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Biology

Dr. Bruce Ezell is Appointed Professor Emeritus

Dr. Wm. Bruce Ezell

Long-time member of the Biology faculty, Dr. William Bruce Ezell, Jr., has been appointed Professor Emeritus. The formal announcement was made on 22 April 2016 during the Faculty Appreciation Dinner in the University Annex. Dr. Ezell served on the faculty as Professor of Biology from 2001-2015. Sadly, he was compelled to resign partway into the fall 2015 semester as a result of his wife Nancy’s failing health. Dr. Ezell first joined the University in 1991 after being appointed Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. Yet, his career in academics began more than 40 years ago and included faculty and administrative positions on numerous campuses, including a nine-year appointment as Dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Extended Learning at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.

From indoor and outdoor classrooms, Dr. Ezell taught a variety of courses while at UNCP -- graduate (e.g., Medical Entomology), team taught (e.g., Religion and Science), upper level (e.g., Entomology), and introductory (e.g., Principles of Biology). He brought to teaching the knowledge of a skilled scientist and the insights of someone familiar with history, literature, and culture. He took great delight in introducing students to the wonders of the natural world, and every autumn he took his entomology students on a weekend trip to Highlands Biological Station in the southern Appalachian Mountains.

Dr. Wm. Bruce Ezell

Dr. Ezell was co-advisor for the local chapter (Psi Lambda) of Beta Beta Beta (a national honor society for students of the biological sciences) for six years, and in 2003, he received an award bestowed by students in recognition of his role in acquiring and advising the chapter. One of his favorite professional appointments was to the Board of Scientific Advisors for Highlands Biological Station. He served in this capacity for several years before being appointed as Trustee to the Board in 2008.

For 15 years, Dr. Ezell maintained a weekly television program, Academe Today, in which he interviewed dozens of members of the University community. This enhanced the University’s public relations, reaching 200,000 homes across six counties in North Carolina. In 2014, Dr. Ezell was recognized by the campus chapter of the National Broadcasting Society and honor society Alpha Epsilon Rho for supporting broadcast education on campus.

The Department of Biology congratulates our friend and colleague, Dr. Wm. Bruce Ezell, Jr., on his appointment as Professor Emeritus. It is an honor well deserved, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.

Dr. Wm. Bruce Ezell and students in the southern Appalachians

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UNCP Well Represented at State Conference

NCAS poster session

Once again, UNC Pembroke was well represented at the annual meeting of the North Carolina Academy of Science.  More than twenty UNCP students and several members of the faculty participated in the 113th Annual Meeting of the NC Academy of Science.  As Academy President, Dr. Maria Santisteban of the UNCP Biology Department played a prominent role at the meeting, which was held on 1-2 April 2016 at Methodist University in Fayetteville.  The meeting drew participants from across the state and from numerous campuses, including Campbell University, High Point University, Nash Community College, NC State University, Shaw University, UNC Chapel Hill, and UNC Greensboro, among others.

K'Yana Mclean Robbie Juel
Above: K'Yana McLean (left) and Robbie Juel (right)

Most UNCP students at the meeting were associated with either the RISE (Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement) Program, COMPASS Scholarship Program, Dr. Ben Bahr’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Lab, or with Dr. Leonard Holmes' biotechnology lab.  Sharon Ayioka (COMPASS) and Caleb Stubbs (RISE) each received Derieux Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Research from the Collegiate Academy of the North Carolina Academy of Science.  This was quite an achievement, given that most of the nearly 50 oral presentations and 60 posters at the meeting would have been in competition for Derieux awards.

COMPASS students and Dr. Maria SantistebanCOMPASS students (standing from left to right): Victoria Locklear, Kaila Chavis, Alexandria Miles, Taylor Felton, Amelia Brown, Dr. Santisteban (Program Director), Ereny Gerges, Christy Henderson, Tenisha McLean, David Pedersen, Neveen Issa, and Quaison Gilchrist. Kneeling (left to right): Kelsey Leigh and Jeison Valencia-Mazuera.

Friday evening's poster session was launched with welcoming remarks from Drs. Santisteban, Clay Britton (Chair of the Local Arrangements Committee), and Ben E. Hancock, Jr. (President of Methodist University).  The meeting was dedicated to the Academy’s late Past President, Dr. Charles F. Lytle, and the evening’s events were concluded with a special presentation to honor Dr. Lytle’s exceptional service to the Academy. 

Special Presentation for the late Dr. Charles F. LytleHonorary Life Membership is bestowed on the late Dr. Charles F. Lytle.  From late to right: Dr. Santisteban, Charles' daughter Victoria and widow Brenda, and Dr. John Clamp

Saturday was packed with events. Student Academy posters were displayed, and oral sessions and workshops were given. The keynote speaker, Dr. Francis L. de los Reyes III of NC State University, offered an interdisciplinary approach to address environmental issues by way of his talk -- “The Global Sanitation Crisis: Science, Engineering, and Policy Challenges.”  Award recipients and new Collegiate Academy officers were announced during the Awards Reception in the evening.

This was Dr. Santisteban's last year as Academy President, but she will continue to serve on the Board of Directors as Immediate Past President. Dr. Santisteban handed off the gavel to Dr. Francie Cuffney of Meredith College, who will serve as President for 2016-2017.  It is noteworthy that UNCP hosted the 110th Annual Meeting of the NC Academy of Science, and Dr. Santisteban chaired the Local Arrangements Committee.  High Point University will host the 2017 meeting on March 24-25th.  Click here for a PDF copy of the 2016 meeting program.

UNCP student presenters (in bold font), co-authors (if any), and titles of their presentations are listed below:

Oral presentations:

Elizabeth Gerdes, Devang Upadhyay, and Leonard Holmes, Heterorhabditis bacteriophora: Ecofriendly Biological Control Agent.
Natasha Wells, Devang Upadhyay, and Leonard Holmes, Biological Control of Agriculture Insect Pests.

Poster presentations:

Sharon Ayioka, Tessa Calhoun, and Kevin Higgins, Carotenoids And Their Effect On Small Molecule Transport Across Membranes.  Won 3rd place in Chemical & Physical Sciences and Science Education
Robbie Juel and Lisa Kelly, An Analysis of the Vascular Flora of Sampson’s Landing, Robeson County, North Carolina.
K’yana McLean, Sreeja Asokan, and James Bear; co-authors were from University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill Lineberger Cancer Center.  Chemotaxis to LPA, a G-protein Coupled Receptor Ligand.
Cary Mundell, Donna Porter, Heather Romine, and Ben A Bahr, Testing New PADK Derivatives for Positive Lysosomal Modudulation: Early Drug Discovery of a Unique Therapeutic Avenue for Alzheimer’s Disease.
KM Rentschler, MC Pait, L. Elliott, S. Hafner-Ruiz, C. Mundell, W. Patterson, H. Romine, U.S. Ikonne, and B.A. Bahr, Effects of the Lysosomal Modulator PADK on Exploratory Habituation and the Expression of Tau Isoforms in Aged Mice.
Ethan Sanford, Combined Effects of Cadmium Pollution and Hypercapnia on the Activity of Key Metabolic Enzymes at Aerobic-Anaerobic Branch Point in Marine Bivalves.
Caleb Stubbs and Maria Santisteban, Investigating Mutant Suppressor of Synthetic Lethality between htz1Δ and RPB2-2SL in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
  Won 3rd place in Human Biology and Microbiology

CANCAS students

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Science Education Club Hosts STEM Workshops

STEM Workshop Photos

What better way to experience STEM in action than to take part in learning it hands on. STEM Education continues to grow in popularity because it is a type of learning that focuses on the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics together. These fields are deeply intertwined in our current world so it is great to explore them together!

The UNCP Science Education Club President, Cameron Troutman, and Faculty Advisor, Dr. Rita Hagevik, hosted two STEM workshops that were held at UNC Pembroke on 29-30 March 2016. These workshops featured Hummingbird Robotics and the Basics of 3D Printing. In the robotics workshop, teachers of science experienced programing first hand by assembling lights and motors. After learning the basics of programing, participants then had the opportunity to take it one step further. One group of participants worked together to engineer a working hand out of cardboard, straws, and string.

The 3D Printing workshop proved to be a big hit with the students in Dr. Bill Brandon’s graduate physics class, which is offered as a part of the Science Education Master Program. His students witnessed first hand 3D printing with the Printrbot machine. The students were first instructed to create a letter “I” with a hot glue gun. This introduced a creative way to represent how 3D printers function and why certain methods of printing are more successful than others. Dr. Brandon was so intrigued by the workshop that he plans to assist the Science Education Club with scheduling a future workshop within the next month or two.

The Science Education Club, Science Education Masters Program, and the UNCP Department of Chemistry and Physics would like to thank Mr. Joel Bonasera from the Discovery Place for making the STEM workshops possible. The participants in these workshops learned the beauty of engineering and the importance of problem solving when working with the printers. Future plans include hosting a workshop to assemble our own 3D Printrbot machine. Knowing how to use a printer is one thing, but learning how to assemble the printer, modify it, repair it, and to create new ways of “making” will be the next step!   

Article submitted by Cameron Troutman and Dr. Rita Hagevik

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Ethan Sanford is Named 2016 UNCP Outstanding Senior

Chancellor Cummings and Ethan Sanford
Chancellor Robin Cummings and Ethan Sanford (above)

Biology major Ethan Sanford was named UNCP Outstanding Senior for 2016.  The announcement was made during the Senior Wine and Cheese Mixer, which was celebrated on Wednesday, 20 April 2016 at the Chancellor’s Residence.  Ethan, who is from Hamlet, North Carolina, will be remembered as one of the youngest students to have ever matriculated at the University.  Ethan is completing a minor in English, and he will be joining the graduate school at Cornell University shortly after graduation this spring.

Ethan’s award should come as no surprise to anyone who knows him.  Ethan is truly outstanding inside and outside the classroom.  He has been actively involved in the Esther G. Maynor Honors College, in TriBeta (honor society for students of the biological sciences), and in research by way of the RISE (Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement) Program.  Ethan was also honored by way of the Department of Biology’s 2016 Faculty Award.  In April, Ethan presented a research poster about nucleotide regulation of human airways during the 10th Annual Pembroke Undergraduate Research and Creativity (PURC) Symposium

Ethan Sanford

Ethan was one of seven finalists for the UNCP Outstanding Senior Award, and he was one of four Biology majors nominated for the award.  As announced by the Office of Alumni Relations, the UNCP Alumni Association Board of Directors and the selection committee, the other six finalists were:

Tod Frazer, Bachelor of Science in Biology, Rockingham, North Carolina
Zachary Lunn, Bachelor of Science in Biology, North Carolina
Dana Reijerkerk, Bachelor of Arts in American Indian Studies, Raleigh, North Carolina
James Rudd, Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice; Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Hollister, North Carolina
Christian Ryckeley, Bachelor of Science in Chemistry; Bachelor of Science in Biology, Tar Heel, North Carolina
Jack Slavin, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a dual concentration in Management and Marketing, Durham, NC

Ethan Sanford and Award FinalistsChancellor Cummings and the seven finalists for Outstanding
Senior Award (above). Biology finalists pictiured below are
(from left to right) Christian Ryckeley, Zachary Lunn, and Tod Frazer

Christian Ryckeley, Zachary Lunn, and Tod Frazer

Congratulations to Ethan Sanford!  The Biology Department wishes him the best in his future endeavors.  There is every reason to believe he will be among the Department’s most accomplished alumni.

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Scholarship on Stage at PURC Symposium

Ethan Sanford presents research posterEthan Sanford of the Biology Department (above) presents
his research (mentored by Dr. Conner Sandefur)

Chancellor Robin Cummings welcomed attendees at this year's 10th Annual Pembroke Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium (PURC).  The symposium took place on Wednesday, 13 April 2016, in the University Center Annex. 

 Rhonda McFleder and Bob Poage

Chemistry alumna Rhonda Leah McFleder (pictured above with Dr. Bob Poage) was keynote speaker.  Rhonda was a RISE fellow (mentored by Dr. Meredith Storms) at UNC Pembroke before graduating in 2009.  She is now a fifth year candidate in the MD/PhD program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA. 

 Tod Frazer Carlisha Hall

Biology students whose research was presented during the afternoon session included Ashley Arcara, Cora Bright, Cristina Clark, Lyndsie Elliott, Tod Fraser, Carlisha Hall, Robbie Juel, Tyler Moore, Cary Mundell, Tamer Oxendine, Kameron Richardson, Ethan Sanford, and Tyler Scoville.  Dr. Ben Bahr and his Alzheimer Disease Research Lab mentored several of this year's research students.

Lyndsie Elliott Tamar, Cristina, Kameron
Bobbi Sampson and Sonda Rogers Robbie Juel 

 Biology undergraduate Zachary Lunn (also member of the Esther G. Maynor Honor's College) gave an oral presentation during the morning session, which featured his work as editorial assistant for Pembroke Magazine. 

Tyler Scoville and companion Zachary Lunn
Zachary Lunn (photo above right)

The PURC Program and the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) Program funded many of the research projects.  Biology students who are interested in doing undergraduate research should check out the opportunities available by clicking here.

Marisol Santisteban, Meredith Storms, and Timothy Ritter Tamille Rhynes
Natasha Wells and Diane Grant

Click here for a PDF copy of the PURC symposium program (includes research project titles and abstracts).

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Archives of Student Awards

Biology Department Student Award Recipients

2015 Awardees

Biology Department Awards 2015
Debby Hanmer Debby Hanmer and Travis Michaels Debby Hanmer and Mary Johnson
Mary Ash Biology Student Awardees 2015 Rita Hagevik and Corrine Jordan
(Photos above are courtesy of Leon Jernigan)  

  • Robert Britt Award: Casey Haywood
  • Biology Faculty Award: Zachary Lunn
  • Biology Club Award: Mary Johnson
  • Environmental Science Award: Zachary Kinlaw
  • Science Education Outstanding Undergraduate Award: Johnathon Parker
  • Science Education Outstanding Graduate Award:
    Corrine Jordan
  • Sustainable Agriculture: Travis Michaels

2014 Science Education Awardees

Indya EvansScience Education Group PhotoDavid Wimert
(Pictured above left: Indya Evans, undergraduate winner; middle: Dr. Martin Farley, David Wimert, Dr. David Zeigler, Indya Evans, Dr. Rita Hagevik, and Prof. Mary Ash; right: David Wimert, graduate winner; Photos courtesy of Corinne Jordan)

2014 Awardees    

  • Robert Britt Award: Jarrett Oxendine
  • Biology Faculty Award: Marcus Sherman
  • Environmental Science Award: Tyler Porritt
  • Science Education Outstanding Undergraduate Award:
    Indya Evans
  • Science Education Outstanding Graduate Award:
    David Wimert
  • Sustainable Agriculture: Mark Anderson

2013 Awardees

  • Biology Faculty Award: Brittany Williams
  • Biology Club Most Active Member: Davon Goodwin
  • Outstanding Leadership & Service in Plant Science: Davon Goodwin
  • Science Education Outstanding Undergraduate Award:
    Emily Gabzdyl
  • Science Education Outstanding Graduate Award:
    Marajo Kellihan

2012 Awardees (Photos are courtesy of Leon Jernigan)

Photo of Dr. David Zeigler
Dr. David Zeigler (above), Department Chair, presents the 2012 awards (24 April 2012)

Photo of Dr. David Zeigler, Andrew Sutton, and Anna Sanford Photo of Prof. Mary Ash and Sarah Lineberger*Photo of Dr. Rita Hagevik, Tiffany Dial, and Prof. Mary Ash

  • Robert Britt Award: Andrew Sutton
  • Ecology Award: Fred Booth
  • Biology Faculty Award: Jungeun Sung
  • Biology Club Most Active Member: Anna Sanford
  • Science Education Outstanding Undergraduate Award:
    Sarah Lineberger
  • Science Education Outstanding Graduate Award:
    Tiffany Dial

2011 Awardees (Photos are courtesy of Leon Jernigan)

Photo of Department's 2011 Student Award Recipients Photo of Marisol Santisteban and Jacqueline Guerrero Photo of David Zeigler and Stephanie Edwards

  • Robert Britt Award: Stephanie Edwards
  • Ecology Award: Fred Booth
  • Biology Faculty Award: David Renan
  • Biology Club Most Active Member: Jacqueline Guerrero
  • Bio Club Most Outstanding Academic Performance: David Renan

2010 Awardees

Photo of Student Recipient of 2010 Biology Awards Photo of Matt Bublitz and David Zeigler Photo of Sapphire Liu and Robert Poage

2009 Awardees (center photo: Eleanor & James Ebert and student Michelle Potts)

Photo of Student Recipient of the 2009 Biology AwardsPhoto of Eleanor and James Ebert and Michelle PottsPhoto of David Zeigler and Diana Gentry

Award Descriptions:

1. Robert Britt Award is given to a biology/environmental science student with an exceptional interest in the plant sciences. The cash award varies but can be as much as $500.

2. James Ebert Award is given to a biology/environmental science student with an exceptional interest in ecology.  The cash award is $250.

3. Biology Faculty Award is given to a junior who has an outstanding GPA and who is majoring in biology or environmental science. The cash award is $200.

4. Biology Club Award is given to an outstanding member of the Club. The cash award is $100.

5. Science Education Award is given to a student who demonstrates outstanding leadership or achievement in science education. The award is contingent upon GPA.

6. Ecology/Environmental Science Award is given to a biology/environmental science student who demonstrates exceptional interest in ecology. Anonymous donor.

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Alumna Layla Locklear Sings at Energy Summit

 Layla Locklear

Biology alumna Layla Locklear was among the handful of American Indians who performed for the Appalachian Energy Mid-Year Summit this past winter.  The University hosted the summit on 16 February 2016 in the University Center Annex. 

Layla's participation in the summit was in step with her exemplary record of community service and her passion for environmental issues.  While still matriculated at the University, Layla received the Community Impact Award, among other awards, and she was involved in the People's Climate March in New York City in 2014.  Layla completed a baccalaureate degree in Environmental Science from the Biology Department in 2014. 

Layla is not new to the stage.  She and her musical family (parents John and Tonya Locklear, and brother Lakota John) have performed at numerous events, both in state and out of state.

To see Layla's performance at the energy summit (via YouTube) click on this link -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjNeal8q_lg .

Science Education Students Present at Graduate Research Symposium

Graduate Science Education GroupGraduate students in Science Education who presented at the symposium (pictured from left to right): Caroline Newman,
Cameron Troutman, Italy White, Dr. Rita Hagevik (Graduate Director), Taylor Hunt, and Cecily Ivey

The Graduate Research Symposium was held from 5:30-7:30 PM on Tuesday, 5 April 2016 in the University Center Annex.

Congratulations to all our EXCELLENT graduate Science Education presenters at the symposium -- Cameron Troutman and Italy White, Cecily Ivey and Taylor Hunt, and Caroline Newman.  A special congratulations is needed for Caroline Newman who received BEST RESEARCH POSTER AND PRESENTATION at this year’s event! Way to go graduate science education!!!

Caroline NewmanCaroline Newman and her winning poster (above)

This year’s winners are:

Jessica Mager, Elementary Education
A Study of Daily Five Reading and its Effectiveness Towards Increasing Student Motivation

Dena M. Ali, Public Administration
Improving Firefighter Effectiveness through Wellness

Caroline Newman, Science Education
The Effects of Student Generated Modeling on High School Physical Science Student’s Self-Efficacy and Motivation

Honorable Mention goes to:

Jacqueline E. Barnoski , Nursing
At-Risk and Early-Stage CKD Identification Barriers Amongst Diabetics in the Primary Care Setting

Cameron Troutman and Italy White

Taylor Hunt and Cecily IveyGraduate student presenters (above)

Article contributed by Rita Hagevik

To learn more about graduate science education, contact the Director of Graduate Programs in Science Education, Dr. Rita Hagevik, at rita.hagevik@uncp.edu, or visit the webpage by clicking here.

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