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September 11, 2017   Columns Articles | Inside UGA | Annual retreat for federal legislative staff showcases…
Magnify Federal Staff Retreat 2017-h
Federal legislative staff visited the Geomaterials Engineering Laboratory and the Structural Engineering Testing Hub during part of the the Office of Government Relations' annual Federal Staff Retreat last month. Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski

Annual retreat for federal legislative staff showcases UGA advancements

By Emily Patuek | September 11, 2017
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Federal staffers got an exclusive look at the University of Georgia's new Center for Molecular Medicine before the building's official Sept. 20 dedication as part of the Office of Government Relations' annual Federal Staff Retreat last month.

The Center for Molecular Medicine will house up to 10 research groups dedicated to conducting translational research that positively impacts human health. It was one stop among many that showcased UGA's innovative research efforts during this year's retreat. Federal staff from 14 of Georgia's 16 members of Congress attended the two-day retreat on campus.

"As the research enterprise grows at the University of Georgia, our faculty, staff and students are making ever-greater contributions to solving the grand challenges of our time," said President Jere W. Morehead. "We are grateful to our federal partners for all they are doing to support the university's research efforts, which drive innovation and economic development across the state and beyond."

Federal legislative staff also visited the Geomaterials Engineering Laboratory and the Structural Engineering Testing Hub, two state-of-the-art civil engineering facilities at UGA. Led by associate professor and Assistant Dean for Student Success and Outreach Stephan Durham, faculty and graduate students from the College of Engineering were on hand to discuss their work and its practical applications.

"As a Double Dawg, I thought I knew a lot about UGA's research programs and community outreach services, but the Federal Staff Retreat opened my eyes to the full range of the university's activities," said Katie Chaudoin, who serves as U.S. Sen. David Perdue's legislative correspondent for national security.

During the retreat, Provost Pamela Whitten outlined UGA's latest efforts to prepare students for success after graduation through the university's experiential learning requirement. As an example, third-year student Trisha Dalapati spoke with staffers about her research on the intersection of maternal health and malaria.

Interim Vice President for Public Service and Outreach Laura Meadows detailed UGA's $5.25 billion annual impact on the state's economy, citing specific cases from the Small Business Development Center and the Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

Peabody Awards Executive Director Jeffrey Jones discussed some of the recent winners of the George Foster Peabody Award, internationally recognized as the most prestigious prize for excellence in electronic media.

Attendees also visited the Indoor Athletic Facility, where they heard about concussion research at UGA from Ron Courson, director of sports medicine for the UGA Athletic Association, and Julianne Schmidt and Robert Lynall, assistant professors in the College of Education.

UGA has taken advantage of the annual congressional recess each August for the past several years, using the time to highlight for federal staffers the university's academic and public service initiatives, research advances and institutional priorities.

"From small business to new media to cutting-edge medical research, UGA offers students competitive learning opportunities and continues to have a major economic impact in key industries," said Chaudoin. "This retreat is a great way to learn more about UGA while strengthening ties with Washington."

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