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Research and creative activity

SUMMER 2010

Getting More From Grapes Also in this issue: Ahead of the class Beyond Band-Aids Supporting military families 1

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EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY Summer 2010

M ess a g e f r o m t h e V i c e C h a n c e l l o r Research, creativity and engagement at East Carolina University are healthy despite state and national economic struggles.

www.ecu.edu PUBLISHER Dr. Deirdre M. Mageean Vice Chancellor, Research and Graduate Studies

The number of proposals submitted for contracts, grants and cooperative agreements climbed 25 percent in the last fiscal year, resulting in more than $40 million in funding. And through the first half of this fiscal year, our faculty members have brought in $30 million in external grants and contracts. Together with fiscal year 2008-2009 funding, that’s more than $70 million in 18 months.

EDITOR Doug Boyd WRITERS Karen Shugart Crystal Baity Tracey Peake ART DIRECTOR Michael Litwin PHOTOGRAPHERS Cliff Hollis Forrest Croce Edge is published by the Division of Research and Graduate Studies at East Carolina University. Any written portion of this publication may be reprinted with appropriate credit. COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS boydd@ecu.edu

© 2010 by East Carolina University Printed by University Printing & Graphics U.P. 10-324 Printed on recycled paper. 3,500 copies of this public document were printed at a cost of $3,773.31, or $1.08 per copy.

A significant amount of funding and recognition are going to our younger faculty members. Most recently, Dr. Eduardo Leorri of Geological Sciences and Dr. Xiaoping Pan of Biology were awarded Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards – two of only 32 grantees nationwide. Drs Jared Brown of the department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and Loren Limberis of the department of Engineering are recipients of grants from the North Carolina Biotech Center. Dr Tim Christensen of the Biology department and Dr. Isabelle Lemasson, of Microbiology and Immunology have received grants from the National Institutes of Health, (you can read about Dr Lemasson’s 1.4 million dollar grant in this issue). But dollars aren’t the sole measure of success. Six faculty members have received patents for their innovations during the past 12 months: Dr. Gregg Givens and Drs. Joseph Kalinowski and Andrew Stuart of Communication Sciences and Disorders; Dr. George Sigounas of Medicine; Dr. Orville Day Jr. of Physics; and Dr. David Pravica of Mathematics. Economic development and engagement continue to be cornerstones of ECU’s strategic plan, and those efforts are also bringing benefits to the university and region. In this issue of Edge, you can read about work by ECU and the N.C. Department of Commerce to help communities plan projects that will improve their capacity to attract jobs. In our cover story, you can learn about Dr. Michael Wheeler’s work with a winery to use grapes’ natural chemistry help combat liver disease. While our faculty is working hard to innovate and engage, students are also active. In our fourth annual Research and Creative Achievement Week, held in April, a total of 97 students made either oral or poster presentations. This summer, doctoral student Alicia Moran will present her sleep medicine research at a national sleep medicine meeting in Texas, and other students are participating in more conferences. Yes, research, creativity and engagement are strong at ECU, as you can see in this issue of Edge. We hope you enjoy it, and please keep in touch with your university.

Deirdre M. Mageean, Ph.D. Vice Chancellor Research and Graduate Studies


Ta b l e o f c o n t e n t s

features

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8 Cultivating Answers

A professor’s liver studies take him to lab and vineyard

12 Ahead of the Class College of Education receives $8.8 million to improve teacher training

20 Putting Families Front and Center ECU programs help loved ones prepare for military deployments

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Beyond Baid-Aids and Boo-Boos Dr. Martha Engelke’s research shows importance of school nurses

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abstracts Faculty members honored for excellence E  CU scientists provide journal cover art P  rofessor helps identify new salamander C  enter for Sustainable Tourism first to offer master’s degree C  alhoun named Harriot College distinguished professor E  CU, State Department work on climate change course G  rant to aid nurse-midwifery education E  xternal funding tops $40 million Professor receives national research award $ 4.2 million grant to aid aerospace workforce development T  wo receive Robert Wood Johnson faculty scholar grants E  CU, Commerce Department work to improve communities C  amp helps students learn science G  rant to aid cancer research at ECU

explorations

Researchers driving at quieter pavement

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S corpion venom provides clues to cause, treatment of pancreatitis S cientist takes aim at cancer-causing virus B  iologist finds proof of first monogamous frog  yatt meets his neighbors in ‘Pray W for Eric’

in print

A  look at recent publications by ECU faculty members

on the cover

Grapes might hold a key to fighting chronic liver diseases, the 12th biggest cause of death in the United States. Read on page 8 about one ECU professor’s search for answers in the lab and the vineyard. n

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abstract

research briefs

Faculty members honored for excellence Two East Carolina University faculty members received Achievement for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity awards in March. Dr. Scott Curtis, associate professor of geography, and Dr. Kyle Summers, professor of biology, received Five-Year Achievement Awards. Curtis came to ECU in 2003. He has master’s and doctoral degrees in atmospheric and oceanic sciences from the University of Wisconsin and a bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences from the University of Virginia. His research focuses on global climate variability and change. He is also assistant director of the ECU Center for Natural Hazards Research. He has received more than $500,000 in research funding at ECU and published more than 30 refereed articles and two book chapters. Summers came to ECU in 1996. He has a doctorate in biology from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California at Santa

Dr. Scott Curtis

Dr. Kyle Summers

Cruz. His research focuses on evolution, particularly evolutionary ecology and evolutionary genetics. He has received more than $800,000 in research funding at ECU and published more than 60 articles. Recipients of the Five-Year Award are recognized for their achievements during five years of continuous service at ECU.

Dr. Deirdre Mageean, vice chancellor for research and graduate studies, selected the awardees upon recommendation by the Faculty Senate Academic Awards Committee. Curtis and Summers received a cash award and conducted seminars on their work during Research and Creative Achievement Week, March 31 to April 9.

ECU scientists provide journal cover art Three anatomy and cell biology faculty members at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University were invited to provide cover art for recent scientific journals. A slide by Dr. Ann Sperry, associate professor, was used on the cover of the March issue of Biology of the Cell. It is a fluorescent image of two cultured cells and a protein discovered in her laboratory (labeled in red) near the site in cells where microtubules (labeled in green) originate. Sperry hypothesizes that this protein may regulate cell shape and/or cell division.   Dr. Warren Knudson, professor, provided a slide of cultured chondrocytes, cells that make up cartilage, for the cover of the May issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism. These cells were studied in an article identifying the 2

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fragmentation of an important protein, CD44, that occurs during arthritis. Dr. Qun Lu, associate professor, provided art for the March issue of NeuroToxicology. His study demonstrated how the chemotherapy drug cisplatin induced peripheral neuropathy but inhibiting signaling of a protein facilitates recovery from experimental neurodegeneration. The picture chosen for the journal cover illustrates sensory nerve action potentials in cisplatin-treated mice. The work of these researchers was funded by grants from ECU Division of Research and Graduate Studies, the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute on Aging.


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Professor helps identify new salamander An East Carolina University faculty member shares credit for discovering a new genus of salamander from the southern Appalachians. Dr. Trip Lamb, a biology professor, cowrote an article in the September issue of the Journal of Zoology that details the finding and classification of the new genus and species of lungless salamander. It’s the first new genus of amphibian to be described from North America in 50 years. The researchers call it the “patch nosed salamander” for the yellow patch on its snout. Around the world there are approximately 500 species of salamander. North Carolina has nearly 60, Lamb said. Lamb’s co-authors are graduate students Bill Peterman of the University of Missouri and Joe Milanovich of the University of Georgia, who found the tiny salamander; ecologist J.C. Maerz, Milanovich’s major professor at Georgia; herpetologist Carlos Camp at Piedmont College, who performed the initial identification; and David Wake at the University of California-Berkley, a comparative anatomist and an expert on lungless salamanders.

Camp contacted Lamb to help with the initial identification as facts pointed to a new species. “I first compared DNA sequences from the new salamander with those of several brook salamanders and related genera,” said Lamb, an evolutionary biologist. As he began the analysis, Lamb said that he joked with his graduate student, David Beamer, “Wouldn’t it be wild if this fell outside of the brook salamanders? And it did. We were stunned.” Lamb’s sequencing showed high levels of genetic divergence relative to brook salamanders, so Camp toyed with the idea of describing it as a new genus, he said. That’s when Wake, the world’s expert on lungless salamanders, was called in. The new species is Urspelerpes brucei; the specific epithet commemorates Dick Bruce, a well-known salamander ecologist who was director of the Highlands Biological Station in western North Carolina, Lamb said. Lungless salamanders belong to the family Plethodontidae, the largest and most geographically widespread family of salamanders. Of the 580 species of

salamander, nearly 400 are plethodontids, Lamb said. They exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide through their thin, moist skin and the lining of the mouth, as all amphibians do, but for lungless salamanders, skin is their only avenue for gas transfer. “One of the more remarkable things about this new salamander is that it occurs right here in the United States, opposed to some remote tropical locale, and in the Appalachian Mountains, a region wellknown for its salamander diversity and one well-studied by biologists,” Lamb said. “Yet this species eluded discovery until 2007.” The new species, at 25 to 26 millimeters, vies with the pigmy salamander for the tiniest species of salamander in the United States.

Center for Sustainable Tourism first to offer master’s degree Seven years ago, a loosely linked group of East Carolina University professors had an idea: Why not unite the institution’s tourism resources in one interdisciplinary program? As a result, ECU has become the first U.S. university to offer a master’s degree in sustainable tourism. The UNC Board of Governors approved the degree Jan. 8, and the full program begins this fall. “There is a close link and relationship between good science and good business,” said Dr. Pat Long, director of the Center for Sustainable Tourism. “We need to train and educate our future leaders in this industry on how to best integrate those two major elements.” As the center defines it, sustainable tourism “contributes to a balanced and healthy economy by generating tourism-related jobs, revenues and taxes while protecting and enhancing the destination’s social, cultural, historical, natural and built resources for the enjoyment and well-being of both residents and visitors.” Though ECU will be the first U.S. university to offer the degree, such studies aren’t uncommon in other parts of the world, including Europe, Australia and Asia. U.S. institutions, however, are embracing sustainability as an academic discipline. In North Carolina,

Appalachian State University offers a bachelor’s degree in sustainable development. Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in sustainability. Dr. Deirdre Mageean, vice chancellor for research and graduate studies, felt strongly that the master’s degree should have an interdisciplinary reach. The resulting program draws upon various departments in the College of Business, the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Human Ecology, and the College of Health and Human Performance, so that students can develop a broad knowledge base. “That’s why this partnership is so unique at ECU,” said Dr. David Edgell, professor of tourism in the Department of Hospitality Management and a former commissioner of tourism for the U.S. Virgin Islands. “You’ve got four colleges involved in this activity.” Though the full program doesn’t start until fall, graduate students already are doing coursework in the program. One student is working on a study of film-induced tourism. Another is studying legislative attitudes toward sustainability in tourism. n

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Calhoun named Harriot College distinguished professor Dr. Charles W. Calhoun, professor and former chair of history at East Carolina University, was named the 2009 Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor. An ECU faculty member since 1989, Calhoun received the award at the university’s annual convocation last August. Calhoun has a master’s and doctorate from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University. “I am deeply honored by this acknowledgment of my work,” Calhoun said. “But in a larger sense, I regard it as a recognition generally of the history department for its tremendous contributions to the university, both in teaching and research.” He founded the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, serving as president in 1991 and 1992. He chaired the organization’s publications committee, which

Dr. Charles W. Calhoun

established the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era and he continues to serve on the journal’s editorial and executive boards. Calhoun has published nine books and nearly 100 peer-reviewed articles, reviews

and chapters. He is a member of the American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, Southern Historical Association and the Center for the Study of the Presidency.

ECU, State Department work on climate change course East Carolina University is working with the U.S. Department of State to promote a course on climate change available to be viewed around the world. Intended to foster cross-cultural understanding of global climate change, the first-of-its-kind partnership kicked off Feb. 3 with a presentation by President Barack Obama’s top science adviser, John P. Holdren. Other speakers were David Sandalow, assistant secretary for policy and international affairs in the U.S. Department of Energy; Marcia McNutt, director of the U.S. Geological Survey; and Jonathan Pershing, deputy special envoy for climate change in the State Department. Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, spoke by videoconference to students at ECU and at partner universities in India, China and Brazil — three countries that are major players in the climate change debate. The State Department chose ECU because of its record of sustaining classroom partnerships among students from several countries, said Dr. Rosina Chia, ECU assistant vice chancellor for global academic initiatives. In 2004, Chia and Dr. Elmer Poe, associate vice chancellor for academic outreach, started a global understanding course that 4

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connects students around the world via videoconferencing. An ECU student, for instance, might spend five weeks working on a project with a Pakistani student, five weeks with a Chinese student and five weeks with a Russian student. Today, that eight-section course connects 28 colleges and universities from 22 countries. The pilot global climate change class matches students with peers at other universities to work on projects addressing the issue in their communities. Those institutions are Shandong University in China, Faculdade de Jaguariúna in Brazil and the University of Jammu in India. Experts from the participating countries also have addressed students. Students already have studied consensus building and conflict resolution. “We anticipate that these four countries will have very different viewpoints on how to resolve the problem of climate change,” Chia said. In the fall, the State Department will be reaching out to a worldwide community interested in discussing global climate change – potentially tens of thousands of people, Poe said. Greenville-area sponsors for the pilot course are Greenville Utilities Commission and North Carolina’s Eastern Region, the economic development agency for 13 nearby counties.


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Grant to aid nursemidwifery education

External funding tops $40 million

The East Carolina University College of Nursing has received a three-year federal grant totaling $721,668 for nursemidwifery education. The goal of the project is to recruit, retain and educate culturally competent rural and ethnic minority students in North and South Carolina. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration will award $250,179 the first year. Rebecca Bagley, certified nurse-midwife and director of ECU’s nurse-midwifery graduate concentration, is the project director. Objectives include recruiting undergraduate nursing students enrolled in historically black colleges and universities and a Native American-serving university in North and South Carolina. Others are improving the academic experience and retention of nursemidwifery students through an online mentoring program and developing courses and clinical experiences that focus on primary health care and address health disparities of rural and ethnically diverse women. “This funding allows the College of Nursing to move forward with goals to increase cultural competency among our

East Carolina University researchers brought in nearly $40.8 million in external grants and contracts during fiscal year 2008-2009, according to the university’s Division of Research and Graduate Studies. Faculty members at the Brody School of Medicine led the university, with $23.6 million in grants and contracts from the state and federal governments, pharmaceutical firms and other sources. Fiscal year 2009-2010 got off to a strong start, with $30 million in external funding through the first six months of the fiscal year, which ended June 30. Research funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act account for $4.2 million so far in fiscal year 2010. In fiscal year 2007-2008, researchers brought in a record $44.6 million. The $4 million drop in 2009 was due largely to a recurring contract at the medical school that arrived later than normal and too late to be included in the fiscal 2009 figures, officials said.

Rebecca Bagley

graduates while preparing care givers who may have a strong interest in practicing in areas where health disparities exists,” Dean Sylvia Brown said. ECU’s nurse-midwifery curriculum is the only one in North Carolina. It began in 1991 as part of a legislative mandate to combat high infant mortality. A special intent is for graduates to assume care provider roles in rural areas to meet the needs of underserved women and infants. Eighty percent of ECU’s nursemidwifery graduates work in rural and underserved areas.

Professor receives national research award

Dr. William Meggs

Dr. William Meggs, a professor of emergency medicine and chief of toxicology at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, has received the Research Award from the American College of Medical Toxicology for contributions to toxicology research. Over the past three decades, Meggs has shown innovation and creativity in medical toxicology and related areas of study. These range from the use of the drug heparin to treat anaphylactoid shock to ways to delay onset of toxicity from snakebites. Perhaps his greatest impact has been his research into the problem of irritant sensitivity, which can cause inflammation similar to asthma and other conditions.

Meggs also was the first researcher to report that chronic exposure to low levels of an organophosphate insecticide could induce obesity. Meggs is also author of “The Inflammation Cure,” a book that combines scientific writings regarding fundamental processes that produce inflammation in diseases with lifestyle modifications to reduce harmful inflammatory processes in the body. Meggs accepted the award from Dr. Erica Liebelt, president of ACMT, at the groupís March 12 meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz. He has been on the ECU faculty since 1988.

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$4.2 million grant to aid aerospace workforce development The state’s aerospace industry will get a boost thanks to a new program East Carolina University, N.C. State University and the state’s community colleges are working on that will broaden opportunities for two-year-to-four-year engineering education and allow students to transfer from two-year colleges to universities. The $4.2 million statewide effort is called the Golden LEAF Opportunities for Work in Aerospace Manufacturing, or GLOWAM, Initiative to build the aerospace workforce, In November, the Golden LEAF Foundation awarded $148,472 to ECU and $66,495 to N.C. State. A statewide workforce needs assessment for the emerging aerospace industry in North Carolina found engineering education

needed support. The ECU and N.C. State projects are designed to strengthen the capabilities of the community colleges to offer the critical engineering courses required in the first two years and build engineering workforce capacities in regions of the state that have high concentrations of aerospace manufacturing companies and maintenance, repair and overhaul operations. Along with ECU and N.C. State, Pitt Community College, Wayne Community College, College of the Albemarle, Wake Technical Community College, Sandhills Community College and Johnston Community College are involved. ECU’s part of the project involves developing engineering physics and introduction to engineering courses, while

N.C. State will focus on engineering statics. Dr. Paul Kauffman, chair of engineering at ECU, said the plan and the engineers it produces will “have a significant longterm impact in the east, especially with increased access to an engineering degree for regional students.” Eastern North Carolina’s aerospace industry got a boost in 2008 when Spirit Aerosystems announced plans for an assembly plant at the Global Transpark in Kinston that could employ as many as 1,100. The facility is expected to open this year. Eastern North Carolina also boasts Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and the Coast Guard’s air station, aviation logistics center and aviation technical training center in Elizabeth City.

Two receive Robert Wood Johnson faculty scholar grants Dr. Donna Roberson of the East Carolina University College of Nursing and Dr. Suzanne Lazorick of the Brody School of Medicine have received faculty scholar grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Roberson, an assistant professor, received a $350,000 Nurse Faculty Scholar Award to study ways to prevent HIV infection in women who have been in jail. She was one of 15 nurse educators across the country in 2009 to receive the three-year award. It is given to junior faculty who show outstanding promise as leaders in academic nursing. Roberson’s research project will begin this month and last through 2012. She is developing an educational tool designed to help women detained or incarcerated in jail avoid contracting HIV upon release. Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is spread most often through sexual contact, contaminated needles or syringes shared by drug abusers, infected blood or blood products, or infected women who pass it on to their babies at birth or through breast feeding. Roberson’s goal is to eventually develop a standard prevention education protocol for use in jail settings. Lazorick, an assistant professor of pediatrics and public health at ECU’s medical school, received a $300,000 Physician Faculty Scholar Award to study a youth wellness education program called MATCH, or Motivating Adolescents with Technology to Choose Health. Lazorick is evaluating the effectiveness and feasibility of this innovative middle school-based obesity intervention in eastern North Carolina.

MATCH was started in 2006 by Tim Hardison, a science teacher at Williamston Middle School. It incorporates wellness themes into the existing health and science curriculum and includes goal-setting, physical activity and motivational strategies to help students reach a healthy weight. Lazorick is studying the results of the program among seventh graders at schools in Ayden, Robersonville, Hertford County, Washington County and Williamston by assessing body mass index measurements, eating choices and other factors. Lazorick’s project will last through June 2012. She was one of 15 physician scholars nationwide to be funded by the program in 2009.

Dr. Donna Roberson

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Dr. Suzanne Lazorick


abstract research ECU, Commerce Department work to improve communities East Carolina University is helping the town of Aurora look at waterfront development and studying water and sewer expansion in Jones County’s industrial park, among other projects, as part of a new collaboration with the N.C. Department of Commerce. ECU and the Commerce Department are working together on an innovative Community Development Block Grant program designed to strengthen less-prosperous communities in eastern North Carolina. The Talent Enhancement Demonstration Grants program provides technical assistance and financial resources to increase competitiveness and build stronger, more vibrant and more capable communities. Grants were made available last year to units of local government in Gates,

Grant to aid cancer research at ECU

Northampton, Hertford, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Camden, Currituck, Chowan, Bertie, Edgecombe, Martin, Washington, Tyrrell, Dare, Wilson, Halifax, Pitt, Beaufort, Hyde, Wayne, Lenoir, Craven, Pamlico, Jones, Onslow, Carteret and Greene counties. ECU’s Office of Engagement, Innovation and Economic Development and the Commerce Department’s Office of Rural Development are managing the program. The Commerce Department provided grants of up to $75,000 to Aurora and Beaufort, Edgecombe, Hyde, Jones, Pamlico and Pitt counties for capacity building and related technical assistance in partnership with ECU. The total amount of funding for this program is $600,000.

Camp helps students learn science A summer camp at East Carolina University helps African-American students develop an interest in science and science careers. The Reach Up Scholarship Program invites 24 Pitt County students in sixth through eighth grades to participate in the camp, which is free thanks to the North Carolina GlaxoSmith Kline Foundation Ribbon of Hope Program and ECU. Pictured at a February science fair are, bottom from left, Michael O’Driscoll, co-principal investigator for Reach Up; participant Kamilah Dail; past participant and ECU graduate Shayla Campbell; and participant Matthew Phillips; second row, from left, Rhea Miles, Reach Up director; and ECU senior Amaleyah Dail; and top, participant Benjamin Bullock.

briefs

Dr. Li Yang

An East Carolina University scientist has received a $45,000 grant from Triad Golfers Against Cancer. The grant will help Dr. Li Yang, an assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the Brody School of Medicine at ECU, further his research into the interaction between tumors and their microenvironments, identify therapeutic targets and develop small molecules to modulate tumor microenvironment interaction for combination cancer therapy. Li’s research focuses on prostate cancer and melanoma, but is adaptable to other cancers. Li’s project involves collaboration with Dr. Gordon Ibeanu at N.C. Central University. Triad Golfers Against Cancer awarded $219,000 in grants this month to the four medical schools in North Carolina. Golfers Against Cancer, founded in 1997, is a national charitable organization. It has raised more than $18 million to fund cancer research. For more information, go to http://www.triadgac.org. n

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Dr. Michael Wheeler


C ultivating A nswers A professor’s liver studies take him to lab and vineyard

By Karen Shugart The 12th-biggest cause of death in the United States, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis kill more than 23,000 people each year. It’s not surprising, then, that much remains to be learned about liver diseases. How can their progression be stopped? What makes fatty liver disease – which affects a surprisingly high number of people – get worse in some people but not others? Dr. Michael Wheeler, an associate professor of nutrition and dietetics in the College of Human Ecology at East Carolina University, has spent much of his career searching for answers. Now, with a $215,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health, he is studying the progression of fatty liver disease to chronic liver diseases such as fibrosis and cirrhosis.

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More than 42 percent of the grapes that go through the winemaking process end up as a waste product, known as pomace, that may yield health benefits.

The grant will fund an examination into the role of immune cells in fatty liver disease, specifically, the part played by fatty acid-binding proteins. “We’ve known for a long time that cells that metabolize fat, like liver cells, muscle cells and even — to some degree — fat cells, use these fatty acid-binding proteins as carriers, transporters of fat within the cell,” Wheeler said. “It was recently discovered that immune cells also have these transporters, and so we’re investigating the role of these transporters in the immune cells. “The major question that we’re trying to ask is, Do these fatty acid binding proteins play a role in the activation or the stimulation of these immune cells? Does the activation of these immune cells drive 10

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the progression of liver disease?” Wheeler’s research is “cutting edge,” said Dr. William Forsythe, professor and chair of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Understanding these mechanisms has implications for many diseases, including obesity and diabetes.” Fighting a killer The answers to Wheeler’s questions may also hold important clues for understanding liver diseases, some of which are more common than many people may think. More people died in 2007 from chronic liver disease and cirrhosis than Parkinson’s disease, HIV complications or primary high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many more people struggle with some degree of fatty liver disease, a condition characterized by excessive fat that causes inflammation and damage to the organ. As many as 50 to 60 percent of overweight people have some degree of fatty liver disease, Wheeler said. Overall, according to the American College of Gastroenterology, the disease affects up to an estimated 20 percent of adults and nearly 5 percent of children. Many people affected, Wheeler said, don’t know it. Of people with signs of fatty liver disease, he said, 12 to 20 percent will see the condition lead to fi brosis and, even worse, to cirrhosis. The scar tissue build-up that’s characteristic of fi brosis may not cause symptoms initially, but the progression of the disease can begin to disrupt organ function and eventually lead to cirrhosis. At that point, scarring blocks blood flow and slows the processing of nutrients, drugs and toxins. The only cure for the condition is a new liver. “It is, arguably, irreversible without a transplant,” Wheeler said. Wheeler’s NIH grant is just one of several ongoing projects. His focus on liver health has led him on a tangent that has tremendous potential for the health of oenophiles and teetotalers alike. In a project that takes him from his Greenville lab to the grape-processing facilities and dusty vineyards of Duplin Winery in Rose Hill, Wheeler is examining how to best capture the potential health benefits of a hotly researched grape that’s arguably the one most associated with N.C. winemaking: the muscadine. In 2009, muscadines grew on about 1,600 acres of N.C. farmland, stretching from the coast as far west as Surry and Polk counties, said Connie Fisk, an extension agent in N.C State University’s Department of Horticultural Science. Native to the southeastern United States since at least the 16th century, when they caught Sir Walter Raleigh’s eye, the muscadine is a hardy grape known for its sweetness as well as its ability to withstand the sweltering humidity of N.C. summers. That resilience may explain why muscadines have such levels of a natural fungicide called resveratrol, an antiinflammatory antioxidant that has been linked to an array of health benefits. “Resveratrol is in almost every grape, but it’s most abundant in muscadines,” said Gary Ange, a project


manager for Duplin Winery, which dominates sales of wine made with the grape. Like his NIH-funded research, the winery project has potential for preventing and combating fatty liver disease. Studies have suggested resveratrol guards against damage to blood vessels, helps prevent blood clots and reduces low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol. In studies of mice, resveratrol has been seemed to protect against obesity and diabetes, making it a possible tool in the fight against fatty liver disease. Harvesting a helper The question then, for Wheeler, is how to get the maximum benefit of the muscadine’s resveratrol. Moderate wine consumption has for years been associated with heart health, but the bulk of a grape’s resveratrol isn’t in the finished, corked product found on grocery shelves. Most of it, Wheeler said, lives in the leaf or the seed. How, then, can resveratrol best be harvested? At what point during the growth cycle are the substance’s levels the highest? “There are many, many facets to this,” Wheeler said. “You’ve got people who are interested just in the biology; you’ve got people interested in food product development; you’ve got people interested in how you can make a better wine and enrich it with resveratrol. “In the process of fermentation, the grape is releasing resveratrol. In the process of distilling it and cleaning it up to make wine, how can we trap the resveratrol?”

Dr. Michael Wheeler, right, and Duplin Winery co-founder David Fussell examine muscadines in one of the winery’s Rose Hill vineyards.

Every year, when trucks haul harvested muscadines to Duplin Winery, the grapes are deposited into large bins for washing. Then they go through a process that leads to a press, where the juice is squished out leaving pomace, the “waste” product of skin, pulp and seeds. More than 42 percent of what goes into the press comes out as pomace. “The compound that we’re interested in stays in the pomace,” Wheeler said. “Not much comes out in the juice… . The part that’s most beneficial is what we throw away.”

Consider that Duplin Winery alone buys about 35 tons of grapes each year from 49 growers, said Ange, the Duplin project director. Consider, too, that the U.S. Department of Agriculture says that about 900 to 1,000 pounds of pomace comes from each ton of processed muscadines. That’s a lot of potential. Wheeler is also interested in examining when a muscadine’s resveratrol levels are highest. He wants to know what stage of grape growth offers the most nutraceutical benefit. Plant biologists, he said, believe it’s in the early stages of grape growth, when the fruit is most vulnerable. “This will be the first year that we’re actually going to start looking at the earlier part of the plant as it begins to mature,” Wheeler said. Also on the horizon may be another NIH grant. Wheeler is awaiting word on a $1.35 million proposal to study the role of genetics in insulin resistance and the link between that condition, in which the cells become less responsive that hormone, and fatty liver disease. “It would fill in a critical gap in our understanding of how the immune response is related to a fat metabolism response,” Wheeler said. “We’ve known they go handin-hand, but we’ve never been able to link the two mechanistically.”

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Ahead of the Class College of Education receives $8.8 million to improve teacher training By Karen Shugart Most jobs have a learning curve. A new sales executive might net fewer commissions as she works to win clients. A server might bungle a few orders. A budget analyst might miscalculate data, leading to an embarrassing mea culpa later. A teacher’s learning curve, however, can lead to losses that can’t be measured simply in dollars and cents. continued on page 14

Dr. Kristen Cuthrell, an assistant professor in ECU’s elementary education program, shares a light moment during class.


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Student April Beasley prepares puzzle pieces in Dr. Kristen Cuthrell’s elementary education class. The exercise was designed to help student teachers understand how pupils receive information.

While many first-year teachers do well in the classroom, research shows them to be less effective, as a group, than their experienced peers. For the students assigned to those classrooms, the loss of learning might never be recouped. For students in high-poverty schools, as many in eastern North Carolina are, the challenge to regain lost ground might be even greater. A federal grant has given eastern Carolina educators a chance to change that. East Carolina University, working with Pitt County Schools and Greene County Schools, is undertaking a five-year study of how teacher preparation and induction can be retooled to improve student achievement. The U.S. Department of Education in September awarded ECU a Teacher Quality 14

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Partnership Grant that, if renewed over the maximum five years, will add up to about $8.8 million to study and improve teacher education and student test scores. The grant’s goals are far-reaching: improving the preparation of teachers; improving professional development opportunities; holding teacherpreparation programs accountable for preparing highly qualified teachers; and recruiting highly qualified people, including minorities and professionals from other occupations. A select few The College of Education was among only 28 colleges and universities chosen in September from a field of 172 applicants nationwide to receive the grant.

“That in and of itself is a source of pride,” said Dr. Linda Patriarca, dean of the College of Education. “What this does is demonstrate that although ECU’s reputation in education is a quality one, we’re not resting on our laurels. We want to address the needs of the state and the region not only by producing teachers but by producing high quality teachers for the next generation of Americans.” Patriarca and Dr. Shirley Carraway, the principal investigator on the grant and a former superintendent of Orange County Schools, have begun setting up the infrastructure and bringing together staff who will work with the grant — a mix of people from the College of Education and the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, as well as Pitt County Schools.


Greene County Schools officials will join later. As the local school system, Pitt County Schools has long had partnerships, informal and not, with the university. A sizeable number of its teachers hold ECU degrees, and about two-thirds of new hires since last July have been ECU graduates. Many first-year teachers, however, aren’t as sure about their future in the profession. Within the first three years of their careers, about a third of teachers leave, according to the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. The grant, however, is a formal undertaking that offers great potential to help Pitt County Schools determine how to best mentor and support teachers in their first two years, said Superintendent Beverly Reep. Though ECU’s proximity ensures Pitt has a ready supply of potential hires, successfully inducting and retaining new teachers in the profession is a challenge. “It doesn’t help to recruit people if you can’t retain them,” Patriarca said. Studies indicate that new teacher turnover rates can be cut in half through comprehensive induction, “a combination of high-quality mentoring, professional development and support, scheduled interaction with other teachers in the school and in the larger community, and formal assessments for new teachers during at least their first two years of teaching,” according to a report from the Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington, D.C.-based policy and advocacy group.

“School districts are trying – though they campus. Students, Patriarca said, might relish have less and less funds to do this – to really the hands-on opportunities the grant and say, ‘What should novice teachers know and the resulting knowledge provide. be expected to do, and how should their Patriarca recalled how years ago, as a training continue?’ particularly in these first faculty member at Michigan State University, two-to-three years, because that is she assigned undergraduate students when attrition is the to investigate why a group of highest,” Patriarca said. grade-school students Pitt County placed in special We want to Schools will use education classes address the needs of the grant as a performed, on chance to average, at a thirdthe state and the region not overhaul its grade level, only by producing teachers induction regardless of age but by producing high quality process for or grade. The new teachers. students, she said, teachers for the next generation The system approached the of Americans. will match task with zeal. beginning “Those students Dr. Linda Patriarca, dean teachers with were engaged and College of Education mentors who are motivated,” Patriarca particularly skilled at said. “They became using those research-based engrossed in thinking about teaching strategies, Reep said. why things are the way they are and She hopes the process will help recruit a what could be done to change the status diverse array of teachers to the system – a quo. Getting our teacher candidates to ask challenge when the system can’t afford provocative questions and to seek viable signing bonuses and other enticements. “I’m solutions is what we want to occur in our hopeful that the grant will help us look at teacher preparation programs. some more creative ways,” Reep said. Patriarca hopes to get students more involved in research. Added motivation “We need to prepare the next generation The grant might have the indirect effect of teachers to study teaching, not just of attracting students to ECU’s College of practice it. Effective teachers are reflective Education, which already produces more practitioners. They evaluate and analyze teachers than any other UNC system their own lessons, ask questions about what is working and what is not, and then move forward to try new approaches or revise current ones. Teaching is a thinking profession. Reflective practitioners are ‘thinking teachers.’” Carraway said the grant’s possibilities are mind-boggling. “It’s amazing when you think about the potential that this grant actually has for making such positive change in teaching, from actually recruiting students into teaching to actually supporting them once they become teachers,” she said. “It’s just huge. The possibilities are so great that it’s hard to even wrap your arms around it when you really begin thinking about it.”

Students Jessica Velasco and Tondia Best listen in Dr. Kristen Cuthrell’s elementary education class.

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Beyond

Band-Aids

boo-boos

(above) Engelke and nursing student Brittany Deitz look over parent-education materials Deitz is developing for ECU’s school nurse project. 16

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Dr. Martha Engelke’s research shows importance of school nurses By Crystal Baity

Get rid of the dated image of a school nurse tending a skinned knee with a Band-Aid. These days, students are coping with asthma or diabetes, severe allergies, attention deficit disorder, weight management, even pregnancy. East Carolina University’s Dr. Martha “Marti” Keehner Engelke is passionate about giving public school nurses the resources they need to best care for the children they serve. continued on page 18 n

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D R . M art H a E ngelke Birthplace: Taylor, Mich. Education: Bachelor’s degree in nursing, Michigan State University Master’s degree in public health nursing, University of Michigan Doctorate in sociology, N.C. State University Family: Husband, Dr. Stephen Engelke, Brody School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics; daughters, Kathryn, 25, of Knoxville, Tenn., and Anna, 22, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Position: Richard R. Eakin Distinguished Professor of Nursing Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship ECU College of Nursing Mentoring: Chaired six doctoral dissertations; chaired or directed 20 student research projects; served on 10 master’s theses committees; served on six research projects

Funding: Secured more than $1.2 million

Publications: Published more than 30 articles, written four book chapters, numerous national and international presentations Awards: Received the Sigma Theta Tau, Beta Nu Chapter Excellence in Research Award, 2005; Outstanding Research Award, National Association of School Nurses, 2008

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Four years ago, Engelke applied for a Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust grant to support a school-based intervention and school nurse case management pilot project. The trust approved $193,124 for the project, which has turned into a statewide model reaching 24 counties and 170 school nurses, received the top research award in 2008 from the National Association of School Nurses, and garnered national and international recognition through presentations and publications such as The Journal of School Nursing. More chronically ill students are attending school than ever before, and some struggle academically because of healthrelated issues. Research shows that those who have nurses to manage their care at school attend class more often, make better grades and have fewer hospital visits. “If a nurse is there, students are more likely to go back to class, whereas if there is not a nurse in the school, the student is more likely to go home, and that’s a missed educational opportunity,” Engelke said. “Sorting out what’s a ‘real’ illness is something a nurse can do.” Today’s nurses work beyond crisis management from intervention to prevention, and assume duties that could otherwise fall to already burdened classroom teachers. With nurses in the schools, the past decade has seen the number of North Carolina children identified with chronic illnesses needing school nurse interventions rise from 5 percent to 17 percent. “So they take on a much broader role in the school,” said Engelke, a longtime faculty member in the College of Nursing, where she is the Richard R. Eakin Distinguished Professor of Nursing and associate dean for research and scholarship. “With concerns of obesity and the rise in chronic illness, having a professional in school makes a real difference,” Engelke said. “Our project has demonstrated that school nurses help children control illness to be successful in school and beyond school.” A project takes root Engelke was a community health nurse before becoming a teacher, but she never worked as a school nurse. She became interested as a parent. Her oldest daughter, Kathryn, now 25, was diagnosed with Graves’ disease in the 11th grade and went from being a very good student to being a poor student. The autoimmune disease affects the thyroid and causes mood and body changes. “She didn’t


have a school nurse when that happened,” Engelke said. Her daughter improved with medication, but there was no one to regularly follow her progress at school. About the same time, Engelke was mentoring a master’s degree nursing student, Martha Guttu (MSN ’04) of Edenton, the northeast region school nurse consultant with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Guttu’s graduate school project researched school nurse-to-student ratios. From there, the school nurse case management project took root. “We’ve been working together ever since,” Engelke said. At first, the project tracked 114 children ages 5 to 19 with asthma, diabetes, severe allergies, seizures or sickle-cell anemia who were provided case management by school nurses in five school districts. The funding also supported the development of a website (http://www.cmpnc.org) for passwordprotected data input and resources. The ECU College of Nursing information technology team set up the website and works with the Eastern Area Health Education Center to provide continuing education to nurses in the project via teleconference. As research continued, the project went beyond chronic illness to include children with affective and behavioral problems, weight management and pregnancy, growing to almost 400 children in North Carolina. At the end of the 2008-2009 academic year, students showed an improved quality of life and learned ways to manage their illness more effectively. Grades went up along with participation in the classroom and extracurricular activities. Guttu said it’s important for school nurses to be able to show administrators the positive difference they make in students’ health and academic success. “Marti has really helped solidify the

position of the school nurse in North Carolina, and I am honored and privileged to know her and work with her on this project,” Guttu said. A leader, role model and mentor Engelke is the first distinguished professor in the ECU College of Nursing. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in medical surgical, community health and research since joining the college in 1979, when she moved to eastern North Carolina with her husband, Dr. Stephen Engelke, a neonatologist in ECU’s Department of Pediatrics. In addition to Kathryn, they have another daughter, Anna. “I’ve taught a lot, which is something I’ve loved,” Engelke said. “I love to work with students. It reminds me of why I was excited to be a nurse.” She mentors advanced practice nurses, master’s and doctoral students on the cusp of research, helping nudge them when they need it. She collaborates with other faculty members on grants, and is known as a prolific and go-to grant writer in the college. “I like to think of new projects and things we could do to make life better,” Engelke said. Growing up in a close-knit family in a Detroit suburb, Engelke’s mother and father stressed the importance of education to their three young children. Her dad, a Ford Motor Co. factory worker, and her mother, a homemaker, helped her become the first in her family to go to college. Her brothers followed, and all earned graduate degrees. Engelke said nursing is the best major on campus because students can blend it with other interests. “You find a way to tap into what you really want to do,” Engelke said. “You can go to graduate school and make a living at a job that is truly rewarding while you’re in graduate school.”

School nurses in N.C.: 1,231 Nurse-to-student ratio: 1:253-1:3309 with average ratio of 1:1207

Medical procedures ordered: 15,463

Medications given daily: 30,433 (5,477,940 doses per year)

Emergency medications: 39,985 given yearly

Students with chronic illness: 238,843 requiring school nurse intervention

Top chronic illness: Asthma

School Nurse Association of North Carolina report to the N.C. Public Health Study Commission (02/04/10)

Holding the Eakin professorship is an extension of being a nurse, especially the philosophy of community health nursing, Engelke said. “You don’t try to do things for people. You try to get people to help themselves. You help people to have the tools they need,” she said. “It’s a role I enjoy especially at this point in my career. It’s wonderful to feel like you’ve made a difference in someone’s life and now they can do something they couldn’t do before, because you spent time with them.” Dr. Sylvia Brown, dean of the College of Nursing, is a longtime colleague. “Her research is making a difference in the lives of children throughout the nation and will impact the future of school health nursing,” Brown said. “She is truly a distinguished professor for the College of Nursing as a leader, role model, researcher and educator.” Eakin, chancellor emeritus at ECU, served as chancellor from 1987 to 2001 and has been a longtime supporter of nursing. He was honored last year with the namesake of nursing’s first endowed professorship. The $1 million endowment was made possible by a $667,000 challenge grant from the C.D. Spangler Foundation and $333,000 in matching funds from the state’s Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust Fund. “There is no one better qualified to convey the excellence that both Dick Spangler and Dick Eakin aspired to than Dr. Engelke,” said Dr. Phyllis Horns, ECU’s vice chancellor for health sciences, during a recognition ceremony last fall. Horns and Engelke have worked together more than 20 years. “People feel comfortable coming to her and working with her,” Horns said recently, noting Engelke’s success in working with different disciplines in the health sciences division to look at health care problems from all angles. “Marti has the energy level, motivation and perseverance to grow that area even more,” Horns said. “She’s skillful in getting people to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily want to do. She’s very talented in that regard.” Nursing research is coming into its own, Engelke said, with a focus on testing interventions and translating findings into the community – like the school nurse case management project. “I really believe in what we’re doing and what we’ve done. I really believe it’s making a difference in the life of children,” she said. n

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Putting families AND

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CENTER ECU program helps loved ones prepare for military deployments By Doug Boyd

Last October, Army Reservists with the 849th Quartermaster Unit of Rocky Mount and their families spent a weekend in traditional briefings and meetings the military uses to prepare for deployment. But a few hours Saturday and Sunday were different. During that time, they and their families listened, talked, walked and even played during a program led by experts from East Carolina University and the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service. continued on page 22

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Christine and Ron Elliott’s son is deployed to Afghanistan.

The eight-hour program, Essential Life Skills for Military Families, is aimed at helping these citizen-soldier couples and families meet the challenges of extended separations by improving their skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, communication, resource management and parenting. “The biggest difference in this program and any other military program I’ve gone through is this program is fun,” said Kris Willson, who served in the Air Force, is now an ECU student in family and community services and helps present the program. “It’s so interactive. And it was stuff you could immediately take out and start working on.”

In the four years ECU and Cooperative Extension have been holding these programs, more than 2,000 people have participated in some part of them, and more than 100 couples and 700 people have completed all parts. Ninety-two percent of the participants in relationships said the classes were helpful to family functioning, said Elizabeth Carroll, ELSMF’s director and an associate professor in the Department of Child Development and Family Relations in the College of Human Ecology. “What we’re teaching are skills every well-functioning family should have,” Carroll said. Begun in 2006, the ELSMF program is funded by a five-year, $2.5 million grant to

“Reserve families must transition into a military family as well as prepare for the deployment in a very short time. This is an enormous undertaking. The ELSMF workshop does a wonderful job of giving participants the ‘how and why’s’ of becoming resilient.” Michele Berger U.S. Marine Corps Reserve

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ECU from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families as part of its Healthy Marriage Initiative. The program was built upon research into Reserve Component and National Guard military family issues, marriage curriculums and scholarly literature. ELSMF works with partners at the Cooperative Extension Service of N.C. State University and with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since Sept. 11, 2001, approximately 18,000 soldiers and airmen from the N.C. National Guard have been deployed in overseas and domestic operations, according the Guard. Another 7,291 Army Reservists from North Carolina-based units have deployed, according to the Reserve. Some of these citizen-soldiers have been deployed more than once. “Reserve families must transition into a military family as well as prepare for the deployment in a very short time,” said Michele Berger, readiness and deployment support trainer for the Marine Forces Reserve in New Orleans. “This is an enormous undertaking. The ELSMF workshop does a wonderful job of giving participants the ‘how and whys’ of becoming resilient.” It’s also important to plan and organize for situations that will or might arise, whether they are financial, legal, professional or emotional.


“(Military leaders) know a service member who’s not going to be focused on the situation at home is a safer service member,” Carroll said. “The bottom line for the military is accomplishing the mission.” The program materials are in a binder with tabs for subjects such as financial management, legal matters and more. “It’s definitely not something you want to use as a doorstop,” said Willson. “It’s a wonderful resource.” In addition, the program allows families to meet each other and plan to stay in touch. ELSMF staff also work in close cooperation with the family support programs offered to service members by the Reserves, National Guard and other military organizations. ECU’s program improves and extends those efforts by leveraging state and national resources, such as Cooperative Extension programs that are available in virtually every county in every state in the country. Carroll said it’s important to use a collaborative approach in developing and implementing the program. Adding to that is a new staff member who recently completed active duty. In October, Blane Boyd left the Army after six years of active duty, including 13 months in Iraq as a combat engineer platoon leader. He is now a captain in the N.C. National Guard. “Soldiers and all service members are trained to handle the stress of combatmission related stuff,” Boyd said. “On the home front is where I saw most of the problems for the soldiers in my platoon.”

“The people in charge of the curriculum have spent their careers understanding family issues. They are the subject-matter experts on the effects the stresses have on people. It’s the perfect marriage for the military.” Blane Boyd ECU community relations specialist

He echoed the other program leaders and participants: Guard and Reservists and their families may not have a lot of experience dealing with military life daily. They often live far from bases, so resources available to active duty personnel just aren’t available for them. Essential Life Skills can help. “I was like, man, this seems to be right on,” he said. “The people in charge of the curriculum have spent their careers understanding family issues. They are the subject-matter experts on the effects the

Capt. Jeffrey Miller and his wife, Krista, participate in the 849th’s Essential Life Skills course in October.

stresses have on people. It’s the perfect marriage for the military.” Ronald and Christine Elliott of Winterville attended the October program with their son, Ronald Anton Elliott, before he shipped out to Afghanistan. The program was held in conjunction with the Guard and Reserve’s Yellow Ribbon predeployment briefing. The younger Elliott is a specialist with the 849th. The unit left in early January for a 400-day deployment. Ronald Elliott and his father were in the Army, and he said the Essential Life Skills program gives deployed soldiers and their families resources he never had. “They give you tools to help your soldier deal with deployment, real people you can talk to,” Elliott said. “As far as the family back here, they opened up a world of resources.” His wife agreed. “A lot of people forget about the reservists because they’re not at the base,” Christine Elliott said, and thus don’t have access to the same resources active duty personnel and families have. Reservists also have different needs. For example, Christine Elliott said, her son’s employer needed official documents proving he was deployed so the employer could hold his job for him. Willson said the Essential Life Skills program’s involvement of family members differs from programs for active duty military. Her husband is a Marine gunnery sergeant. “There were things we hadn’t even thought about,” she said, such as the need to prepare adoption papers for her husband’s daughter as well as wills and budgets. “It is important just to see how you view money,” she said. Berger of the Reserves agreed. “In the workshop, the facilitators do a great job of teaching why participants should begin those tough conversations and come to initial decisions regarding financial goals, legal issues and fundamental qualities of a perfect guardian for their children,” she said. “Participants are more likely to complete the process and put their skills to practice if the toughest part is behind them or at least begun.” Carroll hopes the program will receive funding to continue after the grant period ends. “It’s much more effective to do preventive education than to do therapy afterward,” she said.

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Researchers driving at quieter pavement In an effort to muffle highway noise, the East Carolina University Traffic Noise Research Team is looking at where the rubber meets the road. The research team is based in the ECU Department of Construction Management and composed of three faculty members, Drs. George Wang, Yuhong Wang and Gazan Bozai, and four research assistants, Richard Shores, Josh Botts, Philip Chamberlain and Adam Kelly. They are working through a two-year, $218,000 grant from the North Carolina Department of Transportation to examine tire and pavement noise on state roadways. The results will be included in a nationwide database on noise modeling for future studies on mitigating traffic noise. The researchers began field testing in late March near Greenville before starting the data collection in eastern and western North Carolina. The goal is to collect and analyze data in such a way as to be able to recommend the best pavement types for use near noisesensitive areas along highways in North Carolina or for the development of quieter pavement. The ideal result would be a pavement with a noise level at least three decibels lower than the average pavement noise level in North Carolina.

The team is measuring tire/pavement interface noise with a rig that attaches to the right rear quarter panel and wheel of a car and positions four microphones about 3 inches above the pavement and 4 inches from the rear tire to collect and measure noise levels as an average over a certain time interval, usually four to 60 seconds. For consistency with other tests, the car uses a standard reference tire for the test. “About 90 percent of traffic noise is contributed by tire/pavement noise,” said Dr. George Wang, principal investigator. “Through the tire/pavement noise study, quieter pavements in North Carolina will be identified. Based on the materials mix designs and materials characteristics, quieter or lownoise pavement suitable for North Carolina can be developed.” Reducing tire/pavement noise can also save money. Noise-abatement walls can cost up to $2 million per mile depending on their height, Wang said. If a highway has to be widened or rerouted, moving the walls adds to that cost, too. The effect of distance in reducing noise levels diminishes as one moves farther from the noise source. To get the same noise reduction as one moves away from the road, the distance has to be doubled and then doubled again. In general, when an outside noise level

Graduate student Richard Shores prepares a noise meter for a road test.

exceeds 66 decibels attributable to a roadway, engineers consider noise-reduction techniques. A three-decibel change is barely noticeable by most people. A five-decibel change is clearly noticeable and a 10-decibel increase or decrease sounds like the noise level has doubled or has been cut in half. The data collected will be submitted to U.S Department of Transportation as part of the national quieter pavement database. NCDOT is participating in the Federal Highway Administration Tire/Pavement Noise Research Consortium with California, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Ohio, Texas and Washington.

Scientist takes aim at cancer-causing virus A major five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health will help an East Carolina University virologist in her search for a treatment for a rare form of cancer. Dr. Isabelle Lemasson, an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at the Brody School of Medicine, received the $1.3 million grant to continue her study of human T-cell leukemia virus type 1, a retrovirus that causes adult T-cell leukemia, an untreatable and often fatal disease. The grant follows previous awards of $358,000 from NIH and $154,000 from the American Heart Association. 24

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Specifically, Lemasson is looking at the role of a specific protein called HBZ and how it is involved in regulating viral and cellular transcription. “It could give us a clue of how to shut down the virus in general,” Lemasson said. The virus, called HTLV-1, is unusual. After entering the body, it lies largely dormant for as much as 40 years before causing an untreatable form of leukemia. Lemasson said she wants to learn how HTLV-1 is able to remain in healthy individuals for decades and then suddenly trigger cells to become cancerous.

People get the virus through breastfeeding, exposure to contaminated blood and sexual contact. While the disease is rare in the United States, it occurs in people who have emigrated from HTLV-1-endemic regions such as parts of Japan, the Caribbean Basin, South America and Africa. Worldwide, 15 million-20 million people are infected with HTLV-1, but only 5 percent of those who get the virus develop leukemia. Lemasson received her undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees from the University of Montpellier in France, then came to the United States to do post-


explore explorations Scorpion venom provides clues to cause, treatment of pancreatitis A Brazilian scorpion has provided researchers at East Carolina University and N.C. State University an insight into venom’s effects on the ability of certain cells to release critical components. The findings may prove useful in understanding diseases like pancreatitis or in targeted drug delivery. A common result of scorpion stings, pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. ECU microbiologist Dr. Paul Fletcher believed scorpion venom might be used as a way to discover how pancreatitis occurs – to see which cellular processes are affected at the onset of the disease. Fletcher pinpointed a protein production system found in the pancreas that seemed to be targeted by the venom of the Brazilian scorpion Tityus serrulatus and then contacted N.C. State physicist Dr. Keith Weninger, who had studied that particular protein system. The pancreas specializes in releasing two kinds of proteins using separate cells: digestive enzymes that go into the small intestine and insulin and its relatives that go into the bloodstream, yet this same release mechanism is important in all cells for many processes. Cells move components in and out through a process called vesicle fusion. The vesicle is a tiny, bubble-like chamber inside the cell that contains the substance to be moved, stored and released – in this case,

doctoral work at Colorado State University. There, she met her husband, Dr. Nick Polakowski, who was also in the postdoctoral program. They came to ECU in 2005. Polakowski is a research instructor in microbiology and immunology. They have been co-authors on scientific articles and are working together on HTLV-1. Polakowski called the virus a “hit-and-run model.” The virus turns on, damages the cell, then turns off so it doesn’t get caught by the body’s immune system. “Over time, the cell becomes cancerous,” he said. The pair thinks HBZ plays a role in

Dr. Paul Fletcher

proteins like enzymes or hormones. The vesicle is moved through the cell and attaches to the exterior membrane, where the vesicle acts like an airlock in a spaceship, allowing the cell membrane to open and release the proteins without disturbing the rest of the cell’s contents. The proteins that aid in this process are known as vesicle associated membrane proteins, or VAMPs. Weninger provided Fletcher with two

different VAMP proteins found in the pancreas, VAMP2 and VAMP8. They were engineered to remove the membrane attachments so they could be more easily used for experiments outside cells and tissues. Fletcher’s team demonstrated that the scorpion venom attacked the VAMP proteins, cutting them in one place and eliminating the vesicle’s ability to transport its protein cargo out of the cell. “We found that a particular enzyme in the scorpion’s venom removes a peptide, or small protein, that allows the vesicle to fuse with the cell membrane,” Fletcher said. “If you remove a pancreatic cell’s ability to absorb or release components, you end up with pancreatitis.” “Viruses often exploit the same mechanism of vesicle fusion, but in reverse, in order to invade cells and replicate,” Weninger said. “This work furthers our understanding of a basic cellular process and may lead to treatments for viruses and advances in treatments like chemotherapy, by allowing targeted drug delivery only to cancer cells.” The study was published in the March 5 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

keeping the virus from replicating too quickly and drawing an attack from the immune system. The virus can also cause a neurodegenerative disease similar to multiple sclerosis, leading to misdiagnoses, he added. Lemasson’s research also benefited from approximately $210,000 in start-up funding from the ECU Division of Research and Graduate Studies after she arrived in 2005 and a $25,000 research development grant. Lemasson’s most recent articles on HTLV1 were published in the Journal of Virology and Blood last year. n

Dr. Isabelle Lemasson

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Biologist finds proof of first monogamous frog Amphibians might be a love ’em and leave ’em class, but one frog species defies the norm, scientists have found. Three biologists, including two from East Carolina University, have discovered in Peru the first confirmed species of monogamous amphibian, Ranitomeya imitator, better known as the mimic poison frog — a finding that provides groundbreaking insight into the ecological factors that influence mating behavior. The scientists’ work, published in the April issue of The American Naturalist, might be the most solid evidence yet that monogamy can have a single ecological cause. “We were able to tie the evolution of monogamy and the evolution of biparental care to variation in a single ecological factor, and that’s rare,” said Dr. Kyle Summers, an ECU professor of biology whose specialties include evolutionary ecology and evolutionary genetics. Summers wrote the study with Dr. Jason L. Brown, a former ECU graduate student and now a researcher at Duke University, and Dr. Victor Morales of Ricardo Palma University in Lima, Peru. Analyzing data on 404 frog species, the biologists found a strong association between the use of small pools for breeding and the evolution of parental care, including intensive parental care involving egg-feeding and the participation of both parents. The researchers then focused on the mating and parenting habits of two similar frog species, the mimic poison frog and the variable poison frog, that differed mainly in the size of the breeding pool. They hypothesized that the differences in the parental care and mating systems among these species stemmed from the relative availability of resources in the breeding pools. The tadpole of the mimic poison frog grows up in much smaller, less nutrient-dense

Jason Brown conducts research on monogamous frogs in Peru.

water pools that form in the folds of tree leaves. They are ferried there after hatching by males, who monitor them in the months following birth. About once a week, the male calls for his female partner, who lays non-fertile eggs for the tadpoles to eat. The variable poison frog, however, raises its tadpoles in larger pools. Here, as with most amphibians, rearing of the young is handled mostly by the male. To test their hypothesis, scientists moved tadpoles from both species into differently sized pools. Tadpoles in larger pools thrived while tadpoles in smaller pools did not grow. The researchers used genetic analyses based on techniques similar to the DNA-based forensic methods used for paternity cases to investigate the mating system of the mimic poison frog. Surprisingly, all but one of the families investigated were genetically monogamous. Monogamy “turns out to be relatively rare, even in birds and mammals — particularly in mammals — and reptiles,” Summers said. “Finding a frog that has a monogamous mating system was pretty novel for us.” While the idea that ecological factors have contributed to monogamous behavior in humans and other animals is wellaccepted, Summers cautioned against drawing inferences about human behavior from the findings. “Of course, the human situation is so different from other species. It’s somewhat perilous to over-interpret the similarities,” he said. “You can’t just translate it.” Summers’ research was funded by grants of $227,000 from the National Sciences Foundation, $25,000 from the National Geographic Society and $30,000 from ECU The mimic poison frog — Ranitomeya imitator — displays characteristics of monogamy. Research and Graduate Studies.

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explore explorations Wyatt meets his neighbors in ‘Pray for Eric’ Toward the end of “Pray for Eric,” Ken Wyatt’s latest documentary, he stumbles upon a roadside billboard that for years has stood in the hills near where Eric Rudolph was captured and extremist militias were rumored to thrive. “God, send us someone to cure AIDS, cancer, etc., etc.,” and, “I did, but you aborted them,” reads the sign, in stark, capital letters. With some trepidation, Wyatt, an assistant professor of media production at East Carolina University, approaches the home on the property, but no one answers his knock at the door. Neighbors do, however, and they are collegial to Wyatt, a black, city-raised professor from upstate New York who, if stereotypes were to be believed, would find himself at odds with townspeople. Time after time, Wyatt’s oncamera interviewees distance themselves from Rudolph, extremism and all of the negative stereotypes that Murphy, population 1,600, came to embody in many people’s minds after the bomber’s capture in May 2003. At that time, many media reports seized upon controversial signs, T-shirts and other local statements of support for Rudolph, a terrorist who bombed Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, a lesbian bar and two clinics where abortions were performed. The documentary title has its roots in a sign of the same name displayed by a now-defunct diner that showed support for Rudolph. Wyatt had read and watched the reports with disbelief. “Why wouldn’t they want to help catch a serial killer? I didn’t understand that,” Wyatt said. But he wanted to. When he joined ECU in 2007, he decided the time had come, despite warnings from family and friends, to learn about his neighbors to the west. Did they support Rudolph? Were they zealots and bigots? His brother, the beneficiary of Wyatt’s life insurance, suggested Wyatt up his coverage before he made the trek. Others warned him to take a gun. “I said, ‘I’ll go armed with a camera as my only protection,’” he said.

The result, “Pray for Eric,” is more conversational than confrontational, as Wyatt explores the feelings of area residents — ­store clerks, a journalist, Murphy Mayor William Hughes — and authorities on the region, including Southern Poverty Law Center militia expert Mark Potok and Karl Campbell, an associate professor at Appalachian State University. The documentary was completed with grants from ECU for $57,463 and ECU’s College of Fine Arts & Communication for $7,859, while the Southern Documentary Fund offered in-kind support. “I think one of the reasons I came to ECU is [the university] seemed so supportive of what I was doing,” Wyatt said. “I don’t know that I’d be able to do this at some other schools.” After premiering at the San Diego Black

Film Festival in January, “Pray For Eric,” won the “Best Coming of Age Film” award at the Mountain Film Festival in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., the following month. It also has screened at the Texas Black Film Festival in Dallas, the Bare Bones Film Festival and the XXV Black International Cinema Berlin 2010. Next up for Wyatt is “Colored Confederates,” a documentary about African-American soldiers who fought on the losing side of the Civil War. Wyatt, who counts among his influences famed documentarian Errol Morris and experimental 1940s filmmaker Maya Deren, said he approaches projects as a truth seeker. “I want to do stuff people haven’t seen,” he said.

Ken Wyatt, a School of Communication faculty member, made a film about bomber Eric Rudolph.

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in print

in print

“Globalization, Art, and Education” (National Art Education Association, 2010) edited by Drs. Elizabeth Manley Delacruz, Alice Arnold, Ann Kuo and Michael Parsons Arnold, an associate professor of art education, and co-editors hope to create a niche in the curriculum with the publication of this collection of essays about globalization’s impact on creativity, as well as the possibilities — and pitfalls — that the phenomenon can create for visual arts education. The volume brings together writings from 49 scholars, artists, educators and civil society activists from all over the world and addresses the complex contemporary dynamics of art, education and globalization.

“The Sculptor” (Kensington Publishing Corp./ Pinnacle Books, 2010) by Gregory Funaro In his debut novel, Funaro, an associate professor of theater, has Sam Markham, an FBI agent with a knack for tracking down serial killers, tackle his most puzzling case yet: A missing professional football player has been found murdered and posed like a famous statue.  With art historian Cathy Hildebrant by his side, Markham must find the so-called Michelangelo Killer before he kills again.

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“Good Medicine and Good Music: A Biography of Mrs. Joe Person” (McFarland & Co., 2009) by David Hursh and Dr. Chris Goertzen. ECU alumnus Harry Stubbs IV of Arlington, Va., donated sheet music that sparked inspiration and research that led to an awardwinning faculty publication. The sheet music, published by his greatgreat grandmother, Alice Morgan Person, is the basis of a prize-winning audio digital exhibit created in 2004 by Joyner Library faculty member and head music librarian David Hursh. Since that time, Hursh, and co-author and ethnomusicologist Dr. Chris Goertzen of the University of Mississippi wrote and published “Good Medicine and Good Music.” Last October, the North Carolina Society of Historians awarded the biography its Willie Parker Peace History Book Award.


in print

in print

“The Business of Higher Education” (Praeger, 2009) edited by Dr. David J. Siegel and John C. Knapp Academics often chafe at the notion that higher education should operate more like a marketdriven corporation, but many politicians, taxpayers and even university trustees beg to differ. The three-volume book, “The Business of Higher Education” edited by Siegel, an associate professor of education leadership at ECU, and Knapp of Samford University, examines how business models affect higher education.

“Conquering the Sky: The Secret Flights of the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk” (Palgrave MacMillan, 2009) Dr. Larry Tise In his newest work on the Wright Brothers, Tise, the Wilbur and Orville Wright Distinguished Professor of History at ECU, pieces together the puzzle of the brothers’ first powered flight in 1903, their perpetual secrecy and the moment when the world discovered their amazing flying skills in May 1908. Tise focuses on the brothers’ covert tests as they played a game of cat-andmouse with international reporters and nosy Outer Banks locals and raced the clock to produce flying technology that could be used by the governments of Europe and the United States.

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East Carolina University Greenville, NC 27858-4353

Susanne Grieve of the ECU Department of History examines a portrait of Queen Elizabeth I for clues about its history. For almost 50 years, the portrait hung in the Elizabethan Gardens gatehouse on Roanoke Island. It likely is a 1592 portrait of Queen Elizabeth, when she would have been about 60. If authentic, the portrait could be worth millions. ECU will wrap up its work by Aug. 18, Virginia Dare’s birthday and the 60th anniversary of the inception of the Elizabethan Gardens.


Edge Magazine 2010