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12.16.2013

UGA alumnus Daniel Streicker (PHD ‘11) named first winner of international science prize

Earlier this month, UGA announced that Daniel Streicker (PHD '11), who received his Ph.D. in ecology from UGA in 2011, was named the first grand prize winner of the new Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists. The award was created by Science, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and SciLifeLab, a center for molecular bioscience focused on health and the environment. Streicker received the prize, which includes a $25,000 honorarium, on December 9 in Stockholm.

A Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, Streicker studies the ecology and evolution of emerging infectious diseases. Working with rabies virus in bats, he explores questions about when, where and how viruses jump from one host species to another. His findings not only answer basic scientific question but have real-world implications for public health, agriculture and wildlife conservation. 

Many of the infectious diseases that threaten human health, such as SARS, Ebola and West Nile virus, originate in other species. Understanding how and why such diseases are able to become established in new host species is critical if future outbreaks are to be predicted, controlled and prevented—the ultimate goal of Streicker’s work. Describing his research in an essay in Science, Streicker said that the complex nature of infectious disease emergence means that no single scientific discipline can adequately explain it. That is why his work in the field and the laboratory combines elements of ecology, evolutionary biology, population genetics and mathematical modeling. The essay is available online at http://scim.ag/SciLifeLab.

Streicker has also worked with public health and agriculture officials in Peru, where rabies spread by vampire bats infects humans and livestock. Over four years he sampled regularly for rabies at bat colonies across the country, using statistical and mathematical models to analyze the resulting data. He found that reducing the number of bats in a colony—a common control strategy—did nothing to reduce rabies exposures in bats, and in fact may have been counterproductive: Levels of rabies exposure were higher in colonies where bats had been culled than in those that were left alone.

Streicker will continue his work in Peru. Among other things, he will explore how better understanding of the dynamics of infectious disease transmission across species may lead to science-based disease control policies. 
 
“My particular field of research, how infectious diseases jump between species, is a complex, fascinating and tremendously important problem,” Streicker said. “Solutions require scientists with broad training who are excited to collaborate across scientific disciplinary boundaries. The Science & SciLifeLab Prize is a tremendous honor and I hope it will inspire other young scientists to infuse ecological and evolutionary thinking into the topic of emerging infectious diseases.” 
 
Congratulations, Daniel, on earning this award and the accompanying recognition. Your work is of great importance and I wish you the very best as you continue your work in Peru.

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04.23.2014

Alumna puts passion for historic preservation into action

Catherine Garner (MHP ’13) has a passion for preserving the historic buildings of Salisbury, NC. After finishing her undergraduate degree in geography and urban planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Garner interned with preservation planners in Winston-Salem. Fulfilled by the work, she chose to pursue the path of historic preservation, eventually earning her master's degree from UGA in preservation planning.

Since then, Garner has landed her dream job as Salisbury’s newest city planner and liaison to the City’s Historic Preservation Commission. In this position, she help develop communities in which people want to live. She is involved in the city’s new "one-stop shop" for development services. The innovative program encourages local business owners to obtain city permits and a business license under the same roof. By streamlining the process, more local businesses will be involved in the city planning process.

Congratulations, Catherine! It’s great to see an alumna making a difference in her community. The work you do will impact Salisbury for generations to come.

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04.22.2014

Longtime UGA supporter hangs his “Gone Fishing” sign

William “Dink” H. NeSmith, Jr. (ABJ ’70) is one of the most passionate Bulldogs you will meet. A 1970 graduate of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, NeSmith is co-owner and publisher of Athens-based Community Newspapers, Inc., which publishes dozens of newspapers in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina. As if his professional responsibilities didn’t keep him busy enough, NeSmith, a self-admitted “joiner,” has dedicated as much (if not more) of his free time to higher education.The list of his past university volunteer roles is unparalleled:

  -  chairman of Grady's advisory board and president of its alumni board;

  -  chairman of the board of directors of the Fanning Leadership Institute;

  -  chairman of the Richard B. Russell Foundation;

  -  member of the Athletic Association Board of Directors; and

  -  trustee of the UGA Foundation

In addition, NeSmith is a past president of the UGA Alumni Association and served from 2003 to 2005. He could always be counted on to support his alma mater, and his leadership was surely a factor in UGA’s rise to a top 20 public institution of higher education.

In 2008, Gov. Sonny Perdue asked NeSmith to join the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents. Five years later, he was serving as chairman of the 18-person governing board for USG. Only the third Athenian to fill this position, NeSmith recently concluded his term as chairman.

Reflecting on a lifetime of professional and philanthropic endeavors, NeSmith recently penned a short piece about his readiness to enjoy his greatest accomplishment: his family. The alumnus is surrounded by an ever-growing swath of Bulldog Faithful: his wife, Pam (BSHE ’71); three children, Alan (BSA ’04), Emily (AB ’99) and Eric (ABJ ’02); and seven grandsons. Upon the birth of each grandchild, NeSmith proudly gave them each a lifetime membership with the UGA Alumni Association. Although the Alumni Association is no longer dues-based, the NeSmith family boasts an impressive 15 lifetime members!

Read more about NeSmith’s transition to “grandpa time” here. This is one alumnus who has certainly earned the right to hang his “Gone Fishing” sign on the door. Thank you for your continued support, Dink, and your fine leadership in many areas across campus and the state.

Dink NeSmith is a regular contributor to the Athens Banner-Herald; read more of his pieces here.

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04.21.2014

McCall Wilder Designs offers timeless clothing options for children

McCall Wilder (ABJ '92) was having trouble locating the perfect outfit for her first baby's Christening. After an usuccessful search, the alumna decided to take matters into her own hands and create her own elegant and timeless clothing pieces for children. And so, in 2001, McCall Wilder Designs was established.

Wilder grew up in Athens with dreams of designing and pursuing journalism. She attended Hollins College in Virginia before transferring to UGA to study broadcast news in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. After graduating, Wilder interned and worked for CNN in Atlanta, taking part in the launch of CNN.com, the Internet’s first news site. She remained at CNN as a writer and producer until 1999.

Wilder’s “Baby McCall line” of heirloom gowns and special occasion outfits was only available by appointment until May 2008, when the first McCall Wilder Couture for Children Boutique & Atelier opened in the heart of Atlanta. The Baby McCall and McCall Wilder Designs lines now include more than 50 different styles, from crib bedding to dresses for teens and women.

Congratulations on your successful business venture, McCall. Your clothes and other products are simply beautiful.

Stay up-to-date on news and design ideas through the McCall Wilder Designs Facebook page.

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