Grant from National Institute of Health funds brain research at Georgia College

  • Ashok Hegde, Ph.D., the William Harvey Professor of Biomedical Sciences,
    recently scored Georgia College a $381,357 grant from the National
    Institute of Health (NIH).
  • It’s the first time Georgia College has received a grant from that federal agency. It’s unusual too, because competition’s fierce even among larger, research schools. Less than 15 percent of applications each year get funded.
  • Quote from Dr. Indiren Pillay, chair of biological and environmental sciences: “This is an immense achievement. Not only does it put us in the forefront of doing cutting-edge research; it also serves as a great platform for our undergraduate students to get involved in neuroscience research,” Pillay said. “For me, getting the grant is one thing. But what the grant brings is opportunity for our students. And that’s what will enhance our program. That’s what it’s all about.”
  • The university had to provide the government evidence its research will work. This included preliminary data, innovation, introduction of new concept, methodology and proper description of plans. Hegde also had to show his past history, publications and contribution to science.
  • The grant is being used to purchase special machinery, chemicals, microscopes and computer software to analyze data. Money will also pay the salary of a postdoctoral Research Fellow and stipends for undergraduates to continue their work in the summer.
  • Four students currently work with Hegde. Senior biology major William Anda of Peachtree City said he’s excited to join Hegde’s team, because the research is “completely unique.”
  • Students will study the brains of mice, which have largely the same gene composition as humans. They will examine pathways that turn on genes in nerve cells and measure changes in electrical communication along pathways between nerve cells.

Recent alumnus wins Award for Excellence in Student Research

  • Russ Gardner, ’15, received the 2016 Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council (GHRAC) Award for Excellence in Student Research Using Historical Records. Gardner graduated from Georgia College last December with a degree in history. He was recognized for writing “Music in Macon, Georgia in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era: the Foundation for the ‘Song and Soul of the South.’”
  • “Gardner surveyed an extensive number of primary sources on his own initiative,” according to Dr. Lauren Acker, lecturer of history at Georgia College, who nominated Gardner and advised him on the senior thesis he submitted for the award.
  • “He actively searched out Georgia newspaper repositories and other resources, and his resulting paper makes use of an array of primary sources,” Acker wrote in her nomination. “Overall, Mr. Gardner’s enthusiasm for primary-source research is commendable and remains unmatched among the undergraduates I have instructed at Georgia College.”
  • Gardner explored “Macon’s claim to a unique musical heritage” and its residents’ “yearning for a lively soulful type of music,” according to a paper summary. The study “delivers a lucid understanding of the influence of black performers and the circumstance of a city open to publicly enjoy and praise black genres of music during racially turbulent times.”
  • A native of Gray, Georgia, Gardner’s been invited with his family and professor to attend a reception and awards ceremony in October at the Georgia Archives in Morrow. More than 30 awards were given this year by GHRAC, a 12-member council appointed by the governor to bring awareness to issues of historical preservation and promote educational use of state and local archives.

Dr. Sam Mutiti named Fulbright Scholar

  • Associate Professor Dr. Sam Mutiti recently received a Fulbright Scholar grant. Research that began in 2013 with a study abroad trip for Georgia College students to the southern African nation developed to allow him to spend nearly a year in Zambia researching contamination in a former mining town and teaching students at the University of Zambia.
  • Quote from Mutiti: “The main project I’ll be working on for my Fulbright will be to look at the town of Kabwe that has very high environmental concentration of heavy metals (including lead) that is much higher than anything you would find in any other place in the world. It has been ranked one of the most polluted places in the world,” said Mutiti, Biological and Environmental Sciences faculty member.
  • Mutiti will work to answer several key questions while there including how can the people live with such levels of the poisonous lead in their blood.
  • Quote from Indirem Pillay: “This award further exemplifies our commitment to building authentic international connections with institutions of learning around the world,” said Dr. Indiren Pillay, chair of the Department of Biological and Environmental sciences. “Dr. Mutiti has already been instrumental in exposing students to study and research on the African continent, and this opportunity will lead to even more international learning opportunities for our students in Biological and Environmental Sciences.”
  • In all, Mutiti will research and teach in the African country from October 2016 through mid-August 2017.



Trax on the Trail – GC students create research website about presidential campaign music

Talking points:


  • Created by assistant professor of music at Georgia College Dana Gorzelany-Mostak, Trax on the Trail ( has contributors across the country, and seeks to map the musical landscape of a presidential campaign for the first time in history.
  • Sarah Kitts, junior music student at Georgia College, is one of four research assistants for Trax on the Trail. She and other researchers are constantly tracking all musical activity on the campaign trail, including music used in candidate advertisements, songs played at campaign events and fundraising concerts, and campaign-themed music created by users on sites such as YouTube. Quote: “As a student and researcher, I have learned so much about presidential campaigns I had never even considered … It is interesting to see the music that each candidate chooses and how it fits into their campaign,” Kitts said.
  • The Music Division at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has taken interest in Trax on the Trail.
  • Trax on the Trail uses FacebookTwitter and Tumblr to regularly post related articles from media outlets to inspire thought and engagement in followers who are interested in the subject. Trax on the Trail staff will also join with WRGC 88.3 FM to host a regular radio show for listeners who want to learn more about campaign music.


Michael Ziegler – National Science Foundation Research Grant

Talking points:

  • Michael Ziegler, an environmental science major in the Department of Biological and Environmental Science, has been awarded a National Science Foundation Fellowship to participate in research in Africa for the summer of 2016.
  • Ziegler will join a group of researchers from George Washington University at the Koobi Fora Field School in Kenya. In collaboration with other team members including Georgia College alumnus David Patterson, his research will involve aspects of modern and fossil ecology.
  • In the modern component, he will be investigating the relationship between modern vegetation and large ungulate distributions at Mpala Conservancy on the Laikipia Plateau of central Kenya. At Koobi Fora, he will be using large mammal fossils as well as fossil soils to better understand paleoecosystem variability between 2 and 1.4 million years ago. This will serve as the foundation for testing hypotheses related to hominin landuse and the ecological drivers of major hominin adaptations during this period.
  • The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based Master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. They received nearly 17,000 applications and made 2,000 award offers in 2016.