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Top stories of 2020

Alan Flurry

Prior to and throughout the pandemic and the switch to online instruction, work and life as we know it, news about Franklin College faculty and students garnered media attention near and far. In a non-scientific sampling, we look back at some of the year's most impactful stories, the sheer breadth of which define a great university in this or any year:

In January, a new UGA study a described a way to attack cancer cells that is potentially less harmful to the patient – with salt nanoparticles.

And funded by a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the Department and Leadership Teams for Action program, or DeLTA, announced plans to engage University of Georgia faculty across multiple departments to transform STEM education at institutions of higher education nationwide.

An interdisciplinary team from the Vinson Institute, the Franklin College and the School of Social work and co-led by sociology faculty member Sarah Shannon was awarded a grant by the Vera Institute of Justice to address increasing incarceration rates in rural communities and the impact of jailing people who are mentally ill or substance abusers.

In early February, new marine science research described the biological possibilities of successful actors in microbial communities and sets the stage for how half of all organic carbon in the oceans is processed.

New book delves into the science and history and meaning of menopause. ‘The Slow Moon Climbs' by Susan Mattern, Distinguished Research Professor of History, ponders the evolutionary benefit that renders women’s lives so valuable post-reproduction.

In March, UGA confirmed plans to continue to fulfill the university's teaching and research missions through the modernization and expansion of Science Hill.

The Willson Center announced a new program to support graduate students and community-based artists and practitioners. Shelter Projects, a micro-fellowship program to support in the creation of shareable reflections on the current pandemic through the arts and humanities.

In April, our colleague Kecia Thomas, senior associate dean and professor of psychology, was announced as the new dean of Arts and Sciences at UAB.

As the world began to grapple with COVID-19, the most recognizable image of the molecule became a visualization created by Dodd alumni Dan Higgins (BFA ’93) and Alissa Eckert (BFA ’04), medical illustrators with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.

On May 8, 7,324 UGA students, including 5,958 undergraduates, were celebrated via the University's virtual commencement – and thousands of creative individual and family ceremonies around the state and the nation.

The Department of Marine Sciences announced a new UGA undergraduate major, available to UGA students beginning in fall 2020, the bachelor of science in Ocean Science.

In June, the Russian and Portuguese language flagship program grants were renewed by the National Security Education Program.

Sunflowers in the desert: in July new UGA research, published July 8 in the journal Nature, explained how distinct forms of plants are established and endure, and provides new details about how species arise.

 Assistant professor psychology Isha Metzger and her EMPOWER team have received a multiyear, $1M SAMHSA grantto research community applications in HIV and substance misuse populations with a focus on trauma exposed ethnic minority groups.

An interdisciplinary team led by UGA archaeologist Victor Thompson, studying thousands of oyster shells along the Georgia coast, some as old as 4,500 years, has published new insights into how Native Americans sustained oyster harvests for thousands of years, observations that may lead to better management practices of oyster reefs today. 

August: To accelerate glycomaterials research in the U.S., the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced a $23 million. multi-university partnership that will bring together leading scientists and engineers from the University of GeorgiaVirginia TechBrandeis UniversityRensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to establish an NSF Materials Innovation Platform called GlycoMIP focused on “Automating the Synthesis of Rationally Designed Glycomaterials.”

We celebrated the 100th anniversary of August 18, 1920, when the United States ratified the #19thAmendment guaranteeing all American women the right to vote.

UGA Eidson Chair of American Literature LeAnne Howe coedited WHEN THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD WAS SUBDUED, OUR SONGS CAME THROUGH: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry, the first comprehensive collection of Native poetry.

September: Longitudinal research studies – information about individuals gathered over time – by the UGA Center for Family Research to help scientists understand the impacts of endemic phenomena of growing up in poverty and experiencing racial discrimination received a $10 million grant from the National Institutes of Health

After two last-minute delays, a Franklin College-student-led effort to design and build UGA’s first research satellite was launched into space on October 2.

Claudio Saunt’s book, Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory, was named a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Nonfiction.

UGA geologists developed several artificial soil mixtures, called simulants that mimic a variety of Martian surface materials.

November: UGA student Phaidra Buchanan joined recipients from 64 countries around the world as a 2021 Rhodes Scholar.

Image: The Antares rocket, carrying UGA’s first research satellite, launched at the Wallops Facility in Virginia. (Courtesy of NASA)

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