Small Is Beautiful:
Research in UGAâ€™s Nanoscale Science & Engineering Center
ugaresearch is published by the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Georgia. The magazine is printed with funds from the University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit foundation that supports UGA research. Michael F. Adams, President Jere Morehead, Senior VP for Academic Affairs/Provost David C. Lee, Vice President for Research Terry Hastings, Director, Research Communications
ugaresearch staff Editor: Helen Fosgate (email@example.com) Circulation, Media Shelf: Laurie Anderson Contributing editor: Steve Marcus Design: Lindsay Robinson/UGA Public Affairs Photo Liaison: Paul Efland/UGA Writers: Sam Fahmy, Joy Holloway, Helen Fosgate, Lillian Eby, Alan Flurry, Sherrie Whaley, Sandi Martin, Kat Gilmore, Matt Weeks. Photographers: Zhengwei Pan, Robert Newcomb, Andrew Tucker, Paul Efland, Dot Paul, Beth Newman, Peter Frey, Jim Demmers, Richard Hamm/Athens Banner Herald. Articles may be reprinted with permission. For additional copies of the magazine or address changes, please contact Research Communications at 706-583-0599 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Access the electronic edition at www.researchmagazine.uga.edu. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Research Magazine, OVPR, University of Georgia, 708 Boyd GSRC, Athens, GA 30602-7411. Call 706-583-0599; or email email@example.com. In compliance with federal law, including the provisions of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the University of Georgia does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, or military service in its administration of educational policies, programs, or activities; its admissions policies; scholarship and loan programs; athletic or other University-administered programs; or employment. In addition, the University does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation consistent with the University non-discrimination policy. Inquiries or complaints should be directed to the director of the Equal Opportunity Office, Peabody Hall, 290 South Jackson Street, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602. Telephone 706-542-7912 (V/TDD). Fax 706-542-2822
16 Small is Beautiful: Research in UGA’s
Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center By Helen Fosgate Explorations at the molecular and atomic scales could produce a slew of useful products and services in a wide variety of fields.
The Art of Science (Illustration) By Alan Flurry
Artwork plays a crucial role in the training of medical students around the world.
A Faith in Walmart
By Sam Fahmy
Preventing Water Wars
By Joy R. Holloway
Bethany Moreton reveals the essentially religious basis of Walmart employees’ devotion and the company’s success.
Nations around the world can best avoid conflict, and promote prosperity, through agreements that create formal water-management institutions.
Vol 39, No. 1 ISSN 1099-7458
newsbriefs 3 House plants can reduce indoor pollutants 4 Now, concerns about outdoor secondhand smoke 5 Study finds e-readers fall short as news delivery tool 6 Asian beetles may threaten native plants, trees in Georgia 7 Lower survival rate when cancer patients also have dementia 8 A major new finding on a common parasite of fish 9 Potential new medication for treating addiction
Want to support UGA research?
The Campbell File
If you would like to support research featured in this issue, contact Keith Oelke, executive director of corporate and foundation relations at: firstname.lastname@example.org To see back issues of ugaresearch, visit us online at: www.researchmagazine.uga.edu
Once Upon a Life Science Book
Activities to Create Confident Readers
A sampling of books, recordings and other creative works by UGA faculty, staff, and students.
Mentoring: A Good Thing (Except When It Isn’t)
W. Keith Campbell, head of the department of psychology and professor in its social psychology program, talks about about his groundbreaking research on narcissism.
A mentoring relationship can sometimes backfire; protégés should choose wisely.
Public Research Universities Serve Society, Boost Economy
PHOTO BY ROBERT NEWCOMB/UGA
David Lee Vice President for Research
his year, as the University of Georgia celebrates its 225th anniversary, it’s worth reflecting on what it means to be a public research university—for our students, the state, the nation, and the world. UGA’s researchers tackle an incredible range of critical issues. They are preserving and strengthening the arts and humanities, helping us to understand what it means to be human. They are also developing solutions to the global problems of climate change and water scarcity; discovering new techniques for preventing, diagnosing, and combating disease; inventing ways to turn plants into energy; improving crops to feed the world; determining the strengths that help children and families thrive; and addressing the growing health concerns of an aging population. Moreover, our faculty are doing these and other things on ever-expanding fronts. In the last few years alone, UGA has established schools of public health and (in partnership with the Medical College of Georgia) medicine, whose graduates will make the world a healthier place in which to live. UGA’s impact can be measured in more concrete terms: the research enterprise annually contributes over $300 million to Georgia’s economy. Looking across the United States, the 200 or so public research universities have an enormous influence on the country’s vibrancy, economic prosperity, and international competitiveness. They performed almost two-thirds of the federally funded research conducted at all U.S. universities (public and private) over the past 20 years, generating substantial economic benefits in the process. They also educated 85 percent of the undergraduates and 70 percent of the graduate students trained in this country, thus ensuring our future workforce. Yet despite these contributions to the nation’s well-being, the future of UGA and the other public research universities is by no means assured. At the root of the problem is the capacity of these institutions to continue to provide students across the state with broad access to an excellent education and also to serve as the foundation of the nation’s research capacity and as its innovation engine. While the financial turmoil of the last year has of course taken a toll, the problem is not new. State support of public research universities like UGA has been declining on a per-student basis for over two decades; it was at its lowest level in 25 years even before the current economic crisis took hold. At the same time, enrollments at public research universities have burgeoned by over 40 percent. Aggravating the problem is the fact that the true costs of performing research at our universities are rarely, if ever, fully reimbursed by research sponsors, which include the federal government. As a result, university research has been increasingly subsidized by institutional funds—a trend that clearly is not sustainable. In April, at regional meetings convened at UGA and four other top institutions, leaders of the public research universities debated solutions. A set of overall recommendations is now being distilled from these meetings but will undoubtedly include a suite of actions by the federal and state governments, as well as by the universities themselves. The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and its members will advocate these recommendations to members of Congress, who share our concern. There are no easy solutions to the problems facing states and their public research universities, especially in the current economic climate. Still, it is incumbent upon us to try to identify realistic steps to mitigate this situation. The future vitality and global competitiveness of our country could well depend on it.
House plants can reduce indoor pollutants
ertain plant species have the ability to significantly reduce levels of indoor air pollutants, according to UGA researchers. They recently showed that these plants can lower the concentrations of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in particular, suggesting a critical new role for plants in home and office environments. Of the 28 plants tested, the scientists identified five “super ornamentals”—those that had the highest rates of plant-based contaminant removal, a process called phytoremediation. These species were the purple waffle (Hemigraphis alternata), English ivy (Hedera helix), wax plant (Hoya carnosa), asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus), and purple heart (Tradescantia pallida). After placing the plants inside glass airtight containers, the researchers exposed them to a number of common household VOCs, including benzene, toluene, octane, alpha-pinene, and TCE. They also measured VOC concentrations in a number of actual indoor environments. Their work, funded by UGA’s Agricultural Experiment Stations, was published in the August 2009 issue of HortScience. “The idea that plants take up volatile compounds wasn’t as much of a surprise as the poor air quality we measured inside some of the homes we tested,” said Stanley Kays, a professor of horticulture at UGA. “We found unexpectedly high levels of benzenes and many other contaminants that may seriously compromise human health.” These pollutants can cause a host of serious illnesses, including asthma, cancer, and reproductive and neurological disorders—and they may account for more than 1.6 million deaths a year—according to a 2002 World Health Organization report. Indoor VOCs
emanate from furnishings, carpets, plastics, cleaning products, paint, solvents, adhesives, and building materials such as drywall. Even tap water can be a source of airborne VOCs. In some cases, the air inside homes and offices is 100 times more polluted with VOCs than outdoor air. Kays, D.S. Yang, and S.V. Pennisi at UGA collaborated with researchers at Konkuk University in Seoul, Korea, and at the National Horticultural Research Institute in Suwon, “where scientists are substantially ahead of us in phytoremediation research,” said Kays. For example, “my colleague Kwang Jin Kim has evaluated the ability of 86 species to remove formaldehyde in indoor environments.” Not all VOCs are toxic, and plants themselves emit some VOCs, though most appear to be nontoxic, at least at normal exposure levels. But Kays said that a lack of information about chemical toxicity—and an affordable method for measuring interior air quality—makes assessing their safety and routinely measuring their presence more difficult. In any case, Kays says that simply introducing common ornamentals into indoor spaces has the potential to improve their air quality, though the amount of improvement can vary. Why some plants are very effective at phytoremediation, while others show little promise, is still a mystery. “That’s one of the things we want to learn,” he said. “We also want to determine the species and number of plants needed in a house or office to neutralize the problem contaminants.” For more information contact Stanley Kays at: email@example.com
— Helen Fosgate
Now, concerns about outdoor secondhand smoke
ndoor smoking bans have forced smokers at bars and restaurants onto patios, but a new UGA study in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that these outdoor smoking areas might be creating a new health hazard. The study, which reported pollutant-exposure levels up to 162-percent greater than in the control group, was published in the November 2009 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. “Indoor smoking bans have helped to create more of these outdoor environments where people are exposed to secondhand smoke, which contains several known carcinogens, and the current thinking is that there is no safe level of exposure,” said Luke Naeher, associate professor in the UGA College of Public Health and one of the six researchers in the study. Georgia’s Athens-Clarke County enacted an indoor smoking ban in 2005, providing Naeher and his colleagues with an excellent environment for their research. The team recruited 20 nonsmoking adults and placed them in one of three environments: outside bars, outside restaurants and, for the control group, outside UGA’s main library. Immediately before and after the six-hour study period, the volunteers provided a saliva sample that was tested for levels of cotinine, a byproduct of nicotine and a commonly used marker of tobacco exposure. The team found an average increase in cotinine of 162 percent for the volunteers outside bars, a 102-percent increase for those outside restaurants, and a 16-percent increase for the control group outside the library. Naeher acknowledges that an exposure of six hours is greater than what an average patron would experience, but he noted that employees could be exposed for much longer periods. “People who work in those environments—waitresses, waiters, and bartenders, for example—may be there six hours or longer,” he said. “Across the country, a large number of people are occupationally exposed to secondhand smoke in this way.” Still, the researchers caution that it’s too early to draw policy conclusions from their findings. Cotinine is a marker of exposure to tobacco, Naeher said, but it is not a carcinogen. Moreover, while studies that measured health outcomes following indoor smoking bans have credited the bans with lowering the rates of heart attack and respiratory illness, the health impacts of outdoor secondhand smoke are still unknown. Thus the research team is planning to do follow-up research that would measure levels of a molecule known as NNAL, which is a marker of tobacco exposure as well as a known carcinogen. “Our study suggests that there is reason to be concerned about secondhand smoke levels outdoors,” said coauthor Gideon St. Helen, who is pursuing his Ph.D. through the UGA’s Interdisciplinary Toxicology Program, “and our findings are an incentive for us to do further studies to determine the effects of those levels.” The study was funded by the Northeast (Georgia) Health District, the Athens (Georgia) Community Wellness Council, and the Athens Tobacco Prevention Coalition. For more information contact Luke Naeher at: firstname.lastname@example.org 4
— Sam Fahmy
Study finds e-readers fall short as news delivery tool
ortable “e-readers”—electronic devices such as Amazon’s Kindle—are unlikely to gain widespread use unless they include features such as color, photographs, and touch screens, according to UGA research. Professors of advertising Dean Krugman and Tom Reichert and associate professor Barry Hollander, all of UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, conducted the research over a six-month period in 2009. A group of adult Athens-area residents were provided with Kindles in order to read The Atlanta Journal-Constitution— the newspaper had dropped Athens from its circulation area not long before—and the researchers followed up with indepth interviews and focus groups that characterized users’ likes and dislikes. “Our focus is on the way people consume media in a rapidly changing environment,” said Krugman. “We employed similar methods when studying the growth of the multi-channel television environment.” While study participants of all ages were impressed by the readability of the Kindle screen, describing it as “easy on
the eyes,” few considered it a primary way to get the news. For younger adults, the e-reader fell short when compared to Blackberries and smart phones, which offer touch screens and multiple applications—from music to surfing the Internet— that are available in a single small package. The e-reader, they said, felt “old” to them. Overall, older adults were more receptive to the Kindle. But they noted that the e-reader failed to include some of the traditional newspaper features they enjoyed, including comics and crossword puzzles. Cost was a factor regardless of age. Nearly all respondents balked at the $489 price tag. Krugman concluded that the newspaper feature alone is probably not strong enough to sell people on e-readers. “It should be seen as one of a constellation of services, such as books and magazines, for the devices,” he said. The study was funded by a grant from UGA’s Cox Institute for Newspaper Management Studies. For more information contact Dean Krugman at: email@example.com
— Sherrie Whaley
Asian beetles may threaten native plants, trees in Georgia
species of wood-boring ambrosia beetle that attacks living trees has established itself in Georgia. It’s probably here to stay, according to scientists, and could spell economic trouble for the state’s forest industry. “More than likely, we won’t be able to eradicate them,” said Kamal Gandhi, an assistant professor in UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. Gandhi was on a team that conducted the 2009 Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey, an annual multi-agency insect sampling that involves researchers from UGA, the Georgia Forestry Commission, the Georgia Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The sampling, detailed in the December 2009 edition of The Coleopterists Bulletin, found a troubling number of the destructive beetles—a type of camphor shot borer (Xylosandrus mutilatus)—in the six counties sampled in the survey: Clarke, Clayton, Douglas, Elbert, Fulton, and Oconee. While researchers came across just three adult ambrosia beetles in 2007 and none in 2008, they discovered 56 in 2009. The wood-boring beetles have proven particularly damaging in other states, with previous studies estimating about $50 million in annual timber losses. Stowing away in the wood packaging around cargo, waste, and soil from Asia, the beetles also bring with them an exotic
pathogenic fungus. In the 2009 survey, conducted between April and September, researchers trapped the ambrosia beetles using ethanol and pinene bait, focusing their efforts near warehouses and tree nurseries because of the high local concentration of imported wood products and waste. These beetles attack more than 200 plant species, including a wide variety of native trees. Gandhi said that she and her colleagues don’t yet know whether the beetles have started killing Georgia trees—but they are fully capable of doing so. That no one has reported suspicious-looking trees suggests that the beetles’ population is still low, but more monitoring is needed in deep forests, Gandhi said. The beetle was first discovered in Mississippi, and since then has been confirmed in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. James Johnson, forest health coordinator at the Georgia Forestry Commission, said that other states have reported minimal problems so far. But he puts the potential problem in perspective: “Some estimates indicate that one out of every hundred new species introduced may cause problems, and a small portion of these can cause catastrophic problems.” For more information contact Kamal Gandhi at: firstname.lastname@example.org
— Sandi Martin
Lower survival rate when cancer patients also have dementia
new study by researchers at UGA and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Center in Tampa, Florida, has found that cancer patients with dementia suffer a dramatically lower survival rate than patients with cancer alone, even after controlling for age, tumor type, and tumor stage. But the study, published in the online edition of the journal Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology, also argues that a diagnosis of dementia shouldn’t discourage the use of cancer screenings and appropriate cancer treatments. “As the population ages and treatments improve, we’re going to see more patients with both dementia and cancer,” said lead author Claire Robb, assistant professor of epidemiology in UGA’s College of Public Health. Robb and her coauthors in the Senior Adult Oncology Program at Moffitt compared the outcomes of 86 cancer patients with cognitive impairment to a control group of 172 patients with cancer alone. They found that cancer patients with dementia survived about four fewer years on average. Given that patients in the two groups received similar treatments, the reason for the disparity is unclear, said Robb, who is also a researcher
at UGA’s Cancer Center. Within the cognitively impaired group, there was a striking difference in survival time between patients with mild dementia and those with moderate to severe dementia. People with mild dementia often have problems with thinking and memory, yet they can still live independently. By contrast, those with moderate to severe dementia typically forget details about current events, lose awareness, and have difficulty with basic tasks such as preparing meals or choosing appropriate clothing. The researchers found that while patients with moderate to severe dementia had an average survival time of eight months, those with mild dementia survived nearly four and a half years. Other studies have shown that patients with dementia often receive fewer cancer screenings and undergo less aggressive treatment. One analysis found that physicians were significantly less likely to recommend a mammogram for a woman with dementia than for one without, while another found that patients with dementia were twice as likely to have colon cancer reported only after death. Yet another study of breast cancer patients found that
those with dementia were 52 percent less likely to have the tumor removed surgically, 41 percent less likely to undergo radiation therapy, 39 percent less likely to undergo chemotherapy, and nearly three times more likely to receive no treatment. But even though “the cognitively impaired patients seen in our Senior Adult Oncology Program received treatments similar to those of unimpaired patients, epidemiologic data still showed a marked difference in survival,” said study coauthor Martine Extermann, an associate member at Moffitt. “That fact provides food for thought.” At any rate, Robb urges the creation of guidelines to help ensure that cognitively impaired cancer patients receive appropriate treatment. “People have thought about the impacts of the aging population on rates of cancer and dementia, but not much attention has been paid to what happens when the diseases coincide,” she said. “We’re going to be seeing more cases like these, and, if anything, I hope our research raises awareness of the situation.” For more information contact Claire Robb at: email@example.com
— Sam Fahmy
A major new finding on a common parasite of fish
esearchers at UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine have made a dual discovery that could open new avenues for controlling a parasite that commonly attacks freshwater fish. With the aid of whole-genome sequencing, the scientists found that Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (“Ich”), a single-celled protozoan, harbors two types of apparently symbiotic bacteria— Bacteroides and Rickettsia—which represent new species. Five researchers from the college’s department of infectious diseases worked on the project, along with two researchers from the department of microbiology and immunology at Cornell University and a researcher from the J. Craig Venter Institute. Their study, initially intended just to map the Ich genome, was published in the December 2009 issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology. It was the presence of Rickettsia DNA sequences found in the initial Ich genome data that provided scientists with a clue that bacteria might live inside of Ich. This was a “stunning” find, said Harry W. Dickerson, a coauthor who has been studying Ich at UGA for more than 20 years, both at the vet school and through UGA’s Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases. Ich occurs worldwide and is easily recognized by most aquarium and pond owners. Fish farmers in particular can be confronted with massive outbreaks to devastating economic effect. The first major Ich outbreak in North America was recorded at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Ich, which causes “white spot disease,” bores into the skin and gills of fish, destroys tissue, and blocks the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, usually leading to death of the host. After the parasites leave the fish, each cell divides multiple times to produce up to 1,000 more infective organisms. With subsequent rounds of infection the number of parasites continues to increase, and each wave becomes more deadly than the last. Fish that survive mild infections, however, can develop immunity. The parasite is often unknowingly carried from pond to pond by people and birds. There are currently no drugs or chemicals that kill Ich, at least while it resides in the fish skin or gills. It can be killed only when the parasite is in the water, and therefore all current therapies require a cyclical retreatment program. Thus the scientists hope that their finding takes them a step closer to developing better treatments for Ich. Next, they will try to determine what role the two organisms play in the physiology of Ich and whether it remains infective if the bacteria are removed. For more information contact Harry Dickerson at: firstname.lastname@example.org
— Kat Gilmore
Potential new medication for treating addiction
esearchers in UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine have found that D-serine, an amino acid, may be useful in treating a major type of drug addiction. It appears to promote “learning” during withdrawal that helps to extinguish the need or desire for the drug. “Given that so many factors—personal habits, stress, surroundings, and familiar sights and smells—can trigger cravings,” said lead researcher John Wagner, professor of physiology and pharmacology, “a mechanism for preventing relapse is critical to treating addiction.” In studies with rats, D-serine acted on particular receptors in the brain to counter a conditioned response (cocaine-seeking), thereby reducing craving once the drug was withdrawn. Working with graduate student Lakshmi Kelamangalath and postdoctoral fellow Claire Seymour, Wagner looked specifically at cocaine because there is no FDA-approved treatment regime for it at present. The research, funded by the National Institutes of Health and UGA’s Interdisciplinary Toxicology Program,
was published in the November 2009 issue of Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. While Wagner’s lab is the first to explore its potential for treating addiction, D-serine is already being tested in humans for treating schizophrenia and certain phobias. His interest grew from earlier work in which he studied the actions of cocaine on the brain and nervous system. “For most people, addiction means dealing with uncontrolled drug-seeking behavior, which, when acute, can result in devastating consequences—job loss, financial ruin, damaged personal relationships, and other destructive behaviors.” In future studies, Wagner hopes to establish a time course for the effectiveness of D-serine—that is, how long or how often would it be needed in therapy? He would also like to investigate whether D-serine could be useful in treating other addictions. For more information contact John Wagner at: email@example.com
— Helen Fosgate
(Illustration) Artwork plays a crucial role in the training of medical students around the world.
he Lamar Dodd School of Art hosted the 17th Annual Science and Medical Illustration Exhibition last March. The exhibition brings together undergraduate students from UGA and those in the graduate program in medical illustration at MCG. Some of the winning entries are featured on the following pages. “Anatomy and medicine cannot be learned without the artwork,” said Gene Wright, associate professor in the art school and chair of the scientific illustration program, “so in that sense, medical illustration is a hugely important discipline.” And yet for all its importance, Wright estimates that there are less than 250 certified medical illustrators worldwide. The
numbers speak to the high level of selectivity in the field, and it highlights the collaboration between the programs at UGA and MCG. The highly competitive field consistently attracts art students with an eye for detail and accuracy. “The exhibition demonstrates the importance of visual thinking across disciplines,” said Georgia Strange, director of the art school. “Since observation and precision are valued skills in medical illustration as they are in the visual arts, students in scientific illustration learn how to create emphasis and clarity in complex systems.”
“Life Cycle of the Eastern Newt” (far left), by Elizabeth Nixon, a UGA undergraduate student, won The Logan Award of Excellence. “Temporal Lobectomy and Hippocampal Resection” (below) by Begoña Rodriguez Rueda, an MCG student, received an Award of Merit.
Acetabular Reaming and Component Insertion during a Left Total Hip Replacement” (far left) by Elizabeth McDonald, an MCG student, won an Award of Merit. “Bare Metal Stents vs. DrugEluting Stents” by Paul Kim, an MCG student, received the Stenstrom Award of Excellence.
For more information about UGA’s scientific illustration program contact Gene Wright at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Land and Power: Sustainable Agriculture and African Americans edited by Jeffrey L. Jordan, professor of agricultural and applied economics, UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences; Edward J. Pennick, director, Land Assistance Fund, Federation of Southern Cooperatives; Walter A. Hill, dean, College of Agricultural, Environmental and Natural Sciences, Tuskegee University; and Robert Zabawa, Research Professor, George Washington Carver Agricultural Experiment Station, Tuskegee University (SARE Outreach Publications, 2009) www.sare.org/publications/landandpower.htm This collection of papers from the Black Environmental Thought Conference held at Tuskegee University in 2007 explores major agricultural contributions made by African Americans in both rural and urban settings, and brings a broader understanding to the nature of sustainable agriculture and environmental heritage, particularly in the South.
A Colorful Past: Decorative Arts of Georgia: The Fourth Henry D. Green Symposium of the Decorative Arts edited by Ashley Callahan, curator, Henry D. Green Center for the Study of the Decorative Arts, Georgia Museum of Art (Georgia Museum of Art, 2009) This heavily illustrated volume presents essays on a wide spectrum of Georgia-based decorative arts, including African American quilting, nineteenth century furniture, folk pottery and conservation of ornamental painting inside historic homes.
Salamanders of the Southeast by Joe Mitchell, certified senior wildlife ecologist, Ecological Society of America; and Whit Gibbons, professor of ecology emeritus, Odum School of Ecology (University of Georgia Press, 2010) Describing 102 species of salamanders found in the southeastern United States, ecologists Joe Mitchell and Whit Gibbons provide a comprehensive yet easy to read guide to these often secretive wonders of nature.
Lives in Science: How Institutions Affect Academic Careers by Joseph Hermanowicz, associate professor of sociology, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, and Fellow, Institute of Higher Education (The University of Chicago Press, 2009) The challenges and disillusionment that accompany an academic career are explored as 55 physicists from across the country tell how institutions have shaped their professional lives.
The New Plantation: Black Athletes, College Sports, and Predominantly White NCAA Institutions by Billy Hawkins, associate professor of kinesiology, College of Education (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) us.macmillan.com/ thenewplantation Hawkinsâ€™ research shows that black athletes at predominately white NCAA institutions are often physically exploited while being neglected academically, and points to needed changes within university athletic programs.
RESEARCH TOOLS Covering Poverty: A Tool Kit for Journalists developed by John F. Greenman, Carter Professor of Journalism; and Diane H. Murray, director of public service and outreach, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication www.grady.uga.edu/poverty/ UGA faculty provide tutorials, tip sheets and other resources at this site for journalists who want to improve coverage of poverty and related issues. Funded by the University of Georgia Research Foundation under a grant administered by the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach. UGA GreenWay coordinated by Pamela Turner, assistant professor, College of Family and Consumer Sciences www.ugagreenway.com/ You’ve heard of “reduce, reuse, recycle” – but have you heard of “greenwashing”? This site produced by UGA faculty in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences provides some surprising ways that children and adults can create a more sustainable environment while saving time and money.
AUDIO JavaSounds/Our New Silence produced by Kai Reidl, independent artist www.javasounds.org/ www.ournewsilence.com Once Upon a Life Science Book: 12 Interdisciplinary Activities to Create Confident Readers by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen, part-time lecturer in mathematics and science education, College of Education (NSTA Press, 2010) www.onceuponasciencebook.com Reading skills and life sciences come together in this new manual for middle and high school biology teachers who struggle to engage students who don’t read well.
Send suggestions for Media Shelf of work by UGA personnel to
JavaSounds features 12 volumes of traditional Javanese music recorded during numerous trips to Indonesia. Our New Silence, a project supported by UGA’s Ideas for Creative Exploration program, offers new experimental compositions based on the Indonesian songs and sounds collected and created by Reidl while teaching at UGA, and the UGA and Athens recording community. Radio Rx hosted by Phi Delta Chi, College of Pharmacy www.shows.wuog.org/radio-rx/ Want to know more about what ails you? In podcasts ranging from 15 to 35 minutes, UGA pharmacy students interview medical professionals and discuss current topics in health along with misconceptions about health issues.
Laurie Anderson at: email@example.com.
Small Is Beautiful: Research in UGAâ€™s Nanoscale
Science and Engineering Center
Explorations at the molecular and atomic scales could produce a slew of useful products and services in a wide variety of fields.
By Helen Fosgate 16
Above, Taotao Zhu, a PhD candidate in chemistry, works at the mask aligner machine in the new nano-bio clean room.
ver since Greek philosopher Democritus proposed that all substances were made up of basic particles far too small to see with the naked eye, scientists have dreamed of being able to photograph and even to manipulate matter at that “nano” level. Over the centuries they have steadily deepened their knowledge through improvements in microscopes and imaging techniques—and more recently through nanoscience and nanotechnology—research and engineering at the molecular and atomic scales. The University of Georgia has invested heavily in “nano-committed” faculty and facilities, in large part through UGA’s Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NanoSEC), and support of their work is coming from other sources as well. Two NanoSEC researchers, Jason Locklin and Zhengwei Pan, recently received prestigious National Science Foundation grants, which together total more than $1 million, to fund nanotech research projects. UGA administrators believe that such investments will ultimately provide great returns, both to society and to the university, in the form of revenue from licensed inventions and patented products. With the opening of a new $2.3-million nano-bio clean room last March, UGA further committed itself to this exciting area of discovery and technological innovation. It is one of only a handful of facilities in the world where scientists can study the properties of nanoscale particles, fabricate and test nanodevices, and integrate novel nanomaterials and devices with biological research. In this 2,200-square-foot facility, jointly funded by the Georgia Research Alliance and the University of Georgia Research Foundation, special filters, fans, and pumps keep the room’s environment 1,000 to 10,000 times cleaner than the average room or office, thus ensuring that dust and other particles will not compromise research projects. “Our clean room has been especially designed to integrate biotechnology and nanotechnology,” said Yiping Zhao, director of NanoSEC. “It puts the university on the map as a center for nanotechnology development, and it builds on UGA’s strengths in the biological, biomedical, and agricultural sciences.” Spring 2010
PHOTOS BY PETER FREY/UGA
PHOTO BY RICHARD HAMM/ATHENS BANNER HERALD
Why Nano? Small is beautiful—or at least highly desirable—in technology because it can have distinct advantages. The term nano, Greek for “dwarf,” refers to the scale of one billionth of a meter. But size doesn’t fully characterize nanoscale objects. Beyond being ultrasmall, these materials also behave in unexpected ways, taking on novel properties quite different from their bulk manifestations. At nanoscale, electrical conductivity and mechanical strength shift dramatically as atoms reflect the exotic world of quantum mechanics. Normally opaque substances such as copper become transparent, stable materials (aluminum, for example) are combustible, and solids like gold turn different colors, such as red or blue. And the smaller the nanoparticle, the larger is its relative surface area-to-volume ratio. These properties, and others, could have a wide range of useful applications. Thus, collaborations between nanoscience researchers aim to provide new products and techniques in diverse areas, including medicine, energy, communications, consumer goods, and agriculture. Some of the near- and medium-term advances are expected to be in the semiconductor and renewable-energy areas—higher-density flash memories, faster computer chips, longer-lasting batteries, cheaper and more reliable solar cells and fuel cells. Nanoscience also promises big advances in medicine, with new types of sensors, especially for
medical diagnostics and bioimaging, and with novel new devices to improve vaccine and drug delivery. Nanotechnology is also expected to enhance the performance and efficiency of existing products, such as paints and protective coatings, and to shrink the size and weight of components in automobiles, airplanes, trains, and other fuel-using devices. Given the complexity of such applications, nanotechnology is by necessity an interdisciplinary enterprise. NanoSEC already includes dozens of faculty working on research projects across 14 departments and disciplines. Researchers in the center also collaborate with colleagues at Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Savannah River National Laboratory. The following sections highlight NanoSEC researchers’ work in several distinct areas:
Biosensing and Diagnostics
One of the Center’s most productive areas of nanotech research—biosensing and diagnostics—involves engineers, cell biologists, physicists, and geneticists, among others, in the creation of methods and devices that improve upon current diagnostic tests. For example, Richard Dluhy (chemist), Ralph Tripp (infectious diseases), and Yiping Zhao (physics) are developing a technique
for identifying specific pathogens or chemical signatures. Their sensor platform enhances the sensitivity of such tests, which provide two major benefits: higher specificity and smaller sample sizes. Duncan Krause (infectious diseases) and Yao-Wen Huang (food science) are also collaborating on the project. Bingqian Xu (a biologist and agricultural engineer), GeertJan Boons (from UGA’s Complex Carbohydrate Research Center), and Bassoon Park (a researcher at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Russell Research Laboratory in Athens) are working together on a sensor platform to detect toxins. To get information at the atomic level, the scientists have modified an atomic-force microscope tip by attaching a probe that recognizes specific toxins, in this case ricin. The platform should be able to quickly identify toxins in water or food to find the culprit in illness outbreaks. Jason Locklin (chemistry and engineering) and Eric Lafontaine (infectious diseases) are developing a new diagnostic tool to rapidly screen adhesion-binding proteins on a cell surface. Once the researchers learn how and where the proteins attach, they can work to find ways that prevent or disrupt the attachment—and any associated infection. Zhengwei Pan, who has joint appointments in physics and engineering, is developing new fluorescent nanomaterials for advanced in-vivo diagnostic tools.
Physicist Yiping Zhao (facing page, lower left) is director of UGA’s Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NanoSEC); Ralph Tripp (facing page, upper left) is working on vaccine development and drug delivery devices; Zhengwei Pan, (facing page, upper right), is developing new fluorescent nanomaterials for advanced in-vivo diagnostic tools.
PHOTO BY ANDREW TUCKER/UGA
(Above): Justin Abell, a PhD candidate in biological and agricultural engineering, measures film thickness at the ellipometer; Sara Orski, a PhD candidate in chemistry looks at photoresist patterns under the optical microscope; while Wilson Smith, a PhD candidate in physics, measures photoresist thickness at the profilometer. (Below) Chemistry PhD candidates S. Kyle Sontag (left), and Nicholas Marshall (far right), with UGA nanotech researcher Jason Locklin (center).
PHOTO BY PETER FREY/UGA
Noninvasive techniques for studying disease processes and their underlying biomolecular interactions are more critical than ever in diagnosing those diseases and identifying appropriate drug targets in the body. Advanced nano imaging techniques could enable progress in this area. Physicist Qun Zhao is using magnetic nanoparticles to improve the contrast in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). The technique produces sharp high-resolution images that could allow doctors to pinpoint the locations and sizes of tumors. Engineer Mark Haidekker is developing laser optics that rapidly scan large areas of tissue or collagen scaffolding with microscopic resolution. Peter Kner, also in engineering, is developing super-resolution fluorescence microscopes that use electronics to push the limits of resolution and sensitivity. And Zhengwei Pan, cited above, is exploring bioimaging as another application of his new fluorescent nanomaterials.
William Kisaalita (biological and agricultural engineering), and Yiping Zhao (physics) are fabricating new porous nanostructures that support three-dimensional cell growth and differentiation. They are collaborating with Steve Stice (of UGA’s Regenerative BioScience Center) to grow or reconstruct organs from stem cells. Jason Locklin (chemistry and engineering), is collaborating with infectious-disease researchers Ralph Tripp and Mark Tompkins to develop nanocoatings that kill viruses on contact. Locklin is also working with Ian Hardin (textiles) to develop polymers that can attach to any fiber or textile surface to destroy bacteria and fungi.
The Nano Vision
The potential of atomic engineering was first proposed by Richard Feynman, the renowned Caltech physicist, in a 1959 lecture titled “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom.” In it he described a future in which humans would manipulate individual molecules and atoms by using a set of tiny and precise tools. At the talk’s conclusion, Feynman announced two scientific challenges— with prizes—for the researchers who’d realize them. To his surprise, the first challenge—construction of a nanomotor— was achieved quickly, by November 1960. The second—to scale down letters small enough so that the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica could fit on the head of a pin—took until 1985. Engineer K. Eric Drexler popularized nanotechnology in the 1980s, writing and speaking widely about constructing molecular machines smaller than a single cell. In his book Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology, published in 1986,
he wrote of designing a nanoscale assembler that, once built, could then build copies of itself. Mindful of undesirable side effects, Drexler also coined the phrase “grey goo” to describe what might happen if such nanomachines replicated out of control, creating great rippling rivers of tiny machines moving across the landscape. Scientists working in nanotechnology say that the grey-goo scenario isn’t possible, that it’s rather the stuff of science fiction. Still, government and industry experts in Great Britain, the United States, and continental Europe are already monitoring nanotechnological advances for negative impacts. In 2007, DuPont and the Environmental Defense Fund (a leading American environmental group) together published voluntary guidelines for evaluating the safety and risks of nanotechnology products. Meanwhile, the field has been advancing. New developments have come so quickly that today more than a thousand new nanotech products are on the market. But continued progress in nanotechnology will depend heavily on discoveries in nanoscience. “One of our major challenges is just to understand the basic biological principles and how to apply them appropriately,” said UGA researcher Locklin. “We’ve made enormous strides in the past three years, but right now the basic science is critical to our success in developing the technology.” David Lee, UGA vice president for research, agrees, and he points out that researchers in the field have an added incentive. “Nanoscience opens up all kinds of possibilities, both for science and for society,” Lee said. “And it also presents scientists with questions about the fundamental nature of matter, which in itself is exciting.” (Helen Fosgate is editor of ugaresearch).
For more about nanoscience and nanotechnology: www.nano.uga.edu (UGA’s Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center) www.nano.gov (National Nanotechnology Initiative) www.foresight.org (The Foresight Institute) nano.gatech.edu/about (Regional Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at Georgia Tech)
PHOTO BY DOT PAUL/UGA
1998-2000 Case Western Reserve University, Postdoctoral Fellow 1993-1997 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ph.D 1992-93 University of Wisconsin â€“ Madison 1989-91 San Diego State University, M.A. 1984-88 University of California â€“ Berkeley, B.A. Psychology
Hometown: Laguna Beach, CA
Work history: 2009-present 2005-present 2000-2005 1998-2000 1998
Professor and head, UGA Dept of Psychology, University of Georgia Associate Professor, UGA Assistant Professor, UGA Instructor/Postdoctoral Fellow,Case Western Reserve University Visiting Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Research areas: Narcissism, self-esteem Research funding (major sources): Institute for Research on Gambling Disorders Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre Research Level III Research Award Courses taught: Advanced Social Psychology, Romantic Relationhsips 22
W. Keith Campbell, head of the department of psychology and professor in its social psychology program, talks with ugaresearch editor Helen Fosgate about his groundbreaking research on narcissism, an ultimately self-defeating personality trait that also has important social implications.
Q: What behaviors characterize a narcissist? A: Narcissists’ behaviors are based on an
inflated ego, a sense of personal entitlement, and a lack of empathy for others. These behaviors may include bragging, namedropping, admiration-seeking, marrying a “trophy spouse,” materialism, and taking credit for successes but blaming others when things go wrong. They might also include some very negative actions, such as lying, cheating, defensiveness, controlling behavior, and in extreme cases even criminal behavior— embezzlement, for example, or even worse. Challenging a narcissist’s sense of selfimportance can elicit aggression or violence. It’s difficult not to be taken in by narcissists, at least initially, because they often have a charming and charismatic veneer. Narcissists are skilled at starting romantic relationships, and they often emerge in positions of power and leadership. It can sometimes take a while to put all the pieces together, but there’s inevitably the “Aha!” moment when you realize that you’re dealing with a person who is shallow, self-centered, and unapologetic.
Q: What are the consequences of narcissism? A: Narcissists rarely realize or acknowledge
the damage they do. Their behavior usually hurts others more than themselves, often those closest to them. Imagine having a disease that doesn’t affect you that much—and might even make you feel good—but causes those around you to suffer. This is especially the case if the narcissist is in a position of power. Narcissists aren’t team players, have few close friends, and more often than not leave a wake of failed relationships in their past. In most cases, the narcissist blames such failures on others.
Q: Are narcissists born or made? A: The causes of narcissism are hotly
debated. There is likely a significant genetic component but also some roots in parenting— either overindulgent parents or cold and
negligent parents. And there is a significant cultural component, with cultures like ours encouraging and rewarding narcissism. Narcissistic behavior begins in childhood, certainly by adolescence, but the clinical form, called narcissistic personality disorder, is best diagnosed in adults. Most people grow out of these selfish behavior patterns as they mature, but narcissists rarely do.
Q: Has narcissism gotten worse in our society? A: Yes, and for several reasons. First, there
has been a shift, both in parenting and in our educational system, consistent with the “self-esteem movement.” We as a culture concluded that raising self-esteem would lead to many positive social outcomes, and we decided to pursue that goal by emphasizing praise, downplaying failure, and expanding the opportunities for choice and self-expression. For example, we make the handing out of awards and trophies a priority with children, despite sometimesmediocre performance in the classroom or on the athletic field. We also teach children that they’re special, but as they grow up we never tell them that we might have been exaggerating. And we’re less focused today on obedience. Second, we increasingly live in a culture where celebrity has been “democratized” and seemingly open to everyone. We’ve embraced Botox, plastic surgery—and reality shows. Third, there has been an explosion of social media. For example, networks like Facebook and MySpace allow people who are narcissistic to connect with others and present inflated images of themselves. Finally, the huge amounts of financial credit that washed over society for the past several decades allowed people to pretend to be something they were not—by, say, living in impressive houses and buying things they couldn’t afford. This credit bubble’s recent bursting has been a tragedy for large segments of society. But ironically, those who were the most responsible for the economic downturn—many of them narcissists singlemindedly doing their thing—have often suffered the least.
Q: Do certain occupations attract narcissists? A: Probably, because most narcissists seek
recognition and some professions provide it in abundance. Athletics and politics, for example, no doubt have their share of narcissists. And while many of these people are high-achieving, narcissists believe their own achievements should translate into greater entitlements. Actually, this extreme sense of entitlement that goes with narcissism often leads to individuals’ failure in the long run. They bully their staffs or teammates, thus losing their support and loyalty; or they have multiple romantic affairs that, when revealed, destroy their reputations and the public’s trust.
Q: What’s the best way to deal with a narcissist? A: Leave, if you can. If you can’t get away,
keep careful records of events so that the narcissist can’t blame you when things go wrong. If you’re married, you may have children or financial entanglements that make leaving more difficult. And people married to narcissists are often made to feel inferior, so they’re afraid to leave. If you’re in such a situation, a practical way of dealing with the narcissist is to play their game—butter them up and treat them as being special, as they believe they are—at least until you can leave. Drawing clear boundaries—and putting some distance between the two of you—may allow you to have a long-term relationship with a narcissist, but even if the relationship lasts there are likely to be high costs. Our research has shown that narcissists’ need for power and autonomy often leads them to shun intimacy and commitment—and to cheat. Romantic relationships are seen as another way to pump up their self-image—which is why they look for partners with good looks or high social status. But typically, narcissists’ relationships don’t last. Often it’s no big deal to them; narcissists simply move on to find someone else who can meet their needs. For more information contact W. Keith Campbell at: firstname.lastname@example.org
A Faith in
PHOTO BY DOT PAUL/UGA
In her research and subsequent book about the world’s largest corporation, UGA historian Bethany Moreton (above) reveals the essentially religious basis of its employees’ devotion and the company’s success.
By Sam Fahmy
ike many places across America, the town square of Oxford, Mississippi, was once the community’s hub, a place where you’d run into your neighbors while dropping by the courthouse or frequenting local shops such as the hardware store or mom-and-pop grocery. In the summer of 2002, Bethany Moreton came back to her childhood home just off the square to spend time with her family while on a break from Yale, where she was pursuing her doctorate in history. On a routine day spent running errands with her father, the enormity of the changes in her hometown hit her like the Mississippi heat. “We had a list of things that we needed to buy, and every single item on it—from groceries to fabric to tools—you could have bought downtown when I was growing up,” says Moreton, now an assistant professor of history at the University of Georgia. “But as we were mapping out our day it was obvious that there was only one place we were going to—the Walmart at the edge of town.” On the way back from the sprawling supercenter, whose basic design and floor plan is currently replicated in more than 4,000 stores nationwide, her father made a quiet suggestion that ultimately led her on an extended fact-finding mission across the United States, to Central America, and in the heart of Walmart country. “He said, ‘It’s too bad you can’t write your dissertation about Walmart,’” she recalls. Moreton wound up doing just that, and the dissertation eventually became her book To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise (Harvard University Press, 2009). Described by the New York Times as “a gracefully written and meticulously researched account,” it explores a side of the retail giant that until now has been largely overlooked.
Walmart Country Moreton’s first instinct was to reject her father’s idea. Walmart was too new to be considered history, she remembers thinking. And besides, its story had been told many times over with a similar narrative: Large corporation moves into town, drives local stores out of business, pays low wages, and provides scant health insurance to its employees. But she delved a little deeper and observed that Walmart’s growth, which ultimately made it the world’s largest corporation, marked a change from the industrial economy of the early 20th century to today’s service economy. The story of Walmart, which began in 1962 when founder Sam Walton opened his first discount store in Rogers, Arkansas, is also the story of shifting political influence from the industrialized North to the so-called Sunbelt region that stretches from California to South Carolina. Moreton argues that even if you’ve never set foot in a Walmart—unlikely, considering that 90 percent of the U.S. population lives within 20 miles of one—the global consequences of the company’s wildly successful business model affects your life, influencing everything from pop culture to international politics. If Walmart were a country, Moreton notes, it would be China’s sixth largest export market. Its economy would rank 30th in the world, putting it just behind Saudi Arabia. “We all live in Walmart country now,” Moreton says, “and part of what I wanted to do was to tell that story from the perspective of the people who created that shift.” Moreton spent five years researching her book, and she even moved to Arkansas so that she could immerse herself in the region’s culture. In addition to interviewing former and current employees, Spring 2010
ture. It tied itself to the family-values movement of the 1990s by refusing to stock music by artists such as Snoop Doggy Dog (some of whose songs contain racially or sexually explicit lyrics) and by forcing musicians to remove potentially objectionable images from their album covers as a precondition of sale. But Moreton argues that perhaps the most innovative way that Walmart has woven Christianity into its corporate culture is by linking the faith to an ethos of humble service to others as a path to success. The service of workers—who might otherwise feel demoralized by low wages or a lack of benefits—was elevated to something praiseworthy, like Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. The emotional boost that employees receive from Walmart’s culture doesn’t help them pay their bills, Moreton says, but it does help explain the fierce loyalty that many of them feel toward the company. “Psychic victories do matter,” she says.
Meeting the Press
Moreton’s book received the 2010 Frederick Jackson Turner Award presented each spring by the Organization of American Historians “for an author’s first book that deals with a significant phase of American history.”
she attended their churches, talked to their pastors, and met with foundations and colleges that have been beneficiaries of Walmart’s philanthropy. She even learned Spanish and traveled to Central America to interview people who had received Walton Family Foundation scholarships, which helped expand the company’s influence in the region.
An Ethos of Humble Service Talking to Moreton, you get a sense that she sees connections—like the link between evangelical Christianity and Walmart—that most other people would miss. The company is not overtly Christian, she points out, and it walks a fine line between maintaining its connection to evangelical Protestantism and not alienating shoppers of other faiths. As one executive said at a prayer breakfast, while Walmart is not a Christian company, “the basis of our decisions was the values of Scripture.” Moreton notes that by stocking Christian books, CDs, and devotional items in its stores, the company capitalized on and expanded the 1980s resurgence of Christianity in popular cul26
To Serve God and Wal-Mart has been reviewed in several newspapers, including the New York Times, and Moreton was featured on C-SPAN’s Book TV and interviewed by Christian and secular media outlets. Her dissertation has won five awards, and she has been honored with the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities’ Emerging Scholar’s Prize, one of the most prestigious in the humanities, and with the Organization of American Historians’ Frederick Jackson Turner award, which is the largest first-book prize for an American historian. Writing a book that had value to readers from a variety of backgrounds and political persuasions was important to her, Moreton says, but so was fairly representing the individuals who shared their stories. “It meant the world to me that I heard from people—even in one case from someone who is in the book—that they thought it was a fair-minded book and were interested in continuing the conversation.” Moreton emphatically does not believe in the low-wage, low-cost economic model that Walmart is built on, but she does say that she has found a lot to respect about the company. She has assigned the royalties from her book to Interfaith Worker Justice, a Chicago-based nonprofit that pulls people of faith together to advocate for better wages, benefits, and working conditions for low-wage workers. “They’re aligned with my values about work and economic concepts,” Moreton says of the group, “but they are religiously informed— and that’s something that I think people in the book would find acceptable.” For more information contact Bethany Moreton at: email@example.com
(Sam Fahmy is a science writer in UGA’s Office of Public Affairs).
Walmart by the Numbers • Walmart employs more than 2 million people worldwide, including some 1.4 million in the United States. Walmart is one of the largest private employers in the United States and Canada—and the largest in Mexico. • Walmart is the world’s largest corporation, with $405 billion in sales last year alone. • Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., operates more than 4,300 stores in the United States, including Walmart supercenters, discount stores, Neighborhood Markets, and Sam’s Club warehouses. • Internationally, Walmart operates 4,100 additional facilities in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, and the United Kingdom. • In the United States, Walmart has received more than $1 billion in subsidies, such as free or reduced-price land, infrastructure assistance, and property- and income-tax breaks. The company has obtained at least $19.5 million in such subsidies in Georgia alone. • In 2008, the average full-time Walmart associate (34 hours per week) earned $10.84 hourly for an annual income of $19,165, which is $2,000 below the federal poverty line for a family of four. • A 2004 estimate by the U.S. House Committee on Education and Workforce found that Walmart’s low wages cost taxpayers up to $2.5 billion a year in the form of federal public-assistance programs.
Sources: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Goodjobsfirst. org, and WakeupWalmart.com
Preventing Water Wars Nations around the world can best avoid conflict, and promote prosperity, through agreements that create formal water-management institutions.
B y J oy R. H olloway
s the global population continues to swell, and along with it development, pollution, and climate change, there is heightened demand on the Earthâ€™s freshwater sources and greater potential for conflict. The recent drought in the Southeast, and the subsequent legal skirmishes between Georgia, Alabama, and Florida over the waters of the Chattahoochee River, make for a vivid local example. Access to freshwater supplies is a challenge around the world, especially when rivers traverse national boundaries. Thus the concept of national security has been expanded to include environmental security, as water shortages can cause drought,
starvation, and mass migrationsâ€”conditions that result in international conflict and sometimes even lead to war. Determining how to prevent or ease conflict between nations that share sources of freshwater is the goal of a University of Georgia research project now being funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and Department of Defense. The two-year project, jointly led by Professors Jaroslav Tir and Douglas Stinnett of the UGA School of Public and International Affairs, focuses on the role of international institutions and the efficacy of treaties in regulating multi-country river use.
The Euphrates River along the Iraq/Syria border.
The Need for Agreements Freshwater, a renewable but not-infinite resource, makes up just 3 percent of the Earth’s water supply, but in humanity’s recent history the demand for water has been growing exponentially. It was not until 1880 that the world’s population reached 1 billion; the second billion was added by 1930, and in January 2010 the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the current global population at 6.8 billion. As a result, rivers that have flowed freely for thousands of years are being reduced to a trickle—and disputes among the countries that share them are on the rise. “The problem is most apparent at this time in the Middle East,” said Tir. For example, “Iraq has issued threats over Syria’s and Turkey’s retention and diversion of water from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.” He notes that because of rapidly falling levels of the Euphrates, nearly two million people in the Iraqi city of Nasiriyah may soon lack adequate supplies of electricity or drinking water. “Water scarcity exacts a terrible toll on human welfare, and in addition huge demands are placed on governments,” said Stinnett. “For those in the developing world already grappling with a strained economic and social infrastructure,
PHOTO BY PAUL EFLAND/UGA
these stresses may result in failed nations. The stakes in developing more effective management of international rivers, and in promoting cooperation between nations that depend on and share such rivers, are therefore high.” In the western part of the United States, disputes between states that share rivers are often prevented through voluntary agreements known as interstate water compacts, which do not currently exist in the Southeast. The parallel term for international water compacts is treaties. Tir and Stinnett note that while some similarities exist, there is a critical difference between water disputes involving U.S. states and those pertaining to water-stressed countries. States within U.S. borders are subject to the authority of American institutions. Whereas “the disagreement involving Georgia, Florida, and Alabama is currently being adjudicated in federal court,” said Stinnett, “when disputes emerge between independent countries, the potential consequences are far more severe.” Because countries, he explains, are sovereign actors that can pursue their vital interests by any means necessary, including armed conflict, the need for cooperative agreements is especially critical.
Formal Institutions Pay Off In their project, Tir and Stinnett analyze the characteristics of more than 300 such agreements and they track the behavior of the signatory countries after each treaty has gone into effect. Based on results so far, the researchers have found that while the effectiveness of such treaties varies considerably, the ones most likely to prevent disputes and promote conflict resolution are those that establish formal institutions to manage agreements and govern rivers. There is “a very strong connection between the degree to which these agreements are institutionalized and their ability to resolve disputes before they escalate,” said Stinnett. Specifically, treaties that include provisions for joint monitoring, enforcement, or the delegation of authority to intergovernmental organizations, are better equipped to handle emerging conflicts and resolve disputes before they escalate. In addition, Tir and Stinnett have found, these treaties build a foundation for future cooperation in other areas. And there is one other benefit, not inconsequential in these times of global economic recession. “Importantly, our findings suggest that the costs involved in developing such treaties produce tangible payoffs,” Tir said. For example, in the late 1950s Egypt and Sudan were engaged in hostilities over Egypt’s plan to construct the Aswan High Dam on the Nile River, a project that threatened to displace a great many Sudanese people. In an effort to resolve the dispute, the two
countries signed the Nile Waters Agreement of 1959, which allocated water between the two countries and compensated displaced populations in the Sudan. Relations between the two countries, and their citizens’ welfare, improved considerably as a result. This success has not gone unnoticed in the region. In the past decade, relations between many other countries that share the Nile River Basin have also been improving, due in large part to the efforts of the Nile Basin Initiative, an organization of nine countries that manages the river’s development and use. By coordinating technical activities, the initiative has had the effect of improving the overall political relations between the members. The lesson for policymakers is clear, according to Tir and Stinnett. Their research finds significant evidence that working toward more institutionalized treaties, whether it involves building on those already in existence or creating new ones, is critical to the equitable sharing of a scarce resource. Such agreements are critical steps in avoiding future water-related conflicts, peacefully resolving conflicts that do arise, and promoting cooperation—and positive returns—among participating nations. For more information contact Jarsolav Tir at: Tir@uga.edu or Douglas Stinnett at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Joy R. Holloway is director of public relations in UGA’s School of Public and International Affairs).
Douglas Stinnett (facing page, far left) and Jaroslav Tir, researchers in UGA’s School of Public and International Affairs, study the role of international institutions and treaties in regulating river use by multiple countries. An old woman (right) inspects the desolate ground beneath a drought-ravaged Euphrates River.
Mentoring: A Good Thing (Except When It Isn’t) By Lillian T. Eby A mentoring relationship, often touted as a godsend for young professionals, can sometimes backfire. As in forming other close relationships, protégés should choose wisely.
mentor, it is said, can be your ticket to the big leagues, put you on the fast track to success, and help make your career. There is some truth to this conventional wisdom, which often is highly appealing to ambitious young adults, especially those fresh out of college. After all, mentors can create developmental opportunities for their protégés, introduce them to the organization’s power brokers, help them navigate its political landscape, and provide them with sage counsel. So what’s not to love? Well, even though a mentor can help in all these ways, mentoring is not always a positive thing. Sometimes the process goes awry. And sometimes protégés—and mentors, too, learn the hard way that mentoring isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Just like other close relationships—such as with friends, romantic partners, and families— mentoring experiences can run the gamut from helpful and fulfilling to manipulative and destructive. And although any single relationship (of any kind) is likely to be marked by ups and downs, by good times and bad, a fundamentally negative mentoring relationship can be quite destructive. Consistent with research in other areas of psychology, bad experiences in a mentoring relationship carry greater weight than comparable
PHOTO BY BETH NEWMAN/UGA
good ones in terms of their impacts on protégés. Those who have more bad experiences than good are less likely to reap the career-enhancing benefits of mentoring, more likely to report jobrelated strain, less likely to be satisfied at work, and more likely to quit their jobs. So what can go wrong in a mentoring relationship? Three fundamental things:
Oil and water
A hallmark of a positive relationship is compatibility, most often with respect to personalities, work styles, and values. Similarities between the mentor and protégé help to establish trust, rapport, and emotional intimacy, all of which are key ingredients of a healthy relationship. Not all mentors and protégés are compatible, however. The mentor may be hard-driving and demanding, while the protégé may be mild-mannered and not very self-assured. Or a mentor may be introverted and quiet while the protégé is loud and boisterous. Fundamental differences in values, such as the relative importance of career versus family, can also create strain in the relationship. A word to the wise is that the more similar you are to your mentor in terms of personality, work style, and values, the more you are likely to get out of the relationship.
For the relationship to work, both parties need to be fully engaged and committed. But this is not always the case, particularly for mentors who feel coerced into service. Mentoring others is typically not a job requirement and mentors often have full plates themselves, so carving out quality time to spend with protégés can be a challenge; it’s easy to forget a protégé when you are fighting other fires at work. But being neglected by a mentor is disappointing and can also damage a protégé’s ego and even erode his or her sense of professional confidence. Advice: If you are looking for a mentor, give some thought to the individual’s reputation and track record in developing junior employees. Many high-level managers got where they are by investing in themselves, not others. Seeking out a mentor who just has good connections may lead to minimal return on investment.
There are situations in which mentors can turn into tormentors. The most common experience in this regard involves mentors who are power-mongers—those who enter into mentoring relationships to wield authority over others, get protégés to do their grunt work, or steal protégés’ ideas and then take credit for their efforts. Other mentors are just plain mean and nasty; they belittle their protégés, scream and yell, and manage by intimidation. While such experiences are relatively uncommon, they do occur and needless to say can be psychologically damaging to the protégés involved. Moreover, it may be particularly hard to get out of a relationship with this type of mentor because of the fear of retaliation. Often, protégés just stick with it; or, if it becomes unbearable, they leave the organization altogether. The way to avoid such outcomes is through due diligence—that is, by systematically asking around prior to forming the relationship. Others in the organization can quickly tell you about a potential mentor’s interpersonal skills and management style. If the consensus is that he or she is overbearing and intimidating, steer clear. The bottom line? Enter cautiously into mentoring relationships. A little dose of skepticism and some careful reflection beforehand can go a long way. And keep in mind that while mentoring relationships can be important career-enhancing experiences, this is not always the case—even for a fundamentally good relationship. It is important to have realistic expectations about what a mentor can and cannot do for you.
Lillian T. Eby Education: BA, Western Michigan University (1986), MA, University of North Carolina at Charlotte (1992), Ph.D. University of Tennessee (1996) Work History: UGA (1996-present), Periodic consulting with various government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private companies (e.g., Georgia Department of Transportation, BellSouth, American Cancer Society, Carl Vinson Institute for Government) Research Interests: Organizational careers, interpersonal relationships at work, occupational health psychology Research Funding: Three on-going multi-year, multi-million dollar research grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a division of the National Institutes of Health Courses Taught: Undergraduate-Introductory Psychology; Graduate-Introduction to Industrial Psychology, Advanced Industrial Psychology; Terry College of Business EMBA program-Skills and Perspectives for Effective Leadership Distinctions: Fellow, American Psychological Association Fellow, Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Fellow, Institute for Behavioral Research, UGA Creative Research Medal, UGA Mentoring Legacy Award, Academy of Management Two-time winner of Graduate Teaching Award for Teaching Excellence, Department of Psychology, UGA
Contact Lillian T. Eby at: email@example.com Spring 2009
Office of the Vice President for Research Research Communications 708 Boyd Graduate Research Center Athens, Georgia 30602-7411
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behind the scenes UGA researchers find rare whale fossil off Georgia coast PHOTO COURTESY OF JIM DEMMERS, GEORGIA TECH RESEARCH INSTITUTE
UGA researchers diving off the Georgia coast recently dicovered a piece of a five-foot-long jawbone of an extinct whale species. The bone dates back 36,000 years to a time when gray whales were numerous on both coasts of the U.S. and Europe. Today the Atlantic gray whale is long gone, but its cousin, the right whale, still lives off the Eastern seaboard. The discovery, which is the oldest found fossil of the gray whale, happened by accident when Scott Noakes, an assistant research scientist in UGA’s Center for Applied Isotopes Studies, and Erv Garrison, professor in the department of anthropology, noticed the piece of bone jutting out of a reef a few miles from Sapelo Island. The specimen is so rare that the crew didn’t know what they’d found until a mammal curator at the Smithsonian Institution came across pictures of it posted on the Internet. Gray whales haven’t been seen along the East coast since the 1700s. For more information contact Scott Noakes at: firstname.lastname@example.org
— Matt Weeks
The whale bone (above) as found on the ocean floor, and after removal and cleaning (left).
A publication of OVPR at The University of Georgia