ECU students selected as State of N.C. interns

Two East Carolina University students have been chosen to serve as State of North Carolina interns this summer.

Kathryn Stanley, a political science major, is working in the General Assembly’s House of Representatives, and Ann Marie Ballance, a history major, is working with Natural and Cultural Resources at a historic site. More than 475 students applied for 103 internships this year.

Ann Marie Ballance and Dean William Downs

Ann Marie Ballance and Dean William Downs (contributed photo)

The 2016 intern applicants represented 77 counties, 74 public and private colleges and universities, law schools and community colleges, and more than 110 different majors. The N.C. Internship Council selected 95 students to work on projects in 20 state departments.

Established in 1969 as the first such program in the nation, the State of North Carolina Internship Program offers paid internships to N.C. residents attending a two- or four-year college or university, community college, graduate school or law school in N.C. or an equivalent institution in another state. The internships provide a professional work experience that integrates education, career development and public service. Opportunities exist in numerous recognized fields of study, from accounting to zoology.

Amin attends national student entrepreneur program

East Carolina University’s Mona Amin is one of 19 students from across the country selected for a prestigious student entrepreneur program.

Amin, an Honors College student from Charlotte, is participating in the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council Student Entrepreneurship Program held June 19-24 in Orlando.

Mona Amin (contributed photo)

Mona Amin (contributed photo)

“I am most excited about meeting other young female entrepreneurs as well as meeting my mentors from Kroger and Ragozzino Foods,” said Amin before leaving for the conference.

Amin is part of a team developing an app called FreshSpire, a mobile application and text system that notifies consumers, including low-income shoppers, about discounts on near-expiring foods at local grocery stores, allowing them to take advantage of healthy foods at lower prices.

Amin, a biology major set to graduate in 2017, plans to continue work on FreshSpire before attending the Brody School of Medicine as an Early Assurance Scholar.

ECU and North Carolina A&T State University are the only colleges in North Carolina with a student at the conference. Sixteen colleges or universities are represented.

The program aims to foster growth for the next generation of women-owned businesses through a tailored entrepreneur curriculum, a live pitch competition awarding $10,000 in seed capital and mentoring from successful Women’s Business Enterprises and Fortune 500 companies.

Students also participate in experiential learning through off-site visits to WBE and corporate campuses and accelerators. Since 2008, more than 150 students from 40 colleges and universities across the country have graduated from the program.

Women-owned businesses are growing at one and a half times the U.S. national average and contribute more than $1.5 trillion dollars to the national economy and employ about 7.9 million people. An average of 887 new businesses opened every day in 2015, according to the WBENC.

For more information, visit http://www.wbenc.org/student-entrepreneur-program/#program-details.

–Crystal Baity

College of Arts and Sciences announces three new faculty leaders

East Carolina University’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences has announced the appointment of three new department chairs.

Dr. Jefferson “Jeff” Shinpaugh

Dr. Jefferson “Jeff” Shinpaugh, professor of physics and director of the ECU accelerator laboratory, is the next chair of the college’s Department of Physics, effective July 1.

Jefferson Shinpaugh (contributed photo)

Jefferson Shinpaugh (contributed photo)

Shinpaugh came to ECU in 1994. He oversaw and supervised a major renovation of the ECU Accelerator Laboratory, funded by the National Science Foundation and the ECU Division of Research and Graduate Studies, and he has been serving as interim chair of physics since July 1, 2015.

“I am honored to be selected as the next chair of the department, and I look forward to serving the department in this role,” said Shinpaugh. “We have great faculty who are committed to their research and are dedicated to teaching and student training at all levels in our BS, MS and PhD programs.”

Shinpaugh’s research interests include biological effects of radiation, radiation damage in materials and particle track structure, material analysis and modification using ion beams, and atomic collision processes. He has received more than $2.6 million in financial support from NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Energy and has conducted experiments at various ion beam facilities in the U.S. and Germany.

As chair of physics, Shinpaugh has several goals for the department.

“One of our primary goals is to continue to expand our research programs in biomedical physics. We expect to strengthen our collaborations with the other science departments and with the medical school, and for our undergraduate programs, we expect to significantly increase the number of physics majors. A physics degree provides many career options, and our graduates have found very successful careers,” said Shinpaugh.

Dr. Alethia Cook

Dr. Alethia Cook, associate professor of political science and director of the security studies program, has been named chair of the Department of Political Science.

Alethia Cook (contributed photo)

Alethia Cook (contributed photo)

“I am very excited to have this opportunity to lead the Department of Political Science,” said Cook. “We have incredibly talented faculty and students who are among the best on campus. I’m looking forward to being in a position to help the department’s faculty and students achieve their goals.”

Coming to ECU in 2007, Cook’s attraction to ECU included her ability to be part of the Security Studies Program. Cook said it was particularly important that she play a role in developing the courses and curriculum for the Master of Science in Security Studies, which admitted its first students in 2010. Under Cook’s direction, the program has experienced continuous growth, including a new BA/BS Security Studies informal concentration created in the spring of 2015.

Cook’s research interests span various aspects of homeland and international security, including Weapons of Mass Destruction, terrorism, pandemic disease and the factors that influence violence in conflicts.

Since coming to ECU, Cook has published three books “Emergency Response to Domestic Terrorism: How Bureaucracies Reacted to the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing,” “The United States and Iran: Policy Challenges and Opportunities” and “Drawing a Line in the Water: The Mavi Marmara Incident and Israel’s Naval Blockade of Gaza.” She has two additional works in development.

In her new role as department chair, Cook plans to build on the department’s strengths.

“Building on the department’s existing strengths will be an important factor,” said Cook. “These include a high level of scholarly productivity, strong and positive interaction with our students, interdisciplinary collaboration across campus and a growing Master of Science in Security Studies program. It is important to not lose sight of these areas where we are excelling.”

Dr. Marianne Montgomery

On August 16, associate professor of English Dr. Marianne Montgomery will step into the role of chair for the college’s Department of English. Montgomery came to ECU in 2006, and currently, she is serving as interim chair of the department.

Marianne Montgomery (contributed photo)

Marianne Montgomery (contributed photo)

“I’m excited by the opportunity to lead a vibrant, vital department whose work is central to ECU’s mission of student success, public service and regional transformation,” said Montgomery. “English is a big department, so this is a big new job. I am fortunate to have supportive and experienced colleagues in the department and in the college to help me to learn this new role.”

Montgomery, who specializes in Shakespeare and Renaissance drama and is particularly interested in English accounts of cultural encounter, including the work of the college’s namesake,Thomas Harriot.

“My goal is for English to be a department that works constructively with other units in the college and university, attracts lots of students and educates them well, uses its resources wisely to encourage productivity in teaching and research/creative activity, and celebrates individual and collective successes,” said Montgomery. “In the coming year, we will focus on recruiting, workload and our academic program review self-study.”

Dr. William M. Downs, dean of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, underscores the importance he places on these three programs as engines of excellence in the college.

“Political science, physics and English are disciplines that are absolutely essential for the success of the College of Arts and Sciences and for our university’s broader mission,” said Downs. “Together, they account for more than 700 of the college’s undergraduate and graduate majors.

“I have great confidence that these three new departmental leaders will work effectively to promote impactful research, provide inspirational teaching and serve our community. I am grateful to have their talents on the Harriot College leadership team.”

–Lacey Gray

Updated 1 Card design unveiled during orientation

The ECU 1 Card office has announced a redesign of the ECU 1 Card. Students attending the first New Student Orientation were among the first to receive a newly designed card. The new multi-purpose ID card will be phased in rather than doing a complete recarding of the entire campus community. Current 1 Cards will remain active.

The new card features a rendering of the cupola and university logo, along with the card holder’s name, photo, and designation, such as student, faculty or staff. It was a collaborative effort, with input from several campus constituents and student leaders, according to 1 Card Director Merlena Artis. The design was done by ECU Creative Services.

Also changing with this new class of East Carolina students is a new name for the Gold Key Account, one of the declining balance funds tied to the 1 Card. Bounty Bucks is the name of the account, making it more reflective of the university’s nautical themes. 

“We’re hoping students will find the new name fun, and be more inclined to join the number of students, faculty and staff who take advantage of the account,” said Artis. Given the enthusiasm at the first two orientation sessions, the account is becoming more popular than in previous years.

Funds in the Bounty Bucks account can be used for prescriptions and services at the Student Health Center, purchases at Dowdy Student Stores, payment of fines and fees at various campus locations, as well as at the 1 Card Office. A complete list of Bounty Bucks uses and how to add funds to the account is found on the 1 Card web site: www.ecu.edu/1card. Additional uses for this declining balance account are in the planning stages.

Earlier this year a new application for mobile devices was released called GET, where all card holders can see the balance of funds in accounts tied to their card. The GET application information is also available on computers through the Pirate Portal or the 1 Card website. Transaction history for 1 Card accounts, the ability to report your card lost, and view locations to use the 1 Card are available through GET. Through settings, users have an added security measure where they can mark their mobile device as lost and deactivate PIN’s that would be used for the GET application.

Another new feature underway is the ability for parents and family members to add funds to card accounts via the internet through TouchNet.  

Updated cards for staff and faculty will be phased in by departments at various intervals over the next two years. Employees will be notified when they can have their new card made. Current 1 Cards will remain active throughout the transition, including the GET and TouchNet features.

See the 1 Card web site for more information about card uses and security: www.ecu.edu/1card.

The ECU 1 Card is the official photo ID card for East Carolina University. All students, staff, and faculty need this card whenever they are asked to show university identification. The ECU 1 Card is used for spending accounts such as the Dining Plan and Bookstore account.  It is also used for specific building access and worn as an ID badge at the Brody School of Medicine and other locations. While the ECU 1 Card is required for identification purposes, other accounts linked to the card are optional.

–Leslie Craigle

Drs. Carabello and Kiser bring international experience to improve cardiovascular care in eastern NC

The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and Vidant Medical Center have appointed two acclaimed specialists to key leadership positions. Drs. Blase Carabello and Andy Kiser bring international experience and a new level of expertise in cardiovascular care to the East.

Drs. Carabello and Kiser

Drs. Carabello and Kiser

Carabello joins the ECU Department of Cardiovascular Sciences as chief of cardiology at Brody and director of the East Carolina Heart Institute (ECHI) at the medical center.

He is recognized worldwide in the field of valvular heart disease. He specializes in the care of patients with complex valvular heart disease and general internal medicine. He co-authored the AHA/ACC Guidelines for the Treatment of Valvular Disease from 1998 to 2016.

Carabello earned his MD degree from Temple University. He completed his training in both internal medicine and cardiology at Harvard Medical School.

“I’ve known a thousand doctors in my life but only 50 physicians,” said Carabello. “A doctor is a technologist. A physician understands the power of science and the importance of evidence-based medicine but also knows the limitations of those disciplines, and that’s where the art of medicine learned from experience takes over. That art and the willingness to feel the patient’s anxiety about his/her illness and calm that fear makes a physician a physician.”

Kiser joins the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences as chief of cardiac surgery and director of cardiovascular surgical services at ECHI. He arrives from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was chief of cardiothoracic surgery.

An international leader in minimally invasive valve and coronary artery surgery, Kiser has particular expertise in interventional surgery to avoid incisions in the chest. He developed the suprasternal approach for transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), and performed the first such procedure in the United States in 2015. He also pioneered paracardioscopic procedures to treat atrial fibrillation.

A North Carolina native, Dr. Kiser earned his BS and MD degrees with honors at UNC-Chapel Hill, followed by training there in general surgery and cardiothoracic surgery.

“The East Carolina Heart Institute has a long and outstanding history of providing excellent care to the people of Eastern North Carolina.  The cardiac surgery program is recognized as being one of the top 30 in the country for the best patient care and outcomes, better than 97 percent of all other cardiac surgery programs nationally,” said Kiser.

“This is an example of the commitment by the Brody School of Medicine and Vidant Health to have a heart team approach to care where the patient and family is central to our processes and decision making.  I am honored to be a part of this community and to be able to join such an outstanding team.”

–Amy Ellis

ECU alumnus nominated for Tony Award

An East Carolina University alumnus will be honored at the 2016 Tony Awards this Sunday for his work on the Broadway smash hit “Hamilton.”

Hamilton Playbill

Howell Binkley is nominated for best lighting design for a musical. The show, which received a record-breaking 16 Tony nominations, has become one of Broadway’s biggest critical and commercial successes in its ten-month run.

“It’s an honor to be involved with such a hit show,” said Binkley, who has been a Broadway lighting designer since 1992. This is his seventh nomination; his last win was for “Jersey Boys” in 2006. “It’s still as exciting as the first one.”

Binkley has worked with “Hamilton” creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda and his team before, on a production called “In the Heights,” Miranda’s Broadway debut.

Howell Binkley (contributed photo)

Howell Binkley (contributed photo)

“We have a history of working together,” Binkley said. “It’s a very collaborative process.”

“Hamilton” uses rap and hip-hop music to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton and the founding fathers. This is just one of the many things that make the show unique, from the diversity of the cast to the non-stop pace. There are 50 songs that move immediately from one to the next, Binkley said, and his lighting helps keep the show moving. Instead of traditionally fading to black at the end of each scene, there’s only one blackout at the end of the first act for intermission.

“The show is continuous,” Binkley said. “We work to keep it seamless and keep it vibrant.”

Binkley has been with the show since its beginning, participating in weeks of technical rehearsals before the show premiered off-Broadway at The Public Theater in February 2015. Putting sets, costumes, music and lighting together is “a layered process” that takes about three weeks, Binkley said. “It’s like any other business or product; you have to perfect it before the audience sees it.”

Now, Binkley checks in on the show about once a month to make any needed adjustments, as the house staff at the Richard Rodgers Theater execute his lighting design in sold-out shows.

Howell Binkley

Lighting designer and ECU alumnus Howell Binkley joins the cast and crew on stage for curtain call after a production of “Hamilton.” (contributed photo)

Growing up in Winston-Salem, Binkley participated in both high school and community theater. He wanted to pursue a degree in architecture, for which ECU accepted him. But once he got involved in the theater program, he never looked back. He studied theater at ECU until 1977, but left before graduating to work in New York. He started out doing lighting for rock ‘n roll concerts, until he met renowned director Harold Prince of “Phantom of the Opera.” His first Broadway show was “Kiss of the Spider Woman” in 1992.

“ECU totally prepared me for my career,” Binkley said. “It gave me a great foundation that took me to where I am now. I’m very proud I went to ECU, and more proud every year as I watch the school grow.”

For the last three years, Binkley has brought a senior theater student from ECU for a summer internship with him in New York.

“I’m happy to open new doors for them and see where they all go,” he said. “School was a new community for me. I introduce them to a new community just like ECU did for me. ECU absolutely contributed to my success. I love giving back.”

Howell Binkley

Howell Binkley in stage lighting. (contributed photo)

–Jackie Drake

Brody School of Medicine names new chair of pediatrics

The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University has named a new chair for the Department of Pediatrics. ECU neonatologist Dr. Jason Higginson assumed the role June 1.

ECU neonatologist Dr. Jason Higginson

ECU neonatologist Dr. Jason Higginson – the new chair of the Department of Pediatrics

Since joining Brody in 2012, Higginson has served as chief of neonatology for the department, medical director for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Newborn Medicine, and co-medical director for the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital at Vidant Medical Center.

Prior to joining ECU, Higginson served at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, as assistant chief of graduate medical education, division head of research resources, medical director of the Neonatal High-Risk Clinic, and assistant division chief of newborn medicine. In addition, he served on active duty in the U.S. Navy from 2002-2012 and transitioned to the Navy Reserve in 2012.

He currently serves as the regimental surgeon for the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Logistics Regiment 45 and leads the U.S. Navy Reserve Medical Corps Pediatrics Specialty, advising the surgeon general of the U.S. Navy regarding pediatric policy and credentialing.

Higginson completed his medical degree at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles, followed by an internship and residency in pediatrics at the University of California-San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. He then completed a fellowship in neonatal-perinatal medicine at the National Capital Consortium at Walter Reed.

“Dr. Higginson is an experienced clinician, researcher and administrator and brings an extensive skill set to the role of chair of the Department of Pediatrics,” said Dr. Paul Cunningham, dean of the medical school.

–Amy Ellis

Bassman Honors Thesis Award winner announced

Hannah G. Woolard is the winner of the 2015-2016 Michael F. Bassman Honors Thesis Award, which recognizes students in East Carolina University’s Honors College for excellence in research and writing.

“Finishing off my senior year at ECU by receiving the Michael F. Bassman Honors College Thesis Award was a very special and rewarding moment,” Woolard said. “I am most overjoyed to receive this award because it honors the most knowledgeable advisor, exceptional role model, and caring professor, Dr. Bassman.”

Woolard poses with Dr. Michael F. Bassman, for whom the award is named. (Contributed photo)

Woolard poses with Dr. Michael F. Bassman, for whom the award is named. (Contributed photo)

Woolard’s research involved studying the different steps, or mechanism, of a new type of rare and highly selective reaction. The reaction converts cycloplatinated complexes (platinum-based compounds) into products that can be utilized for things like biological imaging and cancer research.

“The research I completed for my senior honors project investigating cycloplatinated complexes is extremely valuable to many fields of science,” Woolard said. “The discovery of the mechanism behind this reaction provides synthetic chemists with an important tool.”

Until now, the details of the mechanism had never been reported in literature. Her award-winning work was completed under the direction of Dr. Shouquan Huo, a chemistry professor in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences.

Woolard graduated from ECU in May with a B.S. in Public Health and a B.A. in chemistry and is preparing to apply to medical school. She attended D.H. Conley High School and is the daughter of John and Gray Woolard of Greenville.

The award is sponsored by ECU’s Joyner Library and honors Dr. Michael F. Bassman, associate professor of Foreign Languages & Literatures, former associate vice chancellor of the Honors Program and its first Distinguished Honors Professor.

ECU awards inaugural Humanities Scholarship

East Carolina University sophomore Garrett Yarbrough, a soon-to-be 18-year-old from LaGrange, NC, is the inaugural recipient of the Humanities Scholar Program and will receive an annual $3,000 scholarship through his senior year.

“I am deeply honored to have been selected as a Humanities Scholar. I am elated to illustrate the significance of the understanding of the humanities, of what intrinsically defines us as human and how this essence and ambition is coupled with sciences and other fields to usher in progress,” said Yarbrough. “I eagerly anticipate my role as a representative of the humanities within the student body; to further the awareness of the importance of the accomplishments and exploration of the human spirit.”

Garrett Yarbrough (contributed photo)

Garrett Yarbrough (contributed photo)

Yarbrough, co-creator of the ECU Creative Writing Club, is pursuing duel majors in English and history. He aspires to be a creative writer and a published travel journalist, tackling international topics.

“I intend to use my background in English and history in order to bring awareness to global issues and to bring new perspectives to readers and those that would not have been exposed to differing views originally,” said Yarbrough.

The Humanities Scholar Program, established by the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences and the Honors College, is a way to acknowledge and increase awareness around the importance that the humanities play at ECU and in creating well-rounded students that are equipped to excel in the changing world.

Dr. Katherine Ford, Humanities Scholar Program coordinator and associate professor of Hispanic studies, said the humanities help people understand who they are and how they may connect with others; whether similar or not, and that the humanities attempt to answer the question, “Why?”

“Garrett Yarbrough, without a doubt, embodies the ideals of the humanities through his studies in English and history and is a perfect inaugural Humanities Scholar,” said Ford. “Garrett has a curiosity about the world around him and aims to help others understand this world better through writing.”

Garrett Yarbrough

Garrett Yarbrough and fellow students at the induction ceremony for Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society. (contributed photo)

In addition to his Humanities Scholar award, Yarbrough is an EC Scholar and a member of the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society. He served as vice president of the ECU Creative Writing Club for the 2015 academic year and will serve as president for the 2016 academic year.

Eligible applicants to the Humanities Scholar Program are students who are admitted to the Honors College and plan to major in a humanities discipline. A student who is awarded a position in the Humanities Scholars Program, and maintains annual eligibility requirements, receives a scholarship of $3,000 a year through the recipient’s senior year. The Humanities Scholar Program is in addition to the Honors College Scholarship, which is equal to in-state tuition.

“ECU’s College of Arts and Sciences values its partnership with the Honors College, and I’m so very pleased that together we have successfully launched the new Humanities Scholars program,” said Dr. William M. Downs, dean of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. “This scholarship helps us attract and retain high-ability students, such as Garrett Yarbrough, who will be ambassadors for learning in the disciplines of English, philosophy, foreign languages and literatures, religious studies and classical studies.”

For more information about the Humanities Scholars Program, visit http://www.ecu.edu/cs-acad/scholars/humanities.cfm.