College of Arts & Sciences

Great Opportunities

In the College of Arts and Sciences, learning goes on both inside and outside the classroom. Often working alongside their professors and each other, students conduct and present research, serve their communities, take on the roles of political leaders in Model United Nations and Model Arab League, travel to other countries, and engage in other great opportunities. 


In March of 2015, Geology students attended the Geological Society of America Southeastern Section meeting and conference. They participated in career workshops, listened to research talks, perused research posters by professionals and students, and learned about Professional Geologist Licensing. As they drove back through the Smokey Mountains, they stopped at several places and studied rock outcrops. Stops included Cullasaja Falls, a well-studied location involving upstream knick point migration of rivers as the Appalachians are potentially being rejuvenated.


Drs. Kevin Freeman and Kirill Bumin (Political Science and Public Administration) accompanied several students to participate in the Southern Regional Model Arab League conference, hosted by Converse College in Spartanburg, SC.  The team of 11 students returned home with five individual awards, won by Jordin Dickerson, Jeremy Jacobs, Logan John, Brian Edwards, and Andrew Yarborough.  This is far and away the most awards that the Model United Nations team has received at a conference.


With the supervision of Dr. Bill Brandon (Chemistry and Physics), several undergraduate students are involved with an ongoing research project related to magneto-optical polarimetic measurement techniques.  Applications include optical modulators, isolators, and circulators, along with field sensors, spectroscopy, and astrophysical probes.  In exploring various high precision measurement schemes to measure Faraday rotation in air, the undergraduate research group developed a balanced dual laser beam phase sensitive photodetection apparatus to measure laser modulation induced by an alternating current magnetic field.  With its very small Verdet constant, air simply serves as a convenient test case.  The ultimate goal is to measure vacuum birefringence (i.e. Faraday rotation in vacuum), an area of interest in the realm of quantum electrodynamics.  A similar, although significantly more sophisticated technique might qualify as a probe for one of the proposed candidate particles of dark matter - the axion.

With support from PURC, the undergraduate research students have presented at numerous conferences.  Austin Griffin received second place for best undergraduate research poster at the 2012 NCS-AAPT conference.  Rob Wardell won first place for best pedagogical paper at the 2013 NCS-AAPT conference.   

Physics Research


Dr. Rita Hagevik (Biology), Dr. Debby Hanmer (Biology), and Dr. Brooke Kelly (Sociology and Criminal Justice) have been working with several undergraduate research assistants (Spencer Thomas,  Scott Tyson, Valery Quinones, and Jeff Cooper) in partnership with the sustainable agriculture program, Agricultural Extension, and the Center for Community Action on a farmer interview project.  Interviews with local farmers began as a service learning project in Dr. Kelly’s social research methods course in the fall.  The UNCP local advantage grant has supported additional interviews and data analysis during the spring 2013 semester.  Through the study of the current practices and challenges that local farmers face, the project aims to inform community partners already working to support local foods in Robeson and nearby counties.  The students presented the preliminary findings from this project at the PURC Symposium.

Local Food Grant Group      



Dr. Brandon Sanderson (Art) and student Daniela Jimenez are set to share the results of their summer 2012 PURC USA research at the the University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. Their work is part of a larger print exchange project entitled "Switching Costs," organized by Chris Wallace, one of UNCP's visiting artists in 2013. A work by Jimenez appears below.




Each fall semester a multidiscipline group of students from UNC Pembroke (and often another UNC campus or community college) come together with an idea for an experiment in microgravity. The first two groups of students, who were all Lumbee Indians, chose to refer to the team as “The Weightless Lumbees” to represent their heritage. The name stuck. Now, each year the Weightless Lumbees (not always all Lumbee students anymore) have been proposing projects to NASA for the Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program, which utilizes a specially modified jet aircraft that is flown along a parabolic trajectory. As the aircraft approaches and passes through the top of the inverted parabolic path, a 20-25 second period of 0-g is achieved.  Each year, approximately 14 university undergraduate teams from around the United States are selected to participate in this program. The experiment subject areas range from pure science to engineering to education and outreach.

weightlessIn years when the Weightless Lumbees' proposal has been accepted, the team has, over the course of a few monhts, designed and built any required equipment, fine-tuned the experiment, and prepared another extensive technical document for NASA’s engineers to review. Finally, the team has made the trip to Houston, Texas, to fly the experiment on board the parabolic research aircraft. After the flight, the data and flight samples have been returned to UNCP for analysis and comparison to ground truth samples. For the final portion of the project, the team has come together once more, usually late in the spring semester or summer, and written a final report for NASA's Reduced Gravity Office. During the entire process, the team has conducted a public outreach program. Squeezed into their busy schedules and over school breaks, team members have visted schools, museums, and after school programs, etc., to speak with young people about the program and to serve as role models. The Weightless Lumbees team makes a special effort to reach out to the American Indian communities across the state.


Weightless Lumbees in front of chart



The Department of Biology offers two courses with opportunities to study abroad:

BIOS 3025 / 5025 Natural History of Costa Rica, offered in the summers of odd-numbered years, is designed to introduce students to different ecosystems within Costa Rica. Over the period of two weeks, students participate in field trips and excursions to study the biological complexities of the tropics.

BIO 4100 / 5100 Marine Biology, offered in the summers of even-numbered years, is a survey of the common organisms associated with tropical marine habitats.  Coverage includes discussions of the coral reef, mangrove and other marine communities, ocean currents, and physical and geological factors affecting marine life.  The course includes two weeks of on-campus study, followed by one week of field work at the Bermuda Institute of Oceanic Sciences.


Several UNCP students have recently presented their scientific research at various venues, including the NC-LSAMP Annual Research Conference and the Annual AISES National Conference and Career Fair in Anchorage, Alaska. One student, Austin Lowry, working with Dr. Bill Brandon (Chemistry and Physics), received an honorable mention for best poster presentation at the NC-LSAMP conference.

  • Mac Davis, Luis Guadalupe, and William Brandon, “Data Mining the Quantum Electroluminescent Energy Relation,” NCS-AAPT Fall 2012 Meeting, High Point University, High Point, NC, Nov. 17, 2012.
  • Edward Derosier and William Brandon, “User Friendly Laser/Detector Apparatus for Laboratory-Based Homework Assignments,”NCS-AAPT Fall 2012 Meeting, High Point University, High Point, NC, Nov. 17, 2012.
  • Mary Elizabeth Gonda and William Brandon, “Synthesis & Characterization of Cadmium Selenide Quantum Dots,” State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research & Creativity Symposium, Duke University, Durham, NC; Nov 17, 2012.
  • Austin Griffin and William Brandon, “An Alternative Approach to Touchpad Technology,” NCS-AAPT Fall 2012 Meeting, High Point University, High Point, NC, Nov. 17, 2012.
  • Austin Lowry and Bill Brandon, “The Most Economical PC-Based Audio Laser Transmission and Reception Possible – Explained,” 2012 NC-LSAMP Annual Research Conference, North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC, September, 21 2012.
  • Austin Lowry and Bill Brandon, “The Most Economical PC-Based Audio Laser Transmission and Reception Possible – Explained," American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES) Undergraduate Poster Session sponsored by the All Nations Alliance for Minority Participation (ANAMP) at the Annual AISES National Conference and Career Fair in Anchorage, AL, Nov. 3, 2012.
  • Austin Lowry, Austin Griffin, and William Brandon,  “A Simple, Robust and Inexpensive Ultrasound Interference Experiment,” NCS-AAPT Fall 2012 Meeting, High Point University, High Point, NC, Nov. 17, 2012.


Explorations, a journal publishing work by North Carolina undergraduate students, will feature artwork by three UNCP students. Daniela Jimenez, Lindsay Roberts, and Reilley Thayer will be the first three students to see their art published in the journal. Issue 7 will feature the students' artist statements, biographical sketches, and exhibition records, along with their artwork.

Explorations also will publish "Native American Mascot Controversy and Mass Media Involvement: How the Media Play a Role in Promoting Racism through Native American Athletic Imagery," an article by Mass Communication student Elizabeth Locklear. Dr. Judy Curtis is Locklear's faculty mentor.

Thayer art

Seasons, by Reilley Thayer

Roberts art

On, by Lindsay Roberts

jimenez art

Inocencia Pura, Triste Rebeldia, Recuerdo, by Daniela Jimenez


Students and HaladayMyranda Locklear, Brittany Dorman, and Jennifer Dorman, students in a class taught by Dr. Jane Haladay (American Indian Studies) delivered papers at the 37th Annual North Carolina Indian Unity Conference in Charlotte in March.

The students gave their papers in a workshop called "Recuperating Native Womanhood through Story Power." The papers had their origins in a course called "American Indian Women," which Haladay taught in the fall.


Gunther with trumpetEd Gunther, a UNCP freshman studying underDr. Tim Altman (Music), won the senior brass competition in southern division. Sponsored by the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), the competition took place in Clinton, Mississippi, and featured musicians from other parts of the south. Gunther played an Arutunian Concerto, a Neruda Concerto, and a Torelli Sonata, each from a different era. He is competing in the national competition in New York this month.

A member of UNCP's contemporary, trumpet and jazz ensembles, as well as the University Band and the Faculty Brass Quintet, Gunther also is performing this spring at the National Trumpet Competition for players under 25.


Two students, Natalie Klemann and Kellie Van Dyke, are collaborating with Professor Rohald Meneses (Sociology and Criminal Justice) on presentations at the North Carolina Criminal Justice Association conference in Raleigh, NC, this month. Klemann, a sophomore majoring in criminal justice, will join Meneses in presenting "Bullying and School Shootings: An Exploratory Study of Their Correlation and Causes." Van Dyke, a junior double-majoring in criminal justice and sociology, will collaborate with Meneses to present "An Explanation of Veterans' Criminal Behavior that Suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder through the General Strain Theory," a qualitative study of the relationship between post-traumatic stress disorder and criminal behavior.

Klemann and Van Dyke are both student-athletes who play on UNCP's softball team, as well as members of the Criminal Justice Club. Both plan to attend law school after graduation.


Dr. Jose D’Arruda, UNCP Pre-Engineering advisor, and two pre-engineering students, Fredrick Schirmer and Andrew T Neal, were at the University of Minnesota Multi-Axial Subassemblage Testing (MAST) lab at the University of Minnesota this summer. The MAST lab allows researchers to test the strength of structural components up to two stories high at full scale or higher at partial scale. Researchers use the MAST Lab's equipment to twist, compress, or stretch components of large structures such as buildings or bridges to study what happens to them during earthquakes and other extreme events. The MAST system is capable of applying up to 1.32 million pounds of vertical force and nearly 900,000 pounds of horizontal force. Structures up to 28.75 feet (8.7 m) in height and 20x20 feet (6.1x6.1 m) in plan can be tested at the MAST Laboratory. The Lab is part of the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES). The research is funded by the National Science Foundation. D’Arruda is co-director with NC State's Dr. Tasnim Hassan, director of the $600,000 grant.



Open to all majors, Model United Nations is a student organization that prepares students to participate in simulations of the United Nations' committees and agencies. Student-delegates attend regional and national conferences, where they meet and collaborate with their counterparts from other campuses. For more information, contact Kevin Freeman at or 910.521.6447.


Open to all majors, Model Arab League is a student organization that prepares students to participate in simulations of the United Arab League's committees and agencies. Student-delegates attend regional and national conferences where they meet and collaborate with their counterparts from other campuses. For more information, contact Kevin Freeman at or 910.521.6447.