Robin N. Coger, PhD

Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

This December issue of First Monday arrives at a time in the semester in which the students, faculty and staff of our University are individually and collectively active in completing the actions necessary to bring strong conclusions to the Fall semester and calendar year. December is also a month often full of anticipation and hope – for the end of the semester, commencement, the holidays, and the new start signified by an approaching new year. As we continue to move through this busy month, thank you for choosing to play a positive role in shaping the achievements, climate, and reputational altitude of East Carolina University. While there are many things being navigated across the Pirate Nation, there are three items I’d like to focus on in this edition of “Coger’s Corner:”

A Robust Thank You. Every semester I have the honor of participating in university events that celebrate the many examples of striving, excellence, and achievement ongoing at ECU every day. The examples take place in our classrooms, laboratories, clinics, meeting rooms, hallways and athletic venues – as faculty, students and staff collaborate in robust exchanges of learning, mentorship, discovery and care. They shine through in emails, telephone responses, and face to face conversations – as staff, faculty and administrators demonstrate through their actions and interactions (with each other and those new to ECU) an understanding that all of us are crucial to providing the demonstrable evidence necessary to characterize ECU as a welcoming place that values a culture of care and belonging. The examples are also visible in the scholarly and creative products produced, the awards and recognitions achieved, and in how we embrace our individual and collective responsibilities as ambassadors for the Pirate Nation. I thank each of you for choosing to use your considerable talents and dedication “to achieve” here at ECU. It is a pleasure and a privilege to work with you.

UNC System Policies Changes. As you may be aware, the UNC System has been actively engaged throughout 2023 in reviewing many of its policies – some of which are faculty-relevant. The System Office (SO) had not conducted a thorough review of its faculty employment and evaluation structures in decades, and wanted to ensure robust and agile policies for the future. As one of the 17 UNC System constituent institutions, ECU is required to subsequently revise our policies to comply with System-level policies. The schematic below shows six faculty-related policies in different stages of being updated and/or approved at the system-level. For all six, the SO leveraged workgroups composed of faculty and provosts from across UNC System institutions to outline initial recommendations, followed by a steering committee’s review of policy changes. Resultant policy revisions then have to be reviewed and approved by the Board of Governors. Following that step, guidance in the form of a Regulation is established to direct the constituent institutions in our implementation. It is at that juncture that the work begins at ECU and the other constituent institutions to establish or update our respective policies. As indicated in the schematic, at least four of the six will impact expectations and documentation of faculty workload and performance. Our collective attention to ensuring implementation consistency will be critical to achieving ECU’s aspirations as a Future Focused, Innovation Driven university.

Faculty Realignment Incentive Program (FRIP). One of the policy changes included in the previous schematic is the UNC System’s new Faculty Realignment Incentive Program. FRIP was established and funded as part of the 2023 Appropriations Act where the purpose of this Program is to incentivize certain eligible tenured faculty members to retire early in return for a one-time severance payment (equivalent to one year of base salary) from the University. FRIP is a voluntary program and the constituent institutions have the discretion to offer the Program to eligible faculty, but there is no guarantee or entitlement to participate. FRIP is intended to be a management-directed initiative addressing the following legislatively imposed criteria:

  1. Long-term (recurring) cost savings of a FRIP offer to the institution;
  2. Positive long-term impact of a FRIP offer on institutional efficiency and effectiveness;
  3. Total one-time cost of contemplated FRIP offers to the institution and its ability to fund.

For additional information on ECU’s implementation of FRIP, please refer to this link.

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As I close, I am grateful to everyone who made this issue of First Monday possible. I also wish the people and friends of ECU a successful conclusion to your Fall semester and to this calendar year, and a very safe and joyous holiday season.

Go Pirates!






While the adage “it takes a village” typically refers to successfully developing and guiding children, at ECU it is applied to our all-hands-on-deck approach to enrollment management. The "It Just Takes One" campaign, managed by the Academic Advising Collaborative, was birthed in 2010 through the Retention and Graduation Task Force to recognize significant events, professors, or experiences that have had substantial impact on students' lives. Specifically, “It Just Takes One” provides a voice for graduating students to thank faculty and staff for positive contributions to their education. Professors and staff are given a thank you card for each student who acknowledges them for their passion, effort, and care.

The purpose of this campaign is to recognize how one person can make a difference in a student’s life; it works by allowing graduating seniors to identify “the person at ECU who made the most significant positive contribution to their education” through their senior survey. As we have interactions with our Pirates, remember that it just takes one… one professor, one course, one advisor, one program, one experience, one interaction, one organization, one conversation, one staff member... to make a difference. Each of us owns this responsibility and it is important to highlight those who truly make a difference to our students. While the pandemic put a slight pause on the initiative, the Academic Advising Collaborative has teamed up with Printing and Graphics to reestablish the practice. Be sure to look for “It Just Takes One” cards in your mailboxes soon!


New System Grant Extends First Year Cares Program for Freshmen

First Year Cares (FYC) success coaches Janelle Green (right) and Tezra Egleton (left) have joined the Dean of Students and Student Academic Success Services staff to support a new campus collaboration, the First Year Cares Success Program. Designed to provide academic coaching and student wellbeing support, First Year Cares recognizes the first year on a new campus can be challenging. Learning new academic routines, locating resources, meeting friends, and getting involved campus can leave a student feeling anxious and overwhelmed. The UNC system grant received by Dr. Lynn Roeder, ensures that FYC students receive personalized support services. These services include:

  1. A personal academic success advisor;
  2. ECU Connect (Starfish) early alert monitoring;
  3. Study skills coaching;
  4. Campus resource referrals;
  5. Priority access to tutoring services; and
  6. Student wellbeing support services.

The FYC success coaches will meet with students within Student Academic Success Services in the North Wing of the Old Cafeteria Complex.

STEPP Student Raises Statewide Learning Disabilities Awareness

Sam Huffman, a student in the STEPP Program, along with staff members Adam Denney and Dr. Danielle Dietz, recently traveled to Raleigh to participate in the commemoration of Governor Roy Cooper's proclamation signing for Learning Disabilities Awareness Month. Sam Huffman and Dr. Dietz submitted the proclamation to promote awareness of learning disabilities at the statewide level.

During their visit, the team engaged in discussions with Representative Ray Pickett (R-NC 93), the House University Policy Chair, to highlight STEPP Program initiatives and additional academic programs supporting neurodivergent students at ECU. They also met with Pitt County Representative Gloristine Brown (D-NC 8), toured the legislative floor of the NC House of Representatives, and visited the Governor's Executive Mansion. Representative Brown (above, right) honored Sam Huffman (above, left) with a congratulatory letter for his contributions to the proclamation. The visit concluded with the STEPP Program receiving recognition at the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disability (NCCDD) board meeting, attended by state leaders from the NC Department of Health and Human Services, NCCDD, and NC Public Schools. This meaningful visit was facilitated with the assistance of Karson Nelson, ECU’s Director of Strategic Initiatives & Legislative Liaison.

Connect for Success Offers Departmental Student Success Presentations and Data Support

Dylan Moore, Communications Administrator, and Elizabeth Coghill, Executive Director of Student Academic Success Services, are pleased to provide academic units and departments with the opportunity to request presentations highlighting student success initiatives and system capabilities within the new Connect for Success program. Requests are accepted by completing a presentation request HERE.

Campus presentations provide an overview of the Connect for Success program and may include department or unit data history. Connect for Success centralizes university communication through methods like text, chatbot, early success alerts, a call center, and enrollment coaching to improve student awareness of academic, financial, and personal wellbeing. Connect for Success informs students about academic milestones, university rules, early success alerts, and encourages engagement with peers and campus resources through collaborative efforts with campus partners. Data requests are welcomed by completing the form HERE.

TrACE Success Program Celebrates First Graduates

The first TrACE students, Emily Powell and Matthew Stewart, will graduate in the upcoming December 2023 commencement ceremony. Both have fulfilled the requirements for their degrees in Criminal Justice and Construction Management, respectively. Both students began their higher education journeys at a North Carolina community college, attaining an Associate’s Degree before transferring to ECU. Emily transferred from Halifax Community College, while Matthew transferred from Cape Fear Community College.

The TrACE Program, supported by a UNC system grant, is dedicated to promoting the success and timely graduation of transfer students. With the guidance of Dr. Tatum Taylor, the program operates under the Student Academic Success Services office and offers dedicated staff, success coaching services, financial incentives, and community engagement opportunities.


ECU’s Seventh Annual International Award Ceremony was held at the Murphy Center on November 9. At the ceremony, six faculty and staff members received awards for their contributions to campus internationalization.

  • Dr. Linda Darty, from the School of Art and Design in the College of Fine Arts and Communication, received the Award for Achievement in International Teaching. Dr. Darty has been the Director of the ECU Tuscany campus in Certaldo Alto, Italy for 15 years, matriculating over 1,200 students through the program since its inception. Linda is dedicated to providing a caring and nurturing environment to her students and has made ECU a fixture in this medieval Italian village.
  • Dr. Patricia Slagter van Tryon, from the Department of Mathematics, Science and Instructional Technology Education in the College of Education, is a distinguished recipient of the Award for Achievement in International Research and Creative Activity, recognized for her exceptional contributions to education, international collaboration, and groundbreaking research in artificial intelligence. This is exemplified by her pivotal role in establishing enduring international partnerships, facilitating student exchanges, and spearheading innovative projects that have left an indelible mark on the global landscape.
  • Dr. Calvin Mercer, from the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, is a distinguished recipient of the Award for Achievement in International Research and Creative Activity. Dr. Mercer received the award for his internationally acclaimed work on the religious and social implications of using artificial intelligence and other breakthrough technologies to radically enhance humans physically, cognitively, affectively, morally, and spiritually.
  • Dr. Lester Zeager, from the Department of Economics in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences received an Award for Achievement in International Service and Engagement. Dr. Zeager takes a holistic approach to supporting students. As a result of his great care, compassion, and tireless efforts for international students, he is far more than a professor to them and is, in fact, a father-figure to many. Dr. Zeager has changed many lives through his work.
  • Dr. Stacy Warner, from the Department of Kinesiology in the College of Health and Human Performance, received an Award for Achievement in International Service and Engagement. Through the years, Dr. Warner as led study abroad programs with engaged learning components to twelve different countries and has served as an international delegate for the US Department of State, Sport Diplomacy Division to Tunisia and Uzbekistan. She is passionate about forging international partnerships using sport as a mechanism for cross-cultural community development and promoting the right of access to sport for all.
  • Kevin Williams, Director of Undergraduate Programs in the College of Business, received the Staff Award for Achievement in International Service. Kevin is commended for his leadership, vision, and dedication to all ECU students and was selected for this award for his commitment to students’ success and his efforts to promote global competencies. He has earned the respect of those he works with in the college as well as colleagues across the campus by his actions and work ethic.

At the award ceremony which kicked off International Education Week, twelve students received $2,000 study abroad scholarships through the Thomas W. Rivers Foreign Exchange Scholarship Fund. An additional five students received inaugural awards from the Cecil P. and Catherine D. Staton Scholarship. Applications for a second round of funding for this year are due January 15. Contributions to the Rivers Foreign Exchange Scholarship Fund can be made through the Global Affairs Advancement portal.

Three international students received scholarships for their academic accomplishments and their commitment to serve the Eastern North Carolina region.

  • Elnaz Pezeshki is a third year PhD student in the Integrated Coastal Sciences program from Iran. Elnaz’s impactful research on increasing the resilience of eastern North Carolina's watersheds to saltwater intrusion, along with her leadership roles and mentorship of students, exemplify her outstanding contributions to the ECU community and beyond.
  • Majoie Desire Mendouga Ngandi, from Cameroon, is a sophomore Software Engineering major in the College of Engineering and Technology. Majoie is hard-working and dedicated to his studies and his career field. He works in ITCS while pursuing his degree. In class, Majoie is always dialed in and engaged - professional, poised, and focused. Majoie has an extra push to learn and excel.
  • Betül Küçükardalı Cansever is a third-year doctoral student in Medical Family Therapy who came to the US from Turkey during the pandemic. She has devoted her time at ECU to extending mental health to underserved patients in eastern NC through integrated care teams in dental health, primary care, and school systems.

Contributions to the International Student Scholarship Fund can be made through the Global Affairs Advancement portal.

Four additional faculty, staff and community members were awarded Campus Internationalization Champion Awards for their contributions to ECU’s efforts to build a more inclusive, culturally diverse campus and to support international activities of faculty staff and students. Awardees were:

  • Dr. Linda Kean, Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication
  • Sharonda Buck, Assistant to the University Registrar
  • Yasmim Correa Bezerra, ECU Language Academy Alumni
  • Aaron Lucier, Director of Housing Operations


This year, for the first time since October 2016, the FAFSA is undergoing both deep and broad changes. Some of those changes are described below, but we want to let the ECU community know that the U.S. Department of Education notified the public that the FAFSA SHOULD open on December 31, 2023 for the 2024/25 academic year.

These changes are the most significant changes to the federal student aid programs since the 1991 Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965. Two of the changes that both students and parents will notice right away are to the application process, how to access form and the fact that they will now download tax data rather than manually entering the numbers. The third big change is to the formula for how a student eligibility for aid will be calculated.

Gone is the phrase, “Expected Family Contribution” (or the EFC) and the formula that created it. Instead, we will go back to using the phrase “Student Aid Index,” or the SAI. The formula for the SAI will look at different criteria and changes how it views certain items – like assets and family size.

Projections indicate that more North Carolina students will qualify for the Pell Grant, but due to changes in how the formula views the number of family members in college, we know that some students who received Pell in the 23/24 year will not qualify in 24/25. ECU, the Office of Student Financial Aid and the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) are planning to do all that we can to “hold harmless” students impacted by the change in the formula. We await the FAFSA output data to see what that will involve.

In the meantime, the Office of University Scholarships and the Office of Student Financial Aid are working together regarding the delayed launch of the 2024-2025 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). ECU may not receive the results of the FAFSA until late January according to the information received from the Department, but we will upload those files the moment they are available.

The ECUAWard scholarship portal has been open and accepting applications since November 1 for existing students. The deadline for most scholarships for the 2024-2025 academic year is January 15, 2024. Students are able to access the ECUAWard portal from PiratePort using their single sign on. Students are encouraged to submit their general scholarship applications and review the recommended opportunities as soon as possible.

For existing student scholarship opportunities that require a student to have demonstrated financial need, we will use the current (2023-2024) FAFSA that a student has filed. For incoming student opportunities that require demonstrated financial need, deadlines may be pushed back to allow for ECU to receive and process the FAFSA data.

Questions about the FAFSA process may be directed to the Office of Student Financial Aid. Questions about the ECU scholarship process may be directed to the Office of University Scholarships.


SARA Compliance Approval 2023-2024

The National Council of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (NC-SARA) has reviewed ECU’s application and approved the university for renewal as a participating institution in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) for the 2023-2024 year. Participation in SARA provides ECU the opportunity to offer educational experiences in the 49 SARA member states and three territories without seeking authorization from each state. Thousands of ECU students participate in these experiences which range from learning at a distance to practice-based experiential learning activities. ECU students can enroll in our programs with confidence, knowing we are ensuring access to quality educational offerings regardless of their location. SARA does not provide reciprocity for state professional licensing requirements.


As part of ECU’s commitment to an ongoing, comprehensive, and integrated research-based planning and evaluation process to continually improve institutional effectiveness, Institutional Planning, Assessment and Research (IPAR) organizes faculty and staff volunteers from across campus to serve on the Institutional Assessment Review Committee (I-ARC) each fall. The task of the I-ARC is to provide feedback to a sample of units on their annual assessment reports. This year, the I-ARC reviewed 2022-23 assessment reports from 68 educational programs and 26 support units. A heartfelt thank you goes out to the following individuals who contributed their time and expertise to the I-ARC this year.

  • Academic Affairs – Jennifer Baysden, Bill Mallett
  • Brody School of Medicine – David Eldridge, Rich Franklin, Jhojana Infante Linares
  • Chancellor’s Division – Kimrey Miko, Kimberly Nicholson
  • College of Allied Health Science – Leigh Cellucci, Hillary Dodge Evans, Mike Garrison
  • College of Business – Jaclyn Beierlein, Shelly Warren Brantley, Cody Chullen, Eric Kisling, Craig Marshall
  • College of Education – Holly Fales, Sarah Sconyers, Mary Worthington
  • College of Engineering and Technology – Karl Abrahamson, Page Varnell, Jason Yao
  • College of Fine Arts and Communications – Jay Juchniewicz, Mary Tucker-McLaughlin
  • College of Health and Human Performance – Susannah Berry, Sandy Lookabaugh, Jeff Pizzutilla
  • College of Nursing – Laura Batson
  • Institutional Planning, Assessment and Research – Cyndi Bellacero, Kristen Dreyfus, Danyell Harmon, Yihui Li, Jeanette Morris, Susan Morrissey
  • School of Dental Medicine – Dennis Cufone, Brett Erwin, Alex Gillone
  • Student Affairs – Helen Mulhern Halasz, Kathy Hill, Ashleigh Taylor, Jeremy Tuchmayer
  • Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences – Nehad Elsawaf, Ken Ferguson, Javier Lorenzo, Vera Tabakova


REDE launched the Sponsored Activities and Research Catalyst (SPARC) program in spring 2023 to support scholarly activities that lead to submission of competitive extramural proposals. Response to the program was strong and we are excited to offer the opportunity again. This program provides seed funding for projects to build the capacity to enhance and support proposal development and submission. Proposals for the next round of SPARC funding are due February 1, 2024. Learn more and apply HERE.

In 2022, recognizing the importance of highlighting faculty who are highly productive in their research and creative activity output, REDE developed the Trendsetter Award. Exemplary faculty are identified across three stages of their academic careers, including:

  • Early career, with 2 - 4 years of service
  • Mid-career, with 5 - 9 years of service
  • Later career or “Eminent,” with 10 or more years of service

REDE invites eligible faculty to apply for the 2024-2025 Trendsetter Awards. A current CV and letter from the departmental chairperson should be included with each application. Applications are due Monday, February 12, 2024. Awardees will be announced at the annual Research & Scholarship Award Ceremony in April.

Save the Date: Don’t miss Workshop 3 of the inaugural Trendsetter Series on Thursday, February 16, 2024, 2:00 - 3:30PM via Microsoft Teams. Join the session by registering through OFE’s website. You'll hear from Leigh Atherton, Jacquelyn Mallette, and Rukiyah Van Dross-Anderson.

Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (URCA) award applications will open January 8, 2024. URCA awards can provide funding up to $2,000 to support faculty-mentored research and creative projects in the areas of biomedical sciences, social sciences, STEM, as well as arts and humanities. Applications will be due Friday, January 26. More details available HERE.

The Office of Licensing and Commercialization attended the 3rd annual First Flight Venture Center High Flyer Awards Luncheon on November 17. Governor Jim Hunt, Governor Jim Martin, and Advanced Animal Diagnostics were recognized for their contributions to innovation and the entrepreneurial ecosystem in NC. Dr. Nancy Dias from the College of Nursing also attended the event as well as several external industry partners that have assisted ECU faculty in growing their innovations.

Recently learning of the HOME Consortium REDE helped develop with northeast NC counties and wanting to address the lack of affordable housing for critical employment sectors, Beaufort County Manager Brian Alligood reached out to ECU to help discover solutions. Alligood connected with Merrill Flood, ECU’s Director of Research and Innovation Campus Development, for a housing market analysis, and the County agreed to fund a summer intern for the research and data collection. Mary Archibald, an ECU Community and Regional Planning major and honors student, was selected as the research intern for the project. The ECU team developed a report of the housing market with next step recommendations and presented their findings to the County Commissioners on October 24, 2023. The Beaufort County Commissioner’s task force plans to meet with individual municipalities to garner support and evaluate which ECU recommendations to implement.

Learn more about ECU's Office of Economic and Community Engagement and how our services can assist you and the region, HERE.


2023 - 2024 Faculty Senate meeting dates are as follows:

  • December 5, 2023
  • January 30, 2024
  • February 27, 2024
  • March 26, 2024
  • April 23, 2024
  • April 30, 2024 (Organizational Meeting for 2024-2025)

For more about ECU Faculty Senate, click HERE.




Student Success

The College of Allied Health Sciences recognized faculty and staff with the 2023 Dean’s Awards: Dr. Lynne Murphy of Occupational Therapy for Outstanding Teaching, Dr. Jennifer J. Wright McDougal of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies for Outstanding Research, Dr. Lauren S. Turbeville of OT for Outstanding Service, and Becky Snoad of OT for Outstanding Staff.

The College of Allied Health Sciences hosted its inaugural Fall Social for alumni, donors, fieldwork educators, faculty, staff, and students as well as their families. Activities included a picnic lunch, trick-or-treat and department social hour, and a stamp rally.
Physician Assistant Studies students learn airway management skills during a visit to the Brody Clinical Simulation Lab.

Public Service

Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy continue to see patients together through the collaborative Student-Run Clinic.

Regional Transformation

ECU News Services recently highlighted long-established partnerships between the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSDI) and University of Alaska Anchorage as well as Arizona State University. Through distance education, ECU faculty prepare speech-language pathologists to serve rural populations in these states.

Dr. Roman Pawlak, Professor in Nutrition Science, shared the second part of a lecture about nutritional considerations with 30 members of the Parkinson’s Disease Support Group in New Bern.


The Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce two recipients of the 2024-2025 Harriot College Research Award: Regina DeWitt, associate professor in the Department of Physics, and Todd Bennett, associate professor in the Department of History. The research award program provides support for departments to reassign faculty, for a semester, in recognition of their need to have sustained and dedicated periods to devote to a project involving research or creative activity. DeWitt’s research, “How are luminescence properties of Antarctic quartz correlated with geographic location?” will impact the field through her unique collection of samples, her laboratory experience, and the potential for establishing new sampling strategies. Bennett’s research, “American Fireworks: A History of the United States in Five Moments, 1776-1976,” will be presented as a chapter in a book, and may reach a broad public audience because of its potential use as a textbook in teaching American history. Bennett's unique focus is on the American Revolution at 50-year intervals and is slated for release in 2026 to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the United States.

Dr. Michelle L. Malkin, assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology, is the director of a new Gambling Research and Policy Initiative (GRPI), which will assist in understanding gambling trends in North Carolina and throughout the United States as legalized gambling expands. Malkin’s goal for the GRPI is to conduct research on gambling awareness, behavior, risk, gambling-related harms and gambling treatment diversion court programs, among other priorities. Read more about the initiative HERE.

Catherine Grimm is using her degree (B.S. in urban and regional planning, ’06) to help make an impact on the citizens of one eastern North Carolina community. Grimm is the director of planning and economic development for the town of Tarboro. Along with Tarboro Mayor Tate Mayo and Town Manager Troy Lewis, Grimm makes up a team that has received a $30,000 grant from the International City/Council Management Association (ICMA) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support a community engagement project for residents that will focus on more affordable housing options. Discover more about the team’s plan HERE.

Dr. Jennifer McKinnon, professor in the Department of History and the Maritime Studies Program, is the recipient of a $599,377 award from the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management. The purpose of the award is to compile a database of the maritime heritage of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands; compile and summarize appropriate ethnographic information from the Indigenous communities of Guam and CNMI regarding traditional cultural uses/use areas and traditional cultural properties; and develop guidance that identifies best practices and protocols for respecting traditional Indigenous knowledge and integrating appropriately selected elements of Indigenous knowledge in the management process. Funding from the award will assist Maddie Roth, a student in the Integrated Coastal Sciences Ph.D. program, who will work with McKinnon for the next four years. Dr. Kristen Myers, a professor and chair of the Department of Sociology, is a collaborator on the award.

Front row (L-R): Don Swanbeck, Jim Fowler, Dr. Helen Dixon, Aero O’Hanlon, Atte Arffman (ECU visiting scholar from University of Jyväskylä, Finland). Back row (L-R): Dr. Mona Russell, Dr. Lynn Harris, Daniel Masters, Levi Holton, Dr. Eric Oakley

The Department of History and Maritime Studies Program made an impact at the recent Southeast World History Association (SEWHA) conference at the College of Charleston, with attendance and presentations by eight ECU professors, seven graduate and undergraduate students, and a visiting scholar. Graduate student Levi Holton received second place in the category of “Best Graduate Paper” and graduate student Aero O’Hanlon took third place in the same category. The prizes were awarded for “research that makes an original and noteworthy contribution to our shared understanding of the past.” Dr. Eric Oakley, assistant professor of history, serves as president of the organization. For more information, including the conference program, visit the SEWHA website.


Haisch inducted in Academy of Master Surgeon Educators

Dr. Carl E. Haisch

Dr. Carl E. Haisch, professor of surgery in surgical immunology and transplantation and vice chair of surgical education in the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, has been inducted into the American College of Surgeons Academy of Master Surgeon Educators. Haisch is among a cohort of 63 surgical educators to be inducted into the academy in Chicago this fall.

“Dr. Haisch has contributed greatly to the education mission of the ECU Dept of Surgery over many years” said Dr Eric J. DeMaria, interim chair of Brody’s Department of Surgery. “We continue to rely upon his expertise and experience as we develop new and better ways to educate surgeons both at ECU and around the world going forward. We are extremely pleased that the American College of Surgeons has recognized him for his many important contributions to education.”

Haisch is a dedicated surgeon educator whose experience in the field includes attending surgeon in transplant and trauma surgery. He served as chief of transplant at ECU for 20 years and was a member of the trauma team for 15 years. He has served on numerous local, regional and national committees and served as chair of the board of Carolina Donor Services. He is also a member in numerous transplant and trauma societies and is a member of the Society of University Surgeons, the American Surgical Association, the American Society of Transplant Surgeons and the Southern Surgical Association.

Once inducted, members of the academy actively engage in advancing the Academy’s programs and goals, which are to advance the science and practice of innovative lifelong surgical education, training, and scholarship in the changing milieu of health care; foster the exchange of creative ideas and collaboration; support the development and recognition of faculty; underscore the importance of lifelong surgical education and training; positively impact quality and patient safety through lifelong surgical education and training; disseminate advances in education and training to all surgeons; and offer mentorship to surgeon educators throughout their professional careers.

Cunningham named AIM-AHEAD Leadership Fellow

Dr. Karlene Cunningham

Dr. Karlene Cunningham, clinical assistant professor in the Brody School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, is one of 25 professionals named to the second cohort of the National Institutes of Health’s Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity (AIM-AHEAD) Fellows. The program aims to enhance the participation and representation of researchers and communities currently underrepresented in the development of AI/ML models and to improve the capabilities of this emerging technology, beginning with electronic health records and extending to other diverse data to address health disparities and inequities.

Cunningham and her cohort will participate in mentored and experiential learning activities to build their leadership skills in the AIM-AHEAD areas of focus. The fellowship seeks to prepare leaders and researchers to use technologies and AI to address persistent health disparities and inequities.

Graduates share impact of certificate in ethnic and rural health disparities

Brody Medical Student Melenis Lopez

In honor of National Rural Health month, some recent graduates of Brody’s online graduate certificate in ethnic and rural health disparities recently spoke about what the experience means to them and their futures as health care providers.

“This certification will equip me with comprehensive understanding regarding the impact of racial and ethnic disparities on health outcomes,” said fourth-year medical student Melenis Lopez. “It will also refine my professional communication skills, essential for my role as a future physician leader. Armed with this knowledge, I aim to contribute to the reduction of disparities, advocate for health equity, emphasize preventive medicine, and actively contribute to enhancing community well-being.”

Fourth-year Brody medical student Bridget Gallagher said the certificate program gave her a broader perspective on her future patients.

“The ERHD certificate program gave me the time and space, amidst the rigors of medical school, to see beyond the patient sitting in front of me and consider all of the forces affecting their health outside clinic walls,” she said. “We were encouraged to put ourselves out into the community, to build relationships, to question history, to learn new cultural belief systems, to contemplate the past and present role of racism and to challenge our own pre-existing biases towards our patients, our future colleagues and ourselves.”

Program director Dr. Eric Bailey said the 2023 cohort, the largest to date, is representative of the certificate’s goals.

“The Brody medical students have fully embraced the new approach in analyzing, conducting research and developing new medical interventions for our diverse, rural ethnic populations in eastern North Carolina,” he said.


In early October 2023, more than 20 East Carolina University College of Business (COB) graduate and undergraduate students descended on the Big Apple for a different purpose: exposure to business environments found not only outside the conference room but outside the state of North Carolina. The students represent the Arthur School’s immersive MBA pathway and the COB’s undergraduate student leadership board. Read Business Pirates Hit NYC for more information.

In January 2024, private and public sector leaders in eastern North Carolina will have easier access to the thought leadership, actionable research and industry knowledge coming out of the College of Business in its newly formed Office of Expert Services. The OES includes five areas of excellence that are structured to work with organizations and customize solutions that will advance not only organizations but also the employees they rely on daily. Read about the Office of Expert Services capabilities for more information.

The Miller School of Entrepreneurship in East Carolina University’s College of Business is firmly entrenched in Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine’s Top 50 Undergraduate Schools for Entrepreneurship list. For five years in a row, the Miller School has been on the list, and this year, it moved from No. 40 to No. 37, making it the only ranked North Carolina school. According to Miller School leaders, the climb in the ranking indicates the school’s approach to being a national model for student success and transformational programs. For more of the story, click HERE.

John Chapman, director of the Academy for Sales Leadership, took a group of COB students to Wilmington, North Carolina on Nov. 3 for an all-day sales competition. The ECU Pirate Sales students demonstrated exceptional skills and stood out in the highly competitive Hendrick Automotive sales challenge. They competed against students from UNCW and Liberty University; two Pirates secured spots in the top 10 rankings. Olivia Grubb and Jake Sblendorio finished 4th and 5th, respectively. Each participant on the ECU team arrived well-prepared, but it was the thrill of the competition and the valuable lessons they gained that truly made the experience memorable. Chapman had this to say about the event: “This achievement fills me with immense pride and gratitude towards all of our hardworking COB students.” The Academy is already making plans for another sales competition in Spring 2024.

Four College of Business supply chain majors attended the STAFDA2023 Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas, Nov. 4-7. The attendees were all Supply Chain Management majors in the College of Business (Rodney Bonilla, Reece Harvey, Alexandra (Allie) Jackson, and Madison Nay). More than 3,000 conference attendees gathered at the event. The students participated in the inaugural Case Challenge, placing second in the competition. The trip was made possible through the Vincent K. McMahon Endowed Professorship, currently held by Dr. John F. Kros of the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management in the College of Business. The students were accompanied by Dr. Kros & Dr. Mauro Falasca, who serves as the Student ISM Chapter advisor. Read COB Supply Chain students place second at national competition for additional information.


School partners with University of Florida on practiced-based research grant

The University of Florida College of Dentistry and the East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine received a five-year, $3,692,175 National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) grant to establish an academic multidisciplinary practice-based research network within and between their respective dental schools.

Dr. David W. Paquette, professor and chair of the ECU dental school’s Department of Surgical Sciences, serves as co-principal investigator. The research teams will collaborate on the project as part of the NIDCR’s Practice-Based Research Integrating Multidisciplinary Experiences in Dental Schools, or PRIMED, initiative to include research and science as an integral part of dental education and practice to prepare current and future dentists to be involved in practice-based clinical research.

The two institutions will embark on the five-year project, Development of Opportunities for Research (DOOR) in Dental Schools: Future Academic Interdisciplinary Workforce and Collaborators for the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network, from 2023-2028 to develop and test an integrated, multi-level and interdisciplinary program featuring training in clinical research skills, team-based science, mentoring and interdisciplinary collaboration, encompassing two clinical research studies with dental patients, one on diabetes detection and the other on acute/chronic pain.

“We anticipate that this grant will be transformative for our school’s research culture in providing formal, in-depth training and experiences in clinical and practice-based research for our dental students, residents and clinical faculty at Ross Hall and our community service learning centers across North Carolina,” Paquette said.

The partnership between UFCD, a research-intensive college with a 50-year history of dental education, and ECU, a newer dental school with a growing research focus that welcomed its first class of dental students in 2011, serves as a collaborative model that can be replicated in other U.S. dental schools and health education programs, making a positive impact on public health through a more research-informed and evidence-based workforce.

Faculty have strong showing at AAP meeting

Dr. Chandler Conner ’22, left, connected with the dental school’s surgical sciences' periodontology division faculty Dr. Megumi Williamson, Dr. David Paquette, Dr. Acela Martinez Luna and Dr. Alex Gillone, at the American Academy of Periodontology meeting in Austin, Texas.

The school’s surgical sciences’ periodontology division had a strong showing at November’s American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) meeting in Austin, Texas. Dr. Alex Gillone gave a fantastic presentation on ECU’s experience in introducing Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs) as competency assessments at the Predoctoral Educators Workshop. Dr. Acela Martinez Luna was one of three speakers selected to present at a session called, “Rising Stars.” She presented an evidence-based case study of a patient treated with lip repositioning surgery for excessive gingival display. Drs. Martinez Luna and the division faculty also presented a poster on gingival grafting following bone augmentation procedures. Dr. David Paquette was honored for his years of service as an associate editor of the Journal of Periodontology. The division faculty joined Dr. Chandler Conner ’22, now a UNC periodontology resident, at the event.

Students and faculty serve the community and region

Students and faculty volunteered at a Missions of Mercy event in Wilmington in November, to provide complimentary care to adults in need of oral health care and dental procedures. The event is part of a program through the North Carolina Dental Society to meet the needs of patients with limited access to dental care across the state. The ECU dental school is a regular participant at Missions of Mercy events.

The School of Dental Medicine Military Club hosted the 5th Annual Veterans Day 5K Race and Ruck at ECU's North Recreational Complex. The event, which attracted hundreds of participants and supporters, benefits the ECU Smiles for Veterans Patient Care Fund. Established in 2021, the fund helps support oral health care for the estimated 92% of veterans who do not have access to dental VA benefits.


During this year's International Awards Ceremony, Dr. Patricia Slagter Van Tryon (second from right) received the Award for Achievement in International Research and Creative Activity.

Faculty in counselor education, library science and literacy studies have recently published articles around professional development, the role of sista circles, public archaeology veterans programs, and more. Read the abstracts of their research on the COE News blog, HERE.

The College of Education hosted four scholars from universities in New York, Texas, Florida and Indiana. They gave talks during the Emerging Scholars Symposium about their respective fields of study and were able to connect with ECU faculty about their experiences. Learn more about the four scholars HERE.

Graduate student Star Manis exemplifies determination and persistence. She is a first-generation college student who is teaching full-time, pursuing her graduate degree and working as a graduate assistant for the College of Education. Learn more about her educational journey HERE.

The North Carolina State Board of Education met on ECU’s campus for its planning and work session and monthly meeting. ECU alumni efforts in their districts were recognized, ECU faculty and staff networked with state officials, and literacy initiatives were discussed. Learn more about the board meeting HERE.

The ECU Community School is celebrating another year of success. This year’s school performance grades from the NC Department of Public Instruction mark the first year the school does not have the designation of a low-performing school. The school also met 100% of its long-term reading goals. Learn more about the school’s success HERE.

In addition to providing undergraduate and graduate degrees, the College of Education assists those with bachelor’s degrees to attain their licensure to teach in North Carolina. Shainah Andrews, an alumna of the Department of English, returned to ECU to receive her licensure to teach English for grades 9 - 12 and high school English language arts. Learn more about why she chose to get her teaching license HERE.

The College of Education hosted three renowned hip-hop and hip-hop education scholars and artists to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the genre. The three scholars explained the importance of the genre to the field of education. Learn more about the event HERE.


Students from technology systems, computer science, and engineering built a robot that placed second in the Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering national robotics competition. Read more HERE.

One is working on a groundbreaking bridge project. Another is paving the state’s highways. A third is spearheading a nearly 600,000-square-foot warehouse project. What they all have in common are construction management degrees from ECU. Learn more about how our construction management graduates are transforming the region HERE.

Engineering transfer students detailed their journeys to ECU during the fall meeting of the North Carolina Engineering Pathways program. The goal of the program is to build and develop opportunities for students to begin engineering studies at a community college and then transfer seamlessly into a UNC system engineering program. Read more HERE.

Dr. Carol Massarra, associate professor in the Department of Construction Management, is leading an interdisciplinary team that includes the departments of computer science and technology systems in helping develop improved building maintenance schedules for the Army as part of a $226,088 grant. Read more HERE.

Sometimes, you just have to have a little fun. The Department of Technology Systems hosted its Student Appreciation Day in which students enjoyed pizza, games and a chance to talk with each other and faculty outside of a classroom setting. Later, the department hosted faculty, staff and student workers as part of a Thanksgiving potluck lunch.

Students in the Department of Construction Management got their hands dirty during Blockfest. Experiential learning was on full display as teams competed to design and then build projects using bricks and concrete blocks in just a four-hour window. Projects included benches, wells, firepits and walls, with judges awarding prizes to the winning teams.


The Northern Innovation & Startup Center hosted their inaugural Technology and Entrepreneurship Summit, where industry leaders, innovators, students, and aspiring entrepreneurs converge for a dynamic event focused on the intersection of technology and entrepreneurship, featuring insightful discussions, networking opportunities, and the opportunity to learn from tech experts and successful entrepreneurs.

At this Summit, Professor Daniel Kariko exhibited his work, Suburban Symbiosis, in a one-person show and presented about his experiences in working across disciplines in creating his own creative output and research, including biology microscopy lab and coastal studies. Further, he will elaborate on proposing and establishing Shape Lab, a digital maker space within the East Carolina University’s School of Art and Design, and how it is used throughout the curriculum.

Drs. Aysel Morin, Deborah Thomson, and Drew Ashby-King presented and were recognized for their scholarly work at the 109th Annual National Communication Association Convention in National Harbor, Maryland.

A crowdfunding campaign to raise $20,000 kicked off Nov. 1 to help fulfill the vision for the new music therapy clinic in East Carolina University’s School of Music. Funding raised through the campaign will cover operational expenses of the clinic and support the purchase of instruments used in the program.

Spearheaded by Drs. Adrienne Steiner-Brett and Virginia Driscoll, the Music Therapy Clinic at ECU (MTC@ECU) is a hands-on learning and therapeutic environment for young children through older adults and all ages in between. MTC@ECU is directly tied to the music therapy program within the School of Music and has been providing academic and practicum training for music therapists for more than 30 years. Our students are employed around the world in hospitals, assisted living centers, clinics, schools, community treatment, and private practice. Check out the program on Instagram.

The campaign will also allow the music therapy program to receive a challenge grant from the Eddie and Jo Allison Smith Family Foundation.

Eight of the School of Theatre and Dance seniors presented their final capstone in Fall 2023 Senior Choreography Showcase in Archie Burnette Studio Theatre. The show included a variety of styles form contemporary, modern, jazz funk, heels, and more.

Choreography: Marissa Miller, Raven Adrianse, Ella Schaffner, Erica Pullen, Amani Faulk, Emily Caras, Jadra Newman, and Britney Shearin


The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition was held Tuesday, November 14, with 35 graduate students participating, up from 15 who competed last year. These students were supported by 26 different mentors who provided guidance for the research endeavors. 3MT is an international competition that requires students to present their research (it does not have to be a thesis project) in three minutes or less, using non-technical language, supported by only one static slide. These researchers competed in one of three heats, where they were judged on (1) comprehension and content and (2) engagement. Those with the top two scores from each heat presented again in the finals. Following are the finalists and those who won awards.

Finalists for Grand Champion:

  • Rachel Bruns, Engineering, Pinched Nerves: A Pilot’s Worst Enemy
  • Skyler DeWall, Biology, Investigation of the Soil Seedbank in a Long-term Mowing and Drainage Experiment
  • Michael Reynolds, Biology, Parental Care Response to Water Level Change in the Mimic Poison Dart Frog
  • Amy Rogers, Sociology, Healthy Relationships: Examining Health at Late Midlife and Old Age Loneliness
  • Madison Rose, Computer Science, Machine Learning Techniques to Aid Breast Cancer Recurrence Prediction
  • Drew Theobald, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Kinin B1 Receptor: Emerging Target for Neuroinflammation in COVID-19 Infection

Final Results:

  • Grand Champion: Madison Rose, Computer Science
  • 2nd Place: Drew Theobald, Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • 3rd Place: Rachel Bruns, Engineering
  • People’s Choice: Skyler DeWall, Biology
  • Department Cup: Biology with Skyler DeWall, Michael Reynolds, and Chloe Gabriel

The grand champion, Madison Rose, has now qualified to compete in regional competition at the Southern Council of Graduate Schools annual conference in Greenville, South Carolina in March 2024.

Hosting a successful 3MT competition requires the efforts of many. The Graduate School thanks its staff for planning and facilitating the event, the participants, mentors, judges, timekeepers, and moderators. We also recognize the Center for Communication Excellence, Aramark, and Student Center staff. Finally, thank you to those who attended to support the competitors and voted for the People’s Choice Award.

On Wednesday, October 25, the Career Services Office and the Office of Graduate Admissions co-hosted the Graduate & Professional School Fair at the Greenville Convention Center. The fair provided opportunities for ECU graduate programs and other programs across the state and the region to recruit here in Greenville. There were 62 academic programs present, and 106 students attended. This was the first time the Graduate School and Career Services partnered for an event specific to graduate student recruitment. Both departments viewed this event as a success and look forward to expanding the number of programs and increasing exposure to graduate education within the region.

The Graduate School and Research, Economic Development, and Engagement are excited to announce that we are planning our annual Research and Creative Achievement Week (RCAW). This year’s theme is Create & Innovate. It will include in-person podium presentations, performances, showcases, and poster sessions as well as virtual poster presentations featuring the research and creative activities of our undergraduate and graduate students and post-doctoral scholars from across campus.

As the semester winds down, faculty may want to engage with their students and post-doctoral scholars to help them determine which project they will submit when the call for presentations opens. We will be accepting submissions from January 2 through February 15, 2024.

Any questions can be sent to the co-coordinators of the event. Graduate students should contact Faculty Fellow, Dr. Michelle F. Eble ( Undergraduate students should contact the Director of Undergraduate Research, Dr. Tuan Tran.

Annual Thesis & Dissertation Awards

The thesis and dissertation research our students complete is always impressive. Each semester, one of the privileges we have in the Graduate School is to see the depth and breadth of the outstanding research of our graduate students. As we read through each thesis and dissertation submitted, we are in awe of their excellent innovation and perseverance. The Graduate School’s annual Outstanding Thesis and Dissertation Awards are the way we acknowledge this exemplary work.

The Thesis and Dissertations Selections Committee will choose the first-place thesis and dissertation in each of the categories listed above, with judging to be completed in February, and to be recognized during RCAW 2024. Additional materials, including letters of recommendation and a lay summary of the thesis/dissertation, may be required of awardees for announcement purposes and consideration for submission to regional and national awards. We ask that all nominees and mentors agree to provide all necessary support documents for subsequent regional or national competitions should the nominee be selected as the category winner. The award winners will be recognized at the Research & Creative Week awards luncheon in April 2024.

The deadline and Procedure for Submissions:

  • Deadline: Nominations must be received by the Graduate School no later than February 2, 2024.
  • Associate deans will email nominations from their respective college to Dr. Michelle Eble, Grad School Faculty Fellow with the above information attached.

Please direct any questions to Dr. Michelle Eble, Faculty Fellow, or visit our website HERE. A spreadsheet of all eligible theses and dissertations from the years described earlier is available in the GPDC SharePoint site. The document is in a folder titled Awards Materials 2024. Faculty and Staff should have access to this SharePoint with ECU Pirate ID/passphrase. If you cannot enter this site, please contact Plummer Nye. Thank you for supporting our Graduate Students!

2024 ECU Distinguished Graduate Faculty Mentor Awards

One of the most important factors in graduate student education is mentoring, which differs from advising in that it involves a social transformation that includes a professional relationship benefiting student development and instills a lifelong learning perspective to the practices and values of an academic discipline.

Throughout the academic year, the staff in the Graduate School remark about the outstanding accomplishments students and faculty contribute to graduate education across campus. It is our privilege to work with the excellence we see all around us. The Distinguished Graduate Faculty Mentor Award is given to two faculty each Spring at the awards ceremony for Research & Creative Achievement Week.

Given the broad array of characteristics describing exemplary mentorship across multiple disciplines, no single set of criteria can adequately describe Distinguished Graduate Faculty Mentor Award candidates at ECU. Traditional, innovative, as well as distinctive ways in which faculty members have mentored graduate students should and will all be considered.

Graduate students are encouraged to discuss nominations for this award with their graduate faculty academic mentors. The Distinguished Graduate Faculty Mentor Award Ad-hoc Committee will make the selections. This committee consists of the winners of this award from the previous year, up to four selected/volunteer members of the ECU Graduate Council or Graduate Program Directors and Coordinators Committee, and two ECU graduate students.

The deadline for submission is 5 p.m. on February 2, 2024. Please submit completed PDF packages through the submission survey.

Please direct questions to Dr. Michelle Eble, Faculty Fellow.


Three HHP faculty members were selected by student-athletes as guest coaches for the Pirate football game versus Tulane. Pictured are Drs. Sandy Lookabaugh (left photo, left), and Lisa Godwin (left photo, right) with the Department of Human Development and Family Science, and football player RaRa Dillworth with health education and promotion teaching professor Karen Vail-Smith (right photo, left).

Dr. Stacy Warner (second from right, above), sport management coordinator and professor in the Department of Kinesiology, was named ECU's 2023 recipient of the Achievement in International Service and Engagement Award. She was recognized during the ECU International Awards Ceremony held at Harvey Hall in the Murphy Center.

Student Matthew Simpkins in the Department of Interior Design and Merchandising represented ECU and earned a Rising Star Award in High Point from the International Furnishings and Design Association. The IFDA’s Carolinas Chapter annually honors top senior-level design students from colleges and universities across the Carolinas, giving them an opportunity to showcase a project and their design philosophy before being honored with awards and gifts.

Emily Warner, a graduate student in recreational therapy in the Department of Recreation Sciences, presented her thesis research at the Symposium on Experiential Education Research at the 2023 Association for Experiential Education International Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. Warner graduates this month after completing her internship at the Adaptive Sports Center in Crested Butte, Colorado.

Dr. Melanie Sartore-Baldwin won the 2023 Governor's Volunteer Service Award. Sartore-Baldwin, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology, leads the Mutt Strutters Dog Walking Enrichment Program with Pitt County Animal Services.

HHP has determined student projects to invest in for its 2023 HHP student pilot research awards. Winners include Annagrace Saufley, Tyler West, Kensey Tarkington, Kristen Tarantino, Haiden Hice and Samantha Nixon, mentored, respectively, by Drs. Sandy Lookabaugh, Leslie Cofie, Bhibha Das, David Loy, Mary Cate Komoski and Christine Habeeb.


Biology major Matt Downing is one of ECU's Learning Assistants — undergrad students who help their peers successfully navigate challenging STEM classes. One of the classes he's helping in this semester is a biology lab where he can help students understand the concepts and processes. Learn more about Matt and the LA program HERE.

The Honors College is sponsoring three students in the Art Makers program, a year-long paid residency giving honors students from all majors the chance to make artwork and act as arts ambassadors. Aydan Lawler serves a curator for the program and selected Kathryn Kaoud, Kaeleigh Kruger and Majoie Ngandi as the three students who will explore how art intersects with AI through their projects this year. Learn more about them HERE.

Meghan Lower was destined to be a Pirate — she’s a third generation Pirate whose grandfather scored the first touchdown in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium! Learn more about this honors alumna and current ECU Honors staff member HERE.

ECU Honors and biology student Kai Davis has immersed himself in research experiences at ECU — including a research experience at the San Juan Islands in Washington. Learn more about Kai's ECU journey HERE.

Brinkley-Lane Scholars spent the last few weeks purchasing gifts for students at the ECU Community School and wrapping them as one of their yearly service projects.

Brinkley-Lane Scholars Stephanie Stewart, Emely Cruz Ramirez & Jenna Caputa presented at the 2023 USPAA conference in Columbia, SC on encouraging the retention of women in collegiate STEM programs.


ICP is proud to announce the Fall 2023 issue of its seasonal newsletter, CoastLines. Stay up to date on the research, education, and outreach programs of ECU ICP and the Coastal Studies Institute.

Students of the Outer Banks Field Site, hosted by the Coastal Studies Institute, will present the findings of their Capstone Research Project in a presentation entitled, “Artificial Light at Night: Public Perception, Sea Turtle Nesting, and Spatio-temporal Change in North Carolina’s Outer Banks.” The program will take place at 6PM on December 12, 2023, on the ECU Outer Banks Campus as a part of the Science on the Sound lecture series.

Coastal Studies Institute staff recently presented at the North Carolina Science Teachers association annual conference in Winston Salem, NC. During the session, teachers learned about the renewable ocean energy research of CSI, ECU and its partners, while participating on standards-based, hands-on activities that they can incorporate into their existing curriculums.

In early November, John McCord (right), Coastal Studies Institute’s Assistant Director Of Public Engagement and Outreach took part in “A White House Demo Day: American Possibilities” in Washington DC. This event showcased a variety of federally funded research and development projects and CSI was asked to attend along with Sandia National Laboratories (SNL). The shared booth included a small wave tank, complete with a wave energy converter that demonstrated the power available in waves. McCord and representatives from Sandia National Labs highlighted the work or the NC Renewable Ocean Energy program, and renewable energy projects with our federal partners including SNL, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Department of Energy and the Water Power Technology Office.

ECU alumna and former Semester Experience at the Coast participant Chanel Sturdivant recently accepted an offer from the Bureau of Land Management’s Glasglow Field Office as an AmeriCorps and AIM crew member.

ICS Ph.D student Sam Farquhar worked with partners at the Université Laval to host a workshop titled, "Food security, harvest, climate change, and ecosystem change workshop" in Kuujjuaq, Quebec from November 27-28. This workshop co-constructs ecosystems and food systems with Arctic residents. The information shared in this meeting will be used to inform scientific models and used for community decision-making.

ICS Ph.D. students Jillian Eller (left photo), Sam Farquhar and Mariela Vega (right photo), GG Guerry, Kyra Hagge, and Daniel Reed were among attendees of The Coastal Society’s forum on priority issues in coastal North Carolina at UNC-Wilmington in partnership with NC Sea Grant. It was an action-packed day of plenary sessions (natural and community resilience, PFAs, and marine spatial planning), breakout conversations, poster presentations, and networking.

Graphic courtesy of the ForEverglades Foundation.

Integrated Coastal Sciences Ph.D. student Kinsey Blumenthal was recently announced as a 2023 ForEverglades Fellow.

Dr. David Griffith (Coastal Studies, Anthropology) received a faculty book award for his book, The Cultural Value of Work: Livelihoods and Migration in the World's Economies, from Provost Robin Coger at a ceremony at Joyner Library in November.

Drs. Mike O’Driscoll (Coastal Studies) and Charlie Humphrey (Health and Human Performance) served as panelists for the Carolinas Collaborative on Climate, Health, and Equity Webinar Series: Infrastructure Tipping Points Webinar - Climate Adaptation for Onsite Wastewater Systems in the Coastal Carolinas (Nov. 29, 2023). The webinar is available HERE.

Dr. Sid Narayan (Coastal Studies) will represent the American Society of Civil Engineers at the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) 28 (the annual climate change conference) in Dubai this December as a panelist at an event on Nature-based Solutions and the Built Environment organized by the American Society of Landscape Architects and Architecture 2030. The conference runs from Nov. 30 - Dec. 10, and the aforementioned event will be held Dec. 8.

The Narayan lab (above, Coastal Studies) had a wonderful and productive Coastal Studies Institute retreat in November, where they made a lot of progress on their collective research activities.

Dr. Mike Muglia (Coastal Studies; middle) and George Bonner (NC Renewable Ocean Energy Program- NCROEP; right) represented the Atlantic Marine Energy Center, NCROEP, the Coastal Studies Institute, and ECU Department of Coastal Studies at the International Waters meeting in Orkney, Scotland at the European Marine Energy Center. There they presented on programming and shared updates on device testing efforts.

Dr. Mike Muglia (Coastal Studies) was presented with the 2023 Cleantech Research Innovation Award in Raleigh this November. This award recognizes those who are “within an institution of higher education that [are] pursuing a research-based solution to a pressing cleantech challenge.”


Academic Library Services held its final Lego Challenge event of the semester led by Eryn Staib, student engagement and outreach specialist. The theme was cozy, and student creations were put on display in the library. Stay tuned on the library’s website and social media for similar and more events and Lego opportunities.

The Main Campus Faculty Author Book and Alternative Textbook Awards included authors representing five colleges — College of Health and Human Performance, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, College of Fine Arts and Communication, College of Education and College of Engineering and Technology — and Academic Library Services, the Brody School of Medicine and Department of Coastal Studies honored for their authorship. Event coverage and a list of all authors and monographs are featured in an ECU Now blog entry.

Faculty participating in the 2023-24 Alternative Textbook Program save students more than $44,000 per semester in a transition to new course materials such as open textbooks, library subscriptions and other free materials. The program is co-facilitated by Jeanne Hoover, head of scholarly communication, and Allison Kaefring, publishing and open access support librarian. Pictured are some of the faculty participating in the 2023-24 Alternative Textbook Program after the 13th annual ECU Main Campus Faculty Author Book and Alternative Textbook Awards.


Save the Date: Love Data Week, February 5 - 9, 2024.

Love Data Week is an international event intended to engage researchers in dialogues around issues and methods in data creation, analysis, and visualization. As federal and foundation funders increase their focus on rigor and reproducibility, conversations about data are more important than ever. Join Laupus personnel and other campus experts as we share presentations and engage in dialogue on various data-related topics. REDCap training will also be provided during this week. More information and details to come in the New Year.

Study Hall Hours

Laupus Library begins study hall hours to give students extended access to library spaces for fall exams. Study hall begins Monday, Dec. 4. Hours of operation through winter break are available HERE.

Late Night Pancake Breakfast

The Friends of Laupus Library invite Health Sciences Campus students to enjoy the annual Late Night Pancake Breakfast on Reading Day, Dec. 5, in the 4th floor Gallery. 1Card required!


In early November, the College of Nursing hosted an Emerging Scholars Symposium to give future nursing leaders from the region an opportunity to share their research and work. Dr. Tyra Girdwood, a Duke University postdoctoral fellow, and PhD candidate Shewit Jaynes, from UNC Chapel Hill, participated in the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Emerging Scholars Symposium. The College of Nursing’s Office of Culture, Engagement and Professional Development sponsored the event.

Girdwood’s research focuses on how to ease young adults’ transition from pediatric to adult medical care, particularly for those challenged with chronic conditions like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease. Jaynes’ research hones in on helping medical professionals understand the risk factors for high-risk pregnancy among black women and how to mitigate the challenges that pregnant black mothers face. Both nursing researchers are bringing needed focus to medical issues that put particular strain on rural and underprivileged communities in North Carolina.

Dr. Cheryl Kovar has had a busy end of 2023 presenting her research scholarly work titled “Reproductive Coercion: State of the Science (2010-2022)” – earlier this fall at the North Carolina Public Health Association’s Fall Education Conference in Concord at the end of September, and the 2023 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Expo in Atlanta November 12 - 15. APHA’s annual meetings are the premier public health events of the year, offering innovative and exciting opportunities to help reach personal and professional goals, engage with public health experts, collaborate with other advocates, and grow professionally.

Dr. Kovar, Dr. Devon J. Hensel (Co-Investigator from Indiana University School of Medicine), Ms. Carrie Forbes and Madalyn Pridgen, an ECU CON undergraduate nursing student, were involved in this state of the science literature review. After screening hundreds of published studies, the team identified a total of 57 primary research studies conducted in the U.S. among self-identified females, specifically addressing reproductive coercion.

Reproductive coercion involves power and control behaviors that intimate partners take to either sabotage contraceptive measures that women take to prevent pregnancy or directly pressure them to become pregnant, and/or pregnancy outcome pressure that is different than what the woman wishes.

Dr. Nancy Dias has been named a Fellow in Palliative Care Nursing. She will be formally inducted during the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine/Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association Annual Assembly March 20-23 in Phoenix.

The HPNA says that Fellows are nurses who have promoted and advanced both the specialty of hospice and palliative nursing and the mission of HPNA. In short, Fellows are experts and leaders in helping patients and families deal with chronic illness and end of life care. “The status of Fellow in Palliative Care Nursing rewards Dr. Dias’ many efforts and acknowledges her as a national authority and subject matter expert in this space,” Dean Bim Akintade said.

ECU was well-represented last month at the South Eastern Nurses Educator Symposium in Wrightsville Beach. The symposium was designed to bring together nurse educators, nursing professional development specialists, academic faculty and anyone who provides continuing professional development to healthcare providers to share best practices and lessons learned.

Drs. Alex Hodges and Megan Dillon-Spruill had a podium presentation titled “Integrating Telehealth Across Nursing Curriculum” and Hodges and Dr. Shannon Powell had an ePoster presentation titled “Nuts & Bolts of an Academic PhD/DNP Collaboration.”

Dr. Tina Scott presented her research “An Interprofessional Collaborative Experience at an HBCU: Dietetic Interns and Senior Leadership Nursing Students” during the conference. Dr. Scott is currently enrolled in our Post-Master’s Certificate Nursing Education Program with a planned graduation date of Dec. 23. She is also an alum of our MSN Leadership and DNP programs. She is a Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator teaching in skills labs at NC Central University.

“She is an outstanding nurse, leader and educator,” said Dr. Shannon Powell, associate dean for Academic Affairs.

Casey Spear, a two-time Pirate Nurse who graduated with a BSN in 2000 and an MSN in community health nursing in 2004, was recently announced as one of 24 finalists from across the state for the North Carolina Center for Advancement of Teaching Career and Technical Education Teacher of the Year award.

Spear grew up in the small town of Creswell. After graduating from the ECU CON she worked as a public health nurse at MTW District Health Department and a school nurse for Tyrrell County Schools. After the birth of their first child, she and her husband moved to Edenton where she served as a school nurse in Edenton-Chowan Schools.

Spear started working as a Health Science Teacher at John A. Holmes in Edenton in August of 2017 after working as a School Health Nurse consultant for NC Department of Health and Human Services. She teaches Health Science I, Health Science II, Gerontology, Nursing Fundamentals and Pharmacy Technician.

“The ECU CON provided me with a willingness to always want to serve other people. I fell in love with gaining knowledge that would allow me to help those in need,” Spear said. “I learned discipline and hard work were both essential to being successful. One of my instructors while receiving my Masters taught me that even in times of hardship you must remain focused on your goals and work to attain them.”

While at the ECU CON, Spear was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau. She serves as a model for how to champion health care delivery in rural areas of the state.