The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is an international professional organization founded in 1848 that published the journal Science, which has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world (approximatelt 1 million). AAAS also has two new members from the UGA:
Compelling new findings out of the department of psychology Bioimaging Research Center:
According to recently published research from the University of Georgia's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of psychology, scientists may be one step closer to a better biomarker for earlier detection of mild cognitive impairment, the leading predictor of dementia and Alzheimer's disease in older adults.
Psychology professor and Bio-Imaging Research Center director Stephen Miller, along with former graduate student Carlos Faraco, used fMRI brain scans-scans that give researchers not only a visual picture of the structure of the brain but also information about blood flow within the brain-to test the working memory of adults with normal healthy adult brains against those showing signs of mild cognitive impairment. The research was recently published in the journal Neuropsychologia.
While researchers have looked at stored memory in terms of mild cognitive impairment and dementia research, working memory is a relatively new area of research in the fMRI research realm.
Initial results from the study show hyperactivity in the lateral temporal lobes, the area of the brain associated with working memory. Hyperactivity here means that the brain is exerting more energy to complete a task, which may be a biomarker for developing dementia.
"Broadly, we're interested in finding more ways to identify people at risk for developing dementia," said Miller. "So, one of the ways that's been developed over the last few years is identifying a group of individuals who seem to be at higher risk for developing dementia based on early, relatively subtle signs of cognitive difficulties."
As technology allows, and we're seeing this more and more, research scientists are better able to zero in on how diseases and impairments in the human body function and thereby develop better treatments. As intiutitive as this evolution may sound, its reality still hinges on determined researchers like Miller who can follow instinctive leads and make the most of technological innovations. This is the blend of learning and research environments at its finest, working to improve human health.
When the Hercules 252 rig blew out and began spewing gas, condensate and other hydrocarbons into the Gulf of Mexico on July 23rd earlier this year, UGA marine scientist Samantha Joye and colleagues from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative quickly assembled a team and plan to assess the potential impacts of the accident. Graduate students involved with the project found themselves with the rare opportunity to participate in 'rapid response' science:
Five students – Joy Battles (ECOGIG), Nathan Laxague (CARTHE), Conor Smith (CARTHE), Tiffany Warner (CWC), and Sarah Weber (ECOGIG) – suddenly found themselves at the heart of this important mission, and not as sideline players. Their educational and research background and their personal fortitude were put to the test, working as a full-fledged response team to plan and execute this “herculean” data-gathering operation.
The coordinator of this response effort was University of Georgia biogeochemist and microbial ecologist Dr. Samantha Joye, science lead for the Ecosystem Impacts of Oil & Gas Inputs to the Gulf (ECOGIG) consortium. She said that at-sea experience, learning how to plan and stage cruises, is a requirement for oceanography students. However, this was no ordinary field work. “Planning and executing a rapid response cruise is a different animal as time is of the essence and there is no margin for error,” Joye explained, adding, “They were all faced with an incredible challenge yet they achieved remarkable success. I could not be more proud of them.”
[UGA graduate and current marine science graduate student] Battles and Weber together served as co-chief scientists for a portion of the cruise, guiding the water column and sediment sampling around the blowout site as well as collecting samples for later analyses of methane levels and biological activity related to carbon and nitrogen cycling. Weber explained, “We had to coordinate and execute a strategic sampling plan given the evolving circumstances of the blowout and the capabilities of our scientific gear and personnel.” Though Weber had done similar work, she said, “previous to this cruise…the responsibility had never fallen on my shoulders.”
"As long as humans endeavor to extract oil and gas resources from the Gulf’s seabed, it is important for scientists to study the consequences of such accidental releases.” – Joy Battles, University of Georgia and ECOGIG
Battles continued speaking about the impact on the Gulf’s fragile ecosystems, “It’s easy to overlook the effects of a natural gas leak because gas is invisible to the eye, but methane is an important contributor to global warming and it plays an important role in oceanic food webs.”
Fantastic experience for these students as well as an important update on the situation from Dr. Joye. Read more about this developing situation and the positive impact the consortim of universities involved in research in the Gulf of Mexico are having on this complex situation. Several of our societal goals (energy independence and protecting the environment among them) come into conflict in the Gulf. Staying informed on progress, and regress, in this important ecosystem can be difficult, especially after dramatic events fade from the headlines.
Image: Conor Smith is shown here in a time lapse photo of one CARTHE drifter being deployed from the R/V Acadiana near the site of the Hercules rig. (Photo courtesy of CARTHE)
The annual holiday tradition that is the Hugh Hodgson School of Music Holiday Concert continues to grow as the event moves to the Classic Center this Dec. 3:
The concert brings together nearly 300 student singers and instrumentalists from the UGA Symphony Orchestra, Bulldog Brass Society and choral ensembles. Led by Hugh Hodgson School of Music professors Daniel Bara and Mark Cedel, the performance will feature a variety of seasonal selections.
"Given the size and popularity of this event, we felt it would be appropriate to bring the Holiday Concert to a larger venue in the heart of downtown Athens," said Dale Monson, director of the Hodgson School. "The uplifting and joyful music of this special time of year inspires the goodwill felt throughout the community each season."
Tickets for the program, part of the Hugh Hodgson School of Music's Second Thursday Scholarship Concert Series, are $25 for the general public and $5 for students. For tickets, call 706-542-4400 or see www.uga.edu/pac.
There is nothing quite like hundreds of student voices (and instruments) celebrating the holiday classics in song. Bara and Cedel do a masterful job guiding these large ensembles through a very entertaining program that is at once uplifting and accessible. A fun way to begin the holiday season. Get your tickets, proceeds from which support the 2nd Thursday Scholarship program, today.
It is one of the lowest moments in United States history, a day that stands hallowed for all the wrong reasons, shrouded in mystery and unanswered questions in every direction. On the 50th anniversary of the assassination, the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection present a Peabody Decades Roundtable on Friday at 3 p.m. in the Russell Building Special Collections Library:
"50 Years Since the Kennedy Assassination." A screening of "JFK: A Time Remembered" followed by a panel discussion featuring Ashton Ellett, history, Trey Hood, political science, Janice Hume, journalism, and Donald Wilkes, law.
The program will pay tribute to President Kennedy and his legacy and examine the impact of his assassination then and now.
Ellett's research focuses on the political, diplomatic and social history of post-World War II and Cold War American society. Hood's research interests include southern politics and gun control policies. Hume studies the relationship between American journalism and collective memory; she is the author of "Journalism and a Culture of Grief." Wilkes has written more than 30 articles about the Kennedy assassination.
We have enough difficulty understanding the present, and as much as history also gives us problems, recent history can be more complex and murky. No doubt our country took a turn on Nov. 22, 1963. But towards where? Luckily there are films like this and media archives like the Brown and Peabody to help us think about that event and try to understand ourselves and our past a bit better. We need all the help we can get.
The UGA Griffin campus will hold a Criminal Justice information day, CJ Day @ UGA, this Friday Nov. 22 beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the Griffin Campus Student Learning Center:
Known as CJ Day @ UGA, the event will feature presenters from all areas of law enforcement, including a keynote address by Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens. Registration is free, but seating is limited.
The CJ Day @ UGA program is designed for those working in or interested in beginning a career in criminal justice, with a session on careers in criminal justice featuring a range of speakers from law enforcement, pardons and paroles, victim advocacy and corrections. Topics for the session on emerging issues in criminal justice include gender-specific mental health issues, juvenile offender management, re-entry services and prison privatization.
"Law enforcement and especially corrections are an important and expanding sector of our economy both locally here in Georgia as well as nationwide," said Perry Buffington, a lecturer in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of psychology on the UGA-Griffin campus. "We want to be a resource for individuals to learn about a wide variety of issues-and for what steps one can take to enter these careers."
The UGA Griffin campus is a jewel in Middle Georgia that provides a variety of classes and degree completion programs for students of all ages. CJ Day will be a terrific opportunity for that potential pool of students to learn about the many careers in criminal justice - and how to get qualified for one. Great job by our faculty in Griffin to make the campus and its programs a resource for the community.
For information on Franklin College academic programs at Griffin, see here.
Image: UGA Griffin banner by Cassandra Wright
In last week's Nature magazine, professor and Georgia Research Alliance Distinguished Investigator Boris Striepen makes the case for more research and funding to find a treatment for the protozoan parasite Cryptosporidium, one of four pathogens responsible for severe diarrhea in thousands of infants and toddlers in Asia and Africa:
Vaccines and treatments are already available or fast being developed for three of the four pathogens identified: rotavirus, Shigella bacteria and enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (see 'Child killer'). But for 'crypto', there is no fully effective drug treatment or vaccine, and the basic research tools and infrastructure needed to discover, evaluate and develop such interventions are mostly lacking.
The technical challenges of working on crypto in the laboratory have led to the perception that the pathogen is an intriguing yet intractable problem. Crypto lab cultures last a few days at most, for instance, and some of the species that infect humans cannot be easily studied in standard model organisms such as mice. As a result, funders and biologists have tended to shy away from the parasite.
In a UGA press release about the article, Striepen said progress on infectious diseases is based on strong research models, something sorely lacking for crypto.
"At the moment, one thing we suggest here that is really missing is technology for genetic analysis and manipulation that allows us to track it more efficiently or make weakened strains for vaccine development," he said.
Striepen's Comment article is a great example of scientists taking a moment outside the laboratory to educate their colleagues and the wider world about trends they see developing on the ground. This includes advice and advocacy for better, more effective allocation of resources to help more people around the world. Bravo, Dr. Striepen for adding your voice to the important research going on your lab and others at the university.
Image: From Nature magazine, In young children, the parasitic infection cryptosporidiosis is one of four leading causes of severe diarrhoea. ANDREW BIRAJ/REUTERS/CORBIS
Lindsay Pennington, a senior from Albany majoring in sculpture at the UGA Lamar Dodd School of Art, is challenging the way people think about waste. Her senior exit show, "The Salon from Refuse," features sculptures from discarded materials and converts a 40-yard dumpster into a gallery for visual and performance art. The exhibit opens Nov. 15 on America Recycles Day in the school of art with a reception from 7-9 p.m. and will close Nov. 24.
The exhibit is co-sponsored by the UGA Office of Sustainability and Facilities Management Division, both of which are working to change the way the UGA community thinks about—and manages—its waste.
Starting in September, the UGA Facilities Management Division installed 30 solar-powered mixed-recycling and landfill compactor stations at high-traffic locations on the Athens campus. In general, all paper, plastic, metal and glass items go in the recycling bin; food wrappers, food waste and Styrofoam items go in the trash. The project employs renewable solar power and advanced communications technologies to maximize collection efficiency by campus staff.
Because it is so easy to not think about the environment, our water (where it comes from) and our trash (where it goes), it is imperative to find creative ways to make people think about these issues. Kudos to the UGA Office of Sustainability for supporting this effort and leading many others on campus. But an art degree, and specifically one from the Franklin College, is becoming a nexus credential for creative thinking across many fields. If you are an entrepreneur of any sort and don't have a BFA or MFA, chances are that you will be looking for someone who does. More good news for the arts at UGA.
Image: Salon from Refuse exhibition. Thanks to professor Georgia Strange.
The momentum of the Spotlight on the Arts festival continues through the weekend (and beyond) with a film festival honoring former Athenian Jim McKay:
The Willson Center, in partnership with Whatever It Takes Athens, will present a four-day festival dedicated to the films, television work, and music videos of Jim McKay, a director, writer, and producer who lived and worked in Athens during the late 1980s and early 1990s. C-Hundred Film Corp., the production company that McKay formed with R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe during that time, remains an active partnership to this day.
McKay met R.E.M. when they opened for Gang of Four in New York City in June of 1981, then returned to his Boston College radio station, WZBC, in September with the 7″ “Radio Free Europe” single in-hand. He and the band stayed in touch and six years later, McKay moved to Athens at Stipe’s urging, with the promise of “plenty of good restaurant jobs” to be had. Sure enough, soon he was washing dishes at the Bluebird Cafe.
McKay was already at work on his first film/video project, a documentary called Lighthearted Nation. He and Stipe, who himself was diving into numerous film projects related to or independent of R.E.M., formed C-Hundred, which was housed at Prince Avenue and North Newton Street.
A great friend of the blog, McKay's film and television work has been stellar and we're looking forward to seeing these films in succession. The film frestival itself is a terrific example of town-gown collaboration - the Willson Center and Cine, teaming up to present a topflight program of screenings, related events and distinguished guests to honor one of the finest film directors working today. Great job, Willson Center, and welcome back to town to McKay. Director on the set!
Bayou Maharajah screening, Q&A sells out Ciné theatre
By Jessica Luton
Every seat in the house was filled at Cinè Monday night for the showing of Bayou Maharajah, a film directed by UGA alum Lily Keber and produced by UGA Grady telecommunications professor and Peabody Awards Associate Director Nate Kohn.
The event was co-sponsored by Willson Center for Humanities and Arts and the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at UGA, in conjunction with the more than 60 events scheduled with the Spotlight on the Arts Festival this month.
With every seat in the house filled and many turned away, the show of support speaks volumes about the strength of UGA arts and UGA arts alumni in Athens.
The film was made on a limited budget with the help of Kickstarter to get the final funding together for music licensing. As a UGA graduate, Keber reached out to Kohn for help.
The film centers on James Booker, a New Orleans piano legend who was known as quite the colorful character.
According to the film's website:
Bayou Maharajah explores the life and music of New Orleans piano legend James Booker, the man Dr. John described as “the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced.” A brilliant pianist, his eccentricities and showmanship belied a life of struggle, prejudice, and isolation. Illustrated with never-before-seen concert footage, rare personal photos and exclusive interviews, the film paints a portrait of this overlooked genius.
The film is witty and dark, humorous and sad—all at once a celebration of the complexity of James Booker, the city of New Orleans and the type of music that he ascribed to playing. The film serves as a true character study, told through not only the eccentric characteristics of his personality and life, but also through the euphonious music he created.
The use of James Bookers’ music, with a series of songs guiding the audience through his biographical profile, had the power to make the audience fall in love with his oft-forgotten music.
You can watch the trailer for the film here. And there were requests from many in the audience last night, and those who couldn’t get a ticket, for another screening at Ciné in the future. The filmmakers are currently trying to get the film into distribution.
The Willson Center for Humanities and Arts brings more film fun to the Athens community later this week with a four-day festival celebrating the works of Jim McKay. The festival begins with an opening reception and viewing of Tourfilm Friday evening. You can view all of the Jim McKay film festival events here.
And don’t forget to peruse the calendar of events for the Spotlight on the Arts Festival that continues through the end of the week. With so many arts events going on around town, surely there’s something that’ll spark your interest.