Category Archives: Grants

Researchers awarded $1.5 million grant to investigate the future of coastal communities

Andy Keeler, professor of economics at East Carolina University and program head for public policy and coastal sustainability at the UNC Coastal Studies Institute, is part of an interdisciplinary team of researchers investigating how public policies affect both economic decisions and the coastal environment.

Keeler is one of the researchers funded by a $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant awarded to Dylan McNamara, associate professor and chair of the Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography at UNC Wilmington.

McNamara will lead a group — from geomorphologists to economists — from seven universities to address the interactions of natural forces, economic decisions and public policies to determine how the environment and patterns of human settlement react to rising seas and related coastline changes. The NSF grant will fund the research for four years. The project is underway.

“Our team is excited to receive this grant as these resources will allow us to work together as a coherent multidisciplinary team, which is fundamentally necessary to understand the human-occupied coastline system,” said McNamara.

Researchers from UNCW, Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, the University of Georgia, The Ohio State University, East Carolina University and the University of Colorado will create and investigate computer modeled coastal communities similar to those found along U.S. East and Gulf Coast barrier islands.

“We are heading into a critical phase where coastal communities will have to make important decisions about how they are going to adapt to the future,” McNamara said. “We are hoping we can inform some of that policy. The stakes are high for communities along every coastline as the recent storm tragedies highlight. Our goal is to understand the complex dynamics at play along human-occupied coastlines. So rather than reactively dealing with a disaster event, we aim to proactively understand the dynamics that so often lead to disaster.”

Keeler said one of the goals of the project is to better understand the factors at play in defending the coastline versus retreating from it.

“What we’re trying to do is use these example communities and some sophisticated modeling systems to see how different policies and outcomes affect that tipping point,” he said. “My particular interest is in the way we model infrastructure and public policy, and how they influence people’s choices.”

The results of the team’s research will provide insight into how real estate markets respond to complex changes in environmental conditions, public policies, scientific knowledge, and individual attitudes and values.

 

Contact: John McCord, jmccord@csi.northcarolina.edu

Grant funds energy needs, education at community center

Dr. Ranjeet Agarwala (top left) and students at the Lucille Gorham Intergenerational Center test solar panels and a portable power station. (Photos by Erik Panarusky)

Dr. Ranjeet Agarwala (top left) and students at the Lucille Gorham Intergenerational Center test solar panels and a portable power station. (Photos by Erik Panarusky)

The Lucille Gorham Intergenerational Community Center will soon have some help with its electrical needs thanks to the sun, students and faculty in the East Carolina University College of Engineering and Technology, and a Constellation E2 Energy to Educate grant.

CET students partnered with the center to study its needs, equipment, appliances and layout, then conducted an energy audit to calculate the total energy consumption and the rate of energy consumption on a daily and monthly basis, said Dr. Ranjeet Agarwala, assistant professor in the Department of Technology Systems.

“We had originally talked about putting solar panels on the roof,” Agarwala said, but based on the center’s needs, a more portable and adaptable system was chosen.

The $37,500 grant funded the purchase of 18 100-watt solar panels and nine portable power stations. Each power station can be charged from the solar panels and can provide power for anything from charging a cell phone to running a refrigerator.

Deborah Moody, director of LGCC, said the center’s campus includes six buildings, so the flexibility of the portable systems made perfect sense.

“We wanted it to be simple and never have an excuse not to use it,” she said.

The panels and power packs can be used during outdoor events, instead of running extension cords everywhere. They will also allow the center to function during power outages.

“Last year when we had the hurricane, we still had to come in because the community still has needs,” Moody said. “But we didn’t have any power in the building. So this would allow us to charge our laptops and go to work like we usually do.”

Agarwala shows students at the Lucille Gorham Intergenerational Center how the unit can power a computer.

Agarwala shows students at the Lucille Gorham Intergenerational Center how the unit can power a computer.

 

In addition to offsetting daily energy consumption needs, powering events and emergency use, there’s an educational component. The center has STEM-based after-school and summer programs, and the students will be able to learn about topics ranging from energy conservation to converting units of power.

Each power station has multiple AC and DC outlets, as well as a digital display showing energy input and usage. The panels and the power stations can be connected in different combinations depending on specific energy needs.

During a demonstration of the equipment, the students were able to see how much energy was being generated by the solar panels and the impact of shadows, as well as the amount of energy drawn by a charging cell phone.

“It’s exciting to watch the kids light up,” Moody said. “We want to get them excited and interested in these fields to prime them and train them, and then have them grow up and contribute to the community.

“We also want the youth to help us think of other ways to use these to help save energy. And then they’ll become advocates at home with their parents, and tell them, ‘These are things we can do to save energy in the house.’”

The LGCC opened in 2007 and is operated through a partnership between ECU, the City of Greenville and Pitt Community College. Constellation’s E2 Energy to Educate grants fund student projects focusing on energy science, technology and education.

The solar panels and power stations, funded by an E2 Energy to Educate grant from Constellation, will be used for events, emergency power and daily energy needs at the center.

The solar panels and power stations, funded by an E2 Energy to Educate grant from Constellation, will be used for events, emergency power and daily energy needs at the center.

 

By Jules Norwood

ECU researcher will use NEH grant to work with student veterans

An East Carolina University faculty member has received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant of almost $65,000 to work with student veterans over a two-year period.

Dr. Anna Froula, associate professor of film studies, designed a two-week Soldier to Scholar bridge program to bring together war scholars and student veterans who will begin their studies at ECU this fall.

Froula’s team includes fellow English department faculty members Dr. Andrea Kitta, associate professor of multicultural and transnational literature, and Zack Perkinson, U.S. Army veteran and teaching instructor, as well as Nicole Jablonski, assistant director of ECU’s Student Veteran Services, and Dr. Jonathan Vincent, assistant professor of English at Towson University.

As part of the program starting Aug. 7, Froula’s team will cultivate discussions about war experience through the study of humanities texts with 15 new student veterans. Participants will study works including World War I poetry and novels, films from World War II and the Iraq war and the soundtrack from “Hamilton: The Musical.” Topics will include memory and memorialization, gender and war, homecomings, military folklore and veterans’ narratives, and representations of veterans in popular culture. An orientation component will focus on the transition from military culture to university culture and prepare participants for academic success.

“This class will provide incoming student veterans with an amazing opportunity to start their education at ECU in a supportive environment surrounded by their peers,” Jablonski said. “But, more importantly, it provides time to unpack their military experience in an accessible and supportive manner.”

Out of 73 proposals to the NEH’s Dialogues on the Experience of War program, 15 were funded including a second award of almost $98,000 to ECU that Froula worked on this July in Saipan with project director Dr. Jennifer McKinnon, associate professor of history in the maritime studies program, and Dr. Anne Ticknor, associate professor of literacy studies in the College of Education. Both proposals, part of the NEH’s Standing Together: The Humanities and the Experience of War initiative, raise questions about civilian obligations to service personnel, the necessity of understanding veteran experiences, and wars and their aftermaths. The initiative stresses the importance of the humanities in working through the experience of war.

Froula’s research encompasses veterans’ stories and their representations in popular culture. Most recently, she co-edited a volume on television series about war. She is the granddaughter of a World War II veteran, the daughter of a Vietnam veteran, and the cousin of an Iraq War veteran. Since 2015, she has served as the faculty sponsor of ECU’s chapter of the Student Veterans of America—the Pirate Veterans Organization.

“As a citizen, I am concerned about how few public conversations we have about our veterans, the wars in which they fight and our responsibilities to them when they return,” Froula said. “I am excited to develop this program and to help facilitate a supportive learning cohort that will support each other and fellow veterans throughout their time at ECU.”

“With her research background in the representations of war service, trauma and returning veterans in popular culture, and her record of service with veterans here at ECU, Dr. Froula is the ideal facilitator for this important new program,” said Dr. Marianne Montgomery, chair of the ECU English department. “I am thrilled that the NEH recognizes the central role of the humanities in helping veterans unpack the experience of war, and I look forward to welcoming the first Soldier to Scholar cohort in August.”

NEH reviewers of Froula’s proposal remarked on the potentially profound impact for participants and the suitability of ECU as a hosting university, given its ongoing support of student veterans through its Student Veterans Services office. Since launching the Standing Together initiative in 2014, the NEH has awarded more than $7.7 million for humanities projects that serve veterans and help them share their experiences.

For more information about the ECU English department, visit http://www.ecu.edu/english/.

For more information about Student Veterans Services, visit http://www.ecu.edu/cs-studentaffairs/studenttransitions/studentveterans/.

 

Contact: Dr. Anna Froula, 252-328-6663, FROULAA@ecu.edu

Geyer recognized by Society for the Study of Reproduction

Dr. Christopher Geyer received this year’s New Investigator Award at the 50th annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Reproduction. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Dr. Christopher Geyer received this year’s New Investigator Award at the 50th annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Reproduction. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

East Carolina University’s Dr. Christopher Geyer was named the recipient of the 2017 New Investigator Award by the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR) for his contributions to the field of reproductive sciences.

The award recognizes outstanding research contributions by an SSR member within 12 years of the completion of their Ph.D.

Geyer, an associate professor in the Brody School of Medicine Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, is working to explain the earliest stages of reproduction by investigating the mechanisms through which spermatogenic stem cells become differentiated and begin the process of becoming sperm cells.

His lab was recently awarded a five-year, $1.45 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the response of stem cells to retinoic acid.

“This is a highly competitive award, and the list of past winners is virtually a who’s who of top scientists in the field,” said Dr. Rebecca Krisher, chair of the SSR Awards Committee. “Dr. Geyer was chosen for this honor based upon the originality of his research, his scientific productivity and the significance of his contributions to the field of spermatogonial and testicular biology.”

Geyer said he has been a member of SSR since joining as a new graduate student in 2002. “Receiving the award was overwhelming,” he said. “I’ve never had to get up and speak in front of so many people.”

Geyer’s lab is working to pinpoint the mechanisms that control the earliest stages of reproduction.

Geyer’s lab is working to pinpoint the mechanisms that control the earliest stages of reproduction.

The award was presented during the opening ceremony of SSR’s 50th anniversary meeting in Washington, D.C. As the New Investigator Award recipient, Geyer gave a 30-minute presentation before more than 900 attendees of the conference.

“This was one of the goals I set for myself when I first started here in 2010, because I have several friends who’ve won this award and I’ve always admired their work and wanted to follow in their footsteps, so to speak,” Geyer said. “I have tried to emulate what they’ve done in their careers, but I never actually expected it to happen.”

Nick Serra and Ellen Velte, doctoral students in Geyer’s lab, also attended the conference and presented their work in poster format.

Geyer was nominated by his mentors, Dr. John McCarrey and Dr. Mitch Eddy, and more than a dozen professors from the United States and abroad wrote letters of support. He has been invited to speak at the annual meetings of SSR’s sister societies — the Society for Reproduction and Fertility, which will meet in Liverpool, United Kingdom in January; and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, which will meet in San Antonio, Texas in November.

 

-by Jules Norwood

NEA grant to fund study on social, economic impact of glassblowing on Farmville

East Carolina University’s College of Fine Arts and Communication has received a $20,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant to research the cultural and economic impact of a glassblowing studio in Farmville.

GlasStation

The GlasStation on West Wilson Street in Farmville (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

The NEA announced the awards June 14. ECU was one of 19 organizations in North Carolina to receive the competitive national funding.

The studio, called the GlasStation, is a former service station in Farmville’s historic downtown repurposed as a glassblowing studio and education center. ECU began teaching academic classes and conducting community outreach programs in the facility in January.

The two-year award will primarily fund research by ECU graduate students in anthropology and economics on the social and economic revitalization impact of the GlasStation on Farmville’s business district. Residents will be asked about the GlasStation, how it affects their sense of identity and community cohesion and quality of life. Researchers will also look at how property is used, sold or rented in the historic business district. Surveys, interviews and observation will help provide data for the research.

First-year graduate student Ronson Schultz rotates a fiery glass object.

First-year graduate student Ronson Schultz rotates a fiery glass object.

The GlasStation is a cooperative community venture between the Farmville Group, a volunteer economic development association interested in growing the local economy through the arts, the Tabitha M. DeVisconti Trust and ECU.

Kate Bukoski, director of ECU’s School of Art and Design, is the lead principal investigator of the study. Christine Avenarius and David Griffiths of the Department of Anthropology and Chun Kuang of the Department of Economics are co-principal investigators. Michael Crane of the College of Fine Arts and Communication also is an investigator.

For more information, visit https://www.arts.gov/news/2017/nea-announces-grants-support-arts-every-us-state-and-jurisdiction or see an earlier news story about the GlasStation.

 

–by Harley Dartt, University Communication

Ironsmith awarded Phi Kappa Phi Literacy Grant

Professor emeritus Marsha Ironsmith from ECU’s Department of Psychology was awarded a 2016 Literacy Grant from the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi — the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. Ironsmith is one of 16 recipients nationwide to receive the award.

Ironsmith

Ironsmith (contributed photo)

The grant of more than $1,200 will be used to support a project that pairs East Carolina University psychology students with elementary-aged children attending an after-school program at Building Hope Community Life Center in Greenville. The center’s goals include strengthening academic achievement and character development.

As part of the project, ECU students facilitate the reading and discussion of books with characters from diverse backgrounds facing challenges familiar to the children. Discussions focus on encouraging empathy for others and are enhanced with creative writing, art, music and film projects to foster deeper comprehension.

The Phi Kappa Phi Literacy Grant program was established in 2003 to provide funding to Phi Kappa Phi chapters and active members for ongoing projects or new initiatives that reinforce part of the society’s mission “to engage the community of scholars in service to others.” Drawing from a multi-disciplinary society of students and scholars from large and small institutions, applicants are encouraged to consider literacy projects that have creative relevance to their disciplines and the needs of their communities.

Founded in 1897, Phi Kappa Phi inducts approximately 30,000 students, faculty, professional staff and alumni each year. The society has chapters at more than 300 colleges and universities in North America and the Philippines. Membership is by invitation only to the top 10 percent of seniors and graduate students and 7.5 percent of second-term juniors. Faculty, professional staff and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction also qualify. The society’s mission is “to recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others.” For more information about Phi Kappa Phi, visit www.PhiKappaPhi.org.

–Jules Norwood

ECU researchers to study farming in southwestern Jamaica

East Carolina University researchers Jeff Popke and Scott Curtis (Geography) received three-year funding of $275,000 for their project, “Vulnerability and Resilience Among Small Farmers in Jamaica: An Assessment of Climate Change, Economic Stress, and the Role of Water Management.”

In collaborative research with Doug Gamble of UNC-Wilmington, Curtis and Popke will study southwestern Jamaica to identify the vulnerability and resilience of small scale Caribbean farming in the face of climate change and economic transformation. The research team is addressing water as a mediator between vulnerability and local outcomes. Case study farms will be selected based on irrigation practices: hand watering, drip irrigation, pipe and sprinkler, and greenhouse delivery.

Popke

Curtis

ECU professor collaborates on research to predict sea-level rise, flooding from hurricanes

East Carolina University researcher Dr. Reide Corbett will join a team of colleagues studying sea-level rise and flooding from hurricanes along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, thanks to a 3-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Corbett

Corbett is a professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and a research scientist in ECU’s Institute for Coastal Science and Policy. He will work closely with the project’s lead investigator, Dr. Benjamin Horton, associate professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Coastal North Carolina may see significant changes in the future due to rising seas and continued tropical cyclone activity,” Corbett said.

“To effectively adapt to a changing coast, we need to better understand the relationship between climate and sea level variability,” he said. “That is one of the main objectives of this study – using the past as a key to the future.”

The project draws upon research Horton, Corbett and other collaborators from ECU, Penn State, The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Finland’s Aalto University School of Engineering and Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research have published during the last several years. The culmination of this work produced a landmark study that resulted in the first reconstruction of sea-level rise in North Carolina over the past 2000 years.

“The foundation of current models for sea-level projections is data from the 20th century, but we’ve started to be able to push further back in time,” Horton said. “This allows us to have a better understanding of the past relationship between climate and sea level and to make better predictions about the future.”

The team will combine sea-level rise scenarios with state-of-the-science hurricane and storm surge modeling at six study sites from Florida to Massachusetts. This will enable them to map coastal flooding for the current climate and the best- and worst-case climate scenarios of the 21st century. These scenarios will be integrated into strategic policy documents to make technical results more accessible for adaptive coastal decision-making.

This spring, the researchers will begin to meet with coastal managers to get input about how such sea-level and flooding projections might best be put to use. In the wake of Hurricane Irene, Corbett said he believes that the public is more aware of the hazards along the coast and is likely interested in future flooding scenarios.

“It’s important that we present our scientific results and products to local communities,” Corbett said. “We will be providing information and products that will aid in future planning.”

For additional information, contact Corbett at 252-328-1367 or corbettd@ecu.edu.

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ECU Whichard professor awarded $240,000 NEH grant

 East Carolina University professor Dr. Gary A. Stringer received a $240,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for his project, “An Edition of John Donne’s Songs and Sonnets and a Further Expansion of Digital Donne.”

Dr. Gary Stringer

The grant is the tenth since 1986 that NEH has awarded to support the Variorum Edition of the Poetry of John Donne, which Stringer serves as general editor. The online Variorium provides a digest of scholarly and critical commentary on Donne’s poetry. The award includes an additional $30,000 in federal matching funds.

Stringer said he was pleased to have received the award. “It testifies to the confidence in what we’re doing shared by the agency and by our peers in the profession who reviewed the application, especially since it’s the tenth in a series of such awards that we’ve received. I think all of us in the Varirorum project are gratified by that kind of validation,” he said.

During the three-year period of the grant, Stringer and the Variorum staff will work on the three-part volume of Donne’s “Songs and Sonnets,” with plans to publish two of the three volumes during the grant period. They will also work on an expansion of the project’s web site DigitalDonne, the Online Variorum, at http://donnevariorum.tamu.edu.

Stringer, whose most recent appointment was research professor of English at Texas A&M University, joined the ECU faculty for the 2011-12 academic year as the David Julian and Virginia Suther Whichard Distinguished Professor in the Humanities, housed within the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, and as a visiting professor in the Department of English. The Whichard Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities is an endowed professorship made possible through a donation by the Whichard family in honor of David Julian and Virginia Suther Whichard of Greenville.

As part of the Whichard Professorship, Stringer will teach one course each semester in the ECU Department of English. This fall, he is teaching a graduate-level course on the satirical writings of John Donne. In the spring, he will teach a graduate-level course related to digital humanities.

Stringer received his Ph.D., M.A. and B.A. degrees in English from the University of Oklahoma. During his nearly 50-year academic career, he has held faculty appointments at the University of Oklahoma; Oklahoma State University; Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA; the University of Southern Mississippi; and most recently, Texas A&M University.

Stringer is the founding general editor of the Variorum, an 11-volume work drawing on the collaborative labors of nearly 40 American, Canadian, British, Dutch, South African and Japanese scholars. He has authored or edited 12 volumes, including four volumes of the Variorum, and he has published more than three dozen articles within his field of study. In addition, Stringer has presented nearly 50 papers at professional meetings and conferences in the U.S. and abroad.

Stringer has received faculty service awards and research grants from many of the institutions where he has taught. Also, since 1986, Stringer has been the recipient of grants totaling more than $1.5 million from the NEH.

For additional information, contact Stringer at stringerg@ecu.edu.

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