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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

Vice Chancellor for Research

312 South Building

Penny Gordon-Larsen is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor in the nutrition department, which is jointly housed in the UNC School of Medicine and the UNC School of Global Public Health. She has been a Carolina faculty member since 2002.

In 2022 she was named interim vice chancellor for research and in 2023 she became the University’s permanent vice chancellor. Prior to serving as the vice chancellor for research, she served as associate dean for research at Gillings, where she led research strategy for the nation’s top public school of public health.

As vice chancellor for research, Gordon-Larsen develops, sets strategic direction, and provides support for UNC’s $1.12 billion research enterprise. She is responsible for research infrastructure, operations, and regulatory compliance, research development, research translation, and research communications, and strategic research partnerships. In addition, she oversees 13 pan-campus, inter-disciplinary research centers and institutes. She works across campus with the University’s research deans, center/ and institute directors, and key institutional leaders to strategically advance Carolina’s research enterprise.

Gordon-Larsen’s research focuses on the linkages between biology, behavior, and environment to inform efforts to prevent, manage, and treat obesity and associated cardiometabolic diseases. She has served as principal investigator or co-principal investigator research totaling over $23.6 million and has served as a co-investigator on an additional $49.1M interdisciplinary research team projects with collaborators. Her NIH-funded research portfolio ranges from molecular and genetic to environmental and societal-level factors that influence health and obesity and its cardiometabolic consequences. She also 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 can have vastly 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.

Gordon-Larsen received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and anthropology from Tulane University and her master’s and doctoral degrees in Human Biology from the University of Pennsylvania. She has authored more than 270 scientific papers in leading peer-review journals. Her work has been cited over 102,000 times with an h-index of 86. She served as president of The Obesity Society in 2015 and a member of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Advisory Council from 2020 to 2023. She also served on the 2020–2030 Strategic Plan for NIH Nutrition Research Thought Leaders Panel, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Strategic Plan Working Group, and the NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Integration Working Group.

For assistance, please call 919-962-1319.

Yana Biblin serves as director of the VCR Research Administration Service Center that helps faculty and principal investigators focus on their research efforts by providing customized administrative and management support for research proposals, grants, awards and contracts.

Carolina Square, 123 W. Franklin St.
Suite 600B, Building C
CB 7006

Ph: 919-962-3610

Leslie Heal serves as director of Finance Operations and Analytics, and Major Organizational Unit (MOU) Finance Lead for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.

Heal is responsible for developing and implementing financial strategies as well as overseeing the day-to-day financial operations of the organization. Her expertise in leveraging technology for forecasting and reporting has been a key asset to the Vice Chancellor for Research. She has implemented tools to enhance the organization’s forecasting capabilities, improve data accuracy and visualization, and streamline financial reporting processes. Prior to her administrative position, Leslie utilized her doctoral degree in music from Indiana University teaching courses at the University level.

312 South Building
CB 4000

Ph: 919-962-1319

Associate Vice Chancellors

Portrait of Andy Johns

Andy Johns

Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Research

312 South Building

CB 4000

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. He 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. He received his undergraduate degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Blair Killian serves as Executive Assistant to Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Andy Johns.

312 South Building

CB 4000

Ph: 919-962-5481

Portrait of Craig Fletcher

Craig Fletcher

Associate Vice Chancellor for Research

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.

Craig 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.

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

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. Hobart 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. Hobart received his law and undergraduate degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill.

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

Phone: 919-962-9041

Harrison Gilbert serves as Research Associate supporting AVC Don Hobart.

Ph: 919-962-3623

Research Leaders

Portrait of Nathan Blouin

Nathan Blouin

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Development

123 W. Franklin Street, Suite 600B

CB 4012

Ph: 919-962-7504

As Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Development, Nathan Blouin constantly looks for new ways to support the research mission of the university. Over the years, Blouin has supported dozens of successful large scale proposal efforts, across a number of federal, state, and private grant-making agencies.

Nathan Blouin has over 10 years’ experience in research development and pre-award sponsored research administration. Prior to joining UNC in 2016, Blouin led a large and complex proposal support effort at New York University (NYU) within the Office of Sponsored Research. He holds an MBA in Finance, Marketing, and Strategy from NYU, and a BA in Chemical Biology and Philosophy from Boston University.

Portrait of Jon Collins

Jon Collins

Chief Scientific Officer
Pinnacle Hill

4008 Marsico Hall
125 Mason Farm Road

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. Collins 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.

Phone: 919-962-9041

Portrait of Layla Dowdy

Layla Dowdy

Director of Communications

123 West Franklin Street, Suite 600B

CB 4106

Ph: 919-962-7765

Layla Dowdy 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, Dowdy oversees the annual, pan-campus University Research Week celebration.

Prior to joining Carolina in 2014, Layla Dowdy 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

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, 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.

Phone: 919-962-9041

Portrait of Quinton Johnson

Quinton Johnson

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Compliance

312 South Building

CB 4000

Ph: 804-514-3175

Quinton Johnson serves as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Compliance at UNC-Chapel Hill. Johnson strives to facilitate international collaboration and clinical research programs by lowering the barrier to access compliance resources. In this role, he provides guidance and answers for research compliance operations, with the overarching aim of reducing compliance burden and fostering a culture of ethics and compliance.

Prior to overseeing Research Compliance services, Quinton Johnson was responsible for enterprise-wide compliance in his roles as the Chief Compliance Officer and Export Control Officer at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Portrait of David Paul

David Paul

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Sponsored Programs

104 Airport Drive, Suite 2200

Ph: 919-843-7780

Portrait of Essie Torres

Essie Torres

Director of Research Workforce Strategy and Community Partnerships

312 South Building

CB 4000

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 is developing 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 also collaborates with stakeholders across campus to develop research opportunities that advance inclusivity.

Essie 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 Christine Ackley

Christine Ackley

Human Resources


Photo Coming Soon

Valorie Buchholz

Clinical Research Compliance

Ph: 919-445-9355

Portrait of Brian Collier

Brian Collier

Science and Security

Ph: 919-962-3113

Portrait of Carley Emerson

Carley Emerson

Human Research Ethics

Ph: 919-966-3113

Portrait of Harrison Gilbert

Harrison Gilbert

Research Partnerships and Impact

Ph: 919-962-3623

Portrait of Tracy Heenan

Tracy Heenan

Animal Care and Use

Ph: 919-966-5569

Portrait of Tatiana Shapiro

Tatiana Shapiro

Export Control