Category Archives: Blog

Baumgartner, Morris publish book on political humor

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ECU political science professors Jody Baumgartner, left, and Jonathan Morris have published a book that examines the effect of political humor on politicians. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

ECU political science professors Jody Baumgartner, left, and Jonathan Morris have published a book that examines the effect of political humor on politicians. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Grace Haskin
ECU News Services

“Earlier today, George W. Bush said he has one goal for these debates. He wants to show the American people that he’s presidentiamable.” -David Letterman.

This is just one of many political jokes listed in “Politics is a Joke!: How TV Comedians are Remaking Political Life,” a new book written by two East Carolina University professors, which explains how late night talk shows have influenced the success of politicians.

Written over the course of two years by Jody Baumgartner and Jonathan Morris from ECU’s political science department, and S. Robert Lichter, professor of communication at George Mason University, the book was published July 22.

book“The primary late night talk show hosts that we’re talking about are Jay Leno, David Letterman, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. We didn’t set out to restrict ourselves to them, but for the past decade, they have been the major players,” said Baumgartner.

The data for the book has been collected since 1988 from the Center for Media Public Affairs (CMPA), of which Lichter is the director.

“(The CMPA) has been collecting jokes from late night comedy programs and classifying them by who the joke was targeted at or who said the joke. We used that information, which was over 100,000 jokes,” said Morris.

Baumgartner, who read through the 100,000 jokes, was responsible for selecting which ones to put into the book. “It was tough,” he said, but he managed to narrow the jokes down to about 200.

“We weren’t looking for any kind of bias in the jokes, but we clearly found a tendency for late night comics to joke about Republicans more than Democrats,” said Morris. This was no surprise to Morris or Baumgartner, who have been studying humor and politics for the past 10 years.

“Presidents are the most frequent targets of late night comedians. Again, no surprise, but the data shows this.” said Baumgartner. Morris added that former President Bill Clinton is, by far, the most joked about politician within the past two decades.

“More than one late night talk show host has said something to this effect: If there was a hall of fame for late night comedy, Clinton would be the founding guy that they put in because he made their job easier,” said Baumgartner.

Writing a book about political jokes wasn’t intentional, Baumgartner said. “We just stumbled upon a topic that happened to be really popular,” he added.

Morris and Baumgartner came up with the idea to research humor and politics while they were driving to a conference together in 2004. “We have been studying it ever since,” said Morris.

Baumgartner’s latest books include “Conventional Wisdom and American Elections” and “Laughing Matters: Humor and American Politics in the Media Age,” which he co-edited with Morris.

Whereas “Laughing Matters” was academically oriented, Baumgartner said “Politics is a Joke!” could be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in political humor.

“We’re hoping to reach a more general audience with this book, but also have it accessible to our colleagues who study political humor to use it as reference,” said Morris. “People who have read the book keep saying that they skip through our analysis and go straight to the jokes.”

Morris and Baumgartner plan to write another book together focusing on humor from a psychological perspective.

Theatre & Dance presents prize-winning show

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East Carolina University students Jillian Brocki as Stella Kowalski and Austin Crowley as Stanley Kowalski perform in the School of Theatre and Dance production of "A Streetcar Named Desire," Oct. 2-7. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

East Carolina University students Jillian Brocki as Stella Kowalski and Austin Crowley as Stanley Kowalski perform in the School of Theatre and Dance production of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Oct. 2-7. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

By Grace Haskin
ECU News Services

The stage of McGinnis Theatre was transformed into a grim post-World War II New Orleans for the production of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

The East Carolina University School of Theatre and Dance captivated audiences Oct. 2-7 with the American classic, written by Tennessee Williams in 1947.

The production was impressive, said ECU theatre professor and director of the show, Gregory Funaro. “If this is not the greatest American play, it’s certainly one of them.”

ECU senior Cate Kessler performs the role of Blanche Dubois in the ECU production.

ECU senior Cate Kessler performs the role of Blanche Dubois in the ECU production.

The theatrical drama hinges upon the arrival of Blanche Dubois, an aging Southern belle played by ECU senior Cate Kessler, at the home of her sister, Stella, and brother-in-law, Stanley.

“Blanche has just lost her house, job and husband, so she goes to live with Stella,” said Kessler. “Stella has been telling Blanche not quite the truth about where she lives, which is kind of a dump.”

Stanley, played by ECU senior Austin Crowley, is an unrefined World War II veteran who Crowley described as “uncouth” and “brutish.”

“Stanley only cares about two things: sex and playing poker with his buddies,” said Crowley. “He treats everything around him with violence and views Blanche as an enemy in the war.”

As the play progresses, Blanche’s darkest secrets are revealed and it becomes apparent that she is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. “I could play this role every night for two years, and I would still discover things about Blanche,” said Kessler. “She is every actress’ dream.”

Kessler hoped viewers will look deeper into the show and appreciate its relevance to their own lives. “The themes in this play are timeless: heartbreak, loneliness, being misunderstood and afraid,” she said. “Blanche had her heart broken and she was never the same. I think people will be able to relate to that.”

Funaro praised the cast and crew and said they were “phenomenal” to work with. “I know I’m biased,” he said, “but I’ve seen a lot of college theater, and we have something equivalent to a professional production on our hands.”

“This play is emotionally fulfilling, dramatically interesting and I promise people will be captivated,” said Crowley. “If you’ve never seen a show before, this is the show to see.”

The show was part of the 2014-2015 ECU/Loessin Playhouse season. Upcoming productions include “Kiss Me Kate” and “Dance 2015.”

For more information, visit www.ecuarts.com, call 252-328-6829, or go to the McGinnis Theatre Box Office located in the Messick Theatre Arts Center, open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

ECU producing most nurses in North Carolina

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Students in the College of Nursing are trained to treat patients in an East Carolina University simulation lab this summer. ECU was recognized in a report by the UNC Board of Governors for producing the most nurses in North Carolina and for graduates passing the state nursing exam at a rate above the state average. (Photo by Jay Clark)

Students in the College of Nursing were trained to treat patients in an East Carolina University simulation lab this summer. ECU was recognized in a report by the UNC Board of Governors for producing the most nurses in North Carolina and for graduates passing the state nursing exam at a rate above the state average. (Photo by Jay Clark)

 

By Steve Tuttle
ECU News Services

East Carolina University’s College of Nursing continues to produce the most registered nurses in North Carolina and its graduates pass the state nursing exam at a rate above the state average, according to data in a report prepared for the UNC Board of Governors.

The annual tracking report, received by the board at its June 20 meeting, said that 95 percent of the 273 graduates of ECU’s bachelor of science in nursing program who took the state exam in 2013 passed it.

The average state exam passing rate of all 12 UNC system campuses with nursing programs was 90 percent that year. The passing rate of all nursing programs in North Carolina, including those at private colleges and universities, was 85 percent in 2013, the report said.

Enrollment in all UNC nursing programs soared by 31 percent in the past five years, rising from 2,985 in 2009 to 4,212 in 2013, according to the report. Three UNC campuses launched nursing programs in recent years.

With more students in the pipeline, the UNC campuses with nursing programs are graduating 20 percent more RNs now than five years ago, the report said.

But despite the rise in nursing school enrollment, 3,500 nursing jobs remain unfilled across the state, the report said in citing March 2014 employment data.

Across the UNC system, enrollment in master’s degree programs grew from 1,471 to 1,637, or 11 percent, between 2009 and 2013. The number studying for doctoral degrees rose from 119 to 157, or 32 percent, in that time period, according to the report, which is based on data submitted by each campus.

At ECU, enrollment in master’s degree programs grew from 486 to 547 in that five-year period, while enrollment in doctoral programs grew from 31 to 49 in that period, the report said.

The Board of Governors has encouraged growth in enrollment in nursing programs since 2004 when, in conjunction with the N.C. Institute of Medicine, it created the UNC Committee on the Future of Nursing. The committee concluded that graduating more nurses was critical to improving access to health care.

More recently, the Board of Governors green-lighted new master’s and doctoral programs to increase the supply of nurses specially trained to take on more of the health care workload. An example is the doctor of nursing practice degree (DNP) created in 2013 at ECU and five other campuses.

Sylvia Brown, dean of ECU’s College of Nursing, said the DNP program will produce graduates critical to improving health care in the region. She said the program “will help to achieve our mission of improving the health of citizens through the preparation of expert practitioners who deliver primary care in rural areas of the state and assume leadership roles to advance health care delivery.”

The DNP prepares nurses for direct clinical practice and for executive roles in areas that support clinical practice, such as administration, organizational leadership, academics and health policy.

East Carolina’s DNP program coursework is totally online, and clinical practice sites include primary care clinics, hospitals, and public health care agencies. Students are required to attend skills sessions at the College of Nursing several times a year.

Twenty-one students were accepted to the first DNP class in fall 2013. More than half were from eastern North Carolina.

ECU partners in education-to-workforce pipeline

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ECU is a partner in a new collaborative effort to connect talented young students to potential careers in science, technology, engineering, art/design and mathematics (STEAM). The program may lead young people to pursue studies in areas such as biomedical engineering, a new master's program at ECU. Pictured above, ECU students Tyree Parker and Grace Baran perform engineering processes in a biomedical lab on campus. (Photo by Jay Clark)

ECU is a partner in a new collaborative effort to connect talented young students to potential careers in science, technology, engineering, art/design and mathematics (STEAM). The program may lead young people to pursue studies in areas such as biomedical engineering, a new master’s program at ECU. Pictured above, ECU students Tyree Parker and Grace Baran perform engineering processes in a biomedical lab on campus. (Photo by Jay Clark)

 

By Kelly Setzer
ECU News Services

East Carolina University is partnering on a comprehensive, hands-on initiative aimed at fueling a regional advanced manufacturing and innovation workforce beginning with middle school students.

The Golden LEAF Foundation has announced a $1.25 million grant to support the plan.

The Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Academy and associated Master eSTEAM Instructor program are the result of a unique collaboration among middle school parents, students and teachers, East Carolina University, Pitt Community College, Pitt County Schools, North East Carolina Preparatory School (Edgecombe County), P.S. Jones Middle School (Beaufort County), STEM East, economic developers and regional advanced manufacturers.

 Pitt County students Adrianne Freeman, left, and Jasmine Foreman visited ECU in February for STEM Day, which focuses attention on careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Freeman and Foreman were examining a miniature car that was created using ECU's 3-D printer. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)


Pitt County students Adrianne Freeman, left, and Jasmine Foreman visited ECU in February for STEM Day, which focuses attention on careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Freeman and Foreman were examining a miniature car that was created using ECU’s 3-D printer. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Once implemented, the program will provide an effective education-to-workforce pipeline to address the growing shortage of eastern North Carolina advanced manufacturing workers and entrepreneurs, technically skilled in science, technology, engineering, art/design and mathematics (STEAM), as well as innovation and entrepreneurship (e) processes.

In addition to the schools in Edgecombe and Beaufort counties, all 13 Pitt County middle and K-8 schools will be included in the program.

“ECU and the College of Engineering and Technology will help prepare these middle school students by exposing them to the tremendous career opportunities that lie before them and developing the academic and technical skills that are required for employment in this industry,” said David White, dean of ECU’s College of Engineering and Technology.

Recognizing the economic development possibilities to engage, equip and connect talented young people with regional advanced manufacturing careers and related entrepreneurial opportunities, the group of regional partners developed a comprehensive plan for enhancing students’ creative, innovation and technical skills, knowledge and abilities. The plan includes career awareness strategies, eSTEAM-related in-school and out-of-school curriculum and experiences, and professional development opportunities for 78 eastern North Carolina teachers.

Middle School Innovators Academy student Logan Stox works with Jim Menke to build blue foam models of their innovations. A new program will expand the current academy and enhance its focus on STEAM topics.

Middle School Innovators Academy student Logan Stox works with Jim Menke to build blue foam models of their innovations. A new program will expand the current academy and enhance its focus on STEAM topics.

Crucial to the success of the initiative is the inclusion of art and design to an otherwise technically-focused program. “I am thrilled that this project seeks to marry the creative energies of the arts with the STEM disciplines. It is truly a unique way of stimulating innovation that will create exciting opportunities for the students involved and significant long term benefits for our region,” said Chris Buddo, dean of ECU’s College of Fine Arts and Communication.

The academy is an innovative new approach piloted in this section of the state and was recommended by Pitt County Manager Scott Elliott. The successful cross-institutional collaboration is the first of its kind and may be replicated in other projects, said Wanda Yuhas, executive director of Pitt County Development Commission.

The grant will be administered by ECU’s Office of Innovation and Economic Development, as the program is aimed at supporting existing and future advanced manufacturing employers in eastern North Carolina with an innovative, skilled and capable workforce.

“This innovative approach is all about talent enhancement and retention and has the potential to be an economic development game changer,” said Ted Morris, associate vice chancellor of ECU’s Innovation and Economic Development office. “We are all excited to implement such a forward-thinking program and for this unique opportunity to stimulate true regional transformation.”

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The Golden LEAF Foundation awards grants to 501(c)(3) nonprofits and governmental entities across North Carolina. Golden LEAF’s grantsmaking focuses on three priorities: agriculture, job creation and retention, and workforce preparedness. Projects that focus on other opportunities to support and develop economic strength in tobacco-dependent, economically distressed, and/or rural communities continue to be welcomed.

Golden LEAF Foundation president Dan Gerlach, right, announced the $1.25 million grant to grow a skilled local workforce during a press conference in Greenville June 16. Listening are ECU Innovation Academy Director Wayne Godwin, left, and Ted Morris, associate vice chancellor of Engagement, Innovation and Economic Development. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Golden LEAF Foundation president Dan Gerlach, right, announced the $1.25 million grant to grow a skilled local workforce during a press conference in Greenville June 16. Listening are ECU Innovation Academy Director Wayne Godwin, left, and Ted Morris, associate vice chancellor of Engagement, Innovation and Economic Development. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Major gift helps autism center expand services

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Sharon McLawhorn, right, watches as son Christian investigates a train set as part of his activities at the ECU Physicians Family Autism Center. The center has received a $1 million gift that will enable expansion of staff and services. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Sharon McLawhorn, right, watches as son Christian investigates a train set as part of his activities at the ECU Physicians Family Autism Center. The center has received a $1 million gift that will enable expansion of staff and services. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Amy Adams Ellis
ECU News Services

An anonymous gift of $1 million will enable the Family Autism Center at East Carolina University to increase professional staff and expand services for people with autism in eastern North Carolina.

“We look forward to adding colleagues from psychology and social work, as well as experienced therapists [speech-language and occupational therapists] to our current physician and nursing staff,” said Dr. Michael Reichel, a developmental and behavioral specialist in ECU’s pediatrics department and the center’s director. “Providing interdisciplinary evaluations and services will mark yet another step in fulfilling our mission to serve children and families in our region.”

Marcy Romary, interim president for ECU’s Medical & Health Sciences Foundation, said the recent gift was motivated by the donor’s close relationship with grandparents of a child on the autism spectrum.

“They saw firsthand how early diagnosis and treatment was so beneficial to this family, and wanted to ensure that families throughout the region would have access to first-rate diagnosis and care through the Brody School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics,” Romary said.

Dr. Michael Reichel

Dr. Michael Reichel

Autism spectrum disorder refers to a group of developmental disabilities that affect how a person understands what they see, hear or sense, according to information published by the Autism Society of North Carolina. People with ASD typically have difficulty understanding verbal and nonverbal communication and learning appropriate ways of behaving and interacting socially.

The prevalence of autism in North Carolina continues to increase, with more males than females being identified, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.

Despite ongoing research, no one knows exactly what causes ASD, and there is no single test to diagnose it, Reichel said. “Accurate diagnosis is made by a team of multidisciplinary professionals who have observed a person’s communication, behavior and developmental levels – combined with caregiver input and developmental history,” he said. “It’s a process, not a one-stop shop.”

Interventions for ASD should involve multiple disciplines, as well, Reichel said. That’s why he and other organizers envisioned the center as an interdisciplinary hub for autism supports, treatment, advocacy, training and research to benefit the community and region.

“We are so grateful for this major gift to help us expand staffing and clinical services,” said Reichel. “With additional private and public support, we’ll be able to attract other clinicians who can support and advocate for older individuals with autism. These kids do grow up. Our goal to emphasize needs across the lifespan will make our center truly unique.”

Sharon McLawhorn, of Chicod, said her five-year-old son Christian has made unbelievable strides since being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder a little over two years ago, thanks to Reichel and the Family Autism Center.

The Family Autism Center

The Family Autism Center

“This place is a safe haven for the kids and their families,” she said. “It’s where parents can learn from other parents and staff. Where they can get the knowledge and tools to help their child and to advocate for their child. Where they can get support, but mostly hope.”

Since May 2013 the center has been providing developmental testing and screening tools that can identify children who might have autism spectrum disorders, developmental delays, pragmatic communication disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other significant neurobehavioral conditions.

The center is located at 108-B West Fire Tower Road in Winterville.

The ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation is the official charity for ECU’s Division of Health Sciences. Funds acquired and managed by the foundation are designed to enhance education, teaching, research and service within that division. For more information contact Romary at 252-744-3057 or romarym@ecu.edu.

High schoolers assist ECU archaeologists in Pitt County

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Summer Ventures participant Christina Yu filters materials to search for artifacts that might give clues to the lifestyle of approximately 100 slaves who lived at a Grimesland plantation. (Photos and video by Cliff Hollis)

Summer Ventures participant Christina Yu filters materials to search for artifacts that might give clues to the lifestyle of approximately 100 slaves who lived at a Grimesland plantation. (Photos and video by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Grace Haskin
ECU News Services

Ten rising high school juniors and seniors got busy this summer digging and sifting through 18th century dirt behind a standing slave cabin in Grimesland.

That’s because Charles Ewen, professor of anthropology and director of the East Carolina University Phelps Archaeology Laboratory, is overseeing the students in the Summer Ventures project at the Grimes Plantation. He and two ECU anthropology graduate students are searching for “activity areas and deposits” from slave life before the Civil War.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FcZIoY12jg

“Archaeology has showed us a lot more about slave life than ever gets written down,” said Ewen. “The owners rarely write anything about how the slaves are living. The slaves are illiterate, so they don’t write much about themselves. The only way we’re going to find out about these guys is through archaeology.”

Summer Ventures gives academically advanced high school juniors and seniors interested in science and math a month-long opportunity to engage in research and intensive study. When they aren’t off campus unearthing artifacts, the students have a chance to experience residence hall life and campus amenities.

The state-funded program, which runs this year from June 23 through July 18, is also offered at Appalachian State University, North Carolina Central University and University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Eleventh-grader Yong Su An, from Northwest High School in Greensboro, said Summer Ventures has allowed him to further explore his interest in anthropology and archaeology. “I’ve always loved history, so digging to find stuff about the past really intrigues me,” he said.

This is Ewen’s 10th year with the Summer Ventures program. “If you had asked me when I first came to ECU, 20 years ago, ‘Would you like to take a dozen high school kids out to dig in the hottest part of the summer?’ I’d say, ‘Are you kidding me? I don’t even want to be out there,’” he said.

Since very little was written about slave life, artifacts found at the site can help tell the story.

Since very little was written about slave life, artifacts found at the site can help tell the story.

But he said he has been pleasantly surprised by the experience. “Most of the kids, when they got out there, had never used the business end of a shovel. But they get into it, and honestly, it is hot and it is dirty, but they don’t complain,” he said.

After the students finish their field work, they write a research paper about archaeology and their excavation.

“They really do contribute,” Ewen said. “They’re doing real research, so it’s not just a made-up dig that I’m having them practice with. It’s real data that I need.”

Mariah Menanno, an 11th-grader from Research Triangle High School in Raleigh, said she could not wait to start. “When I was little, I was really interested in dinosaurs, so I’ve always wanted to dig to see what I could find in the ground,” she said.

“One of the unfortunate things about high school is that students don’t get to learn about archaeology or anthropology,” said C.J. Idol, an ECU anthropology graduate student from Kernersville. “Summer Ventures is a chance for them to learn something beyond what they would get in regular high school classroom,” he said. “Even if we don’t turn them into archaeologists, we can turn them into supporters of archaeology.”

Summer Ventures participant Hanna Peterman works on a section of ground near the slave quarters of the Grimes Plantation.

Summer Ventures participant Hanna Peterman works on a section of ground near the slave quarters of the Grimes Plantation.

The excavation units Ewen opened this summer are based on shovel tests Summer Ventures students dug last year.

“Shovel tests are just shovel holes where you’re looking to see if there’s stuff in it or not. It’s to narrow down the areas that are going to be productive for excavation units,” said Ewen.

So far, mostly 19th and 20th century artifacts such as glass, pottery and buttons have been found on the plantation, but Ewen is hoping to find the refuse pits where four other slave quarters once stood.

“It’s really cool that we still have one of the slave quarters standing because usually they get knocked down since they weren’t (considered) that important,” said Idol.

The Grimes Plantation is on the National Register of Historic Places and was the home of Civil War Major General Bryan Grimes. The estate was started by Grimes’ grandfather in the 1790s and was primarily used to produce cotton until Grimes’ death in 1880.

Ewen said there were probably more than 100 slaves working on the plantation at its peak. He hopes to find out more about their daily lives, including their diet and how much of their African heritage they had retained. Since joining ECU in 1994, Ewen has directed projects at Tryon Palace Historic Sites and Gardens in New Bern, Fort Macon State Park in Carteret County, Hope Plantation in Windsor, Somerset Place near Creswell, and conducted a long-term archaeological study of historic Bath.

“For being a relatively small department, we’ve got a very active archaeological program. We do prehistoric, historic, forensic and Middle Eastern archaeology,” he said.

Sperry awarded $300,000 to study protein she discovered

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ECU professor Ann Sperry has received funding to conduct research on the ways in which a protein she discovered affects cell functions such as division and development.

ECU professor Ann Sperry has received funding to conduct research on the ways in which a protein she discovered affects cell functions such as division and development.

By Amy Ellis
ECU News Services

An East Carolina University researcher has been awarded a $300,000 grant to study a cellular protein long overlooked by scientists.

Dr. Ann Sperry, associate professor in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the Brody School of Medicine, received the three-year Academic Research Enhancement Award from the National Institutes of Health. She will use the funding to study how a certain protein affects the functions of a cell’s centrosome – the structure within a cell that regulates vital processes like cell division and development.

Sperry identified the protein, named PPP1R42, three years ago, but just recently discovered it plays a role in regulating the centrosome. “No one else we know is studying this protein,” she said.

Sperry said the protein is found in a wide variety of cell types, including photoreceptor cells in the eye and developing sperm cells in the male reproductive system.

“Centrosomes help cells read their environment and then develop accordingly,” she said. “When centrosomes aren’t working properly, you get genetic mutations, which can be associated with things like male infertility, genetic diseases and even cancer.”

Assisted by two undergraduate students, Sperry hopes to discover whether PPP1R42 could potentially be used as a marker for such diseases, and perhaps even for their prevention or treatment.

The purpose of the AREA program, according to the NIH website, is “to stimulate research in educational institutions that provide baccalaureate or advanced degrees for a significant number of the nation’s research scientists, but that have not been major recipients of NIH support.” The program aims to “expose students to meritorious research projects and to strengthen the research environment of the applicant institution,” the site says.

Dr. Cheryl Knudson, chair of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, said Sperry “is an outstanding student mentor.” Her research will impact our understanding of the primary cilia associated with the centrosome – a critical organelle facilitating the interaction between the cell and its environment.”

Sperry has been with ECU for 17 years. She received her undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University and her doctorate from Rice University in Houston.

STEM to STEAM camp links visual arts to technology

Camper Chad Styron paints letters that will be attached to the Peace Pole project for the International Day of Peace Sept. 21.
Danielle Vaughn works with a jewelers saw to cut plexiglass for a lighted keychain during the STEM to STEAM summer camp, which helps participants connect visual arts with technology. Hosted by the School of Art and Design, the camp was held at ECU July 21-25. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Danielle Vaughn works with a jewelers saw to cut plexiglass for a lighted keychain during the STEM to STEAM summer camp, which helps participants connect visual arts with technology. Hosted by the School of Art and Design, the camp was held at ECU July 21-25. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

East Carolina University’s first STEM to STEAM summer camp challenged 25 elementary to high school students to make connections between technology and art.

Hosted by the School of Art and Design July 21-25 in Jenkins Fine Arts Center, the art-focused camp combined elements of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) with the added discipline of visual arts (STEAM).

“The students didn’t know how the STEM disciplines would play into art,” said Robbie Quinn, camp director and associate professor of art education in the School of Art and Design. “This week has been eye-opening in that way.”

In most public schools, math, science and art are taught separately, Quinn said.

“All of these disciplines need to be called upon to work together,” Quinn said. “We hope to use the art learning as a way to make the STEM concepts visible. Our real hope for the students is that they would see the power of whole-brain learning, that they’re able to make connections among disciplines.”

Camper Chad Styron paints letters that will be attached to the Peace Pole project for the International Day of Peace Sept. 21.

Camper Chad Styron paints letters that will be attached to the Peace Pole project for the International Day of Peace Sept. 21.

At the camp, elementary students constructed rainbow fish out of paper bags after learning about the technology needed to operate fish farms, which helped relate the STEM to STEAM concept, said Alie Brooks, a senior ECU art education student from Rockville, Maryland, who taught 4-year-old to 6-year-old students.

Brooks shared how fish farms provide food and encouraged the students to tell their parents to buy local seafood. “It is so available, and it does relate to them a lot,” Brooks said, because of Greenville’s proximity to the North Carolina coast.

The children colorfully decorated the brown paper bag fish stuffed with newspaper. They attached the fish to blue construction paper, providing a backdrop for an underwater scene.

“I love your color selection,” Brooks told one student.

“I’m making my fish angry because someone is flashing a light on him,” student Mason Bowler said.

“I made a tadpole and the tadpole is splashing out,” camper Kaeden Harris said.

Kaeden Harris creates a rainbow fish using a paper bag and colored markers, an activity followed by discussion of how technology is used in operating fish farms.

Kaeden Harris creates a rainbow fish using a paper bag and colored markers, an activity followed by discussion of how technology is used in operating fish farms.

The camp provides valuable experience for ECU students like Brooks, Quinn said. “Here, they can apply what they’re learning in their undergraduate coursework to real-life school children…and (see) how those theories play out,” he said.

“A lot of art education students at other universities don’t get to experience working with students until their last year of school.”

Third through fifth-graders at the camp collaborated on developing set designs with children in an ECU drama camp led by Patricia “Patch” Clark, associate professor and coordinator of the theatre education program in ECU’s School of Theatre and Dance.

Daniel Niece, a visual arts teacher and soccer coach at E.B. Aycock Middle School, planned to lead lessons using cardboard. Sixth through eighth-graders used SketchUp software to design houses for extreme environments. “Everything is to scale,” he said. If you designed a home in the jungle, what materials would you use, he asked.

ECU art education student Alie Brooks, a STEM to STEAM camp teacher, helped children connect the artwork they created to discussion of related technology.

ECU art education student Alie Brooks, a STEM to STEAM camp teacher, helped children connect the artwork they created to discussion of related technology.

Niece said he is excited about the STEM to STEAM initiative. “We’re getting a STEM lab at Aycock this fall,” he said. “We’re real excited about doing a lot of cross-curriculum projects.”

High school students at the camp made lighted key chains out of acrylic using traditional jewelry tools such as a saw, file and pliers. ECU metal design graduate student Sarah Loch-Test helped troubleshoot for the students.

Danielle Vaughn, a rising junior at South Central High School in Winterville, carefully moved a small coping saw to create her key chain’s form. Vaughn said she wanted to attend the camp because she “wanted to learn something new in a nearby location.” She had looked into camps in other states, but chose the one at ECU. She plans on majoring in art in college.

Grad students to improve community health

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ECU graduate students selected as 2014-15 North Carolina Schweitzer Fellows (from left) are Sola Ajewole, Mia Marshall, Brandon Landreth, Hugh Quach, Lauren Brown and Mark Herring.

 

By Amy Adams Ellis
ECU News Services

Six East Carolina University graduate students will spend the next year addressing social factors that impact community health – and developing lifelong leadership skills – as members of the North Carolina Albert Schweitzer Fellowship class of 2014-15.

Mia Marshall, Sola Ajewole, Lauren Brown and Hugh Quach, rising second-year students in ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, will empower underserved youth in local afterschool programs to live healthier lifestyles.

Their work is funded with a grant from Vidant Medical Center and supported by the medical school’s Office of Generalist Programs, which exists to encourage and support the education and development of primary care physicians – and to develop a community-responsive physician workforce – in eastern North Carolina.

Marshall and Ajewole will hold weekly workshops promoting self-esteem and healthy choices for African-American middle and high school girls at Building Hope Community Life Center. Brown and Quach will teach classes on nutrition and preventive health to middle schoolers at the Little Willie Center in an expansion of an earlier Schweitzer initiative – Strive HIGH – that began in 2012.

Mark Herring and Brandon Landreth, rising second-year students in ECU’s School of Dental Medicine, will provide oral health education, screenings and dental sealants to public elementary school students in Greene County. They also plan to connect the children and their families to ongoing oral health services.

Herring and Landreth’s efforts are funded by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation. They will operate in conjunction with Greene County Health Care, Inc., a community health center that’s federally qualified to receive enhanced reimbursement from government health programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Approximately 250 students were chosen for the 2014-15 class of Schweitzer Fellows; 29 are in North Carolina. All Schweitzer Fellows work with mentors at one of 12 program sites – 11 in the U.S. and one in Lambaréné, Africa, where physician-humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer founded a hospital in 1913.

Schweitzer Fellows develop and implement service projects that address the root causes of health disparities in under-resourced communities, while also fulfilling their academic responsibilities. Each project is implemented in collaboration with a community-based health or social service organization. Fellows come from all academic disciplines – medicine, occupational therapy, dentistry, social work and other allied health fields.

“Schweitzer Fellowships change lives, both of the individual fellows as well as those of the many vulnerable community members they serve through their projects,” said Barbara Heffner, program director for the North Carolina Albert Schweitzer Fellows Program. “Our fellows learn to lead and innovate as they tackle complex health needs – skills they will use again and again throughout their professional careers. Meanwhile, their project participants learn information, skills and behaviors that will assist them in leading healthier lives.”

“These Schweitzer Fellows are living Dr. Albert Schweitzer’s legacy of reverence for life,” said Sylvia Stevens-Edouard, ASF executive director. “Their fellowship year will leave them well prepared to successfully face the challenges of serving vulnerable and underserved populations, whose health and medical needs are many and varied.”

Since 1994, the North Carolina Albert Schweitzer Fellows Program has supported 391 fellows through funding from various foundations, academic institutions and individual donors. Upon completion of their fellowship year, Schweitzer Fellows become Schweitzer Fellows for Life and join a vibrant network of nearly 3,000 Schweitzer alumni who are skilled in – and committed to – addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers.

Alums fund program for students with disabilities

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Walter and Marie Williams, center and right, speak with ECU’s STEPP program director Sarah Williams during an event recognizing the couple’s sizable donation to the program. The program was renamed the Walter and Marie Williams STEPP program in their honor. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Steve Tuttle and Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services

East Carolina University’s Project STEPP program, which supports students with learning disabilities who aspire to achieve a college education, has received a nearly $950,000 donation from Walter and Marie Williams of Greenville.

The ECU Board of Trustees acknowledged the gift at its meeting on April 25 and voted to rename the program the Walter and Marie Williams STEPP Program. The Williamses were early supporters of this innovative program, which began full-time operation in 2007.

Their total personal and extended support for the STEPP Program (including family and company gifts) now is at $1,124,943, according to Board of Trustees documents.

Sarah Williams, Project STEPP director, said the gift is “a fantastic start” toward building a $4 million endowment to ensure the program is sustainable.

STEPP administrators offer academic, social and life skills support to a select number of students with ADHD or learning disabilities in reading, writing or math. By partnering with these students, their families, and a variety of educational communities, Project STEPP fosters a network of opportunities and resources to empower and support students from admission to graduation.

“So many of the students in our program had been told they would never go to college and now many of them are excelling,” said Sarah Williams.

“Educators still have much to do in the way of helping bridge the transition for students with learning disabilities to the college setting,” she continued. “The STEPP program is unique in the nation. While there are programs available to support students who have learning disabilities on some other campuses, many are very expensive. Walter and Marie Williams made it possible for students in our program to have access to college as well as the support they need to be successful without additional costs to the student.”

Walter Williams, president of the Trade-Wilco chain of convenience stores, received a bachelor’s degree in 1951 and a master’s degree in 1955, both from East Carolina. Marie Williams graduated from East Carolina in 1953.

Project STEPP also receives support from the Oak Foundation of Geneva, Switzerland, and from the Harold H. Bate Foundation and the Peter J. Frenkel Foundation.

Dramatic narrative selected for Pirate Read

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By Grace Haskin
ECU News Services

“The Other Wes Moore” by Wes Moore has been selected as the 2014 Pirate Read at East Carolina University. All incoming students are asked to read the book before beginning their first semester.

Wes Moore (Contributed photo)

Wes Moore (Contributed photo)

“The Other Wes Moore” is a true story about two young boys with the same name, who grow up in the same city and live in similar neighborhoods. One boy grows up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran and business leader, while the other boy serves a life sentence in prison for his involvement in the death of a police officer.

When the author Moore learns about the other Wes Moore, he is bothered by the disturbing coincidence and writes him a letter in prison asking two questions: Who are you? How did this happen?

The letter leads to dozens of letters and prison visits, and Moore finds that he has even more in common with the other Moore than he originally thought. They both were born within a year of each other, raised by single mothers and had confrontations with the police.

Moore compares their two stories and shows how decisions made at an early age and the presence or absence of role models can affect one’s life course.

Karen Smith, co-chair of the Pirate Read committee, said “The Other Wes Moore” was picked because of its intriguing story. “It focuses on a lot of different areas: race, the judicial system, leadership and socio-economic status,” said Smith.

The Pirate Read committee hopes the book will make students think about their privileges and challenges, and what other people have experienced. “Hopefully the students will see that they can be mentors and leaders to other students,” said Smith.

Wes Moore will speak at ECU on Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. in Wright Auditorium.

“Pirate Read has been designed to challenge students to read and to give them an introduction to what academic life will be like at the university, but also to give them a common experience with students who have read that text,” said Smith.

Past Pirate Read selections include “It Happened on the Way to War,” “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” and “Picking Cotton.” This is the seventh year of the Pirate Read program.

Research could point to more effective medicines

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Research by ECU biology professor Jeff McKinnon on gender issues in fish could have useful implications for creating medicines for humans based on gender. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services

A small fish that East Carolina University biologist Jeff McKinnon collected as a boy growing up in British Columbia will be the centerpiece of a study that could give insight to human genetics.

McKinnon, professor and chair of biology at ECU, is studying the threespine stickleback to find out why the bright colors of the male, which help it attract mates, sometimes show up in females. The findings could give scientists insights into the genes behind sex differences and ultimately help them tailor medicine to better suit patients’ sex and race.

McKinnon and co-investigators Chris Balakrishnan of ECU and Catherine Peichel of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, have received a $316,241 grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to fund the three-year study.

The fish lives on the northern Pacific and Atlantic coasts of Europe and Asia as well as North America. Fish from many populations spend most of their lives in the ocean but breed in brackish and fresh water. Purely freshwater forms have also evolved, independently on different continents and islands.

Researchers pictured are, left to right, ECU biology professor Chris Balakrishnan, biology chair Jeffrey McKinnon and biology Ph.D. student Lenny Yong.

Researchers pictured are, left to right, ECU biology professor Chris Balakrishnan, biology chair Jeffrey McKinnon and biology Ph.D. student Lenny Yong.

“We are trying in general to understand how the sexes diverge despite sharing many genes,” McKinnon said. “This is a critical issue for medicine as well as evolution. We are looking at the genes involved and at patterns of gene expression.”

McKinnon has studied the threespine stickleback for much of his career. His early work helped develop the stickleback as a model organism for genetic and evolutionary studies since it shows great morphological variation throughout its range.

“We hope to … better understand the genetic mechanisms responsible for causing seemingly male traits to appear in female animals in some populations,” McKinnon said. “We also want to know if females who possess one male-like trait are only masculinized for that trait or more generally.”

The research will shed light on “whether some male-like traits are present in females because they benefit females or as a byproduct of the benefits they provide to males and vice-versa,” McKinnon said. “Given the interest in better tailoring medicine by gender and ethnicity, we may provide useful insights on matters important to human health.”

ECU doctoral student Lenny Yong is playing a key role in this research program and helped write the grant application. The grant will also support the research of two master’s students and a number of undergraduates who will be trained in behavioral studies, genetics and genomics.

Research on the threespine stickleback, pictured below, focuses on the mechanisms that enable some females to display male-like traits.

Research on the threespine stickleback, pictured above, focuses on the mechanisms that enable some females to display male-like traits.

Dixon’s work performed on national stage

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ECU dance professor John Dixon will see his work performed in June at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

ECU dance professor John Dixon saw his work performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Grace Haskin
ECU News Services

The choreographic work of East Carolina University dance professor John Dixon took the national stage in Washington, D.C. on June 7.

Dixon’s work was among 11 pieces featured at the American College Dance Festival Association’s National College Dance Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Dancers perform "Consumption," choreographed by ECU professor John Dixon. (Contributed photo by Jenni Farrow)

Dancers perform “Consumption,” choreographed by ECU professor John Dixon. (Contributed photo by Jenni Farrow)

Dixon’s piece, titled “Consumption,” was recognized at the AFDFA regional conference in March and chosen from the mid-Atlantic region to be part of the adjudicated gala performance.

Ryann Lievens, one of nine ECU dancers who performed Dixon’s piece, said that learning they were performing the closing dance at the gala was “extremely exciting and completely unexpected.” ECU has not been selected to perform in an ACDFA gala in a “number of years,” she said.

Lievens found out as she was driving home from the regional conference with three other dancers, who were continually checking their phones for the festival results.

“We were the first to see the update that said that we made it to nationals,” said Lievens. She called Dixon immediately and put him on speaker phone to share the news.

“We were all screaming,” she said. “(Dixon) could not believe it. He dropped his food on the ground and he went and danced around in the parking lot.”

Dixon said that being recognized at the regional conference and performing at nationals is a statement about the dance program at ECU. “This is a really strong program. It’s not necessarily a program that is well-known at this point, but it helped us be seen and situate ourselves relative to the larger, more well-known schools,” he said.

Dixon’s piece represents many different definitions of the word consumption. “It starts with consumption as a description of tuberculosis and how the body decays and consumes itself as the disease progresses,” Lievens said. “There are a lot of moments where we’re falling over on stage and we’re coughing or convulsing.”

The piece continues to describe consumption in terms of buying and materialism. “I wanted to look at the nature of consumerism in our culture and the repercussions of consumption,” said Dixon. There is a third layer to the piece which Dixon described as “a consumption of spirit.” Visually, Dixon said, that the piece is “dark” and “intense.”

Dixon has been impressed with the heart and skill of his dance students at ECU. “We received a lot of compliments about our dancers, both on their artistry and technique. They are great students,” said Dixon. “(They are) willing to do anything at any time to make the art happen.”

ECU dance students who performedDixon’s piece are Kirsten Genovese, Danielle Johnson, Sarah Kleinke, Ryann Lievens, Terry Mathis, Lauren Pittman, Katy Quick, James Raney and Megan Rhodes.

Lievens is a recent ECU graduate who transferred from Chapel Hill in 2011 so that she could study dance. She said that studying under Dixon has been “amazing” and she was looking forward to dancing for him one last time at nationals.

A dance choreographed by ECU professor John Dixon will be performed on a national stage. (Contributed photo by Jenni Farrow)

A dance choreographed by ECU professor John Dixon will be performed on a national stage. (Contributed photo by Jenni Farrow)

Dixon’s interest in dance began later in life compared to ECU’s dance students, most of whom have been dancing since they were toddlers. “I started late, which is not too uncommon for guys,” said Dixon. “At community college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was looking at all the different things that I thought were the core parts of being alive.”

He began taking classes in psychology, philosophy, theology and physics. “Then I took a dance class and was like, ‘Oh.’ I had this idea that it was all in there somehow, and that’s proven to be true.”

Dixon has been teaching at ECU for five years, but has been explored dance improvisation, choreography and performance since 1985. Dixon explained that moving from Seattle to Greenville was “a bit of a culture shock.” While he had to get used to the different pulse of a smaller city, he has found his place at ECU. “You learn to trust the pathways in your life, and it’s worked out beautifully,” he said.

Dixon’s choreography has been performed throughout the Pacific Northwest as well as in Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and D.C. Dixon also directs dance films and his work has been screened throughout North America, Europe and Japan. Currently, Dixon teaches choreography, improvisation, modern technique, anatomy for dancers and introduction to dance at ECU.

For more information about upcoming performances by the School of Theatre and Dance at ECU, visit www.ecu.edu/theatredance.

ECU programs rank among best for veterans

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ECU ROTC cadet Teddy Protonentis holds the flag during a Veterans Day ceremony on campus. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

ECU ROTC cadet Teddy Protonentis holds the flag during a Veterans Day ceremony on campus. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

 

 

ECU News Services

East Carolina University’s graduate programs in nursing and business rank among the nation’s best in online education for veterans, according to a listing released May 20 by U.S. News & World Report.

The ECU College of Nursing ranked second in the country for masters of nursing programs. The online Master of Business Administration program in the ECU College of Business ranked 15 in the nation.

Now in its second year, U.S. News ranked bachelor’s programs and online master’s programs in business, computer information technology, education, engineering and nursing to help veterans and service members identify high-quality online degree programs to pursue college or advanced degrees under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

“Veterans and active-duty service members face unique challenges as students, from transitioning between bases and grappling with deployment to balancing work and family life upon return,” said Robert Morse, director of data research for U.S. News, noting the programs’ flexibility.

ECU’s College of Nursing offers seven online options in the master’s of science nursing program: adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, family nurse practitioner, neonatal nurse practitioner, nursing education, nursing leadership and nurse midwifery.

Students have previously completed undergraduate education in nursing and often have extensive clinical experience. Online coursework is augmented by periodic campus visits for hands-on training and education that is overseen by experienced faculty and community-based preceptors close to the students’ home.

“Our online graduate programs offer the flexibility that veterans and active-duty service members need,” said Dr. Sylvia Brown, College of Nursing dean. “We’re proud that this flexibility gives those who have served our country access to a first-class nursing education.”

During the 2012-2013 academic year, 45 military veterans and active service members were enrolled in the College of Nursing’s online nursing programs.

The online program in ECU’s College of Business is the largest online MBA program in the UNC system. This spring, there were 21 graduate students and 92 undergraduate students identified as veterans who were enrolled in the College of Business.

“Ties between business institutions and the military are crucial to developing leaders who make a difference in their communities,” said Dr. Stan Eakins, dean of the College of Business. “The College of Business is proud to enable members of the military to earn their business degrees online, providing new tools and knowledge that prepare them for their next chapter of life. In turn, veterans bring a level of leadership and maturity to our program, enhancing discussions and adding value for their fellow students.”

ECU’s bachelor’s programs ranked 52 in the listing.

ECU, geographically, sits in the center of the third most concentrated military corridor in the country. Craven, Cumberland, Onslow and Wayne counties are home to six major military installations – the biggest are Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune – with approximately 125,000 veterans living in the four counties or a neighboring county.

ECU’s Student Veterans Services provides a seamless transition for veterans – both academically and socially – by helping them become fully integrated into the ECU community, said Trish Goltermann, assistant director of Student Veteran Services. “Our office helps ensure that student veterans are successful in their academic pursuits, adjust to the campus environment, and eventually, transition to civilian employment,” she said.

To be ranked by U.S. News, an online degree program had to report participation in four key programs that offer educational benefits to people with military service, such as the GI Bill and membership in the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium. The programs also had to be included in the U.S. News 2014 Best Online Programs rankings released earlier this year. Those programs were measured on criteria including affordability, faculty credentials, student services and reputation, according to U.S. News.

The complete listing can be viewed at http://www.usnews.com.

Interior design research has healing influence

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Lindsey Westphal presented her design proposal during Research and Creative Activity Week in April. Her design was intended to provide a comfortable, peaceful treatment space for patients at Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Lindsey Westphal presented her design proposal during Research and Creative Activity Week in April. Her design was intended to provide a comfortable, peaceful treatment space for patients at Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services

Don’t let the term “interior design” summon thoughts of paint swatches and throw pillows. That’s decorating. The type of design that interests East Carolina University student Lindsey Westphal brings comfort to the sick and can even aid healing.

Westphal, a Raleigh native studying in the College of Human Ecology, recently completed a design proposal complete with renderings and models for the redesign of a treatment space in the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center. The center provides outpatient cancer treatment services through the Brody School of Medicine and Vidant Health.

Her design included calming colors and centered on the concept she calls “a ripple effect.” It reflects her hope that change can come from one simple improvement, such as what she proposed for a treatment room.

Westphal developed a budget for the improvements and answered to a real-world client – Allison Clary, office coordinator at the center.

“Design is huge in health care,” Clary said. “We want our patients to feel comfortable and at peace while they are waiting to get treatment or being treated for their cancer.

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Westphal points out her design for a restful patient treatment space at the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center.

“Acoustics are important in health care so that the patients can relax and not feel overwhelmed with others around. You want something pleasing to the eye, something a little cheery but not overbearing, keeping a positive environment. You also want materials that are easily cleaned and that will accommodate people of all shapes and sizes. There is a lot more to designing the perfect space that many would never think of.”

The ambitious work was prompted by Westphal’s involvement in the Honors College at ECU, which requires all seniors complete a research project or portfolio of work. However, it also capitalized on a decade-long partnership between interior design associate professor Susan Meggs and Annette Greer, an assistant professor in the Department of Bioethics and Interdisciplinary Studies at the Brody School of Medicine.

The pair has designed numerous courses and projects linking health care with interior design. Their students have worked at a daycare in Duplin County, the James D. Bernstein Community Health Center in Greenville and on rooms in the Brody Building.

“We’re always serving the community,” Meggs remarked. “Not just my class but everyone in the (interior design and merchandising) department.”

Westphal arrived at ECU with an interest in residential design, but that morphed into commercial work and eventually narrowed to health care. The field brings unique challenges, she said.

“You’re not designing for one person or for one family of four, but for a space many people will use,” she noted.

Prior to developing her design proposal, Westphal researched the diseases treated at the cancer center, studied the philosophy of health care design, attended a national design conference and interviewed patients at the center.

Westphal remembers connecting with one in particular, who spoke candidly to Westphal even as she received treatment intravenously.

“She understood that I was trying to design the space for her,” Westphal said. “A lot of patients don’t get that experience. They just go into a crisp, white hospital.”

Under Meggs’ mentorship, Westphal presented her research and design proposal at the annual Research and Creative Achievement Week held at ECU in March.

“(The project) was a good ending (to college) because it encompassed everything I’ve learned,” Westphal said. “I hope it’s something that will be implemented.”

ECU students teach about sports safety

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ECU student Lindsey Dawson presents information on sports safety to Farmville Middle School students during a sports injury prevention clinic April 16. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

ECU student Lindsey Dawson presents information on sports safety to Farmville Middle School students during a sports injury prevention clinic April 16. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Amy Adams Ellis
ECU News Services

Students at Farmville Middle School were treated to ounce upon ounce of prevention in their own gymnasium on April 16, when they participated in a sports safety clinic sponsored by the Eastern Carolina Injury Prevention Program, a joint effort between East Carolina University and Vidant Health.

ECU students led the sixth-graders through interactive discussions and hands-on demonstrations about concussion prevention, training and conditioning, hydration strategies, sports nutrition and preventing heat illness.

“Kids are getting stronger and faster much earlier,” said Morgan O’Neal, health and physical education teacher at the school. “We hate to see them get hurt at such a young age.” His students are used to seeing famous athletes in uniform during games, Morgan said, but they aren’t aware of the 5 a.m. workouts that help condition these athletes to compete safely.

Lindsey Dawson, a graduate student in ECU’s College of Education and athletic trainer for South Central High School in Winterville, said she was aiming not only to educate participants about injury prevention, but also to increase their awareness of the role athletic trainers play – before they reach high school and require their services.

ECU basketball player Janesha Ebron responds to the students' questions about sports injury prevention.

ECU basketball player Janesha Ebron responds to the students’ questions about sports injury prevention.

“It’s important for them to become aware early on that things like hydration and stretching are important in preventing injuries,” she said. And sixth-graders are very receptive to this information, she said.

“When I quiz them at the end, they know all the answers,” she laughed.

Following Dawson’s presentation, Niajah Barnes, who’s considered going out for the school’s basketball team next year, said she plans to “exercise, stay healthy, drink lots of water, and do stretching,” so she won’t be as likely to hurt herself.

“Game Changers,” a report released in 2013 by Safe Kids Worldwide, examined data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) to explore what types of injuries are sidelining young athletes. According to the report, approximately 1.35 million children are seen in emergency departments each year for sports-related injuries. For more on this report and Safe Kids Worldwide, visit www.safekids.org.

Farmville middle schooler Niajah Barnes volunteers for a demonstration during the Sports Injury Prevention Clinic.

Farmville middle schooler Niajah Barnes volunteers for a demonstration during the Sports Injury Prevention Clinic.

 

Training brings future doctors, nurses together

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Nursing student John Lazzari listens to faculty guidance during collaborative training that combined the skills of ECU nursing and medical students in a simulation exercise. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Nursing student John Lazzari listens to faculty guidance during collaborative training that combined the skills of ECU nursing and medical students in a simulation exercise. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

Johnny Jones has high blood pressure and diabetes, conditions often seen by health care providers in eastern North Carolina. But a swollen leg and fever brought him to the hospital.

Three nurses and two physicians started their assessment when Jones, who had been coughing non-stop, said he couldn’t breathe. “Let’s get him some oxygen,” a doctor said. “We may have to intubate.”

His care team was actually fourth-year East Carolina University nursing and medical students, and Jones was a mannequin in the Brody School of Medicine’s Clinical Simulation Center. Close to 200 students, about to graduate to nursing careers and residency, trained together in a “transition collaborative” held March 17-19.

 Fourth-year medical student Helmae Wubneh said the simulation exercise was the first time she had worked as a team with her fellow students in nursing.


Fourth-year medical student Helmae Wubneh said the simulation exercise was the first time she had worked as a team with her fellow students in nursing.

“They’ve come in contact together in clinical settings, but we’ve never had them work together in teams before as part of the curriculum,” said Dr. Luan Lawson, assistant dean of curriculum, assessment and clinical academic affairs in the Brody School of Medicine.

While the exercise tested the students’ knowledge and readiness, it also measured communication skills. Students weren’t technically graded but did get feedback from experienced physicians, nurses and faculty members who observed the 10-minute clinical scenarios.

“Medicine is very team-oriented,” Lawson said. “We can deliver high quality and safer care to our patients by focusing on teamwork.”

Medical errors or adverse events are often caused by poor communication by health care providers, Lawson said.

“We spend so much time on communication skills with our patients, but we rarely spend time on our own communication skills,” she said. “This is an opportunity for us to change this important aspect.”

While in settings with real patients, students usually aren’t the lead provider on cases that involve opening a crash cart – a rolling cabinet with supplies and equipment needed in an emergency – or caring for someone in respiratory arrest. Simulation gives students the experience in a safety zone and helps them recognize areas for improvement, Lawson said.

The scenario was designed for the patient “to not do well,” Lawson said. “The patient was in respiratory distress. He can’t breathe. His oxygen levels won’t stay up.”

The students intubated (inserted a breathing tube or artificial airway into the windpipe), and gave Jones medicine to control his blood pressure, but nothing helped.

“You’re doing everything right, and the patient continues to worsen. We feel it’s better to experience it here in a simulated environment rather than a live one,” Lawson said.

“I started thinking about ‘what else can we do?’ ” said Helmae Wubneh of Greenville, a fourth-year medical student headed to George Washington University for a residency in pathology.

While she has performed simulation training in various rotations, it was the first time she worked with nursing students. “It makes it a bit more reflective of the environment we’ll actually work in,” said Wubneh. “It’s a good idea. It helps you know when you need to improve and how you work in a group.”

At the end of the exercise, students gathered with the ECU faculty observers to talk about the case, which included Jones’ “wife” entering the room during treatment. Having someone talk with the family member to provide more information is important.

Nursing student C. Robinson applies pressure to the simulated patient, while medical student Laura Pekman assists with respiration.

Nursing student C. Robinson applies pressure to the simulated patient, while medical student Laura Pekman assists with respiration.

“Be careful of communicating in slang terms,” said Dr. Gina Woody, clinical associate professor in the College of Nursing.

“When they (family members) hear these things, they become more anxious. Give patients and family members small amounts of information they can understand.”

Skylar Rose, a 22-year-old nursing student from Hendersonville, said the exercise reinforced the importance of teamwork and communication, including communicating better with family members.

“We’ve had simulation training in nursing, but it was definitely different with the medical students. The monitors were different (than in the College of Nursing),” Rose said. “I did what was needed and what I was trained to do.”

Lori Levy, a doctoral nursing student and observer, told students once they begin work that it’s important to look around the floor or clinic where they will be stationed to become familiar with resources and where equipment is kept.

Offering more simulation training, specifically for fourth-year students, would be beneficial, said John Lazzari, a 22-year-old nursing student from Wilmington. “Everyone was a little unsure of themselves and what their role was,” he said. “If we had the opportunity to do it again, we’d do better.

“I went in with the expectation the patient was going to need some serious help, and he did,” Lazzari said.

Feedback from faculty is helpful, he said. “It’s important to know what you have to work on,” Lazzari said. “It’s not always skills. It could be communication, or not necessarily jumping to medication as a treatment, but talking with the patient to figure out what is going on with them.”

Organizers are planning more collaborative opportunities, but the current curriculum presents challenges with undergraduate nursing students following a traditional academic calendar and medical graduate students enrolled year-round.

Nursing already has all of its 500 undergraduate nursing students train in teams over four days in the college’s simulation labs. Administrators hope to add medical students this fall, said Dr. Annette Peery, chair of the College of Nursing’s undergraduate nursing science, senior division.

“We hope it will help them to facilitate teamwork and better communicate in the clinical setting. We know those two things will improve patient outcomes. It has been a huge push across the country,” Peery said.

More than 25 ECU faculty members from medicine and nursing were involved in the transition collaborative, an inaugural interprofessional activity of ECU’s REACH, or Redesigning Education to Accelerate Change in Healthcare. The Brody School of Medicine is one of 11 medical schools nationwide that received grants through the American Medical Association’s Accelerating Change in Medical Education Initiative, which aims to change the way medical education is taught.

The faculty included members of the Teachers of Quality Academy, who designed and implemented high-fidelity simulation and TeamSTEPPS training for the students, Lawson said. TeamSTEPPS is an evidence-based, teamwork system designed for health care professionals.

Albright examines armed forces integration

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ECU English professor Alex Albright has published a new book examining the first African-American regimental band. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

 

By Steve Tuttle
ECU News Services

ECU professor Alex Albright is continuing his quest to right an historical wrong suffered by a group of Greensboro college students who played an important role in integrating the armed forces during World War II.

His book, “The Forgotten First: B-1 and the Integration of the Modern Navy,” establishes that it was 44 mostly North Carolina A&T State University students who were recruited to serve in the first regimental band composed of African-Americans.

The U.S. Navy’s official history had given that honor to a different band from the Chicago area. Albright’s book has prompted the Navy to correct its records.

B-1 was formed on May 27, 1942, and was attached to a Navy pilot training school based at Chapel Hill. Regimental Navy bands like B-1 performed at recruitment events and entertained dignitaries.
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After basic training at Norfolk, Va., the band members returned to Chapel Hill, where they played frequently for college functions. B-1 later was stationed in Hawaii, where it was the largest American military band in the Pacific Theater.

Importantly, the B-1 band members were the first in the Navy to serve at a grade above the rank of messman, Albright said.

During his research for the book, Albright learned that, even though the Navy promised to give them the rank of general seaman, the first uniforms issued to the B-1 members had a ‘C’ stitched on the sleeves, for cook.

“To them, that was a Scarlet Letter. They wanted to wear real Navy uniforms, and eventually they did,” Albright said.

“One of the interesting things about them was they were all forward thinking individuals who could look past being taunted,” Albright said.

“B-1 was ultimately forgotten by the Navy and ignored by most contemporary students of American, military and African-American history,” Albright writes.

Albright concluded that B-1’s most remarkable accomplishment was that “they served without major incident, despite provocation that lurked everywhere they went.”

Albright first learned about B-1 back in the 1980s when he was working on a project to restore a 1947 movie filmed in Greenville with an all-black cast, “Pitch a Boogie Woogie.” The movie featured music provided by an all-black band from Greensboro known as the Rhythm Vets.

The more Albright listened to the movie soundtrack, the more intrigued he became with the musicians. He learned they called themselves the Rhythm Vets because they had served in World War II in a U.S. Navy band called B-1.

Albright said six of the original 44 members of B-1 survive, including Abe Thurmond of Beaufort and Huey Lawrence of Ayden.

Albright, along with his wife Elizabeth, operates the R.A. Fountain General Store in Fountain. B-1 is the third book published by Albright’s R.A. Fountain imprint.

He has taught creative writing at ECU since 1981 and was the founding editor of the “N.C. Literary Review” in 1991. Albright also has edited two books of poems by A.R. Ammons.

“The Forgotten First: B-1 and the Integration of the Modern Navy”
ISBN 978-0-9842102-1-3
R.A. Fountain Inc.
194 pages
$20

Draft recommends more compact footprint

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fiscal1_1

 

ECU News Services

A committee appointed to develop short-term and long-term fiscal and operational plans for East Carolina University has recommended a more compact organizational footprint for the university, with fewer degree programs, fewer administrative positions and fewer low-enrollment classes.

The University Committee on Fiscal Sustainability on Friday distributed a draft set of recommendations to ECU faculty, staff and students that include money-saving, efficiency and sustainability measures in five areas: operations, organizational structure, academic programs, faculty workload, revenue and other.

Chancellor Steve Ballard appointed the committee in August 2013 to come up with steps that could help the university deal in part with declining state appropriations while continuing to invest in strategic priorities. The measures in the draft report cover a time frame of a few months to five years.

“Current funding, from all sources, is under continuing downward pressure and few new resources are available for investment in strategic priorities,” said Rick Niswander, vice chancellor for finance and administration, and Ron Mitchelson, interim vice chancellor for research and graduate studies, co-chairs of the committee and spokespersons for the draft report. “The university must employ all resources in the most efficient manner possible within and across divisions.”

Recommended steps

The recommendations are wide-ranging, from academic offerings to energy efficiencies. Among the highlights:

  • Provide a plan to eliminate 20 undergraduate degree programs by Dec. 31 and implement that plan over three years.
  • Provide a plan to eliminate 10 master’s degree programs by Dec. 31 and implement that plan over three years.
  • Consolidate common operational tasks from travel to purchasing to grants and contracts across the university, reducing some types of staffing by 20 percent over three to five years.
  • Merge the Division of Research and Graduate Studies into the divisions of Academic Affairs and Health Sciences.
  • Mandate a 20 percent reduction in copier usage in three years at the division and college level.
  • Across divisions, review vehicle use and need with the goal of reducing number of vehicles and increasing average usage.
  • Increase efficiency of trips to reduce vehicle miles traveled by 10 percent over two years.

The draft also recommends specific goals to reduce the number of low-enrollment classes, to be implemented over the next two years:

  • Reduce by half the number of lower level undergraduate lecture sections with fewer than 20 people enrolled
  • Reduce by half the number of upper level lecture sections with fewer than 10 students enrolled.
  • Reduce by half the number of graduate course sections with fewer than five enrolled.
  • Require introductory lab course sections to be filled at 90 percent of capacity on average, no later than academic year 2015-16.

The draft did not attach specific cost savings to individual recommendations in part, said Niswander and Mitchelson, because the committee believes the process of becoming more efficient and effective is important independent of the dollars. In addition, many recommendations do not have clearly defined final parameters, they said, and a savings label cannot be attached until a detailed analysis is accomplished.

Revenue opportunities identified

The draft report recommended a number of revenue opportunities as well, including:

  • Add advertising on the university website.
  • Support and encourage corporate sponsorship of field courses, software labs, scholarships, equipment and supplies.
  • Increase revenue generation in research, including increasing clinical trials, research proposals and corporate funding.

The 16-member University Committee on Fiscal Sustainability included faculty staff and ex officio student members. The group met at least twice monthly, received reports from units across campus and conducted campus-wide surveys during fall semester.

The next step, said the co-chairs, was to receive input and suggestions from the campus community through campus forums and an electronic survey. After considering campus input, the committee is expected to present final recommendations to the chancellor by May 1.

To read the complete report, go to www.ecu.edu/ucfs.

Honors College seminars encourage creativity

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fellowscover

ECU professor John Kenney leads an Honors College seminar in extreme physics. The course is presented through a competitive Honors College program that allows faculty members to teach unique subjects to an engaged audience. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

By Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services

“The Psychology of Human-Dog Interactions,” “Global Heavy Metal Music” and “Extreme Physics,” are just a few of the seminar courses offered this semester to students in the Honors College at East Carolina University. If they sound out of the ordinary, there’s a good reason.

Faculty members from numerous disciplines compete each year to teach seminars to students in the Honors College. The Honors College Faculty Advisory Committee, made up of representatives from across campus, generally receives two dozen course proposals each March, of which 10 to 15 are chosen.

“This is a chance (for faculty) to get creative and pursue their particular passion,” said Kevin Baxter, associate dean of the Honors College.

The unique system was developed four years ago when ECU transitioned from its longstanding honors program to a formalized Honors College. They wanted the opportunity to teach honors students to be an inclusive experience for faculty with coursework selected in a transparent way, Baxter said.

 In an Honors College seminar on Appalachian culture, visiting artist Anna Roberts-Gevalt demonstrates a "crankie," a handmade moving scroll. Illustrations on the scroll depict the stories of ballads presented by Roberts-Gevalt and fellow singer Elizabeth LaPrelle.


In an Honors College seminar on Appalachian culture, visiting artist Anna Roberts-Gevalt demonstrates a “crankie,” a handmade moving scroll. Illustrations on the scroll depict the stories of ballads presented by Roberts-Gevalt and fellow singer Elizabeth LaPrelle.

“Each student is unique but…honors students tend to be more engaged and passionate about current news and politics, eager to learn and curious about the world around them,” said Kindal Shores, an Honors College faculty fellow and professor in the College of Health and Human Performance. Shores taught a seminar on “Parks in the American Landscape” following the first cycle of the competition.

“I wanted the opportunity to work with a small group of really bright students who would push me forward as a professor as well,” she continued. “In my experience – teaching three honors classes – honors students are more willing to challenge material, challenge their own ideas and speak up in a class setting.”

Shores also explained that honors students, generally speaking, are very focused on their academic and career goals. The unique seminar topics get them outside of their comfort zone and engaging with other subject areas. Most seminars count towards university foundations course requirements.

The courses are also designed to promote critical thinking, Shores said.

Proposed seminars must approach topics from an interdisciplinary perspective and must be suitable for freshmen and seniors alike. Baxter said the college also works with faculty whose proposals aren’t selected to improve upon their ideas for the next cycle.

Faculty must be credentialed in whatever subject they’re teaching, which Baxter said has led to some interesting partnerships. Some have occurred within colleges – like a course co-taught by faculty from technology systems and engineering – while others are more unexpected pairings. For example, honors seminars have combined bioethics and interior design, and English with biology.

“It invites a level of creativity that normal college courses don’t permit,” Baxter said.

Department deans and chairs have been very supportive of their faculty engaging with the Honors College outside their normal duties, he added.

“The seminar courses within the honors college offered me the opportunity to explore interests outside my major in a really personal setting,” said sophomore Alex Podolski. “My favorite so far has been the seminar titled ‘Free Will and Consciousness.’”

“(Dr. Laura Edwards’) passion and energy for the course material was contagious,” Podolski added. “The course moved at the pace that my fellow students and I set, and she was able to tailor it more to our interests. Though the material was difficult, it was rewarding when I finally developed an understanding.”

The Honors College at ECU is a diverse intellectual community for academically talented students of strong character. Honors students are provided with the opportunity to engage in immersive service-learning, undergraduate research and pre-professional experiences throughout their undergraduate years.

Students are housed together in an on-campus living-learning community and receive a scholarship equal to the level of in-state tuition, which is renewable for a maximum eight semesters of undergraduate work.

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