Students in Tanzania Study-Abroad Program Get Up-Close View of Life in Indian Ocean World 

Posted on April 19, 2024

Featured Image for Students in Tanzania Study-Abroad Program Get Up-Close View of Life in Indian Ocean World 
UNCG students on their three-week study abroad adventure in Tanzania in 2023.

This summer, six undergraduate and two graduate students will travel to Tanzania on a three-week study abroad adventure offered by the UNC Greensboro African American & African Diaspora Studies (AADS) program and the Lloyd International Honors College, in collaboration with the Ethiopian, East African & Indian Ocean Research Network. This is the second year for the program, which began in 2023 with four students. 

No method of learning about a culture compares to being there, says David Aarons, a faculty director of last year’s trip. “Cooking with the people, feeling the heat of the stove with them, smelling their foods, overhearing their music and how they address each other, doing what they do every day, shows you how to live in the world. It’s not just what you learn, but how you learn it.” 

First-time travelers dive into culture 

For most participants, this will be their first exposure to East Africa’s Indian Ocean world, according to Hewan Girma, one of two faculty leaders of the trip. “Most of our students in AADS do not often think about the presence of people of African descent outside the Black Atlantic,” she says. “This will give them a very different perspective.” For some, this will be their first time outside the United States. 

The three weeks will offer a rich overview of the history, language, food, music, and way of life in the region. Plans call for the students to visit Prison Island, home to giant tortoises, as well as the ruins of a former prison and hospital. They will also travel to a spice farm in Zanzibar, with a long history of spice cultivation, including ginger and black pepper. There, they hope to take a cooking class, using local recipes and ingredients.  

Students on their three-week study abroad adventure in Tanzania in 2023.

Other activities include a dhow-building workshop. A dhow is a sailing vessel native to the area and plays “a huge part in local and regional economy,” says Dr. Neelofer Qadir, this year’s other faculty director. Assigned readings will cover historical and contemporary uses of the boats and the historical legacies of exchange between Africa and Asia on the East African Coast. Students will also examine navigational poems in Swahili and Arabic languages that sailors used in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries to make navigational maps. 

On mainland Tanzania, the group will observe the International African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, based in Arusha to ponder the history, language, and role of human rights as tried in courts on the continent. “This is the court where many of the hearings for the genocide in Rwanda took place,” says Girma.  

Arusha, the starting point for a lot of safari trips, is near Mount Kilimanjaro. “We think it’s great that the students can move between rural space and city space,” Qadir adds. 

A trip to Stone Town of Zanzibar, a centuries-old Swahili trading town, will give a “sense of what urban life looks like in an old port city,” says Qadir. Stone Town is a UNESCO heritage site, meaning it is protected from certain types of building and alteration. The site includes ancient mosques and palaces. 

In addition, Qadir hopes the group can attend lectures and workshops of the Dhow Countries Music Academy to learn about the local music scene historically and in the present. 

Students on their three-week study abroad adventure in Tanzania in 2023.

A life-changing experience 

During the three weeks, students also have time to catch up on reading, work on assignments, explore on their own or in pairs, and relax. They keep a journal of what they see and how they interact with people and places, and they make a collage of images and/or documentary videos that can be shared with their families, friends, and fellow students. 

The faculty leaders and UNCG make the adventure financially in reach for student participants. “We try to make it as affordable as possible,” she says. “AADS fundraises for it and the Honors College donated generously.” Scholarships are available, too, that cover the full cost. 

“Being on a guided trip on the African continent, enjoying experiences with other students in a safe environment with knowledgeable faculty expands the way students think about the world outside Greensboro or North Carolina,” Girma says. “It’s a life-changing experience.” 

Story by Mary Daily

Photography courtesy of  Stephanie Fisher-Huynh


UNCG Computer Scientist Applies AI to Health Care

Posted on April 19, 2024

A headshot of a professor with a building behind him.

Even if you do not consider yourself technologically savvy, you likely encounter AI regularly – scrolling social media, shopping online, or navigating to a new location.

“AI is powerful,” says UNC Greensboro Computer Science Assistant Professor Yingcheng Sun. “We can use it to save us labor and cost. It’s useful, but by no means perfect.”

While an AI mistake in one context may be minor, a mishap in other fields, such as health care, can be detrimental. Sun is working to mitigate some of AI’s errors by leveraging the strengths of both humans and technology, a field known as human-centered AI.

“Our goal is to improve AI and avoid repeated mistakes by involving people’s feedback throughout the process,” he says.

Early in his career, Sun has already published his findings in some of the top publications in his field, including the Journal of Biomedical Informatics and the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Connecting researchers and clinical trial participants

Sun’s recent research revolves around improving information retrieval in an important context: clinical trial recruitment.

Currently, there are an estimated half a million clinical trials. Each year, findings from about 11,000 clinical trials are published to advance knowledge and improve treatments.

A man works at a computer.
Dr. Yingcheng Sun uses human-centered AI to build platforms to expedite information retrieval within health care contexts.

“When scientists need to develop new medication or new drugs, they want to hire or recruit volunteers, but there are a lot of requirements to be a part of a study,” Sun says.

While findings from clinical trials are key to driving science forward, researchers often find it challenging to recruit participants. Meanwhile, individuals open to participating in research are not sure how to engage. One study estimated that less than half of surveyed people feel comfortable finding a relevant clinical trial.

“Researchers sometimes put flyers on elevators and patients can check to see whether they are interested in these and then call them,” Sun says. “This approach is very inefficient.”

Without ample clinical trial participants, science stalls.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sun created COVID-19 Trial Finder, an online platform that connects interested people with clinical trial opportunities that fit their background and location.

Potential participants can answer a few questions about themselves, and then the platform generates a list of clinical trial options aligned with their responses. What’s more: if there are not any clinical trials that match the person’s interest, AI will provide other similar options.

“If the study is closed or isn’t recruiting new volunteers, then we will recommend relevant studies,” Sun says. “This is similar to when you’re online shopping and the item is out of stock. The website may recommend relevant products.”

The best of both worlds for health care

The benefits of Sun’s platform extends beyond matchmaking scientists and clinical trial participants. He’s also leveraging human-centered AI to catch mistakes and improve the platform.

A professor and his students look at a computer screen.
Sun (middle) works with his master’s students, Sony Annem (left) and Kevin Hayes (right).

Here’s how it works: after a person receives AI-generated clinical study recommendations, they can review the list and modify their responses to effectively train the AI.

“We have the user participate in the process. If they feel anything is wrong, they can modify it,” Sun said. “Equally important, we log all the modifications by the user.”

Tracking user feedback allows the research team to optimize the platform. In this way, Sun believes the best of both worlds – humans and AI – can come together to maximize efficiency and accuracy.

“AI is not enough – there’s still a lot of room to improve,” Sun says. “So how to improve, is we collect this feedback and continue training the AI tool.”

Sun hopes to build upon these findings.

“In the future, we will develop new tools based on this for other kinds of trials for the public – not only COVID-19, but also other kinds of disease,” he says.

Sun is also hard at work in other research areas, including building a platform called Evidence Map to expedite researcher synthesis of peer-reviewed papers. Sun says he’s grateful to be in the Department of Computer Science where his colleagues are friendly, and students are motivated.

“We have many local students from Greensboro. I enjoy working with them,” he said. “The students here really want to learn.”

Story by Rachel Damiani
Photography by Sean Norona, University Communications

A close-up image of a person's hand pointing towards a computer screen.

Dive into computer science


UNCG’s New Scholarship Platform Puts Funding Options at Spartan Fingertips

Posted on April 18, 2024

Students smile as they huddle around a laptop.

UNC Greensboro’s Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships has announced a new search platform that will revolutionize how students search for scholarships.  


Welcome to the Universe 

ScholarshipUniverse matches students with nearly a thousand scholarships in UNCG’s portfolio, as well as thousands of external opportunities. With the completion of a simple questionnaire, students are given links to scholarships they qualify for, so they’ll never miss an opportunity.  

This platform not only simplifies the search process for students, but it is also the portal through which faculty and staff members review and award scholarships. So, ScholarshipUniverse represents an upgrade in efficient scholarship management for schools and for students.  

One-Stop Shopping for Scholarships 

Searching for and applying for scholarships is easier than ever before. Students can log in now and complete the questionnaire to immediately see funding that they qualify for.  

“In most cases, students will not have to complete separate applications for different scholarships,” says Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Joel Lee.  “This new system allows the university to match students directly with available funds, eliminating time-consuming application processes for most Spartans.” 

Just as the Common App simplified how students apply to colleges, ScholarshipUniverse’s dashboard consolidates documents and essays to keep students’ applications organized. Through the dashboard, students can track scholarships they match to, what scholarships they’ve been offered, and which ones they’ve accepted, all in one user-friendly space. 

In this transparent process, UNCG scholarship reviewers use smart ranking systems to quickly assess all qualifying students and determine awards based on numerous factors from financial need to academic performance to degree progress. And when scholarships are granted, notifications also come through the platform, so students can easily calculate how much aid they can count on.  

Funding is Only a Click Away 

Funds are waiting for students to apply for them at ScholarshipUniverse, but don’t take our word for it. See for yourself today. Cruising through “the universe” is the perfect pastime while you wait for responses from your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Find out how UNCG is making scholarships easier for all Spartans to access at Scholarship Universe!  

Story by Becky Deakins, University Communications.
Photos courtesy of University Communications.

UNCG students laughing

Discover the Perfect Scholarships for You.


UNCG Nursing Faculty Works to Keep Mothers’ Hearts Healthy

Posted on April 17, 2024

Dr. Forgive Avorgbedor uses a Vicorder on UNCG Ph.D. student Favour Omondi while Dr. Esther Leerkes watches.

Could an early measurement during pregnancy help stave off heart disease? What role do race and environment play? Dr. Forgive Avorgbedor examines the heart health of Black moms and other childbearing parents.


Powwow at UNCG Celebrates Diverse Heritages and Family Bonds

Posted on April 18, 2024

Native American dancers outside at UNCG.

The annual spring powwow hosted by UNC Greensboro’s Native American Student Association (NASA) is a draw for people from all around the country. It’s an event that the participants describe as a big family coming together.

Chloe Thompson, a student at UNCG’s Middle College, had two additional reasons to feel excited about April 13’s powwow. The first was that she would be dancing in her own handmade regalia. The second reason was the beautiful weather, as last year’s powwow had to be moved inside due to rain.

“Last year was the first powwow I was able to participate in,” says Thompson, an Akwesasne Mohawk. “While it was still a really great experience, it’s so much better to have it outside the sun with all these people.”

Century of Recognition, Millennia of Culture 

Everything from the dances to the vendors’ wares to the regalia carried special meaning to the Native American participants, reflecting on how far they’ve come and celebrating who they are in the present-day. 

The year 2024 marks 100 years since the U.S. passed the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. Terry Chavis, president of NASA, says it’s important to show one another and non-Native guests how they are thriving.

“This is a very special year for us to say, ‘It’s only been 100 years of citizenship, but we have many millennia of representation here on the land,'” says Chavis, a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina who is getting his doctorate in educational studies with a concentration in higher education at UNCG.

The Grand Entry at the powwow brought the American and North Carolina State flags onto the lawn of UNCG’s Elliott University Center. They held a prayer in the Tuscarora language and recognized Native American veterans. Vendors sold handmade wares such as beads, ribbon shirts, woodwork, blankets, and jewelry. 

Erika Reynolds serves as NASA’s cultural advisor while studying for a master of arts in peace and conflict studies. She says there are 7,000 Native members in Guilford County from roughly 125 tribes. Powwow participants represented tribes from across the country. 

Everyone Feels Like Family 

“We’re all diverse in our cultures, heritage, and languages,” says Reynolds, who is Cherokee, Saura, and Arawak. “But what you’ll notice out here is that all of us are family, even if we’re not blood related.” 

Some of the dances encouraged audience participation, while others focused on themes of friendship and relationships. A series of dance specials shone a light on the issues felt by Native Americans today.

“We have some dance specials that highlight Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women,” says Reynolds. “Every Child Matters gives homage to our folks that went to Indian residential schools and never made it home. Our Little Boy Long Hair special, which celebrates our long hair, is especially for our young men.” 

Thompson, who graduates from Middle College this year, was grateful for a place that brought together distinct aspects of herself – her Spartan identity blended with her Mohawk identity. She says whether someone is Native American or not, they had much to gain by going to the powwow.

“Just by talking to people you can learn how many different cultures there are,” says Thompson. “It means a lot to be able to celebrate who I am at the school – where I’m just a student most of the time. Now I get to show that I’m also a Native American, and I’m a part of this really amazing community.” 

Story by Janet Imrick, University Communications
Photography by Sean Norona, University Communications
Video by David Lee Row, University Communications

Two women in cultural dress at UNCG International Festival.

Unique individuals. All Spartans.


$5 Million Mellon Grant Provides Paid Internships for Humanities Students

Posted on April 17, 2024

Professor stands in front of a class of students with a slide behind her with a
Dr. Megan Walters of UNCG Career and Professional Development Office presents the valuable skills Humanities students bring to their careers.

UNC Greensboro has been awarded a $5 million grant from the Mellon Foundation to implement a five-year paid internship and educational program for humanities students called “Humanities at Work.” This landmark grant is the largest ever received by UNCG’s College of Arts & Sciences – as well as one of the largest in the University’s history.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be one of only five universities in the country to receive this historic award from the Mellon Foundation,” said UNCG Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. “The Humanities at Work project will not only provide hundreds of UNCG humanities students with high-quality, paid internship experiences, but it will also help them to articulate the value of a humanities degree to potential employers, translating to fulfilling careers.”

Building Bridges with Internships

The backbone of this program is the transformative value of paid internships, which will impact 650 students and 130 local nonprofits over five years. “This funding allows UNCG to serve as a national model for closing equity gaps,” said Dr. Maura Heyn, co-Principal Investigator (PI) and associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences. According to a 2023 study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, unpaid internships increase inequity and create longstanding hurdles in career advancement, particularly for Black and first-generation college students.

Humanities at Work aims to eliminate these barriers – an especially relevant goal at UNCG, where over 50 percent of the student population self-identify as belonging to a minoritized group, 50 percent of students are first-generation college students, and 46 percent receive Pell grants.

“Access to a paid, high-quality internship can change the entire trajectory of a person’s career,” said Dr. Megan Walters, director of UNCG’s Career and Professional Development and partner on the project. “As a campus highly focused on the social mobility of our students and our state, we must provide equitable access to meaningful opportunities to help students realize their potential and to help them knock down financial barriers to lifelong success. Humanities at Work is the ideal opportunity for UNCG.”

Engaging Studies with Practical Applications

UNCG has a vibrant humanities program, made up of nine disciplines: English; History; Philosophy; Classical Studies; International and Global Studies; Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; Religious Studies; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and African American and African Diaspora Studies. Access to internships is particularly beneficial for humanities students.

“We know that humanities majors are qualified for a range of opportunities, but paid internships are scarce,” said Dr. Heather Adams, an associate professor of English and a PI on the grant. “This program will help students more fully imagine and speak to their unique contributions as they hone their skills through hands-on internship placements.”

Humanities at Work will begin recruiting students in spring 2025. Over one academic year, students will work in small groups on paid internship experiences with local community partners. Simultaneously, students will participate in a Humanities at Work course to guide their internship projects and to learn skills for translating the value of their humanities degree into work beyond the classroom.

Four professors pose in front of a wall with framed diplomas.
Dr. Maura Heyn, Dr. John Kiss, Dr. Jennifer Feather, and Dr. Heather Adams co-authored the UNCG grant application.

Spartans Support Critical Triad Needs

Humanities at Work also promises to benefit the Greater Greensboro community. “The projects completed by UNCG students will offer local nonprofits a chance to develop capacity to support their missions,” said Dr. John Z. Kiss, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and a PI on the grant. “By providing coursework, guidance, and mentorship, Humanities at Work also lifts much of the burden of maintaining an internship from these partner sites – work such as interviewing, training, and supervising interns.”

For students and parents who are increasingly worried about the return on investment of a college education, the Humanities at Work project lays the groundwork for success.

“For many students at UNCG, a college degree is the single biggest investment they will make over the course of their lifetimes,” said Dr. Jennifer Feather, head of UNCG’s English Department and another PI on the grant. “While a program like this one contributes to lifetime earnings, it does more, situating students to bring their best talents to urgent needs and aspirational projects in the Greensboro community and the region.”

Story by Elizabeth Keri, College of Arts and Sciences.
Photography courtesy of College of Arts and Sciences.

Graduate stands in the lobby of UNCG's humanities building.

Help Your Community Thrive With Classic Studies


Staff Senate To Hold Strategic Plan Feedback Session

Posted on April 16, 2024

Arial view of UNCG campus with the sun rising behind the Greensboro skyline in the distance.

The UNC Greensboro Staff Senate Strategic Plan Committee will be holding an in-person feedback session on the 2024-27 Staff Senate Strategic Plan on April 23.

In September 2023, the Staff Senate Strategic Plan Committee began working to create a strategic plan to set the Staff Senate up for success in the coming years. Part of this work included a survey to staff members and an in-person discussion in December 2023. The first draft of the plan focuses on three main themes: communication, collaboration, and campus and staff climate.

The in-person feedback session will be held on April 23 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Claxton Room of the Elliott University Center. Staff members can also provide feedback through a survey form here

The goal is to have the plan approved by the Staff Senate in June 2024.

For any other questions/concerns, please email


Spartans Thrive Takes Wellness Beyond the Expected

Posted on April 16, 2024

UNCG's Regina McCoy stands back to back with a student holding textbooks.

Since the start of the spring semester, 636 new mentorships have been formed. It’s part of the foundation of health and wellness UNCG is laying to help students flourish in and outside of the classroom.


2024 Gladys Strawn Bullard Award Winners Announced

Posted on April 18, 2024

Students sit around the reflecting pool of UNCG Taylor Garden.

UNC Greensboro is excited to announce this year’s winners of the 2024 Gladys Strawn Bullard Award:

Dr. Andrea Hunter, Human Development and Family Studies

Margarita Kerkado, Admissions

Madeline Kujabi, Office of Research and Engagement

The Bullard Award is given in recognition of those students, faculty, and staff members who have shown commendable initiative and perseverance in their leadership and/or service roles at the University. In addition, award winners have demonstrated their ability to conceive and develop creative ideas and programs that advance the University.

Join us in congratulating these individuals on their outstanding service and leadership to the university.


Construction to Improve Chilled Water Begins This Summer

Posted on April 15, 2024

Drone flies over UNCG's EUC and library buildings and the quad.

 UNC Greensboro will complete the main campus chilled water loop in multiple phases and aims to have all improvements completed in early 2025. Some streets, pedestrian paths, and parking spots will be unavailable as construction moves across campus.

The chilled water loop project will connect Mossman Building, Elliot University Center, Walker Avenue Parking Deck, and Bryan Building to the loop. These buildings are currently supported by self-contained systems. The loop will increase air conditioning capacity, reliability, and provide efficiencies that will reduce energy costs and the campus carbon footprint. During this project, contractors will also replace the Mossman Building’s roof. 

Construction will begin the week after Spring 2024 Commencement.

Note: All dates are current best estimates and will be updated regularly as conditions change.  

The Construction Mobilization and Staging Area for materials and contractor access will go in the Northern Section of Kaplan Commons. It will be fenced in only through May 2024-March 2025 but remain through the Jackson Library Renovation project with its anticipated completion in December 2027. 

This map illustrates the sections of underground piping and building connections per the baseline construction schedule. Accessible pedestrian paths will be maintained with clear and visible signage demarcating pathways. Drivers will be rerouted as necessary at each phase. 

A map of UNCG campus shows the phases of the chilled water construction.

Phase 1A: May 2024 

The south end of Stirling Street will be closed and fenced off on May 6, a few yards north of the south entrance to Mossman parking lot. Walker Parking Deck’s Stirling Street entrance will be accessible via Theta Street. Through the summer, Mossman Parking Lot will also be partially occupied by contractors replacing the Mossman Building roof.

Mossman lot permit holders and guests will be contacted by POCAM and apprised of changes and selection of available parking locations for Summer 2024. A minimum number of accessible spaces, and guest parking will be maintained in the northeast corner of the Mossman lot. 

Phase 1B: 

Preliminary work will start on a chilled water entry into the EUC mechanical room. The EUC loading dock area will remain open, but there will be additional construction traffic in this area. 

Phase 2: May-June 2024 

Stirling Street will re-open. Chilled water construction activity will move to the south end of Mossman Parking Lot. Mossman roof replacement construction will require access to the north end of Mossman lot for material staging and equipment for transporting materials. 

Phase 3: June 2024 

Stirling Street will remain open. All chilled water construction will be occurring in the north end of Mossman Parking Lot and the roofing contractor will be occupying the south end of the lot. Mossman lot permit holders and guests will be apprised of available parking locations. A minimum number of accessible spaces, and guest parking will be maintained in the southeast corner of the Mossman lot for the remainder of the Summer. 

Phase 4: July 2024 

Stirling Street, Theta Street from the Walker Deck entrance to Stirling Street, and Mossman Parking Lot will be closed. Mossman Lot permit holders and guests will be apprised of available parking locations. Walker Deck will be accessible from Theta Street and Walker Avenue. 

Phase 5: July 2024 

Mossman Parking Lot will remain closed to allow the roofing contractor to finish construction. Walkways between Stirling Street and EUC will be closed. Stirling Street will remain closed at Theta, and Theta will also remain closed. 

Phase 6: August 2024 

The diagonal walkway between the Kaplan Commons pedestrian circle and Theta Street will be closed. The south half of the EUC patio area will be closed. Theta and Stirling streets and the Mossman Parking Lot will re-open. 

Phase 7: August-September 2024 

The entrance and exit to Walker Deck connecting with Stirling Street will be closed. Theta and Stirling Streets will remain open in August. Theta will close again in September. 

Phase 8: September-October 2024 

Theta Street remains closed and the Theta Street entrance/exit to Walker Deck will close. Stirling Street will be open.

Phase 9: Late October 2024 

Theta Street and Walker Deck will re-open for the remainder of the project. Walker Avenue Circle will have one lane open only for essential deliveries at the Library tower and Moran. All bus services, including the Spartan Chariots, will have their stops relocated from the circle to Stirling Street.

Phase 10: November 2024 

Spartan Chariot bus service will continue to be relocated to Stirling Street. Deliveries through the traffic circle will remain one lane only on a limited basis.

Phase 11: December 2024 

Pedestrian traffic from Shaw and the Quad will be detoured around the normal path on the southeast corner of the quad. Deliveries to Moran and the library will remain on a limited one lane basis. Spartan Chariot bus service will remain relocated to Stirling Street. 

Final landscaping will occur in Spring 2025 when the weather will be more conducive to good plant growth.