About Joy Holster

ECU News and Communication Services 1001 E. 5th St. Greenville, NC 27858 (252) 328-6481

App is picture perfect in identifying plants

Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith spotted a flowering plant he liked that was growing in the landscaping outside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and wondered what it was. He thought the plant would look good in the yard of his Greenville home. So he pulled out his phone and took a picture of it.

“I stared at the photo for a moment and thought, ‘now what am I going to do with this?’” He imagined the time he would waste at nurseries looking at hundreds of plants trying to find one that looked just like the picture.

Then it occurred to Smith, who completed an economic degree at East Carolina University in 2010, how handy it would be to have an app on his phone that could identify a plant from a photo. He searched online but didn’t find any apps that were useful.

Later, Smith mentioned this incident to his friend and fellow ECU alumnus Brooks Dixon. Dixon was working for Red Shark Digital, a Greenville company that does web design and develops apps. Red Shark is owned by another ECU alumnus, Chris Rupp, who Smith had classes with as an undergraduate.

Rupp liked Smith’s idea and agreed to create such an app.

“The app has been out for a month and so far we’ve had 350 downloads,” Smith said. “And that’s with absolutely no marketing at all, just word of mouth, and it’s only available so far for Android phones.”greenthumb.jpg

The app, called Greenthumb, is based on object recognition technology. Many flowering plants look alike, so the app also uses GPS location data to determine the one that is most likely growing in that location.

“We think the app will be beneficial to the weekend gardener and even landscapers,” Smith said. “Maybe they see a picture of a plant they like in a magazine, or see something they like growing in a neighbor’s yard. They can just snap a picture, open the app and go to their local nursery knowing exactly what they’re looking for and not waste a lot of time.”

The app can be downloaded for free at http://greenthumbapp.com/.

Smith said Red Shark is planning a marketing campaign for Greenthumb. He said an Apple version of the app also is in the works.

“I think there are all kinds of applications for this technology,” Smith said. “Like, if you go fishing and catch a fish and you aren’t sure what kind of fish it is, just take its picture and you’ll know.”

– Steve Tuttle



ECU senior honored for community service

Zachary Baker

Zachary Baker

ECU senior Zachary Baker has been recognized by North Carolina Campus Compact, a statewide network of colleges and universities committed to community engagement, for his outstanding leadership and service. Baker is a recipient of the network’s Community Impact Student Award, which honors one student leader at each member school.

Baker is one of 18 students across the state to receive the 2014 award, joining more than 200 college students honored by the organization since the award was first presented in 2006.

At ECU, Baker has been a key figure in ECU’s Campus Kitchen project, serving as a shift leader, shift manager, and on the leadership team. Through his work, he inspires others to take action against hunger in Greenville.

Baker has worked for four years at the university’s Volunteer and Service-Learning Center (VSLC), first as an event coordinator and now as OrgSync training coordinator. In this role, Baker teaches students and community agencies to use ECU’s new web-based service management system, helping connect more than 6,000 users to service opportunities.

A double major in health services management and chemistry, Baker is from Fayetteville.

“Whether he’s working behind the scenes managing our OrgSync platform or interacting with a new student who is looking to get involved, Zach empowers others to learn through service,” said VSLC Assistant Director Nichelle Shuck.

Baker and other award winners were honored at the compact’s annual student conference on Nov. 8 at N.C. State University.

North Carolina Campus Compact is a collaborative network of colleges and universities with a shared commitment to educating engaged citizens and strengthening communities. The compact was founded in 2002 and is hosted by Elon University.


Medical students assist with Belhaven health clinic

Several students from the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University spent a recent Saturday providing free health screenings and services to Beaufort County residents.

First year medical student Ismail Kassim works with a patient at the Belhaven health clinic. (Contributed photos)

First year medical student Ismail Kassim works with a patient at the Belhaven health clinic. (Contributed photos)

Dr. Ari Mwachofi, a professor in the Department of Public Health, coordinated their involvement in the Belhaven Community Health Fair, which took place Oct. 25.

“I am a strong believer in experiential learning,” Mwachofi said. “The students will understand health issues of poor, underserved communities better by getting involved in such communities. I am meeting with the students to do a debriefing about their experience, perceptions and what they learned.”

The students assisted by assessing blood pressure, measuring blood glucose, administering rapid HIV testing, cholesterol screening, giving flu vaccines, and distributing literature on various health topics.

The students also interpreted for Spanish-speaking patients and translated health brochures into Spanish.

Mwachofi hopes the involvement of Brody medical students in this health fair will become an annual occurrence.

The participating first-year medical students were (pictured below, left to right) Mary Ashleigh Craver, Lily Trout and Daiysha Smith, and Zachary Sutton, Alexander Almeida Larrea, Wooten Jones and Ismail Kassim. Austin Rice, a candidate for a master’s in public health from Brody, also assisted with the event.



Down East Talent Search seeks talent for competition

The Down East Talent Search is looking for groups and individuals from eastern North Carolina to compete for cash prizes and help support a longstanding performing arts series.

Sponsored by the FRIENDS of the S. Rudolph Alexander Performing Arts Series and hosted by East Carolina University’s College of Fine Arts and Communication, the March 5 competition is a fundraiser for the performing arts series.

Top prize will be $1,000. Second place will receive $250, third, $150, and the audience choice winner will get $100.

Tryouts will be held Jan. 25. An application form and entry fee must be submitted in advance. Early bird registration will be $50 through Jan. 16. Regular and walk-on registration will be $75 from Jan. 17 until tryouts begin.

Finalists will perform in front of a live audience and local celebrity judges on March 5 in Wright Auditorium. The contest is open to residents living in eastern North Carolina. Applicants must have a home mailing address in a North Carolina county east of, or bisected by, I-95.

For more information, visit http://www.ecu.edu/cs-cfac/talentsearch.cfm and ‘like’ the search on Facebook for updates at https://www.facebook.com/SRAPAS. Registration and tickets to the event will be available through ECU’s Central Ticket Office in Mendenhall Student Center, by visiting www.ECUARTS.com, at Wright Auditorium one hour before the event, or by calling 252-328-4788.

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ECU literary magazine named a Pacemaker Award finalist

East Carolina University’s student-run literary magazine, Rebel, was named one of five category finalists for the Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker award, four-year literary magazine category.

rebelThe winners were announced at the Annual ACP/College Media Advisers National College Media Convention Oct. 29-Nov. 1 in Philadelphia.  Rebel 56 was nominated along with arts and literary magazines from Jacksonville University, Mercer University, Appalachian State University and Bridgewater State University. Winners were The Bridge from Bridgewater and The Peel from Appalachian State.

Since 1927, the Pacemaker has been the highest honor available to ACP members and still today is considered one of the most prestigious awards in collegiate media.  Being a nominee signifies Rebel as one of the top literary magazines in the country. Rebel won the Pacemaker Award in 2009.

Rebel 56 was published in Spring 2014. The editor in chief was Megan Burns.

“Megan and her team put together a tremendous magazine,” said John Harvey, ECU director of student media.  “This year’s team is equally strong. Perhaps next year we can win it all.”

Rebel is part the office of Student Media in the Division of Student Affairs at ECU.  Along with Rebel, Student Media oversees WZMB 91.3 FM, the campus radio station; Buccaneer, the university yearbook; Expressions multicultural magazine; a new magazine that will debut in Spring 2015, The Hook; The East Carolinian student newspaper, and its companion website theeastcarolinian.com. Student Media also operates a student Advertising & Marketing Agency.

All of the organizations that come under Student Media are staffed and operated by East Carolina students.

The Associated Collegiate Press is a nonprofit education membership association and a division of the National Scholastic Press Association. The ACP has had college members since its inception in 1921 and is the largest and oldest membership organization for college student media in the United States.

For additional information, contact John Harvey at 252-328-9234 or harveyj@ecu.edu.  For more details about ECU Student Media, visit www.ecu.edu/studentmedia.