Congratulations from the Office of Sponsored Research and Programs Published: Monday, May 16, 2011
Dr. Xiaoxin Chen, associate professor in the Julius L. Chambers Biomedical/Biotechnology Research Institute, has received a grant of $275,000 from the N.C. Biotechnology Center to develop a model of human gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and Barrett’s esophagus (BE) using the esophagus of a pig. Esophageal adenocarcinoma, the most rapidly increasing cancer in this country, occurs as a result of GERD and BE.
Dr. Cecelia Steppe-Jones has received a grant of $49,250 from the UNC General Administration to improve students’ performance at Hillside New Tech High School in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The program includes mentor relationships, online courses for high school freshman and the development of a blended learning model for teachers, combining online and face-to-face instruction.
Dr. Antonio Baines and NCCU Undergrad Melony Ochein Win Cancer Research Awards The faculty member being honored is Antonio T. Baines. The student is Melony Ochieng, a junior. Published: Tuesday, April 19, 2011
A biology professor and an undergraduate student at North Carolina Central University have received awards for their cancer research from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). They will make presentations about their findings at the association’s annual meeting April 2–6 in Orlando, Fla.
The faculty member being honored is Antonio T. Baines, an assistant professor of biology with a joint appointment in the cancer program at NCCU’s Julius L. Chambers Biomedical/Biotechnology Research Institute (BBRI). His award recognizes his research aimed at identifying specific molecules within cells that are involved in the growth of tumors in the pancreas and are potential targets for new drugs to disrupt the growth. He is a recipient of AACR’s Minority-Serving Institution Faculty Scholar Award. The awards go to scientists at historically black colleges and universities and other institutions with high percentages of minority students.
The student is Melony Ochieng, a junior with a double major in pharmaceutical science and chemistry. In research supervised by Darlene K. Taylor, assistant professor of chemistry, Ochieng is developing a method for delivering a breast cancer drug in a way that reduces adverse side effects. Her award is the AACR – Thomas J. Bardos Award Science Education Award for Undergraduate Students.
Baines, who came to North Carolina in 2001 as a postdoctoral fellow at UNC–Chapel Hill, joined the NCCU faculty in 2006. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Norfolk State University in 1995 and a Ph.D. in pharmacology and toxicology from the University of Arizona in 2001.
Baines’ research involves understanding the interactions among proteins and how they control the functions of a cell. The science is complex, but he describes the goal in straightforward terms. “We’re trying to find targets that can be hit with drugs to treat or slow the growth of the cancer,” he says. “Normal cells have a variety of signaling pathways that control what the cell does — grow, divide, release hormones, and so on. They need to be regulated — you want them to turn on and off at certain times. I’m now focusing on one particular target, an enzyme called Pim-kinase that activates other proteins.”
Ochieng is a native of Kenya whose family emigrated to the United States and settled in Durham when she was a child. She and her mentor, Dr. Taylor, are working with a drug called Fulvestrant, which has been proven effective against a common kind of breast cancer but has numerous unpleasant side effects. It is normally injected, but it is not easily absorbed by the body. Ochieng is developing a way to administer the drug via a polymer delivery system, which will increase solubility and improve absorption. That would allow it to be given in smaller doses with fewer side effects. Ochieng and Taylor have obtained a provisional patent for their delivery system.
“I’ve been working on this since I was a freshman,” Ochieng said. “When I graduate, I want to be able to think on my own, to conduct my own research.” After her graduation in May 2012, Ochieng said she hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry. She has worked as a research intern the past two summers, at UNC–Chapel Hill after her freshman year and at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland, last summer. This summer, she has been accepted for a prestigious internship at the Broad Institute at Harvard and MIT.
NCCU Undergrads present at Research in the Triangle Published: Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Each April when the NC General Assembly is in session, 60-100 students from 16 campuses of the University of North Carolina system travel to Raleigh to demonstrate and discuss their research experiences with North Carolina legislators.
The 5th "Research in the Capital" symposium will take place on Wednesday, April 13, 2011.
The goals of the symposium are to highlight the important role of original student research, scholarship and creative performance in undergraduate education, and the ensuing benefits to the state.
NCCU Participants are:
MaKendra Umstead - Pharmaceutical Sciences Discovering the Function of EaF82 -Expression of Golden Pothos Gene EaF82 in Model Plants (Arabidopsis thaliana and Nicotiana tabacum)
Catherine Wooten - Pharmaceutical Sciences Development of a selection scheme for the identification of DNA aptamers that bind to Hedgehog protein
Jaouad Mamouni - Pharmaceutical Sciences Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes Coupled with Near-Infrared Laser for Inactivation of Bacterial Cells
Timberly Butler - Public Health Education LinCS 2 Durham: Linking Communities and Scientists to Durham HIV Prevention
Select undergraduate students from each of the University’s 17 constituent institutions will present at Research in the Capital on Wednesday, April 13, 2011. This biennial event at the NC General Assembly provides state legislators the opportunity to meet undergraduate researchers and to learn about their efforts to address social, economic and cultural issues impacting our state.
The 2011 Research in the Capital event coincides with National Undergraduate Research Week, as declared by US Congress. Leaders at all levels recognize the ensuing benefits of undergraduate research to the participants, their communities, and the nation.
Among many other benefits, undergraduate research experiences have been found to increase intellectual gains and academic achievement, the retention of minority students, and interest in pursuing advanced degrees.
Congratulations from the Office of Sponsored Research Published: Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Dr. Kevin Williams, associate professor in the Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE), has been awarded a grant of $362, 905 from the National Cancer Institute to identify novel anti-cancer therapeutics.
Dr. Liju Yang, assistant professor at BRITE, has received a grant of $6,300 from the National Science Foundation to make a presentation at the Institute of Biological Engineering (IBE) annual conference in Atlanta. Yang’s presentation is titled “Biosensors, Biochips and Micro/Nano Devices Symposium.” The symposiums provide undergraduate and graduate students opportunities to present their research and to interact with engineers, scientists, technologists and educators in the biological engineering community.
Congratulations from the Office of Sponsored Research Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Dr. David Jolly, chair of the Department of Public Health Education, received a $8,400 grant from the United Way of the Greater Triangle to implement the “Heart Healthy Lay Community Health Worker Project.” The project will provide training and ongoing support to eight lay community health workers. Participants will be recruited from residents of the Durham Housing Authority.
Dr. David Kroll, chair of Pharmaceutical Sciences in BRITE, has received a grant of $232,126 from the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of General Medical Sciences for the NCCU RISE program. The program goal is to increase the number of students majoring in biology, chemistry, pharmaceutical sciences and psychology that attain doctoral degrees and proceed to postdoctoral research training.
Dr. Kizhanipuram Vinodgopal, chair of the Chemistry Department, has received a grant of $4,414 from Purdue University to develop an advanced electric drive vehicle education program. The program will develop a modular curriculum for electrochemical systems to be used in both undergraduate and high school chemistry curriculum and delivered in a distance education platform.
From records to boom boxes to CDs and iPods, music has long been part of the lifeblood of being a teenager. Learning math and science in class is not always such a priority.
Parag Chordia, director of the Music Intelligence Lab at Georgia Tech, is finding ways to bring those two disparate realities together.
"How can music be used to think about scientific problems, how can music be used to sort of catalyze our thinking in other areas?" asks Chordia.
With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Chordia is researching the neurological roots of the creative process. And music is a key ingredient.
"We've never found a culture that has no language--we've never found a culture that has no music. So, music seems to be universal," he says.
While music and arts programs are often the first subjects to be cut when school budgets are tight, Chordia says that may not be the best strategy.
"To be a great engineer; to really produce innovative products and to advance the frontiers of science, you have to be creative. And it's not just that music is a diversion or an extracurricular, but it's actually something that's fundamental to life and mind," he says.
"One of the difficulties of teaching math and science is that it quickly becomes very abstract. You have to have points of reference that people can relate to and it becomes much easier. So, whether we're talking about teaching basic mathematical concepts, or designing experiments, you can design experiments around music," he explains.
Statistics, for instance, can be used to model music.
U54 Alcohol Studies Request for Pre-proposals Published: Friday, August 26, 2011
Request for Pre-proposals: Faculty interested in developing an alcohol research program at NCCU are invited to submit a one page pre-proposal due December 1 that includes preliminary data to support their proposed project to Dr. Gregory Cole (email@example.com). Current research funded by a U54 partnership with UNC’s Bowles Alcohol Center is focused on mechanisms of alcohol pathology, specifically in the areas of cancer biology and neuroscience. Pre-proposals for full projects ($120,000 per year for three years) or pilot projects ($75,000 per year for three years) should address novel mechanisms of alcohol pathology, especially as it relates to health disparities. It is anticipated that one full project and two pilot projects will be funded starting August 1, 2012. Contact Dr. Cole, Professor and Chair, Department of Biology for further information.
Dedication of the Dr. Charles A Sanders Corridor Published: Friday, October 28, 2011
A long-time friend of Julius L Chambers, JLC-BBRI and North Carolina Central University, Dr. Charles Sanders recently received another well-deserved honor with a dedication ceremony on September 15, 201. The second floor corridor of JLC-BBRI now bears his name. The continued mutual respect and appreciation between Dr. Chambers and Dr. Sanders was tangible as they both gave their brief remarks to an invited audience. The wheelchair bound Dr. Sanders was warm, upbeat, humorous and gracious in his acceptance. For those invited who may have met him for the first time, it became obvious why Charlie Sanders has been so well-loved and respected.
Doctoral Program Planned in Biosciences By Rob Waters Published: Monday, October 31, 2011
The UNC Board of Governors gave NCCU the green light this spring to plan a doctoral program in integrated biosciences. If the planning proceeds on schedule, the program would accept its first students in fall 2012 and could award its first doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees four years later. They would be the first Ph.D.s awarded by the university in more than 50 years.
According to NCCU’s proposal, the interdisciplinary doctorate would be housed in the College of Science and Technology, and would draw on the resources of NCCU’s Julius L. Chambers Biomedical/Biotechnology Research Institute (BBRI), the Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE) and the School of Library and Information Sciences. The curriculum will include offerings from the life sciences, physical sciences, computation and information sciences, pharmaceutical sciences and mathematics.
The decision to offer a Ph.D. in these areas reflects NCCU’s growing research capacity in health disparities and drug discovery, said Hazell Reed, vice chancellor for research and economic development. “That’s where our strengths are,” he said, “We have the faculty in place to do it, and we have state-of-the-art research and laboratory facilities. We’re determined to build a very, very strong program in integrated biosciences that is competitive with and in the country.”
Research involving health disparities − the gaps between the health status of the nation’s racial and ethnic minorities compared with the population as a whole − has been explicitly part of the mission of BBRI since it opened in 1999, and a key focus of other NCCU science and public health programs for decades.
NCCU expects the program to reach an enrollment of about 20 full-time students in its fourth year of operation, and to graduate about five per year. An additional aim of the program is to expand the number of minority scientists, particularly African-Americans, in biomedical research. A recent report by the National Science Foundation noted that African-Americans make up about 12 percent of the U.S. population, but account for only 3 percent of the work force of scientists and engineers.
“We want good students, period, without regard to race or ethnicity,” Reed said, “but NCCU has a commitment to drawing more minorities and women into the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines. We want to ensure that we have a diverse student body.”
NCCU had a doctoral program in the mid-20th century that was short-lived but historically significant. From 1955 to 1964, five people earned the Ph.D. from the institution then known as North Carolina College at Durham, all in the field of education. The degree received in 1955 by Walter M. Brown, a future dean of the NCCU School of Education, was the first Ph.D. awarded by a historically black college or university in the United States. As of the late 1960s, North Carolina College and Howard University were the only black institutions to have awarded the degree.
Jerry Gershenhorn, associate professor of history at NCCU, wrote about the early Ph.D. program in 2005 article titled “Stalling Integration: The Ruse, Rise and Demise of North Carolina College’s Doctoral Program in Education, 1951-1962,” published in North Carolina Historical Review. As the title indicates, the program was thoroughly enmeshed in the racial politics of the era.
Gershenhorn makes clear that the Ph.D. program was essentially imposed on NCC in 1951 by officials at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Many black leaders attacked it as a transparent attempt to exclude qualified black students from pursuing higher degrees at UNC and to generally delay integration of higher education throughout the state. NCC President Alfonso Elder opposed it as well, saying that the college’s facilities were inadequate to support the Ph.D. and that it diverted resources from more urgent needs.
“Elder sought to make the best of the situation and ensure adequate funding when he realized that the Ph.D. program was a fait accompli,” Gershenhorn wrote. From all accounts, the program was rigorous. A dozen UNC professors joined the North Carolina College faculty in advising and teaching the doctoral students. But Elder’s reservations persisted. In 1961, when he was the sole African-American member of a state commission on higher education set up by Gov. Terry Sanford, he recommended that the program be discontinued, and the commission agreed.
Half a century later, as a much-changed North Carolina Central University prepares to launch a Ph.D. program, there are no doubts about readiness or the adequacy of resources. The labs and teaching facilities are new and top-of-the-line. The faculty is widely respected for its groundbreaking work in health disparities research, cancer research and drug development.
“The whole political and social context is different,” Gershenhorn said in a recent interview. “NCCU is becoming an important player in scientific research.”
In the 1950s, he noted, black influence was severely limited. Poll taxes, literacy tests and other obstacles restricted the number of black voters, and black colleges had no influence in the state legislature. “The biggest difference,” he said, “is political.”
NCCU's Young Pharmaceutical Science Program Is Attracting Research Grants, Developing Drug, And Producing Extraordinary Students
By Rob Waters And Myra Wooten
The Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise, better known by its more manageable acronym of BRITE, is hitting its stride.
BRITE is the home of North Carolina Central University's pharmaceutical sciences program. It admitted its first students in 2007 while still housed in the Mary M. Townes Science Building. The award-winning BRITE facility, financed by $20.1 million from the Golden LEAF Foundation, opened in 2008. Ongoing support from the state and from Golden LEAF, the foundation created to promote economic development with proceeds from North Carolina’s share of the national tobacco settlement, has totaled about $55 million to date, and has been essential in the startup phase.
Now the investment is beginning to pay off. Research grants have begun to flow from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and other sources. The drug-discovery pipeline is up and running; BRITE generated two patent applications and five provisional applications in 2010.
And there’s another, more important, indicator of success. The heart of BRITE’s mission is teaching − providing students with scientific education and technical skills for careers in the pharmaceutical and related industries and in research. That is clearly happening. The program’s early graduates are thriving in the workplace and the research lab. And current students are making significant discoveries even before they graduate.
BRITE is an unusual program in many respects, bet here are three that stand out:
The undergraduate lab module. Students are required to complete 12 credit hours in the laboratory. In their senior year, they work with a faculty member on a specific project in the biomanufacturing sciences. “Yes, it’s expensive,” says Dr. Li-An Yeh, director of BRITE, “but it’s so useful. It gives our students a competitive advantage. They arrive ready to get to work.”
A faculty with private-sector experience: More than twothirds of the faculty and staff have spent a significant portion of their careers in private industry. They know the ins and outs of the business for which they are training the students.
Close ties to industry: An essential part of producing graduates who get good jobs is to know the job market. A key member of the team is Linda Love, BRITE’s industrial relations manager. She builds relationships with companies, especially those in the Triangle, to learn what jobs are out there and what employers are looking for.
The numbers tell the story one way. Of 21 BRITE students who received the bachelor’s degrees from 2008 through spring of 2011, 60 percent are working in biomanufacturing or biotech, and 40 percent are pursuing advanced degrees. Of the 20 recipients of master’s degrees, 20 percent are working in those industries and 70 percent are working on advanced degrees.
Another way to tell the story is through the experiences of individual students. Here are some of them − an extraordinarily varied group. What they have in common are talent and success.
Marquita Lilly| Master’s Program, Entering Second Year
Lilly was 9 years old when her dad bought her a microscope. “I’ve been hooked ever since,” she said. She is now in the second year of the master’s program at BRITE, on track to graduate in May. Born in Fayetteville, she earned her bachelor’s degree at UNC-Pembroke with a double major in biology and chemistry. She then worked for three years as a chemist at Hospira, a pharmaceutical company in Clayton.
She was drawn to BRITE by the small class size, which she says fosters close collaboration with researchers and professors who have industry experience. “They want you to do well,” she said. “They go out of their way to make it happen.”
Assistant Professor Liju Yang has been an especially helpful mentor, Lilly said. Yang has a grant from the Army Research Office to study ways to protect military and emergency personnel from anthrax exposure. Under Yang’s supervision, Lilly is working on a project to inactivate spores of the anthrax bacteria using carbon nanotubes − extremely tiny tubes formed by carbon atoms. “This research will lead to protection of military and first-line emergency personnel at high risk of anthrax exposure,” Lilly said. She and Yang work with a nonlethal strain of anthrax.
Lilly landed a summer 2011 internship at Liquidia Technologies, a company in Research Triangle Park that develops advanced vaccines. “In five years,” she said, “I want to be working in research and development at a major pharmaceutical company − after I complete a joint PharmD/Ph.D. program.”
Margie Parker | B.S., Summa Cum Laude, May 2011
If you are planning a party, Margie Parker can tell you exactly how many balloons you’ll need for a centerpiece. She can also characterize proteins involved in cancer proliferation.
Before Parker came to NCCU, she and her husband, Lowell Parker, owned and operated a party store in Kernersville, N.C. After 15 years, she was ready for a change. They sold the business and she enrolled at Forsyth Tech in Winston-Slem, where she earned an associate’s degree in biotechnology.
But finding a job with just an associate’s degree in a struggling economy was tough. So she and her mentor at Forsyth Tech, Russel Read, attended a career fair at NCCU, where they met industrial relations manager Love. “She asked me if I had given any thought to earning my four-year degree, and I told her I was too old to go back to school,” said Parker, who was 56 at the time. But Love was persistent and offered a full scholarship. “Knowing that the university was willing to make that type of investment,” Parker said, “there is no way I could turn it down.”
She arrived a NCCU clearly focused on acquiring the skills needed in biotech manufacturing. That’s where BRITE’s lab moule came in. The requirement that pharm sciences majors earn 12 credit hours in the lab means that for at least two semesters, they’re in the lab for about 20 hours a week.
“It’s part of the curriculum,” Parker said, “a strong transition point between the classroom and the real world.”
Under the supervision of Associate Professor Kevin Williams, Parker sharpened her skills at handling proteins. “I work with proteins to determine their structure and function − how they work in the body and interact,” she said. “We find out as much as we can about the protein so we can make it interact with other compounds.”
Parker graduated in May with a perfect 4.0 GPA and was confident of finding work in the Triangle. Indeed, within a month, she was snapped up by Biogen Idec, a multinational company with a manufacturing plant in Research Triangle Park. And at age 58, she has embarked on a new career.
“It is never too late to make a change,” Parker said.
MaKendra Umstead | B.S., May 2011, Summa Cum Laude
Umstead had plenty to celebrate on graduation day in May. She received her degree with highest honors. She had a 4.0 GPA. She was a Chancellor’s Scholar and recipient of the Soaring Eagles scholarship, the Chancellor’s Award for Academic Excellence and the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences Academic Excellence award for a senior.
She says her accomplishments are just steppingstones to her ultimate goal and personal mission, finding a cure for breast cancer. She spent the summer as an intern at Merck’s research lab in boston and is now enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Emory University in Atlanta.
The motivation behind her determination is her mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer when Umstead was in high school.
“Watching her go through chemo, I wanted to do something to help,” Umstead said. The first thing she did was earn a scholarship to college. “I wanted to relieve my parents of that burden, and they have always taught me to work hard and do better.”
A native of Cary, Umstead is a graduated of Southeast Raleigh High School, noted for its strong science and technology programs. She had plenty of college options − she was accepted at UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke, East Carolina and N.C. State. She chose NCCU because of the warm community she found when she visited the campus. “I love this university, and every chance I get I am recruiting students and telling them why I came to NCCU,” she said.
At BRITE, starting in her sophomore year, Umstead worked closely with Assistant Professor Jiahua “Jay” Xie on a variety of plant biology projects. One involved identifying genes involved in developing chlorophyll in a plant called golden pothos. The long-term goal is to identify proteins in plants similar to human proteins that can be used to treat diseases.
Kevin Davis| M.S., May 2011, Summa Cum Laude
Davis thought he wanted to be a schoolteacher. A native of Clinton, N.C., he earned a B.A. in social sciences at Fayetteville State. But after a year in the classroom, he decided it wasn’t his career path.
So, it was on to Plan B: pharmacy school or pharmaceutical research. He returned to Fayetteville State for two years of higher-level science courses, then headed up the road to Durham.
“I had heard good things about BRITE,” he said.
His master’s thesis project, supervised by Associate Professor Kevin Williams, involved a human protein known as PDK1. The protein affects cell survival and growth − including growth of the abnormal, cancerous kind. Much of modern cancer research focuses on finding ways to disrupt the chemical processes within cells that lead to tumor growth and metastasis. Working with Williams, Davis developed tests to identify compounds that react with PDK1. “We’re looking for ways to disrupt the over stimulation process,” he said.
Davis hoped he would not need to venture outside the Triangle in his job search after graduation. By early summer, he was working as a bioprocess technician in Durham in the labs of Merck − one of Linda Love’s “repeat customers.”
“There’s strong support at NCCU in looking for jobs, and BRITE is especially good with that,” he said. “Kevin Williams, Linda Love, Sam Lamson (a senior scientist) − all these guys try to help you out.”
Jaouad Mamouni | B.S., May 2011, Summa Cum Laude
Many BRITE students have taken unconventional paths to the NCCU campus. But even among this group, Jaouad Mamouni stands out. Born in Morocco, Mamouni was studying plant biology at Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University when he experienced a live-changing event: He hit the lottery.
No, it wasn’t an instant-riches lottery. It was the U.S. State Department’s Diversity Visa Lottery − the “green card lottery.” Each year, the program offers permanent residency and a path to citizenship to 50,000 immigrants, chosen at random from about 10 million who apply. The only requirement is that they come from a country that is underrepresented in the immigrant pool.
After starting out in New York City, Mamouni soon made his way to North Carolina, where some friends lived. With no more specific plan than getting some education and a job, he enrolled first at Johnston Community College, then at Wake Tech. Along the way, he met another student from Morocco who was majoring in chemistry at NCCU and who spoke highly of the new program getting started at BRITE.
That was in 2007. In May Mamouni graduated summa cum laude − one of five BRITE students to share in biomanufacturing at N.C. State University, on a full scholarship.
At NCCU, he conducted research involving biosensors and nanotechnology under the supervision of Dr. Liju Yang. He is full of praise for Yang and the BRITE program. “You get so much hands-on experience,” he said. “That’s really unusual for undergraduates. And if you get good results, your supervising professor can publish the findings in an academic journal. I had two publications as an undergraduate − and was listed as first author in one and second author in another.”
Meloney Ochieng | Senior
Ochieng is on track to graduate in May 2012 with a double major in pharmaceutical sciences and chemistry. In research supervised by Darlene K. Taylor, assistant professor of chemistry, Ochieng is developing a method for delivering a breast cancer drug in a way that reduces adverse side effects.
She and Taylor are working with a drug called Fulvestrant, which has been proven effective against a common kind of breast cancer but has unpleasant side effects. It is normally injected, but is not easily absorbed by the body. Ochieng is developing a way to administer the drug via a polymer delivery system, which will increase solubility and improve absorption. That would allow it to be given in smaller doses with fewer side effects. Ochieng and Taylor have obtained a provisional patent for their system.
”I’ve been working on this since I was a freshman,” said Ochieng, who moved with her family to United States form Kenya when she was a child. “When I graduate, I want to be able to think on my own, to conduct my own research.”
After graduating, Ochieng said she hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry. She has worked as a research intern the past three summers, starting at UNC-Chapel Hill after her freshman year. The next summer found her at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland. And in 2011, she landed a prestigious internship at the Broad Institute at Harvard and MIT.
NCCU is an ideal place to study science, she said. “At a big research university, undergraduates have a hard time gaining access to labs. And many smaller colleges don’t have the sophisticated equipment we have here. So this is just right − especially if you have a professor like Dr. Taylor who sets the bar so high.”
Ana E. Berglind | B.S., May 2011, Summa Cum Laude
Ana Berglind was another of Linda Love’s recruits form the state community college system. The two met when Love was visiting Asheville-Buncombe Tech to promote BRITE.
Born in Mazatlan, Mexico, Berglind came to United at age 9 − first to California and then to Asheville when her father moved there for his job. She completed two associate degrees at Asheville-Buncombe Tech.
She thrived at BRITE. Majoring in pharmaceutical sciences with a minor in chemistry, she graduated in May summa cum laude. In summer, she began working as a technician at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Mass., and she is taking graduate courses at MIT. The job and the classes place her on a trajectory to enter a Ph.D. program in 2013.
“BRITE gives us an environment comparable to corporate facilities,” Berglind said. “You can enter a job with confidence because you’re already familiar with the equipment. BRITE doesn’t just expose us to this environment, it forces us to be introduced to it.”
In her research at BRITE, supervised by Associate Professor Gordon Ibeanu, Berglind examined a protein linked to Parkinson’s disease to determine whether it also was linked to Alzheimer’s. As with cancer, the cellular changes involved with development of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s occur via signaling pathways − sequences of chemical reactions involving proteins. The goal is to develop drugs to disrupt the process. “Research is asking a question,” she said. “And the answer can lead to a thousand more questions.”
Bronwyn Holliday | B.S., May 2010
Out in the workforce for more than a year now, Bronwyn Holliday is well embarked on her second career, this time as a plant biologist. After working as a chef for more than 20 years in Mississippi and western North Carolina, she enrolled at Asheville-Buncombe Tech and earned her associate degree.
“Then I moved my whole family to Durham so I could go to BRITE,” Holliday said. “Dr. Jay Xie worked very closely with me during my senior year. I got a lot of help from my professors. The lab module gave us a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace.”
She graduated with a B.S. in pharmaceutical sciences in 2010 and was soon hired by GrassRoots Biotechnology, a small company in Durham. She is part of a team that manipulates genes in plant roots in an effort to develop plants that are stronger and better able to grow in harsh conditions.
“She arrived ready to go,” said Doug Eisner, GrassRoots co-founder and chief operating officer. “She was tremendously skilled in the lab, and she had a deep understanding of the science behind the experiments. We got an exceptional student trained by an exceptional professor.”
NSF Day at NC State University Published: Friday, January 13, 2012
SAVE THE DATE
NSF Day at NC State University
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
We are pleased to announce that NC State University will host NSF Day on Tuesday, February 28, 2012.
The one-day workshop targets "researchers and educators less experienced in proposing to the NSF and others starting or restarting a research career,” as well as experienced researchers and NSF grantees interested in receiving information from NSF directorate representatives. We also look forward to networking with our colleagues from across North Carolina at the networking session following the formal presentations.
Representatives from seven NSF directorates, the Office of International Science and Engineering, and the Office of Integrative Activities will make presentations on their programs and also be available in breakout sessions for discussions of potential research proposals. The attached NSF Day agenda lists the visiting program directors and can also be viewed on the NC State NSF Day website: go.ncsu.edu/nsf-day .
Please visit the NC State NSF Day website (go.ncsu.edu/nsf-day) to register ($40) by February 17, 2012.
North Carolina Central University (NCCU), a state-supported liberal arts institution, was chartered in 1909 as a private institution and opened to students on July 10, 1910. It was founded by Dr. James E. Shepard. NCCU was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools as an “A” class institution in 1937 and was admitted to membership in that association in 1957. The General Assembly of 1939 authorized the establishment of graduate work in liberal arts and the professions. Pursuant thereto, graduate courses in the Arts and Sciences were first offered in that same year; the School of Law began operation in 1940, and the School of Library Science was established in 1941.
The School of Graduate Studies at NCCU is organized by subject matter departments which offer graduate instruction leading to advanced degrees. The School of Graduate Studies confers degrees through the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, School of Education, School of Library and Information Sciences, and School of Law. The College of Arts and Sciences includes programs in the liberal arts and in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines.
The mission of the School of Graduate Studies is to provide world-class education and to produce leaders that are culturally sensitive and engaged in their respective fields of study.