One of the University's Highest Research Honors is Bestowed on Law Professor


Wednesday, April 2, 2003

WRITER: Rory Sheats, (706) 583-0599, rcomm@ovpr.uga.edu CONTACT: Judy Purdy, (706) 542-5941, jbp@ovpr.uga.edu


ATHENS, Ga. - The University of Georgia honored outstanding faculty and graduate students April 2 at its 24th annual research awards banquet. Sponsored by the nonprofit University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc., the event recognized exceptional accomplishments by UGA researchers and scholars.

CREATIVE RESEARCH MEDALS Five Creative Research Medals were given to UGA faculty for outstanding research or creative activity on a single theme while at UGA in the past five years. Recipients were Thomas A. Eaton and Susette M. Talarico, James T. Hollibaugh, Ming-Jun Lai and Paul Wenston, Michael P. Terns, and Richard N. Winn.

Eaton, J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law, and Talarico, Albert Berry Saye Professor of American Government and Constitutional Law, inform debate on tort reform in Georgia and the nation. They have conducted the most systematic and in-depth study of tort litigation in any state. Tort cases - or civil suits that seek damages for wrongful conduct - have long been debated among insurance companies, consumer advocates and the public. Eaton and Talarico consider public policy questions, such as whether tort reform is necessary, based on their analysis of more than 27,000 Georgia tort cases. Counter to popular opinion, their findings show that tort cases usually involve simple disputes and that plaintiffs awards tend to be modest and rarely punitive.

Eaton is the first law professor to receive a Creative Research Medal from the University of Georgia Research Foundation.

Hollibaugh, professor of marine sciences, has won international acclaim for his innovative approach to the study of microbial diversity in aquatic ecosystems. Until recently, a majority of bacteria found in the ocean could not be studied because of their intractability to standard culture techniques. Hollibaugh devised an alternative approach using a molecular technique known as denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) to eliminate the need to culture bacteria. This technique has proved so effective in analyzing marine microbes that it is now a tool used by scientists worldwide. Hollibaugh's work also has proved invaluable in understanding such important biological phenomena as oceanic diversity and how microbes may have interacted during the early evolution of life on Earth.

Lai, professor of mathematics, and Wenston, associate professor of mathematics, have developed a method that reduces approximation errors for Navier-Stokes equations. Mathematicians apply these equations to describe and predict how fluids move, for example when designing faster boats and creating such animations as the huge waves in the movie The Perfect Storm. The Clay Mathematics Institute in Cambridge, Mass., offers a $1 million prize for solving these equations and considers them as one of the seven greatest unsolved mathematical puzzles.

Terns, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, has contributed to understanding the process of RNA localization and transport. RNAs (ribonucleic acids) serve important roles in cellular function, such as gene expression and organismal development. Terns' research has increased knowledge about RNA movement within the cell through a technique he developed. He fluorescently labeled RNA and microinjected it into frog egg cells. Subsequent visualization of these RNAs led to the discovery of structures and proteins involved in making RNA. The Terns research group is working to translate their findings into applications for anti-cancer therapies and other gene-therapy agents through effective delivery and targeting of specific RNAs.

Winn, associate professor of biotechnology and toxicology, develops new methods that test the potential of chemicals and physical agents to cause genetic damage. He recently received a second U.S. patent on a transgenic fish he developed. These guppy-sized Japanese fish contain specific DNA sequences that serve as targets for mutations. Researchers analyze tissues for changes in the target gene's DNA after exposing the fish to a potential contaminant. Studies conducted by Winn and his research team have many biomedical and environmental applications, including assessments of chemicals in drinking water, studies on UV radiation and potential cancer chemopreventative methods.

CREATIVE RESEARCH AWARDS Three Creative Research Awards - the Albert Christ-Janer Award for the arts and humanities, the Lamar Dodd Award for the sciences and the William A. Owens Award for the social and behavioral sciences - were given for outstanding scholarly or creative activities that have gained national and international recognition.

Betty Jean Craige, university professor of comparative literature and director of the Center for Humanities and Arts, received the Albert Christ-Janer Award for her scholarly work in holism. Craige studies Western society's shift in conceptual order from a dualistic to a holistic understanding of nature and culture. Her six books include a biography of the late ecologist Eugene Odum, a book on American patriotism and a volume on literary study. In Laying the Ladder Down, which won a Georgia Author of the Year Award in Non-Fiction, Craige argues that Western culture's shift toward cultural holism is evident from such social forces as feminism and the peace and environmental movements. Craige co-directs the Delta Prize for Global Understanding, which has been awarded to such luminaries as Jimmy and Roslyn Carter and Desmond Tutu.

David P. Landau, distinguished research professor and director of the Center for Simulational Physics, received the Lamar Dodd Award. Landau uses supercomputer simulations to study how solids and liquids behave at atomic levels. His research on the behavior of magnets has applications for semiconductors and other thin film devices. Landau's group discovered fatal flaws in random number generators used for supercomputer simulations and devised ways to fix the problems, an achievement reported in The New York Times. Co-editor of 17 books on computer simulations, Landau recently received the Aneesur Rahman Prize, the highest honor for outstanding computational physics given by the American Physical Society. His scientific papers have been cited more than 6,000 times.

Robert E. Rhoades, professor of anthropology, received the William A. Owens Award for his research in agricultural and ecological anthropology. Rhoades looks for innovative ways to sustain our growing population while also protecting natural resources for future generations. Rhoades has discovered ways to practice agriculture in such mountain ecosystems as the Andes, Himalayas and Appalachians while preserving both the environment and the local culture. His findings have influenced how sustainable development is studied and practiced throughout the world. He was recruited by John F. Kennedy as one of the first Peace Corps volunteers and has been appointed twice by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to the National Genetic Resources Advisory Council.

INVENTOR'S AWARD One award is given each year for a unique, creative and innovative discovery that has made an impact on the community.

Wayne W. Hanna, professor of crop and soil sciences, received the Inventor's Award for solving numerous turfgrass industry problems. During his 32-year career as a plant breeder, he developed winter-hardy, pest-resistant Bermudagrasses able to handle high traffic. These grasses now grow on golf courses around the world and in football stadiums for the Georgia Bulldogs, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins and others. Hanna has spearheaded the screening of Bermudagrass for hybrids that naturally deter mole crickets, the number one lawn and turf pest in the Southeast. He and his research team have been awarded seven patents. Hanna received the 2002 Technology Transfer Award for Outstanding Effort from the USDA's Agricultural Research Services and the Reed Funk Achievement Award from the National Turfgrass Breeders Association.

DISTINGUISHED RESEARCH PROFESSORS The designation of Distinguished Research Professor is an honor reserved for academicians whose work is recognized as being of the highest levels of creativity by national and international leaders in the discipline. Four faculty were appointed this year: Carmon Colangelo, Patricia A. Gowaty, Stephen P. Hubbell and Robert A. Scott.

Colangelo, professor of art, directs the Lamar Dodd School of Art. He is widely recognized for his multi-layered prints, drawings and mixed media and for creatively combining digital images with traditional art forms. With 13 solo shows in the past 10 years and another 90 significant group exhibitions in the past two decades, Colangelo has exhibited widely, from Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., to Argentina, Canada, England, Holland and Korea. His works are in collections at the National Museum of American Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and Harvard University's Fogg Art Museum, to name a few. As a visiting professor, he has conducted classes at such locations as the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C., the Liverpool School of Art in England, the Academy of Fine Arts in Slovakia and the Nanjing Arts College in the People's Republic of China.

Gowaty, professor of ecology, studies the evolution of social behavior, especially among Eastern bluebirds, and is among the leading scholars in behavioral ecology. By asking questions from a feminine perspective, Gowaty has overturned many assumptions about social interaction, mate selection, two-parent care of nestlings and other behaviors that determine reproductive success. For example, she has shown that two parents are not required for bluebird nesting success and that female bluebirds are not monogamous. A 1999 Lamar Dodd Award recipient, Gowaty holds a life-time appointment on the International Ornithological Committee and is a Fellow, former President and Quest Award recipient of the Animal Behavior Society.

Hubbell, professor of plant biology, is recognized internationally for his global research program on tropical forest ecology and for his theoretical modeling of rainforest communities. Hubbell's discoveries about tropical forest ecology have implications for research, conservation and public policy. For more than 20 years, his research team has measured, mapped and identified nearly every tree in a 125-acre plot on Barro Colorado Island in Panama. In his book, The Unified Neutral Theory of Biodiversity and Biogeography, Hubbell presents a mathematical theory for large-scale ecology that helps answer such questions as why tropical rainforests have so many tree species and how these forests change over time. He founded and chairs the National Council for Science and the Environment, which promotes science-based environmental decision making.

Scott, chemistry department head and professor of chemistry and of biochemistry and molecular biology, uses X-ray absorption spectroscopy and other techniques to study biologically important metals. Iron, selenium and copper are among the metals living organisms incorporate into vital proteins and enzymes. Scott's research has increased our understanding of the natural resistance some bacteria have to mercury, arsenic and other normally toxic metals. His work has also shown that a structure involved in gene transcription is conserved from ancient bacterial life forms at the root of the evolutionary tree to humans. Scott is the co-founder of the UGA Center for Metalloenzyme Studies, a center of excellence for biological chemistry research.

ROBERT C. ANDERSON MEMORIAL AWARDS Presented to recent graduates for outstanding research during graduate studies at the university and immediately thereafter, the award is named for the late Robert C. Anderson, who was UGA's Vice President for Research and President of the University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc.

Ning Jiang, a recent doctoral graduate in plant biology, studies transposons in rice. Transposons make up the bulk of plant and animal genomes and contribute to genomic change. Jiang and her collaborators documented the first active transposon family in rice, which may have contributed to the spread of rice varieties from the tropics to temperate regions. During the past two years Jiang published four major papers in top journals and received UGA's 2002 Graduate Student Excellence in Research Award.

D. Catherine Trieschmann, a recent graduate in drama and theatre, wrote the play The Bridegroom of Blowing Rock for her master's thesis. Set in post-Civil War Southern Appalachia, the play was selected by Massachusetts' Williamstown Theatre for the L. Arnold Weissberger Award in Playwriting, which includes $5,000, a professional workshop production with off-Broadway's Theatre in the Square, and publication by Samuel French, a prestigious publisher of dramatic scripts. Three other original works have been performed at New York City's Fringe Festival, Boston's New Theatre and the University of North Carolina.

JAMES L. CARMON AWARD Presented to a UGA graduate student for innovative use of computers, the James L. Carmon award was received by Walker S. Ashley. Established by Control Data Corporation, the award was named for the late James L. Carmon, a UGA faculty member for 36 years who helped lead UGA in computer research and development.

Ashley, a doctoral candidate in geography, studies the conditions that contribute to destructive and deadly storm systems. One way to minimize the loss caused by such violent storms is to develop improved forecasting techniques. Ashley is developing a computer modeling system that simulates storm conditions based on data from past storms. The first of its kind implemented on a UGA parallel-processing computer system, the model has scientific and practical value.

GRADUATE STUDENT EXCELLENCE IN RESEARCH AWARDS These awards recognize the quality and significance of graduate student scholarship and are given in the areas of fine arts, humanities and letters, life sciences, mathematical and physical sciences and professional and applied studies. Recipients this year were Sudie E. Back, Benjamin R. Bates, James A. Grimsley, Andrew Benton Reams and Vitaly N. Vologodsky.

Back, a doctoral candidate in psychology, conducts clinically relevant research in the areas of trauma and substance abuse. Back's proposed dissertation will examine the chronology of post-traumatic stress disorder and substance dependence in individuals with the dual diagnosis. Her research will determine whether the onset of the two disorders is related to treatment effectiveness and will provide new data relevant to clinical treatment.

Bates, a doctoral candidate in speech communication, examines how texts have different meanings for different audiences and what this can mean for international and intercultural dialogue. His dissertation describes how conventional interpretations of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict fail to account for particular international goals and arguments that contributed both to the conflict and to a context-specific understanding of the conflict. Such studies can lead to a re-evaluation of how foreign policy is formed at national and international levels.

Grimsley, a master's candidate in art, has developed a carving technique for porcelain that yields unique, translucent vessels that are three to five inches tall. Involving hundreds of hours of labor and as many as four firings, the process requires great determination and patience. The resulting art works are profoundly personal narratives of technical achievement and precision. Grimsley's work opens a new avenue of artistic expression in a demanding and difficult medium.

Reams, a doctoral candidate in microbiology, studies bacterial genetics and physiology. His discovery that a soil bacterium readily amplifies extensive segments of its chromosome developed into a novel system to explore genome plasticity. Reams' research has implications for cancer biology, antibiotic resistance, bacterial virulence and bioremediation.

Vologodsky, a doctoral candidate in mathematics, studies two areas of algebraic geometry, a field of mathematics concerned with polynomial equations. Two of his four published papers involve a classical factorization problem in birational geometry and two involve degenerations of Abelian varieties, which have many applications in mathematics and physics. His research has appeared in the Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society and the Journal fur die Reine und Angewandte Mathematik (a.k.a. Creele's Journal).