Campus News

Faculty find research, collaboration opportunities during tour of Georgia

The 2018 New Faculty Tour traveled through 15 cities and 48 counties in Georgia (Photo by Shannah Montgomery)

Justin Bahl, a new faculty member in the College of Public Health, studies the spread of infectious disease.

Sabriya Rice, a new faculty member in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, teaches budding journalists how to write about health and medical issues. 

When they met on the 2018 New Faculty Tour, Bahl and Rice discovered a mutual interest. Bahl’s students need to learn how to talk about their work in ways that non-scientists can easily understand. Rice’s students need to know how to translate the scientific language into layman’s terms.

“Justin and his students study the spread of influenza, for example, and that could be an opportunity for students to write about,” said Rice, new Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism. 

Rice and Bahl, an associate professor of infectious diseases and bioinformatics, were among the 40 UGA faculty members on the 2018 New Faculty Tour, which began in Gainesville and traveled through 15 cities and 48 counties, with stops in Dahlonega, Atlanta, Griffin, Senoia, Tifton, Waycross, Savannah and Sandersville, among others. Tour participants learned about the culture, history, geography and economic engines that drive the state: agritourism at Jaemor Farms near Gainesville, the film industry at Raleigh (AMC) Studios in Senoia, manufacturing at the Kia plant in West Point, the Georgia Ports Authority in Savannah and the kaolin industry in Sandersville. 

With hours together on the bus and at stops, the faculty members found shared interests, made friends, discussed collaborations and explored opportunities for themselves and their students throughout the state. 

For Gabrielle Darville, an evaluation coordinator for health promotion and behavior in the College of Public Health, the tour provided an opportunity to see firsthand the differences between urban and rural Georgia.

“Since I teach intro to public health, I teach students across departments and disciplines at UGA,” Darville said. “Now I have more resources at my fingertips to connect students with internships, jobs, fellowships. I can help them navigate life better now that I know what both rural and urban Georgia have to offer.” 

Many on the trip gained a better understanding of how UGA serves the state through its land-grant and sea-grant designation.

“As someone who studies and teaches about higher education, I’ve never had a clear picture of what a land-grant university looked like,” said Georgianna Martin, an assistant professor of counseling and human development services in the College of Education. “Seeing one in action was inspiring. I have a much clearer picture of what a land-grant university looks like in action, and I learned about the sea-grant designation, which I had never heard of.”

Even lifetime residents of Georgia learned a few new things on the tour. 

“Being a native of Georgia myself, I was uncertain about the benefits of the tour,” said Jason Estep, a Cooperative Extension 4-H specialist for Leadership and Citizenship Programs in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “It’s only been a few days, and I’ve been to all new places and seen firsthand how connected UGA is throughout the entire state.” 

No matter where the group traveled across Georgia, UGA’s impact was present and tangible. 

“There’s such a vibrancy in the UGA community, and that feeling is shared across Georgia,” said Nathaniel Hunsu, an assistant professor of engineering education in the College of Engineering.