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IMAG I NAT ION DRIVING

RES EARCH


QENO AT YOUR SERVICE

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WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

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Strengthening southeastern North Carolina’s nonprofit sector

A simple DNA test can change your self-perception

2018

YOU LOOK FAMILIAR

An interdisciplinary approach to utilizing facial recognition technology

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TURTLE ECONOMICS

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FATHOMS BELOW

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Quantifying the monetary worth of natural resources

CHIEF COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER Janine Iamunno EDITOR Jennifer Glatt

Understanding the role sponges play in the ecosystem

RIGHT RESEARCH Right whales are all right with this Indianapolis Prize nominee

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Marybeth Bianchi

SEA CHANGE

GRAPHIC DESIGN Shirl Modlin New

AN ANCHOR IN MARINE SCIENCE

PHOTOGRAPHY Jeff Janowski

SURVIVING EXTREMES

CONTRIBUTORS Daniel Baden Caroline Cropp Venita Jenkins Matt Stephenson ’20 Tricia Vance WITH SPECIAL THANKS TO MarineQuest

Future coastal policy decisions could rely on predictive modeling

Q&A with the director of UNCW’s Center for Marine Science

Mapping and data collection in Antarctica’s lakes

Summer at the beach takes on a whole new meaning when MarineQuest is involved

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GROWING ALGAE Researchers the world over are taking advantage of the bounty found in UNCW’s Algal Resources Collection

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PERSISTENCE AND PURSUIT

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SHE’S GOT GAME A student-athlete makes a name for herself on and off the court

CETACEAN CONSERVATION Understanding the biology and behavior of marine mammals

DELIGHTED, THANKS Customer satisfaction is no longer the goal

JUST SAY THE WORD

Printed by PBM Graphics.

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A QUEST FOR MORE

Identifying a new squirrel species takes patience and time

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 TitleIX@UNCW.edu. 2,000 copies of this public document were printed at a cost of $2,778 or $1.389 per copy (G.S. 143-170.1).

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A pediatric picture book helps give kids a voice

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The next three years will be busy ones for QENO (Quality Enhancements for Nonprofit Organizations), UNCW’s program providing support and training to strengthen the nonprofit sector of NC. Thanks to a three-year grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC Foundation totaling $225,000, QENO, part of the university’s Office of Community Engagement, will continue to enhance partnerships and work with nonprofits to create initiatives to strengthen the area’s nonprofit leaders, increase volunteerism and volunteer management, and address the issue of inequity in the nonprofit sector, especially within leadership positions. “This grant supports our model of working with nonprofits and UNCW faculty, staff and students to design initiatives addressing these areas so we know we are providing what our region’s nonprofit sector needs,” said QENO Director Natasha Davis ’12M. “We can also explore opportunities for faculty research and student applied learning within each initiative.”

AT YOUR SERVICE

“As an organization that works closely with a very vulnerable population, it is critical that we stay up-to-date on new and improved practices; programs that can often be too costly for the tight budget of a nonprofit,” said Stephanie Bowen, executive director of Brunswick Family Assistance. “QENO offers affordable alternatives so that the nonprofit sector doesn’t get left behind. Our organization is stronger and healthier because of QENO’s guidance and encouragement!” – Jennifer Glatt

Organizational Coaching and Workshops

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321

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Organizations receiving training

People attending training

Workshops each year

1,211

84%

98%

Training hours

Organizational goals met through coaching

Targeted learning goals achieved through workshops

QENO’s AmeriCorps VISTA* project New volunteers

7,645

Hours of service

85,254

In-kind resources

$23,900

*

Volunteers in Service to America

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Who Do You Think You Are? A simple DNA test can change your self-perception by Venita Jenkins

Adrian Zamora ’20 assumed he was nearly 100 percent Mexican, but the results of his DNA analysis surprised him. “I’m more diverse than I imagined,” said Zamora, a psychology major who learned he is also of Asian and African heritage. “But it has not changed my perspective of who I am. A person is much more than their race.” Zamora discovered his unknown roots through the DNA Discussion Project, created by West Chester University communication studies professor Anita Foeman to understand the influence culture and cultural perceptions have on guiding and shaping communicative behaviors. Foeman’s goal is to encourage greater understanding of the science of genetics, the construction of race and the perception of ethnicity. UNCW Chief Diversity Officer Kent Guion brought the project to campus to inspire dialogue about race, identity and relationships. “The project touches on human curiosity and our commonality. I think that we sometimes forget about those aspects,” said Guion, who leads the university’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion. “This project gives a point of connection that leads to bigger conversations. It’s a way to learn about one another and gives a richer sense of self.” So far, 72 students, staff, faculty, administrators and community members have provided DNA samples. The DNA is compared with other samples, enabling a lab to determine from which regions of the world participants’ ancestors most likely originated. Volunteers received a report of estimated percentages of ethnic heritage. Prior to submitting their DNA, participants were asked what they knew about their ancestry. A post-testing survey was conducted, through which participants shared their reactions. “We look at the relationship between the personal narrative and what was found in the DNA,” said Foeman. “We use that to open up a discussion about identity, about race, about racial categories.” Researchers at West Chester and Harvard universities are adding statistical analysis to the narratives collected from UNCW and more than 3,000 other volunteers from across the U.S. The analysis is slated to be completed this summer, said Foeman. “It’s interesting to see what people do when they find things in their background,” she added. “If you are identifying yourself as one thing, you are missing many things in your background. Just getting people to have that conversation is a step in the right direction.” “The DNA Discussion Project is a big step in facilitating broader conversations in our community,” said Jess Boersma, associate dean of applied learning in the College of Arts and Sciences.


Melissa Cox, Onboarding Specialist UNCW Human Resources Department Melissa Cox has always struggled with her racial identity. Born to a white mother and Latin father, she says she never felt “Latin enough” for her parents or “white enough” for society. “It wasn’t until the last couple of years that I began to accept myself,” Cox said. “I wanted to participate in the DNA Discussion Project because I was ready for my narrative, my truth.” Cox’s results showed a larger percentage of European ancestry than Latin. “I really wanted to be more like my dad so I could finally embrace his culture,” she said. “After I considered my results, I realized that I am me – a unique combination of genes, experiences and stories.” As Cox sat through a discussion about the DNA results with the other participants, she saw how important personal narrative was to others, too – especially to people of color, she said. “I saw beyond the person in front of me. It was as if I could see the ghosts of each generation standing behind each person, hands on their shoulders,” Cox shared. “When I looked in the mirror that night, I could see the generations behind me, too. For the first time in my life, I felt proud of who and where I came from.”

Frankie Roberts, Executive Director, LINC Inc. Frankie Roberts has become intentional in learning more about his background since having his DNA tested. “I need to dig deeper to learn more about the region I come from. Were the people in that region noted for education and entrepreneurship?” he said. “I think it can speak to what my purpose in life is and what my real name is. I might even be able to tell why I have certain tendencies.” Participating in the DNA Discussion Project has made Roberts more aware of the perception of race and identity, he said. “Now I can respond more authentically when talking to people who are white about matters of race,” he said. “I can use my results as a conversation piece that could take the edge off what sometimes becomes a tough conversation.”

Midori Albert, UNCW professor and forensic science coordinator “Being biracial was more of an anomaly where I grew up,” said Midori Albert, professor and forensic science coordinator. “I expected that the DNA test would show I was half Asian and about half European with maybe something Middle Eastern.” With a Japanese mother and paternal Ukrainian grandparents, she was not surprised to find her results indicated she was 49 percent Asia East, 43 percent European, 3 percent Middle Eastern, and 5 percent “other.” Albert also participated in the project because she was interested in conversing with others about their experiences. “The DNA Project seemed like a great opportunity for us at UNCW to engage in self-discovery and to understand more about others and how really similar we all truly are in that much of our DNA crosses many populations,” she said. “The project helps people open up about themselves and encourages tolerance and acceptance – all good things!”

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Christine Lloyd, community health worker/CLEAR facilitator with Duke Partners in Caring

Fairley Lloyd ’19, UNCW creative writing major

Manny Lloyd ’17, program coordinator for cultural enrichment, Upperman African American Cultural Center

For the Lloyds, the DNA Discussion Project was a way for the family to connect and answer questions about the origins of their African heritage. They assumed the results would link them to West African, Native American and perhaps a small percentage of European ancestry. Christine Lloyd said she had been told that both sides of her family had Native American great-grandmothers but was surprised to see no trace of Native American ancestry in her results. “Our perception of race and ethnicity affects how we experience life,” she said. “I already felt that we all have more in common than not. Learning the results of my test and hearing the stories of others confirmed this.” The project helped Fairley Lloyd find her unique identity and embrace it. “Our idea of race is socially constructed, but heritage is very true. There are differences between certain regions in the world – not enough for us to be separate species, but a noticeable difference,” said Fairley. “I’m hoping that this will help people realize that we really are alike more than we are different. If we realize we share a culture, then I think the world will feel more interconnected, and I hope that we will truly start viewing people on an equal level.” Given the history of African Americans being stripped of their heritage, Manny said it’s hard for people to connect themselves back to Africa. “Discovering that connection because of their DNA results, however, could propel students to come to more events at Upperman to explore their culture. That, in turn, could allow us to have a better understanding of the student body as a whole and tailor our programming to them.” Guion hopes the DNA Discussion Project will become a standing program at UNCW. Applied learning opportunities have developed as result of the initiative, he said, and currently include UNCW communication studies majors and students in a philosophy and religion directed individual study course called Theories of Social Change. “The project doesn’t address issues like cultural competency, but it opens the doors to learn more,” said Guion. “It creates a bridge to have more sophisticated conversations.” Individuals interested in participating in or supporting the DNA Discussion Project can learn more at uncw.edu/diversity.

Melissa Cox

At left: Frankie Roberts, Midori Albert, Jess Boersma and Adrian Zamora


$5 Million Club

You Look Familiar Research by an interdisciplinary group of UNCW scientists and students could one day make it easier for law enforcement to identify missing children and sex trafficking victims. Current facial recognition systems lack the capabilities to identify an adult from childhood photos, but the UNCW Institute for Interdisciplinary Study of Identity Sciences (I3S) is working to change that. Karl Ricanek Jr., computer science professor and director of I3S, and Midori Albert, a UNCW professor, forensic science coordinator and a founding member of I3S, are leading research that examines existing face-based biometric systems used to identify individuals from a digital image or a video. “We’re leveraging work we are currently doing with West Virginia University, on behalf of the FBI, to investigate facial recognition for children,” said Ricanek. “Automated face recognition systems were designed for adults and account for evidence of adult aging, like the development of wrinkles, lines and skin spots.” Ricanek and Albert

are reviewing current facial recognition algorithms and chronicling changes in children’s faces. They are proposing creation of new algorithms to adjust for adolescent development. “The goal is to identify missing persons as they are actually changing,” Ricanek said, who is also the founder and director of UNCW’s Face Aging Group Research Lab. “Humans are excellent face ‘recognizers’ but only under certain conditions. We now have scientific evidence that human face recognizers, in general, get it right on average half the time. We are even worse when we have to match a photo of a child to his or her adult self. Humans cannot do matching to a high level of certainty, so we are trying to build a system that has the capability to do that and, we hope, can be used in a court of law.” Anthropology, data science and computer science undergraduate and graduate students are assisting scientists in the project, which is slated to conclude in November 2018. “The beauty of an interdisciplinary project is bringing in different perspectives,” said Ricanek. “People may be working on the same problem, but they are looking at it through the window of their discipline. You get a chance to understand how others are attacking the problem so you can craft a solution that embodies the totality of the problem, not just your little slice of it.” – V.J.

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Turtle Economics Quantifying the monetary worth of natural resources is no simple task, particularly when there is no easily observable market value. “When it comes to conservation, dollars talk,” said UNCW economics and finance professor Peter Schuhmann ’90, who specializes in natural resource economics. Public officials often respond more favorably to calls for changes or new policies when they can point to hard numbers, he said. The research has a scholarly approach with a practical impact. Sea turtles are still harvested in parts of the Caribbean for their meat and sometimes their shells, which are used in decorative capacities. Schuhmann’s study values a harvested sea turtle at $108. But tourism, especially diving, is also a lucrative business; divers will pay $62 extra to see a live turtle. A single turtle need only be seen by two divers to be worth more than a harvested one. Schuhmann published his research findings in the 2017 Journal of Environmental Management. “The data show pretty convincingly that sea turtles are worth a lot more alive than they are dead,” he said. – Tricia Vance

Fathoms Below $5 Million Club

On coral reefs off the coasts of Florida and Belize, UNCW scientists are investigating sponges’ ability to take carbon from the water and return it to the reef. Sponges pump huge volumes of water as they feed, and it was generally thought that they only fed on tiny particles suspended in the water, said Joe Pawlik, a marine biology professor and leading sponge expert at UNCW. “Most of their diet consists of dissolved carbon compounds, like the sugar in your coffee,” he added. No one knew that sponges were consuming dissolved carbon to such a great extent. “Most people have heard of carbon cycling because CO2 is increasing in the atmosphere, which is causing global warming,” said Pawlik, who holds the Frank Hawkins Kenan Distinguished Professorship in Marine Sciences. “I’m not saying that sponges are a possible way of solving global warming, but our findings are important for understanding another problem caused by humans: the decline of coral reefs.” Pawlik is hopeful that research will help explain why coral reefs in the Caribbean have deteriorated to a greater extent than those in other parts of the tropics. A greater understanding of the role of sponges in the ecosystem may have important implications for governmental policies related to overfishing and marine conservation, because fish and sea turtles are consumers of sponges on coral reefs, he explained. Pawlik, Christopher Finelli, Patrick Erwin and Steve McMurray from the Department of Biology and Marine Biology were awarded an $818,000 National Science Foundation grant in 2016 for a three-year research project called “Testing the sponge-loop hypothesis for Caribbean coral reefs.” The sponge-loop hypothesis suggests that sponges on coral reefs absorb the large quantities of dissolved organic carbon 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.

Joe Pawlik swims behind a giant barrel sponge on a reef off Little Inagua Island, Bahamas

Pawlik is also passionate about bringing ocean science research “to life” through interdisciplinary collaboration. In May, he and UNCW film studies student Boston Dang ’18 placed first in the “Ocean 180 Video Challenge,” a national competition designed to make marine sciences more accessible to the public. – V.J.


Right Research In yet another recognition of his work to protect right whales, UNCW research associate William McLellan was nominated for the prestigious 2018 Indianapolis Prize, the leading award for animal conservation presented by the Indianapolis Zoo. McLellan, a marine mammalogist, leads the Marine Mammal Stranding Program based at UNCW, which responds to reports of whale strandings and marine mortality events worldwide. His work has led to federally mandated speed reductions for large vessels entering and leaving ports to avoid fatal collisions with right whales. “North Atlantic right whales are under serious threats,” McLellan said. “Their distribution has been changing over the past few years, which has brought them back into conflict with shipping, and entanglements in heavy fishing gear have increased. At UNCW, I enjoy the opportunity to work with students, faculty and staff to increase our understanding of the biology of marine mammals, and use this information to enhance their conservation.”

$5 Million Club

McLellan is a member of the UNCW Office of Research Administration’s Five Million Dollar Club, which honors researchers who have received more than $5 million in sponsored funding. – T.V.

Sea Change Dylan McNamara is building his research on sea levels that are rising and sands that are shifting. Though it may seem counterintuitive, McNamara’s instincts are sound. Thanks to a four-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation, he’s leading a multi-institutional research team to develop mathematical models for coastal communities to anticipate how to weather change. “Our goal is not to tell people what to do,” said McNamara, associate professor and chair of the Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, “but to provide models that can predict how physical changes and economic considerations might inform future policy decisions.” Researchers will study Nags Head, NC, and Ocean City, MD, specifically, but the models could be applied to any coastal community, McNamara said. The interdisciplinary research team includes experts in physical oceanography, geomorphology, economics and political science who represent UNCW, Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, the University of Georgia, The Ohio State University, East Carolina University and the University of Colorado. “With much of the world’s population living near a coastline, Dylan’s research has global significance,” said Aswani Volety, dean of the UNCW College of Arts and Sciences and a professor of biology and marine biology. “The model he and his research partners are developing will provide a new tool to help leaders as they consider coastal policy decisions.” – T.V.

Million Dollar Clubs

James F. Merritt Million Dollar Clubs In his 34-year tenure at UNCW, the Million Dollar Club namesake, James F. Merritt, procured more than $14,000,000 in grants and contracts, dedicating more than three decades to conducting and facilitating research in the coastal environment. The UNCW million dollar clubs proudly honor him.

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An Anchor in Marine Science

$10 Million Club

Martin Posey, director of UNCW’s Center for Marine Science and professor of biology and marine biology, is a member of UNCW’s Ten Million Dollar Club, established in 2013 to honor faculty who have received at least that amount in research grants and contracts. Posey, who has been at UNCW since 1989, reached the $10 million threshold in 2004.

From your perspective, how has research changed? In almost 40 years, it is amazing how much has changed, and yet the base is still the same. We’ve had some major revolutions in the tools and research techniques available to us. But in a field like mine – field ecology – there is still a lot of room and need for old-style methodology. We see an increased importance of a multidisciplinary approach in solving problems.

Surviving Extremes How can a microscopic organism survive in the harsh Antarctic environment, where the temperature seldom rises above freezing and ice covers 99 percent of the continent? During a recent trip to the frigid continent, UNCW biology and marine biology professor Joseph Covi and graduate student Katherine Reed ’18M mapped and collected data on the physical structure and water chemistry of the lakes on King George Island, where the hearty crustacean zooplankton live. Covi and Reed are curious about how zooplankton embryos develop even after a long period of dormancy in lake sediment and grow to survive the frigid polar winters. “Nobody knows what the environment on the bottom of the lakes is like during the winter,” Covi explained. “This is important to know. Perhaps zooplankton’s ability to live in a lake is determined by how cold the sediment is during the winter.” “The physiology of dormancy is extreme but embryonic development after dormancy is not well-studied,” added Reed, who is working to complete her master’s degree in marine science. The UNCW researchers are also studying the effects of environmental changes and manmade chemicals such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) on zooplankton embryos. The chemicals that end up in Antarctica’s lakes travel thousands of miles from their source via ocean currents and marine animals, including penguins that live there. Studying the crustacean zooplankton, which are at the top of the food chain in these lakes, provides insight into man’s far-reaching chemical footprint and the impact of climate change, Covi said. Covi and Reed are collaborating with Hyun Park and SungGu Lee from the Korea Polar Research Institute, which is funding the current research, and they are applying for a National Science Foundation grant for a larger study of freshwater lakes on King George Island. – T.V.

What is special about research at UNCW? Over time we have seen the number of faculty and students doing research expand dramatically. There is strong emphasis on applied learning here. Science is a discipline where you learn best by doing. You learn the practical aspect of how to set things up and what to do when something unexpected happens.

What still excites you about your research and your role at UNCW? The things that really excite me are my own sense of discovery when I see something new and make new connections, and watching that sense of discovery in a student. Some of the most exciting things I have learned happened when I tried an experiment and it didn’t turn out the way I expected but took me down a whole new avenue. – T.V.

Katherine Reed ’18M


A Quest for More

by Jennifer Glatt and Matt Stephenson ’20

Summer at the beach takes on a whole new meaning when MarineQuest is involved. Since 1980, the marine science outreach program for UNCW, the Watson College of Education and the Center for Marine Science has provided kids ages 4-17 with opportunities to explore, discover and value marine habitats, but it’s not just the campers who are having fun. Program staff members often use the experience as a springboard for future opportunities.

“Over the years, MarineQuest has introduced thousands and thousands of kids to our beautiful coastal university,” said Sue Kezios, director of Youth Programs and UNCW’s STEM Learning Cooperative. “Many of our campers became students. Some of these students became staff. And some of these staff went on to have amazing graduate opportunities and careers in marine science. They’ve really made MarineQuest proud.”

Meet a few MarineQuest alumni and learn about their post-camp professional achievements:

Meghan Grandal ’11, ’14M (MQ 2010-12, above right) coordinated Summer Sea Scholars, a transition program for former MarineQuest campers who were interested in studying marine biology to train them to become assistant MQ counselors. Grandal is currently a Ph.D. student at the Medical University of South Carolina, working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology to study the venom from marine cone snails. She hopes to discover possibilities for new medicine from the venom, like non-opiate painkillers and new forms of insulin. “I often think that someday, wherever I end up living, I would love to start a program similar to MarineQuest and bring the ocean into the classroom to teach students all about the things I love to learn about.”

Sam Candio ’11 (MQ 2012-15) helped develop MarineQuest’s ROV (remotely operated vehicle) programs, which allow students to develop, build and test subsurface robots. Candio now serves as the chief of the hydrographic department aboard the Fairweather, a research vessel run by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration based out of Ketchikan, AK. “Working in, on and around the ocean presents a constantly changing environment with a multitude of challenges, and MarineQuest certainly prepared me to grow and thrive in the maritime industry.”

Joseph Oliver ’06 (MQ 2002-10) was responsible for MarineQuest’s teaching wetlab and aquarium husbandry program, expanding the wetlab into a working aquarium. He is a marine biologist and outreach educator who spent the last several years working in Curacao and Guam. Oliver is now stateside and will be working for MarineQuest this summer before relocating to the Caribbean to work on coral reef and mangrove habitat restoration. “I attended MarineQuest camps for four years as a child, which factored into my decision to attend UNCW and study marine science. MarineQuest was a big part of my life during my undergraduate studies and played an important role in my transition to research science.”

Carly Randall ’07, ’09M (MQ 2009-10) helped develop a lab to test the antibacterial properties of marine invertebrates and guided a lab that created biofuels with algae. She recently began a threeyear postdoctoral fellowship at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, where she is optimizing coral restoration techniques for the Great Barrier Reef. “It’s a dream job.”

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Growing Algae Algae may invoke the image of the shiny green sludge that pollutes pools, but for scientists it may offer the next cure for cancer. UNCW’s Algal Resources Collection is the only assemblage of its kind in the nation that supplies new toxic strains, and researchers all over the world are taking advantage of its bounty. “We truly have a unique resource in the search for new biopharmaceutic compounds,” said research professor Catharina Alves de Souza, who has been the ARC director since 2016.

The facility, housed at the Center for Marine Science, can grow and maintain up to 2,100 liters of culture and maintains eight 10-liter photobioreactors, which recreate the ideal environmental conditions for growing algae. With a recent $417,342 grant from the National Science Foundation, ARC will help even more scientists find solutions for the devastating effects of toxic algae blooms – such as fish kills, poor water conditions and human illnesses through toxin ingestion – and search for new drugs in disease treatment. – Caroline Cropp

The Algal Resources Collection currently comprises:

412 strains 10 taxonomic groups 50 genera 102 species

“Brevenal,” the UNCW MARBIONC-discovered biopharmaceutical developed from marine algae, has been granted “Orphan Drug” status by the FDA for the treatment of cystic fibrosis. According to the FDA, this designation is given to drugs intended for the safe and effective treatment, diagnosis or prevention of rare diseases/disorders that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S. This work started with discovery and characterization of the molecule by Andrea Bourdelais, research associate professor at the UNCW Center for Marine Science; recognition of its CF potential by a fellow researcher, the late William Abraham; and its molecular mechanism of action by Dr. Bourdelais and Jennifer McCall, lecturer in the Department of Biology and Marine Biology. This development is a result of a program project grant funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, an institute of the National Institutes of Health. Subsequent licensing to Silurian Pharmaceuticals brings the biopharmaceutical to its present stage of development. – Daniel Baden, Program Director for the NIEHS Program Project Grant/Executive Principal of MARBIONC


Persistence and Pursuit “Countering biodiversity loss and speeding up the rate at which we catalogue new biodiversity relies on education, well-trained scientists and a commitment to fund this kind of research.” When associate professor of biology Brian Arbogast began his research on flying squirrels, he knew the results wouldn’t materialize overnight. Beginning his research as a Louisiana State University graduate student in the mid-1990s, Arbogast had to work another 20 years before finding what he was looking for. His patience paid off. Arbogast, in collaboration with a team of researchers including former UNCW graduate student Katelyn Schumacher ’12M, analyzed the DNA of 185 flying squirrels from across North America and verified that the northern flying squirrel is actually two distinct species. “We were finally able to show that the Pacific Coastal populations were not interbreeding or exchanging genes with the other populations of the northern flying squirrel, even where the two forms occurred together in the Pacific Northwest.” Arbogast said. “Those results were a ‘eureka-like’ moment. All of the pieces of the puzzle came together, and we finally realized that we were looking at a new species. We named it Humboldt’s flying squirrel in honor of the eminent naturalist Alexander von Humboldt.” – M.S.

She’s Got Game Rebekah Banks ’18 had no idea she was in the running for the Colonial Athletic Association Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award until the winner was announced. “We were on the bus to our first tournament game and my coach called me to the front and told me I had won,” she said. A 3.96 grade point average and seven appearances on the dean’s list helped the Durham native earn the prestigious accolade. She double-majored in economics and business administration with a minor in Spanish. When she wasn’t learning plays on the court, Banks was taking a closer look at the effects of corruption on economic development across the globe for her honors research project, working alongside her project advisors Adam Jones, associate professor of economics; Daniel Soques, assistant professor of economics; and Ethan Watson, assistant professor of finance. “I used data from upward of 200 countries to estimate whether or not economic development, as defined through health, education and income, increases or decreases based on increased corruption,” she said. Banks is the proud recipient of the following donor-funded scholarships: the Dr. Fred Eshleman SAA Scholarship Endowment; the Henry Alexander Martindale Merit Scholarship Endowment; and the James E.L. Wade Scholarship Endowment. – C.C.

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Cetacean Conservation Researching animals of any classification takes time, patience and sometimes a little bit of help. For UNCW professor Ann Pabst, researching cetaceans – a classification of marine mammals comprising dolphins, whales and porpoises – often requires all three. Strandings, the occurrence of marine mammals coming onto shore, is one opportunity Pabst and her students and colleagues use to examine these creatures up close. These incidents provide them with the chance to better understand the biology of animals like the beaked whale, which can routinely swim down to 1,000 meters and stay underwater for 45 minutes at a time. “Through the investigation of tissues, strandings allow us to investigate how cetaceans thermoregulate, locomote and how they sense their environment,” said Pabst, whose lab has been involved in marine mammal research since she arrived at UNCW in 1995. In addition, Pabst’s research has utilized an aerial approach. Aerial surveys have been designed to help locate marine mammals, such as the critically endangered right whale, in specific areas and at specific times. The locations surveyed have generally been in areas of strategic importance to human activity. Aerial surveys have also been flown for the U.S. Navy to examine locations where their exercises may be carried out in relation to marine mammal activity. Pabst credits help from citizens as well as individuals in the science community for her ongoing progress. “Citizens’ reportings of strandings, as well as their observations at sea, are important to the science community and can help inform management and conservation decisions by the federal government, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the United States Navy,” she said. In a combined multi-institutional cooperative agreement with BOEM, Duke University, Denmark’s Aarhus University, and Marine Conservation Research, researchers at UNCW are seeking to learn more about cryptic cetaceans, such as beaked whales and sperm whales, to better understand their acoustic, foraging and socialization behaviors by taking a research vessel, the R.V. Song of the Whale, out onto the water. “Working with wonderful colleagues and directly involving students in cetacean research has yielded insights into their biology,” said Pabst, “and has resulted in data that can be used to ensure their conservation and wise management.” – M.S.

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$5 Million Club


Delighted, Thanks Customer satisfaction is no longer enough to ensure profitable customer relationships. Simply “satisfied” customers are not loyal or willing to tell others about a business. However, a delighted customer – one who has had an emotional experience with a company or product – will likely shout praise from the proverbial rooftops. Associate professor of marketing Donald Barnes and other faculty in the Cameron School of Business have been studying customer delight in laboratory and field settings for more than a decade, investigating the concept among small and large firms across retail stores, restaurants, grocery stores, professional sports franchises, adventure recreation activities, sales organizations and more.

“Our research has consistently shown the bottom-line benefits of transitioning customers from satisfaction to delight,” Barnes said. UNCW’s research on the topic has led the university to become the top-published school in the country for research productivity in peer-reviewed academic journals. To emphasize the university’s research expertise in customer delight and the application of research models in a business-to-business setting, CSB created the Center for Sales Excellence and Customer Delight. The center was established in March 2018 to develop students’ ability to think and work collaboratively by teaching, coaching and encouraging them to operate with a

Just Say the Word April Bice knew her pint-sized patients in Knoxville, TN didn’t like to see her coming. She was the nurse who stuck them with needles and performed other unpleasant but necessary procedures. Through firsthand experience as a pediatric nurse in the emergency room and hematology/oncology settings, she realized kids needed more comfort enhancements. Now an assistant professor of nursing at UNCW and certified pediatric nurse practitioner, Bice has focused her research on giving children a voice. She hopes to give medical caregivers the tools to make children more comfortable during procedures, which often produce pain, fear and anxiety in young patients. “These feelings are often amplified in young children because of their limited cognitive abilities and communication skills,” Bice said. Alleviating discomfort could mean medication, but it also might involve a warm compress, hugging a stuffed animal or holding a parent’s hand, she explained. The key is letting the child express how they feel and what might make them feel better. With a $5,000 grant from the School of Nursing made possible through the generosity of J. Richard Corbett, Bice developed a picture book that allows young children to describe their comfort level. Responses to simple statements like “I’m cold” and “It’s too noisy” help healthcare workers assess what a child may need to make the experience more bearable. “Every child deserves to have their needs assessed from a holistic perspective,” she said. “We don’t give kids enough credit for being able to tell us how they feel.” – T.V.

“win-win” mentality. By offering a variety of events hosted by faculty, the business community and sales professionals, the center will offer CSB students a competitive advantage in acquiring jobs and internships. Associate professor of marketing Vince Howe is the center’s first director. “The professional sales environment is changing dramatically due to technology, data analytics and other trends,” Howe said. “These changes have created learning opportunities for all stakeholders and we plan to embrace those opportunities. After hearing about our sales center, several Fortune 500 companies have already reached out to express their interest in hiring our students.” – J.G. uncw.edu/delight


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Imagination Driving Research  

This publication delves into an area for which the University of North Carolina Wilmington is increasingly recognized: research.

Imagination Driving Research  

This publication delves into an area for which the University of North Carolina Wilmington is increasingly recognized: research.