Category Archives: In the news

Task Force Dagger Foundation, ECU partner to provide rehabilitation diving for veterans

-News release by Department of Defense

Task Force Dagger Foundation working in partnership with East Carolina University is developing a program that seeks to provide rehabilitation opportunities for Special Operations veterans through the underwater archaeological study of WWII maritime heritage in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. These grant funds will provide Task Force Dagger Foundation (TFD) with more opportunities to expand existing dive rehabilitative therapy programs which serve to provide retired Special Operations veterans with a new MISSION PURPOSE FOCUS.

TFD has teamed up with ECU’s program in maritime studies and the Florida Public Archaeology Network to develop and undertake a maritime heritage education program for wounded Special Forces veterans that will be hands-on and introduce veterans to the history of WWII and its underwater maritime heritage. The program will be held in the Mariana Islands on Saipan from late July to early August. It will cover classroom topics such as underwater archeology, artifacts, ship and aircraft construction, conservation, and heritage laws. After the classroom training, veterans will hit the water and practice their underwater archaeology skills by diving and recording WWII underwater heritage from the Battle of Saipan.

ECU graduate student Aleck Tan runs a metal detector over an object while Dr. Nathan Richards supervises. (Contributed photo)

ECU graduate student Aleck Tan runs a metal detector over an object while Dr. Nathan Richards supervises during a recent trip to Saipan, where ECU has partnered with Task Force Dagger Foundation to provide retired Special Operations veterans with dive rehabilitative therapy programs. (Contributed photo)

“This program reaches an audience that has an intimate knowledge and background on the subject of war, conflict, and materiel remains,” said Dr. Jennifer McKinnon, associate professor at ECU. “There is an assumed awareness and appreciation that only needs fostering to understand how this heritage is meaningful and needs to be protected.”

Keith David, managing director, said, “What is important about this event is that it demonstrates to these veterans that no matter how badly they are wounded or injured, they can have a productive and fulfilling life. It is all about having a MISSION – PURPOSE – FOCUS for their life.”

This project stands to be the first of its kind that engages wounded veterans in the recording, understanding and appreciation of WWII maritime heritage in the Pacific. The plan is to hold the educational program yearly with returning and new recruits to feed into a program of archaeologically-trained diving veterans.

Without your donations, we cannot achieve our mission supporting the U.S. Special Operations Command’s service members and their families.

The Task Force Dagger Foundation’s three core programs: (1) Immediate Needs, (2) SOF Health Initiatives and (3) Rehabilitative Therapy Events provide resources and healing for Special Operations Forces (SOF) members and families. Our SOF Health Initiatives provides program recipients care and treatment that is designed to treat the problem and not the symptom through functional medicine and other treatment modalities that are holistic in nature. Task Force Dagger Foundation supports Army Green Berets, Rangers, Civil Affairs, Military Information Support Operations, Army Special Mission Units, Navy SEALs, Air Force Special Tactics/Operations and Marine Special Operations and their families. These are some of the units that comprise the U.S. Special Operations Command.

Since 2009, we have supported USSOCOM with more than $3.5 million of support to 3,100 SOF service members and their families. The Task Force Dagger Foundation’s overhead rate is 10.91 percent.


-Contact: Task Force Dagger Foundation Office, 214-420-9290, or

Maritime students go from surveying WWII sites underwater to local outreach

ECU maritime studies program professor Dr. Jennifer McKinnon and several graduate students are in Saipan this summer to conduct archaeological surveys of surrounding waters to locate and document sites related to World War II. McKinnon and the students – including Ryan Miranda, who details some of the experience in a personal account below – hope their work will lead to identifying possible sites containing the remains of missing servicemen.

This is the third post from the trip. Read the first and second posts to learn more about the journey to Saipan and the importance of the trip.

Bird Island

Bird Island (Contributed photos)

As we fly on top of the crystal blue waters in the zodiac boat, multiple thoughts run through my head: the plan for the day, my job during the dives and what types of materials we are looking for. Scanning the horizon, I imagine how 74 years ago it would be filled with the huge metal masses of United States Navy ships.

Our field school has been underway for the past few weeks and it’s been an amazing experience. For me, the best way to learn the techniques and methods of the archaeological process has been being in the field or, in our case, on the water. We’ve dived, snorkeled and have become a lean, mean surveying machine.

As the field school progresses, our knowledge and execution of archaeological methods such as six-person snorkel surveys, side scan sonar lines or two-person dive circle searches has improved. We were even able to help conduct surveys with a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) that was provided and driven by one of our partners.

We also conducted public outreach about our research and the overall mission.

Several maritime students appeared on radio shows, the local news and classmate Joel Cook and I talked to several classes at Kagman High School on the island. Our camaraderie has grown as well. On the boats, we talk, joke and grow closer as a group.

Joel Cook and Ryan Miranda with Kagman High School students. (Contributed photos)

Joel Cook and Ryan Miranda with Kagman High School students.

But while we have been working hard, we also have been taking time to explore Saipan and the massive amount of history here. We have walked into a Japanese bomb bunker, machine gun emplacements, visited Banzai and Suicide Cliffs and looked at the ancient paintings at Kalabera Cave.

Japanese Bomb Magazine where explosives were stored prior to and during the war

Japanese Bomb Magazine, where explosives were stored prior to and during the war

A special treat came on the final day of jumping targets when we finished early and were able to dive at some of the better-known sites on the WWII Maritime Heritage Trail: Battle of Saipan. We were able to explore downed aircraft and shipwrecks and marvel at the amount of preservation. It reminded all of us why we chose this field of study.

As our work turns from being on the water to being behind a computer, we realize how much we have achieved and the area we have covered. Personally, I am amazed and surprised how much we have done.

Looking back, I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this field school and the overall mission of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. It allowed us to learn and improve our archaeological skill while serving a greater purpose.

We still may have more to learn but I look forward to the challenges and adventures that are on the way.


-by Ryan Miranda, graduate student


Read more: Same field school, different perspectives

ECU Club Baseball to defend World Series title

East Carolina University’s Club Baseball team will defend its National Club Baseball Association World Series title in Holly Springs. ECU is ranked No. 1 in the country, but was given the No. 2 seed in the tournament and will open play against Penn State at 2:45 p.m. on May 25.

The Pirates won the 2017 NCBA World Series championship with a 1-0 win over Central Florida in 10 innings and makes its sixth World Series appearance since 2011. The ECU club team won the title in 2011 and 2017.

ECU advanced to the World Series by claiming its fifth straight Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship, defeating the University of Maryland 15-8 in Martinsville, Virginia, and is once again strong favorites to defend the title.

“After losing 18 seniors and all three starting pitchers from last year’s team and with only two starters returning in the lineup, I am pretty excited and proud of the success we had this year,” said Ben Fox, head coach of the ECU Club Baseball Team. “This is something we have never experienced in the history of our program. The last time we won the World Series it took us two years to get back. So to be going back after losing so many guys, to defend our national championship makes me extremely proud of my team and coaching staff, all their hard work and dedication has paid off.”

Following last year’s championship run, Tanner Duncan became the first ECU club baseball player to sign a Major League Baseball contract. Duncan is currently pitching with the Houston Astros organization and will be pitching against the Kinston Wood Ducks at Grainger Stadium May 29-31.

The World Series success and individual player success have drawn significant recognition for the club baseball program.

“It has allowed us to gain some national publicity that most people would never think a club baseball team would get,” said Fox. “Especially with Tanner being successful and moving up the minor league ranks and the National Championship last year. I think it shows that our program is a legitimate option for high school baseball players all across the country that don’t get the opportunity to play at the next level.”

Other teams joining ECU in the 2018 NCBA World Series include top seed Oregon, Florida State, Grand Canyon University, Wisconsin, Iowa State, Penn State and Texas A&M.

Visit to follow ECU through the World Series. For additional information, contact Justin Waters with ECU Club Sports at 252-737-2713 or


  1. Contact: Justin Waters, ECU Club Sports,

Remains of a possible 1619 Dutch privateer identified in Bermuda

East Carolina University archaeologists working in partnership with the National Museum of Bermuda (NMB) have announced that they may be one step closer to linking an unidentified shipwreck site to the nearly 400–year-old story of a stranded Dutch privateer or pirate ship.

The wooden sailing ship, described by the fifth Bermuda Governor Nathaniel Butler as a Dutch pinnace traveling from the Caribbean, reportedly grounded on the rocks of Bermuda’s western reef in 1619. Islanders rescued the Dutch and English crew of down-on-their-luck buccaneers, and they were repatriated within a year; the ship itself was reportedly left to wind and weather, disappearing with the next Atlantic-borne storm.

ECU maritime studies professor Bradley Rodgers and a team of students have mounted the first scientific exploration of an unidentified shipwreck site in Bermuda. (Photo credit National Museum of Bermuda)

ECU maritime studies professor Bradley Rodgers and a team of students have mounted the first scientific exploration of an unidentified shipwreck site in Bermuda. (Photos contributed by the National Museum of Bermuda)

New archaeological evidence, however, suggests that Bermudians may have secretly lightered the cargo ashore and floated the ship off the reef, hiding it in a shallow bay to salvage arms, lumber and hardware — essential commodities for an isolated but burgeoning colony.

The wreck site may represent one of the earliest colonial-built, Dutch vessels discovered in the Americas, and the earliest and perhaps only fully archaeologically documented privateer/pirate vessel, according to Dr. Bradley Rodgers, ECU professor of maritime studies. Combined historical and archaeological studies will continue and could reveal new details about life in the 17th century, wrecking practices and the early settlement period in Bermuda.

In 2008, Rodgers examined a wreck located in a quiet harbor at the west end of the island, a short distance from the Dutch pinnace’s last known position on the reef. He recognized the wreck to be an early and significant vessel type. In May 2017, Rodgers returned with a team from ECU, and along with NMB, mounted the first scientific exploration of the site, archaeologically examining, mapping and recording the exposed sections of the wreck.

The remains are well known to locals, but their origins are not.

“The ship remains appear to be early and significant, and archaeological evidence demonstrates unmistakable traits of northern Dutch design, techniques that have not been used in four centuries,” Rodgers said.

It was not uncommon during the 17th century to salvage ships in the west end of Bermuda, he said, out of sight of customs officials in the east end, to avoid taxes or levies on the goods and materials retrieved. “Salvage marks are plentiful on the disarticulated wreck, and though many of the fasteners and planks have been removed, many of the timber remains are in great condition,” he said.

Students record timbers on the site of an unidentified shipwreck site in Bermuda. (Photo contributed by the National Museum of Bermuda)

Students record timbers on the site of an unidentified shipwreck site in Bermuda.

There is much work to do to complete the analysis of the shipwreck, according to Rodgers, as it takes “extensive archival research, archaeological analysis and funding to fully verify the find, and it is one of the more confusing wreck sites we have ever studied — it has been completely taken apart down to the fastenings.”

However, the team has documented enough of the site to identify ship construction techniques matching those described in Dutch treatises of the 17th century. In addition, the wood has been identified as greenheart (Ocotea reodiei), a New World timber historically harvested in Dutch trading territory in South America, and the few artifacts seen reflect Dutch northern European heritage from the early 17th century.

Further investigation should shed more light on life in 17th century Bermuda and its early settlement, especially pertaining to the salvage of ships in distress.

“The economics and impact of salvage in the early settlement of Bermuda has not yet fully been explored by academics and can provide a fascinating window into how the first Bermudians survived on an isolated island,” said Elena Strong, NMB executive director.

“Bermuda’s rich underwater cultural heritage, which is protected by law, is not only a valuable cultural tourism asset, but also comprises a tangible archive of the interaction of African, American and European cultures over five centuries,” she said. “Over the past 40 years, research on these wrecks has yielded considerable data informing historical narratives about the lives of the people who depended on these vessels to ferry goods and people to various ports along the Atlantic littoral.”


-Contact: Bradley Rodgers, professor of maritime studies, ECU,, and Elena Strong, executive director, National Museum of Bermuda,

New focus for lab courses introduced

Instead of repeating tried-and-true experiments in their science laboratory courses, university and community college students in eastern North Carolina will soon be learning and conducting science in a more interactive, engaging way.

That’s thanks to new way of leading student laboratory courses called X-Labs. Science educators from East Carolina University and area community colleges learned about the concept May 9 at the X-Labs Summer Symposium at ECU.

Traditionally, instructors teach lab courses in a “cookbook style,” said Joi Walker, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry. Students follow steps, collect data and move on to their next assignment.

Joi Walker, assistant professor of chemistry, discusses the X-Labs concept to a group of educators during a summer symposium in the Science and Technology Building on May 9. (Photos by Rhett Butler)

Joi Walker, assistant professor of chemistry, discusses the X-Labs concept to a group of educators during a summer symposium in the Science and Technology Building on May 9. (Photos by Rhett Butler)

The X-Labs model is a cross-disciplinary, practice-focused model that changes the structure of standard lab courses. Instead of following a set design, students will be a part of the design process while also working with larger teams to create written lab reports and poster presentations.

The program’s goal is to increase student’s ability to engage in science practices between and across disciplines, bringing together a common lab structure and language for undergraduate students.

“Today, we’re introducing the new path we’re headed toward with our lab courses,” Walker said. “We want the leaders in our scientific disciplines to know about the changes coming their way. X-Labs is a different way of doing things; we want to ensure that the campus community is aware of the program and the changes they may see in lab courses moving forward.”

The X-Labs program is a three-year project funded by a $598,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant tasks X-Labs program leaders with transforming lab courses at an institutional level to better prepare undergraduate students for careers in STEM fields. X-Labs will also seek to change lab course structure at community colleges in eastern North Carolina.

East Carolina University student Meghan Lower discusses a poster on X-Labs during a summer symposium on X-Labs at the Science and Technology Building.

ECU student Meghan Lower discusses a poster on X-Labs during a summer symposium on X-Labs at the Science and Technology Building.

The ECU chemistry department is leading the change and will begin conducting courses this summer using argument-driven inquiry. Argument-driven inquiry is an instructional model featuring eight stages of scientific discovery: identifying a task and guiding question, designing a method and collecting data, developing an initial argument, hosting an argument session, conducting a reflective discussion, writing an investigative report, participating in a double-blind peer review, and revising and submitting a final report.

The biology department will follow with X-Labs implementation in the fall, with physics to follow. Walker expects all three deparmtents to have X-Labs courses running by next spring.

“X-Labs changes the culture of lab work,” Walker said. “It’s authentic science. Students are going to be taking a more active role in the lab and that’s going to be better for our students and faculty. ECU has a large undergraduate student population. Our faculty members depend on these undergraduates to help conduct research. X-Labs will better prepare these students to take on that challenge, benefiting both mentor and mentee.”

Mary Farwell, director of undergraduate research, said the program has wide-ranging implications for student research.

“The X-Labs project guides students to make connections between different lab courses,” Farwell said. “They truly learn how science is carried out by scientists. After completing X-Labs, students will be more prepared for and, I believe, more interested in, faculty-mentored undergraduate research.”

For more information on X-Labs, contact Walker at


-by Matt Smith, University Communications

Hurricane Preparedness Week 2018: Be prepared to weather the storm

ECU Police patrol campus during Hurricane Irene in 2011. (File photo)

ECU Police patrol campus during Hurricane Irene in 2011. (File photo)

While most of today’s students are too young to remember 1999’s Hurricane Floyd, the severe flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 remains a fresh memory. Eastern North Carolina and East Carolina University students, faculty and staff have been at the forefront of helping the community prepare for and recover from these natural disasters.

The National Weather Service marked May 6-12 as Hurricane Preparedness Week, and North Carolina has designated May 13-19 as its week to urge the public to start thinking about storm season. The official start of the Atlantic hurricane season is June 1, but recent history has shown that tropical activity can begin early.

High winds, heavy rain and flooding are among the hazards associated with hurricane landfalls, and they can lead to extended utility outages, drinking water contamination, traffic issues, flooding, downed trees and structural damage.

The best way to stay safe during a hurricane or tropical storm is to be prepared before there is a storm approaching. Everyone in areas that could be impacted by hurricanes should have an emergency kit and a plan for communications during an emergency. Visit for information on what should be included in an emergency kit.

Learn what areas are flood-prone and plan to avoid them. At ECU, flood-prone parking lots have signs at their entrances. These include the lower Minges and lower College Hill lots.

In the event of an approaching storm, the university will communicate updates through the ECU Alert system. Announcements can be found on the university homepage and through the emergency hotline, email and SMS text message systems.

For more information visit

The first step in hurricane preparedness is determining your risk.  What types of wind and water hazards could happen where you live? How can you prepare to  handle them? (Contributed image)

The first step in hurricane preparedness is determining your risk. What types of wind and water hazards could happen where you live? How can you prepare to handle them? (Contributed image)


-by Jules Norwood

ECU recognized as 2017 Tree Campus USA

East Carolina University was recognized in April as a 2017 Tree Campus USA.

Tree Campus USA, a national program launched in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation, honors colleges and universities and their leaders for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation.

To obtain this distinction, ECU met the five core standards for effective campus forest management including establishment of a tree advisory committee, evidence of a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and the sponsorship of student service-learning projects.

ECU is one of 12 colleges/universities in the state to receive the designation, according to the Tree Campus USA website. Of the 12, five are University of North Carolina system campuses.

“Your entire campus community should be proud of your sustained commitment to environmental stewardship,” Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation, said in a letter to Bill Bagnell, associate vice chancellor for campus operations.

The letter, which announced the recognition, said ECU has shown its commitment to protecting and preserving valuable tree resources and will reap their benefits for generations of students to come.

Bagnell said the designation as a Tree Campus USA would not have happened without the leadership of John Gill, assistant director of grounds maintenance and landscape architect, and Gene Stand, grounds supervisor and certified arborist.

For more information about the program, visit:

ECU faculty member to dance with New York Theatre Ballet in upcoming Tarboro performance

Dirk Lumbard, teaching instructor in the School of Theatre and Dance at East Carolina University, will perform with the New York Theatre Ballet when the company visits Tarboro for the Edgecombe Community College Performing Arts Series.

The New York Theatre Ballet (NYTB), which has performed in the series for the past five years, will bring a program of mixed repertoire at 7:30 p.m. on March 22 in Keihin Auditorium on the Tarboro campus of Edgecombe Community College.

Sponsored by the Furman-Mathewson Trust of Edgecombe County Memorial Library, the performance is free, but reservations are required. To reserve free tickets, call Eric Greene, cultural arts director, at 252-823-5166, ext. 187.

Dirk Lumbard

Dirk Lumbard (contributed photo)

Lumbard, a Tarboro resident and veteran of seven Broadway shows, is a master tap dancer and has performed leading roles at Barton College, Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences and the Edna Boykin Cultural Center. He will perform in David Parker’s “Two Timing,” a piece set to Steve Riech’s “Clapping Music,” with NYTB dancer Elena Zahlmann. Lombard will perform elaborate clapping music with Zahlmann tapping on pointe.

In a review of “Two Timing” in Dance Beat, Deborah Jowitt wrote, “In the score, a single twelve-count phrase of claps and pauses is methodically altered (the first note keeps becoming the last one). The two performers move close together, always in counterpoint, and eventually the sound-making includes smacks on the floor and other forms of body percussion. It’s a virtuosic number, executed at a good clip.”

Other works will include Jerome Robbins’ “Septet,” Petroushskates” by William Whitener, “The Flames of Paris” by Pas de Deux, Frederick Ashton’s “La Chatte,” and Antony Tudor’s “Dark Elegies.”

The mission of the Furman-Mathewson Trust is to provide programs of cultural, literary, educational or scientific presentations for Edgecombe County Memorial Library patrons. The trust has previously helped bring Maya Angelou, Nicholas Sparks and B.B. King to Edgecombe County, and has sponsored free performances of Jasmine Guy, the Avery Sharpe Trio and the Regina Carter Quintet.

About the New York Theatre Ballet

With its ever-expanding repertory, New York Theatre Ballet’s cutting-edge programming brings fresh insight to classic revivals paired with the modern sensibilities of both established and up-and-coming choreographers. Going strong after 38 years, the theatre ballet’s diversity in repertory explores the past while boldly taking risks on the future. Diana Byer is the founder and artistic director of New York Theatre Ballet and Ballet School NY.


-by Crystal Baity, ECU News Services

ECU’s Golden named to EPA board

The United States Environmental Protection Agency announced the appointment of Dr. Jay Golden, ECU vice chancellor of research, economic development and engagement and a professor of engineering, to the EPA Board of Scientific Counselors on Thursday, Nov. 30.

The board, established in 1996, provides advice, information and recommendations to the EPA’s Office of Research and Development on technical and management issues of its research programs. Golden joins six other research leaders from across the country in this role, including researchers from Northwestern University, University of Georgia, Rutgers University and the University of Rhode Island.

“It is a great honor to be appointed with some very distinguished academic peers to serve our nation and scientific community,” Golden said. “I am especially proud of the fact that I am able to represent ECU and bring the perspectives of communities and businesses throughout rural and coastal eastern North Carolina.”

Dr. Jay Golden, ECU vice chancellor of research, economic development and engagement. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

Dr. Jay Golden, ECU vice chancellor of research, economic development and engagement. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

The EPA Board of Scientific Counselors has five key goals, including: evaluate science and engineering research, programs and plans, laboratories, and research-management practices of ORD to improve its quality and relevance to the EPA’s mission; evaluate and provide advice concerning the use of peer review in the ORD to sustain and enhance the quality of science at the EPA; review the ORD’s program development progress, research planning process, and research program balance; peer review the ORD’s peer review policies; and provide advice on human resource planning.

The board has helped advise the ORD in the past by developing “Social Science Bootcamps” which showcased how the agency could integrate social sciences in environmental policy and management. It also annually reviews the ORD’s new research programs, offering insight and feedback on national research programs including air, climate and energy, chemical safety and sustainability, and homeland security.

Prior to being appointed to his vice chancellor position at ECU in June, Golden had a distinguished research and teaching career. He was a tenure track professor and directed a National Center of Excellence on SMART Innovations at Arizona State University before becoming a faculty member at Duke University, where he also was the faculty chair of the Business and Environment Program as well as directed the Center for Sustainability and Commerce.

Golden was named a Faculty Pioneer by the Aspen Institute for his work on sustainability and business.


-by Matt Smith, University Communications

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