Notable Achievements

ECU faculty selected for annual research, creative activity awards


Margaret Bauer

ECU News Services

Four East Carolina University faculty members were honored this month as recipients for this year’s Achievement for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity Awards.

Margaret D. Bauer, professor of English at ECU and editor of the North Carolina Literary Review, has earned a Lifetime Achievement Award. Bauer came to ECU in 1996, seeking a job teaching Southern literature. The additional responsibility of editing the state’s literary review was a bonus.

“I probably thought, ‘I’ll read a lot of submissions, pick what goes in and proof them,'” Bauer recalled.

Instead, the North Carolina Literary Review became a publication that has consumed her career, transforming her into a self-professed “writer groupie” but also a sincere advocate for North Carolina authors and their works.

She describes her mission at N.C. Literary Review as two-fold: She aims generally to be an ambassador for North Carolina writers, but also wants to maintain a venue where readers can discover new authors or rediscover neglected or forgotten ones. It requires balance, she explained.

Bauer led a major redesign of the review in 2009 and also launched an annual online edition in 2012. The online edition offers different works than the print edition, and information about both can be found at

A fascination with literature developed early in Bauer, a native of Louisiana. She remembers reading Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” in high school, and being amazed that her teacher could ascertain so much of a character’s life from only two pages.

Today, she attempts to impart that same love of fiction — and the critical thinking required for comprehending complex literary works — to her students.

“I’m going to be stuck in this head 100 years except when I’m in a novel,” she tells them. “It’s a chance to get out of your head for 400 pages.”

As the Ralph Hardee Rives Chair in Southern Literature, Bauer continues to add to her own body of scholarly works. Her most recent book examines Scarlett O’Hara-type characters in literature, and is slated for release this summer by University of South Carolina Press. Other ongoing projects include getting a critical edition of Paul Green’s play “The House of Connolly” published.
Heather Littleton, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, received a Five-Year Achievement Award.

Littleton has published recently on sexual violence, which she deems a “major public health issue” that is often kept secret. Her latest project, “From Survivor to Thriver,” is an online, self-paced, therapist-facilitated program for college women who have been sexually assaulted and have post-traumatic stress disorder.

Heather Littleton

Heather Littleton

“A lot of women who have been sexually assaulted don’t feel comfortable seeking in-person therapy for a variety of reasons,” Littleton said. “It’s unfortunately way too common, but it’s still something people don’t want to talk about and deny. Over half of them don’t consider what happened to them to be rape or even a crime.”

She said “From Survivor to Thriver” is a tool that helps counselors “reach women who might not get help otherwise and help women sooner.” Women who complete the program show significant improvement, with more than three-quarters no longer having PTSD after completing the program, she said.

Littleton is also an adjunct professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Brody School of Medicine at ECU.
A second Five-Year Achievement Award was given to David Kimmel, associate professor in the Department of Biology.

David Kimmel

David Kimmel

Research by Kimmel explores how human-driven environmental changes impact estuarine, coastal and marine populations.

“North Carolina is a good ‘ground zero’ for global environmental change impacts on a coastal region,” Kimmel said. “I foresee my research continuing to investigate the changing food-web dynamics in coastal North Carolina as the environment continues to change.”

His research has focused primarily on zooplankton but has expanded to include the climate’s effect on oyster populations in Chesapeake Bay, to assist in oyster restoration. Kimmel also studies jellyfish populations in the Neuse River and how humans and jellyfish interact. He hopes to help people understand how everyday life affects fragile ecosystems, which in turn can affect all life globally.

Martha “Marti” Engelke, professor and associate dean for research and creative activity in the College of Nursing earned this year’s Scholarship of Engagement Award.

Engelke has spent her career developing partnerships that help people – often children – manage chronic illness.

Helping others was instilled in Engelke as a child. “The idea of caring for people was very important, serving your fellow man or woman,” she said. “It was always a part of our family.”

One of her recent and notable collaborations has been with the N.C. Division of School Health to develop a case management program for students with chronic illness ranging from asthma, diabetes and severe allergies to attention deficit disorder. Engelke and her partners developed a tool kit for school nurses, a nursing model of case management, a website and portal for data entry and statewide interdisciplinary educational programs.

Engelke continues to receive requests for materials, speaks about the program and is participating in a new initiative to establish a statewide school nurse research network.

“I don’t think school nurses are recognized for all they do,” Engelke said. “With the stress and mental health issues in schools today, it’s becoming more and more a part of the role of the school nurse.”

Martha Engelke

Martha Engelke