Author Archives: Morgan Tilton

ITCS employee named Inclusivity Award winner

Lisa Barry, a member of the East Carolina University Information Technology and Computing Services (ITCS) department, was one of four women who received the Internet2 Inclusivity Award at the annual Internet2 Global Summit in San Diego earlier this month.

Barry is a network analyst at ECU and is responsible for administration of enterprise-level network services including firewalls, VPN systems, intrusion detection and prevention systems.

Lisa Barry, Internet2 Inclusivity Award winner

Lisa Barry, Internet2 Inclusivity Award winner. (contributed photo)

Internet2 is a nonprofit technology community that was founded by the nation’s leading higher education institutions. The group serves more than 300 universities in the U.S. The Inclusivity Award is a scholarship awarded to women in the information technology field to encourage and support their professional growth.

“As soon as I read the purpose of the Internet2 Inclusivity Award was to support emerging information technology professions by providing an opportunity to build the knowledge capital of their institutions and help diversify technology, I knew Lisa was a worthy candidate,” said Andy Anderson, director of ECU ITCS network services.

The recipients of the award have access to mentors and a network of women IT and technology professionals and participate in discussions about the latest innovations and best practices for their campuses.

“The Internet2 Inclusivity Scholarship was designed to celebrate and promote women working within the information technology field. It is an honor not only to receive the scholarship but also to represent ECU at the Global Summit in San Diego,” said Barry. “Participating in the summit is a wonderful way to bring back new ideas and technologies to our university. Opportunities such as this allow us to grow and expand the efforts ITCS is putting forth to promote research and ensure ECU becomes the next great national university.”

In addition to Barry, Gladys Andino of Purdue University, Stephanie Collins from Virginia Tech and Manisha Kanodia of the University of California were named recipients of the award.

“The value of Lisa attending this conference has already become evident.  She gathered a tremendous amount of information related to Internet2 services that support research and we are in the process of determining which may be a good fit for ECU,” said Anderson.

 

-by Jamie Smith, ECU News Services

Health and Human Performance inducts six to the Wall of Fame

Six people were inducted on April 20 to the East Carolina University College of Health and Human Performance Marvin and Joyce Johnson Wall of Fame.

The inductees were Linner Griffin and Robin McManus, who were both inducted posthumously, along with Jannis Shea, Thom Skalko, Jerry Tolley and Odell Welborn. Welborn died May 10.

Griffin, professor emeritus at ECU, served on the ECU faculty from 1990 until her retirement in 2013. She served in a variety of roles including associate professor of social work and associate dean for graduate studies, interim dean of the School of Social Work and Criminal Justice, and associate provost for academic program planning and development.

McManus was an instructor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science and lead teacher in the infant classroom of the child development laboratory, now known as the Nancy Darden Child Development Center. She helped secure the center’s accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and a five-star child care license.

Shea’s teaching career spanned 37 years including two stints as acting chair for the Department of Child Development and Family Relations and as assistant to the dean for Helen Grove. She taught the first introduction to marriage and family course offered in home economics and every child development and family science course before the family therapy program was established. She served on the committee that developed the ECU code of operations and designed and helped implement the first interdisciplinary minor in gerontology at ECU.

The following people were recently inducted to the College of Health and Human Performance Marvin and Joyce Johnson Wall of Fame: from left, Jerry McManus representing the late Robin McManus, Bobby Griffin representing the late Linner Griffin, Thom Skalko, Jannis Shea and Jerry Tolley. Inductee Odell Welborn is not pictured.

The following people were recently inducted to the College of Health and Human Performance Marvin and Joyce Johnson Wall of Fame: from left, Jerry McManus representing the late Robin McManus, Bobby Griffin representing the late Linner Griffin, Thom Skalko, Jannis Shea and Jerry Tolley. Inductee Odell Welborn is not pictured. (contributed photo)

Skalko served as a professor at ECU from 1996-2017 including as chair of the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies from 1996-2004. He directed the ECU Horizons Day Treatment program, providing intervention for youth with severe emotional and behavioral disorders. Skalko collaborated with educators in South Africa to establish the country’s first degree in recreational therapy.

Tolley has been an active member of the college’s Dean’s Advancement Council for decades and a longtime supporter of ECU athletics. A track and football athlete at ECU, Tolley coached football at Elon College, where he led the team to national titles in 1980 and 1981. He held academic and administrative positions at Elon University and served as associate vice president of Laboratory Corporation of America. He is a nationally known sports author and serves as the mayor of Elon.

Welborn, faculty emeritus at ECU, coached the Pirate wrestling, track and football teams between 1960 and 1992. He led the football team after Coach Clarence Stasavich had a heart attack in 1963. Welborn posted an undefeated record as interim head coach and continued as an assistant after Stasavich’s return, helping the Pirates win two consecutive bowl games. He was inducted in the ECU College of Education’s Educators Hall of Fame in 2010. He taught health, physical education, driver education and traffic safety for decades.

The inductees joined 30 outstanding men and women already recognized on the College of Health and Human Performance Wall of Fame, which is on the first floor of Rivers Building.

The wall was established with a $50,000 donation in 2015 in honor of Joyce Johnson in support of the Department of Human Development and Family Science.

Marvin and Joyce Johnson met in the early 1950s at ECU where Marvin majored in physical education and Joyce in home economics. Marvin Johnson was drafted into the Korean War and Joyce Johnson completed her degree. Following the war, they were married and raised their family in Atlanta.

Funds from the inductions help students in a variety of ways from membership fees for professional organizations and development to academic programming and events for outstanding seniors.

Angela Lamson, associate dean for research in the college and professor of human development and family science, served as master of ceremonies for the event.

 

-by Crystal Baity, ECU News Services

ECU’s Harriot College recognizes exceptional staff

The Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Staff Council hosted its second annual Staff Awards and Recognition Ceremony May 11 in Harvey Hall. The event honors all dedicated THCAS staff members and recognizes the hard work they engage in on a day-to-day basis.

“Our college has the best staff at ECU,” said Dean William M. Downs. “We could not lead in all the categories in which we lead without them. I am really proud of this group.”

•Julie Marik, Chris Bonnerup and Chastidy Ridley were honored with Harriot College’s 2018 staff excellence awards and professional development grant at a special ceremony May 11.

Julie Marik, Chris Bonnerup and Chastidy Ridley were honored with Harriot College’s 2018 staff excellence awards and professional development grant at a special ceremony May 11.
(Photos by Rob Taylor)

During the ceremony, two staff members received Staff Excellence Awards, and one staff member received the Professional Development Grant. The awards acknowledge administrative or technical staff within the college who show exemplary professionalism and go above and beyond the requirements of their position, while the grant is awarded to a person who is actively pursuing career advancement within his or her field.

Julie Marik, research specialist in the Department of Biology, who serves as greenhouse manager and BIOL 1201 and 2251 lab coordinator, was awarded the Senior Staff Excellence Award. Chastidy Ridley, lead administrative support associate in the Department of Political Science, was awarded the Junior Staff Excellence Award. Chris Bonnerup, advanced research specialist in the Department of Physics and engineer for the ECU Accelerator Laboratory, was awarded the Professional Development Grant.

“I feel very fortunate to work with such a wonderful group of people every day, and I appreciate all they do for me,” said Marik, who is an alumna of ECU (’07) and has worked at the university for 10 years. “I work with a great group of fellow staff and amazing teachers and researchers who are doing very cool science.”

Ridley also is an ECU alumna (’14). She has served as the lead administrative associate in the Department of Political Science for nearly two years and worked with the staff in the Department of Biology from 2015-2016.

•Gift baskets from the THCAS Staff Council were given to the three award winners.

Gift baskets from the THCAS Staff Council were given to the three award winners.

“I am humbled that I have colleagues who think so highly of me. It is always great to have reassurance that you are doing your best, and I feel awards like this do just that,” said Ridley. “Working within the college, I have gained great relationships and friendships. I also enjoy that I now get to supervise student office assistants, as I was once one myself. I find it rewarding that this comes full circle.”

Prior to the ceremony, many colleagues provided words of praise in their nominations of the candidates.

“Julie brings to her challenging position a remarkable combination of professionalism, expertise, strong work ethic, creativity, positive attitude and a desire to help and serve,” wrote a supporter of Marik. “Julie truly exemplifies our Pirate motto, Servire.”

Another nominator wrote, “Julie’s dedication to undergraduate success is evident by her excellent mentorship of TAs and her willingness to take on pedagogical changes to the laboratory courses she oversees.”

A colleague of Ridley’s commented, “Chastidy Ridley is a prime example of the Pirates that we like to see coming from East Carolina University. She was a dedicated student and student worker, and now we are fortunate to have her as a staff member for THCAS. She works tirelessly to ensure that her chair, faculty and students are assisted.”

“Ms. Ridley comes to work each day with a positive attitude and works to help raise the spirits of others around her,” commented another colleague. “She makes it clear she cares about others and will go out of her way to help students and faculty in any way she can.”

Door prizes donated by campus and community organizations were raffled off to attendees of the event.

Door prizes donated by campus and community organizations were raffled off to attendees of the event.

Bonnerup, winner of the professional development grant, began his career with ECU in 2004 as a research instructor in radiation oncology at the Brody School of Medicine. He moved to Harriot College’s Department of Physics in 2013.

“I’m very thankful for the college to offer these funds, as specialized training and continuing education opportunities are not readily available in Greenville,” said Bonnerup.

Bonnerup will use his $1,200 grant to attend this year’s annual Symposium of Northeastern Accelerator Personnel in Madison, Wisconsin. The conference focuses on the interest of the people who use, build, maintain and repair particle accelerators for academic research and commercial purposes.

“This year’s meeting happens to be a great time to attend, in that the itinerary will include a VIP tour of National Electrostatics Corporation, the manufacturer of the ECU particle accelerator,” said Bonnerup. “The venue is also a great opportunity to meet with highly experienced users of these machines, discuss problems they have experienced and techniques to address and solve them. I hope to bring these skills and techniques back to ECU and use them to provide enhanced engineering and user support for the ECU accelerator lab.”

 

-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications

ECU Club Baseball to defend World Series title

East Carolina University’s Club Baseball team will defend its National Club Baseball Association World Series title in Holly Springs. ECU is ranked No. 1 in the country, but was given the No. 2 seed in the tournament and will open play against Penn State at 2:45 p.m. on May 25.

The Pirates won the 2017 NCBA World Series championship with a 1-0 win over Central Florida in 10 innings and makes its sixth World Series appearance since 2011. The ECU club team won the title in 2011 and 2017.

ECU advanced to the World Series by claiming its fifth straight Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship, defeating the University of Maryland 15-8 in Martinsville, Virginia, and is once again strong favorites to defend the title.

“After losing 18 seniors and all three starting pitchers from last year’s team and with only two starters returning in the lineup, I am pretty excited and proud of the success we had this year,” said Ben Fox, head coach of the ECU Club Baseball Team. “This is something we have never experienced in the history of our program. The last time we won the World Series it took us two years to get back. So to be going back after losing so many guys, to defend our national championship makes me extremely proud of my team and coaching staff, all their hard work and dedication has paid off.”

Following last year’s championship run, Tanner Duncan became the first ECU club baseball player to sign a Major League Baseball contract. Duncan is currently pitching with the Houston Astros organization and will be pitching against the Kinston Wood Ducks at Grainger Stadium May 29-31.

The World Series success and individual player success have drawn significant recognition for the club baseball program.

“It has allowed us to gain some national publicity that most people would never think a club baseball team would get,” said Fox. “Especially with Tanner being successful and moving up the minor league ranks and the National Championship last year. I think it shows that our program is a legitimate option for high school baseball players all across the country that don’t get the opportunity to play at the next level.”

Other teams joining ECU in the 2018 NCBA World Series include top seed Oregon, Florida State, Grand Canyon University, Wisconsin, Iowa State, Penn State and Texas A&M.

Visit www.clubbaseball.org to follow ECU through the World Series. For additional information, contact Justin Waters with ECU Club Sports at 252-737-2713 or watersj@ecu.edu.

 

  1. Contact: Justin Waters, ECU Club Sports, watersj@ecu.edu

Brody School of Medicine names vice dean of operations

East Carolina University (ECU) has named a new vice dean of operations for the Brody School of Medicine.

Dr. Peter Schmidt will begin serving as Brody’s second in command on May 29, supporting Dean Dr. Mark Stacy in the operational aspects of the school’s activities – financial, academic, clinical, strategic and administrative – as well as in faculty affairs and institutional programs.

The position was held by Dr. Nicholas Benson from 2007 until his retirement in December 2017.

Schmidt comes to ECU from the Parkinson’s Foundation where – as the senior vice president and chief research and clinical officer – he oversaw research, education, and outreach initiatives. He led a redesign of the foundation’s Centers of Excellence program, managed scientific grant programs, and served as principal investigator for the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project. That project is the largest clinical study ever conducted in Parkinson’s disease and aims to establish optimal standards of care and actively researches diverse clinical areas in the disease.

Dr. Peter Schmidt (contributed photo)

Dr. Peter Schmidt (Contributed photo)

In addition to his work in Parkinson’s, Schmidt has recent or current advisory engagements in Huntington’s disease, Glut1 deficiency syndrome, cystic fibrosis, inpatient rehabilitation, wearable sensors and telemedicine.

“Dr. Schmidt brings an exceptional level of clinical, administrative, research and outreach experience to the role of vice dean of operations,” Stacy said. “His experience and keen problem-solving abilities will be invaluable as we work to expand the impact Brody has on our region’s health status, our state’s physician workforce, and the world’s knowledge base about certain diseases.”

Schmidt serves as an advisor to several government, industry and foundation initiatives, as well as a member of the Neurology Steering Committee of the National Quality Forum and U.S. Department of Defense’s Parkinson’s Research Program, both of which are national committees based in Washington, D.C.

He completed his master’s and doctoral degrees in biomedical engineering at Cornell University’s Sibley School of Mechanical Engineering in Ithaca, New York, in 1995 and 1999, respectively. He received his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1992.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to join the team at the Brody School of Medicine under the leadership of Dean Stacy,” Schmidt said. “Through the Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence program, I focused on how the academic medical center can lead and coordinate the care for everyone in a community. I hope to work with the excellent Brody faculty to drive health care improvement for the people of eastern North Carolina, while training the next generation of physicians.”

 

-by Rob Spahr, University Communications

ECU Foundation purchases home to be used as chancellor’s residence

The ECU Foundation has completed the purchase of a home to be used as the chancellor’s residence at 3100 Kariblue Lane in Star Hill Farm neighborhood, Greenville.

The purchase amount was at the previously reported price of $1.3 million. The home, designed by noted architect, William Harvey, is approximately 8,500 square feet and sits on 5.2 acres of land.

“The ECU Foundation is excited to have acquired this wonderful property,” said Chris Dyba, vice chancellor for University Advancement and president of the ECU Foundation. “We are very grateful to the owner, because he allowed us to purchase his home at a price significantly below its appraised and replacement value. We believe this purchase will provide ECU a wonderful residence for its chancellor and a great venue to host functions for alumni, donors, students, corporate leaders and top candidates for ECU leadership.”

David Fisher, chair of the ECU Foundation added, “I am pleased that the ECU
Foundation is in a position to help our university by purchasing this house. This has been a multi-year plan that is best for ECU and Greenville.”

No date for move-in for the Chancellor has been set.

The ECU Board of Trustees, which has endorsed the Foundation’s purchase, has begun a review of the Dail House on Fifth Street (and surrounding properties) and will make a recommendation about its best use for the university and the surrounding community at a later date.

 

Contact: Chris Dyba, vice chancellor for University Advancement, dyba@ecu.edu

ECU internship opportunity prepares students for real world

East Carolina University graduate Rachel Isaac knew she had a passion.

The Claremont native loves children’s theatre. The energy, excitement and frenzy that come from directing and producing a play for young actors are the emotions that drive Isaac, but the question remained of how to turn that affection into a job.

Isaac arrived at ECU in 2015, joining one of only two undergraduate children’s theatre programs in the state. Fast forward two years, and Isaac found the answer to her pressing job question – an internship with ECU’s SECU Public Service Fellows program.

The program, founded in 2015, connects ECU and communities through projects that address community-identified priorities. Isaac’s internship connected her to Arts of the Pamlico in Washington. The organization provides cultural opportunities through initiation, support and presentation of artistic programs in Beaufort County.

East Carolina University graduate Rachel Isaac reads from “The Polar Express” to a group of children at an event hosted by Arts of the Pamlico. Isaac interned with the organization as part of East Carolina’s SECU Public Service Fellows Internship program. (contributed Photos)

East Carolina University graduate Rachel Isaac reads from “The Polar Express” to a group of children at an event hosted by Arts of the Pamlico. Isaac interned with the organization as part of East Carolina’s SECU Public Service Fellows Internship program. (contributed Photos)

Isaac said at first she was hesitant of taking on the internship.

“During my senior year, professor Patricia Clark asked everyone in our Theatre for Youth department to apply for the internship,” Isaac said. “I was on the fence about it because I was already so busy. Theater is time consuming and the internship would total 350 hours throughout the year.

“A short time later no one had applied, so I applied just for fun,” she said. “I went through the application process, found a facility to work with, and then interviewed. I ended up getting the internship, and it has shaped my life moving forward.”

Despite classes, participating in a play and the 30-minute drive from campus to Washington, Isaac was able to complete the internship, picking up valuable work-related skills along the way.

“My internship was originally focused on the original Turnage Theater, built in 1913,” Isaac said. “It was a vaudeville theater that was shuttered in 2011. However, due to my focus in children’s theatre, we reshaped my internship goals to help build up a children’s theatre program in the region.”

 

New experiences

Isaac said that through her internship she was exposed to new experiences and leadership opportunities that weren’t available in the classroom.

She created brochures and pamphlets for both the Turnage Theater and for children’s theatre history; created a map of historic theaters in North Carolina; developed funding resources for the theater; and hosted and curated event listings for the Arts of the Pamlico.

Isaac’s largest undertakings included interviewing Washington residents about the Turnage Theater and documenting children’s theatre history in North Carolina and beyond.

“For the internship I interviewed different people in the Washington area to get background information on the Turnage Theater, including board members, city council members and even a relative of the theater’s original builder, Cat Turnage,” Isaac said. “I then interviewed people who had a history or knowledge of children’s theatre to learn how they became involved in the discipline and what tools you need to start up a children’s theatre. I wanted to preserve and document a history that wasn’t readily available.”

Isaac also developed a monthly playwriting workshop for young children, guiding the children in writing a story with their own characters, settings, conflicts and resolutions. Isaac participated in the 2017 Early Childhood Education Conference held in Raleigh, where she discussed the Play Outside N.C. program for pre-K students. The program aims to get students more involved in learning outside with a focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics learning. Isaac helped develop two STEAM modules for the program on art and literacy and on engineering and math.

 

Not reading out of a textbook

After her internship ended, Isaac was extended a job offer by Arts of the Pamlico. She now serves as the organization’s children’s programming coordinator; a job she believes would not have been possible without the SECU Public Service Fellows Internship.

“While I was in school, I basically learned how to be a teacher of children’s theatre,” Isaac said. “With the internship, I was able to put what I learned into practice. I got a better understanding of the administration and leadership skills needed to be successful as a children’s theatre leader.

“I gained a lot more professionalism and understanding of what it’s like to be in charge,” she said. “My work provided real-life scenarios that gave me a lot of knowledge that I wouldn’t have just gotten from the classroom. I felt I was prepared for the real world by combining school with my internship.”

Dr. Sharon Paynter, assistant vice chancellor of community engagement and research, said that Isaac’s experience is the goal of every partnership created by the internship.

“The experience that Rachel had with Arts of the Pamlico is exactly the kind that we hoped for when this program was created,” Paynter said. “A high-quality student was able to test the professional waters in a supportive and challenging internship in a small town in eastern North Carolina. We are thrilled that the relationship will continue since Rachel joined as a full-time staff member while she does her graduate work.”

Paynter said that applications for the 2018 SECU Public Service Fellow Internships are being accepted until March 15. Students can find information online through the Office of Community Engagement’s website.

While Isaac is now out of the classroom and into the “real world,” she knows her transition would not have been as successful without the program. She encourages others to give it a shot.

“Internships will help you in any profession – with me it just happened to be theater,” she said. “I believe getting out and doing the work helps you way more than just sitting and learning about it.

“With me, it ended up leading to a job; that same possibility is out there for other students. What do you think is going to help you more, only reading a textbook or actually doing the work?”

 

-by Matt Smith, University Communications

Grammy-nominated musician visits ECU

Renowned Grammy-nominated musician and ethnomusicologist Dr. Tim Eriksen will speak and perform in classes and other venues at East Carolina University during the week of Feb. 19-23. During the week, Eriksen will lead a film-screening and discussion, present an academic talk and perform a musical concert that are free and open to the public.

“Eriksen is acclaimed for transforming American tradition with his startling interpretations of old ballads, love songs, shape-note gospel and dance tunes from New England and Southern Appalachia,” his online biography reads. “He combines hair-raising vocals with inventive accompaniment on banjo, fiddle, guitar and bajo sexton – a twelve string Mexican acoustic bass – creating a distinctive hardcore Americana sound.”

On Tuesday, Feb. 20, from 7-8 p.m. in the Science and Technology building, room C-307, Eriksen will screen and discuss two films about the venerable sacred music tradition of shape-note singing, a unique and haunting genre of sacred music that reflects the complexities of identity in the multi-cultural history of the United States.

First, he will show Landon McCrary’s1979 independent film “Dewey Williams, 81st Birthday Singing,” about black shape-note singers in Alabama, followed by an excerpt from Matt and Erica Hinton’s film, “Awake My Soul,” about their white counterparts.

Tim Eriksen, Grammy-nominated musician, will visit ECU the week of Feb. 19-23.

Tim Eriksen, Grammy-nominated musician, will visit ECU the week of Feb. 19-23. (contributed photo)

After the screenings, Eriksen will discuss the history and contemporary practice of shape-note singing and what it has to say about religion, civil rights and racial identity in American history and the present day. Also, he may perform a little singing of his own for the audience.

On Wednesday, Feb. 21, Eriksen will lead a lunchtime academic talk on “Old Folks Singing in Utopia: How Antebellum Musical Antiquarianism and Calvinist Eschatology Gave Birth to Science Fiction on the Banks of the Connecticut River.” The discussion will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in the Bate building, room 1006.

On Thursday, Feb. 22, the public has the opportunity to hear Eriksen perform live. A concert of “Hardcore Americana: Secular and Sacred Songs,” will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Science and Technology building, room C-307.

Eriksen received his doctoral degree in enthomusicology from Wesleyan University. He specializes in shape-note music – specifically the sacred harp – “Old Time” music, American folk, Bosnian vocal and Indian classical music. He has performed and consulted on the soundtrack for the film, “Cold Mountain,” and he has released numerous recordings in genres from folk to jazz to punk.

The events are co-sponsored by the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, David Julian and Virginia Suther Whichard Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities and Harriot College’s Religious Studies Program. All are free and open to the public. No tickets are required.

For more information about Eriksen, visit timeriksenmusic.com/. For questions about Eriksen’s visit to ECU, contact Dr. Joseph Hellweg, Whichard Distinguished Professor, at hellwegj17@ecu.edu.

 

-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications

ECU faculty introduced to research cluster

Fourteen East Carolina University faculty members were introduced to the Health Behavior pan-university research cluster Feb.8, offering opportunities for research collaborations to address health behaviors in the region.

In the fall of 2017, ECU launched seven pan-university research clusters, with an eighth planned for launch in 2018. Research clusters are part of a formal university strategy to connect interdisciplinary faculty and researchers who might not have connected through traditional means. With the clusters, faculty from across ECU can harness their partnerships and talent to advance Chancellor Cecil Staton’s Rural Prosperity Initiative and address pressing human health, education and economic disparities in our region and around the globe.

The Health Behavior cluster is co-directed by Dr. Sam Sears, professor of psychology and cardiovascular sciences, and Dr. Kim Larson, associate professor of nursing science.

This cluster aims to improve the health of those residing in rural regions in North Carolina by fostering direction and collaboration of scientists at ECU to combat negative health behaviors. These behaviors including smoking and lack of physical activity, as well as factors that lead to depression and stress. Members of rural communities are more likely to die of heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke and unintentional injury than those living in urban regions.

“The identification and treatment of health behaviors in rural eastern North Carolina is a perfect arena for ECU to showcase the power of interdisciplinary research,” Sears said. “The challenge we have as a university is that we need to define the targets and the talent to solve these problems – that is what we are accomplishing today.”

Dr. Jeannine Golden (left), associate professor of psychology at East Carolina University, leads a small group in analyzing adolescent physical activity behaviors at the Health Behavior Research Cluster meeting Thursday. The meeting introduced the cluster –one of seven current pan-university research clusters at ECU – to faculty members.

Dr. Jeannine Golden (left), associate professor of psychology at East Carolina University, leads a small group in analyzing adolescent physical activity behaviors at the Health Behavior Research Cluster meeting Thursday. The meeting introduced the cluster –one of seven current pan-university research clusters at ECU – to faculty members. (contributed photo)

The research clusters are the vision of Vice Chancellor Jay Golden and are being supported by the Division of Research, Economic Development and Engagement.  “Our division is working closely with the cluster co-directors and associate deans of research from all of our colleges and schools to ensure the faculty and student researchers in the clusters have all the tools and institutional support they need to be successful moving forward,” Golden said.

“I hope that our participants today recognize the mobilization of ECU’s support for helping our faculty to address these health behavior challenges through research and community engagement — it is a tremendous opportunity for ECU,” Sears said.

The cluster’s first objective focuses on affecting the health behavior of children by designing community intervention trails targeting birth-kindergarten and school-age populations. These interventions will address mental, heart and behavioral health. Faculty members broke into small groups at the meeting and discussed possible strategies to impact sexual behavior – with a focus on teenage pregnancy – and how to increase the physical activity levels of children.

Sears and Larson believe that through these small groups, faculty members will be able to connect with other ECU faculty members that have an interest in affecting health behaviors, growing the cluster and raising its impact and national prominence.

Dr. Christine M. Kowalczyk, assistant professor of marketing and supply chain management, said she was encouraged by the variety of ideas, experiences and resources that were shared at the event.

“I’ve done related research in the health behaviors field, and it felt like the research clusters provide an opportunity to increase the impact of my research – it’s a natural fit,” Kowalczyk said. “We don’t really cross over to the health sciences campus very much, so having the opportunity to meet potential collaborators and see how your research as part of a larger collaborative effort could make a difference was important.

“Now I have the opportunity to go back to my own department and share my experience today and try to connect other faculty members. We’re able to share these opportunities with colleagues now and encourage them to get involved in the cluster.”

Along with the Health Behavior Research Cluster, ECU has launched research clusters for Big Data and Analytics, Energy and Natural Resources, Marine and Coastal Systems, Human Health and Disease, Precision Health, and STEAM Education. The university will launch its Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Research Cluster prior to the fall of 2018.

 

-by Matt Smith, University Communications 

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