ECU English Chair Awarded $270,000 NEH Grant



East Carolina University English Department Chair Dr. Jeffery Johnson has received a $270,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The three-year grant supports “The Variorum Edition of the Poetry of John Donne,” housed at ECU. On Sept. 1, Johnson will become the general editor for the Donne Variorum, a collaborative research project involving more than 40 international scholars.

The project has been funded by the NEH since 1986, with a total of more than $1.8 million.

The Donne Variorum, including its online component DigitalDonne ( has been described by other scholars as “one of the most important scholarly ventures in English literature,” (Brian Vickers, Times Literary Supplement, 25 Jan. 2008) and “one of the most successful collaborative ventures in Renaissance studies of our time” (Stanley Stewart, Renaissance Talk, p. 159).

For additional information, contact Johnson at 252-328-6378 or


Undergraduate student research programs wrap up

The ECU College of Engineering and Technology hosted 10-week research experiences for undergraduate this summer, completing the program in early August. Above, participants learn about presenting research in a poster session. (Contributed photo)

The ECU College of Engineering and Technology hosted 10-week research experiences for undergraduates this summer, completing the program in early August. Pictured above, participants learned about presenting research in a poster session. (Contributed photo)

By Margaret Turner
ECU College of Engineering and Technology

Undergraduate students from East Carolina University and more than 10 other universities spent the summer learning about research practices in the College of Engineering and Technology.

The ECU departments of computer science and engineering each hosted a 10-week Research Experience for Undergraduates, or REU, which ended Aug. 1. The programs were funded by grants offered through the National Science Foundation.

Eleven students participated in the computer science REU titled “Software Testing:  Foundations, Applications, and Tools.” Students selected their own research topics, which included developing and testing a neural network-based spam-detection system, collecting and analyzing data from a social network system, building a dynamic program analysis prototype and testing mobile computing systems.

Students also attended seminars with guest speakers such as ECU computer science associate professor Dr. Ronnie Smith, who discussed frontiers in artificial intelligence, Dr. Mary Farwell, interim assistant vice chancellor and director of undergraduate research, who offered advice on undergraduate research, and Dr. Ernest Marshburn, director of research development, who provided information on graduate fellowship programs. Students took field trips to the Brody School of Medicine’s robotics research and training center and the biomedical laser lab in the physics department.

Delaney Rhodes, a rising senior at Georgia College in Milledgeville, Georgia, said she and Kevin Kulp, also from Georgia College, heard about the program from a former REU student who attended last year’s summer program at ECU. “I feel more prepared for graduate school,” said Kulp, who plans to pursue a graduate degree after graduation in May. Rhodes and Kulp said they enjoyed meeting other students and being on a large campus.

Engineering hosted eight students from seven different universities, including two ECU students for the REU titled “Biomedical Engineering in Simulation, Imaging, and Modeling.” Dr. Stephanie George, ECU assistant professor of engineering, and Dr. Zac Domire, ECU associate professor of kinesiology, collaborated on the NSF grant to fund the program.

Student research projects included testing viscosity and velocity related to nanofiber production, developing predictors of bone geometry in physically active populations and exploring modeling and simulation in biomedical applications.

“The goal of the REU program is to provide experiences that students may not have at their home institutions, to increase their interest and knowledge in graduate school, while also promoting diversity at this level,” George said. “Student summer research experiences will help to create a competitive graduate school application.”

The department of engineering was recently approved to offer its first graduate degree program, a master’s in biomedical engineering, beginning this fall.

Participants were treated to an ice cream social and attended several lunch seminars where topics included how to apply to graduate school, what to expect at a research conference and how to compose a scientific poster.


Incoming EC Scholars prepare for fall during Ocracoke retreat

Incoming EC Scholars Kevin Nguyen, foreground, and Vivian Holt embark for a kayaking tour of Ocracoke Island during the EC Scholars retreat in August.

Incoming EC Scholars Kevin Nguyen, foreground, and Vivian Holt embark for a kayaking tour of Ocracoke Island during the EC Scholars retreat in August. (Photos courtesy of ECU Honors College)

By Jessica Nottingham
ECU Honors College

Between serious sessions of charades, beach games and group dinners, the incoming class of EC Scholars participated in leadership training that included topics such as professional etiquette, time management and work-life balance during a retreat the week before the start of fall semester.

Each year, East Carolina University’s Honors College hosts a retreat on Ocracoke Island for freshmen EC Scholars, recipients of ECU’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarship award. The retreat prepares this high-achieving new crop of students for a healthy and successful college career.

“The EC Scholar freshmen Ocracoke retreat is a unique opportunity for our incoming class to cultivate relationships and foster a strong sense of community before they arrive on campus,” said Dr. Todd Fraley, director of the EC Scholars program. “Over the course of three days, they participated in team-building activities, networked with faculty and upperclassmen EC Scholars and completed a leadership development program created by ECU’s Adventure office.”

Leadership training and team building exercises help build community within the new class of scholars.

Leadership training and team building exercises help build community within the new class of scholars.

ECU’s Adventure program took students through activities that brought awareness to various leadership styles, group problem-solving and building trust.

“Students arrive to college in a daze,” said Brad Beggs, assistant director of the ECU Adventure Program. “Among approximately 4,000 incoming students, most new freshmen feel lost, a bit alone and unsure how to have success. This type of orientation session lets the EC Scholars make friends before classes begin and learn specific skills that help them adapt to and succeed here at ECU.”

EC Scholar Lillie Malpass of Hallsboro observed the group learning the value of incorporating different ideas. “Most of us are natural leaders—we learned how to listen to each other and not always be in charge,” said Malpass. “We are all comfortable with leading and sharing ideas so we had to work with all of our different ideas during the activity.”

Taking advantage of the locale, the adventure program team led the class on a two-mile kayaking tour of Ocracoke, highlighting pirate and Revolutionary War history as well as some sea level rise concerns, said Beggs.

Wayne ’64 and Sherry ’74 Holloman of Greenville sponsored this year’s trip, making it cost-free for the students. “Thanks to donors like the Hollomans, our scholars enter their freshmen year with a sense of belonging and an awareness of the commitment ECU has made to their success,” said Fraley.

For more information about the Honors College and EC Scholars scholarship award program, visit



LGBT Resource Office to screen Emmy award winning movie

East Carolina University’s LGBT Office will screen the Emmy award winning movie, “The Normal Heart,” at 7 p.m. Sept. 15 in Hendrix Theatre, Mendenhall Student Center.

normalheartThe 2014 Emmy award winner for best television movie stars Academy Award winner Julia Roberts, Academy Award nominee Mark Ruffalo, Emmy Award winner Jim Parsons, along with Matt Bomer and Taylor Kitsch.

“Though it has taken almost 30 years to make it from the stage to the screen, ‘The Normal Heart’ still conveys all the passion, rage, and heart wrenching emotion as it did when it premiered at New York’s Public Theater in 1985,” said Mark Rasdorf, assistant director of the ECU LGBT Resource Office.

“This will be an intense film experience for all in attendance. We also hope this leads to creating dialogue and discussions on campus and in the community.”

“The Normal Hearttells the story of the onset of the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City in the early 1980s.  The movie examines the nation’s sexual politics as gay activists and their allies in the medical community fight to expose the truth about the burgeoning epidemic to a city and nation in denial.

The screening is free and free parking will be available from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the ECU parking lot located at the corner of 9th Street and Evans Street.

The LGBT Resource Office and the Student Activities Board Film Committee are presenting the screening, with support from the Center for Diversity and Inequality Research and the Department of English. The screening has been approved as a Premier Passport Event for ECU’s Wellness Passport program for students.

For more information, call the LGBT Resource Office at (252) 737-2514.


ECU see-through frog research highlighted in NatGeo



Research from the ECU Department of Biology on Peruvian glassfrogs was highlighted in National Geographic.

Graduate student Evan Twomey, quoted in the piece, has teamed with former grad student Jesse Delia in the research.

According to the article, the research has identified four new species of the see-through frogs, some with green bones.  The species is known for gaudy coloring including yellow circles around the eyes.

Read the article in National Geographic…




Bauer, Rulifson selected as distinguished professors



Two professors in the ECU Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences were inducted as distinguished professors at the college’s annual faculty convocation Aug. 25. The honor is traditionally bestowed upon one individual at the beginning of each academic year.

Margaret Bauer, Rives Chair of Southern Literature in the Department of English and editor of the North Carolina Literary Review, and Roger Rulifson, professor in the Department of Biology and senior scientist with the ECU Institute for Coastal Science and Policy, were selected.

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

“After this year’s review of nominees, we were so impressed with the exceptional quality of our colleagues that we did something unconventional – unprecedented as far as I know,” said Dr. William Downs, dean of Harriot College. “We found two Harriot College faculty members ‘equally deserving’ of the Distinguished Professorship. And despite everybody telling me that making two awards ‘just isn’t done,’ that is precisely what we are doing this year.”

“At a time when the value of the humanities is often overlooked, I am pleased that ECU’s new Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences starts his first year recognizing the importance of research in the humanities as well as the sciences, and I look forward to seeing Harriot College shine a light on the excellent research and creative activity of many of ECU’s humanities faculty in the future,” said Bauer.



“I am very honored to be chosen for the title of Distinguished Professor of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences by Dean Downs,” said Rulifson.

“I think of the past recipients, and I know that I will have a challenge ahead to live up to their legacy. I truly appreciate the latitude and encouragement from the Dean’s Office over 30 years to teach what I love to teach, and to conduct research on coastal issues with Biology graduate and undergraduate students, without whom I could not have accomplished so much in the name of East Carolina University.”

For additional information, contact Bauer at 252-328-1537 or, or Rulifson at 252-328-9400 or


ECU event basis of new collection on Sir Walter Raleigh

Papers delivered at an international ECU conference formed the basis for a new collection of scholarly essays on Sir Walter Raleigh titled “Literary and Visual Ralegh,” released Spring 2014.

Many of the articles in the collection were delivered at the 2008 ECU conference, Raleigh in the Altantic World. The conference was organized by David Wilson-Okamura and Marianne Montgomery in the ECU Department of English, with support of the ECU Medieval and Renaissance Studies program, directed by Kevin Moll.

bookAccording to the book description at, articles in the book represent a range of disciplines, including literary, historical and art historical studies, and focus on the life, works and legacy of Sir Walter Raleigh.

Editor Christopher Armitage of UNC-Chapel Hill launched the book in April, presenting at the event along with ECU English professor Thomas Herron, one of the contributing authors.



Work by ECU art professor named to top 100

Work by ECU art professor Scott Eagle will appear in the Creative Quarterly. (Contributed photo)

Work by ECU art professor Scott Eagle will appear in the Creative Quarterly. (Contributed photo)

Scott Eagle, assistant director and director of graduate studies in the School of Art and Design, has been selected by Creative Quarterly ( as one of their top 100 creatives for 2013. A panel of international judges picked the top 25 pieces for special recognition in each of four categories – fine art, graphic design, illustration and photography. Eagle’s work will appear in the Creative Quarterly Magazine being distributed this fall.

Since early 2000, Eagle has collaborated with author Jeff VanderMeer, a winner of the British Science Fiction Association Award, 2 World Fantasy Awards, finalist for the Hugo Award and author of more than 20 books including “The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature ” and “The Southern Reach Trilogy.”

Last October, VanderMeer published “Wonderbook; The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction” ( in which Eagle had four artworks used as illustration on seven pages, an interview and a full page photograph that he took of his studio shelves. This guide to writing imaginative fiction takes a completely novel approach and fully exploits the visual nature of fantasy through original drawings, maps, renderings and exercises to create a spectacularly beautiful and inspiring object. Employing an accessible, example-rich approach, “Wonderbook” ( energizes and motivates while also providing practical information needed to improve as a writer. In June, Wonderbook won the Locus Award for best nonfiction and has been nominated for the Hugo Awards.

Additional artwork by Eagle also can be seen locally in a new exhibit at the Pitt County Arts Council at Emerge in the Edwards & Wooten Gallery from Sept. 5 through Sept. 26. Eagle and artist Tim French, a 2011 ECU MFA alumnus, are featured in the “Psychodrama” exhibition. An opening reception will be held Sept. 5 during the First Friday Artwalk in uptown Greenville. French teaches art at Pitt Community College.