President Michael F. Adams on research at the University of Georgia
Q: Marine Sciences Professor Samantha Joye’s research into the impact of deep water oil leaks in the Gulf of Mexico has brought an international focus to UGA in the wake of the collapse of the Deepwater Horizon. How does this exposure affect the university’s reputation in the greater research community?
A: The greatest strength or weakness of any university is its faculty, and today ours is very strong. Samantha Joye’s work exemplifies the kind of work being done in a broad range of areas. The international exposure she has received has significantly enhanced the university’s research reputation.
Q: Will having this kind of national exposure help in recruiting students who are interested in the sciences to UGA?
A: Certainly, this kind of national and international exposure from top-flight faculty is exactly the sort of thing that top-flight students search for. Some of our students come unsure of what their academic goals might be, and at age 18, I think that’s okay. It’s why we offer a broad-based liberal arts curriculum the first two years for them to sample the breadth of knowledge that they can pursue extensively in their third and fourth years. But there’s no doubt that great students are drawn to great faculty. I specifically went to Ohio State to study with the late Dr. Jim Golden. We have students at the undergraduate, graduate and professional level who regularly choose to come here because of their respect and admiration for a particular faculty member or department. Some of them may be fortunate enough to study with Samantha Joye.
Q: What benefit does Professor Joye’s visibility bring to the state?
A. Professor Joye’s contribution to the state is both reputational and substantive. There is little question that she and her team were analyzing from day one the potential impact that gulf currents might have on moving undesired oil to Georgia’s east coast. If that ever became likely, reseachers at UGA would be among the first to signal a warning, thus saving thousands of jobs in the Georgia seafood and tourism industries.
Q: Are there other areas in which our scientists are doing groundbreaking research?
Cutting-edge research is underway at UGA’s Center for Tropical & Emerging Global Diseases. Here, Ph.D. student Charles Rosenberg of Stone Mountain works in the lab of Rick Tarleton, a faculty member at the center. Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker
A: There are literally hundreds of areas in which UGA scientists are doing groundbreaking research. Our colleagues in education are leading the charge in this state to help determine the best methods of teaching and evaluating K-12 students. Our agriculture scientists are helping to feed the world along with discovering the genetic basis for four-leaf clovers. Scientists like Dan Colley are helping to eradicate disease in Africa and Central America. The list goes on and on.
Q: What are we doing to get the message out about the work our researchers are doing?
A: I truly think our public information department has done an extraordinary job in helping Professor Joye deal with an avalanche of media requests. She has been a highly desired speaker all over the state and this magazine as well as the Research Magazine and other publications will carry additional updates on her work and the important work of other UGA researchers. She is exactly the kind of person who proves that good teaching often begins with good research.