Category Archives: Faculty

Study shows climate change may hinder fish conservation efforts

For more than 20 years, conservationists in the Caribbean have been working to protect the endangered Nassau grouper. Thanks to those efforts, populations of this critical reef fish have stabilized in some areas.

However, in a new paper authored by researchers from East Carolina University and the University of Texas at Austin, marine scientists show that climate change may severely hinder these conservation efforts by the end of this century.

By 2100, breeding habitats are projected to decline by 82 percent from 2000 levels if nothing is done to mitigate climate change, according to the report published in the July issue of the journal Diversity and Distributions. These spawning habitats are critical to the survival of the species. Additionally, suitable habitats for non-spawning fish are expected to decline by 46 percent.

ECU assistant professor Rebecca Asch and researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have found that climate change may affect the breeding habitats of the endangered Nassau grouper.

ECU assistant professor Rebecca Asch and researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have found that climate change may affect the breeding habitats of the endangered Nassau grouper. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

“To truly understand how climate will impact fishes, we need to know how it will impact the most vulnerable life history stage – spawning. If this link in the life cycle is jeopardized, the species as a whole will be in jeopardy,” said Rebecca G. Asch, an assistant professor of fisheries biology at ECU.

The Nassau grouper is one of the most recognizable reef fish in the Caribbean and, as a top predator, the fish contributes significantly to the ecosystem and can act as a warning system for overall reef health.

Nassau groupers depend on the success of their spawning aggregations, where hundreds to thousands of fish gather in one area for a few days to mate. These mass spawning events make them easy targets for fishers and they were overfished to the point the species became endangered.

Beginning in the 1990s, several countries, including the United States, have put outright bans on fishing Nassau grouper. Other countries, like Cuba and the Dominican Republic, restrict fishing during their winter spawning season. Other areas have restricted fishing in specific breeding grounds.

The paper points out that because Nassau groupers have a narrow temperature range they can tolerate while spawning, this may create a bottleneck that will impact population recovery.

“The concern is that the effects of climate change may override some of the successes of conservation efforts at local and regional scales,” said Brad Erisman, assistant professor of fisheries biology at UT Austin. “That is, if Nassau grouper no longer migrate to spawn in a particular region because the water is too warm, then protecting spawning sites in that region will be ineffective. Likewise, if the months when spawning occurs in certain regions shifts in response to climate change, then seasonal protection measures in those regions will need to shift accordingly to ensure that spawning is still protected.”

Large breeding events, called spawning aggregations, are important for the health of the ecosystem. Large predators, like sharks, feed on the gathered grouper. Whale sharks and manta rays feed on the eggs that are released.

There is some good news, the scientists said. If strong steps are taken to mitigate climate change, breeding habitat is projected to decline by only 30 percent.

The scientists plan to expand their research to look at how climate change may affect spawning in 12 species of grouper and snapper in the Caribbean and the Pacific. The model developed could aid researchers in studying climate change impacts on other fish species that depend on large spawning events.

Funding for the research was provided by the Nippon Foundation-Nereus Program and the National Academy of Sciences Gulf Research Program Early Career Fellowship.

Asch received a prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship in February in the field of ocean sciences. Her work focuuses on how warming oceans lead some marine species to change their reproductive habits, causing them to reproduce at different times of the year than in the past and affecting the way they interact with their food sources. Asch’s work has been reported in national outlets such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, NPR, FOX, Newsweek and The Huffington Post.

The full study can be read online.

 

-by University Communications at ECU/University of Texas at Austin

ECU systematic review explains higher incidence of respiratory diseases in LGB community

A systematic research review conducted recently at East Carolina University sheds light on why sexual minorities have a greater chance of developing respiratory diseases.

Dr. Joseph Lee, assistant professor in ECU’s Department of Health Education and Promotion in the College of Health and Human Performance, set out to learn more about why sexual minorities experience respiratory diseases at a higher rate, and he had a hunch their environments played a big part. However, data about where lesbian, gay and bisexual people are most likely to live wasn’t readily available.

Kerry Sewell, research librarian for Laupus Library’s Systematic Review Service

Kerry Sewell, research librarian for Laupus Library’s Systematic Review Service (Photo by Kelly Rogers Dilda)

So he partnered with Kerry Sewell, research librarian for ECU’s Laupus Library, University of New Mexico graduate student Kasim Ortiz and international collaborator and human geographer Dr. Thomas Wimark from Stockholm University in Sweden to conduct a systematic review – a formal research study that follows a clear-cut model to find, assess and examine research that tried to answer a similar question.

“The limited data available on lesbian and gay lives meant that it was critically important to identify high-quality information from multiple disciplines,” Lee said.

“When there are such gaps in the literature, it’s important to use systematic research methodologies to bring together all of the existing evidence in one place,” said Sewell. “Outcomes of a systematic review can present a reliable depiction of what is known and what remains uncertain.”

The team found 51 quantitative papers addressing the topic from multiple fields and found clear evidence of a pattern that LGB people are more likely to live in urban areas, as well as in areas with more air pollution and more tobacco retailers. The data also suggests that even when LGB people live in more prosperous regions, they’re living in poorer neighborhoods than their heterosexual counterparts.

“This review helps us explain the role of geography in why LGB people are more likely to have respiratory diseases and smoke than their straight counterparts,” Lee said.

These findings not only expand understanding of why certain health disparities exist, Lee said, but can also lead to improved health programs, health education and promotion campaigns for the LGB community.

Dr. Joseph Lee, assistant professor in ECU’s Department of Health Educations and Promotion in the College of Health and Human Performance

Dr. Joseph Lee, assistant professor in ECU’s Department of Health Educations and Promotion in the College of Health and Human Performance (Photo contributed by ECU News Services)

Lee added the findings would not have been possible without collaboration from a medical librarian.

Librarians in Laupus Library’s Systematic Review Service have unique skills that ensure the search for published studies is thorough, guarding against biased findings or recommendations that inform patient care, health care decision-making, research and policy.

“I’m pleased that the Laupus Systematic Review Service was able to bring state-of-the-art systematic review methods to pull together evidence from multiple fields, journals and even languages to inform health programs and future research,” Sewell said.

The review was published on June 27 by PLOS One, a peer-reviewed scientific journal of the Public Library of Science, where it became immediately accessible to the public at no cost.

“This article is a terrific example of how including a librarian on the research team enhances the outcomes of the scholarly product,” said Laupus Library Director Beth Ketterman. “We are very proud of the Systemic Review Service at Laupus Library, and encourage our ECU researchers to utilize this unique librarian skill set so that we can continue to partner in quality contributions to the health literature.”

No data was available on studies of transgender and transsexual populations, pointing to the need for continued research.

Read the full review at http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0198751.

Learn more about Laupus Library’s Systematic Review Service at http://libguides.ecu.edu/systematicreviewservice.

 

-by Kelly Rogers Dilda, University Communications

REDE retreat discusses interdisciplinary research

Cross-discipline research was the topic at hand June 20 at the 2018 Research, Economic Development and Engagement Interdisciplinary Research Retreat held at Greenville’s Eastern Area Health Education Center.

More than 80 East Carolina University researchers and department leaders joined REDE for the event, which included guest speakers from the University of Kentucky, North Carolina State University and the National Science Foundation.

The retreat focused on the growing role and success of interdisciplinary research at major universities.

Interdisciplinary research is a type of research done by teams that integrates information, data, tools, perspectives and techniques across academic departments. This type of work brings together engineers, biologists, economists and psychologists, for example, to solve a need.

“We want our researchers to cross traditional academic boundaries and work together to support ECU’s research mission,” said Jay Golden, vice chancellor for research, economic development and engagement. “It’s a difficult process to begin; it’s not easy reaching across departments to find one another and create meaningful partnerships. However, we have to start reaching across disciplines to come up with solutions to the health, educational and economic disparities our region faces.”

Robert Smart, from left, Elizabeth Blood and Tyrone Borders answer questions during a panel discussion at the 2018 Research, Economic Development and Engagement Interdisciplinary Research Retreat held June 20 at Greenville’s Eastern Area Health Education Center. (Photos by Matt Smith)

Robert Smart, from left, Elizabeth Blood and Tyrone Borders answer questions during a panel discussion at the 2018 Research, Economic Development and Engagement Interdisciplinary Research Retreat held June 20 at Greenville’s Eastern Area Health Education Center. (Photos by Matt Smith)

Current trends

Elizabeth Blood, program director at the NSF, said her organization has seen a shift in funding from individual-led projects to team-oriented interdisciplinary research projects.

From 2004-13, NSF funding for multiple primary investigator research projects rose 40 percent from $1.5 billion to $2.1 billion. The rise has been stark in science and engineering funding, Blood said, with more team-led papers receiving acknowledgments from academic publications.

“We’re seeing a convergence in research toward working together to solve specific and compelling problems with deep integration across disciplines,” Blood said. “Interdisciplinary research combines knowledge, methods and expertise from different disciplines, allowing research to form new frameworks that advance scientific discovery and innovation.”

Blood said the NSF has shifted its focus to 10 big ideas – including harnessing data, understanding the “rules” of life and navigating the new Arctic. The foundation provides tools to help researchers solve these problems, including its solicited interdisciplinary programs, research centers, education training and the National Ecological Observatory Network.

The NSF also provides best practices for team-led interdisciplinary research, including project management guidelines, technology application and training strategies.

“Researchers and universities have to take into account that interdisciplinary teams are not only built upon intellectual skill,” Blood said. “You have to take into account that project leadership, project management, data management and innovative training techniques are necessary pieces of grant proposals.”

Interdisciplinary success and rural health

N.C. State University’s Robert Smart also touched on the benefits of interdisciplinary research, specifically within his university’s research clusters and its Center for Human Health and the Environment.

In 2011, N.C. State launched its Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program, which brought together researchers across a range of academic disciplines to tackle global issues. While the creation of the clusters took time to develop, Smart said that the university has seen early successes from its 20 cluster programs. The programs include topics ranging from digital transformation of education to genetic engineering and society.

“The creation of our clusters allowed faculty to create new interdisciplinary groups and have new interactions between and within disciplines,” Smart said. “It was a bottom-up process with faculty proposals and submissions driving the problems our clusters aim to solve.”

Smart also described the development of N.C. State’s Center for Human Health and the Environment, which promotes interdisciplinary research not only at N.C. State, but also at other academic institutions. Six ECU researchers are members of the CHHE.

“CHHE has developed three interdisciplinary research teams that cut across different disciplines including genomics, veterinary and human medicine, epidemiology, exposure science, statistics, bioinformatics, genetics, cell and developmental biology, and toxicology,” Smart said. “We’re using researchers from different academic areas to solve problems like GenX contamination in the Cape Fear River and providing data for student and teacher professional development programs and activities.”

Tyrone Borders, director of the University of Kentucky’s Rural and Underserved Health Research Center, discusses rural health trends at the 2018 REDE Interdisciplinary Research Retreat.

Tyrone Borders, director of the University of Kentucky’s Rural and Underserved Health Research Center, discusses rural health trends at the 2018 REDE Interdisciplinary Research Retreat.

Tyrone Borders, director of the University of Kentucky’s Rural and Underserved Health Research Center, added that interdisciplinary research can be done on a variety of topics pertinent to eastern North Carolinians.

“In the future, population health – including understanding widening mortality rates and increasing suicide rates – and facilitating rural health care access are going to be important research topics,” Borders said. “These topics pull in researchers from economics, psychology, sociology, public policy and epidemiology, creating an environment that not only fosters research across disciplines, but one that has to have interdisciplinary research to survive.”

ECU’s research mission

In conjunction with ECU’s Rural Prosperity Initiative, the university has increased interdisciplinary research efforts.

In 2017, ECU launched seven university-wide research clusters – with an eighth planned this fall – that provide a framework for fostering interdisciplinary research, outreach and engagement. The clusters bridge the gap between industries and ECU’s research projects, which makes it easy for researchers to pursue innovative research that forges new intellectual directions and discoveries.

ECU and REDE are also exploring ways to highlight researchers for their interdisciplinary efforts. The division has changed how sponsored awards are credited. Faculty on interdisciplinary projects can have a portion of the award credited to them and to their departments and colleges so that the value of the individual contribution to the team is acknowledged and accounted for.

In addition, REDE funds, which in previous years were used to support pilot projects and preliminary data gathering, will be funneled through ECU’s research clusters, which are interdisciplinary in nature.

“It’s important that our faculty, staff and students support the growth of research on campus,” Golden said. “REDE is a service organization. We want to support our faculty and students in their pursuit of research activities to make positive impacts in our region.

“We’re going to continue to work to find ways to overcome barriers to interdisciplinary research so we can become America’s next great national university,” he said.

 

-by Matt Smith, University Communications

ECU researchers participate in Camp Lejeune symposium

Faculty members from East Carolina University participated in the eighth Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune Research Symposium on May 25.

ECU investigators were among the only civilian university participants to receive awards, according to James R. Menke, director of military research partnerships at ECU.

The following faculty members were recognized:

  • Stacey Meardon, assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy in the College of Allied Health Sciences, took first place in the Clinical Investigation Poster Competition.
  • Caitlin O’Connell, post-doctoral scholar in the Department of Kinesiology in the College of Health and Human Performance, took second place with her podium presentation titled “Detecting Sandbagging on Baseline Balance Tests.”
  • John Willson, associate professor of physical therapy, took third place for his podium presentation titled “Training Modifications to Reduce Knee Joint Load Following ACL Reconstruction.”

The symposium, hosted by the Family Medicine Residency Program at Camp Lejeune, showcases scholarly activity happening behind the scenes at the medical center. Staff and medical residents are involved in more than two dozen research projects, clinical studies and collaborative efforts.

From left, Drs. Stacey Meardon, Caitlin O'Connell and John Wilson are recognized during the Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune Research Symposium. (Contributed photos)

From left, Drs. Stacey Meardon, Caitlin O’Connell and John Wilson are recognized during the Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune Research Symposium. (Contributed photos)

 

-by Crystal Baity, ECU News Services

Wanted: Fall move-in volunteers

Campus Living is seeking groups and organizations to serve as volunteers for this coming fall’s move-in from Wednesday, Aug. 15 through Friday, Aug. 17.

Move-in volunteers welcome residents and their families to campus while assisting them with carrying boxes, answering questions and providing directions. Additional volunteers assist with the check-in process at Minges Coliseum.

Volunteers help students move in at the start of the 2017 fall semester. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Volunteers help students move in at the start of the 2017 fall semester. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Any size group can be accommodated, and individuals also are welcome to volunteer.

If your department, organization or group is interested in participating or would like more information, please arrange for a representative to contact Dave Hilbert in Campus Living at hilbertd17@ecu.edu or 737-1063.

Professor speaks at congressional briefing about shoreline stabilization

Rachel Gittman, East Carolina University assistant professor of biology, was invited by Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. to present at a congressional briefing in Washington, D.C., on May 30. Gittman was asked to talk about the current state of science on the ecological benefits and resiliency of living shorelines.

Rachel Gittman, an assistant professor of biology, speaks at a congressional briefing. (Contributed photo)

Rachel Gittman, an assistant professor of biology, speaks at a congressional briefing. (Contributed photo)

The congressional briefing is in support of the passage of House Bill 4525: The Living Shorelines Act of 2017, which would allow the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to award grants to state and local governments and nongovernmental organizations for the purpose of carrying out shoreline stabilization projects using natural materials.

Pallone, who also serves as co-chair of the Coastal Community Caucus, is sponsoring the bill along with 21 co-sponsors.

ECU researcher examines barriers faced by older Latinos in cancer treatment

Schwartz

Schwartz (contributed photo)

Abby J. Schwartz, assistant professor of social work at East Carolina University, recently completed a study in partnership with Lauren Ring and Allen Glicksman, researchers at the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, to examine barriers faced by older Latinos being treated for cancer.

The project also sought suggestions on ways that social service providers can work with these older adults, their families and health care practitioners to reduce barriers and improve the overall health and well-being of older cancer patients.

The project consisted of four focus groups including older Latino cancer patients at the Mann Older Adult Center; nurses from Pennsylvania Hospital; social workers and care managers from the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging; and staff from Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha, a community development corporation serving the Latino community in North Philadelphia that provides neighborhood-based economic development and social services.

Themes that emerged from the research included difficulties with transportation to appointments, language barriers, and challenges by caregivers struggling to provide care while simultaneously juggling work, school and raising small children.

Schwartz previously studied African-American caregivers of cancer patients in rural North Carolina with a focus on the barriers experienced by both patients and caregivers in adhering to treatments.

The study can be found here.

 

-by Crystal Baity, ECU News Services

ECU anthropology professor named director of international initiatives for Harriot College

East Carolina University anthropology professor Dr. Megan Perry has been appointed director of international initiatives for the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, effective July 1.

“I’m thrilled to have her expertise and her energy for this important component of our college mission,” said Dr. William M. Downs, dean of Harriot College.

Dr. Megan Perry, associate professor of anthropology and director of international initiatives, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

Dr. Megan Perry, professor of anthropology and director of international initiatives, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

In her new role, Perry, who also serves as director of graduate studies for anthropology, will act as college liaison to ECU’s Office of Global Affairs. She will lead efforts to expand study abroad opportunities for Harriot College students, coordinate scholarships, review proposals for faculty-led programs, promote integration of international experiences into curricula and increase the college’s presence of international scholars for short- and long-term residency.

“It’s a new challenge for me. So that always excites me,” said Perry. “I think international education is really important. It opens up a lot of opportunities for our students and professors.”

Perry said her tasks and goals will include making study abroad programs in Harriot College more cohesive; creating a central place where students can find funding for study abroad – making that process easier; seeking out and identifying countries where ECU can establish a more formal partnership; and consolidating sources for faculty who want to go overseas for research, perhaps through an exchange program.

“When I start, I want to meet with faculty who already have international connections. It will be a lot of exploratory work in the beginning,” said Perry.

She also hopes to help facilitate the ability of international students to come to ECU and take a few classes or connect them with professors who they may want to perform research with for a semester.

“I want to increase participation in international programs by both students and faculty, and increase the international perspective of our curriculum,” said Perry.

Perry came to ECU in 2003 after earning her doctoral degree from the University of New Mexico in 2002. She teaches courses on human osteology, death and disease in classical antiquity, and forensic anthropology.

Her research focuses on 1st century B.C. – 7thcentury A.D. Jordan. She has worked on archaeological projects in Jordan for nearly 25 years and is co-director of the Petra North Ridge Project with Dr. S. Thomas Parker of North Carolina State University.

For additional information, contact Perry at perrym@ecu.eduor 252-328-9434.

 

-by Lacey Gray, University Communications

Harriot College announces 2018 Dean’s Early Career Award recipients

East Carolina University’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences has announced that Dr. Elizabeth Ables, assistant professor of biology, and Dr. Jacob Hochard, assistant professor of economics, are recipients of the 2018 Dean’s Early Career Award. The announcement was made May 10 during a special reception hosted by Dean William M. Downs at the home of the THCAS Dean’s Advancement Council Chair Jim Mullen and his wife Pam.

The Dean’s Early Career Award, established in 2015 through the generosity of the Harriot College Advancement Council, recognizes and rewards exceptional performance by tenure-track assistant professors. It represents the college’s breadth of faculty excellence in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and mathematics.

“The award’s primary focus is on the faculty member’s productivity in research and creative discovery, which must be judged to be of such high quality and impact that it exceeds expectations,” said Downs. “Outstanding performance in professional development must be complemented by demonstrated excellence in instructional effectiveness and service, and I am extremely pleased to say Drs. Ables and Hochard exceeded these qualifications.”

In addition to their recognition at the home of the Mullens, Ables and Hochard will be acknowledged at Harriot College’s fall convocation in August.

Dr. Elizabeth Ables, assistant professor of biology, and Dr. Jacob Hochard, assistant professor of economics, are recipients of the 2018 THCAS Dean’s Early Career Award. (Contributed Photos)

Dr. Elizabeth Ables, assistant professor of biology, and Dr. Jacob Hochard, assistant professor of economics, are recipients of the 2018 THCAS Dean’s Early Career Award. (Contributed Photos)

Dr. Elizabeth Ables

“I am humbled and surprised,” said Ables. “This award has gone to some folks that I really admire in the field, especially in our department. It’s nice to consider myself part of that rank.”

Born and raised in rural Virginia, Ables has a lot in common with a majority of the students at ECU.

“It means a lot to me personally to have been able to come to this part of the country,” Ables said. “One of the things I decided I wanted to do when I started this path was to provide experiences for students from rural areas, and I feel East Carolina University has given me the opportunity to do that.”

Ables received her doctoral degree from Vanderbilt University in 2007 and completed post-doctoral training at Johns Hopkins University in 2012, before coming to ECU in January 2013. She is a cell biologist and geneticist, and she teaches undergraduate and graduate-level courses in cell biology.

“I teach very differently to the undergraduates than I do to the graduate students,” Ables said. “I enjoy the undergraduates. They tend to be more enthusiastic when they learn something for the first time. But I like challenging the graduate students, in part, because they challenge me back. I think my most rewarding experience is teaching the graduate students who work in my lab.”

Ables studies the Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) stem cells seen here. They are located in the ovary and are the parent cells for every oocyte, or egg, produced by the female fly. (Contributed photo)

Ables studies the Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) stem cells seen here. They are located in the ovary and are the parent cells for every oocyte, or egg, produced by the female fly. (Contributed photo)

As a cell biologist and trained developmental biologist, Ables researches how cells that make up the human body are instructed by genomes to have a specialized function. She uses stem cells as a model because they have the potential to divide and make new daughter cells. This research underlies two fundamental biological questions pertaining to regenerative medicine, and how we make new cells from stem cells or other tissue sources; and cancer biology, which is a problem of unlimited cell division.

Currently, two doctoral students, three master’s students and up to four undergraduate students per semester conduct research in Ables’ lab using Drosophila melanogaster, the common fruit fly.

Fruit flies are being sorted by a student researcher in Ables’ lab. In the lab, Ables and her students study the basic biology of how cells use the information encoded in the genome to establish specialized functions. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Fruit flies are being sorted by a student researcher in Ables’ lab. In the lab, Ables and her students study the basic biology of how cells use the information encoded in the genome to establish specialized functions. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

“It’s a great model system. I use it as a way to teach cell biology in my classroom,” said Ables. “It’s really hard to get attached to a fly, which I think is good for beginning experimentalists, and we have a lot of tools so the experiments we do are relatively simple.”

At ECU, Ables collaborates across campus with researchers in the reproductive biology interest group. She is involved with a variety of microscopy groups including the Laser Technology Applications Group, an east/west campus initiative that seeks to provide more dynamic research and information-sharing opportunities to industry and academic researchers. Also, Ables serves or has served on the biology departmental undergraduate curriculum committee, the biology graduate curriculum committee and on a number of faculty searches.

Dr. Jacob Hochard

When Hochard learned he would be one of the recipients of this year’s award, he said, “It’s definitely humbling. I know a lot of the past recipients, and they are great scholars. I am privileged to be in their company.”

“ECU has done a really good job of supporting early career researchers,” Hochard said. “I think they are progressive at institutionalizing interdisciplinary research, which is one of the reasons I am very happy here.”

Hochard received his doctoral degree from the University of Wyoming in 2015, before beginning his career at ECU that same year. At ECU, Hochard is an assistant professor of economics and an assistant research scientist at the Institute for Coastal Science and Policy. He teaches an introductory-level principals of microeconomics course, and he teaches doctoral students in the coastal resources management program.

“I love teaching the introductory level students,” said Hochard. “Most of them are first-generation college students, and I am too. So I think I can identify with them and get them excited about economics.”

Through one of his research projects, Hochard traveled to rural Karnataka, India, where he visited schools and interviewed farmers about their agricultural practices and challenges. (Contributed Photo)

Through one of his research projects, Hochard traveled to rural Karnataka, India, where he visited schools and interviewed farmers about their agricultural practices and challenges. (Contributed photo)

Hochard’s research focuses on ecosystem services from land, water and wildlife. He is examining the red wolf recovery program in eastern North Carolina, how land use changes in the developing world affect poverty rates and the human health impacts of hog farms on eastern North Carolina, specifically how ingesting contaminated water affects birth weights and gestation lengths.

His most pressing work is the focus on water quality in eastern North Carolina, which is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. ECU co-collaborators include Dr. James Randall Etheridge, assistant professor of engineering, and Dr. Ariane Peralta, assistant professor of biology.

“We are hoping to inform communities on how they can protect themselves against potentially contaminated water sources, whether that’s expanding public services into rural areas that currently lack them, or investing in natural capital – forest cover, restoring buffers that will filter out contaminants – and how that might protect human health,” said Hochard. “The thing I find intriguing about the work we are doing in water quality and human health is it is one of those areas where you can have a local impact and still make a broad intellectual contribution that is recognized by our peers.”

Beyond his research at ECU, Hochard is a member of the Coastal Maritime Council. Earlier this year, he received the 2018 Coastal-Maritime Council Coastal Scholar Award during ECU’s Research and Creative Activity Week. He is a member of the Coastal Resource Management doctoral program admissions committee, a member of the Science and Technology Advisory Committee for the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuarine Partnership, and he founded and organized ECU’s Early Career Contributions in Climate and Coastal Science seminar series.

 

-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications

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