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UNC Charlotte The magazine of The University of North Carolina at Charlotte for Alumni and Friends • v17 n1 q1 • 2010

Venturing Outdoors 40 years developing the whole person


UNC CHARLOTTE |

c h a n c e l l o r ’s l e t te r

More Than Words: Putting Our Mission Statement to Work

UNC Charlotte maintains a particular commitment to addressing the cultural, economic, educational, environmental, health and social needs of the greater Charlotte region.

UNC CHARLOTTE magazine

What may seem simple and self-evident is often more complex than meets the eye. This truism applies to higher education institutions. At first glance, the mission of all colleges and universities might appear to be to very similar if not identical. But just as the regions and students we serve differ, so do our fundamental goals and institutional capacities. Without a clearly articulated mission, we risk wasting valuable time and resources trying to be all things to all people. As part of the UNC System-wide academic planning exercise known as “UNC Tomorrow,” campuses were invited to revise their existing mission statements so that those documents would better reflect their primary goals and aspirations and, where possible, set forth their unique contributions to the university system. UNC Charlotte availed itself of this opportunity. The University’s revised campus mission statement now reads, in part: UNC Charlotte is North Carolina’s urban research university. It leverages its location in the state’s largest city to offer internationally competitive programs of research and creative activity, exemplary undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs, and a focused set of community engagement initiatives. UNC Charlotte maintains a particular commitment to addressing the cultural, economic, educational, environmental, health, and social needs of the greater Charlotte region. This statement clearly establishes UNC Charlotte as the one institution in the system that is dedicated to urban research issues and the application of its resources to address important issues confronting

our region. At the heart of this enterprise are people — the faculty, staff and students who generate new knowledge and create a welcoming, diverse culture on campus. UNC Charlotte magazine is chock-full of examples of impressive faculty, students and alumni who are exporting not just their expertise but also their passion for what they do to benefit the greater community. This revised, refocused mission statement isn’t just words; we are putting it into practice. With the support of Leon and Sandra Levine and the Levine Foundation, we have implemented a new initiative that exemplifies UNC Charlotte’s commitment to the greater Charlotte region. The merit-based Levine Scholars Program seeks to develop compassionate, ethical leadership for our region. In February, 43 finalists were interviewed and enjoyed a visit to our campus; in late spring, 15 exceptional students will be selected as the inaugural class of Levine Scholars. After having had a chance to meet many of the finalists when they were here, I can say with confidence that these students will be impressive ambassadors for UNC Charlotte. Along with our faculty, staff, alumni and students, the Levine Scholars will embody the new UNC Charlotte mission statement and enrich our community daily. Cordially,

 hilip L. Dubois P Chancellor

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contents

| UNC CHARLOTTE

10 features

departments

10 Venture Develops

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the Whole Human Being, Outdoors

14 Talking Terrorism and Counterterrorism

20 Child of Mine - Birth defects research impacts families, children

24 Living to Work – The best dressed problem of the 21st century

30 Sequencing the Soybean

News Briefs

22 Center Stage 28 49ers Notebook

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38 Building Blocks 41

Perspective

stake your claim profiles 13 Elijah Onsomu: Influencing health policy

18 David Gordon: Global warrior soars

37 Rodney Smith: A way with words

32 Homecoming ‘10 30 On the cover: The Venture program provides enriching outdoor experiences from kayaking to rock climbing to corporate team building exercises.

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U N C C H A R LOT T E

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The Claim Staking Continues! When UNC Charlotte introduced its Stake Your Claim brand position last year, an article in this magazine said: The “Stake Your Claim” campaign will accentuate several key attributes of the University: contemporary, assertive, confident, authentic and decisive. Ads and other communication will highlight UNC Charlotte’s strengths in scholarship, research, arts and culture, community engagement, athletics and its global reach … It also provides a platform for sharing stories about amazing students, faculty and staff who have achieved great things by seizing the opportunities UNC Charlotte provides. The language of Stake Your Claim has always been about ownership. But ownership is a two way street. While we must work hard for the Charlotte region to own the University and embrace it as the hometown jewel it is, we also must show the many ways the University embraces and owns the community. The articles in this magazine tell the stories of people doing exactly that. For example, alum David Gordon pilots B-52 bombers, staking his claim to excellence and commitment in serving our country. Elijah Onsomu, a doctoral student from Kenya, staked his claim as the vice chair of the Metrolina AIDS project and is studying ways to reduce the prevalence of that disease in his home country. Or read about professors James Walsh and Cindy Combs who are staking their claim by developing UNC Charlotte’s new Center for Applied Counterterrorism Studies; they will work with faculty and the community to understand terrorism and mitigate its effects. Stake Your Claim is alive and flourishing at UNC Charlotte and consequently, we at UNC Charlotte magazine are making some subtle changes to highlight this fact. Our profiles of people – whether they be alumni, students, staff or faculty, will be now be labeled as Stake Your Claim Profiles. And you’ll notice our “SYC” logo appearing regularly in this magazine – attached to the Chancellor’s Letter and to this page. Also this spring, despite the grinding recession, UNC Charlotte will relaunch a modest marketing effort with Stake Your Claim messages appearing in outdoor and radio advertising and through creative and low-cost social media initiatives. We’ll keep you posted on those initiatives. And in the meantime, flip through these pages to see how real and alive Stake Your Claim really is.

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte Volume 17, Number 1 Philip L. Dubois Chancellor Ruth Shaw Chair of the Board of Trustees Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Community Affairs David Dunn Editor Director of Public Relations John D. Bland Creative Director Fabi Preslar Contributing Writers Rhiannon Bowman James Hathaway Paul Nowell Lisa A. Patterson Katie Suggs Staff Photographer Wade Bruton Circulation Manager Cathy Brown Design & Production SPARK Publications

UNC Charlotte is published four times a year by The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28223-0001 ISSN 10771913 Editorial offices: Reese Building, 2nd floor The University of North Carolina at Charlotte 9201 University City Blvd. Charlotte, NC 28223 704.687.5825; Fax: 704.687.6379

Regards

John D. Bland, Editor Director of Public Relations

Printed on recycled paper

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is open to people of all races and is committed to equality of educational opportunity and does not discriminate against applicants, students or employees based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability.

17,500 copies of this publication were printed at a cost of $.52 per piece, for a total cost of $9,210. 2

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Fearless Educator Gets Mentor Award Robin N. Coger and Harshini de Silva met as colleagues and grew to become good friends. In their joint quest to prepare graduate students interested in biomedical careers, the pair developed a wildly successful interdisciplinary course designed to teach engineering and biology students about biotechnology and bioengineering fundamentals. Mechanical engineering and engineering science department chair Scott Smith wrote of the endeavor, “The time and dedication that they both committed to executing that course gave me my first indication of how much they both cared about the student learning experience.” After de Silva’s untimely death in 2000, Coger, a professor of mechanical engineering & engineering science and director of the Center for Biomedical Engineering Systems, offered guidance and advice to many of de Silva’s former students. For her many efforts on behalf of graduate students, Coger was recognized as the 2010 recipient of the Harshini V. de Silva Graduate Mentor Award. Coger’s former students confirm her to be a professor who recognizes and supports professional and personal balance in their lives. One former student described Coger as “a fearless educator able to mentor across disciplines…she instills self-responsibility, pride in work, and desire for new and improved development.” In the words of another, “Dr. Coger is someone I will always aspire to be like whenever I can, and I will never be able to thank her enough for what she and her mentorship brought to my life.” Having chaired the doctoral and master’s committees of 15 graduate students, she is currently the dissertation adviser to two doctoral students, and has helped mentor www.UNCC.edu

Robin Coger is surrounded by former de Silva recipients Bernadette Donovan-Merkert and Tony Jackson.

“She instills self-responsibility, pride in work, and desire for new and improved development.” and guide over 30 additional graduate students. Coger earned a master’s and a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. She served as a post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School before joining UNC Charlotte in 1996 as an assistant professor. Coger became a full professor in 2007 and served as interim chair of her department during the 2008-2009 academic year. She is an appointed member of the

National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review’s Gene and Drug Delivery Systems Study Section and has co-authored approximately 55 articles, including those for peer-reviewed journals, book chapters and proceedings. Coger also was the 2008 recipient of the William States Lee College of Engineering Graduate Teaching Excellence Award. In recognition of her achievements, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering recently elected her as a 2010 Fellow. Dr. Harshini V. de Silva was an exceptional teacher, a brilliant scholar and researcher and a devoted servant of her profession and community. The Harshini V. de Silva Graduate Mentor Award is given annually to the faculty member whose commitment to students, research and scholarly inquiry most closely exemplifies the spirit of Dr. de Silva. Q110

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news briefs Finalists for Levine Scholars Visit UNC Charlotte

Levine Scholars finalists attended a dinner and briefing Feb. 14, followed by a full day of interviews Feb. 15.

Some 43 students, including nine from the Charlotte region and others from as far away as Kansas and New Hampshire, have advanced to the final stage in the Levine Scholars Program selection process at UNC Charlotte. The finalists in the program’s inaugural year attended a dinner on campus Feb. 14 with Chancellor Philip L. Dubois, Provost Joan Lorden and select faculty and members of the campus and Charlotte community. On Feb. 15, the finalists participated in interviews with select faculty, senior

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leaders of the university, alumni and leaders from the Charlotte community. The 15 recipients of the scholarships will be announced in early May. Throughout the school year, Levine Scholars will be expected to actively engage with established community organizations or develop their own resolution to key issues facing Charlotte today. To support their work in service to society, recipients also will have access to an $8,000 grant funded by the Leon Levine Foundation and distributed by the UNC Charlotte Foundation.

Levine’s vision is to foster a commitment among the Levine Scholars to community service and a capacity for what he calls “ethical leadership.” Levine Scholars will receive funding to cover all tuition and fees, housing and meals, books, a laptop computer, summer experiences and a grant to support their community service work while they are undergraduates. The first group of Levine Scholars will take their place among their peers on campus in the fall 2010 semester, attending classes and starting to look for ways to use their talents and gifts to make the Charlotte community a better place to live. Unveiled in the summer of 2009, the response to the new merit scholarship program exceeded all expectations in its inaugural year. The Levine Scholars Program received more than 1,000 nominations for high school students from 25 states. Of the 43 finalists, 31 students are from North Carolina. The out-of-state finalists hail from states such as New Jersey, Indiana, New Hampshire, Florida and Kansas. The scholarships were made possible by philanthropists Leon and Sandra Levine, who donated $9.3 million to UNC Charlotte for the merit scholarship program to develop community service leaders. The program has been compared with the esteemed Morehead-Cain Scholars at UNC Chapel Hill, Park Scholars at North Carolina State University and Benjamin N. Duke Scholars at Duke. The value for in-state students will be about $90,000 and about $140,000 for out-of-state students.

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Collaborative Agreement Focuses on Environment UNC Charlotte is staking its claim to being a leader in environmental and energy research. University Chancellor Philip L. Dubois and the Catawba County Board of Commissioners have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on various research projects that could have far-reaching implications. As a result of this memorandum, UNC Charlotte researchers from three applied research centers at the Charlotte Research Institute will be able to install instrumentation and conduct experiments at the Catawba County Regional Ecocomplex. This effort expands innovative waste reduction and waste processing technology demonstrations already under way at the complex.

As part of the agreement, UNC Charlotte will be provided space for setting up equipment and utilities. In addition, the Eco-complex will supply the raw waste materials needed for testing new technologies. The first experiments are planned for this spring. Researchers from EPIC (Energy Production and Infrastructure Center) will test technologies such as alternative means of generating energy and fuels from waste products. Infrastructure Design, Environment and Sustainability (IDEAS) Center investigators will test sustainable waste reduction and waste processing techniques. Tests will include digestion of food wastes for methane production, novel uses of glycerol wastes from biodiesel production and cooperative operations where waste

products are consumed in other productive processes. The North Carolina Motorsports and Automotive Research Center will test emission reduction technologies. The researchers are developing innovative techniques for the environmentally friendly, sustainable transformation of waste paper products and plant biomass derived from agriculture and lumber mills into a marketable liquid fuel commodity.  While work on the projects will be conducted at UNC Charlotte, pilot testing will occur at the Catawba Eco-Complex. According to Charlotte Research Institute officials, the research, currently funded by the Biofuels Center of North Carolina, could have positive economic implications locally and nationally.

Lighting Ceremony Marks Start of EPIC Construction UNC Charlotte officials and leaders from business and the power industry celebrated the beginning of construction on the University’s Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC). The special lighting ceremony provided a tangible example of UNC Charlotte’s ongoing efforts to stake its claim as a leader in energy education and research. Through EPIC, North Carolina’s only urban research university will be in a position to answer the call for energy engineering talent and research, noted UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois. Four large towers of light were activated to outline the perimeter of the building, and a weather balloon was launched and moored 100 feet above the site. According to research, by 2012, roughly half of the engineers and technicians in the energy industry will be eligible to retire. EPIC is designed to address this impending shortage of trained engineers who will service and replace aging fossil fuel and nuclear facilities. Industry leaders including AREVA, the Shaw Group, the Electric Power Institute, URS Washington Group, Westinghouse, Metso Power and Siemens Energy are involved shaping curricula, enhancing research possibilities and opening doors in the industry. Duke Energy executive and UNC Charlotte alumnus Dhiaa Jamil lauded EPIC’s construction. “It’s no coincidence that the creative convergence between academia and industry is taking place at UNC Charlotte. With EPIC, we cement our position as ‘The New Energy Capital’ and pave the way for exciting new developments in energy production.”

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A weather balloon flies above the EPIC construction site.

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news briefs

Library Launches Mobile Application Is there an open computer in Atkins Library? Who can help with research for a sociology paper? These are examples of questions that can be answered at the touch of a finger with a new mobile application developed by Atkins Library. Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and the Android, the “app” offers users on the go access to some of the library’s most sought-after services, such as subject specialist librarian help, catalog search and its newest feature — real-time computer availability information. Blackberry support is planned for the future. According to Stanley Wilder, University librarian, the mobile application is another broad step the library is taking to engage users, particularly students, in innovative and beneficial ways. “The library is committed to being there, wherever students and faculty do academic work.” To access the application, enter library. uncc.edu on the mobile Web browser.

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Defense Expert Talks Robotics Noted author and U.S. defense expert Peter W. Singer discussed the future of war and his recent book, “Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century” at UNC Charlotte. In his comments, Singer addressed new trends in fighting war, what laws and ethics apply to engaging unmanned, autonomous weapons, what message it sends when the United States deploys unmanned machines, how enemies may interpret being attacked by these weapons and how humans will remain masters of weapons that are faster and more intelligent than they are. Recently named one of the “Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2009” by Foreign Policy Magazine, Singer is the director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative and a senior fellow in foreign policy at The Brookings Institution. His research focuses on three core issues: the future of war, current U.S. defense needs and future priorities, and the future of the U.S. defense system. Singer lectures frequently to U.S. military audiences and is the author of several books and articles. Singer’s appearance is the first of two events that launched UNC Charlotte’s new Center for Applied Counterterrorism Studies (see related article, page 14). Created to provide citizens and policymakers with a better understanding of the multifaceted causes and consequences of terrorist acts, the center hosted the first Counterterrorism Conference for professionals and students at UNC Charlotte’s Uptown Center.

Urban Growth Model to Aid Planners, Guide Development What might our landscape look like in the near future? More specifically, where has urban growth occurred in the last 30 years, and where is it likely to occur over the next 20 years? Researchers at UNC Charlotte and UNC Asheville, as part of an ongoing Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) project, are conducting analyses that answer these types of questions and also developing tools to help policy makers and planners understand and manage rapid urban growth. Using historical satellite imagery, development trends, population data and population projections, they’ve been able to design an Urban Growth Model that can generate visual representations of what our landscape may look like in the future. Building upon a similar study of the Charlotte region, released in 2007, researchers are in the process of analyzing land conversion patterns for all of western North Carolina. The initial results of their collaborative research highlight the effect of development on four western North Carolina counties: Madison, Buncombe, Henderson and Transylvania. Those results indicate that between 1976 and 2006, development in the four-county region increased nearly 500 percent, or at an average rate of six acres of green space per day. The Urban Growth Model indicates an additional 47,489 acres of forests and farmlands will be developed in the four-county region by 2030, which is the equivalent of losing almost 75 square miles worth of green space. Created in 2004, RENCI includes a statewide network of academic institutions working to solve complex problems affecting quality of life and economic competitiveness in North Carolina by tapping into university expertise and through the use of advanced technologies.

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Bank Grant Funds Charlotte Teachers Institute The Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation has awarded UNC Charlotte a $25,000 grant for the Charlotte Teachers Institute (CTI). CTI is an innovative educational partnership between CharlotteMecklenburg Schools (CMS), Davidson College and UNC Charlotte that is designed to strengthen teaching and learning in local schools.

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CTI connects public school teachers with expert higher education faculty who help build each teacher’s understanding of the subjects he or she teaches. The Institute, the first of its kind in the state, launched the Yale National Initiative, a pilot program for CMS teachers based on a national project at Yale University. Recently, Charlotte

Through the Charlotte Teacher’s Institute, teachers from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are paired with expert faculty to gain a deeper knowledge of the subjects they teach.

applied and was accepted to the Yale National Initiative for League Institute status. Four other U.S. cities (New Haven, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Houston) have launched similar institutes. “CTI directly responds to recommendations set forth by UNC System President Erskine Bowles’ UNC Tomorrow Initiative, as it helps the University develop a seamless educational continuum from pre-kindergarten through higher education,” said UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois. As part of the program, Davidson College and UNC Charlotte’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences each hosted two interdisciplinary seminars. Sessions were led by an expert faculty member who explored a specific topic in depth. A diverse group of 52 CMS teachers from 24 schools, representing multiple grade levels and backgrounds, participated in the first program.

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news briefs Beam This Up, Scotty Workers put this 50-foot, 20-ton steel plate girder into place as part of the ongoing construction of the University’s Center City Building. Weighing the equivalent of 10 average automobiles, the beam is not only the heaviest in the building but probably weighs more than any single beam in any UNC Charlotte facility, according to Craig Fox, project manager in facilities management, planning. Fox said the construction crew was excited to have the opportunity to work with such a significant girder, which must support the weight of the remaining nine stories of the building’s cantilevered design. When UNC Charlotte broke ground on the Center City Building in April 2009, it staked its claim to a major presence in the city’s urban business district. The 12-story building, which is at the corner of Ninth and Brevard streets, will symbolize the University’s position as the leading institution of higher education in the

region. Upon completion in fall 2011, the Center City Building will offer graduatelevel classes from the colleges of Business, Engineering, Health and Human Services and Liberal Arts & Sciences. The College of Arts + Architecture will offer its Master of Urban Design at the building, and it will house the college’s Design + Society Research Center and a public arts gallery.

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Alumni Hall of Fame 2010: Three exceptional UNC Charlotte alumni were honored at the 2010 Alumni Awards Program event, hosted at Bissell House. Pictured from left to right are honorees Robert F. Hull Jr., and Demond Martin; Philip L. Dubois, Chancellor, UNC Charlotte; and honoree Joe L. Price.

Outstanding Alums Gather for Award Ceremony Alumni from near and far gathered at Bissell House during Homecoming Weekend to honor three graduates of UNC Charlotte. The honorees not only juggle demanding careers, but they also contribute their time and talent to serve UNC Charlotte and their communities. Joe L. Price earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from UNC Charlotte in 1983. Early in his career he was a member of the Financial Institutions National Industry Group at PriceWaterhouse, where he specialized in banking and acquisitions, and derivatives. He left PriceWaterhouse to begin what would become a storied career at Bank of America. During his tenure at Bank of America, Price identified strategic opportunities for the company and served as president of the bank’s consumer finance group, general auditor, chief financial officer and in various risk management positions. Today, Price is the president of Consumer and Small Business Banking for Bank of America and is a member of the bank’s executive management team. www.UNCC.edu

Price is a member of the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees, sits on the advisory board of the Belk College of Business and is a member of the Football Committee. Robert F. Hull Jr., earned bachelor’s degrees in business administration (1985) and accounting (1988) from UNC Charlotte. Hull joined Lowe’s Corporation in 1999 as vice president of financial planning and analysis. Today he serves as the chief financial officer. Hull has more than 20 years of retail and financial management experience, and is a certified public accountant. Hull is a member of the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees; he and his wife, Jacqueline, have established the Jacqueline F. and Robert F. Hull Scholarship for Lateral Entry Teachers. Hull also serves as President of the UNC Charlotte Facilities Development Corporation and as a member of the Football Committee. This year’s Young Alumni Award was presented to Demond Martin, who earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from UNC Charlotte in 1997. While an

undergraduate, Martin served as Student Body President, commencement speaker and student representative to the Board of Trustees. After graduation, Martin took on the exciting position of Assistant to the White House Chief of Staff in Washington, D.C. Among his many tasks, Martin served as a liaison to cabinet members, business leaders, senators and congressmen, and he provided recommendations that led to the restructuring of the White House Intern Program. After completing his White House experience, Martin worked as a business consultant at Arthur Andersen and later as an associate with B2EMARKETS. Martin then joined Adage Capital Management, a multi-billion dollar money management firm where he currently serves as a partner.   Martin is a member of the UNC Charlotte Foundation Board of Trustees. Martin and his wife, Kia, have established the Demond and Kia Martin Annual Scholarships in honor of Dr. Herman Thomas. Q110

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By Rhiannon Bowman

Getting to Know

YOU

Lyle Lashmit applies what he learned in the Venture program on a trip to Crowders Mountain.

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Venture fosters self-discovery The Venture program turns 40 this year, but there won’t be any black balloons at this birthday party; instead, it should feel more like old home week. The anniversary festivities will take place Memorial Day weekend – and you’re invited. The program, which offers outdoor education and experiences for members of the campus community as well as the community at large, got its start in 1970 after a group from UNC Charlotte returned from an Outward Bound course. It was a time when educators were experimenting with experience-based education techniques. While they realized knowing how to calculate a problem or recite the details of a moment in history are important, they also appreciated that teaching students how to understand themselves, showing them how to work in teams and helping them explore their capabilities are equally as important. Coupling the want to explore different ways to reach students with the lessons learned

Students go on a backpacking excursion, circa 1989.

from Outward Bound, Venture was born. In a Charlotte Observer article from November 1970, Dr. Doug Orr, an assistant professor of geography and one of the founders of the program, described Venture as follows: “The program,” he said, “is ‘development of the whole human being ... self-discovery ... compassion for others ... recognition of man’s relationship with nature ... a religious experience in the broadest scope of the word ...” Sandy Kohn, the current director of Venture, said of Orr, “He had a desire to help people become better people.” Kohn has taken up that challenge.

A graduate of the “University Without Walls” at Loretto Heights College in Denver, as well as the University of Vermont, he has led the Venture program since 1984. “There are so many parts of this job that I love,” he said. “I get to be my whole self here. The most important thing, though, is making a real difference in people’s lives.” Through activities such as the high ropes course, kayaking, caving or even just hiking, Kohn and his staff have not only helped people overcome fears, push beyond known limits and learn new ways to work with others, they’ve also fostered special

Karey Digh, a former student staffer and current UNC Charlotte alumnus, served as a community volunteer on Venture kayaking trips. Here he paddles the big drop on the French Broad River just beyond Dillsboro, N.C.

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connections with each of their students. That’s one reason why the entire staff is giddy about the upcoming party. They’re hoping to reconnect with old friends. “It feels like it’s going to be a magical time,” said Kohn, adding that the festivities have been planned using feedback from past participants. Many have written to explain how Venture changed their lives, some citing epiphanies that came during a split-second while dangling from a colorful elastic rope on the face of a rock. Brian Capron, associate director of Venture, knows what they’re talking about in those letters. He participated in the program as a student and eventually opened an outdoor

Liz DePoy, a Venture student staffer and soon-to-be UNC Charlotte graduate, goes caving.

This fashionable group of climbers from the Venture Class of 1980 looks ready to take on the nearest rock face.

education company with his wife. Now he’s back, hopefully for good. “Returning here,” he said, “was an opportunity to give back and train the next generation of outdoor education leaders.” To Capron, it’s interesting to find out how a lesson learned on the rope course weaves itself into a student’s life. Of the anniversary celebration, he said, “It will be nice to see how those strands got woven around the country.” The three-day event will, of course, include a Venture team challenge course, various exercise opportunities and plenty of food. Field trips to the U.S. National Whitewater Center and a guided tour of the new Student Union also are on the schedule.

Organizers are encouraging local Venture participants to host those traveling from other areas in their homes to keep costs low, and they promise registration fees won’t exceed $60. The fee includes four meals and all of the scheduled events. Housing is also available on campus, in Witherspoon Hall or Laurel Hall residence suites, for less than $40 per person. Everyone who has ever attended a Venture class or program is invited. To register, e-mail Sandy Kohn at sakohn@uncc.edu. For more information on the reunion, visit http:// venture.uncc.edu/reunion. Rhiannon Bowman, ’08, is a freelance writer based in Charlotte.

Students tackle the High Team Challenge Course.

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Global Ambition Onsomu learning to influence health policy By Rhiannon Bowman

It has been eight years since Elijah Onsomu has seen his family, worked a day on its tea plantation or attended the University of Nairobi, where he’s only three classes shy of a master’s degree in human resource management. But he doesn’t mind. “Once I got the opportunity to go to school here,” he said, “I decided I wasn’t looking back.” A doctoral student in the College of Health and Human Services, Onsomu has a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees under his belt. He almost had a third, but when offered a chance to study in America, he dropped everything and made his way first toward Indiana, where he received a Master of Public Health from Indiana State University. Then it was on to Ohio, where he received a Master of Science degree at Bowling Green State University. Onsomu chose to pursue his doctorate at UNC Charlotte because of the support he received from the faculty when he was an applicant and because, as he puts it, “I think the education system is pretty intense here in Charlotte. It’s transformed me into a very competitive independent researcher.” A native of Kenya, Onsomu’s focus is high-risk sexual behavior. That’s one reason why he chose to serve as vice chair of the Metrolina AIDS Project, until the nonprofit folded last year. Another major reason is the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in his home country. Further, he fears stigma, slim funding and a lack of interest from policymakers will only make the situation worse. However, where he’s from, these types of setbacks are even more reason to push forward. “In Kenya, we have a communal sense of belonging – a need to help your neighbors,” he said. For him, the knowledge that more than 7 percent of the population – 7 percent of women alone – in Kenya are suffering from a preventable disease is a call to action. That’s what spurs him on, but, he says, he www.UNCC.edu

Doctoral candidate Elijah Onsomu hopes to dedicate his career to changing lives for the better by using his knowledge to “translate research into policy.”

owes his success to others. “I consider myself a community product. I am who I am because of what other people have done for me, because of what other people have provided for me,” he said.

One person he’s particularly thankful for is Dr. James Studnicki, a UNC Charlotte professor who is the Irwin Belk Endowed Chair of Health Services Research. “He has gone beyond [helping with] my dissertation to fund some of the conferences I’ve participated in with his own research money,” Onsomu said. “We have great professors in the College of Health and Human Services.” Through their support and encouragement, Onsomu competed for – and won – a fellowship with the Washington D.C.-based Population Reference Bureau, which has a mission “to bridge the gap between research findings and the policy development process.” Thanks to that fellowship, he spent a month in the nation’s capital for training. He was also awarded a $2,000 research grant and has the opportunity to present his findings to the Population Association of America, allowing him to step closer to his dream of “translating research into policy.” Meanwhile, while polishing his dissertation, Onsomu is applying for research positions across the country, though he hopes to return to UNC Charlotte once he has established himself in his field. “I’m very proud of my school,” he said. “I would love to come back and work here if I get the opportunity. Ultimately, I want to teach. Good research and teaching go together,” he said, before discussing the importance of teaching theory in plain language so students are not only exposed to information but also internalize it and do something productive with it. Ultimately, what he means is, he wants to help others – and he wants to help UNC Charlotte’s students figure out ways to help others, too. Rhiannon Bowman, ’08, is a freelance writer based in Charlotte. Q110

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Talking

Terrorism By Lisa A. Patterson

While it may seem like splitting hairs, defining terms such as “terrorist” and “insurgent” is important to members of the U.S. armed forces. Failure to differentiate between the two can have legal consequences. Nuances of language and perception are among the roadblocks to the general public’s understanding of terrorism. UNC Charlotte faculty experts Cynthia Combs and James Walsh recently addressed some of these issues, exploring the nature of terrorism, public perception of terrorism, effective counterterrorism practices and the relationship between human rights and terrorism. Following are their responses, edited for clarity and brevity. Let’s begin by defining terms. What is asymmetrical warfare? James Walsh: Asymmetrical warfare refers to an individual or organization that adopts tactics exploiting the weaknesses of its foes. If your opponent has more traditional capabilities, you exploit James Walsh its vulnerabilities. For instance, in Iraq and Afghanistan, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are used to attack our tanks and Humvees. Al Qaeda can’t conquer the United States, but the Sept. 11, 2001, attack had a profound impact on the U.S. economy and psyche, and it only cost al Qaeda about a half-million dollars. What is the difference between an insurgent and a terrorist? www.UNCC.edu

Cynthia Combs: It comes down to intent. An insurgency is a political movement with a specific aim. Insurgency movements can adhere to international norms regarding the laws of war, but terrorists conduct crimes under both civil and military legal codes. Some other distinctions warrant mentioning. Insurgency need not require targeting noncombatants, although many insurgencies expand the accepted legal definition of combatants to include police and security personnel in addition to the military. Terrorists do not discriminate between combatants and noncombatants, or if they do, they broaden the category of “combatants” so much as to render it meaningless. Terrorism does not attempt to challenge government forces directly but acts to change perceptions about the effectiveness or legitimacy of the government. We’ve created an impossible situation in Iraq. I’ve had former students serving in the military e-mail me because they can’t differentiate between terrorists and insurgents. You are subject to court-martial if you kill an insurgent. The law is written so that it’s hard to delineate — the military ends up being bad guys either way.

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are perceived to serve a “good” cause, the person is unlikely to be labeled a terrorist. For instance, the international community has agreed that hijacking an airplane is a terrorist act. But during the Cold War, an airplane was hijacked over Soviet territory and brought to the United States — the United States did not label the hijacker as a terrorist. Does the public have a working understanding of terrorism? Combs: It doesn’t. We label anything that’s scary a terrorist act. But most of what we call terrorism isn’t necessarily terrorism. A teen carrying out an attack at a high school is not a terrorist. Because we use the term “terrorism” so randomly, our ability to understand what it is and how to deal with it is diminished. How does a terrorist organization such as al Qaeda develop and grow? Combs: Al Qaeda would not have developed without a charismatic leader and a single political objective. Primarily al Qaeda has a radical Islamic focus. It uses the term “jihad,” which means fighting to practice your faith as you want. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, they made it impossible for the population to practice Islam, so a faith-based insurgency grew out of it. When the Soviets pulled out, Osama bin Laden channeled the religious fervor toward the United States and other Western countries. Now, there are a host of countries in which Islam exists, and al Qaeda cells have been generated in those countries. Al Qaeda is well-financed and has broad appeal. The people who carried out the 9-11

Can “terrorist” and “extremist” be used interchangeably? Combs: The murder of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is an example — the murderer was labeled a Zionist extremist. The person who murdered former Egyptian President Anwar al Sadat was labeled a terrorist. Political systems have written and unwritten rules; the intent of the individual carrying out the act is considered. If the actor’s motivations Q110

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fe a t u re declared a war on terror, but when you don’t have a clear definition of the problem, how do you know when you’ve won?

attacks were middle- to upper-middle class. The organization is scattered over 60 to 80 countries and conducts its networking on the Internet. In fact, most terrorist groups do not meet in advance of a planned attack, and the person organizing the attack is likely to be in a different country. Al Qaeda has grown into an almost leaderless movement. Bin Laden remains involved, but killing him now would instantly make him a martyr, and the United States would be viewed as the bad guy. With bin Laden, any step is going to be the wrong one. Are there myths about terrorism you’d like to debunk? Walsh and Combs: We tend to immediately assume Islamic fundamentalism when we say terrorism. There is just as much potential in the United States for an act of homegrown terrorism (an example would be the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Okla., carried out by Timothy McVeigh) as there is for acts perpetrated by Islamic fundamentalists. North Carolina has the most militia groups in the country. While most have no intent to harm others, some are more nefarious. Other homegrown terrorist groups, such as neo-nazis, have cells in North Carolina. Do the media report accurately on terrorism? Combs: Agencies from the federal government down to local law enforcement are not doing a good job of explaining terrorism, so the lack of accurate reporting is not the media’s fault. The bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in the ‘80s was immediately called a terrorist act. In the 1990s that incident was removed from the terrorism database. A general consensus on terrorism doesn’t exist. For this to change, the public and the media must demand a clear explanation. We’ve 16 UNC CHARLOTTE magazine

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If a country experiences terrorism, does it subsequently abuse human rights? Walsh: No. A lot of people argue that there is a trade-off between human rights and security. In research with my colleague James Piazza, we didn’t find much evidence for that. You don’t need to abuse human rights to counter terrorism. Some good examples are Italy and Germany in the 1970s and 1980s. Both experienced terrorism from factions on the left and right of the political spectrum. The prime minister of Italy was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists, but Italy didn’t militarize its counterterrorism campaign. It treated it as a law-enforcement issue and persuaded terrorists to turn on other terrorists. These trials and informants really discredited their political beliefs. What they were fighting for came to be viewed as ridiculous. How has terrorism evolved throughout history? Combs: Terrorism in the 21st century is incredibly lethal and diverse. While modern incidents don’t kill millions, there are more people willing to carry out terrorist acts, which is disturbing. You now have training camps and the Internet, which have led to terrorist acts in virtually every country. Historically, incidents of terrorism were sporadic. Now we’re looking at hundreds if Cynthia Combs not thousands of incidents at any given time. In the 1970s, Brian Jenkins said terrorists wouldn’t use weapons of mass destruction because they don’t want to destroy their audience. That might not be true anymore because the impact would be so huge it might accomplish what they want to do faster. Do human-rights abuses perpetrated by governments lead to acts of terrorism? Walsh: My colleague James Piazza and I conducted a statistical analysis comparing all countries for the last two decades and found the answer is yes. You have more terrorism when the

government does not respect physical integrity rights (a subset of human rights). Governments that abuse those rights alienate the population, which is counterproductive because you need the population to identify the terrorists. Abuse also creates political complications and the government has to divert resources to deal with those complications. This finding has important policy implications — simply put, if you want to reduce terrorism, you shouldn’t violate human rights. Which nations are some the most egregious violators of human rights? Walsh: Some of the worst are allies of the U.S. (in the context of counter terrorism). They include Saudi Arabia and Jordan. This creates a dilemma for the United States because if we pressure them to stop, we’re criticizing an ally. What role can the populace play in counterterrorism and human-rights protection? Walsh: The populace can refrain from providing material support to terrorists, can inform on terrorists or do nothing. Engaging the populace is a struggle for governments because you have to get people to take risks. When people see the government violating human rights, they become less willing. If a citizen has information about a potential terrorist act, he or she may fear taking it to the police because the police might think the citizen is a terrorist and torture him or her to get a confession. How does the United States’ counterterrorism apparatus compare to that of other Western governments? What is the optimal strategy? Walsh: The major difference is the United States relies more heavily on the military in its approach to counterterrorism; the 9-11 attack was an act of war. One reason for this approach is that we’re the only country capable of using military force on a large scale almost anywhere in the world. The United States has a military far larger and more capable of projecting force over long distances, so using the military seems like a quick and easy solution. However, some changes have taken place. The U.S. Army published a new counterinsurgency doctrine that calls for a population-centric approach — you don’t try www.UNCC.edu


fe a t u re to kill the insurgents but rather to win them to your side. The Obama administration signed off on a request by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, for more troops to implement this strategy. The message is, “We’re not leaving for a long time, so you don’t have to worry about al Qaeda coming in to punish you.” The decline of violence in Iraq, where the strategy was first implemented in 2007, might be evidence it is working, but the public should be leery of examples like that because it’s difficult to tease out all the factors that might contribute to the decline. Combs: The law enforcement approach is the correct approach. Data from the global terrorism database indicates that from 2003 forward there has been a huge spike in incidents. We have to use the law to bring it under control. First, terrorism laws must be codified. If we get global consensus on terrorism, the International Criminal Court will be able to deal with it. Methods for cracking down have to be legal — when we do so outside the law, that’s vigilante justice. You give away the moral high ground. Currently, the ICC doesn’t have terrorism statutes because the international community can’t agree on a definition. We can agree on

specific crimes that will be labeled terrorist acts. Jurisdiction becomes an issue. Someone carrying out a terrorist act is less willing to negotiate. Modern terrorists are crusaders willing to die for a cause, and nothing they are offered or threatened with is going to make a difference. Ordinary criminals expect to live through whatever incident they’re involved in and are more willing to negotiate. Is the United States prepared to deal with the most likely terrorist threats? Combs: The potential for terrorist attacks using biological or nuclear weapons is real. The 2001 anthrax attack made us aware we’re vulnerable. Since then, the government has run exercises to explore how we’d handle an attack. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have done a great job trying to work through the response to a biological attack. The good news is that we’ve learned a lot from these scenarios. For a number of reasons, Charlotte remains among the top 25 major target areas for potential attack, so we host these drills. Part of the point is to raise public awareness. Charlotte’s cross-trained

Counterterrorism Concern of New UNC Charlotte Center UNC Charlotte recently launched the Center for Applied Counterterrorism Studies, which brings together faculty and community representatives to better understand the causes and consequences of terrorism and political violence and to devise and evaluate public policies that minimize such violence while respecting human rights and the principles of democratic rule. “At UNC Charlotte, we have a substantial concentration of faculty from the various colleges who have expertise in terrorism and counterterrorism,” said James Walsh, director of the Center and associate professor of political science. “We want to generate interdisciplinary research that addresses these questions.” The center was designed to bring together faculty and students from multiple UNC Charlotte departments, politicians and professionals charged with crafting and implementing security policies, and the public to better address the causes, consequences and best responses to terrorism. It will develop and share analyses of conditions that give rise to terrorism and the policies that best counter terrorism within the law. “It’s critical federal, state and local agencies talk together, work together and share ideas,” said Cynthia Combs, Bonnie E. Cone Distinguished Professor of Political Science. “Counterterrorism is only effective if it’s a collective effort.” UNC Charlotte currently offers undergraduate and graduate level classes on terrorism, homeland security and emergency management.

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first responders have been recognized by the federal government as some of the best in the country. To achieve this level of preparedness costs money, which means you have to build cross-training into local law enforcement and emergency response agencies’ budgets. Making the public paranoid is a win for the terrorists. The general public need not spend time worrying about terrorism, but being aware will keep you less paranoid and will help you make good decisions if something happens. I would like to see more public forums where citizens can engage police, EMS personnel and academics on these issues. What are the top threats to domestic security today? Walsh: Al Qaeda – The attempted Dec. 25, 2009, bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 is an example of the ongoing threat. Homegrown Islamic terrorists – These are inspired by ideology. Some have connections to al Qaeda. Right-wing terrorists in the United States – The neo-nazis are an example. The law enforcement community is concerned about these groups, but the media rarely report on them. Bios Cynthia Combs, Ph.D., Bonnie E. Cone Distinguished Professor of Teaching in the Political Science Department at UNC Charlotte, is the author of “Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century,” first published in 1997 and now in its sixth edition, as well as co-editor of the “Encyclopedia of Terrorism.” Combs was named the North Carolina Professor of the Year in 2005 and serves as director of UNC Charlotte’s model United Nations program. James Igoe Walsh, Ph.D., associate professor of political science at UNC Charlotte, is director of the Center for Applied Counterterrorism Studies. His research and teaching interests include human rights, national security policy and European integration. He is currently researching the relationships between terrorist attacks and human-rights abuses. His book, “The International Politics of Intelligence Sharing,” recently was published by Columbia University Press. Lisa A. Patterson is senior writer in the Office of Public Relations. Q110

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Aiming High in a B-52 By Paul Nowell

U.S. Air Force Maj. David Gordon, ’96, literally has soared to new heights. Not only has Gordon ascended in his academic pursuits since his graduation from UNC Charlotte in 1996, he’s also spent most of his military career flying B-52 bombers on critical military missions over Serbia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. “It’s exhilarating to be liberated from the ground in one of these amazing airplanes and dance around in the clouds,” he said. “At the same time, I’ve experienced the full capabilities of the B-52 first-hand.” More than a half century after entering 18 UNC CHARLOTTE magazine

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service in the years following World War II, the B-52 is still being flown on missions by a new generation of pilots like Gordon, who admits he’s continually amazed at the longevity and the adaptability of the bomber known affectionately by air crews as BUFF (Big Ugly Fat Fellow). “It’s hard to describe the feeling I get when I take this plane with a wing span of 185 feet down to 400 feet off the ground at 450 miles an hour,” he said. “It’s just so adaptable and that’s why it is still so relevant to today’s strategic bomber force for the United States.” www.UNCC.edu


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Top: David Gordon, ’96, earned a criminal justice degree at UNC Charlotte and is on his way to completing his third master’s degree. Below: The B-52 has been a mainstay of America’s air power for half a century; it’s wingspan is an astounding 185 feet.

According to the Air Force, the B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions. The bomber is capable of flying at high subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet. It also can perform strategic attack, close air support, air interdiction, offensive counter-air and maritime operations.

Left: Gordon’s aircraft, the Global Warrior, has indeed seen action around the world, including Afghanistan, the Balkans and Iraq.

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During Desert Storm, B-52s delivered 40 percent of all the weapons dropped by coalition forces. That was before Gordon’s time, but a few years later he found himself behind the controls of the renowned bomber in the Middle East. A native of Huntersville, N.C., Gordon graduated from UNC Charlotte with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in May 1996. During his undergraduate career, he also was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) detachment on campus. After graduation, he entered the Air Force and attended pilot training at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi. He graduated as a rated pilot in December 1997 and began his B-52 training in early 1998.   “What intrigued me about the B-52 was the air-to-ground capability of the aircraft,” he said. “I felt I wanted to do something that was critical to the mission of supporting our troops on the ground.” Gordon soon got that chance, piloting B-52s in Operations ALLIED FORCE in 1999 in Serbia and Kosovo, ENDURING FREEDOM in 2002 and 2003 in Afghanistan, and IRAQI FREEDOM in 2003 in Iraq. During those missions, Gordon developed a keen understanding about the need for collaboration between the different military forces. And he saw it working. “In Iraq, we were not only mounting a massive air war,” he said. “We had massive

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forces on the ground and they benefitted from the support and intelligence we were able to provide from above. We were able to talk to the commanders on the ground and provide them with key information for their military strategy.” After his duty in Iraq ended, Gordon was assigned to the Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron, where he flew test missions fitting new and experimental equipment to the B-52. It meant he was able to accomplish another one of his personal goals: to be on the cutting edge of developing new technologies and military tactics for the Air Force. “I’ve never stopped being amazed at the capabilities of this old bird,” he said. “It can be adapted for so many new technologies and I was able to participate in the important job of testing out the new equipment.” Gordon’s academic career also has been moving ahead at warp speed. He attended Louisiana Tech University and graduated in 2005 with master’s degree in industrial/ organizational psychology.  He also attended Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama and earned a master of military operational Art and Science degree in 2009. He is now attending the U.S. Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies, and he’ll soon add a third master’s degree to his impressive resume. “Following graduation, I hope to be assigned overseas to a Strategic Planning Division performing contingency and crisis action planning for U.S. air operations,” he said. While he never directly used his criminal justice degree in his career, Gordon knows he got an excellent education at UNC Charlotte that set the stage for his successes in the Air Force and in graduate school. “I know that my time at UNC Charlotte prepared me academically for the rigors of Air Force training and laid the foundation for a lifetime of learning,” he said. “UNC Charlotte is where I developed the discipline and focus necessary to excel in the Air Force both in the cockpit and in the classroom.” Paul Nowell is media relations manager in the Office of Public Relations. Q110

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Child of

Mine

Emily, Joshua and Alissa Lynch enjoy a sunny day on vacation.

By Lisa A. Patterson

Research improves lives of children with birth defects Birth defects remain a leading cause of death in the first year of life. According to the March of Dimes, every 3 to 4 minutes a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States. About 1 in every 33 infants is affected by birth defects. UNC Charlotte researcher Cynthia H. Cassell has devoted her career to improving the lives of families and children affected by birth defects. Because most birth defects occur in the first trimester of pregnancy, the March of Dimes and other organizations focus on fetal and maternal health stress prevention measures to reduce the number of babies born with birth defects. Knowledge of birth defect prevention measures is widespread and well-proven, yet a surprising number of women are not exposed to the information prior to and during pregnancy, when it is most beneficial. For example, simply taking a vitamin can help prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida. “We’ve found women taking 400 micrograms of folic acid during their child bearing years and into early pregnancy can prevent up to 70 percent of cases of children being born with spina bifida, a major birth defect in which the spine doesn’t develop correctly,” said Cassell, assistant professor of health services research. Folic acid, found in leafy green vegetables, orange juice and fortified grains, is a “magic bullet,” according to Anna Bess Brown, director of the North Carolina chapter of the March of Dimes. “We’re campaigning across the nation to encourage all women of 20 UNC CHARLOTTE magazine

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childbearing age to take a vitamin pill every day,” she said. In the quest to make scientifically sound recommendations to women, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are examining closely potential causes of birth defects, including maternal behaviors such as smoking, alcohol use, nutrition, environmental and genetic factors, and maternal and paternal age. Orofacial clefts, which include cleft lip and/ or palate, are among the most common birth defects in the United States, affecting one in 700 infants each year; they also are among the most preventable and treatable. “Once a child with a cleft receives surgical repair of the lip and/or palate, especially if they are treated early on, you’d never know they had it,” said Cassell. “We should do everything we can to help these children lead physically and developmentally normal lives.” Choice and Circumstance Intervention and treatment were the courses of action that Susan Lynch, coordinator of UNC Charlotte’s RN/BSN program in the School of Nursing, and her husband, George, decided upon when they adopted three children from China, the youngest two of whom have special needs. The Lynch’s began the adoption process after losing their infant son, Tyler, to a genetic disorder in 1999. Two months after what Lynch described as

a typical pregnancy and delivery, Tyler started showing signs of delayed development. “We noticed he wasn’t holding his head up well, and he wasn’t moving his arms and legs,” she said. Tyler was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 1, and the Lynches were suddenly thrust into a maelstrom of decisions about whether and how to extend Tyler’s life. Lynch, a seasoned critical care nurse, wrestled with shock, anger and grief. At 5 months, Tyler passed away. Through genetic counseling the Lynches discovered they were both recessive carriers of the gene that caused the disorder. They were told any biological children they had would have a 25 percent chance of having the disorder and dying, and the other 50 percent would be carriers of the gene. Years later, when the Lynches were again ready to expand their family, they decided to adopt a child from China. Soon after bringing daughter Emily into their family, the Lynches decided to adopt again. This time, they adopted Alissa, who suffered from a mild cleft palate. “We had her palate fixed in the United States and really had no complications from it,” Lynch said. In October 2008, the Lynches added a third child, also with special needs, to their family. Their son, Joshua, now 3, suffered from a severe bi-lateral cleft lip and palate. “When we came back to Charlotte with him we weren’t prepared for what his issues would be,” Lynch said. With Joshua, the Lynches experienced www.UNCC.edu


fe a t u re frustrations all too familiar to families trying to coordinate the care of a child with birth defects. A team of physicians in specialties ranging from plastic surgery to pediatric dentistry to speech therapy would be necessary to properly treat Joshua, but after seeking opinions from a plethora of specialists, a comprehensive treatment plan remained elusive. Eventually, Lynch consulted with University colleague Cassell, who directed her to the cleft and craniofacial team at UNC Chapel Hill. The multidisciplinary team approach to cleft treatment can be safer and more effective — four surgeries and numerous speech therapy sessions later, Joshua is progressing by leaps and bounds. After a year of traveling to Chapel Hill every two months, the Lynches have been given clearance to cut their visits to a yearly check up. He now receives speech therapy through the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Special Education program. While Joshua’s story is one of success, the Lynches’ odyssey illustrates both the opportunities and barriers inherent in the healthcare system. The latter includes cost and access to care, and the ease with which families are able to navigate through the health care system. “My husband quit his job to be able to take care of our son — he’ll need more surgeries later. I work so we can give him what he needs,” Lynch said. “Most families of people who have special needs face some really hard choices.” Advocating Better Care Before joining the faculty at UNC Charlotte, Cassell worked as a statistician with the North Carolina Birth Defects Monitoring Program,

Cynthia H. Cassell

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the state’s birth defects registry. When North Carolina joined 10 other states to participate in the CDC National Birth Defects Prevention Study, Cassell took a closer look at the study and its aims. She found that the study concentrated on risk factors for birth defects but did not address the gaps in referral to services, access to services and cost of care that exist for families of children with birth defects. In particular, costs, timeliness of care, barriers to care and factors that affect health service use and costs pertaining to children with orofacial defects were either outdated or nonexistent. Cassell won a CDC grant to gather accurate, up-to-date information about the medical costs of care for children with orofacial defects, as well as to develop an accurate picture of the timeliness with which these families received healthcare services. In 2006, Cassell traveled to the CDC as part of an elite group chosen to establish priorities for kids with clefts. Since then she has focused her research on children with craniofacial defects. As president-elect of the National Birth Defects Prevention Network, as well as through her involvement with the American Cleft Palate–Craniofacial Association and Cleft Palate Foundation, Cassell is hoping to influence health care policy. “We need to make sure these children receive the necessary insurance to cover their costs of medical care and in doing so, make sure they have continued coverage. Some states mandate coverage for children with autism, heart defects and clefts,” Cassell said. “In North Carolina, we have mandated coverage for children with clefts, but a lot of parents are unaware of this because no one tells them.” In 2004, hospital costs for stays due to birth defects totaled $2.6 billion, according to Cassell. Most cost estimates are due to medical use and some health service use. “Current cost estimates severely underestimate the lifetime costs because they don’t take into account special education and out-ofpocket/caregiver costs,” Cassell said. Access to consistent, coordinated care not only impacts the bottom line; it also impacts quality of life. “We know from studies of children with special health care needs that not having a regular source of care leads to greater service use, more secondary conditions, such as attention deficit

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disorder and developmental disabilities, and higher costs. Having a regular source of care is directly related to having insurance,” she said. Cassell recently received the March of Dimes Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Award to conduct a comprehensive study of children with birth defects. This study will examine, among other things, patterns and predictors of hospital use, referral to early intervention, costs for children with birth defects, timeliness of hospital services, and effects of health insurance, both public and private.

Susan Lynch’s young son, Joshua, has had four surgeries to fix his cleft palate, one of the most common and treatable birth defects.

Cassell’s research could potentially impact the medical community, policymakers and ultimately, children with birth defects and their families. Simultaneously, researchers all over the world are working diligently to identify the causes of birth defects (66 percent of the causes remain unknown, according to the March of Dimes), while the moral and ethical implications of scientific advances, such as genetic testing, are debated in the public sphere. In the midst of it all, families like the Lynches, touched by extraordinary circumstances, lead mostly ordinary daily lives…and are grateful for every minute together. “Families adapt based on what they’re presented. When I don’t get the worst case, it’s a celebration — because that’s where we’ve been,” Lynch said. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously.” Lisa A. Patterson is senior writer in the Office of Public Relations. Q110

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Art Attack Ken Lambla, dean of the College of Arts + Architecture, helped kick off the Arts & Science Council fundraising campaign in February at Robinson Hall. During his presentation to faculty and staff, Lambla listed many little-known ways in which UNC Charlotte benefits from ASC grants and how the university, in turn, provides services to the community based on those grants and ASC partnerships. Some examples: n The Department of Dance is a teaching partner with the North Carolina Dance Theater in offering a teaching certificate degrees for dance educators. n Department of Art and Art History and School of Architecture grads provided technical support on an installation at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. n Through ASC support, School of Architecture professors are using digital fabrication techniques and recycled industrial waste to design a canopy structure for the McColl Center for Visual Art. n The ASC-supported Carolina Raptor Center grew out of the work of a UNC Charlotte student and professors who volunteered to care for an injured owl. They originally worked from the Cone Center on campus. n The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences created the Center for the Study of the New South to further extend the partnership with the Levine Museum of the New South. Professors are working on Charlotte’s immigration and neighborhood history. www.UNCC.edu

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Living to Work By Lisa A. Patterson

A look at the best-dressed problem of the 21st Century Bryan Robinson

Workaholism nearly destroyed Bryan Robinson’s life. Nearly 20 years later, Robinson related his struggle with work addiction in his book Chained to the Desk: A guidebook for workaholics, their partners and children, and the clinicians who treat them. The UNC Charlotte professor emeritus and psychotherapist writes of his addiction, “I used work to defend myself against unwelcome emotional states — to modulate anxiety, sadness, and frustration the way a pothead uses dope and an alcoholic uses booze.” Robinson’s personal experience led him to study work addiction — what he calls “the best-dressed problem of the 21st Century” — and its consequences. While a professor of counseling, special education and child development at UNC Charlotte, he was among the first researchers to publish on the topic, and he continues to counsel patients

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from all over the world in his clinical practice in western North Carolina. In a society that places high value on work and lauds individuals for their strong work ethic, getting workaholism recognized as a very real, dangerous problem has been an uphill battle. Robinson began his public campaign in 1998 with the inaugural edition of Chained to the Desk, which provided the first comprehensive portrait of the workaholic. A spate of national media attention followed. But Robinson said a grounded understanding of work addiction remains obscured by entrenched attitudes and inaccurate perceptions. “A lot of people tease they are becoming a workaholic. We don’t tease about being alcoholic or over eating. It’s something people still don’t take seriously,” Robinson said. Moreover, portrayals of workaholism as a virtue abound. “I continue to be

“A lot of people tease they are becoming a workaholic. We don’t tease about being alcoholic or over eating. It’s something people still don’t take seriously.”

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fe a t u re as a necessary and sometimes fulfilling obligation; workaholics see it as a haven in a dangerous, emotionally unpredictable world. “During the tax season CPAs work overtime and weekends. Sometimes the work load requires it. It becomes a problem only when you feel in your bones you want to work or have to work for reasons other than true economics,” Robinson said. The payoff for the workaholic is emotional and neurophysiological — the adrenaline rush, or biochemical euphoria, becomes the fuel for the addiction and is followed by withdrawal. Just as any addiction encompasses a wide spectrum of behaviors, so does workaholism. Robinson explained the workaholic might binge, working around the clock for days on end, or the workaholic might view work as his/her life, and family and friends as a secondary distraction.

“It’s up to us to draw the line. You don’t leave a hammer or saw out after you’ve worked on a cabinet — you put those things away. The same can be true for our devices.” appalled at how our society, and the media in particular, continue to extol workaholism,” Robinson said. “There’s still this notion that it’s a good thing. In my private practice I see people fall apart, their children are miserable. True workaholism within the context of the family is a devastating problem to everyone concerned.” Robinson said a simple scenario plainly illustrates the difference between a workaholic and a hard worker: The hard worker is sitting at his/her desk, dreaming about being on the ski slopes, while the workaholic is on the ski slopes dreaming 26 UNC CHARLOTTE magazine

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about getting back to work. A workaholic’s behaviors are distinct from that of the healthy worker. Robinson said workaholics tend to be separatists, preferring to work alone and focusing on the details of their work, to which their egos are attached. Healthy workers see the bigger picture and work cooperatively with others toward common goals. Workaholics often create or look for work to do, whereas healthy workers enjoy their work, sometimes work long hours and focus on getting the job done efficiently. Perhaps the most salient distinction is this: Healthy workers experience work

Scope of the problem As societal ills go, workaholism is formidable. “We estimate from our extensive studies that one-quarter of the population can be classified as workaholic,” Robinson said. More often than not, workaholics and their families don’t seek help until there are severe disruptions within the balance of the family system or a crisis occurs, such as a failed marriage, a child acting out or job loss. In fact, many workaholics have conflicts with colleagues because they “bring their workaholism to work” and are fired because of their behavior. “So many organizations hire workaholics because they think they’ll get more out of them, but research shows they don’t make the best workers; the rate of burnout is higher, the trajectory of their careers is lower, and they are not team players,” Robinson noted. Work addicted men frequently excuse their behavior by reasoning that they’re trying to be good providers, when in truth they are trying to assuage emotional states of which they’re unaware. “The clinical term is ‘firefighter behavior’ — trying to comfort yourself so you don’t have to face something within yourself.” Robinson said that the unnamed thing www.UNCC.edu


fe a t u re might be anxiety, low self-esteem or fear of intimacy. “They’re not even conscious of it.” But the repercussions of the workaholic’s behavior are far-reaching and measurable. Findings suggest that adult children of workaholics have greater psychological problems and more health complaints than do adult children of non-workaholics. Moreover, children from workaholic families experience more anxiety and self-esteem issues than those from alcoholic families, Robinson said. To mitigate the effects of workaholism on children, Robinson advocates early intervention. “I would ask people when they see some of the symptoms to look a little deeper. The 10-year-old in the class who is a little adult might be that way because of what’s going on in his or her life; the same goes for the child who has a fit when he gets a 99 instead of 100 percent on a test – these children can be treated and taught how to let go,” Robinson said. Getting here, and getting help While the internal drivers for work addiction are necessary in the pursuit to understand the problem, so are the external forces that enable it to exist. Historical trends and cultural whims can’t cause work addiction any more than they create addictions to drugs and alcohol, Robinson writes, but certain trends and conditions support and encourage work addiction. A chaotic or otherwise unpleasant home situation or family members placing demands for more material goods on the wage earner are some of the daily factors that enable workaholism. Robinson also points to neighborhood and community, such as media stereotypes and advertisements, as well as embedded cultural beliefs, as enabling factors. Of course, the list of enablers would be incomplete without the addition of “technology,” or what Robinson deems the “Blackberrization” of our lives. Long gone are the days when blackberries were an ingredient in pie, not hand-held devices designed to keep workers online “24/7.” “In the 1970s we were saying our technology was going to free us up, but it www.UNCC.edu

has enslaved us. There are no boundaries. You can be working anywhere on the planet, any time of the day,” Robinson said. Human interaction has changed, and according to Robinson, suffered, as a consequence of Blackberrization. “I do a lot of work with couples in my private practice and this is a huge problem. People watch TV together or text side-byside, and there’s little interaction,” he said. However, Robinson noted, it’s not the technology that’s at fault; each of us has a responsibility in how we use the technology. “It’s up to us to draw the line. You don’t leave a hammer or saw out after you’ve worked on a cabinet — you put those things away. The same can be true for our devices.” Workaholics, however, often require professional help to recognize their addiction and get the treatment that empowers them to put the Blackberry or lap-top computer away. Getting help might not be as simple as going to a therapist because, according to Robinson, many therapists don’t recognize workaholism, and some therapists are work addicted. Workaholics Anonymous has chapters worldwide and can provide referral services for workaholics and their families, Robinson said. At a time when the unemployment rate has skyrocketed, broaching the subject of work addiction becomes more difficult than in times of prosperity, but Robinson is determined to continue to preach the gospel of work-life balance to the public. “That’s why I wrote the book. The feedback I get is once people start to understand work addiction, they look at it in a different way — and they start to

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see the damage it’s caused them,” he said. “Education is the key to reform.” To learn more, visit Robinson’s Web site at www.bryanrobinsononline. com or e-mail him at bryanrobinson@ bryanrobinsononline.com. Lisa A. Patterson is senior writer in the Office of Public Relations.

Below: Bryan Robinson’s book, Chained to the Desk, provided the first comprehensive portrait of the workaholic.

“So many organizations hire workaholics because they think they’ll get more out of them, but research shows they don’t make the best workers; the rate of burn-out is higher, the trajectory of their careers is lower, and they are not team players.” Q110

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49 e rs n o te b o o k

Football Funding Approved by Board of Governors UNC Charlotte cleared a crucial hurdle in its quest to add a football program in February when the University of North Carolina Board of Governors unanimously approved the proposed funding plan. “We can see the goal line,” said UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois.

“We still have some more to do, but it was gratifying to see the unanimous vote from the Board of Governors. That shows the trust they have in our Trustees and our ability to handle this project properly. We may not see the full benefit for 20 years but in the meantime our students will have a

more complete college experience — which is one of the reasons we want to do this.” The move to add football in 2013 formally began in September 2008, when Dubois recommended the addition to the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees. That decision came after 21 months of deliberation and research by a football feasibility committee, Dubois and others at the University. The Board of Trustees passed the recommendation without opposition in November 2008. “I am so thrilled for our University,” exclaimed Director of Athletics Judy Rose. “It is exciting for our former, current and future students. This decision will enhance the campus life in a way nothing else can.” The move forward, which has received strong support from the student body and resulted in the presale of more than 3,200 49ers Seat Licenses, then rested on the approval of the University’s funding plan. That plan, which includes a combination of a debt-service fee and private support, received unanimous approval from the Board of Trustees in December before gaining approval from the Board of Governors. The final step will come this summer when the North Carolina General Assembly considers the University’s non-appropriated capital budget, which will include the approval of the issuance of debt for construction of the football complex as well as other construction projects on campus.

“I am so thrilled for our University. It is exciting for our former, current and future students.” -Athletics Director Judy Rose 28 UNC CHARLOTTE magazine

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49 e r s n o t e b o o k 49ers Picked To Prosper in Spring If the prognosticators are correct, the Charlotte 49ers athletics program is going to have quite a spring season in Atlantic 10 play. The preseason polls predicted the Niners to finish with three conference championships, two runner-up titles, and two other top six spots of the Atlantic 10 Conference. Last spring season, Charlotte claimed three A-10 championships with both the men’s and women’s track teams winning outdoor titles and men’s golf winning their fourthstraight conference crown. To go along with the three titles, the Niners finished runner-up in softball, third in women’s tennis and in a tie for fourth in baseball.  This spring, the track and golf programs are again expected to claim top prize while the baseball and softball programs are both picked second. Women’s tennis is slated for a third-place showing and the men are picked sixth. In men’s golf, Charlotte returns defending A-10 individual champion, Corey Nagy, a three-time All-America player. Nagy is joined by fellow returners Paul Ferrier, who placed fifth at the A-10 Championship last year, and sophomore Tyler Mitchell, who returns for his sophomore season after finishing in a tie for 12th place in 2009. The A-10 Championship will be played from April 30 to May 2 at the Mission Inn Resort in Howey-In-The-Hills, Fla., where the Niners will be looking for their fifth-

Darius Law and Isaac McReynolds

www.UNCC.edu

| UNC CHARLOTTE

The 49ers are sure to pack Hayes Stadium during what is expected to be a strong season.

straight conference title and vying for their sixth straight NCAA Tournament bid. On the track, Charlotte ‘s women have been dominant since joining the Atlantic 10, winning every conference title, both indoors and out. This year, the 49ers promise more of the same with standouts Sunita Brathwaite, Amanda Goetschius and Danielle Brown attempting to continue the historic streak. The Niners return Darius Law, Jason Roberts, Isaac McReynolds and Sam Jordan to the men’s track team, all of whom claimed a performer or rookie of the year awards in 2009. The men’s team has won two of the last four outdoor conference titles and is poised to win their third this season. Massachusetts will host the 2010 Atlantic 10 Outdoor Championship on May 1-2. Head softball coach Aimee DeVos returns a strong squad that won 14 conference games and is in the running for their first appearance in the NCAA Championship this season. The Niners, picked second in the preseason poll, return three All-A-10 members; Emily Jeffery, Serena Smith and Whitney Williams. That trio, along with a crop of strong newcomers, will try to guide the Niners to their first conference tournament crown, which will be played in Amherst, Mass. from May 12-15. On the baseball diamond, Charlotte is picked to finish second in the league. Since joining the A-10, Charlotte has put together a .695 winning pct (160-70), which ranks ninth in the country and first in the A-10 during that span. Before finishing tied for fourth last year, the 49ers won the 2007 and 2008 regular season and tournament conference titles. Four second-team All-Conference selections;

Ryan Rivers, Zane Williams, Justin Wilson and Joe Yermal, have their eyes on another conference title in 2010. The A-10 Championship will be held May 26-29 in Camden, N.J.   Last season, Charlotte’s women’s tennis team finished third in the conference and is projected to finish in the same spot this season as the 49ers look for their first-ever league crown. On the men’s side, head coach Jim Boykin’s team took fifth place last season and has been picked to place sixth in the 2010 season. The A-10 Men’s Championship will be held, Apr. 16-18 and the Women’s Championship will be Apr. 22-25 in Monroeville, Pa.

Ana Spivokovsky

Fans can catch the action at the DL Phillips Sports complex on campus. The Complex includes Robert & Mariam Hayes Baseball Stadium; the 49ers Softball Diamond, the Irwin Belk Track and Field Center and the 49ers home tennis courts. The 49ers golf team will host one tournament at Irish Creek Golf Course. Let the games begin.  Check out www.charlotte49ers.com for schedules, results, video/audio streaming options and stats and releases. Q110

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fe a t u re

Legumes rich in versatile gene families By James Hathaway

Sequencing the

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Jessica Schlueter

Among the many plants that humans have found useful enough to domesticate, soybean (Glycine max) is a wonder. Like other legumes, it has the important ability to make some of its own essential nutrients by hosting nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Soybean is also a virtual chemical factory, so rich in proteins that it is a major source of protein for animal feed, and so rich in oils that it is used to produce much of the world’s cooking oil; it is also a major source for biodiesel. If it seems as if nature could hardly have made agriculture a more useful plant, at last we may be able to understand why. The first complete sequencing of the soybean genome has now made available the fine details of the soybean’s productive genetic code and is revealing an unusual evolutionary history that led to its chemical versatility. The sequencing of the soybean genome was announced in a paper in the January issue of the journal Nature. Authored by Jeremy Schmutz of the Joint Genome Institute and the HudsonAlpha Genome Sequencing Center and 43 other researchers from 18 institutions, including UNC Charlotte, the paper details results pointing to key evolutionary events that may be responsible for the plant’s unusual capabilities. In particular, researchers found evidence of two separate instances, one about 59 million years ago and the other about 13 million years www.UNCC.edu

ago, when the plant’s ancestors doubled their genes by adding an extra copy of the organism’s original set of chromosomes, resulting in a genetic condition known as polyploidy. Most higher animals and plants (including humans) have two copies of their genetic code in most of their cells through most of their life cycle (they are “diploid”), but polyploid organisms have extra copies, usually in multiples of two, so the material can be evenly divided during sexual reproduction. In each of the polyploid events in the soybean’s evolutionary history, the plant’s ancestor changed from having two copies of its genes to four. After the polyploidy occurred, the new copies either slowly evolved and diverged from the original genes to become new pairs of genes, or the duplicate copy disappeared because it was unnecessary, and the plant eventually became diploid again. The more recent gene-copying event in the soybean lineage was almost certainly an event known as “allopolyploidy,” where the duplicated set of genes came from a separate organism that was genetically similar, but probably a distinct species from the other genetic donor. In this condition, the new set of genes are essentially still duplicates, but may be somewhat varied in their specific code. What makes soybean somewhat unique as a polyploid, according to Jessica Schlueter, a faculty member in Bioinformatics at the

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Bioinformatics, Time Travel and Basic Biology The soybean is a model plant for understanding how natural processes can lead to biochemical diversity – it’s also a super plant for agriculture and industry. As part of a U.S. Department of Energy-funded project, UNC Charlotte Assistant Professor of Bioinformatics Jessica Schlueter and colleagues took a close look at the genomic sequencing of the soybean. The team used a “molecular clock” to establish dates for when genes had been duplicated, measuring specific differences between genes that are known to be essentially random and therefore have a predictable rate of occurrence. For example, certain single substitutions of the DNA bases (A, T, G and C) in the code sequence are “silent,” which means they do not affect the organism and their rate of appearing in the genetic record should be random. The changes have no genetic effect because the new three-letter “codon” they make also codes for the exact same amino acid as the original codon (a change in the code from “AAG” to “AAA” for example – both produce the amino acid lysine). The change thus has no effect on the production of the substance the gene carries the instructions for, and the number of times it occurs in the history of the gene at a specific point in the sequence is a purely random event, with a regular and predictable rate of occurrence. If the researcher measures the number of times such a letter difference occurs between two gene sequences that were once identical, then they have a relative measurement for how long ago the copying was done.

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UNC Charlotte and the paper’s third author, is the fact that most of the plant’s copied genes diverged to become new genes rather than disappearing, which is the more common evolutionary result of gene duplication. “One of the characteristics that we’ve known from studies in soybeans is that there is an over-abundance of multi-gene families,” noted Schlueter. “On average, we are finding 2.3 loci (a term designating specific locations in the genetic material) per genetic marker (individual gene). In a simple diploid genome, you would expect one loci per marker.” Schlueter stresses, however, that soybean’s polyploidy alone is not the whole story: “In Arabidopsis (the first sequenced plant and also an ancient polyploid), you only have 20 percent of the genome showing a signature of duplication – it has kicked out 80 percent of the genes that were duplicated,” Schlueter said. “Soybean is the complete opposite of that spectrum – it has kept 75 percent of that duplicated material. It seems to be very resilient to polyploidy – it handles it very well and retains a lot of similar genetic information.” The team found a particularly high number of genes that provide the genetic codes for soybean’s rich compliment of proteins and the vast majority (78 percent) of those and other identifiable genes occur at the ends of the chromosomes, which contain the regions in the genome, as the authors note, “where nearly all the genetic recombination occurs during reproduction.” “You can see across the genomic sequence these major blocks that have been duplicated and remain within the genome,” Schlueter said. “This is one of the big take-home messages that we had. The soybean genome has a unique structural characteristic that we have not seen in a sequenced plant genome before.” Gaining an Evolutionary Advantage Since most plants with histories of genome duplication lose many of their extra gene copies relatively quickly, a major question remaining is why the soybean has not dumped its extras. Schlueter points out that the oldest identified occurrence of polyploidy in the soybean lineage occurred 59 million years ago, a time near the point where legume family itself first emerged, and the event may be related to the development of these plants’ shared ability to form the unique adaptation of root nodules that 32 UNC CHARLOTTE magazine

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house nitrogen-fixing bacteria. The nodules are a particularly valuable evolutionary development, since they give legumes the ability to produce their own biologically usable form of nitrogen, an element that is essential for biological processes (especially protein production) but is also frequently scarce in a usable form. Developing a feature that allowed a biological partnership with nitrogen-fixing bacteria was a gamechanger for the legumes. “One of the concepts with polyploidy is that you get unique morphological characteristics because the plant has twice the genetic information,” Schlueter said, “Large seeds,

detail at differences between diverged genes and looking for clues regarding the process of gene divergence and its effects. “In my lab I’m starting to ask why there is a persistence of polyploid genes,” Schlueter said. “I’m looking at differences in gene expression between the two duplicated genes – why are they both still being expressed? How are they regulated? What are the epigenetic changes in these regions? “The big question is,” she noted, “why are they both still there?” Far from being simply an abstract academic question, the issue is potentially a very large one for bioscience and particularly for the biotech

“You can see across the genomic sequence these major blocks that have been duplicated and remain within the genome. This is one of the big take-home messages that we had.”

large flowers, the ability to grow in various temperature conditions, and so on. It’s like doubling your genetic variability all at once. If you allow genes to mutate, you have a second copy that is suddenly evolutionarily free to go off on its own path.” In the soybean lineage, the team found that many of the duplicated genes were preserved and allowed to diversify after each of the two polyploidy events. If soybean may have kept its duplicated genes because it was able to diversify many of them into new genes that gave the organism useful new capabilities, the question is what were those new capabilities, and how are they related to the plant’s diverse chemical attributes that humans find so useful? Finding out is the complicated task ahead for Schlueter’s research. As one of the bioinformaticians on the soybean genome project, Schlueter’s participation involved identifying the genes and blocks of genes that were duplicated and establishing dates for when duplication events had occurred. In the next stage of her research on the genome, Schlueter will be looking in finer

industry, as the soybean is a model plant for understanding how natural processes can lead to biochemical diversity. “There was an article in Newsweek recently that essentially said ‘stop all the sequencing – the last thing we need to do is to sequence another genome.’ I get the point – we have a lot of sequence data, and we are just starting to utilized all of it,” Schlueter said. “But on the flip side, from an evolutionary biology perspective, there are some very important evolutionary processes that need to be revealed,” she said. “It’s easier to draw conclusions about what happened millions of years ago if you have access to hundreds of different genomes that have been sequenced and can see differences. The information will help us find the ‘why?’ of the soybean and many other useful plants.” The soybean genome project was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute. Scott A. Jackson is the corresponding author. James Hathaway is research communications manager at UNC Charlotte. www.UNCC.edu


Ivy League taLent

FROM a

MagnOLIa

tOwn.

To find world-class talent, you don’t have to look any farther than UNC Charlotte. Whether it’s academics, athletics, or the arts, we’re home to top achievers and leaders. 24,700 students strong and growing, UNC Charlotte boasts an award-winning faculty, notable alumni, and an outstanding student body. Stake your claim to a university that’s home to academic achievement.

Kenechukwu Onwugbolu Marketing, Honors Program, Class of 2011

Mona Abbasi, Biology/Pre-Med, Honors Program, Class of 2011


UNC CHARLOTTE |

fe a t u re

Homecoming ‘10 3 Homecoming 2010 was bigger and better than ever, with weeklong celebrations culminating on Saturday, Feb. 20 with a day jam-packed with activities on campus. The annual Family Day breakfast drew a packed house of more than 500 to the new Student Union at 8:30 a.m. At 9 a.m. the Homecoming 5K drew more than 500 runners. At 10:30 a.m., the homecoming parade snaked through campus before the 49ers men’s basketball team took on nationally-ranked Xavier at Halton Arena at 2 p.m. Then at 4 p.m., the 49ers baseball team finished its season-opening home stand by beating High Point. Here are some highlights from HC ’10 (clockwise from upper left): 1. Students and their families competed for UNC Charlotte gear. This lucky student won a t-shirt at the annual Family Day Breakfast. 2. The Homecoming parade drew a mob of revelers. 3. The Women of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority enjoy homecoming festivities. Front row: Alica Womble, Lauren Lowry, Mayra Morales, Sofia Saldana. Back row: Erica McNeill, Megan Richardson, Tiffany Fele, Danielle Anderson. 4. The white-out at the basketball game was a success, by the 49ers succumbed to Xavier. 5. Members of the 49ers Racing club showed off their Legends series racecar. 6. Alumni Award winner and trustee Joe Price presents a check for more than $6000 to Habitat for Humanity, on behalf of the 2010 Homecoming Committee. 7. Student Philip Grassman poses with his father and Norm the Niner after winning a free semester of tuition. 8. Feb. 20 was a beautiful day to show off the 49er spirit. 9. Cheerleader flies high. 10. An’Juan Wilderness drives to the basket against Xavier. 34 UNC CHARLOTTE magazine

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s t a ke yo u r c l a i m p ro f i l e

A Way with Words Author, alumnus captures Southern culture By Allison Reid

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s t a ke yo u r c l a i m p ro f i l e

Tucked away in the Great Valley of Virginia about three hours southwest of Washington, D.C., UNC Charlotte alumnus Rodney T. Smith has made his home in bucolic Rockbridge County, home of 20,000 souls. Around 7,000 people reside in the nearest town of Lexington. Yet Smith, who graduated from UNC Charlotte in 1970 with a philosophy degree, has found plenty of inspiration there for his award-winning poetry and short story writing. Smith, who is Writer-in-Residence at the small, elite Washington and Lee University and the editor of the literary journal Shenandoah, says that while he used to look for his muse in his extensive travels, he now finds himself with plenty of fodder right at home in the Virginia mountains. “If not a scholar then I would consider myself certainly a student of southern culture, literature and history,” said Smith, who publishes under the moniker R.T. Smith. “So that’s what I write about. I have never lived outside of the South, and I’m very interested in the things Southerners do.” Whatever the subject, Smith’s writing has drawn acclaim. In 2008 he won the Virginia Poetry Book of the Year award for his collection, “Outlaw Style.” The same year he won an award from the Virginia governor for his work as editor of Shenandoah. Currently, stage director Warner Shook and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan are developing one of his short stories, “Docent,” for the stage. Smith, who grew up in Charlotte, started his college career at Georgia Tech, thinking he was going to be an engineer. After discovering that wasn’t the right path for him, he transferred to UNC Charlotte. He wasn’t sure what to major in until he befriended vice chancellor Hugh McEniry after interviewing him for the campus newspaper. McEniry told Smith that he had majored in philosophy, and it had never failed him. “I had great professors like Bob Byerly and Loy Witherspoon,” said Smith. “I still look at those years as the most exciting time of my life. That’s the beauty of a liberal arts education at a college that was undergoing a metamorphosis at the time. I didn’t www.UNCC.edu

arrive at UNC Charlotte as an inventive and imaginative conductor of my own life, but I left there that way. The atmosphere encouraged it. It’s viral, and you start living your life that way.” Smith is now paying it forward, encouraging budding young writers as he alternates between teaching fiction writing and literature courses. He just finished a seminar course last fall on Flannery O’Connor, which prepared him for the Herculean task of pulling together this spring’s 60th anniversary issue of Shenandoah that celebrates O’Connor and her work. Smith quoted O’Connor — “Everything that rises must converge” — when talking about one particular student, Rebecca Makkai, whom he views as a rising literary star. Her work was published in The Best American Short Stories 2009 and 2008 and has also been featured in magazines such as New England Review, The Threepenny Review, Ploughshares, and, of course, Shenandoah. “I didn’t discover her, but I watched her grow and was able to encourage her,” said Smith. Having closely studied the work of the Georgia native writer for Shenandoah, Smith’s latest project takes inspiration from Flannery O’Connor. He has been working for over two years on a poetry collection

| UNC CHARLOTTE

of dramatic monologues as they would be spoken by O’Connor. Smith is weaving together what he imagines she would say along with actual quotes. “She was so quick with language and with her references, from the earthy to the ethereal,” said Smith. Even a perfunctory read of some of Smith’s work shows that he, like O’Connor, has an uncanny way with language. He credits his ability to turn a phrase, in part, to his philosophy background, calling himself a “cracker barrel philosopher.” “Philosophy taught me to pay close attention to the most precise implications of words,” said Smith. “Sometimes I may just throw that out the window, but then I come back and look at it and say ‘Bob Byerly is looking over my shoulder, and if something isn’t clear he’ll pinch me on the ear.’” For students, or anyone, aspiring to be a writer, Smith advised “the inspiration comes from perspiration.” Then he added, paraphrasing poet Robert Penn Warren, “The muse doesn’t come that often, so if you’re not at the desk when it comes, it’s not coming back.” Allison Reid is communications director for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“I had great professors like Bob Byerly and Loy Witherspoon. I still look at those years as the most exciting time of my life.”

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g i v i n g p ro f i l e

Alan Kulwicki The person behind the legend By Katie Conn Suggs

“I really just miss him being around. I miss his thoughts and his ideas and wonder where the sport would be if he was still here.” “Alan was one of those people who looked at the world differently,” said Father Dale Grubba, with a smile. “To be honest, I don’t know that anyone could accomplish the things that he did.” Alan Kulwicki, the 1992 Winston Cup Champion and NASCAR legend, accomplished a tremendous amount in his short life. His fingerprint on the sport is still evident today. Kulwicki was the first college graduate to win stock car racing’s premier title, the Winston Cup Series Championship (now called the Sprint Cup Series). He was the first person to both own and drive his own team — opening the door for today’s drivers to do the same. He was the creator and first person to do the Polish Victory Lap — a reverse (clockwise) celebratory lap around a racetrack after a win. Now, his legacy is a part of UNC Charlotte. In late 2009, the Kulwicki family made a gift commitment of nearly $1.9 million to support the Motorsports Engineering Program in the William States Lee College of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Sciences. In addition, the University’s existing motorsports research laboratory 38 UNC CHARLOTTE magazine

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Alan Kulwicki celebrates his championship with his parents Thelma and Gerry.

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g i v i n g p ro f i l e will be named the Alan D. Kulwicki Motorsports Laboratory. While his accomplishments on the track are well known, who he was as a person is often hard to discern. Perfectionist, brilliant, no-nonsense, loner and mis-understood are just a few of the words that you will hear people use when they describe him. “Well, there were two different sides of him. One was a real pain in the youknow-what,” said Humpy Wheeler, former president and general manager of Lowe’s Motor Speedway, with a laugh. “He was a total perfectionist and sometimes could be completely without humor. Robin Williams wouldn’t even make him laugh.” Paul Andrews, who served as crew chief for Kulwicki from 1988 until Kulwicki’s death in 1993, also remembers the two sides of Kulwicki’s personality. “Our personalities were completely different. Alan’s personality was very dry, very serious, but he definitely had a humorous side and a fun side.” At the racetrack, Kulwicki was known to be focused, determined and serious. Father Grubba, author of Alan Kulwicki NASCAR Champion: Against All Odds and close, personal friend of Kulwicki’s, remembers the champion being bothered by how he was perceived. “A lot of people never got to know him. When he was at the track he was total business and racing. One of the things that he would always say was, ‘People that see me at the track don’t really know who I am. When I’m away from the track, I’m totally different,’ and he was,” Grubba said. Who was Alan Kulwicki off the track? Well, that is where Andrews, Grubba and Wheeler can really tell some stories. “I think the girls in his life were pretty

comical. He was very, very particular with the girls he dated,” said Andrews. Grubba also remembers Kulwicki and his girlfriends. “I saw Alan with this girl at one of the races, and she was this blonde. The next time I saw him I asked where that girl was. Alan said, ‘Well, she had a different interest in music than I did,’ and that was the end of that relationship. Then, you would see him with another girl, and you would ask about her. He’d say, ‘Well, she smoked five years ago, and she might start smoking again. I don’t want to be with any woman that smokes,’ and that would be the end of that.” Because he usually did not have a sponsor, Kulwicki learned to be very careful with his finances. After winning the Winston-Cup Championship, Kulwicki attended the NASCAR banquet at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. “He was so used to saving money that he sent part of his crew out to buy booze at a liquor store across the street because the liquor in the Waldorf-Astoria was going to be sky high,” said Grubba. “He would surprise you constantly,” added Wheeler. “For instance, my wife and I went out to eat with him one night before the Southern 500 at Darlington. We went to this restaurant, and they had this great selection of wines. Well, I had been around Alan for years. I had no idea! He opens up this cornucopia of knowledge of wines. I’m sitting there wondering how he could possibly know all this. He looks up at me like doesn’t everybody know this? He didn’t say it, but I knew what he was thinking. He introduced me to one of the greatest wines I’ve ever had in my life.”

“He would have been a great car owner. He’d be a Jack Roush or a (Rick) Hendrick. He had exactly what it took to do that. He set a great example for a lot of people in a very short time. We’ll just never know what he could have been. But what he was, was enough.” www.UNCC.edu

| UNC CHARLOTTE

There is no doubt that Alan Kulwicki was not only a talented, influential driver but also a very special person. Unfortunately, he never got to enjoy his championship or his success. After winning the championship in the fall of 1992, Kulwicki was killed in a plane crash in the spring of 1993. He was only 38 years old. “I really just miss him being around. I miss his thoughts and his ideas and wonder where the sport would be if he was still here,” Andrews said. “He would have been a great car owner,” said Wheeler. “He’d be a Jack Roush or a (Rick) Hendrick. He had exactly what it took to do that. He set a great example for a lot of people in a very short time. We’ll just never know what he could have been. But what he was, was enough.” It is clear that these three gentlemen just miss their friend. “The thing you miss most about Alan is that you meet some people in life, and it’s rare, but they’re just a little bit off kilter with the world. That makes them interesting for me,” continued Grubba. “It’s called character, and he had it,” said Wheeler. A very special thanks to Paul Andrews, Father Dale Grubba and Humpy Wheeler for sharing their memories of Alan Kulwicki. Katie Conn Suggs is marketing and communications director for alumni and development. Q110

|

UNC CHARLOTTE magazine 39


UNC CHARLOTTE |

building blocks

Some Things Never Change

n

1,594 Faculty/Staff Spaces (Faculty and staff can also park in most Commuter or Resident lots)

In this 1963 photo from the new UNC Charlotte on Hwy. 49, a nattily dressed student haggles with a

n

scrupulous parking permit enforcer in one of

621 Visitor Spaces (In East Deck, Cone Deck and Union Deck)

college’s perennial pastimes. Seems like no matter how few or how many cars that come to campus,

n

351 ADA Spaces

there’s never enough parking spaces directly

(Anyone with a valid Handicap Placard and

adjacent to the building we’re seeking. And the

UNC Charlotte permit may use these spaces)

parking police – they’ve heard all the sob stories.

n

51 Motorcycle

Today, UNC Charlotte’s 1,000-acre campus features

n

392 Reserved

11,707 parking spaces for its 24,700 students, 950

(These include spaces reserved for

faculty members and 1,600 staff. For trivia buffs, our

Departments and Individuals)

inventory of parking spaces breaks down this way: n n

8,474 Student Spaces (Includes Resident and Commuter)

40 UNC CHARLOTTE magazine

|

Q110

224 Metered Spaces (Anyone can use these spaces as long as they feed the meter)

www.UNCC.edu


perspective

| UNC CHARLOTTE

Don’t Give Up on the Book! By Stanley Wilder

Is the printed book becoming obsolete? On a recent afternoon, I had two conversations that illustrate the hidden strength of the printed book. The first took place at a lunch with supporters of UNC Charlotte’s Atkins Library, where a young woman introduced herself with the words “I hope never to live in a world without real, print-on-paper books!” Immediately afterwards, I asked a group of faculty for a show of hands of those currently writing books, and found that nearly all of them were. I then asked how many of those book writers would consider publishing their work exclusively in electronic format, and this time I saw no hands at all. But maybe this university crowd is atypical. There is no denying that E-books are currently experiencing a surge of popularity — Amazon reports that on Christmas Day of 2009, for the first time they sold more books in electronic format than in paper. E-books are cheaper, they download in an instant, and require no trees or shipping or warehousing. At the same time, we

find that readers increasingly seek out electronic texts, that they prefer shorter pieces, and are less inclined to read cover-to-cover. In defiance of conventional wisdom, people are now showing an amazing willingness to read even long books on their cell phones. Perhaps most telling, the Associated Press recently noted that Laredo, Texas, a city of over 250,000, recently became the largest city in the country without a book store. Clearly, something profound is happening to the printed book. But is that “something” obsolescence? E-books technologies are so flashy that we risk forgetting that print books are a technology as well, one that has thrived since the mid-1400s and currently touches nearly everyone on the globe. It would surely be a mistake to underestimate a technology that doesn’t require expensive devices, Internet connections or even electricity; and woe unto those who dismiss the desire of people to read

comfortably in bed, in the bath, or at the beach. In many ways, the printed book is not so much the superior technology, it is the only technology. The existence of the print book will not hinge, however, on a simple adding-up of its technological attributes. The book is more likely to prove similar to radio, which thrives despite many dazzling new alternatives. But the strongest advantage for the print book may be its place in our hearts and minds. The devotion of readers like that Atkins Library supporter represents a formidable cultural tradition that is not likely to change quickly. Likewise, the Charlotte faculty’s insistence on print publication reflects the serious interest of writers that their work pass the quality test of print publication. It is the self-interest of ordinary readers and writers that will assure that this old, familiar technology outlives us all. Stanley Wilder is the chief librarian at UNC Charlotte’s J. Murrey Atkins Library.


Nonprofit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Charlotte, NC Permit No. 949

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte 9201 University Blvd. Charlotte, NC 28223-0001

the 43 Levine Scholars finalists and their parents head out of the Student Union during a day of interviews on campus. The prestigious program will be transformational for UNC Charlotte.

Profile for UNC Charlotte

1Q 2010, UNC Charlotte Magazine  

UNC Charlotte has recently activated a Stake Your Claim spring blitz that includes radio and billboard advertising and all sorts of internal...

1Q 2010, UNC Charlotte Magazine  

UNC Charlotte has recently activated a Stake Your Claim spring blitz that includes radio and billboard advertising and all sorts of internal...