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re:search a journey of intellectual inquiry university of north carolina wilmington

re:search a journey of intellectual inquiry 2016





Online professional development is both effective and empowering




A CSB professor proves shared cognition and Mars travel are not the stuff of sci-fi

MARINE SCIENCE AROUND THE GLOBE International collaborations extend UNCW’s reach



Authentically recreating moments in time on film





An interdisciplinary approach to COPD relief

Monumental grant totals pave the way to acceptance into the $10 Million Dollar Club






Bootcamp for UNCW research faculty

Connected. Innovative. Engaged.



UNCW and the future of commercialization



Navigating the rules and regulations of research



Gauging the effects of oysters in natural marine ecosystems



Exercise through electrical stimulation

COVER PHOTO: At UNCW’s Shellfish Research Hatchery, faculty and student researchers are working on new shellfish breeding techniques to develop heartier strains of oysters that will grow better in North Carolina’s coastal waters. PHOTO BY BRADLEY PEARCE/UNCW


Research offers a deeper dive into coral reefs and how they thrive

Produced by the Office of University Relations

Executive Director Janine Iamunno Editor Jennifer Glatt Creative Director Marybeth Bianchi Graphic Design Thomas Cone Kyle Prey Photography Jeff Janowski Jessica Magnus Joseph Pawlik Bradley Pearce Brittany Sheargold Contributors Ashley Adams Caroline Cropp ’99, ’06M Venita Jenkins Panda Powell Laura Brogdon Primavera Caitlin Taylor ’18M Tricia Vance

Dear UNCW Community, As the articles within these pages illustrate, UNCW thrives on the energy created by discovery, innovation and collaborative research. The inquiry and exploration underway at UNCW takes us from the deep sea (page 6) to outer space (page 3) and touches on many places in between, including classrooms across the nation and aquaculture in the university’s coastal backyard. It takes commitment from the entire campus community to support a robust research and development program. Learn more about the contributions of the faculty, staff and community partners involved in advancing UNCW’s R&D efforts through specialized units including Sponsored Programs and Research Compliance (page 16), the Office for Innovation and Commercialization (page 15) and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (page 13), just to name a few. Faculty and students at all levels – undergraduate through post-doctorate – and from academic programs all across campus are actively involved in generating new knowledge from research. The public and private grants funding their efforts contribute to the university’s mission while enhancing our region’s economic vitality through the discovery of new products and services, the formation of innovative businesses and the creation of high-tech jobs. This edition of re:search introduces you to just a sample of the research and scholarship happening at UNCW. I encourage you to learn more by visiting

Editorial Advisor Ron Vetter Ph.D.

Ron Vetter, Ph.D. Associate Provost for Research Dean of the Graduate School

UNC Wilmington is committed to and will provide equal educational and employment opportunity. Questions regarding program access may be directed to the Compliance Officer, UNCW Chancellor’s Office, 910.962.3000, Fax 910.962.3483. UNCW does not discriminate on the basis of sex. Questions regarding UNCW’s Title IX compliance should be directed to 5,000 copies of this public document were printed at a cost of $4,389 or $.88 per copy (G.S. 143-170.1).

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{ educating language minority students }

EDUCATING LANGUAGE MINORITY STUDENTS Online professional development is both effective and empowering by Venita Jenkins

Professional development is essential to equipping teachers with the ongoing training necessary to be successful in the classroom. Costs and location often prevent teachers from being able to advance in their disciplines. Researchers at the Watson College of Education are hoping to solve that problem by examining effective ways to deliver professional development programs to teachers in an online format. “Out of the 100 counties in North Carolina, 80 counties are considered rural, so it’s difficult to get professional development to some of these counties,” said Eleni Pappamihiel, Watson College of Education professor and English as a Second Language (ESL) program coordinator. “There are time restrictions, financial restrictions – all sorts of factors. One of our goals was to create a professional development program that can get information to those places.” Pappamihiel received a sizable grant in 2011 from the Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition to fund the Educating Language Minority Students project to provide teachers with ESL training. The program’s goal is to build academic support for English language learners in mainstream classrooms by increasing the number of teachers in North Carolina with ESL training. Researchers examined the effectiveness of online professional development as part of the project. Participants were asked about their self-reported levels of confidence in implementing concepts and knowledge of concepts before and after the professional development. “We found strong significance in each question,” said Pappamihiel. “It appears that online professional development can be an effective tool in helping teachers feel more confident and knowledgeable when working with English language learners.”

The ELMS project served more than 1,500 teachers from 49 counties; far more than Pappamihiel had anticipated. “The project has brought awareness across the state that teachers need professional development to work with English language learners,” she said. “You hear quite often – not just in North Carolina, but across the country – that if you have good teaching strategies, you can teach a kid who does not speak English. On a surface level, that is true, but without professional development, teachers often don’t know how to implement those good strategies.” Researchers plan to publish their findings and hope that the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction will look at the program as a model as it continues to develop online professional development for teachers across the state. Funding for the ELMS project ended in late August, but Pappamihiel has applied for additional monies. If approved, researchers will examine the impact the project has had on English language learners. “We know we’ve had an impact on teachers, but we don’t really have an understanding of what impact those teachers have had on their students,” Pappamihiel said. “The next grant proposal will seek to answer that question.” 

The grant, which totaled more than $1.6 million over five years, funded several levels of professional development from ESL certification to a 45-hour online class and an online self-paced course, as well as an annual workshop.

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{ mission possible }

MISSION POSSIBLE by Venita Jenkins

A mission to Mars may sound like the basis of a summer blockbuster, but reaching the red planet is not quite as far-fetched as it might seem. In fact, NASA has already deployed researchers to help make it happen – and a UNCW Cameron School of Business management professor is part of the team. Jessica Mesmer Magnus is among a group of researchers from

UNCW, Northwestern, Georgia Tech and DePaul universities examining the complexity of the environment in which astronauts will work and live in deep space. NASA’s goal is to collect information from academics on how to adapt the processes already in place for a mission to Mars. “NASA has to be very deliberate in selecting a crew, designing programs and being prepared for ways to identify when teams are no longer functioning at their full capacity,” Magnus said. Her Ph.D. in industrial/ organizational psychology serves her well in this unique project. In 2013, NASA approached Magnus and Leslie DeChurch, a professor at Northwestern University, about conducting an extensive literature review

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A CSB professor proves shared cognition and Mars travel are not the stuff of sci-fi

on issues relevant to successful long-duration space exploration. One such issue was shared cognition in teams – whether the team shares an understanding of a problem, task or goal. The professors had previously published meta-analyses on shared cognition in teams and team information sharing. They used their expertise as a starting point to make recommendations to NASA based on what is currently known about astronaut team cognition and what gaps remained. The researchers also conducted an operational assessment for NASA. They interviewed 12 former and current astronauts and mission control staff to learn current practices in terms of interfacing among the astronauts and their support teams on Earth. In 2014, NASA announced grants for programmatic research to address the gaps identified in the various literature reviews provided by academic researchers. Magnus, DeChurch and Noshir Contractor, also a professor at Northwestern University, were awarded two grants totaling $2,120,000 – one on shared cognition issues and the other on task-switching within astronaut teams.

The Mission: to develop tools to help NASA identify when a breakdown in shared cognition is likely to happen before it actually happens. “It is amazing to see my research applied to such a salient, real-world problem. Fast forward 15 or 20 years – if NASA’s mission to Mars is successful, I will feel enormous pride that I had a hand in a small piece of that.”

“We are forecasting that this will be a crew of six individuals representing four to six different space agencies throughout the world,” said Magnus. “Now, think about all of those sub-crews and sub-teams – all those different mission controls on Earth trying to make that one crew successful. There is a lot of opportunity for a breakdown in shared cognition, a breakdown in team understanding. Add the psychological and physical stress going on with the astronauts.” A simple disagreement in that kind of environment could throw the astronauts into a psychological tailspin, Magnus added. “We need to develop tools to help NASA identify when such a breakdown is likely to happen before it actually happens,” she said. “The goal of our project is to develop a dashboard for NASA to be able to collect cues that are occurring in communication or interaction among astronauts and between astronauts and their support teams.” To develop the dashboard, researchers are collecting case study data as well as data from the International Space Station and a research analog in Antarctica. They are also analyzing experimental data through NASA’s Human Exploration Research Analog, a unique threestory habitat designed to serve as an analog for isolation and remote conditions in exploration scenarios. Four volunteers – astronauts and astronauts-in-training – are put through sample missions, sleep deprivation experiments, tasks with different levels of stress and intentional breakdowns in communication to see how they react.

The Goal: to develop a dashboard for NASA to be able to collect cues that are occurring in communication or interaction among astronauts and between astronauts and their support teams.

To better understand how team communication and interactions may signal a breakdown in shared cognition, the research team is also conducting lexical analyses of transcripts from previous space missions as well as from passages of The Martian, the 2011 novel written by Andy Weir. “We picked three different passages where the main character had to interact with mission control or the crew that left him behind,” said Magnus. “It was a very good representation of what could happen. It gave us some initial markers and predictive statistics to put into our model.” Magnus and the team are also exploring issues that could arise when astronauts switch between tasks, teams and technologies. “Every astronaut's schedule is planned to the minute. NASA wants to know how to schedule someone’s day to be maximally effective and to minimize time lost between tasks,” she explained. The three-year programmatic research will be complete in 2017. “This has been a very humbling experience for me, the idea that I could provide some insight like this,” Magnus said. “It is amazing to see my research applied to such a salient, real-world problem. Fast forward 15 or 20 years – if NASA’s mission to Mars is successful, I will feel enormous pride that I had a hand in a small piece of that.” 

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thinkstock/1971yes and thinkstock/Pitris

{ mission possible }

{ marine science }


MARINE SCIENCE AROUND THE GLOBE International collaborations extend UNCW’s reach by Caitlin Taylor ’18M

In order to tackle new problems in an increasingly globalized world, Aswani Volety, dean of the UNCW College of Arts and Sciences, knows that marine science must work alongside sociology, chemistry, biology and economics to create solutions to real-world problems. Over the past year, UNCW has been extending its international reach, working hard to make marine science one of the premier programs not just in the state, but in the country. “Collectively we have the expertise,” said Volety. “I might be very good in one aspect but not so good in some other aspect, whereas somebody else is much better than I am and vice versa. Combining forces will give us the opportunity to solve the societal issues much better than working by ourselves.” UNCW’s marine science programs already have relationships with a few international institutions and are well on their way to establishing more. This past summer,

Volety and Marilyn Sheerer, provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs, traveled to L’Université de Bretagne Occidentale in France to formalize a UNCW partnership with a memorandum of understanding. Volety will travel with Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli to China in October to work with the Institute of Oceanology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Other institutions on Volety’s radar are Griffith University in Australia, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa, the Institute of Oceanography in India and Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology in Japan. The international collaborations with universities across the globe will enhance the type and quality of research being done at UNCW and increase the opportunities to engage in cross-cultural study abroad, Volety noted. He believes that every American student should study abroad if given the chance, as those experiences not only change minds and ideas but also lives. 

“From our perspective, all these partnerships will facilitate movement of students going overseas and our receiving students from overseas,” said Volety. “We hope the students will not only contribute to their programs, but to cultural understanding. That’s even more important.”

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{ elegant ecosystems }

 This project is important for understanding the carbon cycle on coral reefs where the effects of climate change and ocean acidification may be tipping the competitive balance toward non-reef- building organisms, such as sponges.

ELEGANT ECOSYSTEMS Research offers a deeper dive into coral reefs and how they thrive by Caroline Cropp ’99, ’06M

A proposed new theory – the “sponge-loop hypothesis” – seeks to explain Darwin’s Paradox: how do highly productive and diverse coral reefs grow in desert-like tropical seas? A team of UNCW researchers has received funding from the National Science Foundation to find out. Christopher Finelli, Patrick Erwin, Joe Pawlik and Steve McMurray from the UNCW Department of Biology and Marine


Biology were awarded a total of $818,016 for their project, “Testing the Sponge-loop Hypothesis for Caribbean Coral Reefs.” Finelli, a professor and chair of the department, specializes in hydrodynamics and invertebrate feeding. Erwin is an assistant professor with an expertise in microbiology of sponge symbiosis. Pawlik specializes in sponge ecology. McMurray earned his Ph.D. in marine biology from UNCW in the summer of 2015 and has expertise in sponge ecology and feeding. The sponge-loop hypothesis suggests that sponges on coral reefs absorb the large quantities of dissolved organic carbon (molecules such as carbohydrates) that are released by seaweeds and corals and return it to the reef as particles in the form of living and dead cells or other cellular debris. Through 2019, the team of UNCW researchers will use a rigorous set of techniques to test the sponge-loop hypothesis on 10 of the

largest and most common sponges on Caribbean reefs. Additionally, they will examine the relationship between the large numbers of microorganisms that live in many sponge species and the ability of the whole sponge to absorb dissolved organic carbon. “This project will provide science, technology, engineering and math [STEM] education and training for postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate students and public outreach in the form of easily accessible educational videos,” Pawlik said. “This project is important for understanding the carbon cycle on coral reefs where the effects of climate change and ocean acidification may be tipping the competitive balance toward non-reef-building organisms, such as sponges.” Sponges are bottom-dwelling animals that dominate Caribbean reefs now that reef-building corals are steadily declining. Sponges feed by filtering large quantities of seawater, thus providing a mechanism for recycling organic material back to the reef. Our research has important implications for the management of coral reef ecosystems by the nations that have coral reefs along their shorelines," said Pawlik, such as most Caribbean nations, the U.S. and the Bahamas. “It has a direct bearing on decisions related to fisheries management, the formation of marine protected areas, and development and land use related to run-off and pollution.” 

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{ period piece }

PERIOD PIECE Authentically recreating moments in time on film by Venita Jenkins

Several UNCW undergraduate film studies students stepped back in time while making an ambitious film that spanned three decades.

your laptop, but there is a difference; you must see the location with your eyes. There’s a lot of knocking on doors and asking.”

The period film no name Maddox, set in 1949, is the final product of a directed production seminar class taught by film studies senior lecturer Glenn Pack. The film was shot in the spring of 2015 and is set to premiere in late 2016.

“To be able to have that hands-on experience and work with someone who can support the students and educate them is a great learning experience that they can take into their own projects,” said Monahan. “To do something like this is challenging for the faculty member because you don’t have pros on your team. You’re teaching students while at the same time, you’re relying on them to get the job done.”

An all-student crew was assembled for the movie that tells the story of a priest’s efforts to help 14-year-old Charles Manson, the infamous cult leader. Scenes were also set in 1969 and 1985 as flashback sequences. Students were responsible for every aspect of the film, including locations, costumes, set design, permits and insurance. They researched past and current film technology to give the film authenticity. “We were trying to create a film that felt like 1949. Locations, costumes and set dressing had to be period-correct and on-budget,” said Pack, who wrote and directed the film. “Today, you can scout locations from

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The directed production seminar class began three years ago as a way for students to work alongside faculty members on large productions, said Dave Monahan, chair of the Department of Film Studies.

Although the seminar is considered one class, it was more like 15 mini-classes, Pack explained. Each student had to become an expert in his or her assigned task. “It’s a class where the common syllabus will not work,” said Pack, who was named UNCW’s Lecturer of the Year in 2015. “Each person learns different things depending on their area of interest or expertise. Quite often, in a classroom environment, we do not get to see

{ period piece }

100 percent of what the students do. We see bits and pieces of the process and the final results. We do not see how they communicate with businesses or how they work in the world and on the set.” Stephen Glawson ’15 served as the co-producer, location manager and script supervisor for the film. He said the seminar prepared him for his job with the Netflix series House of Cards. He has been working as an office production assistant since May of 2016.

Pack himself conducted extensive research on Charles Manson for the film. Several characters, based on real people, have little written about them, so Pack conducted interviews with individuals who knew them. During his two years of research, Pack also utilized various departments on campus: psychology, religion, history, communications, creative writing and theatre. The title of the film came from the name listed on Manson’s hospital birth certificate – “no name Maddox.”

“The job on no name Maddox was, honestly, the most important experience in my college filmmaking career,” Glawson said. “It was important to get my hands dirty in a realistic work setting.”

The film involved all of the things that make movies complicated and expensive, Monahan added. “I find the whole thing inspiring and exciting.” 

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{ breathing easy }

BREATHING EASY An interdisciplinary approach to COPD relief by Tricia Vance

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{ breathing easy }

 This is the important result of the Easy Breather and the origin of its name. The endgame: helping patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease breathe a little easier. Jared Kerr and David Giordano ’17

Necessity is the mother of invention, as the proverb goes. For Bob Redden, a Southport resident, those words certainly have rung true. Exhaling completely is often difficult for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In search of relief from his COPD, Redden found that a rocking movement helped remove air from his lungs. Based on this simple premise, he developed the Easy Breather Exercise Table. When not in use, the table lays flat and appears stationary. In action, though, the instrument rocks back and forth when weight is placed upon it. The person on the table raises an attached bar and begins to pull up, rocking the table forward in the process. As the person pushes away, the table pivots backward, leaving the feet higher than the head, forcing air out of the lungs. This is the important result of the Easy Breather and the origin of its name. The endgame: helping patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease breathe a little easier. Redden found that the table helped his symptoms, but more testing is needed to determine the instrument’s potential to help other COPD patients. An interdisciplinary research team from UNCW is carrying out that testing for Exhale Fully, a Triangle-based company that is developing several versions of the table and plans to market it as an exercise tool. Departments from all across the College of Health and Human Services are involved, including nursing, exercise health, public health studies and clinical research faculty. Students from public health, exercise science and social work have also been involved with the project. “The most exciting thing about this team is that they are coming from all disciplines,” said Justine Reel, associate dean for research and innovation in CHHS and a professor in the School of Health and

Applied Human Sciences. The research team also includes Jared Kerr, assistant professor in the clinical research program in the School of Nursing; Robert Boyce, associate professor of health and applied science; Susan Sinclair, associate professor in the School of Nursing’s Clinical Research Program; and exercise science student David Giordano ’17. “The project integrates a professional team, a community partner and a North Carolina company,” Kerr said, noting that the researchers have worked with the UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a university-based entity that strives to connect entrepreneurs with resources (see page 13). Researchers for this project have also met with the inventor at Elite Innovations, a maker space in downtown Wilmington. According to Kerr, small companies often have difficulty doing scientific studies to test their products, so the UNCW team is providing the academic rigor and accepted testing methods necessary to get the product to market. Their testing, which involved recruiting healthy volunteers to try out the table for safety and usability, has already led to a revision in the table’s design. Before beginning the study, the team of researchers published articles exploring conventional and complementary therapies for COPD in the Journal of General Practice and the Journal of Community Medicine & Health Education. For students like Giordano, who is minoring in neuroscience and chemistry and hopes to attend medical school, the project offers the chance to apply his classroom knowledge firsthand to research that may lead to a marketable product. And for COPD sufferers like Redden, the project offers a chance at a different future, one with more options and, hopefully, less pain. 

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{ scholar dollars }






SCHOLAR DOLLARS Monumental grant totals pave the way to acceptance into the $10 Million Dollar Club by Venita Jenkins

1. Daniel Baden, executive principal, MARBIONC

30 grants totaling more than $39.7 million 2. Lynn Leonard, professor and chair, Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences 44 grants totaling more than $17 million 3. Martin Posey, director, Center for Marine Science 81 grants totaling more than $11.7 million 4. Paul Reinmann, facility engineer specialist, CMS 2 grants totaling more than $15.2 million 5. Steve Ross, research professor, CMS 53 grants totaling more than $19.4 million

Grants secured by club members supported research from long-term trends for community development to the construction of UNCW’s MARBIONC facility, which develops and markets new products and technologies derived from living organisms found in the ocean. Over the last 15 years, Steve Ross has been involved with a variety of coral habitats along the East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. He has secured more than $19.4 million through more than 50 grants. Regional and non-governmental agencies have used his research to evaluate a variety of management strategies and potential impacts from energy exploration. The Fishery Management Councils also relied on Ross’s work to create the largest protected areas in continental U.S. waters. Lynn Leonard has secured more than $17 million since 1991. Her

Totals from Jan. 1, 1991 to Aug. 8, 2016. Source: UNCW Office of Sponsored Programs & Research Compliance

Five UNCW scholars and staff members belong to an exclusive club in their quest to advance research and service to the community. “Receiving $10 million in external funding is a significant accomplishment that only a few researchers achieve,” said Ron Vetter, associate provost for research and dean of the Graduate School. “Sponsored projects provide faculty and students with the funds needed to conduct research, including the purchase of specialized equipment, support for travel to professional meetings and conferences, and other resources vital to providing a high-quality education.”

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research focuses on characterizing the physical processes that control sediment transport and the physical evolution of coastal environments ranging from tidal marshes to the continental shelf. This includes maintaining a network of oceanographic and meteorologic buoys offshore that provide real-time data to the public. The National Weather Service has used Leonard’s research to help improve its predictive capacity and the U.S. Coast Guard has used her findings for search and rescue operations. Data is used daily by commercial and recreational fishermen, boaters and beachgoers. “These research grants provide significant experiential learning opportunities for so many students and prepare the next generation of scientists who serve this region, the state and the world,” said Aswani Volety, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “These hands-on learning opportunities are the bedrock of the UNCW experience.” 

{ getting the grant }

GETTING THE GRANT Bootcamp for UNCW Research Faculty by Caitlin Taylor ’18M

Great research ideas are fueled with energy and imagination. Unfortunately, research also requires an essential element that is not always readily available: money. Grant writing is an important part of the work, and one that is not always easy to navigate. Justine Reel, associate dean of research and innovation in the College of Health and Human Services, has done her fair share of grant writing throughout her career. “Something that really helped me was a post-doctoral grant bootcamp that I attended in Park City, Utah,” said Reel. “It was nine days of focused learning about grants and meeting other collaborators. Before the bootcamp, I still considered myself a beginner. I had applied for many grants but received many rejections. The bootcamp allowed me to make the necessary connections that led to a successful NIH grant application.” It was precisely this model that Reel sought to replicate on a smaller scale for the research-centered faculty at UNCW. Reel, along with M.J. West (pictured above), grant development manager, worked to make the grant writing bootcamp part of the UNCW Research Scholars program, which lasts the entire academic year. Faculty members are nominated by their deans and chairs and 25 are chosen to participate in the program.

The goal of the one-day bootcamp is to provide basic tenets of grant writing to junior faculty investigators, but Reel posits there is a secondary purpose: connecting faculty. These connections might lead to interdisciplinary collaborations among researchers who could benefit from one another’s knowledge. In turn, these collaborations may lead to more grant proposals written, submitted and accepted. The bootcamp’s inaugural year in 2015 yielded extremely positive feedback from the UNCW faculty, but Reel is not done trying to shape the program. Eventually, she would like to bring in speakers and extend the program’s short timeline. “I’m not sure if we will ever get to the nine-day course I participated in, but having a longer bootcamp is helpful to creating that immersive experience for faculty,” Reel said. “The ultimate outcome would be having a grant proposal at the end of the experience that faculty can submit to an identified funder. That is what it is all about! We also want this event and program to help cultivate a culture at UNCW for submitting grants – that we as an institution value this aspect of scholarship and, therefore, we are investing in a special program so that faculty can learn the ‘grant game.’” 

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{ the cie }



Whether the focus is on marine science, biotechnology, aquaculture commercialization, computer science technology, nonprofit entities or small business start-ups, the CIE works to provide every entrepreneur with the resources needed to turn promising ideas into commercialized realities.

Established in 2013, the UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is a creative hub where members of the business community join UNCW faculty and students to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. The CIE is an integrated “one-stop shop” for entrepreneurs, a catalyst for entrepreneurial growth linking emerging ventures and entrepreneurs with support organizations to foster business growth.

 Also housed within the CIE is the Office of Innovation and Commercialization. The OIC commercializes UNCW technology and innovations, provides mentoring and manages intellectual property, patenting

and licensing decisions.

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{ the cie }

CIE at a Glance  11,000 square feet  19 offices  Event and teaching space  Interactive touch boards  3D printing Startup challenges are nothing new for Diane Durance, newly appointed CIE director. In her role, she will collaborate with various campus units and centers as well as businesses, government agencies and investors to enhance the mission of the CIE as a leading business accelerator and incubator space for UNCW and Southeastern North Carolina.

Economic Impact  34 current tenants with 6 more in development. Dominance in health tech, ed tech and marine tech  Examples of current CIE tenants: Lapetus Solutions Inc. – 14 employees

Seahawk Innovation – 15 employees

 Thousands of hours of free business/IT mentoring for community entrepreneurs each year; 5 formal focus groups for local nonprofits and businesses in 2016  70 sponsored events in 2015 with approximately 4,700 attendees. Events cover a wide variety of business topics, such as lean entrepreneurship, financing, start-up skills, IT and coding  54 groups, companies and nonprofits currently utilize the CIE event space  35 professional commercial video and media projects for tenants and local businesses created in 2016 by student media team, which consists of five film studies students

 Videoconference capability  Staffed student media center  Entrepreneurship library

Commitment to Underserved Communities  The Chancellor's High School Entrepreneurship Competition for 10-county region, entrepreneurship training for high school counselors and teachers  Entrepreneurship program for veterans (with the Small Business Administration), ex-offenders entrepreneurship program (in development)  The “Shark Tank” Think Tank teaches children ages 12-18 how to pitch their own ideas and become entrepreneurs  Programs to support entrepreneurship in the arts; sponsor of Cucalorus Connect entrepreneurship program with 2,700 attendees  Summer Youth Entrepreneurship Program  Free tax assistance for low-income residents (in collaboration with the accounting department)

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{ capitalizing on research }

CAPITALIZING ON RESEARCH UNCW and the future of commercialization by Caitlin Taylor ’18M

Fostering new ideas, building cutting-edge technologies and creating a holistic, integrative environment for industry growth are all direct results of UNCW’s collaborative approach to ingenuity. Two of the university's most important entities for capitalizing on research – the Office of Innovation and Commercialization and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship – work together for the greater good. Universities have a long history of separate silos headed by separate administrators in separate locations, says OIC Director Craig Galbraith, all concerned with commercializing student and faculty research, products and business plans. Technology transfer offices, innovation offices, entrepreneurship centers and incubators are essential pieces in the commercialization puzzle, yet most universities have only recently started to recognize the need for integration. Galbraith, also a professor of entrepreneurship and technology management at the Cameron Business School, suggested the two offices work more closely to spearhead a new way of thinking about commercializing research in a university setting.

including instituting a patent or copyright process or reverting ownership of the intellectual property to the faculty member.

“At the CIE, we’re building on the academic and research strengths of UNCW to develop innovative and entrepreneurial solutions to global problems in education, human health, and marine sciences,” said Diane Durance, CIE director. “In addition to supporting student and faculty entrepreneurs in these critical fields and others, we’re preparing students to have the skills needed by our region’s fastest-growing firms and providing community ventures with media support, prototype development, and business-building resources and connections.” Working with both patentable and non-patentable intellectual property, the OIC can help direct faculty researchers toward resources and information to set up their own company. OIC can also assist in licensing the intellectual property to that company or license it to already existing companies. Similar processes can be initiated for students.

“Students can come to the OIC and CIE and get mentoring or advice and work in the co-working spaces,” Galbraith said. The OIC also provides financial support and office space every spring semester to two student-run businesses, one in nonprofit or social enterprise and “UNCW has taken a ‘best practices’ approach, and we are one of one in a for-profit area. This program is known as IGNITE. Participants the leaders [in integration],” he said. “In fact, I would say we are the were initially nominated by faculty members, but Galbraith hopes this leader right now in the U.S. in integrating university innovation, year to provide open applications and a review committee for the next from ideation to actual commercialization, under one office.” two student entrepreneurs. Integration has made capitalizing on UNCW’s inventive research easier and the intricate process more efficient. When faculty members do research, the university legally owns the intellectual property that results (except in cases of creative works). At UNCW, the first step in commercializing intellectual property is its disclosure to the OIC, which triggers a review process. Depending on how the faculty and the university want to move forward, several outcomes are possible,

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Whether receiving student or faculty researchers, the OIC works closely with the CIE to offer a variety of vital resources for commercialization and development to bring a product out of the research stages and onto the commercial scene. Incubator space, executive suites, mentoring, grant writing services, app development, networking, crowdfunding and 3D printing services are provided.

{ partners in the process }

PARTNERS IN THE PROCESS Navigating the rules and regulations of research by Tricia Vance At UNCW, all research begins with a spark of imagination – and SPARC. The Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Compliance helps researchers find funding, write proposals and ensure compliance with the sponsor’s rules and requirements – essentially research’s administrative tasks.

The integrated approach is currently working well to commercialize intellectual property, which started out as faculty and student research. Lapetus Solutions (, a facial analytics technologycompany that creates solutions for lifecycle events, is in its late stages and will soon graduate out of the OIC. Lapetus began as research by Karl Ricanek, a UNCW professor of computer science, and has now evolved into a full-fledged business. One of the earlier stage projects is DIVE Group LLC (, which focuses on technologies that can automatically measure and analyze the widths of beaches and identify erosion and rip currents. The Data, Intelligence, Visualization and Exploration group was founded by faculty members Jeff Brown, Jim Blum and Mark Lammers in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and by Dylan McNamara in the Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography. The OIC plans to work more closely with aquaculture, marine biology and the research and products coming out of MARBIONC, the UNCW-affiliated biotechnology program that is constantly developing natural products and technologies from the sea. The Watson College of Education and the College of Health and Human Services are also developing technologies with commercial potential, according to Galbraith. “Our efforts in this area are designed to disseminate the results of intellectual discovery and creative endeavor in order to maximize the impact of UNCW’s innovation assets.” 

“We see ourselves as a shared service for the university,” said Panda Powell, director of Sponsored Programs and Research Compliance. “It takes a team to get the proposal out the door and to make the research a success.” Every grant or research contract comes with a set of stipulations. Federal grants and cooperative agreements are often straightforward because regulations tend to be standardized, Powell said. But when it comes to privately funded grants, each foundation and corporate sponsor has its own set of rules, and the money often comes with specific requirements regarding ownership and how the research may be used. Part of SPARC’s role is to make sure that any sponsored research conducted fits within UNCW’s educational mission, Powell explained. It is important that UNCW and the researchers retain the right to publish findings in academic journals and to use the research for educational purposes, she said. The possibility that research may lead to a commercial opportunity brings additional challenges. Care must be taken to ensure that the researcher and the university don’t lose their intellectual property rights, even if the sponsor owns the end product. That often requires deft negotiation so that all involved parties benefit from the research. Layers of reviews and approvals are needed before projects begin. SPARC works to ensure that all compliance requirements are addressed before and after a grant is funded, alongside managing deadlines and financial documentation. Grant administration falls to the individual department following funding, but SPARC retains a compliance oversight role. “One of the challenges of our office is learning the laws, rules and policies so we can help facilitate research for our faculty and students,” Powell said. “They need to be doing research; our job is to help them focus on the research and less on the administrative overhead.” 

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{ shellfish aquaculture }

SHELLFISH AQUACULTURE Gauging the effects of oysters in natural marine ecosystems by Caitlin Taylor ’18M

North Carolina’s coast is long, winding and complex, a thriving seascape of diverse ecosystems ripe for research in countless fields of study. No one knows this better than Elizabeth Darrow.

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{ shellfish aquaculture }

 Aquaculture is becoming a big business in North Carolina as the state begins to realize its market potential.

A postdoctoral research associate in biology and marine biology, Darrow and her team recently received a $673,000 grant from the National Estuarine Research Reserve Science Collaborative. Their project, “Evaluation of Ecosystem Services Associated with Shellfish Culture Operations in Coastal Regions Served by the National Estuarine Research Reserve,” will focus on the impact man-made oyster aquaculture systems have on natural marine ecosystems. Aquaculture is becoming a big business in North Carolina as the state begins to realize its market potential. “The oysters act like little vacuums,” said Darrow. “They suck up the food, and then they deposit what’s left over, and that kind of rains down to the bottom of the ocean floor. This can be a good thing because that’s a food source for other animals, but it could potentially be a bad thing because then you could have problems of over-fertilization in that area.” It could also lead to disease and parasites brought in from non-regional oysters or hypoxia from over-eutrophication, which would result in less oxygen in the water column.

Potential positive impacts, on the other hand, include increased filtration for problematic algal blooms and increased nitrogen emissions, a natural process which can be enhanced by the oysters. The cages that house the oysters can also act like an artificial reef, attracting fish and other species to the area. The NERRS grant will fund the project on Masonboro Island – just off Wrightsville Beach – for the next three years, as monitoring the oyster aquaculture systems in every season is vital. Much of the research will be done within the next two and a half years, while the last six months of the project will be spent analyzing data and writing the team’s findings. The grant will also fund three master’s projects yet to be determined as well as several hourly undergraduate research jobs. “I am so excited for the students who will be working on this project,” said Darrow. “There will be a lot of people involved, and it will be all hands on deck. There is much work to be done, but it’s going to be a whole lot of fun.” 

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{ championing the brain }

CHAMPIONING THE BRAIN Exercise through electrical stimulation by Caitlin Taylor ’18M

When Hollie Champion ’17 was a sophomore at UNCW, she was new to the idea of extensive research projects. Her journey began while taking a class called Research Methods in Exercise Science. She was instructed to develop her own unique research idea and write an intensive paper on the subject. A fascination with neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) treatments, paired with a desire to help improve exercise techniques for those who are paralyzed, helped shape Champion’s hypothesis that neuromuscular electrical stimulation can help improve the cardiovascular health of individuals with paraplegia. Now, a year later, Champion’s “homework” has become a fully realized research project complete with funding and volunteers for testing her hypothesis.

“The leading cause of death for spinal cord-injured individuals with paraplegia is cardiovascular disease,” Champion explained. “This contributes to lack of what is called the ‘muscle pump effect.’” According to Champion, the muscle pump effect is vital for proper cardiovascular health. Exercise makes the body’s muscles contract, which in turn squeezes nearby blood vessels, making it easier for the body to return circulated blood back to the heart. For people with paraplegia, this process becomes more difficult, because partial paralysis of the body hinders circulated blood from returning to the heart. In turn, the heart has to work harder, which means less oxygen and nutrients for the body. This lack of oxygen and nutrients is what leads to cardiovascular disease. Normal upper-body exercise prescribed by doctors is often not enough for those with paraplegia for proper cardiovascular health because only a small portion of the muscles in their bodies are being exercised.

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Champion’s hypothesis centers around the idea that participants who undergo NMES while engaging in upper-body exercise will see an improvement in cardiovascular health. The NMES device stimulates the participants’ brain during exercise, causing involuntary muscle contractions in the paralyzed parts of the body. Though NMES has been used before, Champion’s study is novel because of the use of an Active Arm Passive Leg (AAPLE) machine, which is implemented with and without NMES devices to monitor the differences NMES can make. Champion has also instituted an equipment familiarization session for her participants to make them fully aware of how each device will work and to decrease any risk of altered results from a learning curve. This is something not many similar studies have done. “Hollie has gone to great length in absorbing my tutelage and transcending that knowledge to train, manage and mentor her peers to meticulously conduct this study,” said Wayland Tseh, associate professor of exercise science and Champion’s faculty advisor. “These interpersonal skills and unique research-related experiences will bolster her market value for graduate school.” According to Tseh, peer-reviewed resources for Champion’s research are rare, making her project innovative. During the fall 2016 semester, Champion and her team of student researchers will collect data from 10 able-bodied male participants. This data will be used as a point of reference for future research she plans to do with paraplegic individuals. Champion’s results will be shared nationally with other allied-health researchers to increase work with and knowledge of the NMES unit. “I have enjoyed the research process much more than I was expecting to,” said Champion. “I’ve learned a lot about organizing projects, working with patients and being a leader of a team. I think research is something I would enjoy doing in the future.” 

{ championing the brain }

Hollie Champion conducts a study on an able-bodied research participant.

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Nonprofit Organization U.S. Postage

PAID Wilmington, NC Permit No. 444

601 South College Road Wilmington, NC 28403-5904


Award Dollars by Source Federal 71% State & Local


Nonprofit & Foundation


Business & Industry





Award Dollars by School College of Arts & Sciences2


College of Health and Human Services Center for Marine Science

3% 30%

Cameron School of Business


Graduate School


Watson College of Education




Total Award Amount:


Includes Colleges & Universities, International Includes Center for Marine Science 3 Academic Affairs, Diversity, Library, Public Service, Student Affairs 1 2

All totals as of August 22, 2016 Source: Research Administration Management System & eSubmission (RAMSeS)

UNCW research magazine 2016  

A journey of intellectual inquiry

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