All posts by Arthur Takahashi

GRU Confucius Institute announces new leadership


Cindi chance
Dr. Cindi Chance, director of the Confucius Institute

Dr. Cindi Chance has been named director of the Georgia Regents University Confucius Institute. Chance previously served as the dean of the GRU College of Education for three years.

“I’m honored to represent this cultural centerpiece that brings GRU and the local Chinese community together,” Chance said. “Chinese heritage in the Augusta area is so rich, dating back to the late 1800s. I’m looking forward to continue honoring this heritage through the Confucius Institute and working side-by-side with the Chinese government to promote Chinese language and culture on our campus and in the CSRA.”

“In a world that is getting smaller and more interconnected, global awareness and cultural competency are essential skills to have,” GRU President Dr. Brooks Keel said. “The Confucius Institute is a great initiative that helps bring those skills to our students and to the Augusta area. We are confident that Dr. Chance will build upon the excellent work this institute has already done at our university and our community.”

Keel, who was named GRU president in July, also joins the Confucius Institute board.

Dr. Quincy Byrdsong, vice president for academic planning and strategic initiatives, will also oversee the institute’s academic programs and other initiatives. Byrdsong, who served as the associate vice president for health sciences strategic initiatives and engagement at Virginia Commonwealth University, joined GRU on Aug. 1.

Quincy Byrdsong_EdD_Associate Vice President for Health Sciences
Dr. Quincy Byrdsong, vice president for academic planning and strategic initiatives

“With China being such an important country politically and economically, studying the Chinese language and culture is of great benefit to our students and our community,” Byrdsong said. “I’m excited to help lead the Confucius Institute, enhancing multicultural awareness in our community as well as expanding GRU’s global presence.”

GRU is among 400 universities across the globe that has an institute that promotes the study of the Chinese language and culture. The GRU Confucius Institute, however, is the first to be affiliated with a comprehensive academic medical center and the first in the Western Hemisphere to focus on traditional Chinese medicine.

The nonprofit, public institute opened its doors on March 28, 2014, and is the result of a partnership between GRU and the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, one of the oldest and most notable universities in China for the study of TCM.

The unique partnership was announced in July 2013 with the authorization of the Office of Chinese Language Council International under the Ministry of Education of China.

Click here for coverage of Chinese artist LiHong Li’s donation of a landscape painting to the Confucius Institute.

Chinese artist donates painting to Confucius Institute

LiHong Li, an artist from Nanjing, China, gifted one of her landscape paintings to the GRU Confucius Institute at a luncheon on Aug. 20. The event also served as the first meeting of the new leadership of the institute with representatives of the local Chinese community.

GRU is among 400 universities across the globe that has an institute that promotes the study of the Chinese language and culture. The GRU Confucius Institute, however, is the first to be affiliated with a comprehensive academic medical center and the first in the Western Hemisphere to focus on traditional Chinese medicine.

The nonprofit, public institute opened March 28, 2014, and is the result of a partnership between GRU and the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, one of the oldest and most notable universities in China for the study of TCM.

5 websites to keep you up-to-date on Election 2016


AUGUSTA, Ga. – Political news on social media and other online sources could play a big role in the 2016 presidential elections as tech-savvy millennials outnumber baby boomers for the first time.

People born between 1982 and 2000 are the most populous generation in the country this year, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. A total of 83.1 million Americans are millennials compared to 75.4 million baby boomers, those born in 1946 through 1964.

Also, 74 percent of the news the tech-savvy generation consumes comes from online sources, according to a recent research by Media Insight Project. About 6 in 10 millennials get their political news from Facebook, according to a Pew Research Center report released in June.

“Millennials know how to use social networking applications better than baby boomers,” said Dr. Craig Albert, assistant professor of political science at Georgia Regents University. “They have a different type of access to information, and that tends to affect whether or not they are going to vote. This could also affect how they vote if they go out to vote. ”

With online sources becoming more important for political news, Albert recommends five websites where voters can get reliable information on political issues and the 2016 presidential candidates:

  • Real Clear Politics: Voters who want to know which presidential candidate is leading on the latest polls should use this website. Surveys come from different states and from different polling institutions. Some of the polls even pit Democratic candidates against GOP contenders.
  • Ballotpedia: As a nonpartisan political website, Ballotpedia offers information on all Democratic and Republican candidates, including their policy on a wide range of issues such as taxes, health care, education and immigration. Voters can also find out which politicians may join the race and which ones declined to run. Ballotpedia also has information on upcoming presidential debates.
  • Politico: Although Politico has a liberal agenda, it is a reliable source of political news. As long as voters know the website leans Democrat, they can enjoy a wide range of news including foreign affairs, environmental policy and even political scandals.
  • Conservative Review: This website is for voters who want to learn more about the Republican presidential candidates. Voters can read about the views that candidates have on issues such as government spending, civil liberties and education. The website also grades candidates on how conservative they are on those issues.
  • 270 to Win: This website, which is also an app, is useful on election day as it shows how many electoral college votes each state has, how many states and electoral college votes a candidate needs to win and which candidate is likely to win each state and overall. Voters can also play with an interactive map and create their own 2016 election forecast.


Registration for Innovation Summit 2015 begins

AUGUSTA, Ga. – If you have a great idea and want to turn it into the next big thing, you could get help for free.

Beginning today, registration is open for the Innovation Summit 2015, sponsored by the Office of Innovation Commercialization and the Hull College of Business at GRUand the Savannah River National Laboratory.

Experienced innovators speaking at the event will share trends, strategies and advice and could assist people in transforming their big ideas into great products and services.

“We’re very excited to host this third annual event which celebrates innovation, highlights how that innovation moves into the marketplace, and inspires us all to take those next steps and dare to make a difference,” said Chris McKinney, associate vice president of Innovation Commercialization at GRU.

The event will take place from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 6 at the Salvation Army Kroc Center at 1833 Broad St. in Augusta. There’s no cost to attend the summit, but space is limited. You must register in advance at Breakfast and lunch are included.

For more information, visit or contact Rachel Solomon in the Office of Innovation Commercialization at or (706) 721-0153.

Veteran turns 100, celebrates life, America

He may have been born in Italy, but World War II veteran Dante Antonacci – who turns 100 today – lives and breathes red, white and blue.

“America is the best place in the world to live,” said Antonacci from his small room in the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home. “We take our freedom for granted, but there are so many opportunities here.”

Antonacci’s family fled his Italian homeland in 1925 to escape the fascism that was gaining momentum. He recalls many days at sea and several stops along the way aboard the Leonardo da Vinci when he was just 10 years old.

He quickly learned to speak English, survived the Great Depression and attended Penn State following high school. Antonacci was drafted into the U.S. Army shortly after marrying his childhood sweetheart Lida, the mother of his four children.

“She taught me to be an American,” he said.

He served in the Pacific Theatre during World War II – as an American – which made him an enemy of former Italian comrades and even his own cousin.

“It was emotional,” Antonacci said. “But I was American all through that.”

His 30th birthday on Aug. 7, 1945, should have been a milestone for him, but it was overshadowed by the dropping of the first atomic bomb in Hiroshima the day before.

“We didn’t celebrate my birthday,” he said. “We were thinking about the bombing of Hiroshima. I never thought about having a birthday.”

Then, a second atomic bomb hit Nagasaki two days after Antonacci’s 30th birthday.

“We realized that the war was over after the second bomb went off,” he said. “It was a happy day. Happy day and happy birthday.”

100th birthday party

 The Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home staff organized a birthday luncheon for him on the eve of his 100th birthday, serving two Italian specialties – lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs. The meal was topped off with a huge patriotic-colored birthday cake, and his great-grandson Max leading a roomful of family and friends in the “Happy Birthday” song.

When it was his turn to take the microphone during the festivities, Antonacci was overwhelmed with emotions.

He expressed his thanks for his family and all those gathered around him. He was most thankful to be an American, calling the United States “the greatest place on Earth to live.”

GRU explains Republican Primary

AUGUSTA, Ga. – American voters will watch the top 10 Republican presidential candidates face off in the first GOP debate at 9 p.m. Thursday on Fox News, with the remaining candidates debating four hours earlier also on Fox News.

Dr. Craig Albert, assistant professor of political science at Georgia Regents University, teaches courses on American politics, political philosophy, war and terrorism; he also directs the Model United Nations Program. In a new video, he discusses why Republicans have so many candidates and weighs in on why Donald Trump is a problem for the GOP.

“This is the largest number of candidates for a Republican Primary in about 100 years,” Albert said. “It’s been growing since 2008 this lack of identity for the Republican Party and so many different voices. They don’t know who they are; they are so fractured right now. So everybody is trying to be the new voice, the new face, trying to show to the American voters who the Republican Party actually is.”

As a leading scholar in American politics and foreign affairs, Albert’s research interests include Islamic extremism and the rise of ISIS, the Russo-Chechen conflict and the life and work of French political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville. Albert is also a political contributor to The Augusta Chronicle and a blogger for ROAR: Renaissance for American Responsibility. He’s done interviews with many different media outlets, including a live interview with Megyn Kelly for Fox News Channel about the Boston Marathon bombers. He has also testified to the U.S. Congress on Islamic Extremism.

Sexton to lead GRU Cyber Institute

Joanne Sexton has been named Director of the Georgia Regents University Cyber Institute. Sexton, a former information technology expert for the U.S. Navy, previously served as GRU’s director of Cyber Education Initiatives.

“Joanne’s commitment to the university and her students, as well as her knowledge of cyber will certainly help take our cyber research, education and curriculum to the next level,” said Gretchen Caughman, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

“Hundreds of millions of records have been involved in data breaches across the globe, and new attack methods are being launched continuously,” said Dr. Brooks Keel, GRU president. “Through our partnership with the U.S. Army Cyber Command, GRU is poised to take a national leadership role in one of the fastest-growing and most needed areas of professional development. We are confident that Joanne can help us get there.”

GRU launched the Cyber Institute in June to develop research, new curriculum and outreach opportunities in cybersecurity. The creation of the institute is a step toward gaining recognition as a Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense.

Before joining GRU, Sexton served as the first commanding officer of what is known today as Navy Information Operations Command Georgia. She has more than 20 years of information technology experience in the Navy, spanning hardware maintenance, software development and support, telecommunications services, computer center operations, software quality assurance, space operations management, project management and information security practice.

Sexton holds master’s degrees in computer science and in national and strategic studies. She is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional and has earned Global Information Assurance Certifications in several areas of cyberdefense, including security essentials, incident handling, intrusion analysis and penetration testing.

The GRU Cyber Institute provides the framework for all things cyber at the university. Current cybersecurity courses and degrees include advanced information assurance through the Hull College of Business,  medical informatics program, focused on protection of health information, through the College of Allied Health Sciences, and courses on cyberterrorism through the Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

5 apps and gadgets that can help you eat healthy this summer

Barbecue, beer and ball game snacks are all part of summer for many Americans. Although they may satisfy your taste buds, they add a lot of calories to your diet and may result in extra pounds at the end of the season.

“When most people think about losing weight, they only think about hitting the gym and exercising hard,” said Pam Brisky, clinical nutrition manager at Georgia Regents Medical Center. “Although physical activity is important, the best way to slim down is to eat healthy and cut down on your calorie intake.”

Brisky recommends the following apps and gadgets to help you count your calories and avoid gaining those extra pounds during your summer vacation:

  • HAPIFork: Use this futuristic fork to track how fast and how much you are eating. The idea is to help you eat less by helping you eat slower. HAPIFork measures how long you take to eat your meal, how many fork servings you eat per minute and how long your intervals are between fork servings. You can then upload that information to your computer via USB or Bluetooth.
  • CalorieKing: Keep track of your calorie intake and your physical activity with this online food and exercise diary. Search for specific dishes or exercises on the food and activity database, then drag and drop it. The app will measure how many calories you are eating and burning. You can also create a diet plan based on whether you want to lose, maintain, or gain weight. By keeping track of this information over time, you will see where you need to make changes.
  • SparkRecipes: Find healthy, yummy recipes and learn all the nutritional information you need about those dishes on this website. You can also add your own recipes to your account and calculate calories and other nutritional information of your favorite dishes.
  • Fooducate: Use your smartphone to scan the food you are buying to see how healthy it is. Fooducate grades products A through D depending on how natural they are and what their nutritional value is. Never get tricked by complicated food labels again. Fooducate is available for download on Android and iOS devices.
  • PortionMate: Eat the right portions of carbohydrates and proteins by using this tool to measure your meals. These measuring rubber cylinders come in different colors and sizes. Each color represents a different food group. All you need to do is fill up each cylinder with its corresponding food group and you are ready to go.

GRU hosts cybersecurity conference

Local and national cyber experts are developing ways to counteract the growing number of cyberattacks, and you could learn from them for free.

You can now register for BSidesAugusta 2015, a cybersecurity conference that gathers experts from across the country to discuss the latest on cyberattack and cyberdefense strategies. The conference will go from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 12 at Georgia Regents University.

“GRU is proud to host and help sponsor BSidesAugusta,” said Joanne Sexton, Director of Cyber Security Educational Initiatives at GRU. “Through our association with BSidesAugusta since 2013, our students, faculty and information technology staff as well as the local community have benefited from highly technical, professional cybersecurity presentations by well-known cyber industry experts.”

There is no cost to attend the conference, but space is limited. You must register by Aug. 1 on the BSidesAugusta website. All participants will receive a free t-shirt and lunch at the event.

For more information, follow @BSidesAugusta on Twitter or email

5 apps and gadgets to help you get in shape this summer

It’s summertime, and instead of losing weight, you find yourself gaining. What now?

The myth goes that you put on some pounds during the winter and slim down when the temperature goes up. That’s not technically true.

“During the cold months, our body generates heat to keep us warm by burning extra calories,” said Crystal Neal, Exercise Physiologist in Cardiac Rehabilitation at Georgia Regents Medical Center. “This process, called thermogenesis, doesn’t happen during the summer because our bodies are already warm.”

So if your activity level and calorie intake are the same in the winter and the summer, you actually burn fewer calories in the warmer months.

To compensate, you need to move your body more during the hot season in order to lose weight. Neal recommends the following apps and gadgets to help you get in shape this summer:

  • FitBit Flex: Use this device 24/7 to track your activity including steps, distance, calories burned, and sleep. This activity tracker also allows you to set daily goals and lets you know when you’ve met them. The only downside is that it doesn’t have a screen that displays your stats. So you have to import the data to your computer or your Android or iOS mobile device.
  • Runtastic GPS Watch and Heart Rate Monitor: Measure your training stats such as pace, speed, distance, duration, calories, and heart rate by using this GPS watch whenever you run. Then, import all the data to your Runtastic account via your computer, and track your running history and progress.
  • Endomondo: Take this personal trainer everywhere in your pocket. Endomondo is a free sports tracker app that helps you make a fitness plan and set goals. While exercising, you will receive real-time audio feedback on your performance. That way, you’ll know if you need to increase your pace or if you are going too fast. Endomondo also lets you share your activities with others to inspire and get inspired to exercise. The app is available on Android, Windows, Blackberry, and iOS devices.
  • Nike + Training Club: Join this training club for free and gain access to more than 100 workout designed by Nike Master Trainers. Choose your fitness goal and level to begin your training. With this app, you can also get tips from professional athletes. Nike + Training Club is available for download on Android and iOS devices.
  • MyFitnessPal: Use this app if you are serious about losing weight because you can’t slim down if you don’t improve your eating habits.  MyFitnessPal is an online food diary that helps you track every calorie you eat with just a few clicks. It allows you to add your own recipes and create your own food database. You can also create your own diet goals and join discussion forums to receive and share weight loss tips. MyFitnessPal is available for download on Android, Windows, and iOS devices.