ECU researchers to study farming in southwestern Jamaica

East Carolina University researchers Jeff Popke and Scott Curtis (Geography) received three-year funding of $275,000 for their project, “Vulnerability and Resilience Among Small Farmers in Jamaica: An Assessment of Climate Change, Economic Stress, and the Role of Water Management.”

In collaborative research with Doug Gamble of UNC-Wilmington, Curtis and Popke will study southwestern Jamaica to identify the vulnerability and resilience of small scale Caribbean farming in the face of climate change and economic transformation. The research team is addressing water as a mediator between vulnerability and local outcomes. Case study farms will be selected based on irrigation practices: hand watering, drip irrigation, pipe and sprinkler, and greenhouse delivery.

Popke

Curtis

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ECU professor collaborates on research to predict sea-level rise, flooding from hurricanes

East Carolina University researcher Dr. Reide Corbett will join a team of colleagues studying sea-level rise and flooding from hurricanes along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, thanks to a 3-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Corbett

Corbett is a professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and a research scientist in ECU’s Institute for Coastal Science and Policy. He will work closely with the project’s lead investigator, Dr. Benjamin Horton, associate professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Coastal North Carolina may see significant changes in the future due to rising seas and continued tropical cyclone activity,” Corbett said.

“To effectively adapt to a changing coast, we need to better understand the relationship between climate and sea level variability,” he said. “That is one of the main objectives of this study – using the past as a key to the future.”

The project draws upon research Horton, Corbett and other collaborators from ECU, Penn State, The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Finland’s Aalto University School of Engineering and Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research have published during the last several years. The culmination of this work produced a landmark study that resulted in the first reconstruction of sea-level rise in North Carolina over the past 2000 years.

“The foundation of current models for sea-level projections is data from the 20th century, but we’ve started to be able to push further back in time,” Horton said. “This allows us to have a better understanding of the past relationship between climate and sea level and to make better predictions about the future.”

The team will combine sea-level rise scenarios with state-of-the-science hurricane and storm surge modeling at six study sites from Florida to Massachusetts. This will enable them to map coastal flooding for the current climate and the best- and worst-case climate scenarios of the 21st century. These scenarios will be integrated into strategic policy documents to make technical results more accessible for adaptive coastal decision-making.

This spring, the researchers will begin to meet with coastal managers to get input about how such sea-level and flooding projections might best be put to use. In the wake of Hurricane Irene, Corbett said he believes that the public is more aware of the hazards along the coast and is likely interested in future flooding scenarios.

“It’s important that we present our scientific results and products to local communities,” Corbett said. “We will be providing information and products that will aid in future planning.”

For additional information, contact Corbett at 252-328-1367 or corbettd@ecu.edu.

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ECU Whichard professor awarded $240,000 NEH grant

 East Carolina University professor Dr. Gary A. Stringer received a $240,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for his project, “An Edition of John Donne’s Songs and Sonnets and a Further Expansion of Digital Donne.”

Dr. Gary Stringer

The grant is the tenth since 1986 that NEH has awarded to support the Variorum Edition of the Poetry of John Donne, which Stringer serves as general editor. The online Variorium provides a digest of scholarly and critical commentary on Donne’s poetry. The award includes an additional $30,000 in federal matching funds.

Stringer said he was pleased to have received the award. “It testifies to the confidence in what we’re doing shared by the agency and by our peers in the profession who reviewed the application, especially since it’s the tenth in a series of such awards that we’ve received. I think all of us in the Varirorum project are gratified by that kind of validation,” he said.

During the three-year period of the grant, Stringer and the Variorum staff will work on the three-part volume of Donne’s “Songs and Sonnets,” with plans to publish two of the three volumes during the grant period. They will also work on an expansion of the project’s web site DigitalDonne, the Online Variorum, at http://donnevariorum.tamu.edu.

Stringer, whose most recent appointment was research professor of English at Texas A&M University, joined the ECU faculty for the 2011-12 academic year as the David Julian and Virginia Suther Whichard Distinguished Professor in the Humanities, housed within the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, and as a visiting professor in the Department of English. The Whichard Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities is an endowed professorship made possible through a donation by the Whichard family in honor of David Julian and Virginia Suther Whichard of Greenville.

As part of the Whichard Professorship, Stringer will teach one course each semester in the ECU Department of English. This fall, he is teaching a graduate-level course on the satirical writings of John Donne. In the spring, he will teach a graduate-level course related to digital humanities.

Stringer received his Ph.D., M.A. and B.A. degrees in English from the University of Oklahoma. During his nearly 50-year academic career, he has held faculty appointments at the University of Oklahoma; Oklahoma State University; Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA; the University of Southern Mississippi; and most recently, Texas A&M University.

Stringer is the founding general editor of the Variorum, an 11-volume work drawing on the collaborative labors of nearly 40 American, Canadian, British, Dutch, South African and Japanese scholars. He has authored or edited 12 volumes, including four volumes of the Variorum, and he has published more than three dozen articles within his field of study. In addition, Stringer has presented nearly 50 papers at professional meetings and conferences in the U.S. and abroad.

Stringer has received faculty service awards and research grants from many of the institutions where he has taught. Also, since 1986, Stringer has been the recipient of grants totaling more than $1.5 million from the NEH.

For additional information, contact Stringer at stringerg@ecu.edu.

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Study examines effectiveness of electronic health messaging

 

Dr. Alice Richman (Photo by Chuck Baldwin)


By Kathy Muse

East Carolina University health education professor Dr. Alice Richman received a Merck & Company grant of $115,000 to study whether electronic reminders and educational messages might enhance HPV vaccine utilization, adherence and knowledge.

Volunteers will be culled from male and female students between 18 and 26 years of age who visit ECU Student Health Services for their first dose of the HPV vaccine.

“One group of randomly assigned students requesting the HPV vaccine will receive the current standard of care – paper cards with their next vaccination date written in,” Richman said. “Another group will receive electronic reminders and educational messages.”

The HPV vaccine consists of a three-dose series over a six-month time period. Students in the second group will receive either an electronic message via e-mail or a text message each month for seven months.

Funded by Merck & Company, the study begins in October and will continue for more than  a year.

Richman is an assistant professor in the Department of Health Education and Promotion, College of Health and Human Performance.

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FoodMASTER program receives $1.27 million NIH grant

A $1.27 million grant to the East Carolina University FoodMASTER program will help middle school students learn mathematical and science concepts through activities based with food.

ECU nutrition science professors Melani Duffrin and Virginia Carraway-Stage will use the funds to create and test a FoodMASTER curriculum in seventh grade classrooms in eastern North Carolina. They will incorporate hands-on activities such as food preparation and handling to help students understand science, math and nutrition.

Duffrin said the new program will “help seventh grade teachers pull fresh math and science resources out of their bag.”

Dr. Melani Duffrin

“Food activities are a natural, fun way to help students apply math and science to their everyday lives,” she said.

The grant will also fund a FoodMASTER summer camp led by Jacqueline De Chabert-Rios (Hospitality Management), David Rivera (Hospitality Management) and Tammy Lee (Science Education).

Duffrin and Sharon Phillips, an Ohio elementary school teacher, created FoodMASTER in 1999, to bring difficult concepts to life through common household items such as measuring cups and spoons, cereal, fruits, vegetables and milk. A food-based curriculum for 3rd to 5th graders has already been developed.

The FoodMASTER program supports learning that stimulates interest in science and math, advances public understanding of health issues and encourages the next generation of health and science professionals. With an emphasis on reducing health disparities, the program’s K-12 projects target minorities and students in rural and underserved communities.

The grant funding comes from a 2011 Science Education Partnership Award from the National Center for Research Resources, a division of the National Institutes for Health.

The ECU Center for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, directed by Margaret Wirth, will support teacher training and outreach for the program. The North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research, led by president Suzanne Wilkinson, will support the project’s teacher training component.

Learn more about FoodMASTER at www.FoodMASTER.org. For additional information about the project, contact Melani Duffrin at 252-328-5698 or duffrinm@ecu.edu.

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