. She is interested in learning about social justice
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THE FAMILY TRADITION IS TO dig use the gifts THEY WERE GIVEN. and the role non-profits play within society. Hale volunteers for esP 15-20 hours a week. she became involved while attending an Athens job fair in search of a paying job. (naturally, she adds laughing, the charismatic Whitaker talked her into it.) But the children at esP sealed the deal for her. “Laura asked for 20 hours, but I just can’t quite manage that many because I also have another job at a coffee shop,” Hale explains. “esP has that effect,” Whitaker says, grinning. STEPPINg INTO BIg SHOES
Whitaker grew up in Atlanta as one of four Bohnhoff children, with parents who engendered the idea of human service. Her father is a graduate student by night. Her mother, Dovie Bohnhoff, is a nurse. Whitaker says the idea of service came naturally. Her parents advocated social action, and served on a board for international adoptions. “Families around me were adopting children, some of them with special needs. People were bringing these people in as their own.” Whitaker adds, “I didn’t know [at the time] what it instilled in me. I didn’t realize how different this was.” she discusses the Bohnhoff family ethos. there was an absence of dogma in their home, says Whitaker, but a strong leaning towards volunteerism. “We always had more children than were ours. We took in kids with rough situations. We always had at least 10 people around our dinner table.” Whitaker describes her parents as
“very grounded, philanthropic. they were always involved in donating portions of their income when they didn’t have a lot of money, or when they did. they taught us, ‘that’s my responsibility; that’s what you do.’ It had to do with our faith. God was very real; people were real; Christianity was real—not traditional.” the young Laura Bohnhoff attended Walton High school in Cobb County, Ga. she had cheerleader good looks, yet had her eye upon a different future, one that her parents modeled. “I was not the average teen,” Whitaker says. “I called myself a ‘floater ‘in high school,” she says, as owen plays happily near her. “I was not in a certain clique, but in them all.” Her older sister, Grace Bohnhoff, worked around the world as a producer at Cnn. “she was moving up the ranks, making a lot of money. But, she felt it was too corporate and quit her job to work for AmeriCorps in southern Alabama,” says Whitaker without a trace of surprise. Meantime, Whitaker enrolled at UGA in special education studies. In the fall of 2003, she volunteered as a camp counselor at esP in Watkinsville, Ga. the camp for children with developmental disabilities was founded in 1986 by a charismatic woman named Martha Wyllie. By 1993, the group built a bare-bones cinderblock facility on several acres they had acquired. esP served eight campers initially, but presently serves 150 campers and provides year-round programs from the original facility. there was little time for training a
student volunteer like Whitaker. Wyllie threw her into the deep end of the pool, and it was sink or swim time. By 2003, Wyllie had been overseeing esP for 17 years. Wyllie’s passion and strengths impressed the coed, who had been taught to value community service. “Being in the box of the special ed system felt constraining. I couldn’t have gone the straight classroom route.” Whitaker thinks their meeting was destined. the young, energetic Whitaker took to camp counseling immediately. “Martha was a vibrant woman. she was edgy, vivacious, and had a strong personality. that fall she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and she passed away. A really sudden thing. Before she died, I wrote her a letter on this ‘cloud’ paper. I wrote to tell Martha how much I admired what she had done, and said, one day, I really wanted to do something like what she had with her life. not knowing I would step into her shoes.” As it happened, Wyllie’s untimely death in 2004 had repercussions for both the program and for Whitaker. Whitaker had lost a mentor, and esP had lost a driven, charismatic founder. Worse yet, esP was at risk of losing all. A DREAM TOO BIg TO fAIL
Wyllie’s involvement in esP had been deeply personal, with her family providing a portion of the funding. the founder and her family was the engine pulling the esP train, observers said. It was a crucial period. Wyllie’s vision for esP was at risk of dying with her.
“Much of the program was in her head,” says Whitaker. And there was the problem of staffing. ESP was mainly volunteer driven. “And when Martha went, many of them went with her.” Those remaining took stock. Not only was the organization in mourning and leaderless, but ESP was broke. “There were no funds to pay anybody.” One young ESP staffer, a newlywed, briefly tried to fill the founder’s shoes. “It was a hard year on the person who tried to step in,” recalls Whitaker. “By the next December, I was in Aderhold Hall in class and the acting director texted me to let me know she didn’t feel she could handle both (ESP and her own life.)” It was the winter of 2005, and Whitaker was still an undergraduate with two years of studies ahead of her. By the end of that year, the founder’s husband and daughter chose Whitaker, a one-time counselor and leadership member, to lead the organization. “I didn’t graduate with my undergrad degree until spring of 2007,” she recalls. By December of 2006, Whitaker, nee Bohnhoff, was officially running ESP and soon getting married.
Yet she somehow ran the organization while balancing ongoing studies with a new marriage. But when she became pregnant in 2007, Whitaker knew the ante had been raised. She was acutely aware of the demanding complexities facing ESP families. Could she still manage ESP if she also had a special needs child of her own? “I was concerned if this was the case,” she explains. “I knew I could not handle having my own child with a disability and serving a business that handles that. That’s the thing I prayed about—if I had a child with disabilities, I would have wanted to give him the time and attention.” On the first day of ESP camp in 2008, she gave birth to a healthy son named Owen. Whitaker thinks Owen’s timing was providential. She has frequently taken him to work with her at ESP. TODDLERS AND TIARAS, PIRANHAS AND PICASSOS
“There are few people in this world created to work in nonprofit, to love it and thrive in it,” says Whitaker, who has been there and now does that. “It’s
hard, and people criticize. You have two clients, those you serve, and then your donors. Not just one client base.” She ticks off the myriad aspects on her fingers. “You run your business. There’s the tax-related business, the fundraising….and I really am passionate about my fundraising.” Passion for social causes runs without cease in her family. Whitaker’s younger sister is taking up the mantle of good works at an early age. Like her sister, Kathryn Bohnhoff works at ESP while also a UGA coed. She will soon graduate with a degree in early childhood education. “She moved here to go to school at UGA,” Whitaker says proudly. “She also helped start this program in Haiti, a women’s education program.” The family tradition is to dig deep, Whitaker says, and to use the gifts they were given. Whitaker is proudest of the fact that she is able to watch her younger sister “fall in love with our work” at ESP and bring her own skills to bear. “Kathryn is one of the swim coaches for the Piranhas, our swim team.” The Piranhas use an area YWCO pool during the winter and the UGA Legion pool during
Left, ESPiranhas Trey Akridge, coach Matt Whitaker and Whitney Lindquist take a break between laps. Right, ESP artist Meghan McCutcheon with her work.
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big hearts pageant IS SOMETHING Magical.
More than 1,260 people were in the audience watching 50 children and young adults take the stage to be celebrated for what they can do.
On page 6, a confident 9-year-old, Austin Elder, adjusts his tie before going on stage at ESP's Big Hearts Pageant. At left, an elated Suzanne Goossens holds a trophy and waves to fans during the pageant finale.
the summer. The children are coached to swim 20-40 laps in a single workout. The vast majority had never learned to swim before swimming at ESP Camp. Limitations fall away for children with disabilities when they enter the weightless environment of water. “Learning strokes, flip turns. It’s so wonderful!” Whitaker explains, describing how ESP students take to water with a combination of glee and gusto. The Piranhas competed at the Special Olympics held in Atlanta during the third week of May this year. Swimming is only one of the skills and activities ESP teaches. “We do the ESP Picassos, where they learn all kinds of art. We offer yoga, karate, and play, as in drama.” There is also, of course, summer camp. Whitaker’s mother volunteers. “Dovie is the nurse at the ‘away camp,’” Whitaker smiles. “This is what has kept me going–my family is in it.” ESP manages to serve larger numbers of clients by using facilities elsewhere, like the Camp Twin Lakes facility in Winder and the YWCO pool, for its various camps and programs.
Having celebrated their 25th year, ESP has long since outgrown the cinderblock building built 18 years ago. “We outgrew it about 10 years ago,” remarks Whitaker. The 1,600 square foot building can accommodate 100 children when squeezed. In February, Whitaker described 5,000 children in an eight-county area who desperately need ESP services, but ESP lacks the facility for such large numbers. The organization is moving to change this. “We’ve built a new plan and have come up with a capital campaign,” she says. “It’s a really cool transitional year for us…we’re now looking at expanding on the land we are on.” Pledges made to their capital campaign at a private dinner totaled $204,000. A silent auction and t-shirt, flower and button sales raised more dollars. Those monies are earmarked to build a new facility. “We are seeking people to invest in this program,” Whitaker adds later. The pageant which followed the private dinner has become one of ESP’s most bankable activities. It is a public affirmation and event which Whitaker says tells the ESP story best.
The Making of a Pageant Unlike Any Other: “Something Magical”
The idea for the annual Big Hearts pageant came as Whitaker watched another special needs pageant in Georgia. Like the swim team, yoga, karate and other endeavors—the pageant supports meaningful activity. “With the main goal to increase the child’s confidence and display what they CAN do, instead of what they cannot,” she stresses. “The children do zip lining, canoeing, and other challenging things,” Whitaker emphasizes. “The things that the world says disabled kids cannot do, we say, ‘Yes, they can!’” But a pageant, on the face of it, seems unusual. How would the families and children respond? It happens they respond with wild enthusiasm. Having outgrown the former pageant venue (the Oconee County Civic Center) the 2012 Big Hearts pageant nearly filled the Classics Center in February, selling out two weeks in advance.
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“Last year, 750 people came,” Whitaker says before the big day. “Miss UGA comes. The Dooleys are hosting it. My husband does some of the emceeing.” By the morning of dress rehearsal day, there was organized chaos inside the Classics Center auditorium. At 10 a.m., it reverberated with chattily excited children and jittery parents. Media coordinator Hale hoisted a clipboard and a beverage mug. Hale and Whitaker rushed through the auditorium as the room buzzed. A battalion of staff and volunteers, spouses and friends had their hands full from the morning rehearsal until the final curtain drop on ESP’s really big show after 11 p.m. that evening. Nearly 100 pairs of helping hands showed up. “There were 46 volunteers backstage with the kids,” Hale confirms afterward. “And roughly 50 front-ofhouse volunteers. Doing set-up, cleanup, selling t-shirts, manning the silent auction, and acting as volunteers.” By 7 p.m. on the typically dark winter’s day, ESP raised the curtain on the Big Hearts pageant. Cloudy skies and forecasted rain showers did not dampen the participants' jubilation a whit, a volunteer observed. The contestants were escorted on stage by local pageant winners and UGA football players. The girls wore prom gowns, heels, jewels and make up. The guys were resplendent in tuxedos, dinner jackets or suits. Aaron Murray, a UGA starting quarterback and crowd favorite, returned “to the delight of many of the female contestants,” joked emcee Whitaker. An Athens group, Monahan, provided free entertainment onstage. The appreciative audience jumped to their feet repeatedly offering standing ovations as ESP contestants recited poetry, or sang, or occasionally broke into dance.
“More than 1,260 people were in the audience watching 50 children and young adults take the stage to be celebrated for what they can do,” Hale wrote later. “Kids sang, played music, danced, shared their knowledge and generally wowed the audience.” Each of the participants, garbed in black tie finery, was given a crown during the finale. There was nothing but winners that night, Hale added. Celebrity judges chose special awards for the pageant evening, like “Special Little Miss & Mister.” The judges included Annette Barfield, Ms. Senior Athens 2011; Shelby McLeod, Miss UGA 2012; Jazz Wilkins, Miss Georgia USA 2012; and Channing Wood, Miss Warner Robins 2009. “Yes,” Whitaker smiles. “We can create something magical that is hard to describe...When the kids come into ESP they are no longer kids with disabilities, they are just special kids.” Afterward, she says proudly, “this year’s pageant was a big day for Extra Special People.” Clearly, she means the ESP children themselves, not only the organization, or its bottom line. Nonetheless, the Big Hearts pageant raised $35,000 in ticket and ancillary sales (including items such as flowers and silent auction items) Hale reports later. Serious Business: Operating a Non-Profit on a Wing and a Prayer
“People want a good leader, who sees the best in life and goes after their dreams,” Whitaker observes philosophically. Yet dreams were not enough. The business of running ESP, a 501-c nonprofit serving an eight-county area, is not all duckies and daisies, nor rainbows and tiaras. It is a difficult, expensive business. Human services
wring resources dry. “ESP has turned down services to over 55 families due to limited funding and an inadequate facility,” says Whitaker. Serving children with traumatic brain injury, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, Autism spectrum, and other issues termed generally as “developmental delays,” requires resources of every kind. For ESP to keep ticking there is the nagging issue of the bottom line, the bane of most nonprofits. What Whitaker needed, she decided, was a better grounding in business after she completed graduate studies. She returned to UGA for a small business development class. “I was the only nonprofit person in the group,” Whitaker explains. Such resources have helped Whitaker to get her arms around ESP's program needs in an objective and realistic way. “This is not a job you leave at night,” says Whitaker. “It is taxing to me that we are not serving the families enough, and not serving enough families.” This has been draining her of late, Whitaker admits somberly. “The families need the services, not just the child,” she says in a rush of confession. “Her ESP board, she assures, “are fully on board and working tirelessly alongside me.” Undaunted, they launched an ambitious $5 million campaign in an economic downturn, Whitaker says. “It’s crazy. But I have a board of big picture people who are leaders and believe we can do something big.” Whitaker smiles a $5 million smile worthy of a pageant queen. “Half the battle is just that; thinking big and dreaming big.”n
Austin Elder in a playful moment with Laura Whitaker.
"half of the battle IS JUST THAT; thinking big AND
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Vikram Dhende a Gent leman Scholar
ILLUstRAtIon BY JULIe sAnDeRs
new patents and media hoopla at uga are not uncommon. but something else about Dhende made him stand out, apart from his research endeavors.
e t s
at work in the big leagueS…only last year, Vikram Dhende was still involved in research at a uga lab working on an antimicrobial finish with very specific applications to synthetic and natural materials. he was the lead author of a published article explaining the new technology developed by a team of uga scientists. Dhende’s name wound up in the national press, describing an innovative ﬁnish that could kill some of the deadliest pathogens. but, by the summer of 2011, Dhende’s doctoral work was completed and he faced another challenge. Dhende wanted a job, but not just any job. he wanted to continue working in applied research.
bY cYnthia aDaMS P h o t o S b Y n a n c Y e V e lY n
Vikram Dhende’s journey to uga took him far from his port city home of Mumbai in india. the uga-trained textiles scientist now works with polymers for a multinational corporation. in 2007, Dhende read about hang liu, a nanotextiles researcher in the Graduate School Magazine (winter 2007). liu’s story inﬂuenced Dhende’s decision to pursue doctoral studies in georgia, a state with a population that is less than half that of the city of Mumbai, india, which has 20.5 million residents. he received his PhD in the summer of 2011 and began work as a polymer scientist in the fall.
n the face of it, a job search for a well-published scientist might look straightforward. University of Georgia’s Vikram Dhende had credentials that were sterling. Along with fellow student satyabrata samanta, a postdoctoral fellow, Dhende had already received name recognition for well-publicized work done with lead professor, Ian Hardin, and Jason Locklin, an assistant professor. Dhende’s name was also on the patent application for their antimicrobial research, initially designed for use on manufacturing commercial fishing nets. As the lead author of a paper published in the journal of the American Chemical society, Dhende’s publication drew attention from news entities like Cnn.
Germs are big newsmakers, and make for even bigger business. You are probably within striking distance of an antimicrobial product as you read this sentence. “It’s been estimated that more than 700 antimicrobial-infused products are now available, including 76 percent of all liquid soaps,” writes Phillip Dickey in a consumer fact sheet about antimicrobials. Dickey added that product sales are driven by “e. coli outbreaks, bizarre viruses, and drugresistant germs,” as consumers are “buying this stuff in the hopes that it will keep them safe….” Dhende’s team sought to solve a problem brought to them several years ago by an Athens-area producer
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Dhende shown attaching a die above. The molten polymer passes through the mounted die. Far right: Weights shown are used for testing abrasion resistance of the yarns. The weight is tied at the end of the yarn and other end is fixed on the machine to generate pretension before it is abraded on the machine. The weight varies based upon the diameter of the yarn.
of commercial fish netting. (See FACS Magazine, Fall 2011.) Their scientific breakthrough was in using ultraviolet light to adhere a thin antimicrobial layer of polymers and bonding agents to the netting. This new antimicrobial finish could conceivably be incorporated “into every other product,” Dhende explains. The scientists had devised the means to make the finish adhere—and last after multiple washings—“In textiles, inner wear, T-shirts.” From household to industry products, antimicrobials figured into potentially every market sector. “It’s in your toothpaste, your toothbrush, your detergent,” Dhende adds. “Every other product has antimicrobial agents.”
Scientific breakthroughs are exciting But somehow, as Dhende neared the end of his doctoral work, his job search wasn’t going as planned. Things seemed to stall out. Then he was nominated to attend the Graduate School’s annual Emerging Leaders Program (EL) in 2010. The annual program is offered to outstanding graduate students who are nominated by professors, and involves specific career preparation and coaching. “EL was a great experience, actually,” Dhende says. Part of the training experience addressed interviewing, personal communications skills, and resume preparation. “I ended up changing my resume quite a bit after
that, actually. During the EL program they had tips that really helped. I wound up making those changes. I had a lot more interviews after the EL and changing my resume. Earlier, I don’t think my resume was arranged properly.” Dhende successfully regrouped, revising his resume to better suit industrial needs, and rehearsing interviewing tactics. This new approach worked and job offers were tendered. One, a multinational firm, stood out above the others and Dhende accepted a position with Voith as a polymer scientist. “That was something that was discussed in my interview. In hiring me, they asked me what kind of program it was, and what I learned. Voith’s HR managers seemed very interested
in that. so I told them about the personality profiles, the interviewing skills, the resume skills (taught at emerging Leaders.) I think it had a factor in my hiring here at Voith.” In a message circulated on Dhende’s last day at UGA, Hardin asked friends and colleagues to congratulate Dhende if they happened to see him in the hall or lab. Hardin, Georgia Power professor of textile science, had collaborated with Dhende and Locklin, on the antimicrobial research that would result in patent-worthy findings. new patents and media hoopla at UGA are not uncommon. But something else about Dhende made him stand out, apart from his research endeavors. that something rang through in Hardin’s email. “It has been such a pleasure having Vikram with us,” Hardin wrote last september. “A true gentleman scholar!” true to form, Dhende immediately returned the compliment. “I had loads of help and support from Dr. Ian Hardin and Dr. Jason Locklin throughout my grad school, and without them this work wouldn't have been possible.” DeciDing to go higher… Communicating and working across cultural divides is not a simple thing, not even for an objective scientist like Dhende. He came of age in India, where long-standing family traditions and expectations are upheld. Dhende grew up in Mumbai, an historic city comprised of a chain of islands. the archipelago is India’s largest city. With 20.5 million residents, Mumbai outranks the population of Georgia, with fewer than 10 million. such large numbers mean intense competition for opportunities and demand focus. Like his contemporaries, Dhende was well on his way towards
a career path by his teen years. “In India, the 11th and 12th grades are like junior college. After the 12th grade, you decide where you are going to go.” At 17, Dhende’s destiny as the youngest of three sons was clear. the supposition was he, too, would choose the sciences, a supported career choice. “It was a trend, like, you should go into science. My brothers felt when you were done with schooling, you go into sciences.” Dhende explains numerous relatives entered the field of medicine. While the eldest brother became a medical doctor, the second brother rebelled against family tradition “by becoming a creative director in an advertising agency.” Both married and settled in Mumbai, but Dhende chose differently. “I was the first to go into engineering and not medicine.” He studied textiles chemistry, which led to an exciting field. “I had a professor who made me feel there was something that I could do in the field, Dr. Vijay Habbu, who taught polymer science. He made me inspired; he made me do what I was not inclined to do. I was going to do my bachelor’s and join industry. I decided I should go higher, dig in a little more.” At 24, Dhende finished his master’s and worked as a research associate for an Indian chemical company in research and development. there, he began developing formulations for textiles. Dhende began considering doctoral work in the United states, where he could explore polymer research and nanotechnologies. In 2007, Dhende narrowed his choices to two American institutions, saying, “I was doing an online search of research and looking at north Carolina state University and UGA.” He found the site for UGA’s Graduate School Magazine, discovering researcher Hang Liu, who worked in antimicrobial
textiles. since 2005, Liu’s post-doctoral research had concerned antimicrobial textiles and antimicrobial finishing in textiles. the work Liu did incorporated the properties of antimicrobial finishing with a fiber-weaving process called electrospinnning. the profile article quoted technologist Bill Gates, who said that nanoscience and nanotechnologies were part of an intellectual gold rush. Dhende was ready to join that race, and he chose UGA as the surest choice. Dhende also found someone who later became both a professor and friend—a brilliant textiles researcher named Karen Leonas. Leonas is currently a departmental chair at Washington state University. she remembers then-doctoral student Vikram Dhende well. “Vikram was quite inquisitive and has a very keen mind,” she recalls. Under her tutelage, Dhende flourished. His momentum was no surprise. Leonas had a reputation for bringing along gifted scientists. “I’ve known Karen since we were both doing graduate studies at tennessee,” says Dean Maureen Grasso. “she’s always had a reputation for her scientific gifts, and for also seeing the best talents of others.” Dhende later joined Hardin and Locklin, continuing his work on antimicrobial agents. (Locklin is in the joint faculty of chemistry and engineering.) their collaboration resulted in a series of novel antimicrobial polymers. “Hardin and Locklin had major influence on my professional and personal development,” Dhende observes. “Both of them supported me in every possible way throughout my doctoral work.” Joining the new golD ruSh nanostructured products and materials are in such demand that they may
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reach the $1 trillion mark this decade. “I wanted to do this specific work, the antimicrobial work. Most universities have done some research in it. It’s very widespread,” Dhende says. Fortunately, his parents supported his decision to immigrate. In his native country, science students followed engineering or technology tracks. Dhende had never before heard of many of the scientific disciplines offered at American institutions. “In India, they stressed the sciences. I would say they (Indian students) have a good grasp of knowledge, as far as a basis. But when I came to the United States, I saw the options were superb. So some of the branches here, like entomology, I didn’t know existed. If you see the number of options you have to pursue in the U.S., you can choose your inclination. We didn’t really have that in India.” Dhende says with a smile, “Most of the time in India, you do what you are told to do.” He came to Georgia in 2006 and finished his doctorate within five years. “Luckily at UGA there were a lot of Indian students.” Today, Dhende, a polymer scientist, lives and works in Summerville, S.C .for Voith, a German-owned company. In addition to manufacturing paper, Voith manufactures papermaking machinery, hydro power plants, and components for many industrial applications. The multinational concern employs 43,000, with more than half of their workforce concentrated in Europe. He keeps a neatly organized desk in his office at Voith—there is nothing extraneous and unnecessary. The Voith lab is steps away from his office door, and the door is kept invitingly open. Industrial research here allows Dhende to continue working with polymers. “That was my goal. It was my background…this fits well. And it’s
interesting.” He is involved in extending fabric and yarn performance and durability, working with a team of five fellow scientists. He is happiest working in a collaborative way. “You do some experiments and see how it works out,” he smiles. “In the lab at UGA, I was making polymers in grams. Here, in 50 or 60 pounds.” PREDICTIONS FOR THE USA At work, Dhende wears a crisply laundered, windowpane-checked shirt with khakis, and is efficient in his habits, manner and dress. He drives a Hyundai, and keeps an apartment in Summerville near the business park where he works. Summerville’s population: 45,000. Back in India, that would be equivalent to a relatively small town or village, but as the Indian census site reports, “India lives in its villages.” Dhende is a contemplative man and avid reader. He likes the movies, and he enjoys buying technologies. On a recent shopping spree, he bought a television, DVD player and furniture to make his new apartment more home-like. (“My favorite film is a Bollywood film, Dil Chahata Hai,” he says with a shy smile.) He still loves Indian cuisine and plans to visit his family this year. Plus, he will probably mentor someone—in short, he is settling in. As for the distant future, Dhende says it’s difficult to project where he will be or what he will be doing a decade from now. “Ten years from now?” he contemplates, “I’m not really sure. It’s up to me.” He dissects the news, reading about exciting possibilities for polymer research. “I see a lot of applications in medical areas, like the implants. I was working on one project and we thought about using polymers to make artificial muscles. With stimuli it can flex and relax.” Also, Dhende admires the American
orientation towards problem-solving, saying UGA provided him with a strong analytical background. “The good thing is that you can really learn how to solve problems here.” But, he warns there should be a greater emphasis upon engineering. “If you want to grow as an economy, you have got to manufacture and produce stuff that you can sell to other markets. For that you need technological innovations. For that you need engineering and technologies…the U.S. should be a manufacturing hub.” And Dhende definitely believes the nation can reinvent itself as a manufacturing hub, but the key to this will be education, he says. “The U.S. spends lots more money on education than other countries, and that’s a good thing. You have the infrastructure and the money to invest in it.” PRESENT FOCUS “I think I have an interest in different fields,” Dhende says, sitting up straighter in his office chair. “I’ll see if I have an idea that can be used in my system or not. That’s what I did in my research also. I tried to use it in different applications.” His inspirations come most easily when he works with others, he says thoughtfully. “Mostly my ‘ah-ha’ moments come when I’m talking with my friends. My discussions are fruitful; I like collaborative work.” He says his friends are in different fields, such as computer science and chemistry. “And conversations with them cause some things to click. I like to discuss research problems with people outside my discipline. They have different perspectives, different angles.”n
http://www.Voithpaper.com http://www.pslc.ws/macrog/index.htm (macrogalleria) to learn more.
Dhendeâ€™s name wound up in the national press, describing an innovative finish that killed deadly pathogens.
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STRESSED OUT? THINK TENNIS SHOES, NOT TRANQUILIZERS
UGA researchers demonstrate there is an alternative to pharmaceuticals:
E X E R C I S E.
natale Sciolino'S exPeriMentationS reVeal the ill effectS of StreSS. the antiDote iS founD in exerciSe. “at the university of georgia, neuroscience professor Philip holmes and his colleagues have shown that over the course of several weeks, excercise can switch on certain genes that increase the brain's level of galanin, a peptide neurotransmitter that appears to tone down the body's stress response by regulating another brain chemical norepinephrine.” —TIME BY CYntHIA ADAMs PHotos BY nAnCY eVeLYn
octoral candidate natale sciolino is among the neuroscience researchers cited by TIME magazine at UGA’s Biomedical and Health sciences Institute. Under lead professor Philip V. Holmes, sciolino is establishing how the effects of stress affect a specific area of the brain, the locus coeruleus, and how exercise stimulates galanin in this brain region to regulate stress. Holmes chairs the neuroscience program in UGA’s Biomedical and Health sciences Institute and is a professor in the psychology department. “natale's research will help us to better understand the neurobiological mechanism in which exercise may minimize the impact of stress. since an individual's response to stressors plays such an important role in developing anxiety or depression, the work may provide
the rationale for new behavioral therapies that incorporate exercise in the prevention of mood and/or anxiety disorders in populations that are at risk. natale's specific contribution to the project will be to study how galanin may blunt the stress response by modulating the activity of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that mediates the stress response in the brain.” the locus coeruleus “responds to stress and is a major source of brain norepinephrine,” says sciolino. norepinephrine (also known as noradrenalin) is a “neuromodulator or a chemical messenger that optimizes excitatory and inhibitory tone in the brain.”
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In explanation, sciolino produces a diagram mapping two portions of the brain under study, the locus coeruleus and the prefrontal cortex. the expected result of the research is that more galanin after exercise produces greater inhibitory control of the locus coeruleus. thus, when stress activates the locus coeruleus of those who exercise, less norepinephrine is projected to the prefrontal cortex compared to those who are sedentary. “We expect this mechanism is necessary for the stress protection offered by exercise,” says sciolino. Galanin, a neuropeptide, is found in the brain, gut and elsewhere. It assists in many functions, including mood regulation, learning, feeding and even neurogenesis. In short, galanin protects the brain when proper levels are available. When stress CUes go aWrY: the LOCUS COERULEUS going loCo
sciolino possesses an enviably unworried face. If she is stressed, she does not show it. For someone in the midst of oral examinations, before having learned she passed weeks later, sciolino appears surprisingly relaxed. “the stress response is adaptive and allows the body to respond to some short-term demand,” she continues. A certain amount of stress is normal—not all of it is bad, as she
“what is an adaptive amount of stress? We rarely talk about that.”
explains. the impetus of stress makes us rise and go to work in the morning, and propels us through our commitments. “stress can be maladaptive when excessive and is a risk factor for disorders including anxiety.” Later, she asks, “What is an adaptive amount of stress? We rarely talk about that.” sciolino sips a coffee and thoughtfully knits her brow. she calmly regards a hot mess of a person who has been off schedule all day and raced to make this appointment. While sciolino is the soul of self-composure, her interviewer is not. the interviewer is experiencing a maladaptive amount of stress. Her day unraveled through a series of misadventures. she had no time for a quick jog before the workday. she is unaware of the neurobiology of her own stress responses. Later sciolino explains a consequence of amplified activation of the locus coeruleus called hyperarousal. Hyperaroused, we are more prone to make an error or miscalculation, and the interviewer does both. she jostles her coffee while settling down at the table. Moments earlier, she gave incorrect change to the coffee shop clerk. she also struggles to concentrate. sciolino observes without comment. Clearly, this human subject demonstrates her point as well as the lab rat. Modern day traffic jams and missed appointments, illness, insomnia, or cumulative stresses, can potentially have a similar neurological impact. “Just as too much stress can cause us to become hyperactive, too little stress makes us hypoactive. thus, what is adaptive is an optimal level of stress” sciolino says. the prefrontal cortex is a command center that integrates and appraises stress cues that are sent from many lower level brain regions, including the locus coeruleus and amygdala. Here’s what else researchers have long known: When stress is prolonged, or traumatic, the brain loses its selfregulatory capacity. overloaded with stress, the human brain
A GLOSSARY of neuroscientific terms: galanin
a neuropeptide that has a predominately
a region in the hindbrain that projects
inhibitory role and reduces brain transmitter
norepinephrine diffusely throughout the
release, including norepinephrine release.
brain, including to the prefrontal cortex. the
galanin is present in high abundance in the
locus coeruleus controls arousal, vigilance,
locus coeruleus and is co-localized with other
and the response to stress. Disorders like
classic transmitters, including norepinephrine.
anxiety and depression are characterized by a hyperactive locus coeruleus.
Brain Health Can the brain’s health be approached just as with any other aspect of the body? The answer is yes. “The brain is our number one use-it-or-lose-it organ. Take a look at these hour-by-hour tips to boost your brain power and improve cognition, regardless of your age” says Prevention magazine. See p. 37 for more about the powerful punch of coffee!
Prevention’s punch list: 6 AM: Smell the Coffee 12 PM: Eat a Crunchy Lunch 3 PM: Get Googling 8 PM: Disconnect and Rest
an adrenalin-like brain chemical that inﬂuences
an anterior forebrain structure that has executive
stress and anxiety by optimizing excitatory and
function, including higher-order integration,
inhibitory tone in the brain. norepinephrine
regulation of impulses, goal direction, and
cell bodies, including the locus coeruleus, are
outcome prediction and expectation. the prefrontal
present in the hindbrain and project diffusely
cortex receives norepinephrine exclusively from
throughout the brain.
the locus coeruleus.
all seems simple enough. first, a cup of savory coffee, then a fruit and vegetable intensive lunch, followed by a 20 minute or so mind-boosting internet search. each of those simple gestures can pay off.
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becomes dysregulated. Brain cells shrivel and die. The locus coeruleus can literally go “loco.” Pharmaceutical solutions, like beta blockers and tranquilizers became the traditional medical fix for those suffering from the stress-related disorder anxiety. “We were able to show that exercise elevates galanin gene expression in the locus coeruleus, a part of the brain that regulates stress and anxiety.” Sciolino is primarily interested in lifestyle factors that promote an adaptive response to stress and reduce anxiety, which can be used in place of, or to complement, drugs. “So I am working towards understanding the functional brain mechanisms that underlie exercise.” She performs experiments with running and sedentary rodents, measuring their anxiety-like behaviors after stress in approximating human responses. “People and animals all have a locus coeruleus,” she explains, and they are similar. “So yes, we know that exercise can also be modeled in a rat and produce anxiolytic potential. The next thing is to link that behavior to a brain mechanism.” Galanin is chief among the brain’s impressive medical arsenal. Sciolino equates what happens during stress with a sprinkler system going off, bathing the brain with norepinephrine. “Galanin apparently can turn down that sprinkler system so that the garden (or brain) is properly watered,” Sciolino says. The neuroscience research points to something vital. The future of healthier minds may not lie in a pill, but in a pair of running shoes. Want to help your brain respond adaptively to stress using galanin, Sciolino asks? Tie on those shoes and hit the track.
She conversationally adds how important this finding is for prior drug abusers, as exercise may afford the same stress protection. “Exercise may offer additional benefits that leading drug therapies cannot, including social acceptance of exercise as a healthy behavior, low financial costs, and limited side effects,” she says. “There are alternatives to things put into a pill for mental disease; there is exercise,” Sciolino says. “Exercise has positive side effects.” As if a healthier brain weren’t enough, there is also a cardiovascular benefit. Changing the Brain for the Better: Undoing the Ill Effects of Too Much Stress
By the time Sciolino was a newborn in 1986 she had already developed billions of neurons in her brain. The architecture of Sciolino’s brain was essentially defined by the time she was in nursery school. Here’s what else neuroscientists have learned; our brains are more pliable than previously thought. They also have the power of regeneration. It was once believed that by adulthood, human brains were fairly static. On the contrary, we not only grow new brain cells but the brain possesses plasticity. Many brain cells are soon dead—killed off by stress, or, as researchers like Sciolino are proving, by lack of exercise, diet or smoking. So, not only can humans maintain brain cells, but we can also haplessly destroy them in fairly rapid order. Humans possess the means to protect the health of those brain cells, as revealed by the Holmes-led research team.
“There are alternatives to things put into a pill for mental disease; there is exercise.” —Natale Sciolino
Can the Adult Brain Change for the Better? The public is very aware of dementia and deterioration of the aging human brain. There are any number of long-held beliefs that were hardly good news. For example, we know there are limited neurological windows of opportunity in which to easily master languages, mathematics, music, and certain skills. Many of those windows close by late adolescence. Yet we hear less about the true, sometimes astonishing, capacity of the aging brain. It appears that the “use it or lose it” slogan doesn’t just apply to a more flexible body, but to the brain. The newest research says yes, we can actively improve and aid our brain’s own health in dynamic ways. This ability is called neuroplasticity. The even better news is that there is no time limit on the brain’s powers of rejuvenation. We do not “age out,” as once believed, and an aging brain can be kept youthful through stimulation. The key to brain health lies in interactive pastimes—e.g., reading, solving puzzles, learning new information and skill—versus passive activities like television watching. There is also another vital means to achieve good brain health, as researchers at the University of Georgia are proving: through physical exercise. University of California at Berkley’s brain researcher Marian Diamond, now in her 80s and still teaching, observes, "The nervous system possesses not just a 'morning' of plasticity, but an 'afternoon' and an 'evening' as well." The importance of Diamond’s observation is that the brain is adaptive and responsive to the benefits of exercise and intellectual stimulation throughout our lifetime. Michael Clark, an optometrist who divides his time between Monterrey, Ca. and Charlotte, N.C., was a student of Diamond. He recalls her class in neuro anatomy well. “I recall we also studied cranial anatomy. At the time, I had just taken a biochemistry class under Melvin Calvin, who was a Nobel Laureate and a rock star scientist at Berkley. The experience I had in his class was the direct opposite of being in Dr. Diamond’s class. For one, she was dynamic, exciting, and completely accessible. I had never met anyone before like Dr. Diamond. She was absolutely in love with her subject matter. I called it ‘brain geography.’ Her lectures resonated with me so much that I was taken with her and hung on her words. At the time, I’m guessing she was in her 40s but she still seemed so relevant and fascinating. It was one of the most life-changing experiences of my life,” he recalls, saying Diamond’s lectures made him even more devoted to exercising his mind and body.
“Her passion and humility made a powerful impression.” Clark recalls. Today, he remains an avid cyclist, runner, and golfer. He exercises his mind by reading and traveling.
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What we now know, she reminds, is that the circuits of the brain can be affected for better or worse throughout life. In fact, lifestyle choices may matter more to support healthy brain function than has ever been understood. In the lab, sciolino observed and tested rodents in the course of her research under lead professor Holmes. Rats are famously known to hop onto a running wheel and run like mad. (they will run a couple to several miles per day on a running wheel.) the rat’s the better for it, too, she explains. those well-exercised rats perform better on many learning and memory tests. the rats that don’t exercise? they don’t do so well as their fitter counterparts. sciolino’s eyes are thoughtful. “exercise has positive side effects and we are learning how beneficial it is.” she does have an educated opinion, however. she’s a runner herself and has done a self-created triathlon just to prove to herself she could. While sciolino is cerebral, she is frequently outdoors. she likes tending to organic vegetables and animals on a farm outside Athens in Bogart. exertion is a good thing for humans as well as rodents, and she works towards proof back in the Holmes lab. In the lab, the researchers monitor the norepinephrine release in real-time in a rat that is alive and behaving. the research that sciolino conducts, she says,
"a certain amount of stress is normal— not all of it is bad." —Natale Sciolino
“will be the very first evaluation of whether brain galanin is necessary for the stress protective effect of exercise. this experiment will add to our understanding of the brain mechanisms that produce the stress resiliency of exercise.” sciolino has done stress research with cannabinoids prior to studying exercise. “the outcomes will have immediate social relevance,” she says. Learning the brain mechanisms affected by exercise could impact the development of newer generation of drugs for certain mental disorders, she believes. MotorCYCles and MiCrosCoPes
By the time sciolino finished undergraduate school, she was giving speeches in which she talked about a future in research. With her outstanding grades, she was quickly accepted by several graduate programs. she struggled to choose which was best. she read the Graduate School Magazine online and found the winter 2007 cover story. the story concerned a student neuroscientist named elizabeth Rahn who attended the nobel Laureates as a student delegate. Rahn smiled confidently into the camera from her motorcycle. “When I was home in Buffalo, I saw that photograph on the cover, of the motorcycle girl, and identified with her,” sciolino smiles. she thought of her father. Her father is obsessed with motorcycles and even duct-taped sciolino’s body to his so she could ride with him as a newborn. sciolino was propelled to learn to ride herself to prepare for the hills of Athens when she chose the University of Georgia for graduate study. sciolino unknowingly chose to join the same laboratory of that girl on the cover with the motorcycle. “I guess it was fate or predictive programming,” she says. “natale and I worked in the same lab for two years while at UGA and she is an amazing researcher,” says Rahn, who is now doing a post doctorate in Birmingham. “she takes
Time wrote that "Molecular biologists and neurologists have begun to show that exercise may alter brain chemistry in much the same way that antidepressant drugs do—regulating the key neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine."
settling into the soUth
experimental design very seriously and her work ethic is remarkable.” Last year, sciolino was chosen to attend the 61st meeting of nobel Laureates and students in Lindau, Germany. the student delegation attending the nobel Laureates is funded by several organizations. Delegates are chosen based upon their academic achievement. Among the intelligentsia gathered for the famous awards certain presenters stood out for sciolino. “I got to hear Bill Gates speak as a guest in Lindau,” sciolino says. “And Countess Bettina Bernadotte.” (Gates is the chairman of Microsoft Corporation. Bernadotte is president of the Council for the Lindau nobel Laureate Meetings and a member of the board of the foundation.) sciolino was particularly affected by talks given by Christain de Duve on the future of life, and by oliver smithies on recombinant DnA techniques. sciolino says her appreciation for the laureates is on par with the esteem she feels for her peers who attended. they, too, “will continue to make important discoveries in science and become the laureates of the future.”
sciolino does not miss the harsh cold of upstate new York weather. Given Georgia’s gentler climate, she enjoys the extended gardening season and likes growing things. she has connected with Georgia’s red clay and gentle hills—a love of place is something that many southerners understand. “In my next life, I would love to have a farm,” sciolino jokes, but her eyes grow soft. she actually knows something about farming since coming to the rural south. she’s built fences, tended animals, raised vegetables and even a barn. she connects with the authenticity of this work, too. “since moving to Georgia we have dabbled with having farm animals. I like the idea of controlling our own food source. We have an organic garden; we live in Bogart and rent about 150 acres. We have rolling pastures. We get a lot of exercise maintaining fences, but also when creating random things like milking stanchions and rabbit tractors. on some level, the land has become ours.” When quoted a Gone with the Wind line by Margaret Mitchell, sciolino looks puzzled. (the fictional Gerald o’Hara said, “It will come to you, this love of the land.”) there are other desires for sciolino when she finishes her doctorate next year. she says without hesitation, “I would love to work for a university or government agency, like the Centers for Disease Control or the Food and Drug Administration,” performing research. In that case, she could remain on the farm and be a scientist by day. Luckily, the CDC, like Margaret Mitchell’s own home place, is just up the road from Athens. n
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Quick Questions for Neuroscientist Philip V. Holmes “Research in the [Philip V.] Holmes lab focuses on the neurobiological effects of exercise and how long-term changes in neurotransmitter functions influence stressrelated and addictive behaviors. Their experiments involve giving rats access to running wheels or no wheels for several weeks and measuring neurotransmitter levels, gene expression, and behavior. For Holmes and his research team, the interactions between three neurotransmitter systems in particular—dopamine, norepinephrine, and galanin—are of interest because of their roles in stress responses and addiction. Neuroscience program graduate students Natale Sciolino and Jessica Groves-Chapman are currently testing the hypothesis that galanin regulates norepinephrine to dampen stress.” —UGA psychology department newsletter, winter 2012 Holmes, chair of the neuroscience program in the Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute, answers a few questions about the neuroscience of exercise:
Question What can the average person extrapolate from your research regarding the brain's health and exercise? (E.g., how much exercise should we "bank" in an attempt to enjoy that benefit? What is likely sufficient in order to enjoy the health/brain protective benefits?)
Answer We have found that the relationship between exercise and galanin gene expression is dosedependent. We believe galanin mediates a significant proportion of the anxiolytic and antidepressant effects of exercise, so the more the better. The fact that rats in our studies get their "exercise" through voluntary, spontaneous running on the wheel in their home cages suggests that the kind of exercise needed to produce beneficial effects doesn't need to be strenuous. On the other hand, rats typically spend a lot of their time running and cover an average of 5K [approximately three miles] per day. This amount of activity is evidently normal for a rat. Humans evolved to exhibit similarly high levels of activity in order to survive, but we have recently become increasingly sedentary, which is clearly not normal.
If exercise does ameliorate depression, as research indicates, then can you estimate a sufficient
amount (whatever that might be--20 minutes, 30 minutes or more daily, for example) to approximate the effect of an antidepressant?
answer Most of the studies of the antidepressant effects of exercise involved about one hour per day. If the relationship is dose-dependent, then any small amount of exercise may help improve symptoms somewhat. However, it would be important to exceed the therapeutic threshold. Again, the more the better.
Question As a runner/jogger, I've never experienced "runner's high" but probably something called "relief" when it's over. Is the euphoria that we hear about actually grounded in science?
answer There is actually no solid evidence for the "runner's high". Some people claim to experience it, but it is certainly not a general phenomenon. In my opinion, it is clearly best characterized as a popular myth.
http://www.prevention.com/health/brain-games/brainhealth#ixzz1rknm5XMA to read more on Prevention's web site. SharpBrains.com, Luminosity.com and Happy-neuron.com to learn more about brain fitness.
“antidepressant effects of exercise involve about one hour per day.” —Philip V. Holmes
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10 ﬁnalists + 3 minutes 1 triumphant ﬁnish!
bY cYnthia aDaMS PhotoS bY nancY eVelYn
3Mt™ event experiments with the art of Persuasion
a few heart-stopping minutes on March 29, 10 finalists had to pitch years’ worth of
doctoral research in three minutes ﬂat at the university of georgia’s first Three Minute Thesis (3MT™) event. the finalists, culled from a field of nearly 40 doctoral students, vied for top honors and cash prizes at the research communication competition. the finalists practiced while at traffic lights and over yogurt cones with families. they practiced so often and so exhaustively that one reported watching eyes “glazing over” as she honed her presentation, aided only by a single static slide, to 180 seconds. for the nearly 75 audience members gathered at the ecology auditorium for the tension-filled event, it was a time for cheering and rooting for their favorites as each took the stage. at the end, only three would take home prizes. april l. conway won first place and $500, and elizabeth gleim won $250 as runner up. Samarchith P. kurup won the People’s choice award.
here’s what the finalists shared afterward. 26
aaron brantly, PhD candidate, international affairs: woulD You recoMMenD it aS a uSeful exPerience? i certainly recommend this competition to my fellow graduate students. we are members of a very large graduate and professional community of more than 9,000 students. we often forget to step outside of our own departments and fields to see how our research and others interact. beyond that it is important to learn to communicate your research to others in a way that is meaningful. we often try to hide behind technical terms or professional jargon, but if we are going to have an impact on the world at large we need to make our research more accessible.
cheri abraham, PhD candidate, entomology: w h at w e re t h e c h alle nge S of P r e S e n t in g t o a n a u D i en c e w i th n o k n o w l e Dge of Y our S ubJe c t ? conveying one's research to folks outside of your own research area is a challenge in itself. trying to do that in three minutes is the kicker. Personally, conveying the message to a nonscientific audience was not as much a challenge as trying to convey the importance of what you do in the bigger scheme of things, which i think is very important not just in such a format. it just took quite a bit of writing, reading, editing, re-writing, reading aloud to my wife and brother (who are not in my field) and making sure that it makes sense.
cheri abraham UGA Graduate School Magazine f A l l 2 012
april conway first place winner
april conway, PhD candidate, forestry and natural resources: how DiD You PrePare for the coMPetition? waS it StreSSful? My first step was to narrow my research down to just the highlights. i then composed a speech that brieﬂy explained each of these points while staying under the three minutes. after practicing a few times alone, i found willing friends who knew very little about my research and i sat them down to listen to me. i remember going out for frozen yogurt with a friend and running over the speech with her over wafﬂe cones and chocolate syrup, and working on my opening lines. i then cornered two of my fellow graduate students who are non-native english speakers in their offices to see if my speech was clear. i then practiced alone again in different types of settings–outdoors, in my own office, at home. it was somewhat stressful to prepare for the competition because i was afraid i would either forget everything when i got up on stage or go over the three minute cut-off.
"i've lived in this town for over 20 years, yet during the presentations, i often caught myself thinking, ‘wow, that kind of research happens here?" —karen gerow, PhD candidate, educational psychology and instructional technology
tonia Dousay: PhD candidate, educational psychology and instructional technology: what DiD You learn froM the exPerience—both gooD anD/or baD? i might have felt a little insignificant standing next to people researching how to save an endangered species or create a vaccine to eradicate a threatening disease. to be among all of the other finalists was truly an honor. i don't know that i learned this, but the competition reinforced that we have some really interesting and cool research being conducted here at uga. i loved learning about the other topics.
karen gerow karen gerow, PhD candidate, educational psychology and instructional technology: how DiD You PrePare for the coMPetition? waS it StreSSful? it was stressful to prepare, but only because i went about it in an inane way. i thought it would be easiest if i wrote out everything that i wanted to tell a general audience, and then trimmed it back to three minutes. it might have worked had my first draft not been 10 minutes long. i didn't realize how many aspects of my research i was married to. i had a very difficult time cutting out any part because it just seemed so essential…. for every word of jargon i eliminated, i needed to add in 10 general words to convey the idea effectively. i've lived in this town for over 20 years, yet during the presentations, i often caught myself thinking, ‘wow, that kind of research happens here?’ i wished that the local media was there to report on it….i left feeling more confident that what i am doing does matter. it is easy to get bogged down in the day to day details of a doctoral program. this experience refocused me on the bigger picture.
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elizabeth gleim, PhD candidate, forestry and natural resources: what were the challengeS of PreSenting to an auDience with no knowleDge of Your SubJect? You definitely need to have a good grasp on the big picture of your research and why it is pertinent. furthermore, i think you need a good understanding of what the general public knows and does not know about your research topic. if you can understand these things, then you can hopefully understand how to convey your research to the audience. woulD You recoMMenD it aS a uSeful exPerience? it was a fun challenge and a nice departure from the norm....Plus, it's always nice to have a chance to win some money!
elizabeth gleim runner up
ď€Ś Samarchith kurup, PhD candidate, cellular biology: how DiD You PrePare for the coMPetition? waS it StreSSful? i think it was as much of an experiment on our part as it was for the organizers. i went through the suggestions on how to prepare for the talk, which was sent along in the announcement. i also tried presenting to somebody from way outside my field and took their quite constructive suggestions. regarding the stress level, personally, i did not think it was hugely stressful, probably due to the realization that there was only so much one could do within the constraints of the available project and time. what were the challengeS of PreSenting to an auDience who haVe no knowleDge of Your SubJect? honestly, i think it is about having an interesting project to start with; or, one that you feel very excited about. if one does not have that advantage, it is a lot more work trying to convince people why it is interesting and why they should feel enthusiastic about it. the rest is basically trying to convince them why it is important to the world and how your little world (i.e. your project) may change the bigger world. i think, the experience of presenting my data to both specialized/not-that-specialized audiences in the past certainly helped in this regard.
ronrong liu ronrong liu, PhD candidate, international affairs: how DiD You PrePare for the coMPetition? waS it StreSSful? i rehearsed with friends who have no knowledge of this issue area. the best presentation should be the one that our grandmas can understand. it wasn’t stressful to prepare for the competition because my expectation was fairly low. i didn’t go there to win, but an opportunity to challenge myself. what DiD You learn froM the exPerience—both gooD anD/or baD? there are so many interesting and important research projects out there in addition to the one that i eat, breathe and sleep. it’s easier to make things more complicated; harder to simplify it. woulD You recoMMenD it aS a uSeful exPerience? Yes. it’s a good practice for public speaking and an opportunity to rethink your research in a totally different way.
samarchith kurup people's choice award
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valerie cadet Valerie cadet, PhD candidate, infectious diseases: what were the challengeS of PreSenting to an auDience with no technical knowleDge of Your SubJect? My subject area is drug target discovery. how do i explain that i utilize a technique to silence genes that are being expressed by a virus to an audience that may not have had a basic human biology class or even if they have, may not quite understand how proteins are made or the damage a virus can cause? it took much effort (and running of ideas by family members) before i was able to settle on the explanation of the subject matter that didn't completely make everyone's eyes glaze overâ€Ś.we are all doing wonderful things that we think are necessary but ultimately, if we can't present our ideas and results to people from all walks of life, we are doing a disservice to ourselves and to anyone out there who may potentially be affected by the research.
it took much effort (and running of ideas by family members) before i was able to settle on the explanation of the subject matter that didn't completely make everyone's eyes glaze over." â€”Valerie cadet, PhD candidate, infectious diseases
THE EXPERTS: Meredith Welch Devine, coordinator for the 3MT™, is the director of interdisciplinary graduate studies in the Graduate School. The master of ceremonies was Steve Marcotte, who works in university housing. Judges for the final event were: Mark Callahan, creative director of Ideas for Creative
Exploration; Beth Gavrilles, public relations coordinator in the Odum School of Ecology; Terry Hastings, director of research communications in the office of the vice president for research; Nike Heynen, associate professor of geography; James Porter, the Josiah Meigs distinguished professor of ecology. n
http://grad.uga.edu/3MT/ click names in caption below group photo to see video of presentations.
fei Zhao PhD candidate in physiology and pharmacology, interdisciplinary toxicology program: how DiD You PrePare for the coMPetition? waS it StreSSful? the instructions gave me all Dos and Don’ts during the competition. for example, it taught us to pay attention to how we look. it is enough to see the person and have subliminal messages from the way he is dressed and the way he looks in three minutes. So during competition, i wore the formal suit and tie. i did not feel stressful at all. instead, i felt a lot of fun. it took a couple of hours to prepare for slide. i probably spent 10 hours working and bettering my presentation. the normal speaking speed is about 100-120 words per minutes. So i only wrote 320 words for the three-minute presentation. it is really important to think about my research in the eyes of the general audience. You know, in future, we will probably “sell” our ideas or research to others who have no technical knowledge. woulD You recoMMenD it aS a uSeful exPerience? Definitely. i want to quote one sentence by Yu-chi ho, a renowned chinese-american mathematician, control theorist, and a professor at the School of engineering and applied Sciences, harvard university. (once again, here is my honest and heart felt advice to young scholars:) DO NOT TRIVIALIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF WRITING AND SPEAKING WELL IN SCIENTIFIC ENDEAVORS.
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ILLUstRAtIon BY JULIe sAnDeRs
AT WILLIAM AND MARY’S CENTER FOR GIFTED EDUCATION, Kyung Hee Kim continues the work she began at UGA. A preoccupation with standardized testing and other changes since 1990 have been at the expense of creativity among American children.
Why exactly is American creativity still dropping? Moreover, what can be done?
BY CYntHIA ADAMs PHotos BY nAnCY eVeLYn
yung Hee Kim, previously featured in these pages in 2011, returned to UGA’s College of education (Coe) during April to address the e. Paul torrance Lecture series on the subject of creativity, her specialization. since earning a UGA doctorate in 2004, Kim’s research has been widely discussed in the media. As Coe wrote in announcing Kim’s appearance, the June 19, 2011 Newsweek "dropped a bomb with a cover story about the decline of creativity in America.”
that story, “the Creativity Crisis,” echoed around the world. Kim's work in creativity studies fascinates both academics and the general public. Is the creative climate in America being systematically smothered? she raises deeply vexing questions. Did standardized test-taking drive children to become more standardized and regimented in their attitudes? Did educators improve test scores and IQ scores at the sacrifice of abstract thinking, imagination and innovation? Kim says there is a negligible relationship between intelligence and creativity.
“You can have a low IQ and be creative,” she stresses, and vice versa. Prior to 1990, creativity scores were steadily on the rise in tandem with IQ scores. But after 1990 the creativity scores of American youth began dropping. the most dramatically affected were those in kindergarten through primary school. the downward trajectory of creativity scores was very evident “and the decrease is very significant,” Kim warns. “the torrance tests of Creative thinking predicts creative achievement three times better than IQ tests,” she says.
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Following publication of Kim’s metaanalysis of creativity scores, Newsweek reported, “the correlation to lifetime creative accomplishment was more than three times stronger for childhood creativity than childhood IQ.” she has a particular ability to capture an audience when she lectures, with anecdotes from her own life. she makes it clear that her interest in creativity and achievement were born of this odyssey and struggle, beginning in a tiny south Korean village. Kim’s much-loved south Korean parents had only a first and third grade education. (they were, she jokes wryly, among the “one percent”—saying only one percent of south Koreans are illiterate.) Yet with support from a childhood teacher, Kim found support to leave behind her small village, where she would have
“now, Massachusetts, California, and the divergent thinker, one oklahoma are planning to use indexes possessing a creative attitude towards to measure creativity in the schools,” life, can be nurtured she says. Kim they reported. n mentions myths surrounding creativity. one of the great myths is that the For further reading see the winter 2011 creative are born that way and not edition of the Graduate School Magazine. made. Untrue, she argues. Creative attitudes can be engendered through an open and supportive environment. go http://www.coe.uga.edu/torrance/ Resilience is also essential. (the creative to newsevents/ to view the video of "the person is often in the minority, faced 2012 torrance Lecture: the Creativity with “idea killers” to overcome. the Crisis: presented by Kyung Hee Kim. creative personality must be persistent and persuasive in order to counter such opposition.) In short, Kim stresses that organizations that support creative differences and divergent approaches will enjoy the benefits. “People who are good at generating ideas are also good at seeing problems,” she shared. they become valuable to
“THE CORRELATION TO LIFETIME CREATIVE ACCOMPLISHMENT WAS MORE THAN THREE TIMES STRONGER for childhood creativity than childhood IQ.” —NEWSWEEK MAGAZINE
been destined to join the workforce at a local sock factory. Rather than become a laborer, she entered higher education. she earned a doctorate in south Korea and taught there before immigrating to the United states alone with her two young children. once in America, Kim resumed academic studies and earned a second doctorate at UGA. she found an intellectual home. not only did Kim’s exodus from south Korea require creative and critical thinking, it required persisting against entrenched tradition. she makes much of the significance of divergent thinking—as vividly illustrated by her dramatic life example.
many kinds of organizations beyond the arts alone. According to Kim, creativity is limitless. It does not have a ceiling. At one time, researchers “believed there was a creativity threshold,” Kim says. that has been disproven. she argues the importance of moving beyond the analytical and logical for divergent thinking. Ironically, the deficits in creative attitudes, imaginative thinking, open-mindedness, originality and other key aspects of creative fluency in our country are growing larger. As Coe reports online, Kim’s work is awakening the country to the value of creativity for the nation’s growth and well-being.
FINALLY GETTING THE PICTURE: Uga, Mary frances early and the arch today, Mary Frances early may be one of the most recognized notables among UGA’s Graduate school alumni. In the summer of 1961, she quietly enrolled in the music education master’s program. Also that year, Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter became the first African-American undergraduates to register at UGA. on August 16, 1962, early became the first AfricanAmerican to graduate from UGA. she had met and transcended the considerable challenge of integrating the venerable institution. this was, as noted during the 50th anniversary events last year, a defining moment in the University’s history and in civil rights history. In a commencement address to graduate students on May 13, 2007, early vividly recalled receiving the Master of Music education degree: “At the conclusion of the ceremony, all graduates were asked to turn in their caps and gowns as they exited the auditorium…As a result, I didn’t have the opportunity to take an official commencement photo in my cap and gown!” only a few Polaroids were snapped by family and friends to document the triumphant day, and they were taken minus regalia. “no one else, students, faculty, or administrators, spoke to me before, during or after the ceremony or even acknowledged my presence. there were no news media
present to my knowledge….but I didn’t care…my goal had been attained.” the reserved music teacher and band leader from Atlanta had, as she said with quiet pride, “stayed the course.” only a few days later did she return to the campus to have a photo taken under the Arch by a photographer from The Atlanta Inquirer, an African-American newspaper. the photo ran with the article, “First negro Finishes University of Georgia: Graduates with Honors.” september 26th, six weeks later, the Atlanta Journal picked up the story. In March, nancy evelyn shot early beneath the Arch when she was on campus for the annual Mary Frances early Lecture. After 51 years, early got the picture she had always wanted. n Postscript: Early returned to UGA in the summer of 1964 to work towards a specialist degree. She received her second graduate degree in 1967.
WaKe UP and smell the Coffee A morning trip to Jittery Joe’s if you’re in Athens is actually brain-protective, even for those who don’t drink java but simply want the benefit of inhaling the elixir-like aroma. Rev up body and brain when you first wake up. It may be simpler and more pleasant than you imagined. As television celebrity and cardiologist Dr. Mehmet oz advocates, have a brainstimulating wiggle of toes before you get out of bed. then, according to Japanese researchers, wake up and smell the coffee. Wait—could it be that simple? Yes. even a whiff or sniff of coffee helps the brain, according to the Kyorin University school of Medicine in Japan. If you’re a dedicated tea drinker, just inhale some brewed java. the stimulus of coffee has a positive effect on the brain, even if it isn’t actually consumed. score even more points for your brain’s health if you walk a mile or so for that cup of Joe. Working the body will alleviate stress and aid the brain’s well-being, knowledge supported by research conducted by UGA’s Philip V. Holmes and doctoral student natale sciolino. For the full article, see page 17. n
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Dean Grasso Meets with Fellow Educators on the Hill as Educational Report Sounds Warning On Thursday, April 19, 2012, in Washington, D.C., the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), Educational Testing Service (ETS) and the Commission on Pathways through Graduate School and into Careers released their report, Pathways through Graduate School and into Careers. Dean Maureen Grasso of UGA’s Graduate School is a member of the commission and traveled to Washington with other members to advocate for their findings. The commission found that by 2020, 2.6 million positions will require an advanced degree. The new report warns the nation will not be able to fill those demands without more close and innovative partnering of academic, business, nonprofit and government sectors. “Lisa Tedesco, the graduate dean at Emory, and I joined with other graduate deans to visit our congressmen and senators. We also met with the staff members in each office. We were fortunate that Representative John Lewis was able to meet with us, as we shared the importance of the new report,” says Grasso. “Both Lisa and I were members of the commission.” According to Debra W. Stewart, president of CGS, “The nation’s capacity to thrive depends critically upon our ability to out-innovate, out-create and out-think the world,” says Stewart. “Our graduate schools are the place where highpotential people come together with talented faculty and develop the competencies to address the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.” The CGS report follows up on the landmark report The Path Forward: The Future of Graduate Education in the United
States, which warned that the historic preeminence of U.S. graduate education is being challenged due to demographic shifts in the U.S. population, growing international competition and attrition at all levels of education, as well as federal and state budget constraints. Pathways through Graduate School and into Careers builds on those findings by identifying opportunities that benefit students, universities, employers, and the U.S. economy. “Our graduate schools are the repository of our nation’s most gifted and talented,” stresses Dean Grasso. “They are a resource to both protect and renew.”n go to
http://www.cgsnet.org/ for further reading.
Dean Maureen Grasso, left, with Representative John Lewis and Dean Lisa Tedesco. Both Grasso and Tedesco work to promote graduate education.
"Our graduate schools are the place where high-potential people come together with talented faculty and develop the competencies to address the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.” —Debra W. Stewart, Council of Graduate Schools
William Mangum on art: alliance, resourcefulness and tenacity on March 28, the Graduate school offered a rare and personal glimpse into the world of entrepreneurship and the arts. north Carolina native William Mangum shared how he has parlayed his work as a watercolor artist into business ventures as a gallery owner, publisher and keynote speaker. Mangum has published numerous art books showcasing his work, including his most recent title, North Carolina Beautiful. During two sessions, Mangum spoke to 70 graduate students drawn from disciplines in both the arts and sciences. He discussed how he uses three key principles, “Alliance, resourcefulness, and tenacity,” to transform innovative ideas and research into new business opportunities and aid in the creation and sales of his work. He has drawn upon themes from rural landscapes, which the artist says was a response to a hardscrabble upbringing on a relative’s farm near sanford, n.C. He discovered an ability to draw and paint while living with an aunt and uncle after his mother was hospitalized for several years following a catastrophic stroke. the purchase of an inexpensive set of watercolors unlocked a new set of possibilities for his life, Mangum says. “Always remain a student,” he urges. “the idea was to offer entrepreneurial ideas, strategies, resources and inspiration to our graduate students from someone who
Artist William Mangum addressed a gathering of graduate students on creating career opportunities in the arts.
has truly made his place in the world through his art,” says Dean Maureen Grasso. “It is a rare chance to offer a program to students who are either newly emerging artists, or soon to emerge, in support of their careers.” the concept of such programs is to not only create opportunities for students in the arts, but also to develop networking between UGA students and contemporary working artists, she adds. “It’s also intended to recognize that innovators find a path for themselves, even during times of economic stress. And who is more innovative than our artists?” Mangum received his MFA in 1979 from the University of north Carolina at Greensboro (UnCG). through the doggedly tenacious pursuit of his art,
Mangum was able to support himself solely through his artwork after his first student show at UnCG sold out in 1975. He opened his first gallery in the late 1970s and still maintains a gallery in Greensboro, n.C., where he continues to create and sell his original art and prints to a large collector base. “the greatest joy is in giving,” Mangum says, and explained how he also uses his art to support his charitable interest in aiding the homeless. through annual sales of a holiday honor card, several million dollars have benefitted homeless programs in north Carolina. the Urban Ministry benefits from the sale of the card, which bears Mangum’s original art. n
“It’s also intended to recognize that innovators find a path for themselves, even during times of economic stress. And who is —Dean Maureen Grasso more innovative than our artists?”
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Gift seeds emeriti scholars travel support fund
In March, Graduate school Dean Maureen Grasso announced the creation of a fund intended to support travel for UGA Presidential Graduate Fellows. According to tom Wilfong, development officer, the new fund was established through a lead gift from sylvia McCoy Hutchinson (Bsed, '61; Med, '62; PhD, '76), a member of the Graduate school’s Graduate education Advancement Board. “In addition to Dr. Hutchinson’s gift, we have received support from individual members of the emeriti scholars group and from former Presidential Graduate Fellows,” he adds. “the fund honors the University of Georgia’s emeriti scholars, and it will fund travel for our top graduate students to present papers at academic conferences and/or to pursue dissertation-related research,” says Grasso. Grasso says that while Presidential Graduate Fellows will be the first beneficiaries of this new program, she hopes to extend the program to other graduate students as the funds allow. “For many years, the lack of travel funds has been a decided disadvantage to our recruitment programs, and this new fund addresses that need. It will enrich the academic experiences of UGA’s brightest doctoral students and will serve as the first step towards the creation of a powerful
recruitment tool for the Graduate school. over time, the emeriti scholars travel support program will serve to further advance the prestige and quality of graduate education at UGA by attracting the ablest and most committed graduate students to the University.” Wilfong adds, “our first goal is to reach the minimum level for an endowed fund at the University of Georgia Foundation. Until that time, we are not able to access the income from the fund.” For further information concerning the new fund, contact Wilfong, the Graduate school’s development officer, at 706.425.2968 or firstname.lastname@example.org. n
eMeRItI sCHoLARs (left to right): Brahm Verma, Dick Hill, Clif Pannell, Ron simpson, Genelle Morain, Gilles Allard, Del Dunn, Louise McBee, sylvia Hutchinson, Jeanne Barsanti, and Bill Flatt. not pictured but active members of the emeriti scholars: Joe Berrigan, Gary Bertsch, nancy Canolty, Ron Carlson, Betty Jean Craige, Dorinda Dallmeyer, tom Dyer, Pam Kleiber, Marguerite Koepke-Hamburg, sylvia Pannell, and Peter shedd.
MaSter of fine artS canDiDateS 2012 the Lamar Dodd school of Art Galleries hosted the 2012 MFA exhibition in March and April, featuring work by graduate students in a variety of media. Adam Bodine’s large, oxidized metal sculpture of a phonograph on wheels, titled “What You say,” was on the first floor near the entrance to the show. "Adam received a Graduate school Dean's Award enabling him to produce this work," noted Dean Maureen Grasso. the 2012 MFA Candidates include Adam Bodine, Andrew Burkitt, Lauren Cunningham, ernesto R. Gomez, Kathleen Massey Hendrick, Phil Jasen, Deanna Kamal, Justin Klocke, Peter McCarron, Ben McKee, Jessica McVey, Laura Mullen, sydney nettles-Coates, Kyungmin Park, Justin Plakas, Michael Vincent Prault, Robin Reif, terence tirpak and Grace Zuniga.
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A TOTAL OF00473-021 21,470
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The Graduate School at the University of Georgia has been enhancing learning environments and inspiring scholarly endeavors since its formal establishment in 1910. through our professional development programs and funding opportunities, we promote excellence in graduate education in all disciplines.
since Dean Maureen Grasso was hired in 2002, the University of Georgia Graduate school has awarded 21,470 graduate degrees to deserving students from all over the world.
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SEE PAGE 26.
TIPS FOR THE BRAIN
alREaDY EXERCISING? there are additional ways to nourish your brain. experts at the Mayo Institute and other research institutions cited in the popular press suggest quick tips that benefit your brain’s health. 1. turn off the GPs, or global positioning system, and allow your brain to use its own spatial navigating. 2. Use full-spectrum lighting in the workplace or home. 3. Alternate the hand you use to complete a simple task. 4. Differ rote behaviors and try changing where you sit, or how you arrange your day’s chores. 5. Increase omega-3s in your diet, and add luteolin (found in snacks like carrot sticks) to00473-031 do your brain a favor. 00473-030
this Dawg plays hard, works hard, and moves to the top of the class. Artist Brent Chitwood created Game Dawg for sponsor st. Mary’s Health Care systems, Inc. the winter 2011 issue of
WON A 2012
tHe CGS AnD ETS C O M M I S S I O N S FoUnD tHAt BY 2020, 2.6 MIllION POSITIONS WILL ReQUIRe An ADVAnCeD DeGRee. Read more on page 38.
ReAD tHe GRADUAte sCHooL MAGAZIne onLIne. FInD oUR ARCHIVes At WWW.GRAD.UGA.eDU.
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Published on Aug 1, 2012
Published on Aug 1, 2012
The Fall 12 edition of The University of Georgia Graduate School Magazine features Laura Whitaker's work with Extra Special People, Vikram D...