Judges sought for Research and Creative Achievement Week

The East Carolina University Division of Research and Graduate Studies is seeking judges for Research and Creative Achievement Week 2013.

RCAW showcases undergraduate and graduate student research and creative achievement. Graduate student day is scheduled for April 8 and undergraduate student day is April 10

Judges are needed in all categories.

The division is using a short Qualtrics survey to collect information from potential judges to help in scheduling.  Individuals who are willing to volunteer are asked to fill out the survey at http://blog.ecu.edu/sites/rcaw/list-of-judges/.  The site also has judging criteria and other information.


ECU students share research on graduate education day

ECU graduate students Bradley Eidschun, Daniel Zapf and Mahealani Kaneshiro-Pineiro represented East Carolina University in North Carolina’s Graduate Education Day May 23 in Raleigh. (Contributed photo)


 Three East Carolina University graduate students displayed their research at the North Carolina Capitol Building in Raleigh May 23 as part of North Carolina’s Graduate Education Week, May 20-26.

Mahealani Kaneshiro-Pineiro, Bradley Eidschun and Daniel Zapf from ECU joined students from Duke, Wake Forest and other UNC system universities at the event, which was designed to recognize the contributions that graduate education makes to the scientific, cultural, and economic needs of the state and global communities.

The three ECU students set up posters highlighting their research projects. They met with ECU Chief of Staff Phillip Rogers, the university’s liaison with the state legislature, and discussed their research with a number of elected officials, including Rep. Marian McLawhorn, Rep. Bill Cook, Rep. G.L. Pridgen, Rep. Tim Spear and Sen. Stan White.

Additional information about the students follows:


A native of Oahu, Hawaii, Kaneshiro-Pineiro is a PhD candidate in coastal resources management. She has a master’s degree in zoology and a bachelor’s in marine science from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Hilo, respectively. She has conducted research throughout the Pacific, including Midway Atoll and Okinawa, Japan. Her research interests include jellyfish ecology and jellyfish-human interactions. Kaneshiro-Pineiro presented research on the biology and tourism effects of Sea Nettle jellyfish. Her faculty mentor is David Kimmel, assistant professor of biology in the Harriot College of Arts and Sciences and the Institute for Coastal Science and Policy.


Arizona native Eidschun has just completed a master’s degree in mathematics at ECU and holds a bachelor’s in mathematics and computer science from UNC-Pembroke. His research examined a method for modeling tsunami and rogue waves, as well as the impact these waves could have on the North Carolina coast. ECU mathematics professors David Pravica and Mike Spurr served as Eidschun’s mentors.


Master’s degree student Zapf, of Rochester, N.Y., has a bachelor’s degree in environmental biology from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.  He has worked for the Illinois Natural History Survey studying fisheries ecology in Lake Michigan. Zapf’s research examined critical river herring nursery habitats in the Albemarle Sound using otolith microchemistry. His faculty mentor is Roger Rulifson, professor of biology in the Harriot College of Arts and Sciences and the Institute for Coastal Science and Policy

Accompanying the students were their faculty mentors, ECU Graduate School Dean Paul Gemperline, along with Graduate School Associate Deans Thomas J. McConnell and Belinda Patterson. Gemperline is the president of the North Carolina Conference of Graduate Schools for 2011-2012.

Governor Bev Perdue signed a proclamation in January declaring May 23 as Graduate Education Day and May 20-26 as Graduate Education Week in North Carolina.

Faculty, administrators and students were among the ECU attendees at Graduate Education Day.


Researchers seek volunteers for generation gap investigation

East Carolina University child development and family relations professor Dr. Mark White is among a group of researchers who are investigating whether the generation gap truly exists.

Researchers in The Generations Project are seeking volunteers to complete a survey that should highlight generational differences related to the economy, society, workplace, family and relationships.

Dr. Mark White

White said that the concept of a generation gap is generally accepted.  “We talk about the silent generation, baby boomers, the millennials, and generation x and y,” he said.

“However, there are very little empirical data documenting clear and consistent generational differences,” White said.

White said that The Generations Project is among the first research studies nationwide that examines similarities and differences between the generations.

“The findings will provide insights into some of the larger societal trends that may play out in government, business, education, and families. The results we obtain will provide data to inform educational and business practices, workplace interactions, and public policy,” he said.

The researchers are seeking volunteers to take a survey related to the economy, society, workplace, family and relationships. Participants of all ages are asked to log in to take a 30- to 45-minute survey by Dec. 1 at http://www.generations-project.com/index.html.

Survey participants are anonymous and will not be contacted.

In addition to White, the Generation Project researchers include Drs. W. Jared DuPree, assistant professor in family therapy at the University of Houston – Clear Lake; Tim Rarick, Brigham Young University – Idaho; Katherine Hertlein, assistant professor in the marriage and family therapy program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Mary Short, associate professor of clinical psychology at the University of Houston – Clear Lake; Sharon Hall, professor of psychology at the University of Houston – Clear Lake. White is associate professor of child development and family relations in the ECU College of Human Ecology.


For additional information, contact White at 252-737-2076 or by e-mail,


ECU study examines sleep and fatigue in chronically ill mothers

Carmel White

Mark White


Health care providers should be particularly attentive to supporting high quality sleep for chronically ill mothers of young children, according to a new study by East Carolina University researchers.

Professors Carmel White and Mark White in ECU’s Department of Child Development and Family Relations, examined the sleep patterns of chronically ill mothers with young children to determine how they manage sleep and fatigue. The researchers questioned 103 mothers with multiple sclerosis, 68 with rheumatoid arthritis and 91 with normal health about their sleep, fatigue, pain and levels of depression. All participants had at least once child between the age of 12 months and 45 months.

The researchers surveyed the mothers about their problems falling asleep; trouble sleeping after being awakened; sleep interruptions from their young children; average hours of sleep; and fatigue during the day.

“Understanding how sleep relates to depression and fatigue in mothers with MS or RA is important for mothers, families and health care providers,” said Dr. Carmel White.

She said families and health care providers should be sensitive to the importance of high quality sleep, doing what they can to support the mothers.

“Health care professionals should be especially sensitive to both pain and depression in mothers with MS or RA to ensure that these two common problems are not interfering with mothers’ sleep,” she said.

Mothers with chronic illnesses reported more daytime drowsiness, with reduced sleep quality and quantity especially noted in mothers experiencing a flareup of RA symptoms. Chronically ill mothers reported mother problems going to sleep and staying asleep, but were less likely to experience nighttime sleep interruptions caused by their children. The researchers speculated that other family members might be caring for the young children during the night, knowing that the mother has difficulty falling back to sleep.

Mothers with MS had the highest correlation of sleep problems correlated to fatigue, suggesting that health care providers who work with MS patients should include sleep assessments.

The researchers said that women with chronic illnesses often experience a great deal of fatigue, and parenting young children can add to the exhaustion.

Their research, “Sleep Problems and Fatigue in Chronically Ill Women,” appeared in the July issue of Behaviorial Sleep Medicine. Full text of the article may be viewed at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21722010.


For additional information, contact Carmel White at 252-737-2075 or whitec@ecu.edu or Mark Shite at 252-737-2076 or whitem@ecu.edu.

The Department of Child Development and Family Relations is located within the ECU College of Human Ecology.


ECU faculty research draws attention in Charlotte museum

Research by East Carolina University faculty at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Charlotte was featured in the museum’s blog at http://nashermuseumblogs.

Dr. Cynthia Bickley-Green, associate professor in the School of Art and Design, and Dr. Nicholas Murray, director of the Visual Motor Laboratory in the College of Health and Human Performance, developed the research. The study tracks eye movement in response to artwork, exploring relations between oral prompts, cognition and eye-tracking patterns.  A qualitative questionnaire gathers information about the beholders’ aesthetic response to the experience.

The study is part of a larger group of museum and gallery studies that began in the Greenville Museum of Art. It is entitled “Mobile Eye-Tracker (MET) Gaze Patterns Generated by Artworks and Museum Locations.” Results should provide data that may help researchers understand people’s thinking patterns, which could be applicable for related disabilities and overall improved communication.

The full blog post on the research is available at http://nashermuseumblogs.org/?p=4211.



Grant aids study of prostate cancer protein

With the help of a grant of more than $400,000, Dr. Maria Ruiz-Echevarria is looking at ways a protein could help the prognosis, treatment and/or, detection of prostate cancer.  Ruiz-Echevarria, a scientist and assistant professor of hematology/oncology, received the three-year, $423,803 grant from the National Institutes of Health in December. The funds will help her and her team determine the role of the TMEFF2 protein in prostate-specific tumor development. TMEFF2 is a protein involved in prostate cancer.

Read more…


Author Recognition

Registration is open for the 20011 Health Sciences Author Recognition Awards.

The program, hosted annually by Laupus Library, provides Health Sciences faculty and staff recognition for published research and scholarly contributions to an area of study.

All Health Sciences faculty and staff who have been published in books and peer reviewed journals between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011 are eligible to register.

An awards ceremony will be held Nov. 15 at the Greenville Hilton.

For details on eligibility, registration forms and deadlines, visit the Health Sciences Author Recognition web site at www.ecu.edu/laupuslibrary/HSAR.

Contact Roger Russell at russellr@ecu.edu or (252) 744-3215 for more information.


Bioengineered Veins

Bioengineered veins could help patients needing bypass surgery, dialysis

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. (2/2/11)–Thanks to research involving experts from East Carolina University, other universities and a Morrisville-based biotechnology firm, the day when a surgeon can pull a new human vein off the shelf for use in life-saving vascular surgeries is now one step closer to reality.


Dr. Alan P. Kypson

“This new type of bioengineered vein allows them to be easily stored in hospitals so they are readily available to surgeons at the time of need,” said Dr. Alan P. Kypson, a cardiothoracic surgeon, associate professor at the Brody School of Medicine at ECU and an author of the paper. “Currently, grafting using the patient’s own veins remains the gold standard. But, harvesting a vein from the patient’s leg can lead to complications, and for patients who don’t have suitable veins, the bioengineered veins could serve as an important new way to provide a coronary bypass.”

The American Heart Association Update on Heart Disease Statistics reports that in 2007, in the United States, surgeons performed more than 400,000 coronary bypass procedures. Patients requiring bypass surgery may not have suitable veins or arteries available and are not candidates for synthetic grafts because of the size needed for grafting.

The bioengineered veins also show promise for patients on kidney hemodialysis. According to the National Kidney Foundation, 320,000 patients are on chronic hemodialysis. Each year, 110,000 new patients develop renal failure requiring dialysis, and the number is growing by 3 percent a year. More than half of dialysis patients lack the healthy veins necessary and must undergo an arteriovenous graft placement to have bloodstream access for hemodialysis.

Most arteriovenous grafts that are placed for hemodialysis access are made of a synthetic material, which suffers from significant drawbacks including a high rate of infection, a propensity for blockages due to clotting and a thickening of blood vessels known as intimal hyperplasia, said Dr. Jeffrey H. Lawson, a surgeon and associate professor at Duke University School of Medicine and an author of the research.

“Due to high complication rates, each A.V. dialysis graft requires an average of 2.8 interventions over its lifetime just to keep it functioning,” Lawson said. “Hence, there is a huge clinical need for a functionally superior, off-the-shelf A.V. graft that suffers from fewer complications than current materials.”

Lawson has served as a consultant for Humacyte and has received research support from the company through Duke.

In this research, scientists generated bioengineered veins in a bioreactor — a device designed to support a biological environment — and then stored them up to 12 months in refrigerated conditions. The bioengineered veins, 3 millimeters to 6 millimeters in diameter, demonstrated excellent blood flow and resistance to blockage in large animal models for up to a year.

Scientists from Duke, ECU, Yale University and Humacyte conducted the research, and Humacyte, a leader in regenerative medicine, funded it. Overseeing the research and serving as senior author of the article was Dr. Laura Niklason, founder of Humacyte and professor of anesthesiology and biomedical engineering at Yale. Niklason is an authority in regenerative medicine for arterial engineering and led the team that recently created a functioning rat lung in a laboratory.

Shannon L. M. Dahl, senior director of scientific operations and co-founder of Humacyte, is lead author on the paper. “Not only are bioengineered veins available at the time of patient need, but the ability to generate a significant number of grafts from a cell bank will allow for a reduction in the final production costs, as compared to other regenerative medicine strategies,” Dahl said. “While there is still considerable research to be done before a product is available for widespread use, we are highly encouraged by the results outlined in this paper and eager to move forward with additional study.”

Humacyte, a privately held company, is primarily focused on developing products for vascular disease and for dermal filling and soft tissue repair. The company uses its innovative and proprietary platform technology to engineer human extracellular matrix-based tissues that can be shaped into tubes, sheets or particulate conformations with properties similar to native tissues.

These can then be used in many specific applications, with the potential to significantly improve treatment outcomes for a variety of patients, including those with diabetes and on hemodialysis. The company’s proprietary technologies are designed to result in off-the-shelf products that can be used in any patient.



Video Games help Depression

Study: Casual video games demonstrate ability to reduce depression and anxiety

GREENVILLE, N.C. and SEATTLE   (Feb. 16, 2011)   —   A new study conducted at East Carolina University shows casual video games help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in people with clinical depression.

ECU’s Psychopsysiology Lab and Biofeedback Clinic released the findings of the one-year, randomized, controlled clinical study today.

Nearly 60 subjects, half of whom served as controls, all meeting the criteria of clinical depression, participated in the study, which involved three family-friendly, non-violent puzzle games: Bejeweled 2®, Peggle and Bookworm Adventures. All of the games are made by PopCap Games, underwriter of the study.

“The results of this study clearly demonstrate the intrinsic value of certain casual games in terms of significant, positive effects on the moods and anxiety levels of people suffering from any level of depression,” said Dr. Carmen Russoniello, director of the ECU Psychophysiology Lab and Biofeedback Clinic, who oversaw the study along with previous studies involving the same games’ effects on stress levels.


“In my opinion the findings support the possibility of using prescribed casual video games for treating depression and anxiety as an adjunct to, or perhaps even a replacement for, standard therapies including medication,” he said.

Researchers used state-of-the-art technologies including psychophysiology, biochemical and psychological measurements. The experimental group experienced an average reduction in depression symptoms of 57 percent.  The study, the first such research ever to measure the efficacy of video games in reducing depression and anxiety, also found significant reduction in anxiety, as well as improvements in all aspects of mood, among study subjects who played the casual video games.

Russoniello said research indicated games had both short term (after 30 minutes of game play) and long term (after one month) effects when compared to the control group. He said the results offer convincing evidence casual video games should be widely available to those who suffer depression.

“Given that only 25 percent of people who suffer from depression are receiving treatment, it seems prudent to make these low cost, readily accessible casual games video games available to those who need them,” he said. “They should be made available at health clinics, community centers, online ‘medical sites’ and given out by therapists as a means of intervention.”

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates 20.9 million American adults, or 9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 or older, suffer from a mood disorder. More than two-thirds of those — 14.8 million U.S. adults — suffer major depression, according to NIMH. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for people aged 15 to 44. Depressive disorders often occur along with anxiety disorders, and approximately 40 million American adults (about 18 percent of all U.S. adults) have an anxiety disorder.