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Multiple images of researchers working in the field. The first image shows two student researchers, looking at a laptop by a stream in their high boots and weighters. The second image is a close up shot of a student researcher looking at creatures in glass containers. The third image shows two professors, wearing safety glasses, about to pour liquid nitrogen. The fourth image shows a researcher in the lab. The fifth image shows a group of researchers looking at foliage in plastic bags. The sixth image shows two researchers taking images for the library archive, one is standing on a stool while the other holds books open.

The Vice Chancellor


Portrait of Dr. Penny Gordon-Larsen

Penny Gordon-Larsen

Interim Vice Chancellor for Research

312 South Building

CB 4000

Email: pglarsen@email.unc.edu
Ph: 919-962-1319
Fax: 919-962-1476


Penny Gordon-Larsen was appointed interim vice chancellor for research in March of 2022, overseeing UNCʼs $1 billion research enterprise. Under her direction, the office is responsible for setting strategic priorities for research, managing proposals and awards, providing research infrastructure, identifying and managing funding opportunities, and developing collaborative research teams and partnerships. Prior to this appointment, she served as the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Healthʼs associate dean for research, a position she held since September 2018, where she provided intellectual and strategic leadership and vision for the schoolʼs research programs and activities.


Gordon-Larsen is trained as a human biologist whose research focuses on issues related to ethnicity, disparities, and development of obesity over the lifecycle, with attention to pathways linking environment and behavior to cardiometabolic risk. Her portfolio ranges from molecular and genetic to environmental and societal-level factors that influence health, and she has collaborations across the university. She is a distinguished professor of global nutrition in the nutrition department, which is jointly housed in the Gillings School and the School of Medicine and she is a fellow of the Carolina Population Center.

She served as President of The Obesity Society in 2015. She received the Eli Lilly Scientific Achievement Award in 2010 and the George A. Bray Founders Award in 2020, both from The Obesity Society. She also served on the NIH Nutrition Research Thought Leaders Panel and as Chair for the NIH Kidney, Nutrition, Obesity and Diabetes Study Section. And she currently serves on the NIHʼs National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases advisory council and co-chairs the NIDDKʼs Strategic Plan Dissemination and Implementation Research Subgroup. In addition, she sits on the NIDDK Health Disparities/Health Equity Research Implementation Plan and the NIH Council of Councils Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Integration workgroup.

Additionally, Gordon-Larsen leads the “Heterogeneity in Obesity Creativity Hub: Transdisciplinary Approaches for Precision Research and Treatment,” a large, collaborative project with 27 faculty from 16 departments, six schools, and five centers and institutes. The project focuses on understanding why two people who consume the same diets and exercise equally can have very different susceptibility to weight gain, with the aim of developing treatment approaches that go far beyond the “one-size-fits-all” approach that is so common. The project includes translational obesity research, population science, data science, and a precision obesity trial. Read more about the Obesity Hub on the Endeavors website.


Bridget Riordan is the Executive Assistant for the Vice Chancellor. Ms. Riordan is responsible for the Vice Chancellorʼs calendar and works closely to help prepare and review presentations, reports and travel coordination.

Email: briordan@unc.edu
Ph: 919-962-1319


Jo Ann Gustafson serves as Director of Operations and Senior Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Research. She is responsible for the management of all administrative functions. These include day-to-day management of all activities and procedures and oversight of budget and personnel administration within the organization. Ms. Gustafson serves as the HR Officer for the Research Division.

312 South Building

CB 4000

Email: joann_gustafson@unc.edu
Ph: 919-962-1319



Associate Vice Chancellors



Portrait of Andy Johns

Andy Johns

Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Research

312 South Building

CB 4000

Email: Andy_Johns@unc.edu
Ph: 919-962-8253


Andy Johns is responsible for strategic planning, research policy, infrastructure and operations, and elements of regulatory compliance. Johns focuses heavily on the complexities and challenges associated with biomedical research, addressing challenges and barriers to growth of the research enterprise, both from a logistics and policy perspective. He has led university-wide efforts to plan for new academic and research initiatives in data science and data analytics, among others. Johns oversees the Offices of Sponsored Programs, Clinical Trials, and Research Information Systems.


Andy Johns has served in higher education for over two decades in areas of research, financial and information technology administration. Prior to his current role, Johns served as director of UNC’s Office of Research Information Systems and also held the role of director of IT Services for UNC’s Finance division. Johns received his undergraduate degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.


Britt Johnson-Broache serves as Executive Assistant to Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Andy Johns.

312 South Building

CB 4000

Email: britt.johnson@unc.edu
Ph: 919-962-1319




Portrait of Craig Fletcher

Craig Fletcher

Associate Vice Chancellor for Research

Email: craig_fletcher@med.unc.edu
Ph: 919-962-0394


Craig Fletcher advises the Vice Chancellor for Research on strategic planning for research involving animals and participates in the design of new research and administrative initiatives and strategies. Fletcher also serves as director of the Division of Comparative Medicine, serving as university attending veterinarian, manages the university program for laboratory animal care and housing, serves as a member of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, and participates in educational and research program activities.


Dr. Fletcher completed his B.S. degree in Laboratory Animal Science from North Carolina Agriculture & Technical State University (A&T), a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) from the University of Florida, and a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. After completing post-doctoral fellowship positions at Johns Hopkins University, he joined the distinguished faculty in the Department of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology before joining the faculty of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the School of Medicine at UNC. He was awarded the Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award from NC A&T State University, serves as a standing review panel member of the National Institutes of Health’s Scientific and Technical Review Board on Biomedical and Behavioral Research Facilities, and serves as the Chair of the Executive Board for the North Carolina Association of Biomedical Research.


Amina Joy Thorne-Morning is Executive Assistant to Craig Fletcher.

Email: thornemo@email.unc.edu
Ph: 919-843-7992




Portrait of Don Hobart

Don Hobart

Associate Vice Chancellor for Research

123 W. Franklin St.
Carolina Square Suite 600B
Chapel Hill, NC 27516

CB 7006

Email: don.hobart@unc.edu
Ph: 919-843-0052


Don Hobart manages public and external affairs for UNC Research. His responsibilities include managing research opportunities with university, agency and institutional partners, external partnerships with businesses and economic development organizations, and global relationships. He serves as a primary OVCR point of contact for federal and state government issues related to research matters, working with the UNC Offices of Federal Affairs and State Government Relations. He represents the OVCR on various boards and committees internal to UNC and the UNC System and with external organizations. He oversees the UNC Office of Research Communications and his staff maintain UNC’s statistics for research impact.


Prior to joining UNC-Chapel Hill, Don Hobart served the state of North Carolina in the Department of Commerce and Office of the Governor developing and executing economic development programs and policies, recruiting industry, and managing state and federal government affairs. He has served as chief counsel to North Carolina’s Attorney General and spent a decade in private practice as a defense litigator and trial attorney in the state and federal trial and appellate courts. He was awarded an Eisenhower Fellowship in 2006 to study economic development strategy in Southeast Asia. He received his law and undergraduate degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill.


Jordan Hill serves as Executive Assistant to Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Don Hobart.

Email: jhillvo@email.unc.edu
Phone: 919-962-9041


Harrison Gilbert serves as Research Associate supporting AVC Don Hobart.

Email: harrison.gilbert@unc.edu
Ph: 919-962-3623




Portrait of Joyce Tan

Joyce Tan

Associate Vice Chancellor for Research

310 South Building

CB 4000

Email: joyce_tan@med.unc.edu
Ph: 919-962-0394


Joyce Tan is responsible for developing and implementing strategic research initiatives for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and overseeing the Office of Research Development. Tan facilitates interdisciplinary research programs and initiatives to grow the university’s global reputation. She encourages innovation and entrepreneurship by connecting the OVCR with leadership across UNC and by promoting research partnerships with external public and private organizations.


Prior to joining UNC-Chapel Hill, Tan led the discovery and development of a therapeutic asthma vaccine program and contributed to the development of vaccines in cancer and neuroscience at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals’ Global Research and Development. She also developed small molecule therapeutics in cancer and infectious disease at Anadys Pharmaceuticals. Her scientific background is in immunology. She made important scientific contributions to the understanding of how cells populate the immune system after chemotherapy and how immune cells maintain memory to respond to subsequent infections. She received her PhD degree from Emory University and BA degree from Washington University in St. Louis.


Britt Johnson-Broache serves as Executive Assistant to Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Joyce Tan.

312 South Building

CB 4000

Email: britt.johnson@unc.edu
Ph: 919-962-1319



Research Leaders



Portrait of Jon Collins

Jon Collins

Chief Scientific Officer
Pinnacle Hill

4008 Marsico Hall
125 Mason Farm Road

Email: jon.l.collins@unc.edu
Ph: 919-381-8257


Prior to joining UNC, Jon Collins served as Director of Discovery Partnerships with Academia at GlaxoSmithKline, where he led joint academia-GSK drug discovery collaborations across the United States. He has 24 years’ experience leading multidisciplinary drug discovery research teams across all phases of early drug discovery, from therapeutic target identification to development candidate selection. He has served as a co-author on 80 scientific publications and is an inventor on 16 composition of matter patents claiming six clinical development compounds. He currently serves as a scientific advisor for the University of Michigan Therapeutic Innovation Fund and BioLabs NC, and previously served as a member of the Duke-Coulter Translational Partnership Oversight Committee. He received his BS degree in chemistry from UNC and PhD in organic chemistry from IU at Bloomington, then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard.


Jordan Hill supports Chief Scientific Officer Jon Collins.

Email: jhillvo@email.unc.edu
Phone: 919-962-9041




Portrait of Layla Dowdy

Layla Dowdy

Director of Communications

123 West Franklin Street, Suite 600B

CB 4106

Email: layla.dowdy@unc.edu
Ph: 919-962-7765


Layla develops communication strategies and tactics for the OVCR that promote the impact of UNC-Chapel Hill’s $1 billion research enterprise to external and internal audiences. She also leads the Office of Research Communications in their charge to increase awareness of Carolina’s research accomplishments through a variety of media, including the University’s research magazine Endeavors. Additionally, she oversees the annual, pan-campus University Research Week celebration.


Prior to joining Carolina in 2014, Layla worked for NASA at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. where she managed strategic communications for the Space Technology Mission Directorate. Before transferring to D.C, she served as a public affairs specialist at Kennedy Space Center during the last years of the Space Shuttle Program, creating and executing communication initiatives during a time of transition for the nation’s space program and the local economy.

She holds a Master of Business Administration from the Florida Institute of Technology, as well as a master’s in integrated marketing communication and a bachelor’s in public relations from Florida State University.




Portrait of Eric Everett

Eric Everett

Research Integrity Officer

Carolina Square, Room 6070
123 West Franklin Street, Suite 600B

CB 7006

Email: eric_everett@unc.edu
Ph: 919-962-0988


Eric Everett is the Institutional Research Integrity Officer for UNC-Chapel Hill, serving as the University liaison to the federal Office of Research Integrity. As such, his responsibilities include evaluating allegations of research misconduct, protecting the rights of complainants and whistleblowers, and providing guidance and support regarding inquiries into misconduct allegations. Everett also serves as a professor in the Division of Oral and Craniofacial Health Sciences in the Adams School of Dentistry and Director of Research Integrity, Ethics, and Education in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.


A scientist and mentor, Eric Everett’s research focuses on genes and pathways in the embryonic and postnatal development of craniofacial, oral and dental structures. Prior to joining the UNC Chapel Hill faculty, Eric Everett earned his M.S. in clinical immunology from the University of Florida College of Medicine, before attending the Medical University of South Carolina for his Ph.D. in molecular cell biology and pathobiology. He completed postdoctoral work in hematopoiesis (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) and medical genetics at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Later joining the faculty at Indiana University Schools of Medicine and Dentistry.


Jordan Hill supports RIO Eric Everett.

Email: jhillvo@email.unc.edu
Phone: 919-962-9041



Portrait of Essie Torres

Essie Torres

Director of Strategy for Research Diversity Workforce and Community Partnerships

312 South Building

CB 4000

Email: Essie.Torres@unc.edu
Ph: 919-962-1319


Essie Torres is tasked with assuring the OVCR’s commitment to a diverse and welcoming research community that upholds the highest standards of inclusive excellence. She will develop a coordinated strategy for expanding community partnerships, diversifying human subjects research programs, and recruiting and investing in faculty, trainees, students, and research staff that better reflects a culturally diverse intellectual community. She will also collaborate with stakeholders across campus to develop research opportunities that advance inclusivity.


Torres earned her doctoral degree in human development in educational contexts from the University of Rochester and a Master of Public Health from State University of New York at Albany.



Office Directors


Portrait of Tracy Heenan

Tracy Heenan

Animal Care and Use

Email: tral@med.unc.edu
Ph: 919-966-5569


Portrait of Shakira Henderson

Shakira Henderson

Clinical Research

Email: shenderson2@unc.edu
Ph: 786-417-2127


Portrait of Christine Nelson

Christine Nelson

Clinical Trials

Email: christine_nelson@unc.edu
Ph: 919-843-0832


Carley Emerson

Human Research Ethics

Email: Carley_Emerson@unc.edu
Ph: 919-966-3113


Portrait of Nathan Blouin

Nathan Blouin

Research Development

Email: nathan_blouin@unc.edu
Ph: 919-962-7504


Portrait of Harrison Gilbert

Harrison Gilbert

Research Partnerships and Impact

Email: harrison.gilbert@unc.edu
Ph: 919-962-3623


Portrait of Brian Collier

Brian Collier

Science and Security

Email: bcollier@email.unc.edu
Ph: 919-962-3113


Portrait of David Paul

Sponsored Programs

Email: david.paul@unc.edu
Ph: 919-843-7780