Scholars, policy experts and journalists from around the world will meet in Berlin this month to consider issues related to contemporary transnational Europe at the inaugural Berlin Seminar in Transnational European Studies, a new joint initiative by the University of Georgia and the University of Notre Dame:
The seminar is directed by Martin Kagel, A.G. Steer Professor of German and associate dean of the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences; William C. Donahue, the Rev. John C. Cavanaugh, C.S.C., Professor of the Humanities and chair of the department of German and Russian languages and literatures at Notre Dame; and Nicholas Allen, Franklin Professor of English and director of the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts at UGA.
“Our goal in creating the Berlin Seminar was to provide a professional development opportunity for UGA and Notre Dame faculty and graduate students centered around European studies,” Kagel said. “Our hope is that we can bring both the focus and energy of our discussions in Berlin and the ideas that emerge from the meeting back to campus to continue the conversation here and have the experience result in instructional innovation and new research projects.”
UGA participants include Ph.D. students and faculty from three different colleges and seven different departments.
In addition to six days of programs for registered participants, the seminar will include two public events: a conversation on “Transatlantic Relations in a Trumpian World” led by Cas Mudde, associate professor in UGA’s School of Public and International Affairs and a columnist for The Guardian, with Sudha David-Wilp, deputy director of the German Marshall Fund, and CNN European correspondent Atika Shubert; and a lecture on “Brexit and the Crisis of Belonging” by writer Fintan O’Toole, winner of the 2017 European Press Prize for commentary.
The seminar takes place from May 27 to June, and a complete schedule is available here. Best wishes for a great seminar to our colleagues meeting in Spreeathen.
Image: author photo of the Brandenburg Gate, one of Berlin's most recognizable monuments.
Recent research co-authored by department of genetics Ph.D. candidate Michelle Ziadie focuses on resources available for undergraduate evolution instructors. From the abstract of the paper:
Evolution is a unifying theory in biology and is challenging for undergraduates to learn. An instructor’s ability to help students learn is influenced by pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), which is topic-specific knowledge of teaching and learning. Instructors need PCK for every topic they teach, which is a tremendous body of knowledge to develop alone. However, investigations of undergraduate thinking and learning have produced collective PCK that is available in peer-reviewed literature. Currently, it is unclear whether the collective PCK available adequately addresses the topics in evolution that college instructors teach. We systematically examined existing literature to determine what collective PCK for teaching evolution is available and what is missing. We conducted an exhaustive literature search and analyzed 316 relevant papers to determine: the evolutionary topics addressed; whether the focus was student thinking, assessment, instructional strategies, or goals; and the type of work (e.g., empirical, literature review). We compared the collective PCK available in the literature with the topics taught in a sample of 32 undergraduate evolution courses around the country. On the basis of our findings, we propose priorities for the evolution education research community and propose that PCK is a useful lens for guiding future research on teaching and learning biology.
"Evolution is a multifaceted subject, but my study found that most of the investigations into evolution education are focused on the teaching and learning of natural selection," Ziadie elaborated in an email. "I think part of this pattern reflects what educators and researchers think of as 'critical knowledge' for understanding evolution. However, other research suggests that a focus on natural selection can lead to inaccurate ideas about other topics in evolution, including natural selection. Ironically, I also think this reflects the history of the field of evolutionary biology, which also began with a narrow focus on natural selection and adaptation."
Great work, with real implications for how students learn at the university level. Congratulations to Ziadie, and to her colleagues and professors in the department of genetics.
Only after Cora Nunnally Miller passed away in 2015 did the fact that during her lifetime she anonymously gave more than $33 million to the University of Georgia Foundation. The legacy of those gifts continues to have deeply positive impacts on UGA students today:
Six University of Georgia students have been selected as the inaugural cohort of Cora Nunnally Miller Fine Arts Scholars in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. The purpose of the scholarship, made possible as part of a $17 million gift to the university upon Miller’s passing in 2015, is to recognize exceptional artistic talent, to foster interdisciplinary collaborations in the arts, to promote the arts on the UGA campus and beyond and to give special opportunities to the students in the cohort. Each of the first-year undergraduate students will receive an annual scholarship of $6,500 per year for four years.
Congratulations to the first cohort of Cora Nunnaly Miller Fine Arts Scholars: Alys Barrow, Madison Calderwood, Ava Cosman, Nathan “Hank” Morris (pictured), Zachary Pareizs, and Michaela Wilkins, each individually detailed at the link. A great new scholars program that will help the university and the Franklin College continue to attract the very best talented performers and artists.
Teaser Image: Calderwood, Barrow and Cosman.
The 2018 Southern Labor Studies Association conference, a biannual gathering of scholars, students and activists, continues at UGA through Saturday:
The conference will be held in the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries and at other UGA and Athens sites
May 17-19. Registration, $90 for non-members and $65 for SLSA members, is available online at southernlaborstudies.org. Several events will be free and open to the public.
Attendees from around the U.S., England, Northern Ireland and India will discuss the past and present of labor and working-class history in the U.S. South.
Panels, workshops, roundtables and keynotes will discuss many subjects including mining, farming, food processing, textiles, the nuclear power industry, foreign-owned auto factories, construction workers’ safety, black labor in the U.S. Army, Jim Crow, convict labor, anti-union sentiment, enslaved household workers and concubines in the American South and Latino/a workers. There will also be a special multimedia session on the 1991 Hamlet fire, which killed 25 workers in North Carolina.
Keynote presentations include “Heard it on the Grapevine: Slave Labor, Mobility and Power in Antebellum America” by Susan O’Donovan, the Dunavant University Professor at the University of Memphis, as well as a lunchtime keynote by Maurice Hobson of Georgia State University on the subject of his new book, The Legend of the Black Mecca: Politics and Class in the Making of Modern Atlanta.
Two authors of the multi-prize winning Like a Family: The Making of the Southern Cotton Mill World will participate as well as novelist Wiley Cash, whose forthcoming book tells the story of Ella May Wiggins, singer, spinner, single mom and martyr of the 1929 Loray Mills Strike in Gastonia, North Carolina.
Among the sessions free and open to the public are a talk by Vimal Kumar, founder of the Movement for Scavenger Community, on the collection by hand of human waste in India; two sessions on organizing in the South today; and a mini-film festival, starting at 8:30 a.m. on May 19.
Film screenings include A Strike and an Uprising by Anne Lewis; Union Time: Fighting for Workers’ Rights by Matthew Barr; The Committee by University of Central Florida faculty and students; and A Day’s Work, a film on temp work by Dave DeSario.
An extraordinary event for this or any campus to host, the history of labor in the U.S. South is easily one of the most under-examined aspects of American history and thus, a great opportunity for opening up new lines of inquiry and understanding. Kudos and welcome to the scholars, artists and filmmakers visiting UGA. Have a great conference.
Image via the Southern Labor Studies Association
With development timetables already showing practical quantum computing machines arriving much sooner than expected, researchers from the region will gather at UGA for second consecutive year fotr discussion on new work and ideas at the Southeast Quantum Computing Workshop May 18:
Quantum computers, which use quantum states of subatomic particles to store information, was initiated as a field in 1980, and though its development remains in the early stages, some online capabilities are now available. Large-scale quantum computers would be able to solve certain problems faster than classical computers and also to solve problems that are not practically feasible on classical computers.
Invited speakers for the workshop include Eugene Dumitrescu, research scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Jeffrey Cohn, doctoral candidate at Georgetown University; and Muyuan Li, doctoral student in computational science and engineering at Duke University.
The growing impact and capacity of quantum computing is the focus of the regional workshop, which will offer researchers an opportunity to share short presentations on their work with interested colleagues.
To learn more and to register for the conference, visit https://bit.ly/2HVhr3D.
"The field is experiencing explosive growth, especially on the commercial side, with more than 50 start-ups worldwide focusing on quantum computing hardware and software,” said Michael Geller, professor of physics in the Center for Simulational Physics at UGA whose research focuses on the use of first-generation quantum computers. “This technology promises to be transformative in its application to machine learning, quantum chemistry, and cybersecurity."
Welcome to all visiting facuty and graduate students, we hope these meetings and presentations seed new partnerships and collaborations.
Image: Photograph of a chip constructed by D-Wave Systems Inc. designed to operate as a 128-qubit superconducting adiabatic quantum optimization processor, mounted in a sample holder, via wikimedia commons
Congratulations to Wesley Sumpter (BMus '17), one of four musicians chosen to be a part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Resident Fellows program:
The cohort of four Resident Fellows will focus on their artistic development through orchestral, chamber music, new music, and education concerts performed at Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and in community settings. They will also have the opportunity to participate in tours with the LA Phil. Mentorship from LA Phil Musicians and assistance with audition preparation are added benefits to prepare Resident Fellows for future roles in major professional orchestras, including the LA Phil.
Wesley Sumpter is a percussionist and drummer from Atlanta, GA. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Percussion Performance from the University of Georgia under the love and guidance of former Pittsburgh Symphony timpanist Timothy Adams Jr. and former Tucson Symphony timpanist Kimberly Toscano. Wesley is currently pursuing his master's degree at the University of Southern California under the LA Phil's own James Babor and Joseph Pereira. Wesley has performed as percussionist and timpanist with the Louisiana Philharmonic, Santa Barbara Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, and Los Angeles Philharmonic. He recently accompanied the Louisiana Philharmonic during their inaugural tour to Carnegie Hall, highlighting the music of Philip Glass and Silvestre Revueltas.
And just like that, another extraordinary UGA graduate is on his way. Congratulations to Sumpter, Toscano and Adams, the Mildred Goodrum Heyward Professor in Music in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Hugh Hodgson School of Music. Wonderful news - alumni success is always music to our ears.
In a new paper published in the journal Cell, genetics professor Kelly Dawe solves a long-sought mystery:
Modern genetics is based on the idea that genes are passed on to progeny in a predictable fashion, as first described by 19th-century Austrian botanist Gregor Mendel. He determined that genes exist in pairs, and each one of the two has an equal chance of being transmitted to the next generation.
However, in rare exceptions, chromosomes are able to cheat this process and are passed on at a higher frequency.
It may come as a surprise that many heirloom varieties of corn contain just such a cheater. Called Abnormal chromosome 10, it cheats in the female part of the flower during meiosis, where it is regularly transmitted about 75 percent of the time instead of the normal 50 percent.
Now a team of researchers at multiple universities led by UGA Distinguished Research Professor of Genetics Kelly Dawe has discovered that Ab10 encodes a cluster of genes that code for specialized motor proteins. These motor proteins bind to chromosomes and actively pull them to the reproductive egg cell. The molecular motors are only found on Ab10, and they enable the Ab10 chromosome to bypass Mendel’s law and be transmitted to more than 50 percent of the offspring.
The paper, “A kinesin-14 motor activates neocentromeres to promote meiotic drive in maize,” was published in the journal Cell.
These so-called meiotic drive systems are suspected to have evolved and gone extinct many times in the history of both plants and animals. As in sports and other conflicts, the presence of cheaters has favored the evolution of new biological rules that thwart the cheaters and ensure overall fairness. It is rare to visualize a cheater in action, and rarer still solve its molecular mechanism.
“The mystery had been known for many years before I began studying it, and we have been trying to solve the problem in our laboratory for over 20 years,” Dawe said. “It was very satisfying to finally find the genes, and even more satisfying to learn that molecular motors are powering the process.”
Terrific work from one of our foremost genetics faculty members, a breakthrough that addresses a fundamental rule of life with important cross-scale impacts in genetics, cell biology and genome evolution.
In the modern workplace, writing skills are more important than ever. From a study of millions of U.S. job advertisements, Burning Glass Technologies found, “Clear communication, particularly writing, is at a premium in nearly every occupation." Research by Hart Research Associates on employer priorities also found written communication to be highly valued; 82% of employers rated writing as an important skill for new graduates (2015). UGA's Writing Intensive Program’s Public Writing Initiative (PWI) allows students a look into the world outside of academia and gives them the chance to hear firsthand how local professionals, alumni, and leaders in their fields use their writing skills in their careers.
In Fall 2017 and Spring 2018, nine Writing Intensive Program faculty members from across the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences participated in the initiative, opening up their classrooms to visits from professionals from all over the country. These visitors spoke about writing and the role effective communication plays in their day-to-day working lives and throughout their careers. The experience meant students in fields ranging from linguistics to women’s studies, from cognitive science to statistics were granted a sneak peek at writing in their future careers.
Each visit was highly customized based to the guest speaker’s experiences and the field. In Dr. Vera Lee-Schoenfeld’s generative syntax course, for instance, guest speaker Mariah Parker— perhaps better known as Lingua Franca, a local hip-hop artist—discussed getting started with a writing task, anticipating readers’ questions to strengthen arguments, leaving enough time for editing, and feeling proud of one’s work. By focusing on persuasion in the humanities, students saw stating, anticipating, creating, and editing a project as a set of skills not solely tied to writing papers for class. Alex Laughlin, social media editor for The Washington Post, spoke to Dr. Cecilia Herles’s introduction to feminist theories class about the necessary yet difficult task of writing about controversial topics, as well writing as an active tool in career development. For Herles, this visit reinforced the value of WIP courses and provided students with practical ideas they could put to use. She reflected, “The students were very inspired by this speaker, and I was too! It was a wonderful opportunity to learn how the speaker has used her Women's Studies classes that were writing-intensive to guide her in her career path. She offered lots of useful tips for writing. Loved it!”
This spring, Sarah Wright’s introduction to cognitive science class welcomed Connie Hayes, Executive Director of GeorgiaFirst Robotics, who shared her personal experience with writing and the way it has changed over time depending on the different jobs she has held. When Jo Craven McGinty of The Wall Street Journalvirtually visited Nicole Lazar and Lynne Seymour’s statistics capstone class in the fall, she talked to students about writing about numbers as an act of translation. Lazar explains this as “how to ‘translate’ the technical material from a research paper published in an [academic] journal into every language.” Indeed, most PWI speakers introduced students to the world of writing beyond the university classroom. In turn, these visits encourage students to consider writing in public spaces for diverse audiences.