Current Scholars Bios

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Lydia Abebe, 2014
Department of Environmental
Sciences & Engineering

Danielle Christmas, 2014
English & Comparative Literature

Sharonda LeBlanc, 2014
Department of Chemistry

Lavar Munroe, 2014-2016
Department of Art
New Cohort for 2015-2017
Rodrigo Adem
J. Robbie Burger
Lamar Graham
Kyle Mays
China Medel

Scholars Bios

LYDIA ABEBE – Lydia Abebe received her doctorate at University of Virginia in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2013. In 2009, she received the SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Award, which supported her graduate research. Her research examined silver-impregnated ceramic water filters for the improvement of water quality and health. In specific, her dissertation focused on three projects: a clinic based randomized controlled trial in Limpopo, South Africa, using ceramic water filters; ceramic water filter treatment of Cryptosporidium parvum, a harmful waterborne parasitic protozoa; and the process of establishing a ceramic water filter factory in Limpopo, South Africa. Abebe helped establish the filter factory as a small business that produces easy to use, low cost filters in Limpopo as an enterprise that will not only generate revenue for local ceramicists, but will also improve human health in the surrounding area. Additionally, Abebe won a national competition that supported entrepreneurship and the development of sustainable, green technology. She is currently working with Professor Mark Sobsey in the Environmental Science and Engineering department at UNC Chapel Hill. Her research will focus on the human health impact of antibiotic resistant bacteria in the environment and will continue to explore household level water purification.

DANIELLE CHRISTMAS –  Danielle Christmas is a former recipient of a number of national awards, including the Cummings Foundation Fellowship at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (2014) and the Mellon / ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship (2013-14). Her manuscript, “Auschwitz and the Plantation: Labor and Social Death in American Holocaust and Slavery Fiction,” concerns how representations of Holocaust and slavery perpetrators contribute to American socioeconomic discourses. Danielle has taught and published on topics ranging from American narratives of Nazi fugitives to the so-called African Hottentot Venus Saartje Baartman. You can find out more about her work at her website,

SHARONDA JOHNSON LEBLANC – Sharonda Johnson LeBlanc is a December 2012 graduate of the Nanoscale Science Ph.D. program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In 2008, she was awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, which supported her graduate studies in single quantum dot fluorescence spectroscopy. During her tenure, she was selected to attend the 60th Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates and Students in Lindau, Germany.  LeBlanc earned her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from UNC Charlotte in 2007, where she also competed in collegiate track and field. She became the first UNC Charlotte student athlete to garner both academic and athletic All-America Honors. She is a two-time All-American in the women’s triple jump, and a three-time Academic All-American. She is currently conducting her postdoctoral research with Professor Scott Warren in the Chemistry Department at UNC Chapel Hill. Her research projects focus on making new materials and devices for converting sunlight into electricity. Following her postdoctoral training, Sharonda looks forward to accepting a tenure-track faculty position at a research university. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter.

LAVAR MUNROE – Lavar Munroe was born on November 19th 1982 in Nassau, Bahamas. In 2004, Munroe relocated to the United States where he earned his Bachelors of Fine Arts from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2007. He then went on to earn a Masters of Fine Art degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 2013. Munroe’s career has fostered much national and international recognition. In the summer of 2010, Munroe represented The Bahamas in the country’s first and only appearance at the Liverpool Biennale. In 2013, Munroe appeared in issue no. 105 New American Painting where he was recognized as an Editor’s Choice. He is an alumnus of the prestigious Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2013). Munroe was awarded a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painting and Sculpture Grant (2013). Most recently in 2014, Munroe was awarded a Post Doc Fellowship at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where his tenure will begin in July 2014. Other noteworthy awards, grants and fellowships include The Kraus Family Foundation, Beach Institute’s: Yes We Can Grant, The Mildred Suliburk Dennis Memorial Scholarship, Sam Fox Dean’s Initiative Fund, Mary Beth Hassan Fund, The Skowhegan Scholarship Award, The Central Bank of The Bahamas Grant, and The National Endowment for the Arts: Nassau Bahamas Grant, among many others.