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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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Chancellor Speaks at TriBeta Banquet

TriBeta Inducees 2016Photo above: TriBeta inductees and Chancellor Robin Cummings

Twenty-seven Biology Majors joined the Psi Lambda Chapter of TriBeta during the 2015-2016 academic year. Eighteen of those students were able to participate in the annual induction banquet held on March 31, 2016 at 6:00 PM in the University Center Lounge.

Eighteen friends and family members of inductees attended the banquet. The following UNC Pembroke Biology faculty (and their guests) also attended the banquet: Prof. Erika Young (and spouse) and Drs. Maria Santisteban, Velinda Woriax, Leon Jernigan, John Roe, Bob Poage, Patricia Sellers, Dennis McCracken, and Valerie Austin (from St. Andrews University).  Drs. Conner Sandefur and Marilu Santos had planned to attend but were prevented by family circumstances, and Drs. Andy Ash, Mary Ash and Lisa Kelly were absent because of their attendance at the annual meeting of the Association of Southeastern Biologists. Chicken Parmesan was enjoyed by all—except our one vegetarian. 

TriBeta Inducees 2016

UNCP Chancellor Robin G. Cummings, M.D., delivered remarks of congratulation and encouragement before the induction ceremony began.  The 2015-2016 TriBeta officers -- Ms. Casey Haywood (President), Mr. Ethan Sanford (Vice-President), Ms. Kenley Patanella (Secretary ), and Ms. Jacklynn Hunt (Treasurer) -- did an excellent job managing the induction ritual, and a good time was had by all.  A copy of the TriBeta inducation program (and biosketches of inductees) can be viewed by clicking MS Word or PDF.

Chancellor Cummings, Ethan Sanford, and Casey Haywood

Ethan Sanford, Casey Haywood, and Chancellor Robin Cummings (above)

Dr. Dennis McCracken

Article Submitted by Dr. Dennis McCracken (above)

Photographs Courtesy of Dr. Leon Jernigan

TriBeta is a national honor society for students of the biological sciences. Students who wish to join can click here to learn more about TriBeta and its eligibility requirements.

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Caleb Stubbs


Student Degree


Student Major

Biology, Molecular Biology Track

Student Hometown

Raleigh, North Carolina


Starting in my first semester at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP), I knew I wanted to have a career in science, but I was unclear about what direction to take. I didn’t consider the thought of pursuing a Ph.D. as a possibility until a conversation with my academic advisor, during which he informed me that to accomplish my goals I would need to attend graduate school. Involvement in the research program at UNCP known as RISE (Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement) has pushed me to become a better scientist and has better prepared me for graduate study. The goals of RISE are to prepare students to become research scientists and to support and enhance an atmosphere conducive to undergraduate research in the sciences at UNCP. The support of this program has afforded me the opportunity to attend multiple scientific conferences, including ABRCMS (Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students), which is one of the largest professional conferences for underrepresented minorities. More recently, I received an award for my presentation given at ABRCMS, which was based on my 2015 summer research experience at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. Participation in these scientific meetings has helped me to broaden my horizons and to consider many different areas of scientific research to which I had not previously been exposed.

Since my sophomore year at UNCP, I have been conducting research under the mentorship of Dr. Maria Santisteban. My work has been investigating gene regulatory properties of histone encoded genes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae (yeast). I’ve also had the opportunity to conduct research through an NSF funded summer research program at Pepperdine University. Here I spent my 2013 and 2014 summers conducting research under Dr. Thomas Vandergon on elucidating the mechanisms heavily involved in the angiogenic (blood vessel development) pathway in HUVEC (Human Umbilical Vascular Endothelial Cells). Along with conducting research full-time at Pepperdine, I have had wonderful experiences with scientists around the country who shared their passion for research in many different areas of biomedical research. Hearing so many different areas of research in cellular and molecular biology greatly increased my enthusiasm about my field of study.

What do you like the most about UNCP?

I most admire the dedication that the UNCP faculty puts into educating their students, a characteristic I deeply cherish. The faculty is serious about investing in their students and expanding their current knowledge to ensure their success at the next level. Also UNCP is a highly diverse environment. A university that encourages diversity helps bring together people with unique backgrounds that can benefit our university overall and society as a whole.

What are your post-graduation plans?

Following my Spring 2016 graduation, I will be enrolling in the Driskill Graduate Ph.D. program at Northwestern University to pursue a Ph.D. in cellular biology.

Web manager's note -- Caleb received a John Bowley Derieux Research Award for his research poster, entitled "Investigating Mutant Suppressor of Synthetic Lethality between htz1Δ and RPB2-2SL in Saccharomyces cerevisiae," which was presented at the 113th Annual Meeting of the North Carolina Academy of Science.  The meeting was hosted by Methodist University in Fayetteville, NC, on 1 April 2016.

Caleb Stubbs Poster Caleb Stubbs Presentation

Tod Frazer


Student Degree


Student Major


Student Hometown

Rockingham, North Carolina


Growing up as a young boy in rural South Carolina proved to be a lot of fun: exploring the woods with my dog, looking for snakes to catch, and shooting my BB gun was all in a day's work. My summers there were spent in the driver's seat of a beat-up Toyota truck and in looking over my papa's shoulder while he tinkered in his shop. I would spend time watching Steve Irwin's Crocodile Hunter and then go outside and try to play the part as best I could (South Carolina did not seem to have as many cool animals as Australia did). But for the time that I did spend in nature, it sparked a natural curiosity inside me for the natural world. That curiosity has continued to grow and be a part of me to this day. 

Since that time as a young boy in South Carolina, I have lived in several different states and cities but eventually came to call Richmond County, North Carolina, home. Before moving back to Richmond County and attending UNC Pembroke, I lived in Miami, Florida, where I attained my A.A. degree while holding down various jobs. It was also in Miami where I met my beautiful and benevolent wife Alice, and now I am proud to say I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters, Abby and Sophie, with the latest addition to the family (Sophie) being born on New Year's Day 2016. Fast-forward to today, a month away from graduation, and I am utilizing the three simple elements I have utilized all along: family, school, and work. I cannot express enough how instrumental a role my family has played in my life and in helping me achieve the goal of an undergraduate degree; without their support I would not be in the position I am in now. Working and going to school full time, throughout my entire academic career, has not come without challenges, but through God and the unwavering support of my family and the faculty at UNCP, I am happy to say I will become a UNCP alumnus this May.

Why did you choose to attend UNCP?

Upon graduating this May of 2016, I will be a third generation alumnus of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. So, at face value, it may seem like an easy explanation as to why I chose to attend UNCP. But the road that has led me toward graduating from UNCP has spanned four separate colleges and universities in two different states. I chose to attend UNCP because, just as was true of my grandfather and father before me, I am also a non-traditional student. UNCP understands what it means to be a non-traditional student and has been more than welcoming to both me and to my family. Deciding to attend UNCP has proved to be one of the most pivotal and fruitful decisions of my life.

What do you like best about UNCP?

UNCP offers so many different tools to get you on the path to success -- free tutoring, the Transition Office, and the Livermore Library are just a few of the many tools that I have utilized. But I cannot go without saying just how wonderful my professors at UNCP have been; their genuine enthusiasm for the subjects that they teach is contagious and has inspired me in both my academic and personal life.

Please comment on your research experiences

For the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 semesters, I had the esteemed opportunity to conduct independent research with Dr. Marilu Santos as my mentor. Her passion for microbiology and her positive outlook on life have made a lasting impression on me. It was through her guidance that I am proud to say I was awarded a fellowship in the American Society for Microbiology’s Undergraduate Research Capstone Program, taking place in Boston, Massachusetts. Along with being a fellow in the program, I will also be presenting my research at the international, annual ASM Microbe meeting, also taking place in Boston. My research is focused on tracking the enumeration of Bifidobacterium and other gut microbes in an infant's digestive system. For this research, I was also awarded a Student Scholarship Support grant by the Pembroke Undergraduate Research and Creativity Center, and I will be presenting my research at the annual PURC symposium.

What are your post-graduation plans?

My primary post-graduation plan is to attain my MS Degree in Physician Assistant studies and to practice as a physician assistant in Richmond County or to serve in the U.S. Air Force as a physician assistant. After serving my county/country as a physician assistant, my ultimate goal is to graduate from a PhD program, concentrating in either biomedical sciences or molecular biology and to become involved in furthering the developments of modern medicine. While I have a deep passion for patient care, I am also passionate for understanding the science behind the medicine that affords the ability to provide that patient care.

Tod Frazer and family

Degree Plans and Codes

 Four Year Degree Plans

Each recommended degree path (linked below) outlines a sample course plan towards graduating in four years. The path suggests taking courses in specific semesters, but there may be semesters when a course is not offered. Consult your advisor for your official degree planning.

Please be advised that in order to graduate in four years individuals must successfully complete a minimum of 15 to 18 credit hours per semester.

Degree Reference Codes

Code Major
GENB B.S. in Biology (no track)
BBOT B.S. in Biology with a Botany Track
BENV  B.S. in Biology with an Environmental Biology Track
BMOL   B.S. in Biology with a Molecular Biology Track
BZOO   B.S. in Biology with a Zoology Track
BMED B.S. in Biology with a Biomedical Emphasis
PTOT B.S. in Biology with a Pre-Physical Therapy/Pre- Occupational Therapy Concentration
BTEC B.S. in Biotechnology
  Environmental Science:
ENVB  B.S. in Environmental Science (no track)
ESAG B.S. in Environmental Science with a Sustainable Agriculture Track
  Science Education:
SBIO B.S. in Science Education -- Biology Concentration
SCHM B.S. in Science Education -- Chemistry Concentration
SETH B.S. in Science Education -- Earth Science Concentration
SMGM B.S. in Science Education -- Middle Grades Concentration
SPHY B.S. in Science Education -- Physics Concentration

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