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Team led by John Drake wins UGA President’s Interdisciplinary Seed Grant funding

Apr. 26, 2017

Writer: UGA News Service

Contact: David Lee, dclee@uga.edu; Jennifer Frum, jfrum@uga.edu

Twelve faculty teams at the University of Georgia, including one led by Odum School professor John Drake, have been selected to receive research awards through the institution’s Presidential Interdisciplinary Seed Grant Program. More than 150 faculty teams submitted research proposals to this competitive program.

Drake will lead a team of researchers seeking to understand where and when future infectious diseases will emerge, with the goal of developing new data products, quantitative methods, and theory to help meet this critical public health need. Project team members include co-PIs Susana Ferreira, associate professor in the department of agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and Nicole Gottdenker, associate professor in the department to pathology in the College of Veterinary Medicine; Steve Bellan, assistant professor in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics in the College of Public Health; Richard Hall, assistant professor in the Odum School of Ecology and department of infectious diseases in the College of Veterinary Medicine; and Drew Kramer, J.P. Schmidt and Patrick Stephens, all assistant research scientists in the Odum School of Ecology.

“I want to congratulate the recipients of these awards on their outstanding research proposals,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “I am excited about the potential for their work to help address a wide range of grand challenges facing our state, nation, and world and to feed the growing momentum surrounding the research enterprise at UGA.” 

Morehead noted that the budget for the seed grant program was capped originally at $1 million, but the high number of strong proposals led him to increase the budget to approximately $1.4 million in order to fund a greater number of promising research projects.

Proposals were reviewed by a team of UGA faculty and administrators jointly assembled by Vice President for Research David Lee and Vice President for Public Service and Outreach Jennifer Frum.

“The review team was pleased to receive so many excellent proposals from across the University,” Lee said. “The great interest in this program is a clear sign of the deep commitment among our faculty to collaborate across traditional disciplinary lines to create new knowledge and make discoveries that improve the world around us.”

The review team selected winning proposals based on demonstrated potential to address key grand challenges and to generate new external funding in the future. Inclusion of public service and outreach components also was considered, among other criteria.

“Above all else, the winning proposals reflect what makes the University of Georgia special as a land-grant institution,” said Frum, “and that is the ability to harness vast resources in teaching, research, and service to address the complex challenges facing communities across Georgia and beyond.”

Principal investigators and topics of the winning proposals are:

Clark Alexander, interim executive director of Skidaway Institute of Ocean Sciences and professor of marine sciences in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences
Studying the UGA Marine Science Campus on Skidaway Island as a model for achieving coastal resiliency in the face of extreme weather

Marin Brewer, assistant professor of mycology and plant pathology in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Investigating microbial resistance to antifungal treatments used for plants and people

Harlan Cohen, Gabriel M. Wilner/UGA Foundation Professor in International Law in the School of Law
Forecasting the threat of cyber attacks, nation by nation

John Drake, Distinguished Research Professor of Ecology in the School of Ecology
Mapping the global risk of emerging infectious disease threats

Carolyn Lauckner, assistant professor of health promotion and behavior in the College of Public Health
Expanding telemedicine services to meet the mental and behavioral health needs of individuals living with HIV/AIDS in rural Georgia communities

Changying “Charlie” Li, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering   
Using robotic systems to accelerate the application of genome information in the improvement of food crops

Rebecca Matthew, assistant professor in the School of Social Work
Building a network of cultural liaisons to improve the health and well-being of Athens-area Latinos

David Okech, associate professor in the School of Social Work
Developing evidence-based reintegration programming for female victims of trafficking in West Africa

WenZhan Song, Georgia Power Mickey A. Brown Professor in the College of Engineering
Cost-effective indoor food production through the integration of informatics and renewable energy

Li Tan, assistant research scientist in the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center
Developing sustainable materials for biomedical and environmental applications from waste plant biomass

David Tanner, associate director and assistant public service faculty in the Carl Vinson Institute of Government   
Enlisting the help of businesses in the expansion of America’s STEM workforce

Mark Tompkins, professor of infectious diseases in the College of Veterinary Medicine
How does microbial diversity impact respiratory infection, disease and transmission?


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