Nothing nano about dean's task
James G. Ryan
Dr. James G. Ryan has his work cut out for him as the founding dean of the UNCG and NC A&T Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN).
Ryan, who has been on the job since mid-July, will guide JSNN's creation, from the hiring of its faculty to participating in the design of its building at the south campus of Gateway University Research Park. Until its permanent home is completed in 2010, the joint school will have space at the research park in the U.S. Department of Agriculture building.
My vision for the JSNN is to make it one of the premier education and research institutions in the world, Ryan says.
There are many challenges facing the JSNN, but perhaps the most challenging aspect of this project is the large number of stakeholders, including the universities, the community and state, as well as the UNC system. Many aspects of this project have not been previously attempted elsewhere in the country, and so we’ll be breaking new ground that may potentially influence how other collaborations are done in the future.
The N.C. General Assembly has already committed $58 million for the school's capital needs and $2.9 million in annually recurring funds. An architectural firm has been selected to design the building.
It will be a building that shows that Greensboro will be a gateway for high technology, Ryan says.
When it opens, the joint school will train master's and doctoral students to conduct basic and applied research in nanoscience and nanoengineering. Faculty research will have potential for technology transfer to pharmaceutical, biotechnology and nanotechnology companies in North Carolina.
Ryan came from the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the University of Albany, where he was associate vice president of technology. Prior to CNSE, he worked at IBM from 1979 until 2005 and was designated an IBM Master Inventor. Among numerous laurels, he received 17 Invention Achievement Awards, an IBM Patent Portfolio Award and two Outstanding Technical Achievement Awards for interconnection technology innovations.
Not your ordinary camp
UNCG Dream Camp
A freckle-faced redhead steps forward.
Hi. My name is Chris, he says hesitantly, staring down at his feet.
Chris and his friends have been playing a board game and talking about how to deal with teasing. Someone asks what he has learned.
He responds with enthusiasm: If someone says something bad about my shirt, I can just say something lighthearted like, Yeah, it is a pretty silly looking shirt, isn't it?
Chris and the other youngsters spending a summer morning at the UNCG Dream Camp have at least one thing in common they have all been diagnosed with Asperger's Disorder.
Although researchers are still uncertain about the causes of Asperger's, it is now understood as an Autism Spectrum Disorder that affects 4 to 7 of every 1,000 children, the majority of whom are boys. Children with Asperger's are often mislabeled and misunderstood. They are also difficult to diagnose, partly because of symptom overlap with ADHD, depression and anxiety disorders.
Dr. Susan Keane, a UNCG psychology professor, supervises care for children diagnosed with Asperger's at the UNCG Psychology Clinic. The clinic recently has seen a threefold increase in Asperger's referrals, Keane said. Parents are really hungry for any information about where it came from and how to treat it.
In response to parent requests for more help, Keane, 12 of her clinical PhD students, and a dedicated parent interest group launched the Dream Camp pilot program this summer.
From scavenger hunts to learn how to follow directions, to peer-pressure tug-of-war to learn to combat negative peer influences, each camp activity was designed to teach new skills in a developmentally-appropriate, game-like environment. Building crucial social skills was the name of the game at Dream Camp.
Dream Camp also sought to determine the effectiveness of social skills training with children with Asperger's. Although some similar camps exist across the nation, a reliable treatment program that consistently helps children with these problems has not been established.
Hopefully, with the implementation of programs such as Dream Camp and simultaneous research examining child improvements, these programs can improve and grow in number, Keane said.
Window on the past
Folks have been giving the Julius Foust Building double-takes for several months now.
The reason: green and maroon trim colors that haven't been seen in over a century. The red-brick icon's original trim is being reapplied as part of a major window restoration that should be complete by year-end.
Instead of replacing the existing wood windows, the UNCG design team decided to repair and repaint them to preserve the historic fabric of the building.
Foust Building is UNCG's oldest, most architecturally significant building, dating back to the opening of the campus in 1892. Originally called Main Building, it was designed in the Romanesque style by Epps & Hackett Architects, and was completed in 1895. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Double Hung, LLC, a Greensboro-based company that does historic window renovation all over the Southeast, advised the design team during planning and construction.
Selecting the new colors for the windows and trim involved a trip back in history. An architectural conservator was hired to analyze samples of existing paint to determine the original colors used to trim the windows and wood.
The conservator found that the window frames including architraves, jambs, stops, sills and transom bars were painted a medium green, while the window sashes were painted a dark maroon. Both were incorporated into the design and are the colors you see on the building. Wood trim on the gable ends is also being painted to match the new window colors.
Easing side effects of chemo
UNCG and the NC Nanotech Accelerator (NCNA) have joined forces to develop a treatment for cancerous tumors that could reduce the side effects, such as hair loss and nausea, associated with current treatment methods.
Developed in UNCG's Center for Research Excellence in Nanobiosciences (CREN), this is the first innovation licensed to the NC NanoAccelerator, a resource designed to provide new technologies a quick route to commercialization. The work will be done in a newly formed company, Thermiacure Corp.
The novelty of the new technology stems from its potential to deliver cancer-killing treatment directly to various tumor sites, thereby possibly reducing the dosage of chemotherapy agents. The carrier for the treatment is a specially treated strain of non-pathogenic bacteria that will seek out tumors and ignore healthy cells.
The carriers are also excellent imaging agents for an MRI. This will enable physicians to ensure the carriers have reached the proper locations before using a pulsing magnetic field to trigger the release of the chemo and commence hyperthermia.
Science on tap
Thirsty for conversation about superbugs, chemicals in the environment and a little something more?
This year, the UNCG Institute for Community and Economic Engagement is sponsoring Science on Tap, a series of science talks delivered by UNCG faculty at M'Coul's, a Greensboro pub.
The talks are part of The Science and Society Lecture Series, which kicked off in October, including a lecture on campus by renowned researcher and writer Robert Sapolsky.
All Science on Tap events will take place from 8-9:30 p.m. the third Thursday of each month. Upcoming dates and topics include:
- Nov. 20 How environmental and dietary factors can influence the progression of HIV infection Dr. Will Taylor, director and senior research professor, Laboratory for Molecular Medicine.
- Dec. 18 Superbugs: Our contribution to the evolution of opportunistic germs Dr. Dasantila Golemi-Kotra, associate professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
- Jan. 15 “Winning the battle of the bulge: Having your beer and health too Dr. Michael McIntosh, L.S. Keker Excellence Professor, Department of Nutrition.
- Feb. 19 Hormones, wildlife and health: Do feminized male frogs mean we're killing ourselves? Dr. Cheryl A. Logan, professor, Department of Psychology, adjunct professor, Department of Biology.
- March 19 Genes and medicine: New ways to prevent disease or a new problem for healthcare? Dr. Vince Henrich, director, Center for Biotechnology, Genomics and Health Research.
- April 16 Chemicals in the environment Dr. Bruce Banks, associate professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
iSchool in high school
Enrollments in the UNCG iSchool, the first virtual early college in the nation, have more than doubled since the program's launch in Fall 2007.
A total of 2,521 high school students in 236 public schools across North Carolina enrolled in iSchool in Fall 2008, said Dr. Robert Brown, dean of the Division of Continual Learning (DCL). That figure is up from 1,025 students from 76 schools in Fall 2007.
Brown said the program, funded under Gov. Mike Easley's Learn and Earn initiative and run by DCL, provides a unique opportunity for students who might not otherwise be able to afford college. Enrolled students receive books and materials free of charge and can earn up to two years of college credit at no added expense while still in high school.
There are so many students in North Carolina where college is not even on their radar screen, Brown said. I believe it's one of the most innovative programs in the country right now.
Brown stressed that iSchool makes online learning engaging for students, using video, sound, elements of video games and interactive exercises. We want students to be motivated, even entertained.
UNCG is currently the only UNC campus providing online education to high schools in the state. For more information on iSchool, visit ischool.uncg.edu.
Two generations ago, the picturesque Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan had few roads, a handful of telephones, a smattering of schools, and was virtually isolated from the rest of the world due to its intimidating geography and government policies. Today the Kingdom, which sits between China and India, is slowly opening its doors to the outside world.
In February, Dr. Susan Walcott and Dr. Joe Morgan of the geography department traveled 30 hours to Bhutan along with geography students Mayur Gosai and Leanne Sulewski. The team's mission was to assist the Bhutanese government with constructing the country's first Geographic Information Systems maps to help with urban planning and to upgrade maps of Thimphu, the country's capital.
Bhutan wants to modernize, but they want to do it carefully, said Walcott, who has visited Bhutan three times at the invitation of the Bhutanese government. Her latest trip was funded by a $15,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. Our job is to help them modernize by creating new maps.
After arriving in Thimphu, the contingent traveled for two days on winding mountain roads and crossed 6,000-foot peaks to arrive at the Royal University of Bhutan. There, Walcott and Morgan lectured to Bhutanese students. The group also delivered books, journals, software, GPS equipment and other materials to Bhutan's only geography department. Walcott and Morgan also gave presentations to Bhutan Telecomm, the country's only telecommunications company.
Internet service did not arrive in Bhutan until 1999.
The visit was arranged in part through Tshering Tobey Tobgay, an undergraduate geography major and UNCG's sole student from Bhutan.
Bhutan is one of the last Himalayan Buddhist communities, Walcott said. In the 1970s, the Bhutanese government established the Gross National Happiness Index to measure the economic success based on the country's Buddhist spiritual values. The index includes economic development, preservation of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment and establishment of good governance.
UNCG is contributing to Bhutan's Gross National Happiness Index by contributing maps and providing assistance with land management systems that will help preserve fragile ecosystems as well as support sustainable livelihoods, Walcott says.
Closer to home, the geography department created maps of Bhutan that were displayed at the Smithsonian Institution's Folklife Festival held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in June and July.
More than fun and games
For Tom Martinek, a basketball or jump rope is often a better translator than any Spanish-English dictionary. That's because Martinek, a professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science, uses sports such as basketball, volleyball and even martial arts to teach schoolchildren in Mexico life and leadership skills.
Physical education is a wonderful tool for communication, said Martinek, who along with Dr. Nolo Martinez, assistant director of UNCG's Center for New North Carolinians, traveled to Puebla and Tamaula in Mexico over the summer as part of a UNCG project to help improve socioeconomic conditions for residents.
While in Tamaula, Martinek and Martinez helped construct the village's first high school. They also brought along athletic equipment donated by UNCG.
Martinek and Martinez modeled their work in Mexico after Project Effort, UNCG's internationally recognized after-school and summer program that uses sports activities to teach young people in Guilford County social skills and personal responsibility. The program has been successful in helping youth avoid problems associated with poverty, drugs and neglect.
Martinek is especially interested in teaching leadership skills to girls and older students so they can eventually run the sports programs on their own. While games such as soccer and baseball promote physical fitness, they can also be used to help teach teenagers and younger children lessons about responsibility, teamwork and personal empowerment no matter what country they're from, or what language they speak, he observed.
Sport is my ally in teaching skills, said Martinek, who has also traveled to Java to establish physical education programs after a devastating tsunami. There's so much capability for kids to respond.
Sifting through history
A subtle breeze brings relief from the heat. The metallic clank of shovels against dry earth settles into a pleasing rhythm. A mature magnolia shades the diggers; her blossoms scent the heavy morning air.
The Blandwood excavation, funded through a $40,000 grant from the Greensboro Bicentennial Commission, is at full-throttle.
Archaeology doesn't lie, says Dr. Linda Stine, the UNCG archaeologist who is leading a crew of students in their excavation of the grounds around the former governor's mansion in downtown Greensboro. It's either there or it isn't.
Stine, armed with a floppy hat and sunglasses, says she and the students are particularly interested in any outbuildings that once stood on the property, first developed in 1795 as the site of a simple two-story farmhouse. They'd like to know more about the slaves and laborers who worked and lived at Blandwood.
The earliest map of the property dates to 1873, says Ashley Poteat, Blandwood's curator. There's 80 years of the house where we have no idea of what was here.
Aided by Ground Penetrating Radar, a lawnmower-like device dragged across a site to map out artifacts and features buried at different levels in the earth, students are excavating brick floors, walls, ash heaps and pottery shards.
Has Yuri Hall-Gariano, an undergraduate sociology major minoring in anthropology, found a brick floor? Maybe, but he's not jumping to conclusions as he chunks red clay out of the 1 meter by 1 meter pit.
That's what it's lookin' like, he says. But you don't want to get too committed to one idea.
Chris Bell, an archaeology and anthropology major, isn't worried about getting his hands and knees dirty. He's scraping away dirt with a trowel, and studying a piece of metal jutting up from below.
As students examine a dish fragment, Stine explains a tried and true method for dating artifacts based on how deeply they are buried. It's called the Law of Superposition: Sediment is deposited in layers, with the oldest layer on bottom and the youngest layer on top.
Archaeology isn't always rocket science, she says, bit it is exacting.
Hanging it up
Some alumni may remember the wall phones that served entire floors in residence halls for years. Later, as a mark of progress, students could have private phones in their rooms.
But this summer, the waning era of the landline came to an end at UNCG. As of July 1, Housing & Residence Life no longer offers local landline telephone service in on-campus housing.
The reason for the big switch-off: cell phones.
Over the past five years, mobile phone use has increased steadily among dorm dwellers, while landlines and voicemail have been almost totally abandoned. A survey of residence hall students last November revealed that 97.5 percent carried and used mobile phones. And fewer than 500 students had set up landline-based voicemail.
All residence hall students are encouraged to either contract for mobile phone service or sign up for Time Warner's digital phone service. Students can also use other Voice Over Internet Protocols (VoIP) like Skype with the Time Warner high-speed data connection in their room.
In addition, students have been asked to provide their mobile phone numbers as part of the housing application. Exterior telephone call boxes and emergency telephones in elevators will remain in the residence halls.
There's a bright side. Discontinuing telephone service in the residence halls will save more than $700,000 a year, which Housing & Residence Life can use to improve safety features like emergency alarms and sprinkler systems.
Bye, Cell: Our love/hate relationship with cell hones
No one who visits UNCG or any college campus can help noticing the proliferation of cell phones. These beloved gizmos seem to sprout from the ears of students, staff and faculty. And, often, the conversations conducted on them are, shall we say, a bit less than private. We asked Dr. Elizabeth Jody Natalle, associate professor of communication, for her take on all this.
I understand cell phones are a particular pet peeve of yours. Why?
They're not so much a pet peeve as I find them pervasive and inappropriate much of the time. If they were pervasive and useful, that would be a different issue. As a communication person, part of it is, what's the function of the technology for communicating? And that, to me, is a political issue. The other issue is the appropriateness of using the technology as a communication tool. And we don't seem to be very effective with that at all.
You say cell phone use is a political issue to you. Could you expand on that?
Well, it's only recently that it seems technology has taken over our lives as a substitute for what was heretofore face-to-face communication as the primary means of relating to people. And now, it's true, we do have instant messaging, cell phones and Blackberry devices, all the ways we transcend time and face. A lot of that I find trivializes the notion of relating together.
For example, if you don't know what brand of hot sauce to buy in the grocery store, just make a choice, and if you get that wrong then you've just learned a lesson and you can do it better next time. But you don't need to stand in the middle of the aisle at the grocery store and phone home for that. To me that's a trivialization of a technology that I don't think was originally meant for things like that.
If I walk behind my students on campus on the sidewalk, it's the same thing all over the campus repeated as they get out of class and before they go into class every hour: Hi. Where are ya? Oh, goin' to class. Hi. Just got out of class. I'll see ya. Well, why aren't they thinking about what they're about to talk about in class or what they just learned in class as a way to spend a moment reflecting as they walk down the sidewalk? They're gonna see their friend, or their roommate or their significant other. They don't need to phone in.
Parents do the same thing. Break the cord! Don't call your kid 10 times a day! This trivializes what should be at this point an adult relationship.
So that's the kind of problem that I have with the technology That, I think, makes it a political issue.
I understand cell phones are becoming a real nuisance inside classrooms as well as outside. As a professor, what has your experience been?
For the most part, people respect my no cell phones rule except they forget to turn them off before they come into class at times. But I've still had students using their cell phones before class and during breaks in my classroom. Prior to this time, students would go outside and use the phones, but now people are bold enough to sit at their desk during a break and talk to their dad or their boyfriend. I find that inappropriate because there's a lack of privacy for you for one thing others don't need to know your personal business.
The other issue happened not less than 10 feet from me. A student's phone rang and she literally took it out of her handbag and whispered I'll call you back and hung up again. That's the first time for that one, and she had the audacity to do it while I'm sitting right there watching her. So, the lack of sensitivity about who needs to know, why you need to be communicating, what you're communicating none of this is systematic, and in fact it's mostly irritating and inappropriate.
Do you see any benefits or necessities to having a cell phone?
I wouldn't dream of a day and age where we didn't have technology like a cell phone to transcend time and space because we're so mobile as a population, and to be able to stay connected as appropriate you may need that technology. How could we live without that now that society has advanced to the place where it is? And to me that's the important aspect of a cell phone. You need them for any sort of emergency, long-distance travel and even with airports backing up the way they do. If you're delayed five hours, and I have been, you need a phone to at least get home, and for the most part pay phones no longer exist, so even to be able to communicate in an emergency, it's necessary.
Wonder what UNCG students are chatting about these days? UNCG-related groups on Facebook, an online social utility, provide a fun look at what amuses and bemuses students.
A sampling of Facebook group names:
- I've been tripped by the UNCG sidewalks
- The UNCG students who want to see our trays back in the cafeteria
- UNCG needs more swings!
- I wish my life had background music
- There are too many squirrels at UNCG
- People against UNCG squirrels
- Overheard at UNCG
- The Day We Owned UNCG (Biggest snowball fight ever)
- Who decided it was OK to build UNCG on a hill?
- Parking at UNCG Makes Me Want To Transfer
- Students who want tailgating at UNCG
- SPARTANS!!! HOOOO!!! (UNCG baseball)