ECU professors honored with Early Career Award

Two East Carolina University professors are the first to receive the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Early Career Award recognizing exceptional performance by tenure track professors.

Dr. Marcelo Ardon-Sayao

Dr. Marcelo Ardon-Sayao, left, and Dr. William M. Downs, dean of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Marcelo Ardon-Sayao, assistant professor of biology, and Dr. Matthew Whited, assistant professor of psychology, were recognized May 15 as this year’s award recipients.

“I am truly honored by this award. I am lucky to work with great colleagues and students both within and outside ECU,” said Ardon-Sayao. “I thank my colleagues and the THCAS Advancement Council for this recognition of my work.”

Ardon-Sayao is an ecosystem ecologist interested in understanding how aquatic ecosystems process water and nutrients; how that capacity is being altered by local land use and global climate change; and whether, and to what extent, current and emerging management can reverse or restore lost functions.

He received a $635,000 National Science Foundation CAREER grant this spring for his research involving coastal wetlands. Ardon-Sayao was honored in April with the Mercer Award from the Ecological Society of America, recognizing a 2013 paper published in the journal, Global Change Biology.

Ardon-Sayao received a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Georgia in 2006 and a bachelor of science in biology and environmental studies from Gettysburg College in 2000.

Whited leads the Depression Specialty Service in the ECU Department of Psychology’s PASS Clinic. He specializes in behavioral activation and has trained other clinicians in this treatment approach. He earned a Ph.D. and master of science in clinical psychology from West Virginia University in 2009 and 2007, and completed a bachelor of science in psychology and biology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2003.


Dr. Matthew Whited, left, and Dr. William M. Downs

“I feel honored to be one of the recipients of the inaugural Early Career Award,” Whited said. “I appreciate being recognized as someone who is off to a good start in my career, and I look forward to taking advantage of all the advantages and opportunities that ECU has to offer.”

“ECU is a wonderful place to grow and mature as a researcher and educator, as faculty and administrators here understand the synergy that takes place between research productivity and student (especially graduate) training,” he added.

Ardon-Sayao and Whited will be recognized at Harriot College’s fall convocation in August.

In succeeding years, Harriot College will designate up to three recipients for the award, which focuses on faculty productivity in research and creative discovery, said Harriot College Dean Dr. William M. Downs. That productivity “must be judged to be of such high quality and impact that it exceeds expectations. Outstanding performance in professional development must be complemented by demonstrated excellence in instructional effectiveness and service,” he said.

“I am extremely pleased to say this year’s recipients exceeded these qualifications,” Downs said.

For additional information, contact Ardon-Sayao at 328-6307 or, and Whited at 328-6308 or

— Lacey Gray


Harriot College Students Recognized at Phi Beta Kappa Ceremony


The East Carolina University Division of Academic Affairs and the Eastern Carolina Alumni Association of Phi Beta Kappa honored 27 students within the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences on April 22.

All of the students honored have a grade point average of 3.93 or higher.

Those honored, and their major areas of study, include Ajay Ajmera, biology and chemistry; Layne Barefield, biology and engineering; Ryan Beeson, political science; Megan Biller, biology; Tyler Black, mathematics; Sarah Burke, public history; Kayla Carr, history and education; Ryan Carter-Stanley, psychology; Ava Cook, English; Erin Cottrell, psychology and Hispanic studies; Martha Ervin, psychology; Elizabeth Fish, psychology; Carey Henry, mathematics, psychology and education; Michael Joy, political science and economics; Sara Kurtz, fine arts and Hispanic Studies; Kristen Martin, communication and English; Kate McPherson, chemistry; Shayna Mooney, multidisciplinary studies-neuroscience; Mackenzie Alyn Mull, Hispanic studies and elementary education; Stephen Parker, biology; Jessica Rassau, classical civilizations; Jonathan Blake Richards, history and political science; Christian Rogers, biology; Natasha Scovill, biology; Sarah Sipe, chemistry and German; Lea Taylor, biology; and Kelsey Weiss, sociology.

“This is an amazing group of young people from most of the departments in the college, who have an interesting and imaginative variety of post-graduation plans, which highlights the strengths of a good liberal arts education,” said Dr. Angela Thompson, president of the Eastern Carolina Alumni Association of Phi Beta Kappa and ECU assistant professor of history.

For additional information about the Eastern Carolina Alumni Association of Phi Beta Kappa, contact Thompson at 328-1045, or via email at



St. Amant honored for research excellence

St. Amant

St. Amant

The Society for Technical Communication, the largest professional organization in the field of technical communication, has selected ECU English professor Kirk St. Amant to receive the society’s Ken Rainey Award for Excellence in Research for 2015.

The award recognizes research that has made positive, significant contributions to the field of technical communication. The awards committee identified St. Amant’s “focused, original, and significant research program that has yielded a superb publication record and a well-deserved national and international reputation in the field” as key criteria for selecting him for this distinction.

The award will be presented in June at the STC’s 62nd Summit (annual conference) to take place in Columbus, Ohio.


ECU physics professor receives prestigious award

East Carolina University professor of physics Dr. Gregory Lapicki was honored as the 2015 Helms Faculty Award recipient from the ECU chapter of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society.

Dr. Gregory Lapicki

Dr. Gregory Lapicki

Presented April 17, the award recognized a paper Lapicki co-authored, “Experimental Cross Sections for L-shell X-ray Production and Ionization by Protons.” The paper explains reactions that occur in individuals undergoing proton therapy, a treatment for some cancers.

“The award validates the worth of our research,” said Lapicki. “In this case, through my fruitful collaboration with Javier Miranda from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.”

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, is one of the oldest and largest scientific organizations in the world. The ECU chapter was chartered in 1974.

The Helms Faculty Research Award was established in 1987 by R. Marshall Helms, a longtime ECU physics professor, to honor three members of his family who were involved in research and teaching at ECU. The award focuses on the impact a single publication has on the research discipline, and cycles between faculty in biological sciences, medical/social sciences and mathematics and physical sciences.

Lapicki joined the ECU physics faculty in 1981.

For additional information, contact Lapicki at 252-328-6894 or


Eble Named President of Technical Writing Organization

Michelle Eble

Michelle Eble

Dr. Michelle F. Eble, associate professor in the Department of English at East Carolina University, was named president of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing at the organization’s annual meeting March 18 in Tampa, Florida.

Eble, who also serves as the English department’s director of graduate studies, has been a member of ATTW since 2003. In that time, she has served as both conference coordinator and vice president. Her term as president will last three years, and she also will serve as chair of the executive committee during that time.

Running on a platform of fostering more graduate student participation in ATTW, Eble wishes to diversify the membership, support partnerships with other technical communication organizations and expand the organization’s global presence—all while sustaining ATTW’s current commitments.

The Association of Teachers of Technical Writing is an active professional organization of about 500 teachers, researchers and practitioners of technical communication. Formed in 1973 to encourage dialogue among teachers of technical communication and to develop technical communication as an academic discipline, the organization boasts an international and interdisciplinary membership. ATTW produces Technical Communication Quarterly, a leading academic journal, and it collaborates with Taylor & Francis/Routledge to publish the ATTW Book Series in Technical and Professional Communication.

For additional information, contact Eble at 252-328-6412 or


He popped the question at a special place – the Rivers Building

Faith Fleming and Jamar Sampson

Faith Fleming and Jamar Sampson

The Rivers Building holds special memories for Jamar Sampson and Faith Fleming, both graduated from East Carolina University with psychology degrees in 2013.

It’s where both worked part-time jobs. It’s where he asked her to be his girlfriend. And it’s where he proposed to her on Feb. 27, after sending her on a scavenger hunt for clues to his intentions.

couple“I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to propose to her right where it all started,” Sampson said.

“She had no idea that the scavenger hunt I planned for her would lead her to a hallway full of friends and family to witness the best day of our lives.”

Friends of the couple created a video about the scavenger hunt and his proposal, which can be seen at

Fleming is studying for a master’s degree in school counseling at UNC-Greensboro. Sampson is director of education for the Boys & Girls Club of the Coastal Plains.

Sampson said they plan to marry after she finishes graduate school.

— Steve Tuttle



Best-selling author to deliver Earth Day presentation

Best-selling author Amy Stewart will speak as part of Earth Day 2015 events at 8 p.m. April 21 in Room C307 Science and Technology Building, East Carolina University.

Amy Stewart (photo courtesy of Delightful Eye Photography)

Amy Stewart
(photo courtesy of Delightful Eye Photography)

A reception and book signing will follow. The event is open to the public.

Stewart is the author of four New York Times bestsellers – “The Drunken Botanist,” “Wicked Plants,” “Wicked Bugs” and “Flower Confidential.” Her books focus on the positive and negative impacts of the natural world on people.

She has written for the New York Times and the Washington Post and appeared on NPR’s Morning Editing, CBS Sunday Morning, Good Morning America and the PBS documentary, The Botany of Desire.

The event is hosted by the Center for Biodiversity at East Carolina University and funded by the North Carolina Science Festival, UNC System, and East Carolina University through the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Biology, Chemistry Department, English Department, and Center for Sustainability: Tourism, Natural Resources, and the Built Environment. It is a signature North Carolina Science Festival event.

For additional information, contact Heather Vance-Chalcraft at or 252-328-9841.


Earth Day Expo set for April 21

Sara Kimmel, left, and Rachel Kimmel learn during lab activities at the 2014 Earth Day Expo. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Sara Kimmel, left, and Rachel Kimmel learn during lab activities at the 2014 Earth Day Expo. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

An Earth Day Expo featuring interactive events for all ages will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. April 21 at the Howell Science Complex, East Carolina University.

The event is free and open to the public. Participants are asked to check in on the Howell breezeway.

Events include live animals and plants, lab activities, natural history story times and biodiversity activities and displays. Sid the Science Kid from UNC TV’s Just for Kids! Program will be on hand as well.

After school children’s programs are welcomed. More than 300 children attended the event last year.

For additional information, visit or contact Heather Vance-Chalcraft at or 252-328-9841.

The Earth Day Expo is hosted by ECU’s Center for Biodiversity and Department of Biology. The event is a North Carolina Science Festival event.


ECU faculty, students to present at conference

Pictured left to right are graduate students Marianne Ayers, Benjamin Wigand, Miranda Guardiola, Anne Saville and Andrea Fulle. (Photo provided by Maria McDonald, teaching instructor of sociology)

Pictured left to right are graduate students Marianne Ayers, Benjamin Wigand, Miranda Guardiola, Anne Saville and Andrea Fulle. (Photo provided by Maria McDonald, teaching instructor of sociology)

East Carolina University will be well represented at the 78th Annual Meeting of the Southern Sociological Society in New Orleans March 25-28.

Presenting at the event are four Department of Sociology faculty members, 10 graduate students, five undergraduates and two alumni.

Several ECU presenters will participate in paper, roundtable and poster sessions to discuss research focusing on gender inequality, including sexual assault. Others are presenting research on a broad range of topics including social impacts of the digital divide, mysogynoir, the impact of student volunteer work, North Carolina’s environmental movement and attitudes toward the Confederate flag.

This year’s meeting theme is “Stalled Revolutions? Gender Inequality in the 21st Century.”

For additional information, contact Marieke Van Willigen, interim chair of sociology, at 252-328-6092 or