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Food through a new lens

UNC-Chapel Hill cultural anthropologist Colin Thor West became interested in the lives of rural farmers and the challenges they face when he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo, West Africa, from 1994 to 1996.

Today he focuses his research on food insecurity issues in neighboring Burkina Faso. West and a graduate student assisting him traveled there this past summer, satellite maps in hand, to interview the indigenous Mossi people about how their environment is changing.

“I work in a part of Africa where people often can’t grow enough food because of production and access issues, and a lot of these people are very poor,” said West, an assistant professor of anthropology. “I also touch on issues of local and global climate change and drought.”

The anthropology department launched a concentration a year ago in “Food, Environment and Sustainability,” dovetailing with the beginning of UNC’s two-year academic theme, “Food for All: Local and Global Perspectives.” West will teach an upper-level undergraduate course that mirrors the concentration’s name in spring 2017. Both undergraduate and graduate courses are offered in the concentration, including “Anthropological Perspectives on Food and Culture,” “Archaeology of Food” and “Global Health.” Another new course, “Intro to Food Studies: From Science to Society,” will be cross-listed in anthropology, nutrition and American studies.

Read more about Colin Thor West’s research here.

Spellings installed as president of UNC system

When the University of North Carolina was founded more than two centuries ago, North Carolina was leading the way in providing affordable higher education opportunities for the citizens of the new state.

As she was inaugurated as the 18th president of the University of North Carolina on Oct. 13, Margaret Spellings urged the state to become the leader in public education in once was, again.

“Today, we must lead again in recognizing quality higher education as a civil right — a vital part of our founding promise,” she said. “That means making education possible for all. That’s never been done — not here, not anywhere. But it’s plainly needed if our state and our people are going to thrive in the century ahead.”

Read more about Spelling’s installation here.

De Rossi named new School of Dentistry Dean 

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has selected Dr. Scott De Rossi, who was most recently the chair of the oral health and diagnostic sciences department at Augusta University’s Dental College of Georgia, as the new dean of the School of Dentistry.

“Scott De Rossi is a leader in oral medicine and brings significant clinical and research expertise,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost James W. Dean Jr. “Chancellor Folt and I are confident that his concern for faculty and student diversity and globalization will help our School of Dentistry achieve its vision to be a world leader in improving oral health through excellence in education, patient care, research, public service and engagement.”

Read more about Dean De Rossi here.

Happy Birthday Carolina!

Wishing the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at happy 223rd birthday….

Give for good: UNC-Chapel Hill accepts $20 million match challenge from anonymous donor 

On the heels of a record-breaking fundraising year in fiscal 2016, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has accepted a $20 million match challenge in support of need- and merit-based scholarships. Running through October 2017, the “Give for Good: Scholarship Challenge” is structured as tandem $10 million matches – one benefiting the Carolina Covenant and the other Morehead-Cain Scholarships – to open the way to a world-class, Carolina education.

The match comes as part of a recent $40 million gift to the University from an anonymous donor. For one of the few remaining U.S. public universities that is truly need blind during the admissions process, the “Give for Good” challenge, if met, will fund more student scholarship opportunities that epitomize the University’s mission.

Read more about the $20 million match challenge here.

8 young researchers receive NSF CAREER awards

Eight young faculty researchers have been awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development awards for projects starting in 2016.

The grant awards, known as CAREER awards, have a combined value of more than $5.9 million and represent the most CAREER award winners in a single year for Carolina.

“These awards represent the future of UNC,” said Terry Magnuson, vice chancellor for research. “The projects themselves reflect the scholarly diversity and excellence of our institution. That we have eight NSF CAREER award winners this year is a testament to Carolina’s national leadership in research.”

The 2016 awardees, from the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Information and Library Sciences and the School of Education, are:

  • Robert Capra, assistant professor of information and library science;
  • Eric Brustad, assistant professor of chemistry;
  • James Cahoon, assistant professor of chemistry
  • Leslie Hicks, assistant professor of chemistry;
  • Nicholas Law, assistant professor of physics and astronomy;
  • Alexander Miller, assistant professor of chemistry;
  • Kihyun “Kelly” Ryoo, assistant professor of learning sciences; and
  • Justin Sawon, associate professor of mathematics

Read more about the 8 researchers here.

Science for safer food

On a dry, warm afternoon in early August, it’s business as usual in the heart of the Santa Maria Valley. One of the most productive agricultural regions in California, this sun-drenched landscape is home to thousands of acres of produce – especially spinach, lettuce and other leafy greens. At the edge of a vast field of red leaf lettuce stands a scientist who has traveled here from across the country.

“This is the kind of lettuce we test,” said UNC-Chapel Hill researcher Rachel Noble, as she leaned down to touch the delicate leafy bunch of auburn.

While she’s more than 2,500 miles away from her lab at the UNC Institute of Marine Science in Morehead City, North Carolina, Noble is very familiar with this area of California. For the past 10 years, she has made regular trips to California to help develop and hone technology that tests fresh produce for bacteria like E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria.

Read more about food science at Carolina here.

Four faculty members honored with Hettleman awards

Four highly promising Carolina faculty members in diverse fields have been awarded the Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prizes for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by Young Faculty.

The recipients, who were recognized at the Sept. 16 Faculty Council meeting, are: Tamara L. Berg, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science; Jillian Dempsey, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry; Matthew L. Kotzen, associate professor (with tenure) in the Department of Philosophy; and Lee Weisert, assistant professor in the Department of Music.

Read more about the Hettleman award recipients here.

Well Said: PlayMakers’ 40th Anniversary

For four decades, PlayMakers Repertory Company has been a staple at Carolina, bringing world-class actors and directors to campus.

Based in the College of Arts and Sciences, PlayMakers is the professional theater in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has become North Carolina’s premier resident professional theater company.

As the company celebrates its 40th anniversary, we talk with Producing Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch about PlayMakers’ storied history and its future.

Every Wednesday the University’s podcast “Well Said” talks with students, faculty, staff and alumni to discuss what’s going on in classrooms, labs and around campus, and how it pertains to the local, national and international headlines.

Listen to Well Said on PlayMakers here.

Kenan Flagler’s online MBA@UNC program ranked No.1 by the Princeton Review

The Princeton Review has ranked the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School’s MBA@UNC program the No. 1 online MBA program for a second consecutive year.

UNC Kenan-Flagler launched the pioneering MBA@UNC program with 19 students in 2011; today, the program has 765 enrolled students from 46 states and 15 countries. MBA@UNC students and graduates report achieving career success, with 76 percent of reporting students receiving a promotion while enrolled in the program and graduates reporting an average $33,000 increase in salary from the time of enrollment to the time of graduation.

“As we mark the fifth anniversary of MBA@UNC’s launch, we are proud to serve working professionals who seek both a rigorous curriculum from our top-ranked business school and the flexibility of online learning,” said Sridhar Balasubramanian, senior associate dean of MBA programs and professor of marketing at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

MBA@UNC combines collaborative online classes, self-paced coursework and interactive learning in small virtual classes with a maximum of 15 students per live session. To deliver MBA@UNC, UNC Kenan-Flagler collaborates with 2U Inc., which provides cloud-based software-as-a-service technology and technology-enabled services to support faculty and students.

The Princeton Review ranked schools based on surveys of 90 institutions offering online MBA programs, approximately 3,800 students enrolled in the online MBA programs and graduates of the programs. Criteria focused on five areas: academics, selectivity, faculty, technical platforms and career outcomes.

Story by Jeni Cook, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Well Said: Disruptive Demographics

The traditional one-size-fits-all mentality in business and the workplace just isn’t cutting it in the United States anymore.

Aging baby boomers and adjustments to immigration laws are rapidly changing the country’s demographics and creating major challenges for companies.

We’re talking about those disruptive demographics with James Johnson, William R. Kenan Distinguished Professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at Kenan-Flagler Business School and director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center in the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Entrepreneurship.

Every Wednesday the University’s podcast “Well Said” talks with students, faculty, staff and alumni to discuss what’s going on in classrooms, labs and around campus, and how it pertains to the local, national and international headlines.

Listen to Well Said on Disruptive Demographics here.

Carolina Spotlight: ‘Spirit of Innovation’

Of the more than 800 startups created at universities across the country this year, only 35 have been handpicked as the best and earned an opportunity to showcase their work to members of the U.S. Congress.

Two of those top startups have their roots at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“It’s a great sign,” said Tim Martin, assistant director of KickStart Ventures Services, a Carolina-based program that helps faculty turn their ideas into businesses. “It’s something that we’ve been working towards. For two of the 35 in the whole country to be from UNC-Chapel Hill is pretty special.”

Carolina’s Renovion and EpiCypher are among startups from more than two dozen universities and research institutes presenting to venture capitalists and members of Congress at the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer’s University Startups Demo Day.

Held in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 20, the event showcases the roles of universities in the formation of groundbreaking startups. It also provides a chance for companies to exhibit their work.

“For us, it’s an opportunity to tell our story on a broader scale, but also talk about how great innovations can be built out of a university and really get that foundation that they need to thrive in the marketplace,” said Dan Copeland, the CEO of Renovion.

Based in Durham, Renovion is a pre-clinical stage pharmaceutical company developing a therapy for lung transplant patients — a treatment that doesn’t yet exist for the country’s more than 10,000 lung transplant patients.

“Lung transplant patients today have the highest mortality rate among all solid organ transplants,” said Copeland, a graduate of UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s MBA program. “There’s also no FDA approved therapy for lung transplant patients, so our goal is really to help those patients and figure out a way we can give them better outcomes.”

Carolina has played a large role throughout the company’s history. The patent for the Arina-1 treatment is licensed to Renovion by UNC-Chapel Hill, and the company received the KickStart Commercialization Award. The award, from Office of Commercialization and Economic Development’s KickStart Ventures, is a grant that provides up to $50,000 for a startup company that is attempting high-impact work.

As a company in its very early stages, Copeland said the University and its resources have been key.

“Carolina has been a great source of funding and support for us as we grow the company,” he said. “There are physicians and researchers at UNC who had this idea early on and have really fostered it over the past 10 years. The spirit of innovation at Carolina has been great for us.”

“We really feel that we have a team behind our back that cares about what our team is doing. That’s helped us be successful today.”

Bioscience company EpiCypher also credits a portion of its success to the support it received at Carolina. Utilizing technology out of biochemistry and biophysics professor Brian Strahl’s lab and leveraging campus resources, EpiCypher is “Carolina-born,” CEO Sam Tetlow said.

With a team of 18 employees, EpiCypher develops and sells recombinant nucleosomes — an industry first — and other products for epigenetics and chromatin research. Drug discovery companies use the products to test new medicines during the early stages of development.

“We synthesize essential products that represent the human body and ship those to our customers,” said Tetlow, also a graduate from Kenan-Flager’s MBA program. “We’re selling a body in a bottle, and our customers use that to determine if a new medicine will work or not well before you get into human clinical trials.“

For every an order is shipped out, Tetlow said, their product saves .42 of a person’s life. EpiCypher just recently sent its 1,000th order.

One of the rare revenue-positive startups, EpiCypher has utilized federal grants available through Carolina and incubation space to get off the ground.

“We wouldn’t have been able to move to our new site off campus that has about 5,000-square-feet unless we had been able to incubate on campus for about a year and a half,” Tetlow said. “We’re a good example of a company that has leveraged all of the resources that are available at the University and a great example of a cultural shift that has gone on under [Vice Chancellor for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development] Judith Cone’s leadership of responsible innovation.”

Just four years since the founding of the company, to be called one of the best university startups and be invited to attend the University Start-ups Demo Day in D.C., is “inspiring,” Tetlow said.

“There are 4,866 active university startups in business today, and there are about 800 startups created every year out of Universities. So for us it’s validation and a recognition for the people who have worked so hard,” he said.

By Brandon Bieltz, Office of Communications and Public Affairs
Published September 19, 2016.

Congressional Update

September 1, 2016

After a seven-week summer hiatus Congress is set to reconvene on September 6. While away, many lawmakers hit the campaign trail and attended the Republican and Democratic National conventions.  When Congress returns after the Labor Day holiday legislators will be faced with the challenge of keeping the government open as federal funding is set to expire on September 30. 

Leaders in each chamber vowed early in the year to make a bit of appropriations history and complete work on individual spending measures for the first time in two decades. Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have approved all twelve of their FY 2017 spending bills.  So far, the Senate has passed three and the House has passed six of the FY 2017 bills.  However, a stopgap spending measure will be needed in September.

Many lawmakers have mentioned passing a continuing resolution (CR) that extends into next year rather than trying to wrap up FY 2017 spending legislation in a comprehensive omnibus in December.  A CR would freeze federal funding at FY 2016 levels.  These details will need to be sorted out over the next few weeks and any CR would also need President Obama’s signature before October 1 to avoid a government shutdown.  It appears all parties are equally committed to avoiding a government shutdown.  The Office of Federal Affairs will closely follow the budget and legislative activities in Washington and will provide another update in the coming weeks. 

Carolina in the Capitol 

July 27, 2016

The Office of Federal Affairs facilitated a Congressional staff briefing for a new National Science Foundation funded project, the South Big Data Regional Innovation Hub, co-led by UNC-CH and Georgia Tech.  The briefing was held in the Gold Room of the Rayburn House Office building on July 27, 2016.  Participants included team members from UNC-CH, Georgia Tech, NSF, University of Texas, and Intel.  This visit to Capitol Hill also included office visits to targeted committee staff and Congressional staff.

The Office of Federal Affairs routinely organizes meetings and events in Washington to broaden the understanding of policymakers on issues affecting UNC’s academic and research endeavors.  

Image: (L-R) Lea Shanley, UNC; Srinivas Aluru, GaTech; Fen Zhao, NSF; Renata Rawlings-Goss, GaTech;  Dan Stanzione, UT Austin, Stan Ahalt, UNC; Melvin Grier, INTEL

First Welcome: ‘Believe you can be successful here’

August 12, 2016

Nearly 20 percent of tSPOTFirstGenhe University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s students are the first in their families to begin the journey of earning a college degree.

But they aren’t alone. Hundreds of Carolina faculty and staff, including members of the University’s leadership team, understand the struggle – and excitement, and accomplishment.

Because they were first-generation college graduates, too.

“On our best day, what UNC does is bring together talent and give that talent the opportunity,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost James W. Dean, Jr., who was the first in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree in 1978. “The most important thing is to know that you can do it. If you’ve been accepted into the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, you have the capability to be successful here. Never doubt that.”

Read more…


Blood, Sweat, and Tears

img_3622_edited-logoJuly 27, 2016

Bruising. Unexpected bleeding. Joint pain and swelling. Daily needle injections. Social isolation. All of these struggles are part of the daily routine for someone living with hemophilia — a rare disorder that prevents the blood from clotting due to one of two missing proteins. A person with hemophilia can experience spontaneous bleeds, usually in soft tissue like muscles or joints — which swell, tighten and heat up, leading to movement loss in the joint. Bleeds in the brain can cause seizures, while those in the lungs can block airways.

Compound those symptoms with that of HIV infection: body rash, fever, sore throat, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, severe headaches. Add to that the development of AIDS, which prevents the body from fighting off infection. In the 1980s, that was life for nearly 10,000 people with hemophilia who had contracted the deadly blood borne disease through weekly blood infusions.

In 1981, researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill found themselves at the epicenter of this perfect storm. But it was the curiosity of one man —nearly thirty years prior — that set in motion events that would open a vast field of research at UNC and draw in hundreds of researchers across the university.

Kenneth Brinkhous’ research and determination altered the course of global public health. With the passage of the years, it would transform the life of a man named George McCoy and the lives of countless others like him who turned to UNC-Chapel Hill in a quest to survive.

Read more…


Maximizing Microbiome Knowledge

May 16, 2016

Top scientists, innovative collaborations, and world-class infrastructure position UNC-CH for new presidential initiative to understand the microbial world

Microbiomes – communities of diverse microorganisms that live together in different environments – are invisible to the naked eye. But these communities play an enormous role in maintaining the health of ecosystems found in plants and soils, the ocean and atmosphere, and systems within the human body, like our digestive track.

The White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP) has recently announced a new National Microbiome Initiative to advance research into microbiome behavior and function. The effort promises to yield not just a better understanding of our natural world, but also insights into how microbiomes can be tapped to improve the health of humans, plants, animals, and ecosystems. Although there are tens to hundreds of millions of different types of microbes, there is little current understanding of how they interact in communities or with their environments and the different disciplines that study the microbes in humans, animals, plants, and the environment tend to be disconnected.

“We live in a microbial world,” says Jeff Dangl, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Professor of Biology, Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and co-author of several key journal articles that have helped fuel the OSTP initiative. “You would not be alive today were it not for the microbes in the ocean that provide half of your oxygen, microbes in soil that make production of food possible, and microbes in your gut that help you break down that food and help you fight off infection.”

The White House initiative will fund research into unanswered questions common to all microbiomes. It will also fund better tools to study microbiomes and create opportunities for industry to commercialize discoveries. It aims to achieve coordinated research – linking scientists who study plant microbiomes with those studying human and environmental systems, and drawing in bioinformatics and data scientists essential to this area of research.

Sound familiar? It should, because that type of work fits squarely within UNC-Chapel Hill’s core research strengths. Faculty at Carolina are already leaders in these fields, and are excited about the opportunities the new OSTP initiative could provide.
“We need to mine the wealth of knowledge and depth of experience already present at UNC– the exceptional faculty, staff and students conducting cutting-edge research on microbiomes from many different environments – by unifying it with a larger vision,” says Adrian Marchetti, UNC professor of Marine Science. “This federal initiative may be the catalyst for us to do so.”

Read more…


Davis Library unveils Nobel Prize Exhibit

April 13, 2016

On April 13, Carolina unveiled the new Nobel Prize medal exhibit honoring the Aziz Sancar and Oliver Smithies, the University’s two laureates. The year-long display titled “Be Inspired: Carolina’s Nobel Laureates,” includes the two scientists’ Nobel Prize medals alongside descriptions of their work.

The medals now on display on the first floor of Davis Library, Chancellor Folt said, are not just symbols that represent Sancar’s and Smithies’ decades of work, but also the values of creativity and diversity that drive Carolina.

“The medals show the wealth of innovation that takes place here, they symbolize incredible hard work for such a long time in pursuit of something that is really important,” she said.

Addressing the laureates, she added, “Our campus feels so proud to be part of your success and have played even a small role in their accomplishments.”

Read more:

Video by Carly Swain, story Brandon Bieltz, photos by Jon Gardiner, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Researchers behind landmark study on adolescent health receive Golden Goose Award

April 1, 2016

Five researchers whose determined pursuit of knowledge about the factors that influence adolescent health led to one of the most influential longitudinal studies of human health will receive the first 2016 Golden Goose Award. The Golden Goose Award honors scientists whose federally funded work may have seemed odd or obscure when it was first conducted but has resulted in significant benefits to society.


The researchers are Babara EntwisleKathleen Mullan HarrisRonald Rindfuss, and Richard Udry and Peter Bearman who worked at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the late 1980s and early 1990s to design and execute the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

They are being cited for the extraordinary multidisciplinary, longitudinal study of the social and biological factors that influence adolescent health, and their work’s wide-ranging and often unexpected impacts on society. “This project exemplifies the best team in science,” said Barbara Entwisle, vice chancellor for research and former director of the Carolina Population Center. “It reflects the diverse interests of the team that designed it, not in the sense that each has a defined part, but rather in the sense that all perspectives are fully embodied in the whole.”

Read more:

Learn more about the Golden Goose Awards here

Image: Golden Goose Award winners: (left to right) Peter Bearman, Babara Entwisle, Kathleen Mullan Harris, Ronald Rindfuss, Richard Udry

Connect NC bond invests in UNC system

March 15, 2016

North Carolinians voted yes in the March primaries to invest in the future of our state by supporting $2 billion dollars of investments in education, farming, our zoo and state parks, and in small towns and urban cities across our state… without raising taxes.

With major investments in local community colleges and universities across North Carolina, the Connect NC bond will help produce a highly-skilled workforce for today’s–and tomorrow’s–competitive and technological world. The Connect NC Bond provides nearly $1 billion for our state’s university system, providing state-of-the-art science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) facilities on campuses across North Carolina. These investments are necessary to ensure that North Carolina can compete for the best jobs of the future.

At UNC-Chapel Hill plans have been made for a Medical Education Building Replacement. This project will replace the current Berryhill Building and construct a facility that allows for expanded teaching spaces and office space capable of supporting the growth of enrollment at the school. Upgrades to the new building will also include the technology required to meet research needs, a medical simulation lab room, monitoring room, classrooms, exam rooms, and more offices.

Learn more about Connect NC Bond

UNC Women in STEM

March 9, 2016

1915- Cora Zeta Corpening (1916) from North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives


From the first woman admitted to the School of Medicine, to the researcher who highlighted the health problem of secondhand smoke, to the computer scientist who built networks for the 1998 Nagano Olympics — women at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have achieved some amazing feats in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Presented by the Office of Research Communications learn more about UNC women in STEM thorugh an interactive research timeline here.

Photo Credit: North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives

Geneticist Magnuson next vice chancellor for research

February 23,2016

When Terry Magnuson walked onto the UNC-Chapel Hill campus in 2000, he knew he’d arrived at a unique environment for researchers.

“My first day on campus is when I realized this is the place I want to be,” Magnuson, the Sarah Graham Kenan Professor and founding chair of the Department of Genetics at Carolina, said. “It goes back to the special culture of this institution that I did not see at other places. It’s easy for our faculty, our staff, our trainees to work across boundaries, across schools, and into the college.”

Terry Magnuson in the Genetic Medicine Building on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill February 17, 2016. . (Photo by Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Terry Magnuson in the Genetic Medicine Building

Magnuson spent the next 15 years adding to that culture he felt on Carolina’s campus. He helped build a $245 million-backed genetics and genomics program from scratch — which meant recruiting 42 faculty members from different disciplines. He established the School of Medicine Department of Genetics and directed the newly established pan-campus Carolina Center for Genome Sciences. Just a few months after joining Carolina, he created the Cancer Genetics Program within the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. In 2010, he was named vice dean for research in the School of Medicine.

And on February 23, he was appointed the UNC-Chapel Hill Vice Chancellor for Research, a position that leads Carolina’s campus-wide, $1 billion research program. The appointment, effective July 1, was approved by the University’s Board of Trustees last week.

Magnuson, a renowned geneticist who studies chromatin and gene expression in various diseases, will lead efforts to connect academic units across campus with the University’s overarching mission and manage research support offices as well as select centers and institutes. “I want to facilitate our faculty’s success and impact on the world’s most challenging problems,” he said. He also emphasizes the importance of research that cuts across multiple disciplines.

“Research, really, is not just biological, biomedical science,” he said. “The strength of this university is the incredible programs that span many different disciplines. It’s really important to stress the importance of the breadth of research at UNC — from the arts and humanities across the social, natural, physical, and biological sciences. That’s really the strength of this university.”

Magnuson said he hopes to expand his own mind on the diverse research that takes place at Carolina by meeting frequently with the research teams at different schools — not just for information, but to really discuss initiatives, projects, and collaborations.

Read more:

Creating a national hub of clean tech

February 18, 2016

For years, students have told UNC-Chapel Hill environment and ecology professor Greg Gangi that they no longer want to simply study what is wrong with the planet – they want to begin working on the solutions. That problem-solving notion sparked the idea for the NC Clean Tech Summit — a place where academia, government and the private sector meet to share ideas and create solutions.

Held Feb. 18 and 19 at the Friday Center, the NC Clean Tech Summit highlights the latest innovations, recent trends and pressing challenges — and North Carolina’s central role — in the growing clean technology industry. Chancellor Carol L. Folt, who made welcoming remarks Feb. 18, said the summit represents Carolina taking a lead in advancing clean technology. With the help of universities, government, business and non-profits, she said, North Carolina can become the national hub for clean technology.

Hosted by the Institute for the Environment and the Center for Sustainable Enterprise at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, the conference is focused on five main themes: The Internet of things: smart cities, smart energy, smart homes and smart water; energy transition in the southeast amid a changing landscape; exploring new approaches and solutions to environmental challenges, including industry water usage, restoration projects, and innovations in transportation; advancing clean tech economic growth through the power of collaboration between industry and universities; and innovative financing of clean technology.


Alexander Keros of General Motors discusses current trends in the electric motor vehicle market during NC Clean Tech Summit

Throughout the two-day conference, more than a dozen panel discussions led by industry, government and academic leaders will focus on innovation and emerging trends. Panels cover a range of issues from venture capital in clean tech and the state’s emerging wind industry to predicative analytics and clean energy policies.

The summit is the ideal time to build the relationships necessary to make progress, as well as introduce students to industry leaders, said Gangi, the associate director for education at UNC’s Institute for the Environment. “The goal is to not only educate students, but show them career pathways where there’s going to be a lot of opportunities in the future,” he said.

Carolina climbs to No. 12 among Peace Corps’ volunteer-producing colleges and universities

February 18, 2016

Carolina is ranked No. 12 among large schools on the Peace Corps’ 2016 Top Volunteer-Producing Colleges and Universities list, up three spots from last year.

There are 39 Tar Heels currently volunteering around the world and 1,258 alumni have served in the Peace Corps since the agency’s founding in 1961.

UNC-Chapel Hill was ranked No. 15 last year; Carolina has been ranked in the top volunteer producing large school category for the last 10 years.

In November 2015, Carolina hosted a fireside chat and recruiting event with Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. During the evening event, Hessler-Radelet discussed opportunities for service in the Peace Corps, the preeminent international service organization of the United States that sends Americans abroad to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the globe.

For more information, visit the Peace Corps’ website.

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:

New UNC PA program serves military, students, rural N.C.

February 1, 2016

Even though he’s no longer on active military duty, Dave Manning plans to use many of the tools and skills he spent two decades crafting. Manning, a former U.S. Army and Navy medic, is one of 20 students enrolled in the first Physician Assistant Studies class, housed in the UNC School of Medicine’s Department of Allied Health Sciences.

It is open to all students, but has a special focus on military veterans, who make up nearly half of the class.

“UNC has done something different,” Manning said. “By virtue of having 45 percent of the initial class veterans, it shows their dedication to getting veterans into this program.”

The attention isn’t entirely on veterans; students from civilian backgrounds are also enrolling in the Physician Assistant Studies program. Kami Harris’ path to the program didn’t involve military service, but she is still excited about her future in the field.

“I did my research and realized it was my calling,” Harris said. “It’s important for me to serve North Carolinians because this is my home.”

Video by Rob Holliday, Communications and Public Affairs and Elizabeth Poindexter, UNC School of Medicine; Story by Rob Holliday, Communications and Public Affairs

Carolina sets 11th consecutive record for first-year applications

January 28, 2016

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has set an 11th consecutive record for first-year applications – an increase of 12 percent over last year and the second largest increase within the last 25 years.

As of Jan. 25, Carolina’s 35,748 first-year applicants come from all 100 counties in North Carolina, all 50 states and the District of Columbia and 124 countries outside the United States. At least 11,307 of the applicants are North Carolina residents, which is an increase of 10 percent over last year. Applications from global students total 3,778 and reflect an increase of 19 percent over last year.

Applicants from low-income households, as indicated by their qualification for an application fee waiver, rose from 3,488 to 4,409, an increase of 26 percent. The fee-waiver guidelines roughly parallel the thresholds for the Carolina Covenant, the University’s groundbreaking program that promises a debt-free education to all eligible admitted students who apply for aid on time.

The University expects to enroll a first-year class of 4,100.

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

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