Author Archives: Kim Spurr

About Kim Spurr

Arts and Sciences Deans Office

Conserving Corals in the Caribbean

Justin Baumann, a Ph.D. student in the College’s department of marine sciences, works alongside Mariko Wallen, a local diver, in Placencia, Belize.  To gather data on how certain types of coral respond to stressors (like warmer water temperatures), Baumann partnered with Fragments of Hope, a Belizean NGO dedicated to conserving coral reefs in the Caribbean. (photo by Mary Lide Parker)

Over the course of six days, Justin Baumann and his team collected 12 colonies of coral, cut them into 312 pieces, and then transplanted them onto underwater tables. Baumann will spend the next year monitoring their growth.  (photo by Mary Lide Parker)Justin Baumann, a Ph.D. student in the College’s department of marine sciences, works alongside Mariko Wallen, a local diver, in Placencia, Belize. To gather data on how certain types of coral respond to stressors (like warmer water temperatures), Baumann partnered with Fragments of Hope, a Belizean NGO dedicated to conserving coral reefs in the Caribbean.

Over the course of six days, his team collected 12 colonies of coral, cut them into 312 pieces, and then transplanted them onto underwater tables. Baumann will spend the next year monitoring their growth.  Read more at Endeavors magazine.

Watch a video.

Photos and video by Mary Lide Parker ’10

A plan and a partnership: $10 million gift supports strategic initiatives

John and Marree Townsend’s gift will support a wide range of strategic initiatives in the College of Arts & Sciences, from digital humanities to campus makerspaces to faculty fellowships. (photo by Jennifer Calais Smith)

John and Marree Townsend’s gift will support a wide range of strategic initiatives in the College of Arts & Sciences, from digital humanities to campus makerspaces to faculty fellowships. (photo by Jennifer Calais Smith)

John and Marree Townsend’s commitments to UNC-Chapel Hill over the years have been both plentiful and purposeful — and none more so than their most recent $10 million gift to the College of Arts & Sciences to establish the Townsend Family Strategic Initiatives Fund and the Marree Shore Townsend Fellowship in the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. This gift was part of the Carolina couple’s $50 million investment, which kicked off the public phase of the University’s Campaign for Carolina last October.

The plan

The Townsend Family Strategic Initiatives Fund, which will provide continuous support for the College’s highest priorities over the next 10 years, was born from conversations with Dean Kevin Guskiewicz and learning about his formal strategic plan for the College, “A Road Map to Boldness.”

“Kevin’s strategic plan is tied to real outcomes, which he has clearly articulated,” John (English ’77, MBA ’82) explained. “This vision gave Marree (political science ’77) and me the confidence in him to use our gift where it would have the most impact.”

Guskiewicz put the Townsend’s gift to work right away, sending 20 more students on study abroad experiences.

Funds from the Townsend Family Strategic Initiatives Fund will also be used to cover recruitment and salary for a fixed-term faculty member in art photography. Students majoring in studio art can focus on art photography, a concentration area that is growing in popularity. In addition, part of the Townsends’ gift will support digital humanities projects over the next two years. Faculty and students will have access to materials and records of human cultural activity that were once available only to specialists.

When recalling the first time he took John and Marree through one of the BeAM (Be A Maker) makerspaces on campus, Guskiewicz noted, “I could see their eyes light up.”

“Their gift will support the programming and the graduate students who help keep the operations of BeAM going,” said Guskiewicz.

In addition to strategic initiatives, the Marree Shore Townsend Fellowship in the Institute for the Arts and Humanities is providing Julia Haslett, an assistant professor in the department of communication, with support to pursue her work on a film about environmental conservation and British botanical exploration in southwest China.

Faculty fellowships are critical in recruiting and retaining the best faculty. John, a member of the IAH Advisory Board, established this endowed fellowship in Marree’s honor, which he presented to her on her birthday.

A partnership

“It’s an incredible partnership with the Townsends,” Guskiewicz said. “Tying their giving to the areas that have the most return on investment is a testament to how much they care about the College.”

John is retired as a senior adviser with Tiger Management Corp., after more than 30 years in investment management and banking. Reflecting on his career, John speaks proudly of where he started out and eventually retired from — at companies founded by fellow UNC alumni. In 1982, after graduating from UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School with an MBA, John went to New York to begin his career at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, an investment bank founded by Dick Jenrette ’51. From there he spent 15 years with Goldman Sachs before moving on to Tiger Management, a hedge fund founded by another prominent alumnus, Julian Robertson ’55. Marree owns Marree Townsend Interiors in Greenwich, Conn.

“Coming back to Chapel Hill and hearing what is going on firsthand is such an important part of my continued support of Carolina,” Marree explained. Her involvement as a member of the Arts and Sciences Foundation Board of Directors and John’s roles on many University boards, including as co-chair of the Campaign for Carolina leadership committee from 2015-2017, bring them back to campus several times a year.

A true Carolina family, John and Marree note that their fathers are alumni, as are their two daughters, Merritt ’06 and Louise ’09. John’s mother, Beverley Chalk Townsend, is also a 1953 graduate.

“Carolina is a place that we both love, and giving back is definitely a shared enthusiasm between us,” John said. “We have been extraordinary beneficiaries of our educations at UNC and it has been an important part of our lives and whatever success we’ve achieved.”

By Meredith Tunney

 

 

Explore more: New books by College faculty and alumni (spring 2018)

Bart Ehrman book coverThe Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World (Simon & Schuster, February 2018) by Bart D. Ehrman, James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies. From the New York Times bestselling authority on early Christianity comes the story of how Christianity grew from a religion of 20 or so peasants in rural Galilee to the dominant religion in the West in less than 400 years. Ehrman shows how a religion whose first believers were 20 or so illiterate day laborers in a remote part of the empire became the official religion of Rome, converting some 30 million people in just four centuries. Newsday writes: [Ehrman] doesn’t tell us what to think. He gives us a lot to think about.Listen to an NPR “Fresh Air” interview with Ehrman.

Search and Rescue (LSU Press, March 2018) by Michael Chitwood, lecturer of creative writing. In his new poetry collection, Chitwood seeks what the pagan Celts called the thin places, the spots where otherworldliness bleeds into the everyday. Beginning with childhood, the poet meditates on the intersection of the sacred and secular, on those luminous moments we can only partially understand. Water anchors the collection with the title poem, which explores the history of a large manmade lake and how it changes the surrounding mountain community. The book won the 2018 L. E. Hillabaum Poetry Award.

Building the American Republic, Volume I: A Narrative History to 1877 (The University of Chicago Press) by Harry Watson, Atlanta Alumni Distinguished Professor of Southern Culture. A Narrative History to 1877 runs from pre-Colonialism to the Civil War and Reconstruction. A second volume, A Narrative History from 1877 (by Jane Dailey), carries the story through the 2016 election. Taking a deliberately multifaceted and inclusive stance, the authors tell a stimulating story that will lead to a deeper understanding of America’s past and present.

Book cover for the book, “Appointed Rounds”

Appointed Rounds: Essays (Mercer University Press, February 2018) by Michael McFee, professor of creative writing. McFee’s new book takes its title from the unofficial motto of the U.S. Postal Service: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” All of us have appointed rounds in our lives — essential things we are given to do and must try to complete, whatever the inner or outer weather, whenever the time of day or night. This lively and wide-ranging collection of 50 essays addresses McFee’s appointed rounds, subjects he has been thinking and caring about for decades.

Louis Austin and the Carolina Times: A Life in the Long Black Freedom Struggle (UNC Press, February 2018) by Jerry Gershenhorn (Ph.D. history ’00). Austin (1898–1971) came of age at the nadir of the Jim Crow era and became a transformative leader of the long black freedom struggle in North Carolina. From 1927 to 1971, he published and edited the Carolina Times, the preeminent black newspaper in the state. He used the power of the press to voice the anger of black Carolinians and to turn that anger into action in a 40-year crusade for freedom.

Print News and Raise Hell: The Daily Tar Heel and the Evolution of a Modern University (UNC Press, February 2018) by Kenneth Joel Zogry (M.A. history ’97, Ph.D. history ’08). For over 125 years, the Daily Tar Heel has chronicled life at UNC-Chapel Hill and at times pushed and prodded the university community on issues of local, state and national significance. Thousands of Book cover for "Print News and Raise Hell"students have served on its staff, many of whom have gone on to prominent careers in journalism and other influential fields. Print News and Raise Hell engagingly narrates the story of the newspaper’s development and the contributions of many of the people associated with it. Wilson Library complements Zogry’s book with an exhibition titled “The Truth in Eight-Point Type: The Daily Tar Heel Celebrates 125 Years of Editorial Freedom” April 10-July 31.

Lands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on the Silk Road (HarperCollins, August 2018) by Kate Harris (biology ’05, minor in geology). As a teenager, Harris realized that the career she craved was to be an explorer. In between studying at Oxford and MIT, she set off by bicycle down the fabled Silk Road with her childhood friend Mel. Pedaling mile upon mile in some of the remotest places on earth, she realized that an explorer, in any day and age, is the kind of person who refuses to live between the lines. Read about Harris and her new book in The Globe and Mail.

Book cover for "The Designs of William Ivey Long"The Designs of William Ivey Long (USITT, spring 2018) by Bobbi Owen, Michael R. McVaugh Distinguished Professor of Dramatic Art. The monograph on the career of William Ivey Long is the 12th in USITT’s series documenting the work of America’s best theatrical designers. Long has designed costumes for over 70 Broadway shows — one of which, Chicago, is the longest-running American musical with more than 9,000 performances (and counting) over 21 years. He has been nominated for 15 Tony Awards, winning six times. More than 100 illustrations are included, among them renderings of Long’s exquisite costume designs and photographs from some of his award-winning productions.

Promise (William Morrow/HarperCollins February 2018) by English professor emerita Minrose Gwin. In the aftermath of a devastating tornado that rips through the town of Tupelo, Mississippi, at the height of the Great Depression, two women worlds apart—one black, one white; one a great-grandmother, the other a teenager — fight for their families’ survival in this lyrical and powerful novel. Drawing on historical events, Gwin beautifully imagines natural and human destruction in the deep South of the 1930s through the experiences of two remarkable women whose lives are indelibly connected by forces beyond their control.

Book cover for "Of Friends and Foes: Reputation and Learning in International Politics"Of Friends and Foes: Reputation and Learning in International Politics (Oxford University Press, spring 2018) by Mark Crescenzi, Bowman and Gordon Gray Professor and chair, department of political science. How do countries form reputations? Do these reputations affect interstate politics in the global arena? Reputations abound in world politics, but we know little about how state reputations form and how they evolve over time. In this book, Crescenzi develops a theory of reputation dynamics to help identify when reputations form in ways that affect world politics, both in the realms of international conflict and cooperation.

Our Higher Calling: Rebuilding the Partnership Between America and its Colleges and Universities (UNC Press, September 2018) by Holden Thorp, provost at Washington University in St. Louis (and former chancellor of UNC-Chapel Hill and dean of the College of Arts & Sciences), and Buck Goldstein, University Entrepreneur-in-Residence. There is a growing sense of crisis and confusion about the purpose and sustainability of higher education in the United States. In Our Higher Calling, Thorp and Goldstein draw on interviews with higher education thought leaders and their own experience, inside and outside the academy, to address these problems head on, articulating the challenges facing higher education and describing in pragmatic terms what can and cannot change —and what should and should not change.

Camp Austen: My Life as an Accidental Jane Austen Superfan (Macmillan, March 2018) by Ted Scheinman (English MA ’12). The son of a devoted Jane Austen scholar, Scheinman spent his childhood summers eating Yorkshire pudding, singing in an Anglican choir, and watching Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy. Determined to leave his mother’s world behind, he nonetheless found himself in grad school organizing the first ever UNC-Chapel Hill Jane Austen Summer Program, a weekend-long event that sits somewhere between an academic conference and superfan extravaganza. Read a Christian Science Monitor article on Camp Austen.

Book cover for "Maternal Bodies: Redefining Motherhood in Early America"Maternal Bodies: Redefining Motherhood in Early America (UNC Press, April 2018) by Nora Doyle (M.A. ’09, Ph.D. history ’13). In the second half of the 18th century, motherhood came to be viewed as women’s most important social role, and the figure of the good mother was celebrated as a moral force in American society. Doyle shows that depictions of motherhood in American culture began to define the ideal mother by her emotional and spiritual roles rather than by her physical work as a mother. As a result of this new vision, lower-class women and non-white women came to be excluded from the identity of the good mother because American culture defined them in terms of their physical labor.

Blackbeard’s Sunken Prize: The 300-Year Voyage of Queen Anne’s Revenge (UNC Press, June 2018) by Mark U. Wilde-Ramsing and Linda F. Carnes-McNaughton (Ph.D. anthropology ’97). In 1717, the notorious pirate Blackbeard captured a French slaving vessel off the coast of Martinique and made it his flagship, renaming it Queen Anne’s Revenge. Over the next six months, the heavily armed ship and its crew captured all manner of riches from merchant ships sailing the Caribbean to the Carolinas. But in June 1718, with British Book cover for "Blackbeard's Sunken Prize: The 300-Year Voyage of Queen Anne's Revenge"authorities closing in, Blackbeard reportedly ran Queen Anne’s Revenge aground just off the coast of what is now North Carolina’s Fort Macon State Park. When divers finally discovered the wreck in 1996, it was immediately heralded as a major find in both maritime archaeology and the history of piracy in the Atlantic.

The Missing Martyrs: Why There are So Few Muslim Terrorists (Oxford University Press, to be updated, fall 2018; original edition, July 2011) by Charles Kurzman, professor of sociology and co-director of the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations. Why are there so few Muslim terrorists? With more than a billion Muslims in the world — many of whom supposedly hate the West and ardently desire martyrdom — why don’t we see terrorist attacks every day? These questions may seem counterintuitive, in light of the death and devastation that terrorists have wrought around the world. But the scale of violence, outside of civil war zones, has been far lower than the waves of attacks that the world feared in the wake of 9/11. The Missing Martyrs draws on government sources and revolutionary publications, public opinion surveys and election results, historical documents and in-depth interviews with Muslims in the Middle East and around the world to examine barriers to terrorist recruitment. This revised edition, updated to include the self-proclaimed “Islamic State,” concludes that fear of terrorism should be brought into alignment with the actual level of threat, and that government policies and public opinion should be based on evidence rather than alarmist hyperbole.

Gone Dollywood (Ohio University Press, March 2018) by Graham Hoppe (M.A. folklore ’15). Dolly Parton isn’t just a country music superstar. She has built an empire. At the heart of that empire is Dollywood, a 150-acre fantasy land that hosts three million people a year. What does Dollywood have to offer besides entertainment? What do we find if we take this remarkable place seriously? How does it both confirm and subvert outsiders’ expectations of Appalachia? In Gone Dollywood, Hoppe blends tourism studies, celebrity studies, cultural analysis, folklore, and the acute observations and personal reflections of longform journalism into an unforgettable interrogation of Southern and American identity.

James Moeser's latest book, copy of book cover

The State of the University, 2000-2008: Major Addresses by UNC Chancellor James Moeser (UNC Press, April 2018) by James Moeser, UNC Chancellor emeritus, music professor and senior consultant for special initiatives at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities.Beginning with his installation as chancellor on University Day, 2000, Moeser started each academic year with a major address in which he outlined his envisioned agenda for the year ahead. In retrospect, these addresses can be read as guideposts to mark the history of Carolina’s first decade of the 21st century, a period of great progress. A common thread running through all of these addresses is a call for excellence — that Carolina should be America’s leading public university with a commitment to public engagement and social justice and that Carolina should be both great and good.

 

 

Read a poem from Carolina senior Evana Bodiker’s new poetry collection, Ephemera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caldwell family gift will encourage collaboration between American studies, Ackland Art Museum

Kate Caldwell Nevin (left) with Mary Lawson Burrows ’20 and Molly McNairy at a reception for the Ackland Art Museum exhibition, “Becoming a Woman in the Age of Enlightenment.” (photo by SP Murray)

Kate Caldwell Nevin (left) with Mary Lawson Burrows ’20 and Molly McNairy at a reception for the Ackland Art Museum exhibition, “Becoming a Woman in the Age of Enlightenment.” (photo by SP Murray)

When the Caldwell family decided they wanted to give back to UNC-Chapel Hill — a place that left a lasting impression on each of them — it made sense that their gift would revolve around American studies and the arts.

Their appreciation and love for these two areas goes back to their time as Carolina students. Kate Caldwell Nevin ’99 and her father, Hacker Caldwell ’74, were both American studies majors. Nevin’s brother, Hardwick Caldwell ’09, was an art history major.

“Creating the gift would not only be a collaborative effort from a family perspective, but it would also be collaborative in joining all of the things we loved most about Carolina,” Nevin said.

A collaborative spirit

When Nevin and her family began the discussion to create a fund, she realized that there was already a “beautiful connection” between the department of American studies and the Ackland Art Museum, referencing previous exhibits with a focus on Southern artists, including Thornton Dial and Ronald Lockett, which were successful in the Carolina community and beyond.

Their gift to UNC-Chapel Hill is composed of two parts: the Caldwell Family Artist-in-Residence Fund and the Caldwell Family Fund for the Ackland Art Museum, both of which will build upon an existing synergy between the two campus areas.

“It was neat to see that the collaborative spirit was already there,” Nevin said. “What was missing — and what could really help tie the two together in a meaningful way — was help leveraging the resources.”

The first Caldwell Family Artist-in-Residence, Ronni Lundy, a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author and food writer, at a seminar with students. (photo by Kim Spurr)

The first Caldwell Family Artist-in-Residence, Ronni Lundy, a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author and food writer, at a seminar with students. (photo by Kim Spurr)

The Caldwell Family Artist-in-Residence Fund will bring a visiting artist, representing any field in the arts, to campus each year to work directly with undergraduate and graduate students and faculty members.

The Ackland Fund will allow the museum to acquire artwork by the artist-in-residence, or other artists focused on the American South, for the permanent collection. It will also support exhibits at the museum that celebrate art related to the American South.

“This is an entirely new kind of gift for us,” said Katie Ziglar, director of the Ackland Art Museum. “We are excited to work with an academic department, such as American studies, to bring in different types of artists so that students will have interactions with authentic, deeply interesting people both inside the Ackland and elsewhere on campus.”

The first two artists-in-residence visited campus this spring. They are Ronni Lundy, a James Beard award-winning food writer and memoirist, who wrote the book Victuals, and Theresa Gloster, a painter, sculptor, textile artist and beautician.

“The Caldwell family very wisely defined art and artist in the widest possible terms,” said Elizabeth Engelhardt, chair of the department of American studies and the John Shelton Reed Distinguished Professor of Southern Studies. “That generous breadth allows the department to collaborate on who and what the museums and classrooms of the future can be.”

Nevin, who currently serves as chair of the Ackland National Advisory Board, hopes that this gift will continue to evolve and offer learning opportunities for the entire community for years to come.

“The yearly process will continue to provide additional opportunities for enrichment, from choosing the artist-in-residence to working with graduate students in the department to executing a series of events for an Ackland exhibit,” she said.

Creating a meaningful gift

Nevin hopes this gift can inspire other Carolina alumni to think about ways in which they can continue to make this effort as robust and beneficial as possible to both the department of American studies and the Ackland.

“It was exciting to think collaboratively into how a gift would look between two areas that meant so much to us as a family,” she said. “It was just as fun dreaming this up as it will be to see the gift actually take shape.”

Nevin is currently a managing director for TSWII Management Company. She and her husband, Lindsay, live in Charleston, South Carolina, with their three children.

By Kayla A. Blevins ’16

Learning and Writing Center gift helps ensure students’ success

Dean Kevin Guskiewicz (left) celebrated Alex Yong and Wendi Sturgis’ gift at Carolina’s For All Kind campaign kickoff in October. The couple’s support benefits scholarships, the Learning and Writing Center and diversity initiatives in the department of computer science. (photo by Jafar Fallahi)

Dean Kevin Guskiewicz (left) celebrated Alex Yong and Wendi Sturgis’ gift at Carolina’s For All Kind campaign kickoff in October. The couple’s support benefits scholarships, the Learning and Writing Center and diversity initiatives in the department of computer science. (photo by Jafar Fallahi)

What do biology and classics have in common? In terms of subject matter, nothing really. Except that you can major in both as part of a broad liberal arts education — and use that diverse background as a launching pad to a successful career.

Those were the first steps along the path for Alex Yong ’90, now senior product designer for Major League Baseball, where he is responsible for the design of MLB.com.

Yong developed a love of UNC-Chapel Hill early.

“I fell in love with Carolina upon my first visit while I was still in high school,” he remembered. “Even a few years before, I remember seeing an aerial view of Kenan Stadium and the campus while watching a football game on TV and thinking, ‘What a beautiful university!’”

The connection continued to grow as he became involved in activities on campus.

“Once I matriculated at UNC, my opinion of our university only went higher. I loved how accessible my professors were, even in larger classes. I joined the crew club my freshman year. Several of the guys who I rowed with were brothers at Chi Psi fraternity, and I pledged there my sophomore year. I feel blessed that I am still close to many of my fraternity brothers and friends.”

But a biology and classics double major? How did that happen?

“When I started at Carolina, I was a biology major on a pre-med track, but I took a Roman archaeology course with the incredible Professor Gerhard Koeppel and was hooked,” he said. “I completed all my pre-med courses, but I decided that medicine wouldn’t be my chosen path.”

After working for several years in independent film and TV commercial production and meeting his wife, Wendi Sturgis, who was working for a tech startup, Yong developed an interest in digital design and technology. Knowing that technology was the future, he enrolled in the intensive multimedia design and production program at New York University and has been with MLB since 2003.

Yong and Sturgis, who is an alumna of Georgia Tech and chair of its advisory board, wanted to support their universities and maximize their impact by giving sooner rather than later. Their gifts are reflective of their passions. In addition to significant planned gifts to the College that benefit scholarships, technology and innovation in the Learning and Writing Center, and diversity initiatives in the department of computer science, the two have created an immediate-use fund for the Learning and Writing Center.

“The Learning and Writing Center is available for all Carolina students at all academic levels, but it is particularly helpful to first generation and transfer students — 40 percent of the students who visit the center are from these two groups,” Yong said. “We believe strongly that all college students, no matter their background, should have every resource available to ensure their ultimate success. We know that a UNC-Chapel Hill degree will change the trajectory of a person’s life forever.”

“I know firsthand the huge impact a strong technical education can have on your life,” Sturgis said. “I strive to be a role model for young women (both at work and with charities), and by creating a computer science diversity initiative fund, I hope to make the path a little easier for women and students from groups traditionally underrepresented in this field to pursue a path in technology.”

Yong said they both feel fortunate that their college experiences shaped their lives in more ways than just academics.

“We felt it was important to make our commitments earlier in life to support the capital campaigns of our universities and to help ensure that our alma maters have the resources they need to continue their commitment to excellence.”

By Mary Moorefield

 

Carolina Quoted

Photo of the Old Well with spring flowers blooming in March 2018 by Donn Young.When national and international media need experts to comment on and analyze news and trends, they turn to Carolina faculty and alumni. Of course, College of Arts & Sciences faculty members often make news of their own with groundbreaking research findings. Here are just a few examples; see more at college.unc.edu.

USA Today

“We are on the verge of becoming a spacefaring species, and I feel privileged to be invited into an extraordinary conversation, pushing the frontiers of science, exploration and discovery at NASA.”

  • Lisa Pratt (botany B.A. ’72, geology M.S. ’79) after being named NASA’s planetary protection officer.

The Washington Post’s “Monkey Cage” blog

“Carrying out executions, it appears, requires specialization and practice. Without specializing in it, few counties can do it.”

  • Frank Baumgartner, political science professor and the author of Deadly Justice: A Statistical Portrait of the Death Penalty.

HuffPost

“There are many misconceptions about OCD. One is that it is only about germs or perfectionism. People with OCD might have a variety of different types of obsessions and compulsions.”

  • Jon Abramowitz, professor of psychology and neuroscience, on what you should know if you love someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

South China Morning Post

“The problem is not population size. It’s poor urban management.”

  • Yan Song, director of the Program on Chinese Cities, on the risks to Chinese megacities.

The New Yorker

“Unlike the rigid columns of numbers that make up a bank ledger, status is always a moving target, because it is defined by ongoing comparisons to others.”

  • Keith Payne, professor of psychology and neuroscience and the author of The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects the Way We Think, Live and Die.

The New York Times

“The only sensible solution — in my view — is to accept the problem and then engage with it, rather than, say, sanitizing the work to remove the problem in the first place.”

  • Tim Carter, music professor, on how Broadway revivals can revive gender stereotypes and romanticize problematic relationships.

 The Local Palate

“What would sustained economic development — respectful and meaningful economic development — look like here? We think it would be around traditional foods and foodways.”

  • Bernie Herman, American studies professor, speaking about Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

UNC’s Air Force ROTC named best small detachment in Southeast

UNC’s Air Force ROTC Detachment 590 was named best small detachment in the Southeast. (photo by Kristen Chavez)

UNC’s Air Force ROTC Detachment 590 was named best small detachment in the Southeast. (photo by Kristen Chavez)

UNC’s Air Force ROTC Detachment 590 was recently named best small detachment in the Southeast region for 2016-2017.

The Southeast Region encompasses 38 detachments in nine states and Puerto Rico, and is the largest region by cadet population in the AFROTC. Detachment 590 currently has 36 cadets.

The award, presented by the United States Air Force, was given based on UNC’s excellent achievements in five assessment categories, including production, education, recruiting and retention, university and public relations, and cadet activities.

The department of aerospace studies and the Air Force ROTC are part of the College of Arts & Sciences and have been on campus since 1947, the year the U.S. Air Force was founded.

UNC’s Detachment 590 has an award-winning history (winning No. 1 small detachment in the Air Force for 2012-2013 and back-to-back wins in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 as best small detachment in the Southeast).

“I’m exceptionally proud of our cadets for their impressive academic, fitness and leadership achievements during academic year 2016-17,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth Cates, department chair and professor of aerospace studies and commander of Detachment 590. “Thanks to the well-rounded experience provided by UNC, Detachment 590 graduates are positively impacting the Air Force now and will for years to come.”

Mathematics’ Yaiza Canzani named a Sloan Fellow ‘rising star’

Yaiza Canzani’s Sloan Fellowship, awarded to “the next generation of scientific leaders,” is the first Sloan for the mathematics department in about 10 years. (photo courtesy of Yaiza Canzani)

Yaiza Canzani’s Sloan Fellowship, awarded to “the next generation of scientific leaders,” is the first Sloan for the mathematics department in about 10 years. (photo courtesy of Yaiza Canzani)

Yaiza Canzani, an assistant professor of mathematics in UNC’s College of Arts & Sciences, has been awarded a 2018 Sloan Research Fellowship.

The fellowships are given to early-career scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them as “rising stars,” the next generation of scientific leaders. The recipients are recognized for being among the very best scientific minds working today. Winners receive a two-year $65,000 fellowship to further their research.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation announced the selection of 126 new Sloan Fellows from 53 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada on Feb. 15. The fellowships have been awarded yearly since 1955. The Sloan is among the most prestigious awards given to young scholars.

“The Sloan Research Fellows represent the very best science has to offer,” said Sloan President Adam Falk. “[They are] the brightest minds, tackling the hardest problems, and succeeding brilliantly — Fellows are quite literally the future of 21st century science.”

Canzani’s research is dedicated to studying solutions to the Schrödinger equation, which was derived by the physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1926. This equation describes how a quantum system evolves over time. Her research focuses on understanding the behavior of wave functions that solve Schrödinger’s equation — the mathematical formulation for studying the energy levels of quantum mechanical systems like atoms.

The Sloan Fellowship will allow her to dedicate more time to this complex research as well as collaborating on this project with several colleagues.

Forty-five previous Sloan fellows have received a Nobel Prize in their respective field, 16 have won the Fields Medal in mathematics, 69 have received the National Medal of Science, and 17 have won the John Bates Clark Medal in economics, including every winner since 2007.

Richard McLaughlin, chair of the mathematics department, said this is exciting news because the last time the department had a Sloan Fellow was about 10 years ago.

“Yaiza’s remarkable results on the Schrödinger equation bridge many areas of mathematics and physics, including partial differential equations, geometry, statistical mechanics, random matrix theory, quantum mechanics and number theory,” McLaughlin said.

Canzani was previously a Benjamin Peirce Fellow at Harvard University and a member of the Institute for Advanced Study. She received her Ph.D. from McGill University.

Read an Endeavors “Women in Science Wednesday” profile on Yaiza Canzani.

Pioneering professor honored for contributions to UNC

#Throwback: This 1986 photo shows Colin Palmer (second row, fourth from right). , with his history department colleagues. That year he became the first African-American to chair a department at UNC. Did you take a class with Professor Palmer? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at college-news@unc.edu. (photo courtesy of Universtiy Libraries)

#Throwback: This 1986 photo shows Colin Palmer (second row, fourth from right). , with his history department colleagues. That year he became the first African-American to chair a department at UNC. Did you take a class with Professor Palmer? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at college-news@unc.edu. (photo courtesy of University Libraries)

Colin Palmer became the first African-American chair of a department at UNC-Chapel Hill when he was appointed to lead the history department in 1986, a post he held until 1991.

Before that, he chaired the curriculum in African and Afro-American studies from 1980 to 1988 and for two years — from 1986 to 1988 — actually led both academic units, a feat that many of his former colleagues still admire today.

“I marveled at how he could chair two units, but he did it effortlessly and also continued to publish as a scholar and teach classes. He did it all wonderfully well,” said history professor Melissa Bullard, who served as director of undergraduate studies during Palmer’s tenure. “He was very fair-minded and helped create an atmosphere of trust and collaboration in the department.”

She hasn’t seen her former colleague in 25 years, but she had an opportunity to welcome him back to campus the week of Feb. 19 for several events in his honor.

“In the context of Black History Month, he stands out as someone who has made very important contributions,” Bullard said.

Colin A. Palmer (left), with history professor Genna Rae McNeil, was honored with the Award for Scholarly Distinction during the 14th annual African-American History Month Lecture. (photo by Jon Gardiner)

Colin A. Palmer (left), with history professor Genna Rae McNeil, was honored with the Award for Scholarly Distinction during the 14th annual African-American History Month Lecture. (photo by Jon Gardiner)

Palmer, a scholar of the African diaspora and Dodge Professor Emeritus of History at Princeton University, was honored at the 14th annual African-American History Month Lecture with the Award for Scholarly Distinction on Feb. 21. He was also named as the most recent honoree of the University’s Bridge Builders scholarships. At the talk, Gerald Horne of the University of Houston discussed “Why Black Lives Do Not Matter: Re-Thinking the Origins of the USA.”

A private luncheon was held on Feb. 20 in Palmer’s honor, and he met with graduate students during his visit to campus.

Palmer said in a phone interview that he is excited about the homecoming and the opportunity to “see old friends and have some good food.” When he first came to UNC-Chapel Hill to chair the curriculum in African and Afro-American studies, it “was undergoing a lot of turmoil,” he said.

He told The Daily Tar Heel in 1980: “My commitment as director is to improve and strengthen academic aspects of the program through a focus on scholarship.”

As he reflected on that time, Palmer said, “I think I succeeded in not only bringing stability to the program but also in elevating its prestige. … It became a department after I left the chairmanship, but I helped to lay the groundwork.”

The curriculum is now known as the department of African, African American and diaspora studies.

A 1989 letter from then-College of Arts & Sciences Dean Gillian Cell to Chancellor Paul Hardin echoed that sentiment. “Under his [Palmer’s] leadership and with the firm support of both my predecessor and myself, the curriculum grew in reputation both on and off campus and became the largest such program in terms of enrollment in the country.”

Palmer won the 1986 Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, and he looks back fondly on his introductory Afro-American studies course.

“When I left teaching, it had grown to around 300 students,” Palmer said. “It was a fun course to teach because I reached black and white students and could laugh with them and challenge them.”

Joseph Jordan, director of the Stone Center, noted that Palmer is being recognized not only for his institutional contributions but his scholarship, calling him “a giant in African-American and diaspora studies.”

“He came along at a time when the field was about to make a turn,” Jordan said. “African-American studies had been around since the mid-’60s, but for the most part any international focus tended to be on Africa. When he came along, he led us toward the diaspora and a new understanding of black people in the world.”

Palmer is the author, editor or co-editor of 17 books. He chronicles the history of the Caribbean in the wake of British and U.S. imperialism in a trilogy of books published by UNC Press — “Freedom’s Children: The 1938 Labor Rebellion and the Birth of Modern Jamaica,” “Cheddi Jagan and the Politics of Power: British Guiana’s Struggle for Independence” and “Eric Williams and the Making of the Modern Caribbean.”

Palmer is currently working on what he calls his final work, a book that “rethinks the history of Jamaica and the history of the West Indies as a whole.”

“I’m looking forward to reading it,” he said with a laugh.

Story by Kim Weaver Spurr ’88

Bautch receives $6 million NIH outstanding investigator award

Victoria Bautch (seated, center) with members of her research lab.

Victoria Bautch (seated, center) with members of her research lab.

Victoria Bautch, chair of the biology department, has been awarded a $6 million Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NIH-NHLBI).

Bautch is the Beverly Long Chapin Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts & Sciences and co-director of the UNC McAllister Heart Institute. She is also a member of the Integrative Program for Biological and Genome Sciences (iBGS) and the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The NIH-NHLBI provides global leadership in research, training and education to prevent and treat heart, lung, blood and sleep disorders.

The award will support the research of Bautch’s lab, which centers on the molecules and processes that control development and disease. The lab’s major focus is the study of how blood vessels form and are patterned during development, and how these processes are disturbed or co-opted during diseases such as cancer.

The project, “Molecular and Cellular Control of Angiogenesis,” will allow Bautch and colleagues to open new directions in understanding how blood vessels form during development and function in the adult.