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


ECU online business program ranks nationally in value

Best-Value-Online-MBA-Programs-of-2015East Carolina University’s online MBA program has earned top marks for educational quality and value, ranking 28th nationally based on 2015 rankings from Value Colleges.
The online information source also ranks ECU as a Top 50 Best Value Online Business School, placing it at No. 37 among other undergraduate programs.

The rankings considered and measured all AACSB-accredited business schools in the U.S. according to their complete cost, average return on investment and average starting salary for graduates.

The online program in the ECU College of Business has grown from a single course offering in 1998 to undergraduate and graduate degrees in several concentrations. Of the nearly 700 students enrolled in the MBA program for the fall 2014 semester, 75 percent attended part-time and selected online classes.

Top-Business-Online-Undergraduate-2015“We’re proud that our online business program continues to rank among the nation’s top schools for the best educational quality and value,” said Dr. Stan Eakins, dean of the ECU College of Business. “The ECU College of Business has pioneered the field of distance education, and we continue to innovate – providing an engaging learning environment to the leaders of today and tomorrow while expanding business knowledge and serving our communities.”

For more information about Value Colleges’ Online MBA rankings, visit

For more information about Value Colleges’ Top 50 Best Value Online Undergraduate Business Schools of 2015, visit


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



Fenich earns national award from PCMA Education Foundation

ECU hospitality professor Dr. George Fenich receives the Educator Honoree Award at the 2015 Professional Convention Management Association awards ceremony. (Contributed phot)

ECU hospitality leadership professor Dr. George Fenich receives the Educator Honoree Award at the 2015 Professional Convention Management Association awards ceremony. (Contributed phot)

East Carolina University hospitality leadership professor Dr. George Fenich received the Educator Honoree Award at the 2015 Professional Convention Management Association awards ceremony April 8 in Washington, D.C.

The honorees have “career paths and accomplishments that both inspire and guide their peer communities,” said PCMA president and CEO Deborah Sexton. “While their past leadership has been instrumental in advancing our industry, their present and future leadership endeavors will help us ensure conventions, trade shows and conferences continue to serve as the critical adult education channel.”

Fenich has published more than 40 research articles and studies, including the Millennials study related by PCMA in 2012. He has authored/edited more than 10 textbook publications, contributed to chapters in six other textbooks, published more than 40 peer-reviewed journal articles, contributed more than 30 articles to conference proceedings and presented papers at more than 70 professional meetings. He served 15 years in the hospitality industry before joining higher education in 1985.

Fenich has also served, and continues to serve, on a number of industry-related committees, including the PCMA Faculty Task Force, PCMA Student Task Force, Meeting Professionals International Foundation Board, Destination Marketing Association International Faculty Task Force, and the PCMA Annual Meeting Program Committee.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from SUNY-Cortland, a master’s from Rennsalaer Polytechnic University and a Ph.D. from Rutgers University.

Fenich was one of three selected nationwide for this year’s award.


–Jennifer Brezina, College of Business



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


ECU Alumni Association names award winners

The East Carolina Alumni Association has announced the recipients of the 2015 Robert H. Wright Alumni Leadership Award. These five students will be presented with the award during commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 8.

The most prestigious award for undergraduates at East Carolina University, the Wright award recognizes academic achievement, service to both the university and community, and demonstrated leadership. Recipients are recognized as those who will make a positive impact on their respective professions and communities.

In addition to receiving the Wright medallion at commencement, recipients are given a lifetime membership in the East Carolina Alumni Association.

Recipients are:

  • Ajay Ajmera of Greenville, NC; biology and chemistry double-major
  • Matthew Ryan Baucom of Marshville, NC; chemistry and biochemistry double-major
  • Jessica Katlyn Jewell of Clayton, NC; communication major
  • Shayna Nitin Mooney of Winterville, NC; neuroscience and international studies double-major
  • Kristi Noelle Wilkerson of Mastic, NY; nutrition major.



Rogers Awarded Technology Transfer Scholarship

East Carolina University Technology Transfer Fellow Dr. Carlyle Rogers, a 2013 graduate of the Brody School of Medicine, was honored for creativity and innovation in his career.

Carlyle Rogers

Carlyle Rogers

Rogers, of Williamston, was awarded the 2015 Howard Bremer Scholarship by the Association of University Technology Managers. The award supports students and professionals new to the field by covering the cost of travel and registration at the organization’s annual meeting.

Rogers attended the organization’s 2015 conference in New Orleans, where he focused his attention on crowdfunding, licensing and valuation of university technologies and copyright issues related to mobile applications and software.

As a technology transfer fellow at ECU, Rogers supports promising new inventions and promotes the university’s culture of innovation and entrepreneurism. “In every university there exists new and revolutionary inventions,” he said, but proper execution is critical to get the inventions from the idea to a commercial product.

“That is where technology transfer becomes important; it serves as the vehicle for executing the development of university inventions to commercial products,” Rogers said.

The role ECU plays in supporting technology transfer is critical because so many eastern North Carolina counties face a declining population, with potential leaders moving away from the area instead of reinvesting in the region, he said.

“To change this pattern, ECU and eastern North Carolina must look to innovation and research as a means to create new industries, new jobs and a way to strengthen the economic fabric” of the region.

Rogers holds a Ph.D. in pharmacology and toxicology from the Brody School of Medicine and a B.S. in biology from ECU.

For additional information on ECU’s Office of Technology Transfer, contact Marti Van Scott, director of the Office of Technology Transfer, at 252-328-9545 or


College of Nursing honors 2015 Hall of Fame inductees

Individuals honored at the ECU College of Nursing Hall of Fame induction ceremony pictured with College of Nursing Dean Sylvia Brown, far right, are Rita Coggins, Roseanne Leahy, distinguished alumna Dianne Marshburn, Madge Dews Thompson, Michelle Skipper, Becky Whitley and Pam Reis.

Individuals honored at the ECU College of Nursing Hall of Fame induction ceremony pictured with College of Nursing Dean Sylvia Brown, far right, are Rita Coggins, Roseanne Leahy, distinguished alumna Dianne Marshburn, Madge Dews Thompson, Michelle Skipper, Becky Whitley and Pam Reis.

The East Carolina University College of Nursing inducted nine members to its Hall of Fame during a ceremony held March 6 at the Hilton in Greenville. The event, which also recognized the college’s 2015 Distinguished Alumna, honored outstanding contributors to nursing in the areas of education, administration, research and practice.

This year’s class includes inductees from a range of impressive backgrounds, including a widely acclaimed Chicago-based speaker and author, the chief nursing officer of a major health system, two members of the college’s first graduating class, the former editor of the military’s Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook and several esteemed College of Nursing faculty members.

Not only does the Hall of Fame honor prominent nursing professionals, it also has raised approximately $85,000 for a merit-based student scholarship fund since its inception in 2011. Thanks to this program, the college will award its fifth Hall of Fame Scholarship this fall. This year’s recipient, Kelsey Leonard, a master’s student in the nurse anesthetist program, was recognized at the event.

“This Hall of Fame not only recognizes our outstanding leaders, but is another way to give back to future generations of nurses,” said Dr. Sylvia Brown, dean of the College of Nursing.

The 2015 inductees join a list of 70 Hall of Fame members representing eight states. Each new member receives a flame-shaped award that resembles the lamp illustrated on the college’s nursing pin. The lamp and its associated flame symbolize a commitment to service and a vibrant life.

This year’s Hall of Fame class:

  • Barbee Bancroft
  • Rita Coggins
  • Jeanette Jones
  • Roseanne Leahy
  • Pam Reis
  • Michelle Skipper
  • Jacquelyn Jones Stone
  • Madge Dews Thompson
  • Becky Whitley

On a night set aside for celebrating influential nurse leaders, the college also recognized the recipient of its 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award. This year’s awardee is Dr. Dianne Marshburn, who has three degrees from the ECU College of Nursing. Marshburn recently retired from a 33-year career at Vidant Medical Center, where she served as director of clinical research at Vidant since 2008.

Learn more about the Hall of Fame by visiting