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Dr. Rita Hagevik Presents Research at European Conference

Drs. Rita Hagevik and Irina Falls
Drs. Rita Hagevik (left) and Irina Falls at ESERA in Dublin, Ireland

Dr. Rita Hagevik from the Biology Department and Dr. Irina Falls from the School of Education presented research papers at the 12th Conference of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA) held at Dublin City University in Dublin, Ireland, in August 2017. The conference theme was research, practice and collaboration in science education. The conference was co-hosted by two of Ireland’s largest STEM education research centers, CASTeL at Dublin city University and EPI-STEM at University of Limerick, which are actively researching preservice and inservice teacher education on conducting evidence based research on STEM curriculum, pedagogy and learning at all levels.  

Drs. Rita Hagevik and Irina Falls

Dr. Hagevik and Dr. Falls' collaborative presentation was entitled "Preparing science and math teachers to teach discipline literacy using mobile technologies."  Their presentation and supporting research were the results of a NCQUEST Cycle XIII grant from the US Department of Education. Dr. Hagevik served as the chairperson for the same session in which she spoke, which included four research papers in total.  In collaboration with her former doctoral student, who is now an assistant professor at Purdue University Fort Wayne, Dr. Hagevik presented another paper, entitled "Participation of inservice secondary teachers in a multi-year summer research experience." Both presentations were well attended and well received. The 2017 ESERA conference hosted approximately 1500 delegates from 57 different countries.

Dr. Rita Hagevik

Article Submitted by Rita Hagevik

Web Manager's note -- Dr. Hagevik is the Director of Graduate Programs in Science Education

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Students in Action (2016-2017)

 

Dr. Conner Sandefur and Undergraduate Researchers
Above: Undergraduate researchers and Dr. Conner Sandefur (second from left) attending the annual (2016) RISE End-of-Summer Student Research Presentation.

David Pedersen and researchers at Wake Forest
Above: David Pedersen (second from left) completes Summer Scholars Program in regenerative medicine.  Click here to read more.
Dr. Robert Poage and Undergraduate Researchers
Above: Dr. Robert Poage (left) and undergraduate researchers at 2016 RISE Presentation.

Tenita Jacobs and Cora Bright
Above: Undergraduate students at 2016 RISE Presentation.
Joshua Oxendine and Jessica Rice
Above: Undergraduate researchers at 2016 RISE Presentation.

Field Botany students explore Sunset Beach, NC.
Above: Dr. Leon Jernigan's Field Botany students explore the vegetation zones (from ocean to marsh) of Sunset Beach, NC. 

Field Botany students explore Sunset Beach, NC
Above: Field Botany students explore Sunset Beach, NC.


Undergraduate researchers and lab associates from Dr. Ben Bahr's Lab
Above: Undergraduate researchers and lab personnel (Dr. Karen Farizatto and Heather Romine: second from right and then far right, respectively) from Dr. Ben Bahr's Alzheimer's Disease Lab enjoy the 2016 RISE Presentation.

New RISE Undergraduate Researchers
Above: New RISE undergraduate researchers at 2016 RISE Presentation.

Conservation Biology students
Above: Conservation Biology students visit a state endangered species of plant -- woody goldenrod (
Chrysoma pauciflosculosa) -- on a longleaf pine-turkey oak sand ridge in Pembroke.

Conner Sandefur and his undergraduate researchers collect Lumbee medicinal plants
Above: Dr. Conner Sandefur (in the middle) and his students collect Lumbee medicinal plants from Sampson's Landing in Pembroke.  Joining the group is Dr. Kaitlin Campbell (second from right).

Conservation Biology students visit Antioch Bay
Above: Conservation Biology students visit The Nature Conservancy's preserve Antioch Bay.

Dr. Rita Hagevik's Kids in the Garden
Above: Dr. Rita Hagevik's "Kids in the Garden" sample macroinvertebrates from the pond at Sampson's Landing.

TriBeta students decorate Christmas ornaments

Above: TriBeta students decorate Christmas ornaments for fundraiser.

Dr. Kaitlin Campbell's Entomology class visit Highlands, NC
Above: Dr. Kaitlin Campbell's Entomology class visits Highlands, NC.

Dr. Kaitlin Campbell's Entomology class visit Highlands, NC
Above: Dr. Kaitlin Campbell's Entomology class visits Highlands, NC, in the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

Dr. Kaitlin Campbell's Entomology class visit Highlands, NC
Above: Dr. Kaitlin Campbell's Entomology class visits Highlands, NC.

Above: Dr. Kaitlin Campbell's Entomology class visits Highlands, NC
Above: Dr. Kaitlin Campbell's Entomology class visits the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

Cheyenne Lee in Sandefur Lab
Above: Cheyenne Lee receives Exceptional Research Opportunity Program Award

Robbie Juel Presents Research Poster at Regional Conference
Above: Robbie Juel presents research poster at regional conference

Sandefur Lab Researchers
Above: Sandefur Lab featured in UNC Pembroke News

COMPASS students
Above: COMPASS students present research at PURC symposium

TriBeta inductees (2017)
Above: TriBeta officers and new members (2017)

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RISE Poster Presentation is a Smash

Jose Acosta, Macie Bethea, and Chancellor Robin CummingsJose Acosta, Macie Bethea, and Chancellor Robin Cummings

The hallways of the Oxendine Science Building were bustling with excitement, as crowds of people gathered for the RISE Program's annual End-of-Summer Student Research Presentation.  The presentation, which featured the work of more than 20 undergraduates (mostly biology and chemistry majors) who did summer research locally or out of state, was held on 25 August 2017.  Among the people who dropped by to chat with the undergraduate researchers were Chancellor Robin Cummings (pictured above), Provost David Ward, Dr. Jeff Frederick (Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences), Dr. Velinda Woriax (Chair of the Biology Department), and Dr. Sivanadane Mandjiny (Chair of the Chemistry Department).

Maria Ardila, Elija Mebans, and Shelby Minneker Kaitlan Smith and Gabriell Greene 
Whitney Pittman Amy Kish 
The RISE (Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement) Program funded several of the projects.  The RISE Program is designed to prepare students for research in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, and to enhance the environment for scientific research at UNCP.  It provides funding for student research and for related activities, including conference presentations. 

Grant Wood Maria Chavez
Karen Farizatto and Michael Fernandes de Almeida Hannah Swartz
Some projects were funded through other academic institutions and/or through funding agencies, such as the National Science Foundation.  Host institutions included Yale University, Miami University, the University of Maryland, and the University of California at Riverside.

K.K. McDonald Cheyenne Lee
Ayanna Edwards Cora Bright and Dr. Maria Santisteban
Research topics included the ecology of native and invasive species, interactions of plants and ants, diversity of pollinators, Alzheimer's Disease, genomics of fruit flies, microscopy of viral proteins, bacterial ribosomes, verdet constants of olive oil, spectroelectrochemical analyses, and zooplankton distribution in bays.

Ashraf Alsaidi and Jeison Valencia S.D. Huneycutt and D.D. Lee
Eric Baril Ronald Long
Katherine Rentschler Ashley Lytle and Whitney Pittman  
The RISE program is funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.  Students who are interested in joining the program should contact Dr. Rachel Smith (Program Director), Dr. Robert Poage (Co-Program Director), or Prof. Sailaja Vallabha (Co-Program Director).  To learn about other research internships and out-of-classroom opportunities offered through the Biology Department click here or click on the "Student Resources" link on the left sidebar of the Biology website. 

Christopher Norton and Kaitlan Smith Dr. Maria Santisteban and Cassandra Barlogio 
Dr. Maria Santisteban and Ashley Allen Dr. Velinda Woriax and Chancellor Robin Cummings
Pictured (above) in the photo on the left is Dr. Maria Santisteban (Director of the COMPASS Program).  Pictured (above) in the photo to the right is Dr. Velinda Woriax and Chancellor Robin Cummings.

Undergraduate students and Dr. Rachel SmithPictured on the far right in the above photo is Dr. Rachel Smith (Director of the RISE Program) 

Gloria Gray and Dr. Bob PoagePictured above is Gloria Gray (new Program Coordinator for the RISE Program) and Dr. Bob Poage (Co-Program Director of RISE)

Additional photographs from the poster presentation are in a slide show under "Students in Action" (see link on the sidebar to the left).

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Dr. Conner Sandefur Publishes Paper in Prestigious Journal

Dr. Conner Sandefur and Lonzie HedgepethDr. Conner Sandefur (right) and Lonzie Hedgepeth (undergraduate researcher) discuss a mathematical model

Dr. Conner Sandefur's paper, entitled "Mathematical model reveals role of nucleotide signaling in airway surface liquid homeostasis and its dysregulation in cystic fibrosis," was published yesterday (14 August 2017) in one of the nation's leading and most widely read peer-reviewed journals in the sciences, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).  Two co-authors joined Dr. Sandefur (the lead author) in writing the paper.  During his two years on the Biology faculty at UNC Pembroke, Dr. Sandefur has maintained a rigorous program of research, mentoring more than a dozen undergraduate researchers along the way.  He summarizes the content of his recent PNAS paper below.

This paper is the result of five years of work - three at UNCCH as a SPIRE postdoc and two here at UNCP as an Assistant Professor in the amazing Biology Department. My collaborators and I developed a mathematical model to investigate airway surface liquid hydration, an important component of mucus clearance, which functions to capture and remove pathogens from our airways. In cystic fibrosis (CF), airways are dehydrated, mucus clearance is disrupted and pathogens build-up on mucus in the airways. This results in increased rates of infection in individuals with long-term disrupted mucus clearance, including individuals with CF. 

After developing the model and demonstrating how normal airway homeostasis is maintained via extracellular signals (ATP and adenosine), we go on to show how this homeostasis is disrupted in cystic fibrosis, leading to airway surface dehydration. Probably the coolest thing we do here, in my opinion, is then go on to use the model to demonstrate rehydration of airway surfaces via drug delivery device of a specific membrane receptor agonist. 

Another neat thing is that this collaboration continues. And this fall, UNCP students in my research lab will have the opportunity to develop additional mathematical models to probe further into the mechanism of mucus clearance in healthy individuals and those with diseases that impact airways such as CF and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  

 

 

Dr. Andrew Ash Publishes Book about the Lumber River

Dr. Andrew Ash The Lumber River: Environment, Culture and Ecology

Ecologist and long-time member of the Biology faculty, Dr. Andrew Ash, in collaboration with photographer Franz Bogner, has created a delightful coffee table book about the Lumber River.  The description of the book (below) -- The Lumber River: Environment, Culture and Ecology -- is from the publisher, Lulu.

"The Lumber River is a blackwater coastal stream found in southeastern North Carolina. It meanders through five North Carolina counties on its way to its junction with the Little Pee Dee River in South Carolina. Along its one-hundred-and-thirty-mile course, its exceptionally high quality water flows unimpeded while providing a natural habitat for plants, animals, and people.

In a collaborative effort, science educator and photographer Franz Bogner and ecologist Andrew Ash tell the fascinating story of the history and ecological challenges of the Lumber River region. While tracing the geography of the river’s watershed as well as its rich cultural history that includes Native Americans, European settlers, African slaves, and modern inhabitants, Bogner and Ash describe the life that relies on the river’s ecosystem, disclose potential threats, and share interesting facts. Incorporated within the text are captivating photographs that reveal the river’s beauty and diverse occupants that call it home."

Having strong ties to the environment, Dr. Ash was instrumental in designating the Lumber River as a National Wild and Scenic River and in launching the Environmental Science program at UNC Pembroke. To learn more about his book, including purchasing information, visit the publisher's website by clicking here.

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Ethan Sanford

Alumni

Alumni Class Year

2016

Alumni Degree

B.S.

Alumni Major

Biology

Alumni Current Occupation

Graduate student in the doctoral program in Biochemistry, Molecular & Cell Biology (BMCB) at Cornell University

Alumni Hometown

Hamlet, NC

Alumnus Ethan Sanford has the distinction of having been one of the University's youngest (enrolling at 14 years old) and most accomplished students.  He received the Biology Department's 2016 Faculty Award and the University's Outstanding Senior Award.  He was active in the Esther G. Maynor Honors College and in TriBeta while conducting research in the RISE (Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement) Program, and he spent a year studying abroad in Wales.  Shortly after graduation in May of 2016, he joined the doctoral program in Biochemistry, Molecular & Cell Biology (BMCB) at one of the nation's foremost research universities -- Cornell University.  Ethan has been kind to share his first-year experiences at Cornell in the text below.

Have you chosen a laboratory for your graduate research? 

I have!  I will join Marcus Smolka's Lab at the end of this semester (~ May 10).  I am currently finishing up a third rotation with Eric Alani, who studies mismatch repair in yeast.  Marcus is interested in the mechanisms of genome maintenance with a focus on DNA lesion detection and signaling. The lab uses quantitative mass spectrometry in combination with genetic and biochemical approaches to elucidate the organization, dynamics and regulation of DNA damage signaling in yeast and mammals.  My project will initially focus on the role that Sgs1, a helicase, plays in mediating checkpoint-independent maintenance of genome stability (The lab showed, in what I think is a very elegant 2015 Molecular Cell paper, that many Mec1/ATR phosphorylations occur independently of canonical Rad53-mediated checkpoint signalling).  Sgs1 seems to transduce this signal.  I intend to use mass spec in combination with yeast genetics and biochemistry to elucidate this novel role of Sgs1.  Why is this important? Sgs1 is related to BLM and WRN in humans, and mutations associated with those genes yield remarkable susceptibility to cancer, as well as hypersensitivity to mutagens.  

Which courses have you taken?  Have you met any famous scientists on campus?

Graduate courses tend to be quite specialized but very interesting.  In addition to full-semester courses, our department also offers short, intensive courses on things like microscopy and R (a programming language popular among biologists; I took the R minicourse this year).  So far I have taken: Protein Structure and Function, The Nucleus, and Functional Organisation of Eukaryotic Cells.

As for famous scientists, I have been very fortunate to attend two talks given by nobel laureates in my field.  William Campbell, who discovered Ivermectin while at Merck and subsequently convinced his superiors to use it for the greater good of humanity rather than for pharmaceutical profiteering, gave a seminar to our department.  Additionally, Michael S. Brown gave this year's Racker Lecture. (He, along with Joseph Goldstein, elucidated cholesterol regulation and in doing so uncovered receptor-mediated endocytosis.)  The 2015 Racker Lecture was given by Jennifer Doudna!  She is credited with discovering the genome-editing capabilities of the CRISPR-Cas9 system, which has taken the molecular biology world by storm.

There are also a few notable members of our department, though I'm not sure anyone outside of the field would know of them.  Scott Emr, a Schekman lab alum, directs the Weill Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology and is credited with discovering ESCRT proteins.  John Lis is also rather famous in my field, having invented several well known techniques (ChIP, PRO-seq, GRO-seq, etc.).  John has studied transcriptional regulation for a long time and has made many important contributions.  He teaches The Nucleus, a class I'm taking right now.

How is life at Cornell?

In short, life at Cornell is everything I had hoped it would be and more.  I am absolutely in love with this place, and each day I am beyond grateful that I was admitted to the field of BMCB.  Cornell has a wealth of resources for its students, including a plethora of student organisations (1,106 for the 2015-2016 academic year).  It is a pleasure to spend time on campus, and most days I try to spend around 12 hours here, doing a combination of studying and lab work.  

Cornell is much different than UNCP.  While it does ask more of its students, I think it also offers more in the way of support for us, so it's kind of a trade-off.  Still, I loved my time at UNCP and can't complain -- I ended up here!

One thing I love to do here is to attend the Cornell Chimes concerts at McGraw Tower when I can (there are three each day).  It's very relaxing, and the view from atop Libe Slope is great.  The bells are played by undergraduate students called "chimesmasters."  They play both classical and popular music on the chimes -- ranging from Bach to Taylor Swift.  The Harry Potter theme is one of the most commonly requested tunes.

While I can't speak for the undergrads or for other departments, I will say that my department is not competitive, at least not in the sense that there's any competition between students.  We try to cultivate a collaborative, supportive atmosphere.  The program is definitely intense.  I love the intensity of it, though, because I think that's the key to building a good career in science -- you've got to feel constantly overwhelmed, constantly under pressure to learn new things and to challenge your thinking.  And, of course, you've got to be constantly fascinated and curious.  That being said, work:life balance is critical.  When I'm not doing science related things, I try to work exercise and social activities into my schedule.

Ethan Sanford and graduate students at Cornell Ethan Sanford

Graduation Photos Spring 2017

COMPASS students graduate 

Undergraduate commencement was held on the Quad South Lawn on a cool Saturday morning on 6 May 2017.  Chancellor Robin Cummings welcomed the audience, and commencement Speaker Judge James E. Lockemy encouraged the graduating class to approach life with passion.  More than 65 Biology majors walked the stage, including members of the Honors College, the RISE Program, the COMPASS Program, and the Psi Lambda Chapter of TriBeta.  The Department of Biology wishes all its graduates much success in their future endeavors.

commencement 2017 Honor student
Biology facultyBiology faculty
Tyler ScovilleDr. Teagan Decker, Amanda Bowman, and Dr. Mark Milewicz
Drs. Mary and Andy AshDr. Bob Poage and Natasha Wells
Drs. Ryan Anderson and Bob PoageBrandi Guffey and Dr. Maria Santisteban
Student and Dr. Mary Ash Drs. Kaitlin Campbell and Crystal Walline
Amanda Bowman and David Pedersen Dr. Maria Santisteban and David Pedersen
commencement 2017 commencement 2017
Sandefur family

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Anna Sanford's Environmental Journey to the Classroom

Anna Sanford presents poster at conference
Anna Sanford presents a research poster during her undergraduate days at UNC Pembroke

Alumna Anna Sanford now teaches in the public school system in Hamlet, North Carolina.  Having earned three degrees from UNC Pembroke, Anna has strong ties to the University, and the University has helped shape her career path.  She earned a B.S. degree in Physical Education (1991), a B.S. degree in Environmental Science (2014), and a M.A.T. in Science Education (grades 9-12) (2017) before entering the public school system.  Anna describes her educational journey in the text below.

Anna Sanford and wildlife habitat designation Anna and Ethan Sanford at Cornell  
Anna Sanford's yard has been formally recognized as wildlife habitat (left photo).  Anna and Ethan Sanford (right photo)

I am a native of Richmond County, North Carolina. I come from a family of educators with my mother, sister, husband, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law all teaching in public schools in North and South Carolina. I have cousins who are retired professors of education at Middle Tennessee State University. You could say that education runs in the family! I attended Richmond County Schools until the 11th grade when I had the opportunity to attend a school in Leesburg, Virginia (Westmoreland Davis Equestrian Institute), that was a training ground for Olympic equestrians. Before leaving for Virginia, I had to complete high school. The only option was to take the GED, so I guess you could say I was a high school drop-out. I remember my mother telling me that the only way she would let me pursue my equestrian dream was to promise I would return and get a college degree. I did just that three times over! Between my husband (James), myself, and my son (Ethan Sanford) we have six degrees all together, each one from UNCP. My son is currently at Cornell University, pursuing a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Molecular, and Cell Biology (BMCB).

Anna Sanford and turtleI loved every minute of UNCP classes and learned so much from such wonderful professors who know their students by name and are willing to help whenever needed. I was fortunate to work with Dr. Lee Phillips on a Carolina Bay project, and Dr. Patricia Sellers on a limnology project in my own backyard. These research projects were invaluable to me in so many ways. The research process that I learned from Drs. Phillips and Sellers served me well when I was ready to embark on graduate level research. I served as a field lab technician for the Biology Department for two years, which was another experience that taught me so much about field lab techniques. I was able to go out with Dr. Jernigan’s ornithology classes and Dr. Roe’s field lab classes and assist with bird identification, set-up of equipment, maintenance of equipment, and assistant for all field trips. It never seemed like a job because I enjoyed myself so much!

At the present time, I am a ninth-grade earth and environmental science teacher at Richmond County Ninth Grade Academy in Hamlet, NC. I am finishing up year two, so I am still quite the rookie. My final course for my Master’s degree was a project that aimed to change environmental behaviors of high school students by teaching in an outdoor setting and exposing them to nature. As it turned out, the students loved going outside and exploring the natural environment around the school almost as much as I did. This project allowed me to use some of the techniques I learned from Drs. Jernigan and Roe. I found that the students were very engaged when we were outside, and it carried over into the classroom.

I plan on staying in education for the long haul, but I would enjoy working with older students.  At UNCP you can earn a Master’s degree and earn 18 additional hours in a concentration of your choice so you can be qualified to teach at community colleges or even UNCP.  Through its rigorous graduate courses that stand up to any university around, UNCP has prepared me to teach any level that may come along!

Ethan Sanford, E.O. Wilson, and James and Anna SanfordEthan Sanford, E.O. Wilson, and James and Anna Sanford at Duke University

Web manager's note: Anna Sanford's poster, "Nature Deficit Disorder: Changing Environmental Behaviors of High School Students Through an Ecology Unit Taught in an Outdoor Setting," won second place at the UNCP Annual Graduate Research Symposium, which was held on 14 April 2017.

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Catching up with Ethan Sanford, '16

Ethan Sanford in Smolka Lab
Ethan Sanford in Marcus Smolka's Lab at Cornell

Alumnus Ethan Sanford has the distinction of having been one of the University's youngest (enrolling at 14 years old) and most accomplished students.  He received the Biology Department's 2016 Faculty Award and the University's Outstanding Senior Award.  He was active in the Esther G. Maynor Honors College and in TriBeta while conducting research in the RISE (Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement) Program, and he spent a year studying abroad in Wales.  Shortly after graduation in May of 2016, he joined the doctoral program in Biochemistry, Molecular & Cell Biology (BMCB) at one of the nation's foremost research universities -- Cornell University.  Ethan has been kind to share his first-year experiences at Cornell in the text below.

Ethan Sanford and graduate students at Cornell

Have you chosen a laboratory for your graduate research? 

I have!  I will join Marcus Smolka's Lab at the end of this semester (~ May 10).  I am currently finishing up a third rotation with Eric Alani, who studies mismatch repair in yeast.  Marcus is interested in the mechanisms of genome maintenance with a focus on DNA lesion detection and signaling. The lab uses quantitative mass spectrometry in combination with genetic and biochemical approaches to elucidate the organization, dynamics and regulation of DNA damage signaling in yeast and mammals.  My project will initially focus on the role that Sgs1, a helicase, plays in mediating checkpoint-independent maintenance of genome stability (The lab showed, in what I think is a very elegant 2015 Molecular Cell paper, that many Mec1/ATR phosphorylations occur independently of canonical Rad53-mediated checkpoint signalling).  Sgs1 seems to transduce this signal.  I intend to use mass spec in combination with yeast genetics and biochemistry to elucidate this novel role of Sgs1.  Why is this important? Sgs1 is related to BLM and WRN in humans, and mutations associated with those genes yield remarkable susceptibility to cancer, as well as hypersensitivity to mutagens.  

Which courses have you taken?  Have you met any famous scientists on campus?

Graduate courses tend to be quite specialized but very interesting.  In addition to full-semester courses, our department also offers short, intensive courses on things like microscopy and R (a programming language popular among biologists; I took the R minicourse this year).  So far I have taken: Protein Structure and Function, The Nucleus, and Functional Organisation of Eukaryotic Cells.

As for famous scientists, I have been very fortunate to attend two talks given by nobel laureates in my field.  William Campbell, who discovered Ivermectin while at Merck and subsequently convinced his superiors to use it for the greater good of humanity rather than for pharmaceutical profiteering, gave a seminar to our department.  Additionally, Michael S. Brown gave this year's Racker Lecture. (He, along with Joseph Goldstein, elucidated cholesterol regulation and in doing so uncovered receptor-mediated endocytosis.)  The 2015 Racker Lecture was given by Jennifer Doudna!  She is credited with discovering the genome-editing capabilities of the CRISPR-Cas9 system, which has taken the molecular biology world by storm.

There are also a few notable members of our department, though I'm not sure anyone outside of the field would know of them.  Scott Emr, a Schekman lab alum, directs the Weill Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology and is credited with discovering ESCRT proteins.  John Lis is also rather famous in my field, having invented several well known techniques (ChIP, PRO-seq, GRO-seq, etc.).  John has studied transcriptional regulation for a long time and has made many important contributions.  He teaches The Nucleus, a class I'm taking right now.

Ethan Sanford Ethan Sanford

How is life at Cornell?

In short, life at Cornell is everything I had hoped it would be and more.  I am absolutely in love with this place, and each day I am beyond grateful that I was admitted to the field of BMCB.  Cornell has a wealth of resources for its students, including a plethora of student organisations (1,106 for the 2015-2016 academic year).  It is a pleasure to spend time on campus, and most days I try to spend around 12 hours here, doing a combination of studying and lab work.  

Cornell is much different than UNCP.  While it does ask more of its students, I think it also offers more in the way of support for us, so it's kind of a trade-off.  Still, I loved my time at UNCP and can't complain -- I ended up here!

One thing I love to do here is to attend the Cornell Chimes concerts at McGraw Tower when I can (there are three each day).  It's very relaxing, and the view from atop Libe Slope is great.  The bells are played by undergraduate students called "chimesmasters."  They play both classical and popular music on the chimes -- ranging from Bach to Taylor Swift.  The Harry Potter theme is one of the most commonly requested tunes.

While I can't speak for the undergrads or for other departments, I will say that my department is not competitive, at least not in the sense that there's any competition between students.  We try to cultivate a collaborative, supportive atmosphere.  The program is definitely intense.  I love the intensity of it, though, because I think that's the key to building a good career in science -- you've got to feel constantly overwhelmed, constantly under pressure to learn new things and to challenge your thinking.  And, of course, you've got to be constantly fascinated and curious.  That being said, work:life balance is critical.  When I'm not doing science related things, I try to work exercise and social activities into my schedule.

Ethan Sanford

What advice can you offer UNCP students who wish to pursue graduate school?

I'll start by saying that I love graduate school.  I was pretty determined to get here, and once I got here I kind of realized that this is exactly what I was destined to do.  I know there are quite a few people like me at UNCP, and I've met some of them.  To those people I say, yes, go to graduate school.  To people who are maybe unsure of what they want to do, I would say, save your time.  Unless you're deeply passionate about science, you probably won't enjoy graduate school.

I also would advise people to aim high.  Despite the NIH and NSF's bizarre desire to produce even more Ph.D.s in STEM, the reality is that science is a really competitive field, and you're likely wasting your time if you have to go to a "safety school" for your Ph.D.  Instead I would say that if you don't get into one of your top choices, get a job as a lab tech or do a post-bacc.  Ph.D. programs at schools like Cornell look very kindly on those experiences and will try to recruit you after a year or two in the workforce.

The other reason I say to aim high is that most good graduate schools provide their students with a tuition waiver and a livable stipend (~$34,000 at Cornell).  Graduate schools that are not top ranked are unlikely to provide their students with stipends > $20,000, which is almost unlivable.  They also have less funding for cutting-edge instruments.  Ultimately this means that your Ph.D. will take longer, or that you won't produce as much data.

I want to end on a good note, though.  UNCP's motto is, I think, absolutely true.  Education changes lives -- it certainly changed mine.  UNCP students are perfectly capable of getting into great graduate programs and doing great things -- they just might have to try a little harder than students coming from R1 schools.  Passion for your work is all you need to be successful, and to be passionate it doesn't matter where you did your undergrad.

Ethan Sanford and march for Science

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Dr. David Maxwell: Commemorating 50 Years

Dr. David Maxwell

When Dr. Harold David Maxwell first joined the Biology faculty at UNC Pembroke, he was just 22 years old, and the year was 1967.  He likely had no idea, at the time, that his ties to the University would span 50 years.  The native of Cooksville, Tennessee, had studied fisheries back home, earning both a B.S. and M.S. degree from Tennessee Polytechnic Institute before taking the faculty position at what was then Pembroke State College.  Not long into his position, the college would undergo a name change (Pembroke State University), and he would leave temporarily to earn a Ph.D. in reproductive physiology at North Carolina State University. 

Dr. David MaxwellThe Department of Biology and colleagues from across campus commemorate Dr. David Maxwell's 50-year tie to the University

Dr. Maxwell is dedicated to his profession, and with nearly a photographic memory and sharp wit to match, he is well versed in the subjects he teaches.  Anatomy & Physiology, Animal Physiology, General Biology, and Vertebrate Zoology, have been among his more frequent course offerings.  In 1996, the University formally became the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.  One year later, Dr. Maxwell was recognized for his excellence in the classroom by way of an Outstanding Teaching Award (1997-1998 academic year).  For more than a decade, he ran the Minorities Access to Research Careers (MARC) program, during which time he led multiple student trips to science conferences. He chaired the Department of Biology for 14 years, stepping down in 1997, when Dr. Bonnie Kelley assumed the position.  Dr. Maxwell entered phased retirement in 2003, but he resumed teaching at the University after a mandatory reprieve. 

Sur

The Biology Department and colleagues from across campus treated Dr. Maxwell to a surprise party on May 1st to commemorate his remarkable 50-year journey with the University.  Few individuals have contributed more to the Department and to "Changing Lives Through Education" than has this southern gentleman.

Andy Ash, David Maxwell, and Jonathan Hopper
Surprise party Surprise party

These days, Dr. Maxwell is invested heavily in teaching Anatomy & Physiology in the Health Sciences Building, where he holds office hours five days a week.  The students he has taught during the last half century likely number in the thousands.

cake

Portrait of Dr. Maxwell (top) is courtesy of the University Photographer.  Other photographs are courtesy of Dr. Leon Jernigan 

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