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News l e tte r o f th e Universit y o f G eo rgia Ho n o rs Pro gram

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 The University of Georgia is a national leader

among public universities in the numbers of major scholarships earned by our students. Since 1995, UGA has produced 8 Rhodes Scholars, 5 Gates Cambridge Scholars, 5 Marshall Scholars, 3 Mitchell Scholars, 44 Goldwater Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, and 12 Udall Scholars. 47 UGA students were offered Fulbright Scholarships in the past 4 years. The Chronicle of Higher Education lists the University of Georgia as one of the top producers of U.S. Fulbright students by type of institution.

 In 2012-2013 Honors students once again were highly successful in national and international scholarship competitions, and, for the third time in the past decade, Honors students were awarded prestigious Rhodes, Goldwater, Udall, and Truman scholarships in the same year.

 In 2011-2012, the University of Georgia was

one of only four institutions in the nation with the maximum of four Goldwater Scholars, one of only two universities with three Udall Scholars, and one of only four universities with at least five Boren Scholars. UGA students also garnered a prestigious Marshall Scholarship and 17 Fulbright Scholarship offers, placing the University among the top tier of academic institutions with regard to national awards. Alumni were well represented, as a UGA alumna garnered the coveted MacArthur “Genius” Grant for the second time in three years (Beth Shapiro in 2009, A.E. Stallings in 2011).

Truman Scholar Smitha Ganeshan with (l-r ) Honors Program Director Dr. David S. Williams, Provost Jere W. Morehead, and President Michael F. Adams.

2013 Honors Program Scholarship Recipients: Rhodes Scholar – Elizabeth Allan Truman Scholar – Smitha Ganeshan Goldwater Scholar – Phillip Grayeski Udall Scholars – Sara Black and Ian Karra Erasmus Mundus Scholar – Matthew Saltz Boren Scholars – Alice Naghshineh and Callan Thomas Fulbright Scholars Geoff Nolan, Colombia; Tierney O’Sullivan, Australia; Jennifer Alyson Pittman, Rwanda; Melissa Siegel, Malaysia Critical Language Scholars Adhiti Bandlamudi, Arabic, Oman; Victoria Barker, Russian, Russia; Megan White, Russian, Russia; Yuliya Bila, Russian, Russia; Harriera Siddiq, Urdu, India

Honors Program Scholarship Winners

UGA’s Newest Truman Scholar – Smitha Ganeshan

Smitha is congratulated by Provost Jere W. Morehead and President Michael F. Adams

“Smitha is an amazing person, with an incredible intellect and a huge heart. These gifts, combined with her impressive abilities as a leader, strongly suggest that she will indeed be a powerful agent for positive change in the future.” — Dr. David S. Williams


Smitha Ganeshan, a third-year Honors student from Johns Creek, GA, has received a 2013 Harry S. Truman Scholarship, which recognizes juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government and public service. Smitha, who is majoring in anthropology, was one of 62 students to receive the scholarship and is the only recipient in Georgia this year. After graduation, she aims to pursue a dual M.D. and Master in Public Policy degree. “UGA students have once again proven that they can compete at the highest academic levels,” said President Michael F. Adams. “We all congratulate Smitha Ganeshan on this signal accomplishment and know that she will represent UGA well.” Smitha is involved with UGA’s Roosevelt Institute, a student-run think tank sponsored by the Honors Program, and has directed its health policy center and its environmental policy center. Through Roosevelt, she developed a policy proposal to improve access to primary care services for low income and uninsured patients. Smitha volunteers at the non-profit Athens Nurses Clinic, which provides basic primary care and dental services for uninsured patients, and has interned at the Athens Health Network, an organization that works to reduce health care disparities by coordinating health services for the indigent population. She is a co-founder of the Lunchbox Garden Project, an after-school nutrition education and obesity prevention program that was launched in 2011 and now serves two schools in Athens. As an Honors intern at the Greater New York Hospital Association, she worked under Executive Vice President and General Counsel Susan C. Waltman, a trustee of the UGA Foundation and an Honors alumna, to translate evidencebased obesity prevention models into programs for hospital implementation. Smitha has also studied at Oxford University through the UGA at Oxford program, and has worked at a hospital for diabetes in India, at a mobile health clinic in Peru, and at a community health clinic in Nicaragua. “Smitha has combined the many opportunities and resources available to students at the University of Georgia with her considerable intellect and energy to address some of society’s most challenging issues,” said Professor Jere W. Morehead, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. “She represents the very best of what students from the state’s flagship institution of higher education contribute to our world.”

Sara Black and Ian Karra awarded 2013 Udall Scholarships Sara Black and Ian Karra were among 50 students nationwide to receive 2013 Udall Scholarships. The scholarships are awarded annually to outstanding students pursuing careers focused on environmental or Native American public policy. Sara, a third-year student from Birmingham, AL, is pursuing degrees in anthropology and ecology, while Ian, a third-year student from Roswell, GA, is pursuing degrees in economics and finance. Matthew Tyler, a third-year student from Atlanta, GA, who is pursuing dual bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science, received an honorable mention. “The issues for which the Udall Scholarship was established are increasingly important to the health and well-being of the nation, and I am pleased that Sara, Ian, and Matthew have been recognized for their hard work and dedication,” said President Adams. Dr. Williams added: “I am proud of Sara and Ian, who are very worthy of being named Udall Scholars. I am also pleased that Matt received an honorable mention, because he too is very deserving of recognition. All of these students are inspiring, and they will no doubt continue to do great things in the future.” Sara plans to pursue a career in the environmental or food justice non-profit sector. She has held national

leadership positions in prominent grassroots organizations including the Real Food Challenge, the Greenhorns, the Sierra Club, and the Sierra Student Coalition, through which she coordinates training on grassroots organizing skills for young people. She is also a co-founder of Real Food UGA, a campus organization working with Food Services on sustainability initiatives. Ian plans to pursue a career in grassroots environmental advocacy, influencing renewable energy policy at the state level and at institutions of higher education. He represented the U.S. as a youth delegate to the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Qatar and will represent the Sierra Club and UGA as an ambassador to the Clinton Global Initiative University Conference. He is on the executive board of the UGA Sierra Student Coalition and is a founding member of the UGA Beyond Coal campaign, which aims to replace the university’s coal-fired boiler with renewable sources of energy. Ian and Sara co-lead Georgia YES (Youth for Environmental Solutions), a network of more than 75 student environmental leaders on more than a dozen campuses in Georgia. The organization works to promote clean energy infrastructure and policy on college campuses throughout the state. 3

Honors Program Scholarship Winners

Phillip Grayeski UGA’s newest Goldwater Scholar


hillip Grayeski, a third-year Honors student from Raritan, NJ, majoring in genetics and chemistry, has been named a 2013 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar. Tuan Nguyen, a second-year student from Douglasville, GA, who is majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology and mathematics, earned an honorable mention. The Goldwater Scholarship recognizes exceptional secondyear and third-year students in engineering, mathematics, and the natural sciences. “The steady progression of UGA students receiving national academic scholarships such as the Goldwater is testament to the quality of the student body; the hard work and dedication of the faculty; and the skilled mentoring of the staff in the Honors Program,” said President Adams.

Phil Grayeski

Phillip intends to pursue a combined M.D./Ph.D. degree with a focus on gene therapy and translating academic research into treatments for cancer and hereditary disorders. He works in the genetics laboratory of Dr. Jonathan Eggenschwiler. He also has conducted research with Dr. Janet Westpheling as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center. He spent three months at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany, researching genetic approaches for targeting melanoma treatments. He has presented his research findings at the UGA Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO) Symposium and at a meeting of the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy in Versailles, France. Phillip is the co-founder and executive director of Whatever It Takes at UGA, where he coordinates a network of more than 300 student volunteers for educational and health and wellness programs targeting families in Athens-Clarke County. He directs two after-school programs in Athens and manages 40 volunteers at each location to provide a one-toone ratio of tutors to students. He served as vice president of programming for the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and coaches three youth basketball teams for the Oconee County Parks and Recreation Department. In 2012, he travelled to Peru to assemble mobile clinics in medically underserved communities.

Tuan Nguyen


14th Annual CURO Symposium More than 200 University of Georgia undergraduate students presented original research projects and creative works at the annual spring symposium hosted by UGA’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO). Since its inception, the CURO Symposium has provided a public space for students from all academic disciplines to share their research work with their peers, the UGA research community, and others. “The CURO Symposium has become the premier undergraduate academic event at UGA,” said Dr. Williams. “It is important to note that while CURO began in the Honors Program, it is now open to all UGA undergraduates. Indeed, this year some 40 percent of presenters were not Honors students.” Students gave concurrent oral presentations, and the day ended with a poster session. Dr. Fran Teague, a Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor with a joint appointment in the English and theatre and film studies department, delivered the keynote address, entitled “The Lavish Elegance of Research.” Preceding her talk, Best Paper awards were presented to students in the categories of arts, humanities, social sciences, civic responsibility focus, international focus, biological sciences, and physical sciences. The UGA Libraries

also presented five awards to students for excellence in research and academic inquiry. Additionally, Dr. Jennifer McDowell, professor of psychology, received the Master Level Faculty Award, and Dr. Katalin Medvedev, professor in the department of textiles, merchandising, and interiors, received the Early Career Faculty Award. They were recognized for their efforts to enhance the learning experience of undergraduate researchers through outstanding teaching, supervision of undergraduate research projects and theses, and collaboration on publications and presentations at professional conferences.

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Foundation Fellows and Ramsey Scholars Spring Break Trips First Years’ Trip to New York City and Washington D.C. “Our first official Fellows trip exceeded all expectations. Aside from providing a bonding opportunity for the first-year class, the trip exposed us to an unmatched caliber of experts in their respective fields. Meetings with renowned food critic Molly O’Neill, economists Paul Krugman and Robin Wells, CNN commentator and political strategist Paul Begala, Senatorial Chiefs of Staff Chris Carr and Charlie Harman, and Chief Justice John Roberts provided unparalleled educational opportunities. With plenty of leisure time and tickets to the Broadway musical Once, the social and cultural aspects of our trip complemented our educational experiences, creating an unforgettable first-year trip.” – Eytan Palte

Costa Rica “Traveling to Costa Rica was a wonderful experience. I learned about the myriad issues facing many of the communities there – environmental sustainability, the effects of market economics on communal villages, local versus foreign ownership of land, and the benefits and drawbacks of ecotourism.” – Gautam Narula “Our time in Costa Rica was absolutely incredible. While being woken up before sunrise by howler monkeys was less than pleasant, the experience of surfing on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world at dawn more than made up for it. It was an experience that I never would have had outside of the Fellowship.” – Eilidh Geddes


South Africa “The whirlwind tour of South Africa – Cape Town, Soweto (Johannesburg), and Kruger National Park – with its wide landscape, warm people, stunning wildlife, and tumultuous history of conflict and reconciliation, left me with a better understanding of this country than did my previous three years of coursework in international relations.” – Joseph Gerber

Spring Break

“Looking out at the ocean from the continent’s southwestern tip, swimming with penguins at Boulder Beach, and observing the deep cultural and economic divides was enlightening and stimulating on many levels. Having the chance to experience the beautiful geography of the country was a priceless opportunity that I’ll never forget.” – Jesse Chan

Ramsey Scholars’ Service Trip to Miami For the past three years, the Ramsey Scholars have designed their own service-based spring break trips and have volunteered in New Orleans, LA, and Charleston, SC. This year, 13 of the 26 Ramsey Scholars traveled to Miami, FL, where they participated in a beach clean-up effort and sorted donations at the Feeding South Florida food bank. They also spent a day in Key Largo, helping the Florida Bay District of Everglades National Park move gravel to prepare the site of a future butterfly garden. In their free time, the Ramseys explored Miami’s rich culture by sampling Cuban fare in Little Havana, spotting alligators, salsa dancing, and relaxing on the beach.


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Three Honors students named mid-term Foundation Fellows


hree Honors students have joined the Foundation Fellows Program as mid-term recipients of the university’s premier undergraduate scholarship. The 2013 mid-term Foundation Fellows are: Maria Cox of Peachtree City, GA, who is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in mass media arts and English; Allison Koch (left in photo) of Cedar Rapids, IA, who is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in anthropology and Latin American and Caribbean studies; and Camir Ricketts of Montego Bay, Jamaica, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in microbiology. Maria plans to use some of her scholarship money this summer to attend the Cannes Film Festival study-abroad program. Maria created a faculty colloquium in January on “The Various Changes in Peter Pan and its Reception by Audiences Over Time.” Through the Fellowship, she plans to complete a future internship in Los Angeles, where she hopes to make a living as a television scriptwriter and manager working on dramas. Allison plans to use the Fellowship to pursue research on how humans, particularly those living in Neotropical countries, are impacted by their cultural and physical environments. She will begin exploring the topic this summer when she studies abroad in Panama. In fall 2013, she will study tropical

ecosystems at UGA’s Costa Rica campus. Allison has studied Spanish, German, Portuguese and Indonesian. With a minor in ecology, Allison has her eyes on a career as an explorer, researcher, cultural correspondent, or excursion leader. Camir plans to meld frontline techniques from the fields of bioinformatics and biology to determine how to apply nanotechnology in medicine. With support from the Fellowship, he plans to study at Oxford University in England. Now in his second year at UGA, he leads chemistry study groups on campus and volunteers through the UGA Rotaract Club. He assists with projects at the Morningside Retirement Home, local food banks, and has helped with public road cleanups.

UGA Honors Newsletter, spring 2013  
UGA Honors Newsletter, spring 2013