Thursday, November 5, 2015

Student Angelica Brown Gets Community Impact Award

Junior Angelica Rose Brown has been recognized for outstanding leadership and service by North Carolina Campus Compact, a statewide network of colleges and universities with a shared commitment to community engagement. She is a recipient of the network’s Community Impact Award honoring one student leader at each member school.
Angelica Rose Brown
Brown, who is majoring in psychology and business with a minor in civics, is from Kings Mountain. She is one of 21 students chosen for the 2015 honor, and she joins more than 200 college students recognized by the network since the award was first presented in 2006.
In her first semester at UNC Charlotte, Brown founded a student organization called My Sister’s Keeper. The group works to influence the community by philanthropy and the art of self-expression through dance and step, combining Brown’s artistic and humanitarian passions. Under her leadership, My Sister’s Keeper has raised hundreds of dollars for campus and community charities. She also has served as a program coordinator and teaching assistant for the University’s Psychology Learning Community. In this role, she led community service projects, including Stop Hunger Now and the new Niner Student Food Pantry, where she directs 35 student volunteers.
All Community Impact Award winners will be honored at the annual CSNAP student conference, which will be held Nov. 7 at UNC Pembroke. This event will convene nearly 100 students and staff from more than 20 campuses in the network.  In addition to the awards presentations, the conference will include training on cultural competency, community engagement and the “sustained dialogue” leadership process.
North Carolina Campus Compact, the state affiliate of the national Campus Compact organization, builds the capacity of colleges and universities to produce civically engaged graduates and strengthen communities. Started in 2002 and hosted by Elon University, the statewide network includes 36 public, private and community colleges and universities. UNC Charlotte first joined the compact in 2007.
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Niner Food Pantry Gets New Home

Thursday, October 1, 2015

New York artists's work coming to Rowe Gallery on campus

The UNC Charlotte Department of Art & Art History presents work by acclaimed new-media artists Jennifer and Kevin McCoy. Priests of the Temple 2015 opens in Rowe Galleries on Monday, October 5, with a lecture by the artists at 4:00 pm, followed by an opening reception from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. The exhibition continues through October 30.
Art from the Priests of the Temple 2015 exhibit.
Based in New York City and recipients of a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, the husband and wife duo have exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, P.S.1, The Museum of Modern Art, the New Museum, and in galleries across the United States. International exhibitions include projects at the Pompidou Center, the British Film Institute, the Hanover Kunstverein, the Bonn Kunstverein, and the Hong Kong Arts Center. Their work has been reviewed in major news and art publications, including the New York TimesNewsweek, the Washington PostArtforum, and New York and Wiredmagazines. They have exhibited in Charlotte only once before, at The Light Factory in 1997.
Described by New York magazine as “perennial wizards of little worlds made to look like sculptural panoramas,” the McCoys create unique installations that combine sculpture, portraiture, miniature diorama, and video projection. “There’s simply nothing else quite like the work they do,” wrote Blake Gopnik in a profile of the artists in theWashington Post.
A suite of multi-media works developed during a recent residency at the Headlands Center of the Arts, Priests of the Temple 2015 expands upon a work from a 2012 exhibition at Postmasters Gallery in New York. That “Priest of the Temple” places a photograph of Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel Corporation, and a model of a deteriorating office building into a rugged miniature landscape that evokes Mt. Rushmore and the American West. A tiny embedded video shows a Silicon Valley hotel spa, while a live video projection on a nearby wall creates a kaleidoscopic treatment of the diorama’s elements.
The artists became fascinated by the relationship between Silicon Valley innovation and the libertarian ethic of the American frontier. Priests of the Temple 2015 further explores this relationship, portraying Silicon Valley leaders within the changing landscape of the West.
The McCoys both received MFA degrees in electronic arts from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Jennifer McCoy is a professor at Brooklyn College; Kevin McCoy is a professor at New York University. Learn more about their work at
Rowe Arts building is on the main campus of UNC Charlotte. For parking information and directions, please click here. Free parking is available on October 5.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Pride of Niner Nation Makes Debut

The UNC Charlotte “Pride of Niner Nation” Marching Band is ready for its inaugural season! The band made its debut on August 22 at a special preview for family and donors, followed on August 24 by the New Student Convocation, where it performed the UNC Charlotte Alma Mater and 49ers Fight Song. 

The Pride of Niner Nation marching band.

Beginning with the first home game on September 12, the Pride of Niner Nation will perform pre-game and halftime shows at all Charlotte 49ers home games this fall.

Band members began preparations this summer with a two-week band camp, August 9-22. Under the leadership of Director of Athletic Bands Jeff Miller, the marching band staff, and the Pride of Niner Nation drum majors and section leaders, the musicians and color guard worked 12-hour days to learn the drill.

“We are making history each day, and I love being a part of each step,” says drum major Quinten Wrenn, a music education major. “I am looking forward to all of the "firsts" for the Pride of Niner Nation Marching Band.”

Jeff Miller
The inaugural Pride of Niner Nation is made up of 144 students, representing every college at UNC Charlotte. While most of them are traditional undergraduate students – and 86 are freshmen – there are non-traditional students, as well, including a doctoral candidate in psychology and a retired combat veteran who plays sousaphone. Participating in marching band brings this diverse group together in a special way, says drum major Madelyn Colby, a sophomore communications major.

“What I love most about marching band is the tight-knit community that is formed within. It is such a safe haven where lifelong bonds are built, and it goes along with performing with people. There is absolutely nothing like performing alongside people with whom you share a common goal.”

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

$2 million gift names football promenade

By Leanna Pough

As the fastest growing institution in the UNC system, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte welcomed nearly 28,000 49ers this fall. The university is expected to continue its climb towards becoming an integral part of the economic, social and cultural fabric of the Charlotte region with the Fall 2017 debut of the light rail; but growth isn’t possible without support.

Friday, August 28, 49ers gathered at the Jerry Richardson Stadium for the naming of the Hunter and Stephanie Edwards Promenade. The naming announcement follows a generous donation of $2 million from the couple –both UNC Charlotte graduates.

Edwards notes the changes and expansion of the UNC Charlotte campus since receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Economics.

Stephanie and Hunter Edwards.
“We rode around this place and Wow! What a different facility we have here now than when we did back in the day. It’s impressive,” Edwards says. President and CEO of MSS Solutions, Edwards accredits the UNC Charlotte for much of his adult life.

“I met my wife here, I got a degree finally. I got my first job interview because I had a degree and that started my career path. Without UNC Charlotte, the faculty, the professors, the staff here, I wouldn’t have made it,” Edwards says.

The Edwards’ gift helps lay a foundation of greatness for Charlotte 49ers in their commitment to build champions on and off the field.

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Leanna Pough is a senior Communication Studies major ad intern in the Office of Public Relations.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

High school students do "real science" research

By Wills Citty

Deep underground in a basement auditorium, a high schooler is teaching about nanoparticles. It’s the end of a hot summer spent in cool laboratories for the fortunate juniors and seniors chosen for the research experience at UNC Charlotte. Delivering their presentations marks the culmination of more than a month of study for the six high school students, who were paired with professors to work on complex scientific questions.

The high schoolers were part of a paid internship program offered by UNC Charlotte’s Center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education (CSTEM); it provided them the chance to perform real science on a college campus.

UNC Charlotte faculty researchers worked with
high school interns in a summer research program.
Dawson Hancock, associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Education, said the quality of the students’ research was remarkable. “I was extremely impressed with the methodology and the soundness thereof, the detailed analyses, and the eloquence of the presentations was outstanding.”

The students’ investigations covered a range of scientific spheres. One looked at the possibility of making solar panels more efficient using microscopic silver particles. Another considered ways to improve photodynamic therapy — killing cancer cells with light.

Local student David Mack spent the summer researching how to use Doppler radar to help robots see and navigate better; his presentation, under the supervision of James Conrad, professor of electrical and computer engineering, was entitled “Using Robots and Range Finder Data to Create Navigational Maps.” For Mack, the research was the continuation of years of personal interest.

“Creating information gathering technology has interested me for a long time, since I was five as a matter of fact, and I thought that this experience would be a good opportunity to try my hand at it,” he said.

Victor Mack is the director of the Office of Educational Outreach at UNC Charlotte, and David Mack’s father. The elder Mack led the program from its inception on campus in 1998 through 2006. He said watching his son benefit from the experience was meaningful.

“I'm glad to see the program continue and be supported by the college,” said Mack. “For me, I feel as if I have come full circle. Rare are the opportunities to see our children benefit directly from our labor and excel. I'm extremely proud and thankful.”

The younger Mack said navigating the fast-paced environment of a university laboratory was a new experience, but that his supervising professor was receptive to questions and provided the needed guidance along the way.

A parent who attended the symposium said her son’s “personality changed completely” over the course of the six-week program, and that the experience went a long way to establishing work ethic.

The program was initially created through a National Science Foundation grant as part of a statewide program. That funding dried up, and UNC Charlotte is the only remaining site of the original six that maintains the program; discretionary funding from CSTEM has been used to keep it afloat.

Hancock said the summer research program is in sync with CSTEM’s overarching goals: to heighten the visibility and salience of these topics in the public consciousness.

“The centers were created because STEM wasn’t getting the level of attention it needed,” stated Hancock. “We recognized that in the global economy, the college needed to develop students’ talents and interests at a young age.”

Along with the summer research experience, CSTEM operates a pre-college program that helps prepare students from six nearby counties for math, science and engineering-based careers. The program is affiliated with the North Carolina Mathematics and Science Education Network and coordinated on campus by Shagufta Raja, a pre-college coordinator for CSTEM. It consists of a 12-week Saturday academy that meets during the school year, as well a summer scholars program separate from the more intensive summer research experience.

Hancock, who described these programs as a “win-win,” said, “Participants gain exposure to a university stetting, work with faculty in that environment and engage in depth in areas of STEM in which they are particularly interested. The University gains the benefit of exposing students to our campus, so they can hopefully develop a better understanding of what we have to offer, and maybe one day even become 49ers themselves.”

Concluding presentations by the other high school students were:
·       Kartheek Batchu’s ″Effect of Nanoparticle Sized Silver Paste on Contact Resistance,” supervised by Abasifreke Ebong, professor of electrical and computer engineering.

·       Ethan Wickliff’s ″Screen-printed Solar cell Efficiency Improvement Though use of Appropriate Ag Paste,” supervised by Ebong

·       Bhavana Ambil’s ″Effect of ADP on Actomyosin Dissociation,” supervised by Yuri Nesmelov, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Optical Science

·       Dean Tran’s ″The Use of Radio Waves in Determining Distances,” supervised by Conrad

·       Jared Johnson’s ″Improving Skin Permeation for Photodynamic Therapy,” supervised by Juan Vivero-Escoto, assistant professor of chemistry. 

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Study: Reading Interventions Make Big Impacts, Even Outside of English Class

By Wills Citty

A new College of Education study shows teaching struggling students reading strategies through U.S. history class can improve both reading skills and understanding of the subject itself.

The study, published in the journal Exceptional Children, was conducted in partnership with researchers at the University of California, Riverside. It looked at the effects of targeted reading intervention for eighth grade history students who read well below grade level. Half of the students in the study were English language learners, and half received special education services.

Over the course of the 15-week study, participants in some cases made significant gains through comparatively low-impact support.

A new study shows that reading intervention works.
Struggling readers who received just 5-15 minutes of daily direct, interactive vocabulary instruction were able to define more academic vocabulary words than their average performing peers who received incidental instruction from the classroom teacher,” said study co-author Dr. Kristen Beach, who spoke on behalf of the UNC Charlotte contingent.

Beach, an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education and Child Development, and departmental colleague Dr. Lindsay Flynn helped develop the program. The pair trained classroom teachers on reading techniques and documented the results of their deployment in the classroom.
Students were taught the meanings of academic terms, how to break down complicated words, and critically for history class, to understand cause-and-effect relationships.

“The cause-effect text structure is among the most important for readers to understand in history, since history is often defined by sequenced and causally-connected events. Unfortunately, the cause-effect text structure is also among the most difficult for struggling readers to grasp,” said Beach.

After learning strategies to identify and organize cause-effect relationships, struggling readers performed as well as average performing peers on a task that required picking out cause and effect in a new passage, the study found.

Integrating reading instruction into classes other than English may thus be a real answer for students without the foundational skills to succeed; on the other hand, doing so may also be a source of consternation for teachers dealing with limited resources.

Beach noted that while most instructors came to recognize the value of integrating reading instruction into their history class, at first some were skeptical about dedicating time to non-core material.

However, “the decision to teach reading skills or subject-area content isn’t necessarily a catch-22,” Beach said, “In fact, infusing instruction on word reading, vocabulary, and text structure into content area classrooms can be feasible and is often at harmony with content area teachers’ goals: to teach content knowledge and critical thinking skills.”

The numbers back up that argument.

Study participants improved by an average 20 points in teacher-created history finals. That’s a striking statistic, Beach said.

“These improvements are particularly impressive given [our study’s] instruction supplanted the teacher’s typical instruction and did focus more on strategies for reading rather than on instruction to improve content area knowledge.”

 The study was a cooperative effort between university scholars and the middle school teachers who agreed to participate. Researchers and teachers met throughout to talk about which strategies worked and which didn’t. And tactics were modified and improved base on these review sessions.

“Our goal was to design instruction that was effective, manageable, and complimentary with teachers’ existing classroom goals and practices. By doing so, we maximized the likelihood that the resulting intervention would be sustained in the school building after our particular study ended,” Beach said.

The broad based reading strategies employed in the study are part of preservice special education teacher training at UNC Charlotte.  In response to educator feedback, Beach and study co-author Flynn are working with a College of Education colleague to develop a program that teaches class-specific reading skills.

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Willis Citty is Director of Communication for the College of Education.