Author Archives: Kristin Zachary

Two more community colleges join co-admission program

Two more eastern North Carolina community colleges – Edgecombe Community College and Sampson Community College – have signed co-admission agreements with East Carolina University, bringing the total number to 16.

The agreements are designed to improve transfer student access and success through a collaborative degree completion program.

From left, Dr. Harry A Starnes, vice president of instruction at Edgecombe Community College; Mark S. Lorence, ECC's acting president; ECU Chancellor Cecil Station; and Michael Jordan, ECC's vice president of student services.

From left, Dr. Harry Starnes, vice president of instruction at Edgecombe Community College; Mark S. Lorence, ECC’s acting president; ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton; and Michael Jordan, ECC’s vice president of student services. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Students will apply to a participating community college and ECU simultaneously and commit to maintaining full-time status. Upon completing an associate degree, they will seamlessly transition into degree-completion programs at ECU.

“Students at Edgecombe Community College are increasingly looking to continue their education at four-year institutions after completing their first two years with us,” said Dr. Harry Starnes, vice president of instruction at ECC. “We are excited about East Carolina’s co-admissions program, which will further support community college students focused on transferring.

Starnes, Jordan and Staton

Starnes, Jordan and Staton

“With this program, we are pleased that our participating students will be given extra support and direction from East Carolina while they are still completing their two-year degree at Edgecombe. This extra support and direction will make the transition for our students to East Carolina more successful.”

In addition to saving money by completing the first two years of a four-year degree at a community college, benefits to students include access to ECU libraries and programming through the ECU Office of Student Activities and other organizations, ECU One Card eligibility, joint financial aid counseling and micro-scholarship opportunities, joint academic advising, and a waiver of the ECU transfer application fee.

Participating community colleges include Beaufort County Community College, Carteret Community College, College of the Albemarle, Craven Community College, Edgecombe Community College, Halifax Community College, Johnston Community College, Lenoir Community College, Martin Community College, Nash Community College, Pamlico Community College, Pitt Community College, Roanoke-Chowan Community College, Sampson Community College, Wayne Community College and Wilson Community College.

“This is precisely the sort of collaboration we need to better serve the people of North Carolina and the east in particular,” said Dr. Cecil Staton, ECU chancellor. “We cannot be successful and continue to produce capable and engaged citizens who will go out across the communities of this state and make a difference if we don’t have a vital partnership with our community college system. We value what you do, we value your students, and we value our partnership.”


-Contact: Jules Norwood,, 252-328-2836

Study shows climate change may hinder fish conservation efforts

For more than 20 years, conservationists in the Caribbean have been working to protect the endangered Nassau grouper. Thanks to those efforts, populations of this critical reef fish have stabilized in some areas.

However, in a new paper authored by researchers from East Carolina University and the University of Texas at Austin, marine scientists show that climate change may severely hinder these conservation efforts by the end of this century.

By 2100, breeding habitats are projected to decline by 82 percent from 2000 levels if nothing is done to mitigate climate change, according to the report published in the July issue of the journal Diversity and Distributions. These spawning habitats are critical to the survival of the species. Additionally, suitable habitats for non-spawning fish are expected to decline by 46 percent.

ECU assistant professor Rebecca Asch and researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have found that climate change may affect the breeding habitats of the endangered Nassau grouper.

ECU assistant professor Rebecca Asch and researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have found that climate change may affect the breeding habitats of the endangered Nassau grouper. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

“To truly understand how climate will impact fishes, we need to know how it will impact the most vulnerable life history stage – spawning. If this link in the life cycle is jeopardized, the species as a whole will be in jeopardy,” said Rebecca G. Asch, an assistant professor of fisheries biology at ECU.

The Nassau grouper is one of the most recognizable reef fish in the Caribbean and, as a top predator, the fish contributes significantly to the ecosystem and can act as a warning system for overall reef health.

Nassau groupers depend on the success of their spawning aggregations, where hundreds to thousands of fish gather in one area for a few days to mate. These mass spawning events make them easy targets for fishers and they were overfished to the point the species became endangered.

Beginning in the 1990s, several countries, including the United States, have put outright bans on fishing Nassau grouper. Other countries, like Cuba and the Dominican Republic, restrict fishing during their winter spawning season. Other areas have restricted fishing in specific breeding grounds.

The paper points out that because Nassau groupers have a narrow temperature range they can tolerate while spawning, this may create a bottleneck that will impact population recovery.

“The concern is that the effects of climate change may override some of the successes of conservation efforts at local and regional scales,” said Brad Erisman, assistant professor of fisheries biology at UT Austin. “That is, if Nassau grouper no longer migrate to spawn in a particular region because the water is too warm, then protecting spawning sites in that region will be ineffective. Likewise, if the months when spawning occurs in certain regions shifts in response to climate change, then seasonal protection measures in those regions will need to shift accordingly to ensure that spawning is still protected.”

Large breeding events, called spawning aggregations, are important for the health of the ecosystem. Large predators, like sharks, feed on the gathered grouper. Whale sharks and manta rays feed on the eggs that are released.

There is some good news, the scientists said. If strong steps are taken to mitigate climate change, breeding habitat is projected to decline by only 30 percent.

The scientists plan to expand their research to look at how climate change may affect spawning in 12 species of grouper and snapper in the Caribbean and the Pacific. The model developed could aid researchers in studying climate change impacts on other fish species that depend on large spawning events.

Funding for the research was provided by the Nippon Foundation-Nereus Program and the National Academy of Sciences Gulf Research Program Early Career Fellowship.

Asch received a prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship in February in the field of ocean sciences. Her work focuuses on how warming oceans lead some marine species to change their reproductive habits, causing them to reproduce at different times of the year than in the past and affecting the way they interact with their food sources. Asch’s work has been reported in national outlets such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, NPR, FOX, Newsweek and The Huffington Post.

The full study can be read online.


-by University Communications at ECU/University of Texas at Austin

Chancellor appoints task force to examine Greek life on ECU campus

A 16-member task force has been appointed by East Carolina University Chancellor Cecil Staton to examine major aspects of Greek life at the university, to identify and consider nationally recognized best practices, and to offer recommendations to strengthen the Greek life community on campus.

Composed of alumni, faculty, community leaders and students, the task force will examine national issues facing Greek life on college campuses and the culture of Greek life at ECU.

“Greek organizations on college campuses nationwide are dealing with issues such as hazing-related deaths, incidents of sexual assault and alcohol and drug related infractions. ECU is neither exempt nor immune from this,” said Staton.

“As ECU’s chancellor, I recognize the importance of having a healthy, vibrant thriving Greek life community. Greek life is an important aspect of campus life for many Pirates and because of that, I think it is appropriate for us to further examine Greek life on our campus – where we are and where we’d like to be,” he said.

The task force will also examine current practices surrounding internal governance and accountability of Greek organizations campus councils; review recruitment and education of new Greek organization members; assess current policies and practices for social, educational and other activities engaged in by Greek organizations; and review university governance and oversight of Greek organizations.

Members of the task force are as follows:


  • Bob Plybon of Greensboro, CEO of Plybon & Associates, ECU alumnus, member of ECU Board of Trustees
  • Kandie Smith of Greenville, member of the Greenville City Council and & immediate past president and social action chair of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority


  • Rhys Collins of Cary, ECU student and president of the Interfraternity Council
  • Katy Houser of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ECU student and president of the Panhellenic Association
  • Jeff Foster of Greenville, Pitt County Superior Court judge and member of ECU Board of Visitors
  • Kelly Joyner of Greenville, ECU alumna and local advisor to Alpha Delta Pi sorority
  • Carolina Juanico-Cela of Winston-Salem, ECU student and president of the Multicultural Greek Council
  • Jordan Koonts of Raleigh, ECU student, president of ECU Student Government Association
  • Vonta Leach of Fayetteville, ECU alumnus, former ECU and NFL football player, member of Omega Psi Phi
  • Fielding Miller of Raleigh, CEO of CAPTRUST, ECU alumnus, member of ECU Board of Trustees
  • KJ Staton of Greenville, ECU student and president of the National Panhellenic Council
  • Jon Barnwell, chief of ECU Police
  • John Mountz, director of Greek life at ECU
  • Doug Schneider, ECU professor in the College of Business and faculty advisor to Alpha Delta Pi sorority
  • Catherine Staton, Greek life advocate
  • Megan Ayers, assistant secretary to the Board of Trustees.

In order to accomplish its charge, the task force will collect information, review documents, listen to presentation by subject matter experts, engage in open forums, and lead individual targeted discussions.

The chancellor will instruct the task force to provide a final report, including any recommendations and a time line for implementation, by Dec. 14.


-by ECU News Services

ECU systematic review explains higher incidence of respiratory diseases in LGB community

A systematic research review conducted recently at East Carolina University sheds light on why sexual minorities have a greater chance of developing respiratory diseases.

Dr. Joseph Lee, assistant professor in ECU’s Department of Health Education and Promotion in the College of Health and Human Performance, set out to learn more about why sexual minorities experience respiratory diseases at a higher rate, and he had a hunch their environments played a big part. However, data about where lesbian, gay and bisexual people are most likely to live wasn’t readily available.

Kerry Sewell, research librarian for Laupus Library’s Systematic Review Service

Kerry Sewell, research librarian for Laupus Library’s Systematic Review Service (Photo by Kelly Rogers Dilda)

So he partnered with Kerry Sewell, research librarian for ECU’s Laupus Library, University of New Mexico graduate student Kasim Ortiz and international collaborator and human geographer Dr. Thomas Wimark from Stockholm University in Sweden to conduct a systematic review – a formal research study that follows a clear-cut model to find, assess and examine research that tried to answer a similar question.

“The limited data available on lesbian and gay lives meant that it was critically important to identify high-quality information from multiple disciplines,” Lee said.

“When there are such gaps in the literature, it’s important to use systematic research methodologies to bring together all of the existing evidence in one place,” said Sewell. “Outcomes of a systematic review can present a reliable depiction of what is known and what remains uncertain.”

The team found 51 quantitative papers addressing the topic from multiple fields and found clear evidence of a pattern that LGB people are more likely to live in urban areas, as well as in areas with more air pollution and more tobacco retailers. The data also suggests that even when LGB people live in more prosperous regions, they’re living in poorer neighborhoods than their heterosexual counterparts.

“This review helps us explain the role of geography in why LGB people are more likely to have respiratory diseases and smoke than their straight counterparts,” Lee said.

These findings not only expand understanding of why certain health disparities exist, Lee said, but can also lead to improved health programs, health education and promotion campaigns for the LGB community.

Dr. Joseph Lee, assistant professor in ECU’s Department of Health Educations and Promotion in the College of Health and Human Performance

Dr. Joseph Lee, assistant professor in ECU’s Department of Health Educations and Promotion in the College of Health and Human Performance (Photo contributed by ECU News Services)

Lee added the findings would not have been possible without collaboration from a medical librarian.

Librarians in Laupus Library’s Systematic Review Service have unique skills that ensure the search for published studies is thorough, guarding against biased findings or recommendations that inform patient care, health care decision-making, research and policy.

“I’m pleased that the Laupus Systematic Review Service was able to bring state-of-the-art systematic review methods to pull together evidence from multiple fields, journals and even languages to inform health programs and future research,” Sewell said.

The review was published on June 27 by PLOS One, a peer-reviewed scientific journal of the Public Library of Science, where it became immediately accessible to the public at no cost.

“This article is a terrific example of how including a librarian on the research team enhances the outcomes of the scholarly product,” said Laupus Library Director Beth Ketterman. “We are very proud of the Systemic Review Service at Laupus Library, and encourage our ECU researchers to utilize this unique librarian skill set so that we can continue to partner in quality contributions to the health literature.”

No data was available on studies of transgender and transsexual populations, pointing to the need for continued research.

Read the full review at

Learn more about Laupus Library’s Systematic Review Service at


-by Kelly Rogers Dilda, University Communications

Alumni Association announces new board members

The East Carolina University Alumni Association announced the addition of five new members to its 28-member board of directors. The new board members will play an active role in guiding the efforts and initiatives of the association, which reaches more than 170,000 ECU alumni worldwide.

The East Carolina University Alumni Association recently inducted five new members to its board of directors.

The East Carolina University Alumni Association recently inducted five new members to its board of directors. (Photo contributed by ECU Alumni Association)

They are:

  • Karen Correa ’92 from Mickleton, New Jersey, received her Bachelor of Science in biology from ECU. She is the senior director of clinical operations for Adare Pharmaceuticals, serves as an editorial board member of Clinical Leader, and is a board member for CAMcare Health Corporation in Camden, New Jersey. Correa said she sees serving on the alumni board as an opportunity to give back to the university that gave so much to her. She wants to help spread the word about ECU so that more people from the New Jersey area consider it as an education option.
  • Dr. Christopher Heery ’06 from Durham received his medical degree from ECU’s Brody School of Medicine. He is the chief medical officer for Bavarian Nordic and head of the clinical trials group for the Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology for the National Cancer Institute. He also serves on the Clinical Trials Research Advisory Board for BSOM. “I hope to see Brody and the Greenville community benefit from a stronger commitment to clinical trial research over the next five to 10 years,” he said.
  • Mr. Adam Keen ’05 ’08 from Wrightsville Beach received his bachelor’s degree in business administration and his MBA from the ECU College of Business. He is an active supporter of the college and the ECU Miller School of Entrepreneurship as well as an alumni volunteer for admissions. He is a partner at Tidewater Equity Partners LLC. “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as a member of the board of directors and I look forward to working alongside my fellow board members as we help connect and engage past, present and future ECU Pirates,” Keen said.
  • Tara Parker ’99 ’02 ’06 from Greenville received her bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science, a Master of Arts in education and a master’s degree in administration from ECU. She works as a school administrator with Pitt County Schools and serves on the Pitt County Schools Discipline Task Force. She has previously served on numerous councils and boards serving Pitt County Schools, Pitt Community College and ECU.
  • Valerie Tarte ’98 from Wilmington received her bachelor’s in nursing from ECU. She works with the UNC-Wilmington School of Nursing to teach BSN students the core concepts of leadership and management for professional nursing. She also serves as a clinical instructor for senior nursing students at Cape Fear Community College and is an active supporter of her local Girl Scout troop. “Although I graduated from ECU over 20 years ago, I knew it was time to give something back,” Tarte said. “I am thrilled to become a part of such a committed board. I cannot wait to start building lasting relationships as well as getting into the dynamics of creating new events for our alumni.”

Heath Bowman, associate vice chancellor for alumni relations, said the board of directors is critical to meeting the alumni association’s mission to inform, involve and serve members of the ECU family.

“The alumni board provides the university with invaluable insight, and each member’s expertise and experience helps us advance our mission,” he said. “I’m excited to welcome our new board members and look forward to their future contributions to ECU.”

Board members serve three-year terms and meet four times a year. The board strives to maintain a diverse and inclusive membership made up of graduates from the many colleges at the university. The board will help provide leadership through advocacy and education and ensure an environment which is open, inclusive and sensitive to the university’s diverse alumni base.


-by Erin Shaw, University Communications

North Carolina Literary Review announces two new writing awards, accepting submissions

The North Carolina Literary Review is accepting submissions for two new writing awards that recognize forgotten or neglected writers from North Carolina.

The NCLR has established the Paul Green Prize and the John Ehle Prize. The winner of each award will receive a $250 honorarium.

“One of my missions as editor of NCLR has been to inspire renewed interest in neglected or forgotten writers from North Carolina,” said Dr. Margaret D. Bauer, editor of the NCLR. “I’ve encouraged scholarship on John Ehle and Paul Green, for example, and I am always excited to receive a submission on some other writer I’ve never heard of.”

The Paul Green Prize, sponsored by the Paul Green Foundation, is meant to inspire scholarship on the works of North Carolina’s preeminent playwright, author of “The Lost Colony.” The prize will honor the best Green-inspired content approved for publication in the NCLR. Submissions are being accepted through Aug. 1.

John Ehle

John Ehle (Courtesy of Press 53)

The John Ehle Prize is co-sponsored by Press 53 of Winston-Salem, which has published new editions of several of Ehle’s books over the past several years.

NCLR’s Ehle Prize complements a goal of Press 53 editor Kevin Watson, who said, “After working closely with John Ehle these past 12 years, and knowing his contributions to not only literature but to education and the arts, it is my mission at Press 53 to ensure his books remain in print, so he is never forgotten.”

Ehle scholar and novelist Terry Roberts, and Ehle’s widow Rosemary Harris, have committed to helping Press 53 support the prize in subsequent years. The award will honor the author of the best paper on or interview with an often overlooked or forgotten writer accepted for publication in the NCLR. Submissions are being accepted through Aug. 31.

“Thinking of whom we might name a prize for to encourage submissions about a neglected writer from North Carolina’s past, John Ehle immediately came to mind,” Bauer said. “A writer so highly respected by readers and writers, educators and artists here in North Carolina, but whose work has not been given a lot of scholarly attention and thus is not so well know in academic circles as it should be – we at NCLR are doing what we can to rectify that, for him and writers like him.”

The two new prizes add to NCLR’s current list of prizes in fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction.

Bauer added that “introducing new writers is another important mission for us,” and she is seeking a sponsor to establish a third award to honor the best essay about or interview with a new writer published in the NCLR’s annual print issue.

For a complete list of guidelines for the new writing competitions, contact Bauer at, call 252-328-1537, or visit


-Contact: Dr. Margaret D. Bauer, editor, North Carolina Literary Review,, 252-328-1537

Abroad in Saipan: Same field school, different perspectives

ECU maritime studies program professor Dr. Jennifer McKinnon and several graduate students traveled to Saipan this summer to conduct archaeological surveys of surrounding waters to locate and document sites related to World War II. McKinnon and the students – including Emily DiBiase and Molly Trivelpiece, who detail some of the experience in personal accounts below – hope their work will lead to identifying possible sites containing the remains of missing servicemen.

This is the fourth and final post from this trip. Read the firstsecond and third posts to learn more about the journey to Saipan and the importance of the trip.

As a first-year maritime studies student with very little dive experience, I came into this field school not knowing what to expect. I had previously participated in land-based archaeological projects during my time as an undergraduate, so I was thinking that it would be similar. I was definitely wrong.

I realized that underwater archaeology is a lot more equipment-intensive than doing the same activities on land, because we were snorkeling or diving instead of just walking around. This may sound self-explanatory, but I had never really considered how much more difficult it would be to move, write and record in the water. Many of us discovered areas where we could improve. The main one for me was using the program Illustrator, which we used to digitize the data that we collected. It takes all kinds of people to make a project go well and recognizing each person’s skills and shortcomings helps.

Students and staff visit the wreck site of a Japanese seaplane named "Emily."

Students and staff visit the wreck site of a Japanese seaplane named “Emily.” (Contributed photos)

Generally, I learned a lot during this field school experience, mostly about how to be a better diver. I came in having only done open water and the American Academy of Underwater Sciences diver classes. This trip allowed me to practice skills while figuring out things on my own, like how to arrange my extra gear so that I could access it easily underwater.

Finally, I learned a lot about the other people in my cohort, which is good because I’ll probably be interacting with them for a long time. I found out new things about each of them and realized that they are a solid group of people. I think we became a better team and figured out how to work with each other during this field school.

Overall, Saipan was a fantastic learning experience where I was given the opportunity to hone my skills as an archaeologist. The island itself was amazing, too  –  from the sites to the food. Though I’m probably not going to eat fish or rice for the rest of the summer.


-by Emily DiBiase, graduate student


Molly Trivelpiece, right, and Ryan Miranda prepare to dive.

Molly Trivelpiece, right, and Ryan Miranda prepare to dive.

Although Saipan offered new challenges and experiences, I’m no stranger to the maritime archaeology field. The last several summers I worked in Florida, becoming familiar with high temperatures and even higher humidity levels, but the warm clear waters in Saipan were something new to behold. Past experiences with diving had either been in cold or dark water, oftentimes both.

But the biggest hardship for me was to constantly remind myself that I was a student, not a supervisor. For the past three summers, I had been a senior supervisor for a field school that operated very similarly. While part of me reveled in just being a student again and not having the responsibility to plan out the days and monitor students, there were times when it became frustrating and several occasions where my supervisor mindset slipped out.

When dealing with frustrations, however, I had to keep in mind that this project objective was by far the most important aspect of any work I have been a part of. If we were successful in finding or identifying a site, we could be that much closer to bringing closure to the family of a lost WWII service member.

Overall, this was the smoothest field school I have worked on. I think that going into the project with people you have been in class with for the past year really worked in our favor. As a slightly smaller class with only 11 students, we already had a grasp on who worked well together and their strengths or weaknesses. There was also no personal drama, which tends to be a rarity in any field. I cannot wait to continue to learn and work with the rest of the maritime studies program students and see what exciting development comes next for us.


-by Molly Trivelpiece, graduate student

REDE retreat discusses interdisciplinary research

Cross-discipline research was the topic at hand June 20 at the 2018 Research, Economic Development and Engagement Interdisciplinary Research Retreat held at Greenville’s Eastern Area Health Education Center.

More than 80 East Carolina University researchers and department leaders joined REDE for the event, which included guest speakers from the University of Kentucky, North Carolina State University and the National Science Foundation.

The retreat focused on the growing role and success of interdisciplinary research at major universities.

Interdisciplinary research is a type of research done by teams that integrates information, data, tools, perspectives and techniques across academic departments. This type of work brings together engineers, biologists, economists and psychologists, for example, to solve a need.

“We want our researchers to cross traditional academic boundaries and work together to support ECU’s research mission,” said Jay Golden, vice chancellor for research, economic development and engagement. “It’s a difficult process to begin; it’s not easy reaching across departments to find one another and create meaningful partnerships. However, we have to start reaching across disciplines to come up with solutions to the health, educational and economic disparities our region faces.”

Robert Smart, from left, Elizabeth Blood and Tyrone Borders answer questions during a panel discussion at the 2018 Research, Economic Development and Engagement Interdisciplinary Research Retreat held June 20 at Greenville’s Eastern Area Health Education Center. (Photos by Matt Smith)

Robert Smart, from left, Elizabeth Blood and Tyrone Borders answer questions during a panel discussion at the 2018 Research, Economic Development and Engagement Interdisciplinary Research Retreat held June 20 at Greenville’s Eastern Area Health Education Center. (Photos by Matt Smith)

Current trends

Elizabeth Blood, program director at the NSF, said her organization has seen a shift in funding from individual-led projects to team-oriented interdisciplinary research projects.

From 2004-13, NSF funding for multiple primary investigator research projects rose 40 percent from $1.5 billion to $2.1 billion. The rise has been stark in science and engineering funding, Blood said, with more team-led papers receiving acknowledgments from academic publications.

“We’re seeing a convergence in research toward working together to solve specific and compelling problems with deep integration across disciplines,” Blood said. “Interdisciplinary research combines knowledge, methods and expertise from different disciplines, allowing research to form new frameworks that advance scientific discovery and innovation.”

Blood said the NSF has shifted its focus to 10 big ideas – including harnessing data, understanding the “rules” of life and navigating the new Arctic. The foundation provides tools to help researchers solve these problems, including its solicited interdisciplinary programs, research centers, education training and the National Ecological Observatory Network.

The NSF also provides best practices for team-led interdisciplinary research, including project management guidelines, technology application and training strategies.

“Researchers and universities have to take into account that interdisciplinary teams are not only built upon intellectual skill,” Blood said. “You have to take into account that project leadership, project management, data management and innovative training techniques are necessary pieces of grant proposals.”

Interdisciplinary success and rural health

N.C. State University’s Robert Smart also touched on the benefits of interdisciplinary research, specifically within his university’s research clusters and its Center for Human Health and the Environment.

In 2011, N.C. State launched its Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program, which brought together researchers across a range of academic disciplines to tackle global issues. While the creation of the clusters took time to develop, Smart said that the university has seen early successes from its 20 cluster programs. The programs include topics ranging from digital transformation of education to genetic engineering and society.

“The creation of our clusters allowed faculty to create new interdisciplinary groups and have new interactions between and within disciplines,” Smart said. “It was a bottom-up process with faculty proposals and submissions driving the problems our clusters aim to solve.”

Smart also described the development of N.C. State’s Center for Human Health and the Environment, which promotes interdisciplinary research not only at N.C. State, but also at other academic institutions. Six ECU researchers are members of the CHHE.

“CHHE has developed three interdisciplinary research teams that cut across different disciplines including genomics, veterinary and human medicine, epidemiology, exposure science, statistics, bioinformatics, genetics, cell and developmental biology, and toxicology,” Smart said. “We’re using researchers from different academic areas to solve problems like GenX contamination in the Cape Fear River and providing data for student and teacher professional development programs and activities.”

Tyrone Borders, director of the University of Kentucky’s Rural and Underserved Health Research Center, discusses rural health trends at the 2018 REDE Interdisciplinary Research Retreat.

Tyrone Borders, director of the University of Kentucky’s Rural and Underserved Health Research Center, discusses rural health trends at the 2018 REDE Interdisciplinary Research Retreat.

Tyrone Borders, director of the University of Kentucky’s Rural and Underserved Health Research Center, added that interdisciplinary research can be done on a variety of topics pertinent to eastern North Carolinians.

“In the future, population health – including understanding widening mortality rates and increasing suicide rates – and facilitating rural health care access are going to be important research topics,” Borders said. “These topics pull in researchers from economics, psychology, sociology, public policy and epidemiology, creating an environment that not only fosters research across disciplines, but one that has to have interdisciplinary research to survive.”

ECU’s research mission

In conjunction with ECU’s Rural Prosperity Initiative, the university has increased interdisciplinary research efforts.

In 2017, ECU launched seven university-wide research clusters – with an eighth planned this fall – that provide a framework for fostering interdisciplinary research, outreach and engagement. The clusters bridge the gap between industries and ECU’s research projects, which makes it easy for researchers to pursue innovative research that forges new intellectual directions and discoveries.

ECU and REDE are also exploring ways to highlight researchers for their interdisciplinary efforts. The division has changed how sponsored awards are credited. Faculty on interdisciplinary projects can have a portion of the award credited to them and to their departments and colleges so that the value of the individual contribution to the team is acknowledged and accounted for.

In addition, REDE funds, which in previous years were used to support pilot projects and preliminary data gathering, will be funneled through ECU’s research clusters, which are interdisciplinary in nature.

“It’s important that our faculty, staff and students support the growth of research on campus,” Golden said. “REDE is a service organization. We want to support our faculty and students in their pursuit of research activities to make positive impacts in our region.

“We’re going to continue to work to find ways to overcome barriers to interdisciplinary research so we can become America’s next great national university,” he said.


-by Matt Smith, University Communications

ECU researchers participate in Camp Lejeune symposium

Faculty members from East Carolina University participated in the eighth Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune Research Symposium on May 25.

ECU investigators were among the only civilian university participants to receive awards, according to James R. Menke, director of military research partnerships at ECU.

The following faculty members were recognized:

  • Stacey Meardon, assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy in the College of Allied Health Sciences, took first place in the Clinical Investigation Poster Competition.
  • Caitlin O’Connell, post-doctoral scholar in the Department of Kinesiology in the College of Health and Human Performance, took second place with her podium presentation titled “Detecting Sandbagging on Baseline Balance Tests.”
  • John Willson, associate professor of physical therapy, took third place for his podium presentation titled “Training Modifications to Reduce Knee Joint Load Following ACL Reconstruction.”

The symposium, hosted by the Family Medicine Residency Program at Camp Lejeune, showcases scholarly activity happening behind the scenes at the medical center. Staff and medical residents are involved in more than two dozen research projects, clinical studies and collaborative efforts.

From left, Drs. Stacey Meardon, Caitlin O'Connell and John Wilson are recognized during the Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune Research Symposium. (Contributed photos)

From left, Drs. Stacey Meardon, Caitlin O’Connell and John Wilson are recognized during the Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune Research Symposium. (Contributed photos)


-by Crystal Baity, ECU News Services

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