UGA is making its mark on the world

Qué bueno ser un Bulldog de Georgia
Che bello essere un Bulldog Georgiano
É fantástico ser um Buldogue da Georgia
Ni tunu kuwa mwana Bulldog

In any language, it’s great to be a Georgia Bulldog.

The University of Georgia offers classes in 25 foreign languages including Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Swahili and more. That’s just one example of how the university is preparing students to be international citizens.

This summer, 1,765 students are studying abroad in 50 countries. They’re studying nutrition in Australia, art in Italy and public health in Croatia. They’re learning about conflict resolution in Asia, and they’re helping at after-school programs in South Africa as part of a service-learning study abroad program. Faculty members are studying climate change and melting ice sheets in Greenland, indoor air pollution in South America, coral reefs in the Caribbean, gazelles in Kenya and chimpanzees in Uganda. They’re teaching historic preservation in Iraq and working to improve women’s health in Liberia.

For teaching, research and service, UGA has connections all over the world. UGA has more than 200 partnerships with universities and institutions for collaborative research or student exchanges. UGA’s 2020 strategic plan emphasizes expanding and deepening UGA’s global connections and increasing engagement in global research.

“The world has become global; geographic distances have been replaced with digital access. As our students move on and inherit that world, it is our responsibility to ensure they are prepared to succeed. From a curriculum that encourages global thinking to semesters abroad and language immersion, we must use all the tools available to us as educators,” said Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “As a university, we are committed to growing our international research and working with other state agencies to help Georgia compete and win in a global marketplace.”


  • UGA faculty members are performing research all over the world, and UGA-developed technologies are licensed on every continent except Antarctica.
  • Some of the 2014 World Cup matches are being played on turfgrass developed by UGA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. Three Brazilian stadiums were outfitted with TifGrand, a shade-tolerant, wear-tolerant bermudagrass hybrid.
  • Zhen Fang Fu, a rabies researcher in the College of Veterinary Medicine, is testing a curative vaccine for the rabies virus that could be administered late in the disease process. Fu’s work is funded by a $1.4 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health. The disease is prevalent in more than 150 countries and territories.
  • Donald Harn, Georgia Research Alliance Distinguished Investigator in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s department of infectious diseases and also a member of UGA’s Faculty of Infectious Diseases and the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, is working to develop vaccines and therapeutics for HIV-1 and schistosomiasis, a disease that has infected approximately 200 million people. In China, water buffalo account for up to 75 percent of transmission, and Harn’s team is working on a buffalo vaccine to reduce disease transmission to humans. Field trials have been done in Anhui and Hunan, China.
  • Ralph A. Tripp, a professor and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Vaccine and Therapeutic Studies in the College of Veterinary Medicine department of infectious diseases, is leading a team in the pursuit of an innovative global health research project, titled “Improved Vaccine Production Technology for Rotavirus Vaccines.” Rotavirus was discovered in Australia. The project aims to identify genes in vaccine cell lines that resist virus replication and then create a new generation of high-performance rotavirus vaccine manufacturing cell lines capable of sustained vaccine production.
  • Rick Tarleton, a Distinguished Research Professor of Tropical and Emerging Global Disease in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, is working to develop a new diagnostic test for Chagas disease, one of the single most common causes of congestive heart failure and sudden death in the world and the leading cause of death among young to middle-age adults in endemic areas of South America.

An international destination

The university isn’t just sending students, faculty and alumni to other countries. It’s also a destination for international students and scholars. As of last fall, UGA had 1,573 international students (318 undergraduate and 1,223 graduate) from 122 countries. China (768), India (233) and South Korea (214) sent the most students to study at UGA.

In 2013, UGA also hosted 740 visiting international scholars, including 606 researchers and 91 teachers. The majority of UGA’s visiting scholars come to do research or for academic employment purposes. Many are post-doctoral research scholars or assistant research scientists, but their job titles can range from lecturer to professor.

Wilf Nicholls, director of the State Botanical Garden, came to the U.S. from Newfoundland Botanical Garden in St. John’s, Canada. An international scholar, Nicholls saw the UGA job as a unique opportunity to foster education about plants while promoting conservation and the disciplines of taxonomy and identification.

The international students and scholars admitted to, and hosted by, UGA bring not only a richness of cultural diversity and perspective to the campus and community, but a very real economic benefit as well, said Kavita Pandit, associate provost for international education. The National Association of International Educators has estimated that over 800,000 international students bring over $24 billion annually to the U.S. economy nationally, and over $600 million to the state of Georgia. Internationals at UGA contribute almost $37 million to Athens’ congressional district.

Fulbright scholars

UGA is also a top producer of Fulbright scholars. The program provides faculty members an opportunity to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute solutions to shared international concerns in more than 155 countries.

Of research institutions, UGA had the sixth most U.S. Fulbright Scholar Awards for the academic year 2013-2014. Five UGA faculty members received the Core Fulbright Scholar Award to work abroad: Corrie Brown, a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine (Jordan); Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor, a professor in the College of Education (Mexico); Lawrence Morris, a professor in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources (Brazil); Paul Quick, coordinator of teaching assistant development in the Center for Teaching and Learning (Chile); and Montgomery Wolf, a lecturer in the department of history (Benin).

Seven students and recent alumni also studied abroad during the 2013-2014 academic year through grants from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program: Derek Bentley visited Mexico City to do research for his dissertation; Katherine Lacksen, studied nutrient pollution in Darwin, Australia; Gregory Moss studied German philosophers in Germany; Geoffrey Nolan, taught English at the Universidad del Norte in Baranquilla, Columbia; Tierney O’Sullivan visited Tasmania to study the endangered Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle; Alyson Pittman, worked as an English teaching assistant in Rwanda; and Melissa Siegel taught English in Malaysia.

For a look at UGA’s efforts around the globe, see

-Sara Freeland