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UNC Area Studies Centers Delegation on Capitol Hill

February 3, 2016

UNC is one of a very few U.S. universities to house several National Resource Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education under the Title VI program. Staff and students met with NC Congressional members on February 2 for an insightful discussion on Title VI funding for UNC international opportunities. Representatives from UNC included Beau Mills, Director of the Office of Federal Affairs; Niklaus Steiner, Director of the Center for Global Initiatives; Jason Warner, UNC Alumnus and PhD Candidate at the Harvard in African Studies; and William Stelpflug, a Senior Economics and Peace, War and Defense Double Major.


Left to Right, Beau Mills; Niklaus Steiner; Representative Mark Walker; Jason Warner; William Stelpflug


Left to Right, Jason Warner; Representative Alma Adams; Niklaus Steiner; William Stelpflug; Shaniqua McClendon (Rep. Adams Legislative Director)

UNC Area Studies Centers are nationally recognized for cooperating to better serve the University and public by informing them of events, research and funding. The centers, part of the College of Arts and Sciences and housed in the FedEx Global Education Center, provide services and resources for teaching foreign languages, research and training in area and international studies and in instruction and research related to areas of the world and global issues. By pooling resources, the centers are able to develop programs that provide a deeper understanding of the world’s regions and the importance of international education. Special emphasis is placed on offering resources to educators in North Carolina. Affirming the University’s global prominence, five of the area studies centers have been designated as Title VI National Resource Centers funded through competitive grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

UNC’s area studies centers include:

For more information:

UNC Alum publishing book concerning Lumbee Indians

February 2, 2016


Malinda Lowery, Associate Professor and Director of Southern Oral History Program

Malinda Lowery, recipient of an NEH Public Scholar uses grant to write a history of the Lumbee Indians. Publishing in Fall 2017, Lowery’s scholarly book titled The Lumbee Indians: An American Struggle tells a survey of American history from a Lumbee perspective. Lowery earned her PhD in History from UNC in 2005 and she is a working documentary film producer.

She started the Lumbee Indians project in 2011, and states that “before I received this grant I was drafting an average of one chapter a year, on top of teaching and directing UNC’s Southern Oral History Program. I just never had the time to make any of these chapters good. Now, thanks to the program and to my university’s generous support, I can produce something not only worth writing, but worth reading.”

Lowery has written one book (Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South, published in 2010), about fifteen academic book chapters and articles, and lots and lots of grant proposals.

Read more:

Hauser named Churchill Scholar

January 27, 2016

Blake M. Hauser, a fourth-year student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been named a recipient of the Churchill Scholarship, a research-focused award that provides funding to American students for a year of master’s study in science, mathematics and engineering at Churchill College, based at the University of Cambridge in England.

Hauser was one of only 15 selected for the prestigious award, which not only requires outstanding academic achievement but also seeks those with proven talent in research, extensive laboratory experience and personal activities outside of academic pursuits, especially in music, athletics and social service. She is UNC-Chapel Hill’s 16th Churchill Scholar.
pic9Hauser aspires to be a physician-scientist and plans to pursue an M.Philin Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation.

“Blake is an ideal Churchill Scholar, said Mary Floyd-Wilson, director of Carolina’s Office of Distinguished Scholarships. “She excels as a researcher, a public servant and a leader. But more than that, Blake infuses her scholarship and service with warmth and honor. I have no doubt that her work will improve international healthcare and advance the fight against infectious disease.”

Read more:

UNC student filmmakers headed to Cannes Film Festival

January 27, 2016

This fall, juniors Riley Reid, Stuart Schrader and Jan Bergengruen entered the Campus MovieFest contest. Although it was their first competition, the group took home the award for best picture for “Of Princes.”

“We’re just really excited for the opportunity to be able to go,” Reid said. “I mean it’s just wild — we still are kind of like, ‘What did we do to get this?’ It’s one of the top film festivals, and we’re just two kids who wanted to make a film, you know?”

Schrader and Reid started working together more than a year ago when they discovered a shared interest in creating visuals and film. Initially, they were making videos for fun. But last January, Schrader invested in the high-end camera and lighting equipment necessary to continue at a professional level. This creative platform has successfully led the three UNC students to Cannes Film Festival, this coming summer.

Read more:

UNC researchers announced a breakthrough that could one day revolutionize cancer treatments

January 14, 2016 

The breakthrough from researchers in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy would improve that delivery method, by targeting a strike far more precisely to just the bad cells, and potentially reducing harmful side effects drastically.

“That means we can use 50 times less of the drug and still get the same results,” says Elena Batrakova, an associate professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. “That matters because we may eventually be able to treat patients with smaller and more accurate doses of powerful chemotherapy drugs resulting in more effective treatment with fewer and milder side effects.”

pic4Batrakova and her team at the pharmacy school have previously demonstrated success using the same technique in delivering therapies to treat Parkinson’s disease. To date, the research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Carolina Partnership and the Russian Federation Ministry of Education and Science. They have studied the delivery method only in a lab and in mouse models, though hope to take steps toward eventual human testing down the road.

Read more:

Image: Elena Batrakova, PhD, an Associate Professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy

Researchers further illuminate pathway for treatment of cystic fibrosis

January 12, 2016

New research findings from the UNC School of Medicine add further clarity to a question that has polarized the cystic fibrosis research community.

Carla Ribeiro, PhD, associate professor of medicine, and her colleagues at the UNC Marsico Lung Institute/Cystic Fibrosis Research Center debate that the genetic defect precedes the airway disease, but does not directly lead to some of the worst symptoms patients face. A paper from this group, published in the American Journal of Critical Care Medicine, suggests new targets for therapy and further bolsters the case for inflammation as an acquired response unrelated to the CFTR genetic mutation.

Ribeiro and colleResearchers further illuminate pathway for treatment of cystic fibrosisagues Bob Lubamba, PhD, research specialist Lisa Jones, Wanda O’Neal, PhD, and Richard Boucher, MD, showed that CF alveolar macrophages are key contributors to the inflammation of CF airways, and that the overabundance of a protein called XBP-1 in these cells mediates their inflammatory effect. Ribeiro said she has focused much of her work in the past few years on trying to understand the role of this protein in CF airways disease.

“Our work has shown that the alveolar macrophage plays a key role in the pathogenesis of CF airway inflammation,” Ribeiro said. “And that activation of XBP-1 mediates the secretion of inflammatory factors by alveolar macrophages. This is all helping to make a stronger case for why this pathway may be an important target for therapy.”

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and a Scholarship for Excellence grant from Wallonia-Brussels International.

Image: Carla Ribeiro, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, a joint Associate Professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology and an investigator at in the UNC Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Welcome back message from Chancellor Folt

Dear Carolina Community:

Happy 2016! Please take a moment to watch my welcome back video message for a look ahead at the spring semester.

Thank you,

Carol L. Folt

Top 15 videos of 2015

December 28, 2015

We’ve balpic2anced on roofs, attached cameras to skateboards and Rameses, and captured images of everything from our two Nobel laureates to our 2015 Carolina graduates. We’ve dodged paint, dunked underwater, climbed to the cupola of South Building – and had a great time telling Carolina’s stories.

Take another look at 2015’s top 15 most popular produced videos, as counted by the UNC-Chapel Hill YouTube channel and Facebook page:

  1. Remembering Coach Dean Smith
  2. Snowy Week in Chapel Hill
  3. Carolina’s Dr. Aziz Sancar Wins 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
  4. Volunteering to honor a legacy through DEAH Day
  5. A Day in the Life: Rameses the Carolina Mascot
  6. First Day, First Sip
  7. Turning Tassels at Carolina
  8. Chance to Recharge
  9. Underwater Hockey
  10. A Day in the Life: Daily Tar Heel Editor Jenny Surane
  11. Thousands remember Coach Smith
  12. Carolina remembers 9/11
  13. Carolina Pregame Rituals
  14. Carolina in Bloom
  15. A Day In The Life: ROTC Cadet Jordan Sawyers

DeSimone to recieve U.S. National Medal of Technology & Innovation

December 22, 2015

The White House on December 22 announced the latest recipients of the National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation — our nation’s highest honors for achievement and leadership in advancing the fields of science and technology. The new awardees, including Joseph DeSimone, Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will receive their medals at a White House ceremony in early 2016.

DeSimone founded a startup company called Liquidia Technolgies (Research Triangle Park, N.C.) that is building on promising vaccine clinical trail results.  He is currently on sabbatical leave to lead his new company, Carbon3D, in Silicon Valley.  Carbon3D is developing a new 3D printing techonology invented by DeSimone and colleagues, which can fabricate objects significantly faster than current state-of-the-art 3D printers. Read more

Related: President Obama to Honor Nation’s Leading Scientists and Innovators

Image: Joseph DeSimone, Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

No. 1, again

December 16, 2015

For the 15th time, the nation’s first public university is first in value. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is once againpic3 the best value in public schools across the country and also number one for best out-of-state value, a new category added this year by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. Carolina also moved into the top ten ranking of public and private universities.

The top ranking is no coincidence— Carolina’s commitment to low cost is a value built into the school’s mission and its history. Despite rising costs, tuition at UNC-Chapel Hill has always been among the lowest of all comparable universities, including public schools.

“Providing a great value to the people of North Carolina and students around the nation and the world is a hallmark of our 222-year history,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “We’re proud to continue to be recognized as the best value in American public higher education for the 15th time, a welcome tribute to our deeply held commitment to accessibility, affordability, innovation and student success.”

Rounding out the top three for best values in public colleges: The universities of Florida and Virginia. Taking the top spot in the combined best values list is Washington and Lee University, followed by Princeton and Harvard.

Sancar receives Nobel Prize in Sweden

December 15, 2015

Nobel 2015.

More than two months after being awoken by a phone call from Sweden to inform him that he had won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Aziz Sancar has been presented with his Nobel Medal.

Sancar, the Sarah Graham Kenan Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, traveled to Stockholm this week to receive the honor from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

“We congratulate Dr. Sancar on his Nobel Prize for a scientific discovery of the highest order,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “His groundbreaking research on DNA repair is already impacting the health and survival of millions around the world.” Along with the award ceremony on Dec. 10, Sancar delivered a lecture and autographed a chair at Bistro Nobel at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm — a tradition for Nobel winners.

Sancar, who has been a professor at Carolina since 1982, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry this year for his work on mapping the cellular mechanisms that underlie DNA repair. Sancar shared the prize with Tomas Lindahl of the Crick Institute in the United Kingdom and Paul Modrich of Duke University. Sancar mapped nucleotide excision repair, which cells use to repair ultraviolet damage  to DNA.

In a Dec. 8 lecture in Stockholm, Sancar discussed his career from first cloning the gene that codes for the enzyme photolyase in his mentor’s lab to uncovering a major repair mechanism our bodies use to keep cancer at bay as we are bombarded with environmental factors, such as sunlight and pollution, which constantly damage DNA in our cells.

RENCI and Georgia Tech will lead new NSF Big Data Hub

November 2, 2015

Carolina’s Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) and Georgia Institute of Technology will co-direct a new, national effort to develop a big data innovation hub serving 16 Southern states and the District of Columbia.

The hub will have dual locations in Atlanta and Chapel Hill, with co-executive directors who will be accountable to hub partners. The new initiative aims to build innovative public-private partnerships that address regional challenges such as health care, habitat planning and coastal hazards through big data analysis.

The South Big Data Regional Innovation Hub (South BD Hub) is one of the National Science Foundation’s four Big Data Regional InnoPic for filevation Hubs (BD Hubs) announced last month.

“The explosion of data and increasing speeds with which it can be used will provide new career paths and the biggest opportunities of our age,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt.  “The NSF Big Data Hub award puts Carolina and our region front and center in the effort to turn big data into knowledge that leads to better health care, more informed decisions, sustainable urban planning and many other practices.”

Related: RENCI and Georgia Tech to lead major effort that applies Big Data Solutions to Challenges Faced in North Carolina and the SouthUNC, Georgia Tech team up in analytics hub that counts SAS, IBM, GE as supporters

Image: Visualization of the ADCIRC Surge Guidance System (ASGS) output for Hurricane Joaquin (2015), advisory number 12, when the storm was considered a threat to the North Carolina coast. This ASGS model grid has very high resolution in the North Carolina area, and runs on RENCI high-performance computing systems.

Carolina scientist Aziz Sancar awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Aziz Sancar, a biochemist who has exquisitely mapped part of the DNA repair system in cancer cells, has been honored this year with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden announced Oct. 7. Sancar, the Sarah Graham Kenan Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the UNC School of Medicine, earned the Nobel Prize in Chemistry this year for his work on mapping the cellular mechanisms that underlie DNA repair, which occurs every single minute of the day due to environmental factors. In particular, Sancar mapped nucleotide excision repair, which is vital to fixing UV damage to DNA. When this repair system is defective, people exposed to sunlight develop skin cancer. Also, Sancar showed that other substances can damage the nucleotide excision repair system. His work provides the crucial basic knowledge necessary to develop better treatments that protect against DNA damage, which can result in cancer. Two others also won the prize for chemistry: Tomas Lindahl of the Francis Crick Institute and Clare Hall Laboratory in Great Britain, and Paul Modrich of Duke University School of Medicine and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Read more:

June 29, 2015


Duffle bags in hand, 14 active-duty and recently-separated military members arrived on Carolina’s campus for a boot camp designed to prepare them for their next mission: college.

The Warrior-Scholar Project, a program funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), chose the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as one of 11 universities nationwide to teach and train service members this year about the transition from military life to college life. Read more. Related video.

DHS Selects UNC to Lead Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence

June 23, 2015

DHS COE Press ConferenceThe University of North Carolina at Chapel Hillhas been awarded a five-year, $20 million grant to lead a Center of Excellence for Coastal Resilience (CRC) by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate.

The Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence initiative will include collaboration with more than a dozen partner universities, as well as federal, state and local governments to address the unique challenges facing communities across the United States that are vulnerable to coastal hazards.

Rick LuettichThe CRC, which will receive an initial $3 million grant for its first operating year, is charged with helping to conduct research and education that directly addresses key challenges associated with growing coastal vulnerability.

Images:  (Top, L-R) U.S. Rep. David Price (NC-4th District), Drs. Rick Luettich and Gavin Smith, DHS Deputy Under Secretary Robert Griffin and NC Emergency Management Director Michael Sprayberry announce DHS COE grant at press conference in Raleigh. (Bottom) Dr. Rick Luettich demonstrates computer modeling used to predict storm surge from hurricanes.

Related: UNC-Chapel Hill launches Coastal Resilience Center; Local Scientist Leads Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence; and CRCvideo.

UNC Gets $15M Grant for ‘Heart Health Now!’ Initiative

UNC Health Care LogoUNC received a $15 million health care grant that funds a three-year “Heart Health Now!” initiative aimed at reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease – the number one cause of death in North Carolina. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, who awarded the grant, works within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to “produce evidence to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable,” according to its mission statement. Read more.

Martin Brinkley ’92 Chosen as 14th Dean of UNC-CH School of Law

SPOTSchoolofLaw_Dean__90Martin H. Brinkley ’92, a partner in the law firm of Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell & Jernigan, L.L.P. in Raleigh, will be the 14th dean of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law. Brinkley was chosen after an extensive nationwide search, led by Mike Smith ’78, dean of the UNC School of Government, and succeeds retiring Dean John Charles “Jack” Boger ’74, who plans to return to the law school faculty after serving as dean for nine years.

Related: Brinkley Chosen as 14th Dean of School of Law

Contact Office of Federal Affairs

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Ph: (919) 843-0050