Category Archives: Thomas Harriot College of Arts & Sciences

College of Arts and Sciences honors students at ECU Excels reception

East Carolina University’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences recognized its high-achieving freshmen and first-year transfer students at the college’s annual ECU Excels reception Feb. 15 in the new Student Center Ballroom.

In its 10th year, the event honored roughly 477 Harriot College students who achieved a GPA of 3.0 or higher during their first semester at ECU, the largest for the college to date. Honorees and their guests celebrated with cake and mingled with faculty and associate deans from the college. Students in attendance also received a certificate and had photos taken by a professional photographer.

Harriot College freshmen and first-year transfer students who received at least a 3.0 GPA during their first semester at ECU were honored during the college’s annual ECU Excels reception Feb. 15.

Harriot College freshmen and first-year transfer students who received at least a 3.0 GPA during their first semester at ECU were honored during the college’s annual ECU Excels reception Feb. 15. (Contributed photos)

Dr. William M. Downs, dean of Harriot College, welcomed everyone to the celebration and congratulated the students on their accomplishments.

“The transition from high school to college is the most difficult of a student’s life,” Downs said. “ECU Excels is all about recognizing and encouraging you early so that you stay on the path to success and a timely graduation; finish in four.”

Following the dean’s remarks, three members of the THCAS Dean’s Student Leadership Council provided words of wisdom and encouragement to awardees on how to be successful throughout their academic career at ECU.

Students sign in for the ECU Excels reception in the new Student Center Ballroom. (Contributed photo)

Students sign in for the ECU Excels reception in the new Student Center Ballroom.

“I want to say congratulations,” said Laney Ezzell, chair of the leadership council and a senior majoring in criminal justice and political science. “It is a great accomplishment to maintain a good GPA your first semester of college. That number means you have worked hard, and like me, you probably did so despite other difficult moments in your life.”

Ezzell highlighted the intensity of a college course workload, the importance of time management and shared a personal story of losing a friend to cancer her freshman year, but said she was able to overcome her adversities.

“Throughout life, you are going to face adversity. If you fail, it is OK. Failure is inevitable,” Ezell said. “Get up, brush yourself off and keep going. This is a testament to your character. In life there is no success without adversity.”

Garrett Yarbrough, vice chair of the leadership council and a senior majoring in English and history, said, “As any student in their second year or beyond will attest, starting your college career off on the right foot is as significant to continued success as it is impressive.”

Yarbrough encourages students to practice lateral, interdisciplinary thinking and to study abroad to fully enhance their educational experience and knowledge.

“My biggest piece of advice to anyone in their freshman year is to follow your passions — they don’t have to be solely in your major,” Yarbrough said. “While you are in college, make it a goal to stay uncomfortable. When you are uncomfortable, you use this opportunity to adapt, and to adapt, you apply what you have learned to succeed in creative ways.”

Alexandria “Lexi” Miller, secretary of the leadership council and a senior pre-med student majoring in chemistry and foreign languages and literatures with a concentration in Hispanic studies, said, “You’ve now got a newfound freedom and it is up to you to be wise about how you spend your time.”

Table setting at the ECU Excels reception.

Table setting at the ECU Excels reception.

She told students there are four things to remember as they continue their college career: don’t skip class; use your planner; study, study, study; and don’t procrastinate.

“Have fun and have a social life, but don’t forget that you are here to begin your career. You’ve done well thus far, and I believe that you will continue to excel,” Miller concluded.

 

by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications

ECU university studies major wins top award in Campus Movie Fest competition

Nathaniel Reid, a senior university studies major, won a top award in ECU’s Campus Movie Fest contest.

Nathaniel Reid, a senior university studies major, won a top award in ECU’s Campus Movie Fest contest. (Contributed photo)

East Carolina University senior Nathaniel Reid, a university studies major, has won the Campus Movie Fest best video award in the Hurricane Florence category. This category, sponsored by ECU’s Water Resources Center and the Natural Resources and Environment Cluster, included a $500 prize.

“This was my first time doing Campus Movie Fest, and I am truly honored to have received an award and prize. Prior to the event, I had taken a film survey and two video art courses, so that helped me convey a clear perspective on how I wanted to show my film to the audience,” Reid said.

Reid, a first-generation college student, is minoring in art and merging animation with sociology into a degree through the university studies program. Reid enjoys working in Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere Pro, Maya, Adobe Illustrator and Unity.

“I want to say thank you to both the volunteers and the American Red Cross for allowing me their time to make my film a success,” Reid said.

Reid’s extracurricular activities include acting as secretary of ECU’s Sexuality and Gender Alliance group, also known as SAGA; serving as a member of the ECU animation/interactive design guild; and assisting as a volunteer leader with the Pitt County All-Stars 4-H Club.

“I would like to see more students getting involved in this kind of activity, and I also think it is a great example of a different way of reaching out to the community beyond research,” said Dr. Stephen Moysey, director of the ECU Water Resources Center.

 

-by Lacey L Gray, University Communications

English associate professor selected for National Humanities Center summer residency

Frost, associate professor of English, will participate in the National Humanities Center summer residency program this June.

Frost, associate professor of English, will participate in the National Humanities Center summer residency program this June. (Contributed photos)

Dr. Erin Frost, associate professor of English at East Carolina University, recently was selected for a summer residency program at the National Humanities Center located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. According to the NHC website, the center is one of the most prestigious independent research institutes in the world and is the only one dedicated exclusively to the humanities.

“I’m so excited and really honored,” Frost said. “I’m thrilled that there is a program like this to support projects in the humanities.”

The residency is a four-week program that runs June 3-28 and gives participants an opportunity to work on a current research project or jumpstart a new one. Scholars receive lodging, food and assistance from the center’s team of librarians.

Frost will continue researching and writing her newest book on apparent feminism, an original methodology she developed during her dissertation work.

The book, “Feminist Technical Communication,” uses feminist theory to reorient how people view efficiency so it is not just about using fewer resources but also paying attention to the human aspects of the situation; a balance, rather than being more resource-focused.

Frost said the residency will help by giving her the time necessary to develop her manuscript. She also said the library’s resources will be beneficial for the chapters in her book that focus on the history of feminist theory and explaining what feminism means.

“People don’t always have a great understanding of what it means and what it has meant historically,” Frost said. “So I think it will really help me to be able to have that support, to explain that feminism means different things and how we can leverage some of those particular meanings.”

Frost will spend the month of June working on her book manuscript at the National Humanities Center.

Frost will spend the month of June working on her book manuscript at the National Humanities Center.

She aims to complete her book by 2020, during the 10-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which she uses as a case study in her book.

“I don’t want it to be just a theory book about abstract concepts,” Frost said.

She said she wants to give readers a concrete example of how feminist thinking can make a difference.

In her example of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Frost said that if people at BP and Transocean had been paying attention to some of these practices before the disaster happened, then it is possible it would not have happened at all.

According to Frost, the types of feminist thinking or practices that could have been used to avoid the disaster include being more human focused, paying attention to the environment, embracing collaboration and listening to the people on the ground.

“My big hope is that people will teach this book and students who are going on and working in corporations will actually do this — that this will make a practical, concrete difference in the world. That is my hope. That is my dream,” she said.

ECU’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences and the provost’s office are collaborating to cover the cost of Frost’s participation in the residency program.

“Erin Frost is a rising star in her field, and I am pleased that as a university we are able to support promising work in the humanities such as hers,” said Dr. William M. Downs, dean of Harriot College.
National Humanities Center

Learn more about the National Humanities Center and the summer residency program.

 

-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications

Exploring nightscape resources of the Outer Albemarle Peninsula

Stanley R. Riggs is an internationally recognized coastal geologist at East Carolina University, and serves as chairman of the N.C. Land of Water program. Below, he describes a project funded by a Community Collaborative Research Grant supported by North Carolina Sea Grant, in partnership with the William R. Kenan Jr. Institute for Engineering, Technology and Science, and North Carolina Space Grant.

The Milky Way.

The Milky Way. (Photo by John McCord/CSI)

The night skies within North Carolina’s Outer Albemarle Peninsula represent the largest area of public lands — over 485,134 acres, or 758 square miles — with the darkest skies along the entire U.S. Atlantic coastal system between Boston and Miami.

This unique and complex system of nocturnal environments and associated night skies rotate from the brilliant, big sky of the full moons to the inky black skies of the new moons that open the sky to a dazzling universe.

A significant seasonal variation is superimposed upon the skies’ vastness that ranges between these two extremes. Cold, crisp winter nights are dominated by the overwhelming sounds of flocks of winter waterfowl, including tundra swans and snow geese by the tens of thousands, moving from refuge lakes to farm fields, along with lonesome hoots of owls on evening hunts, howls of roaming coyote packs, and occasionally the rare red wolf.

Summer nights are hot, humid and dominated with a cacophony of insects and frogs, along with massive light and sound displays derived from the outlines of perfect thunderheads that move over the peninsula. And, of course, there is a never ending parade of morning sunrises and evening sunsets that daily provide new mosaics of sky magic.

The Outer Albemarle Peninsula, known as the OAP, has an incredible nightscape resource for the following reasons:

  1. The vast area of public wetlands is surrounded by the expansive estuarine system, all of which have minimal human activity.
  2. The “Big Night Sky” presents an ideal astronomical wonderland that is generally becoming an endangered environment in the east due to ever increasing light pollution.
  3. The 360 degree-horizon vistas provide incredible views of sun and moon rises and sets; thunderheads and dramatic lightning shows; and glorious zenith and structure of the Milky Way.
  4. As noted above, the hot, humid drone of the spring to fall nocturnal soundscape of insects and amphibians, moves into frigid winter nights with dramatic cacophony of waterfowl, owls, and wolves.
Reide Corbett speaks with East Carolina University Board of Trustees members during a meeting at the Coastal Studies Institute in Manteo, N.C.

Reide Corbett speaks with ECU Board of Trustees members during a meeting at the Coastal Studies Institute in Manteo, N.C. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

In a quest to better understand the nocturnal environment and dark skies of the region, North Carolina Land of Water (NC LOW) and A Time For Science (ATFS) designed a study to map and characterize the landscapes, soundscapes, and viewscapes of the OAP across four eastern N.C. counties. As NC LOW’s coastal and marine geologist, I am the lead investigator in this Nightscape resource project.

Other partners include: Karen Clough, community outreach coordinator for NC LOW; Emily Jarvis, executive director of ATFS; and Brian Baker, astronomer with ATFS. The project has a working partnership with Reide Corbett, an oceanographer and executive director of ECU’s Coastal Studies Institute, known as CSI.

Also, three groups of local volunteers constitute the field mapping teams obtaining nighttime observations in Tyrrell, Washington and mainland Hyde-Dare counties. The project also has developed working partnerships with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service teams at Alligator River, Pocosin Lakes, Mattamuskeet, and Swanquarter National Wildlife Refuges, along with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and N.C. State Parks.

NC LOW and ATFS are nongovernmental organizations involved in regional coastal research and science education initiatives in the northeastern North Carolina. Their missions include to:

  1. contribute to scientific understanding of the dynamic coastal system;
  2. delineate potential sustainable eco-tourism opportunities; and
  3. carry out regional K-12 and public science education programs in the region. All of their programs are framed around the unique natural resources and rich cultural history that reflect our state’s world-class coastal system enhance the quality of life of residents.
Color topography shows the North Carolina Land of Water in northeastern North Carolina’s coastal system — east of the red dashed line. The Outer Albemarle Peninsula study outlined in a black hexagon includes major portions of Washington, all of Tyrrell, and mainland Hyde and Dare counties.

Color topography shows the North Carolina Land of Water in northeastern North Carolina’s coastal system — east of the red dashed line. The Outer Albemarle Peninsula study outlined in a black hexagon includes major portions of Washington, all of Tyrrell, and mainland Hyde and Dare counties. (Map by Stanley Riggs)

Our Nightscape survey teams are comprised of scientists, educators and students that live and work in the coastal region. From June through December 2018, the teams went to their respective counties on 13 new- and full-moon nights. Combined, they tallied 161 visits to 62 sites. Broken down by county, the Nightscape data collections were: Mainland Dare: 54 visits to 14 sites; Mainland Hyde: 37 visits to 18 sites; Tyrrell: 40 visits to 13 sites; and Washington: 30 visits to 17 sites.

In addition to describing the surrounding environment, accessibility and apparent urban noise and light pollution at each site through the four seasons, researchers measure quality of the sky darkness, ambient sound and meteorological parameters.

Data from these surveys will be used to quantify and map the general nightscapes and light pollution in the OAP. This knowledge will help shape plans to protect our unique Nightscape resource, to responsibly incorporate the resource into ongoing ecotourism programs, and potentially to enable the peninsula to earn regional designation as an “International Dark Sky Place.” The Dark Sky Place title — and accompanying backing of the International Dark Sky Association — would enhance the visibility of the regional dark sky resource and foster ecotourism and sustainable economic activity in the region.

Astronomer Brian Baker (pictured) will participate in the Nightscape project’s first free public Star Party on Feb. 5 at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head.

Astronomer Brian Baker (pictured) will participate in the Nightscape project’s first free public Star Party on Feb. 5 at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head. (Photo by A Time for Science)

On Tuesday, Feb. 5, NC LOW, ATFS and CSI will host the first of three public Star Parties sponsored by the Nightscape project. The event will be from 6 to 9 p.m. at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head. The event is open and free to the public. The program will be led by several astronomers and will feature night-sky programs in a portable planetarium (regardless of the weather) along with viewing the night sky with a series of telescopes, if it is not overcast.

For more details on the Feb. 5 event, contact John McCord from CSI at 252-475-4550, or read a CSI story here.

Future programs as part of the Nightscape project will be held in Bertie County at the end of February to early March, and also in Tyrrell in April. Watch for details on those events.

Also, North Carolina Space Grant and partners across the state will be hosting a series of Star Parties as part of the North Carolina Science Festival in April. For more information on those events, go online to ncsciencefestival.org/starparty.

 

by Stanley Riggs, Distinguished Professor of Geology, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences

Anthropology students recognized through national competition

This semester, East Carolina University anthropology students participated in a nationwide competition known as the Community Action Project. Administered by the Center for a Public Anthropology, the competition involved more than 3,500 students from 25 schools across the United States.

As their entry into the competition, students wrote editorial pieces on the topic of climate change. The articles were evaluated by peers from other universities throughout the country.

Nine ECU anthropology students received award-winning recognition of their editorial pieces on the topic of climate change. Pictured left to right are Chris Capone, assistant professor of anthropology Dr. Cynthia Grace-McCaskey, Kaitlyn Lee, Elizabeth Lyttle and Gayle Yoder.

Nine ECU anthropology students received award-winning recognition of their editorial pieces on the topic of climate change. Pictured left to right are Chris Capone, assistant professor of anthropology Dr. Cynthia Grace-McCaskey, Kaitlyn Lee, Elizabeth Lyttle and Gayle Yoder. (Contributed photo)

“No matter what part of the world you are from, it affects you in some way,” said ECU anthropology student Gayle Yoder.

Another entrant, Kaitlyn Lee, said, “It was important for me because I’m from the beach and it is just something that I’ve grown up learning about.”

Nine ECU students were selected as award winners and received special certificates for their writing. Winners include Chris Capone, Christina Dougherty, Kaitlyn Lee, Elizabeth Lyttle, Autumn Saski, Logan Stevens, Allyse Williams, Ashley Yeager and Gayle Yoder.

“I thought it was really cool being able to connect with people around the world, especially about a dispute that’s as important as this,” said Capone.

ECU students also reviewed other students’ submissions.

“It was interesting to see that this person clearly believes the opposite of what I think, but they make a convincing argument for it,” Lyttle said.

Yoder said, “It is a common issue that people deal with in their daily lives, so it was interesting how people from different backgrounds dealt with that issue.”

Dr. Robert Borofsky, director of the Center for a Public Anthropology, praised Dr. Cynthia Grace-McCaskey, ECU assistant professor of anthropology and assistant scientist with the Coastal Studies Institute, who taught the students.

“Professor Grace-McCaskey has played an integral part in public anthropology’s online student community, showcasing the ability of East Carolina students to learn effective writing skills while being active global citizens,” Borofsky said. “She demonstrates how combining technology with cultural concerns in academic courses positively engages students to participate in the broader world beyond their academic setting while gaining the skills needed for a productive, active life after graduation.”

Read the winning ECU student editorials

Find out more about the Community Action Project

 

-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications

ECU Glaxo Women in Science Scholars network with mentors

ECU sophomore Jamie Chamberlin (left) and senior Ashley Lynn (right) were able to talk with ECU alumna Dr. Renu Jain (center) during the Glaxo Women in Science fall meeting in October.

ECU sophomore Jamie Chamberlin (left) and senior Ashley Lynn (right) were able to talk with ECU alumna Dr. Renu Jain (center) during the Glaxo Women in Science fall meeting in October. (Contributed photos)

East Carolina University sophomore Jamie Chamberlin and senior Ashley Lynn are recipients of the 2018 Glaxo Women in Science scholarship. As recipients of the scholarship, they receive more than just a monetary award.

The North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation Women in Science Scholars Program, which awards two scholarships each at 30 colleges and universities in North Carolina, is providing Chamberlin and Lynn the opportunity for one-on-one mentorship from professional women in scientific fields and attendance at the fall meeting and spring conference.

“After a year of waiting, I was beyond thrilled to be given one of the 2018 scholarships from GlaxoSmithKline,” said Chamberlin, who is also an EC Scholar pursuing a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry with a concentration in chemistry, as well as a bachelor of science degree in biology. “The program goes far beyond a financial opportunity; it is an investment in women who will enter careers still heavily dominated by unspoken patriarchal restrictions.”

Chamberlin credits another woman in science who influenced her decision to attend ECU, Dr. Cindy Putnam-Evans, interim chair of biology and Harriot College associate dean for research. The scholarship was established at ECU in 1993. Putnam-Evans has served on the selection committee for the scholarship since 1996 and has chaired the committee for many years.

Chamberlin, seen here in the Brody School of Medicine Geyer Lab during the 2018 summer biomedical research program, is making hydrophobic dams around cryosectioned tissue in preparation to perform research via indirect immunofluorescence.

Chamberlin, seen here in the Brody School of Medicine Geyer Lab during the 2018 summer biomedical research program, is making hydrophobic dams around cryosectioned tissue in preparation to perform research via indirect immunofluorescence.

“It was Dr. Cindy Putnam-Evans who first told me about the GlaxoSmithKline Women in Science Scholars Program, and I immediately knew I wanted to be one of the two girls offered the opportunity,” said Chamberlin, who decided then that ECU was the “right fit.”

Ashley Lynn, who is pursuing her bachelor of science degree in geological sciences, said, “When I learned that I had won the scholarship, I was ecstatic. I was happy to learn that they typically don’t accept seniors, but they liked my application so much, that they awarded it to me. I love being able to represent an amazing foundation.”

This year, Dr. Allison Danell, associate professor of chemistry and adjunct associate professor in pharmacology and toxicology, accompanied Chamberlin and Lynn to the Glaxo Women in Science fall meeting.

“I think our scholarship recipients enjoy this unique opportunity to attend these professional development meetings,” Danell said. “The program connects them with mentors who are willing to share their own stories.”

Chamberlin and Lynn heard from several women in leadership roles and spoke with scientists at GlaxoSmithKline. One of those women included ECU alumna Dr. Renu Jain, who earned her doctoral degree in biochemistry from ECU’s Brody School of Medicine in 1997. Now, Jain serves as the scientific director for medical affairs at GlaxoSmithKline in Durham’s Research Triangle Park.

Lynn presented her research, performed during the 2017-2018 academic year, at the Geological Society of America’s southeastern section conference.

Lynn presented her research, performed during the 2017-2018 academic year, at the Geological Society of America’s southeastern section conference.

“When her [Jain] speech was over, I felt motivated to go after my Ph.D.,” Lynn said. “I learned that everyone’s journey is different and that there are multiple ways to achieve your goals.”

“It was beyond wonderful to hear from incredibly successful women who served as speakers for the event,” Chamberlin said. “Each talked about the obstacles they had to overcome to manage a thriving career under a glass ceiling that often feels more like concrete.

“I left the conference inspired and confident that I, like every woman, have the potential to persevere through a major in the hard sciences and pursue higher education beyond my undergraduate degree,” said Chamberlin.

For additional information about the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation and the Women in Science Scholars Program, visit http://www.ncgskfoundation.org/women-in-science.html.

 

-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications

ECU sociologist examining accessibility issues through fellowship in Washington, D.C.

East Carolina University professor of sociology Dr. Mamadi Corra is spending a year in Washington, D.C. Corra was named to a Science and Technology Policy Fellowship from the American Association of the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society.

Corra is among 300 new AAAS fellows recognized by his peers. Through the fellowship, which runs from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31, 2019, Corra is working with the Judicial Branch of the U.S. Government, specifically at the Federal Judicial Center – the research and education wing of the Federal Judiciary – located in the Thurgood Marshall Judicial Building.

ECU professor of sociology Dr. Mamadi Corra, seen here speaking to a sociology class in 2015, is spending a year in Washington, D.C. through a prestigious Science & Technology Policy Fellowship with the American Association of the Advancement of Science.

ECU professor of sociology Dr. Mamadi Corra, seen here speaking to a sociology class in 2015, is spending a year in Washington, D.C. through a prestigious Science & Technology Policy Fellowship with the American Association of the Advancement of Science. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

“The fellowship program is a highly competitive and prestigious one, and receiving the fellowship is a great honor,” Corra said. “So I feel very honored and humbled to receive this award.”

Corra’s main area of teaching and research is in social stratification and inequality, broadly defined. More specifically, his research focuses on social psychology – power and status; race, ethnic, gender and class inequalities; and immigration. He has taught courses in introduction to sociology, principles of sociology, sociology of the family, social structures, social inequality, and racial and cultural minorities.

While participating in his fellowship, Corra poses for a photo in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

While participating in his fellowship, Corra poses for a photo in front of the U.S. Capitol Building. (Contributed photo)

According to the AAAS website, the Science and Technology Policy Fellowship provides opportunities for scientists and engineers to contribute to federal policymaking while learning firsthand about the intersection of science and policy by addressing today’s most pressing societal challenges.

“High-profile faculty awards like this, and the social and cultural capital they build, make important contributions to our efforts to rise to national prominence as a great university,” former department chair and professor of sociology Dr. Bob Edwards said. “Dr. Corra’s full-time residence as a policy-relevant research scholar in the Capitol will extend and strengthen Harriot College’s professional networks and working relationships in support of its emerging Washington-based academic initiatives and potentially do the same with ECU’s emerging collaborative endeavors with Howard University.”

“Receiving the fellowship gives me the unique opportunity to fulfill a long-standing aspiration – to apply my scientific (sociological) knowledge to public policy,” said Corra.

Through his fellowship, Corra is working directly at the Federal Judicial Center, the research and education wing of the Federal Judiciary. (Contributed photo)

Corra is working directly at the Federal Judicial Center, the research and education wing of the Federal Judiciary. (Contributed photo)

As an example, Corra mentioned that in his first two-and-a-half weeks in Washington he learned something new about a policy-relevant issue that is of personal interest to him as a visually impaired individual; that the accessibility of federal courts may only be framed in the context of the federal judiciary.

“A goal of mine is looking at accessibility issues in the Federal Judiciary with the hope of developing a policy document on improving the accessibility of federal courts,” he said.

“I believe one of the key aspects of being an informed and actively involved citizen is to be aware of how your government works and to contribute in its improvement,” said Corra. “The Science and Technology Policy Fellowship gives me the unique opportunity to do this, while also doing something that I love – research that is public and applied in nature … timely research that is policy-relevant and in a key aspect of our government.”

Corra came to ECU in 2003. He received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of South Carolina, and his master’s in business administration and bachelor of science degrees in sociology and business administration from Gardner-Webb University.

Since 1874, the AAAS Fellows program has recognized researchers for scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. Previous Fellows include astronomer Maria Mitchell, who discovered a comet that now carries her name; inventor Thomas Edison, whose creations included the incandescent light bulb; and anthropologist Margaret Mead, whose field research on culture and personality attracted much acclaim. For more information about the AAAS, including all fellowship programs offered, visit https://www.aaas.org/.

Corra on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C., where ECU is pursuing collaborative endeavors.

Corra on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C., where ECU is pursuing collaborative endeavors. (Contributed photo)

 

-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications

Biology professor receives Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences’ top honor

Dr. Baohong Zhang, professor of biology, is the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences 20th Distinguished Professor.

Dr. Baohong Zhang, professor of biology, is the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences 20th Distinguished Professor.
(Photo by Doug Boyd)

Dr. Baohong Zhang, East Carolina University professor of biology, was named Distinguished Professor at the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences 55th annual convocation on Aug. 17. Zhang is the 20th member of the faculty to be honored with the title.

“This is a wonderful surprise to me,” said Zhang. “There are so many great colleagues and professors in THCAS, and I feel lucky, grateful and humbled to be the recipient of this prestigious award. This award will encourage me to achieve more in the future – towards excellence in research, student success and contribution to ECU’s mission and internationalization.”

The THCAS Distinguished Professorship is the highest honor within the college and is conferred upon a professor whose career exemplifies a commitment to and a love for knowledge and academic life, as demonstrated by outstanding teaching and advising, research and creative productivity, and professional service.

“Baohong Zhang is a remarkable scholar and academician who has established a record that by itself would constitute an exemplary career. He has risen to these heights of achievement from modest rural beginnings, in a second language and as an immigrant – a truly inspiring Pirate story,” said Dr. Jeffrey McKinnon, former chair of the Department of Biology.

Zhang (right) gives a tour of the ECU biology greenhouse and discusses his research with a representative from a funding agent.

Zhang (right) gives a tour of the ECU biology greenhouse and discusses his research with a representative from a funding agent. (Contributed photo)

While at ECU, Zhang has displayed the qualities and characteristics required of a Distinguished Professor.

In his role as professor, Zhang has taught courses in plant biology, biotechnology and molecular biology. He has secured grants to support undergraduate and graduate students in study abroad courses in China. In addition to his courses taught, Zhang has served as a mentor to 14 post doctoral scholars and 17 doctoral and master’s degree students, as a member on 44 graduate student committees, and as a mentor to more than 32 undergraduate researchers and 241 undergraduate advisees.

Zhang’s research interests include microRNA, gene regulation, molecular genetics and toxicology, genome editing and biotechnology. He has been recognized locally and nationally for his research and creative activity in the areas of computational and molecular biology, particularly in the role of miRNA – a small non-coding RNA molecule that regulates the activity of genes by silencing RNA after it is transcribed from DNA – during cotton fiber development and in plant responses to environmental stress. In addition, he has conducted studies on the role of miRNA in cancer, and he has conducted research in the area of head trauma.

Dr. Baohong Zhang and Dr. Xiaoping Pan (right) are pictured here with ECU students at Anyang Institute of Technology during their 2018 study abroad research trip to China.

Zhang and Dr. Xiaoping Pan (right) are pictured here with ECU students at Anyang Institute of Technology during their 2018 study abroad research trip to China. (Contributed photo)

Over the course of his career, Zhang has authored more than 200 journal articles, nine books and 14 book chapters in his areas of research. He has presented at more than 50 conferences, and he has secured more than $2.4 million in research funding as the principal investigator or co-PI on 35 projects.

Since joining ECU in 2007, Zhang has chaired three biology departmental committees – greenhouse, seminar series and personnel committee – and served as a committee member on several faculty searches. In his other professional activities, he has served as an editor, associate editor, editorial board member or guest editor for nearly two dozen journals, and he has served as an ad-hoc reviewer for more than 90 journals and 35 funding agencies.

He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Sigma Xi, scientific research society; Association of Southeastern Biologists; the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry; American Chemical Society; and the American Society of Plant Biologists.

Zhang at work in his research lab.

Zhang at work in his research lab. (Contributed photo)

In addition to the THCAS Distinguished Professorship, Zhang has received many awards, including, in 2013, ECU’s Five Year Research Achievement Award, and in 2017, the inaugural ECU Achievement in International Research and Creative Activity Award. In 2018, he received the Cotton Researcher of the Year award given by the International Cotton Advisory Committee. The annual award is presented to only one person worldwide who has raised the international importance of research in the cotton industry.

“I can think of no one better qualified for the Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professorship,” wrote one of Zhang’s colleagues in a letter of nomination.

Another colleague concluded, “I have known virtually all previous THCAS Distinguished Professors. We should be proud to consider professor Baohong Zhang as one of their peers.”

 

-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications

ECU’s Harriot College recognizes exceptional staff

The Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Staff Council hosted its second annual Staff Awards and Recognition Ceremony May 11 in Harvey Hall. The event honors all dedicated THCAS staff members and recognizes the hard work they engage in on a day-to-day basis.

“Our college has the best staff at ECU,” said Dean William M. Downs. “We could not lead in all the categories in which we lead without them. I am really proud of this group.”

•Julie Marik, Chris Bonnerup and Chastidy Ridley were honored with Harriot College’s 2018 staff excellence awards and professional development grant at a special ceremony May 11.

Julie Marik, Chris Bonnerup and Chastidy Ridley were honored with Harriot College’s 2018 staff excellence awards and professional development grant at a special ceremony May 11.
(Photos by Rob Taylor)

During the ceremony, two staff members received Staff Excellence Awards, and one staff member received the Professional Development Grant. The awards acknowledge administrative or technical staff within the college who show exemplary professionalism and go above and beyond the requirements of their position, while the grant is awarded to a person who is actively pursuing career advancement within his or her field.

Julie Marik, research specialist in the Department of Biology, who serves as greenhouse manager and BIOL 1201 and 2251 lab coordinator, was awarded the Senior Staff Excellence Award. Chastidy Ridley, lead administrative support associate in the Department of Political Science, was awarded the Junior Staff Excellence Award. Chris Bonnerup, advanced research specialist in the Department of Physics and engineer for the ECU Accelerator Laboratory, was awarded the Professional Development Grant.

“I feel very fortunate to work with such a wonderful group of people every day, and I appreciate all they do for me,” said Marik, who is an alumna of ECU (’07) and has worked at the university for 10 years. “I work with a great group of fellow staff and amazing teachers and researchers who are doing very cool science.”

Ridley also is an ECU alumna (’14). She has served as the lead administrative associate in the Department of Political Science for nearly two years and worked with the staff in the Department of Biology from 2015-2016.

•Gift baskets from the THCAS Staff Council were given to the three award winners.

Gift baskets from the THCAS Staff Council were given to the three award winners.

“I am humbled that I have colleagues who think so highly of me. It is always great to have reassurance that you are doing your best, and I feel awards like this do just that,” said Ridley. “Working within the college, I have gained great relationships and friendships. I also enjoy that I now get to supervise student office assistants, as I was once one myself. I find it rewarding that this comes full circle.”

Prior to the ceremony, many colleagues provided words of praise in their nominations of the candidates.

“Julie brings to her challenging position a remarkable combination of professionalism, expertise, strong work ethic, creativity, positive attitude and a desire to help and serve,” wrote a supporter of Marik. “Julie truly exemplifies our Pirate motto, Servire.”

Another nominator wrote, “Julie’s dedication to undergraduate success is evident by her excellent mentorship of TAs and her willingness to take on pedagogical changes to the laboratory courses she oversees.”

A colleague of Ridley’s commented, “Chastidy Ridley is a prime example of the Pirates that we like to see coming from East Carolina University. She was a dedicated student and student worker, and now we are fortunate to have her as a staff member for THCAS. She works tirelessly to ensure that her chair, faculty and students are assisted.”

“Ms. Ridley comes to work each day with a positive attitude and works to help raise the spirits of others around her,” commented another colleague. “She makes it clear she cares about others and will go out of her way to help students and faculty in any way she can.”

Door prizes donated by campus and community organizations were raffled off to attendees of the event.

Door prizes donated by campus and community organizations were raffled off to attendees of the event.

Bonnerup, winner of the professional development grant, began his career with ECU in 2004 as a research instructor in radiation oncology at the Brody School of Medicine. He moved to Harriot College’s Department of Physics in 2013.

“I’m very thankful for the college to offer these funds, as specialized training and continuing education opportunities are not readily available in Greenville,” said Bonnerup.

Bonnerup will use his $1,200 grant to attend this year’s annual Symposium of Northeastern Accelerator Personnel in Madison, Wisconsin. The conference focuses on the interest of the people who use, build, maintain and repair particle accelerators for academic research and commercial purposes.

“This year’s meeting happens to be a great time to attend, in that the itinerary will include a VIP tour of National Electrostatics Corporation, the manufacturer of the ECU particle accelerator,” said Bonnerup. “The venue is also a great opportunity to meet with highly experienced users of these machines, discuss problems they have experienced and techniques to address and solve them. I hope to bring these skills and techniques back to ECU and use them to provide enhanced engineering and user support for the ECU accelerator lab.”

 

-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications

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