Funding Friday: Farm Resilience and Lithium

Posted on February 23, 2024

A UNCG faculty member and student work with plants in the greenhouse.

Nearly two dozen funding announcements support faculty’s efforts to better understand topics such as anticancer leads, childhood obesity risks, and outdoor recreation.

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UNCG Professors Spark Innovative Learning in NC High Schools

Posted on February 23, 2024

2 professors make a presentation about esports academic endeavors to other adults in the esports arena.
Greg Greive and John Borchert work with other professors to develop academic content related to video gaming. Photo by Sean Norona.

UNC Greensboro’s commitment to developing a pipeline that streams students into profitable jobs in the video game industry now includes reaching into high school classrooms.  

UNCG Scholastic Esports Alliance and the Network for the Cultural Study of Videogaming (NCSV) has partnered with SparkNC to provide on-demand learning experiences for high school students designed by UNCG professors.  

Igniting High School Minds 

SparkNC is a non-profit organization that works with school districts across the state to encourage students to discover careers in high-tech fields like cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and software development. Currently, SparkNC is connected with 17 North Carolina school districts to offer students educational opportunities outside of the traditional classroom in SparkLabs.  

Students in a SparkNC classroom watch a monitor featuring an instructor who is leading the class virtually.
High schoolers in a SparkLab.

In these lab settings, students choose from a catalog of learning experiences that build their skills in a personalized way, and SparkLab leaders have flexibility to support their students in collaborative ways. Students explore the units at their own pace and once completed, they can demonstrate their skills by building portfolio entries to share when they apply for college or tech jobs.  

This is the ideal environment to present high school students with educational concepts related to video gaming and introduce them to career paths they may not be aware of. Since professors are already offering courses like this at UNCG, helping SparkNC develop curricula was simple. 

Adapting College Courses for High Schoolers 

UNCG faculty members from varied disciplines drew from courses they teach to develop the units that were introduced through the SparkNC digital platform in the fall of 2023. 

“The professors were challenged with adapting their courses to make them accessible to a highschooler,” SparkNC Senior Director Dana Brinson explains. “But I love the intellectual rigor that each professor brought to the modules. Students are supported to build their analytical skills and use conceptional thinking that they may not even be aware of because it is packaged in such an intriguing and interesting way. It was a great marriage of the skill sets of both of our teams.” 

Content of the units includes video game designing, video game theory, and using video games to learn other subjects: 

When a Spark Lab student selects one of the UNCG modules, they immediately see the UNCG esports logo with credit that the lessons are made possible through a partnership with the NCSV and through the expertise of the professor who developed the course. “We really thought it was important for students to understand that these are examples of areas of learning that are possible at UNCG,” says Brinson. 

Screenshot of a desktop with SparkLab dashboard featuring video game controller icons and unit names.

Fueling Academic Interests 

The game design units have been very popular in the Spark Labs, not only for gamers who want to design their own creations, but for students who are interested in music or art and want to apply their passions to a medium like video games. The music unit has inspired many students to build their own video game soundtracks.  

Student in a SparkLab works with an instructor.
SparkLab student studies video game soundtracks with his instructor.

Individual learners appreciate the buildable skills offered by the modules and traditional classes have also been using the Spark Lab units developed by UNCG professors. High school teachers are finding that units like “Questioning Narratives” reinforce concepts taught in classes like language arts in ways that are engaging for high schoolers.  

Brinson says that new educational connections are discovered every day.  

“Our Guilford County Schools lab brought in a health class to explore UNCG’s ‘Health Hacks for Esports’ unit and study nutrition and mental health for competitive gamers,” Brinson says. “And our New Hanover County Schools lab students were inspired by music from a game they explored in the “Gods, Heroes and Monsters” unit, so they reached out to the composer, Darren Korb, who joined the lab via zoom to talk about his work and the process of world building in games through music.”   

Broadening UNCG’s Educational Reach 

Professor talks to a student in the esports arena.
John Borchert discusses connects with a student in the esports arena. Photo by Sean Norona.

Contributing professor and NCSV Director John Borchert is passionate about reaching students in new ways through partnerships like this one. 

“I have this dream of a student completing high school by learning in modules like SparkNC provides, and then coming to a school like UNCG where they can continue learning and building skill sets that are truly based on their specific interests and goals,” Borchert says.  

UNCG’s involvement in the project illustrates the University’s commitment to improving education in North Carolina and enhancing the state’s economy through career prep for high-tech industries. Furthermore, the partnership presents UNCG educational opportunities directly to prospective students. It’s a win-win effort for all involved. 

“Partnerships like this make education better for all learners in North Carolina,” Borchert says. “I’d love to roll out more of these modules as we introduce new courses. It’s a great model for making higher education accessible for all.” 

Story by Becky Deakins, University Communications.
Photography submitted by SparkNC, unless otherwise noted.

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Meet the Meshroom: A Mash-Up of Art, Dance, and Music

Posted on February 23, 2024

A person dances with their arms outstretched

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Honoring Black Artists: Robin Gee

Posted on February 22, 2024

UNCG professor Robin Gee dances with her back turned to camera. A group of people dancers in front of her.

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Baseball Upsets No. 1 Wake Forest

Posted on February 21, 2024

UNCG baseball team upsets Wake Forest

The UNC Greensboro baseball team upset No. 1 Wake Forest on Tuesday night, 4-3 at the UNCG Baseball Stadium.  

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UNCG Center Brings out the Best in Children

Posted on February 21, 2024

A young girl interacts with a woman across a table.

For the past 20 years, CYFCP’s Bringing Out the Best has lived up to its name by helping Guilford County residents under 5 years old overcome behavioral, social, and emotional challenges. The long-standing program adopts an immersive and evidence-based approach, working with the child, teacher, and parents within the child’s preschool or childcare setting. The intervention is part of UNCG’s Center for Youth, Family and Community Partnerships.

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UNCG Students Make a (Teeth) Shining Impact in Guatemala

Posted on February 21, 2024

Group of people in Guatemala

Students who want to pursue a medical specialty, like dentistry, can find opportunities that not only give them real world experience in their chosen field but fill their desire to serve. Over the winter break, members of the UNCG chapter of VAW Global Health Alliance visited Guatemala to work in a dental clinic.

VAW Global Health Alliance is a global health and development organization that works around the world to provide medical, dental, and veterinary treatment.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

The students went to San Pedro La Laguna and were able to shadow dentists while they worked on patients in the clinic while also helping with prep stations, taking blood, and measuring blood pressure.

“You could see what the dentist was doing, and they would explain everything to you, which was super helpful,” says Gabriela Cruz, a junior studying biology with minors in chemistry and psychology. “We cycled through five or six stations, so everyone got an equal amount of experience.”

Cruz is interested in going to dental school after graduating. At UNCG, students are able to declare a preprofessional interest track to help form their education around  future goals in fields like medicine, law, dentistry, and engineering.

The option to do a preprofessional interest track is what encouraged fourth-year student Reagan Calhoun to apply to UNCG.

“UNCG was the only school I applied to,” says Calhoun, who went on the trip and is a member of the UNCG Dental Club and the UNCG chapter of VAW Global Health Alliance. “I liked UNCG’s message, and they had a great science department.”

A PERSONAL CHOICE

For both Cruz and Calhoun, their interest in dentistry is personal and started at a young age.

“My sister had problems with her teeth growing up, and I think everyone deserves a flattering smile. No one should feel insecure about how they look,” says Cruz, who is also a member of the UNCG women’s golf team. “I always appreciate a smile. It’s the first characteristic you notice about someone.”

Calhoun (left) on the trip in Guatemala.

Cruz says she had a good relationship with her pediatric dentist. Her aunt, who is also a dentist, also served as a role model.

“My aunt and I have similar personalities and its cool to see a woman have such a strong career,” she says.

Like Cruz, Calhoun wants to help others feel more comfortable in the dental chair.

“I was in and out of the dental chair when I was younger, going through surgeries,” says Calhoun, a sociology major with double minors in chemistry and biology. “And while I enjoyed the dentist, my sister did not. So, I want to change the environment and make the dentist office a better experience for people like my sister.”

The students also had the opportunity to make impressions of teeth, a useful skill for entering the field.

“We took our friend’s impressions, and they took ours, so we got to make an actual model of what our teeth look like,” says Cruz.

HUMBLING EXPERIENCE

Calhoun and Cruz say the experience in Guatemala was humbling as they were making an impact in communities that did not have easy access to dentistry work.

“In the United States, we are fortunate for what we have, and the people there were so grateful for us being there,” says Calhoun.

After seeing the condition of some patients in Guatemala, Cruz says she was inspired more than ever to help others. When she becomes a dentist, she hopes to do volunteer work and give back to people who don’t have access to dental care, both in the U.S. and abroad.

“We take our dental care for granted a lot,” says Cruz. “I’m not saying dentistry is perfect in the U.S., but I wish there was access for more people. I’m a giver. I always like to help people, and this made me want to help even more.”

Story by Avery Craine Powell, University Communications
Photography courtesy of Gabriela Cruz and Reagan Calhoun
Additional photography courtesy of stock.adobe.com

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Spartan Love for Faculty and Staff

Posted on February 20, 2024

Professor and graduate student in lab coats work in a chemistry lab. Gold frame and heart graphics have been added to the photo.
Dr. Mitch Croatt works with a graduate student in a chemistry lab. Photo courtesy of Sean Norona.

The faculty and staff at UNC Greensboro are the heartbeat of this campus. They set the tone for students and their future success. Our students look to faculty to guide them, inspire them, and help them stay focused on their goals.  

Below is a sampling of UNCG faculty and staff members that students appreciate.  

“I can say that my favorite professor would have to be Dr. DeAnne Brooks in the Kinesiology Department. She’s always been extremely encouraging and shows genuine care for the success of her students while here at G and beyond into their careers. She goes the extra mile to ensure her students can perform to their fullest potential!”

Mikela Singleton, kinesiology major 
Woman in a UNCG t-shirt and a white lab coat poses for the camera. Red frame and blue and gold heart graphics have been added to headshot.
Gray-haired lady wearing a suit smiles at the camera. Red frame and blue and gold heart graphics have been added to headshot.

Eloise Hassell is one of my favorite professors because of her dedication to students and commitment to active learning.” 

Cailyn Stackhouse, marketing with social media concentration major 

“One of my favorite UNCG staff members is Dr. Amy Myers. She has helped me a lot in my pursuit to become an audiologist. She is very supportive and a resource of audiological knowledge.”

Stevie Fowler, speech pathology and audiology major
Woman in a white lab coat poses in front of a brick wall. Red frame and blue and gold heart graphics have been added to headshot.
Man in a hoodie, with a backpack and wearing a fedora sits in a classroom. Red frame and blue and gold heart graphics have been added to headshot.

Daniel Hale, one of the animation professors, is my favorite! He is incredibly talented as an animator, very impactful as an instructor, and reminds us how fun and awesome animation really is.”

Brad Lowry, art with a concentration in animation major

Jennifer Meanley has been very helpful in her guidance. She is always flexible and open to helping her students with their own unique artistic practice and facilitating personal growth.”

Elizabeth Boerger, art with a studio art concentration
Black and white headshot of a woman in a denim jacket. Red frame and blue and gold heart graphics have been added to headshot.
Man in a tie and a white lab coat poses in front of a blackboard with equations written on it. Red frame and blue and gold heart graphics have been added to headshot.

“I love that I get the opportunity to work with the best group of organic synthetic chemists under Dr. Mitchell Croatt. He is always there to help and does so without judgement. We are fortunate to have his advice and overall support in the chemistry and biochemistry department.”

Grant Develle, human development and family studies major

“My Spanish teacher Mariche Bayonas is one of the best professors I have had at UNCG. Her class is interesting and taught me so much about linguistics in Spanish. She is a teacher who truly connects with her students and gets to know them. I always look forward to attending her class because she makes class lectures so fun. She is also very considerate about student experiences and is an amazing professor!” 

Awa Mbai, political science major with Spanish minor
Woman works in a home office. Red frame and blue and gold heart graphics have been added to headshot.
Man in a UNCG faculty polo smiles at the camera. Red frame and blue and gold heart graphics have been added to headshot.

“My favorite UNCG staff member is Zach Ephlin, the assistant director of esports. He has the dedication and passion to improve esports at UNCG and is a great coach for our Overwatch team.”  

Jimmy Nguyen, marketing with social media concentration major 

“I love Faith Freeman in the School of Education because she always keeps it real no matter what. The work we do in her class just makes sense, and her energy is so radiating!”

Victoria Howard, middle grades education major
Woman sits on a bench looking away with her hands clasped. Red frame and blue and gold heart graphics have been added to headshot.
Man poses for the camera in an atrium. Red frame and blue and gold heart graphics have been added to headshot.

Dr. Jonathan Caldwell because he is the pinnacle of representing what hard work looks like while being able to connect with the students he conducts, allowing us to grow to the fullest extent we are capable of. “ 

Erik Traheim, music performance with woodwinds concentration major 

“I love Dr. Kristen Christman in the Communication Studies Department! She was such a big support when I was a student in her class and last semester when I was the peer leader for her class. She is so supportive of students and wants to see each of them succeed. I will always recommend taking a class with Dr. Christman!”  

Ivan Tarpley, communications studies major
Teacher in front of a classroom talks with her hands. Red frame and blue and gold heart graphics have been added to headshot.

This has been the third installment of the February “Spartan Love” Series. If you missed it, check out Spartan Love for Campus Hideaways and Spartan Love for Greensboro for more stories about what students love about life at UNCG. 

Story by Becky Deakins, University Communications. 
Photography courtesy of University Communications and uncg.edu. 

Student and professor sitting behind his desk talk in the professor's office.

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UNCG Alumna Brings Dress Design Dreams to Life

Posted on February 22, 2024

Cassidy Burel poses in front of UNCG's main campus building.

UNCG alumna’s fashion-forward designs and personal approach help make dreams come true for brides-to-be.

Cassidy Burel ’20 had never threaded a sewing machine before coming to UNC Greensboro in 2016, but she was determined to learn to create glamorous, eye-catching fashion and own her own design studio.

At 27, she’s accomplished that and more, making her mark in North Carolina — and beyond — for her fashion-forward, custom-designed bridal and evening wear. She opened her CassB by Design studio in Kernersville in 2023, and she’s already attracting clients from across the United States.

Burel, who earned a 2020 bachelor’s degree in consumer, apparel, and retail studies in the Bryan School of Business and Economics, credits opportunities at UNCG with helping her get her start in a competitive industry.

The school’s affordable program, she says, allowed her to combine her business sense and her creativity into a successful career. “I definitely give a lot of credit to them. Because of the tools that they gave me, I can do exactly what I always wanted,” she says.

How the dream was born

Burel’s passion for high-end fashion began in someone else’s closet.

“It was at a party when I was in fourth grade. I was playing hide-and-seek, and I found myself in a closet, hiding,” she recalls. “The closet was full of all these heavily embellished gowns and fur coats, and I thought that was incredible.”

The party’s hostess found her in the closet, and instead of being angry, she gave Burel one of her fur coats.

That coat became Burel’s favorite thing.

“I felt like my best self the moment I would put it on,” she says. “I loved how that felt, and I couldn’t stop wanting that feeling.”

After that, she found that just going shopping for clothes made her feel expressive, artistic, and confident. And she decided she wanted to help make others feel the same way.

Pressing toward the goal

To make the dream come true, the Hickory native decided to go to college, but she was determined not to incur debt in doing so. Winning UNCG’s Joan W. Greason Scholarship and the Margaret Ann Wilkes Textile Products Marketing Senior Award helped her achieve that financial goal.

At UNCG, Burel learned the art of fashion design as well as skills in sewing, patternmaking, and draping. Once she made her first wedding dress, she realized she wanted to focus on bridal and evening wear.

Cassidy Burel speaks with her professor at UNCG.

Burel took advantage of the many of the opportunities offered in the consumer, apparel, and retail studies program. For example, she served as president of THREADS, a student-run group, and she took a particularly rewarding creative and technical design course with Assistant Professor Haeun Bang.

“Her senior apparel collection, particularly her three-in-one gown design, exemplifies her remarkable talent and innovative thinking,” Bang says. “Notably, her mastery of design, drawing and sewing techniques was outstanding, a testament to both her abilities and her relentless pursuit of excellence.”

When Burel graduated in spring 2020, she had hoped to put what she’d learn to work under a successful designer. The pandemic got in the way, and job offers in New York City and Boston were rescinded. She turned to mask-making to pay the bills.

As life began to get back to normal, Burel took a job in a Greensboro bridal shop. That role, she says, gave her needed experience working with clients, and it gave her the confidence to begin marketing her own brand.

From Hodgepodge to Haute Couture

In January 2023, Burel formally launched her in-home studio. Many of her clients are brides-to-be, and she takes special care to make their wedding dresses and wedding days all that they imagine.

“I think that very important days and special occasions, especially weddings, can be really stressful — and they don’t have to be,” she says. “I get to be a small part of their big day by taking that stress away and making them feel like the best version of themselves.”

Before those important days, Burel works with clients for a minimum of three months. To start, she meets with clients to find out more about them, their style preferences, and the vision they have for their garments.

The design process varies from person to person, but some clients bring photos of dresses they like, while others tell her to “have at it – design some fun things,” she says. Burel talks to the client about the silhouette she would like, and they toss around ideas for different elements of the piece.

“Then with this hodgepodge, we work together to create something that’s beautiful but still innovative and fresh and new,” she says.

Burel offers to be with the client on her special day, ready to help with anything she might need.

Burel’s most-fun job was working with a client in Boston who “loved to push the envelope on fashion, and so we made her two very nontraditional wedding gowns,” she says. “One was pink, with a large cape, and the other was a big red gown inspired by one of the client’s favorite restaurants.”

The design process meant pushing the boundaries on what it means to be a modern bride. “The newness and the freshness and the adventure that goes along with that – it was an incredible experience,” Burel adds.

Life beyond the dream-come-true

Cassidy Burel poses with model wearing one of her designs.

While Burel once imagined herself working in New York City, her goal now is to continue growing her business right her in the heart of North Carolina, following much the same model for custom design she’s established.

One day, she would like to have a larger studio – perhaps a homestead – to allow her to give the same opportunities she’s had to local seamstresses and design students who share her same dream.

“It will always be very personal,” she says. “Nothing mass production – I don’t want to ever be in a situation where I don’t know who my client is.

“I won’t ever make a million bucks, but I think that you can’t really put a price on happiness. … I want to create happiness and confidence and beauty for individuals that’s real and attainable right here.”

Story by Dee Shore, AMBCopy LLC
Photography by Sean Norona, David Lee Row, University Communications
Videography by David Lee Row, Grant Evan Gilliard, University Communications
Editing by Grant Evan Gilliard, University Communications

Cassidy Burel sews a garment with her sewing machine.

Where Creativity Meets Commerce

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Award Caps Off Decades of Service for UNCG Vice Chancellor for Research

Posted on February 20, 2024

Portrait of Dr. Terri Shelton at UNCG.

Dr. Terri Shelton, vice chancellor for research and engagement at UNC Greensboro, will be honored with the ATHENA Leadership Award by the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce. This national honor presented by chambers of commerce and other organizations goes to those who attain the highest level of professional excellence, improve the quality of life for others in their communities, and help others realize their leadership potentially, especially women. The Greensboro Chamber will present the award to Shelton during their annual celebration on February 21.

It is a fitting tribute for the Carol Jenkins Mattocks Distinguished Professor, who has long supported Spartans under the watchful eye of UNCG’s Minerva statue, the Roman counterpart of Greek goddess Athena, both goddesses of wisdom and the arts.

More Research Made Possible

Shelton will retire on June 30 after a career known for pushing academic boundaries and furthering groundbreaking research. As a scholar, she brought in approximately $40 million in funding across her career for research and programs to improve the lives of North Carolina children and families. As vice chancellor, she has overseen more than a decade of continuous funding growth for faculty and student scientists with a 135-percent increase in the last ten years, bringing UNCG to an unprecedented $68 million in external award dollars in the 2023 fiscal year.

Dr. Terri Shelton speaks to a UNCG student at a table.
Dr. Shelton offers one-on-one advice to a UNCG student at Mentoring Monday

“As a faculty member and director of the Center for Youth, Family, and Community Partnerships, I was always actively involved in research,” Shelton says, “But the privilege of being Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement over these years afforded me so many opportunities to learn how to support and grow the research enterprise.” She is grateful to her colleagues across the country for sharing ideas and support, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Perhaps the greatest gift was to learn about and be able to support the breadth and depth of research, scholarship, and creative activity across our campus and watch our scholars in action.”

Under her leadership, students gained valuable mentorship at the undergraduate and graduate levels. They found opportunities to share their knowledge at conferences, in the greater Greensboro community, and around the world. Faculty’s research paved the way for advancements in health and wellness, economic prosperity, and community engagement.

One of Shelton’s proudest achievements is establishing Integrative Community Studies for students with intellectual disabilities, which remains North Carolina’s only four-year inclusive certificate program. She says, “We admitted our first class in 2007 and have graduated classes every year since 2011. I am so glad that students with intellectual or developmental disabilities are able to benefit from the transformative experience that higher education can provide.”

A Woman with Many Hats

Shelton’s remarkable, real-world impact extends beyond UNCG’s campus. Her 25 years of experience in pediatrics and psychiatric clinical settings and more than 75 published works about behavioral health and early childhood made her a valuable contributor to organizations focused on improving the lives of youth and family.

She helped found the NC Infant and Young Child Mental Health Association (NCIMHA). Dr. Melissa Johnson, former president of the board of directors, says, “Terri wore so many hats – clinical knowledge, research acumen, educational wisdom, knowledge of ethics and practice, and perhaps above all, leadership.  She facilitated so many aspects of our work, especially in the early days as we ‘bootstrapped’ ourselves from a group of idealistic and passionate advocates for families and young children to an effective and mature organization.”

She brought her expertise to boards of advisors and directors for other non-profits such as Voices Together, which provides music therapy to schools and individuals for building communicative and social skills. Director of Development John Mitterling credits Shelton with helping them manage their expansion statewide. That included recruiting UNCG students to conduct an ongoing study of communication and social skills in preschool-aged children at Guilford County Schools. “What Terri has done for 30 plus years is advocate for the needs of children who are underrepresented,” says Mitterling.

“Terri’s passion and compassion for mental and behavioral health, her understanding of early childhood, and her understanding of how to navigate systems such as universities, foundations, and fundraising, is a powerful combination,” says Voices Together Founder and CEO Yasmine White. “Terri is so generous with her time and with her support. She always gives 150 percent.”

“Terri’s passion for the work of early childhood development and her desire to make the world a better place for babies and families is always at the forefront,” says Mindy Oakley, executive director of the Edward M. Armfield, Sr. Foundation who worked with Shelton on the Executive Committee for Ready for School, Ready for Life, an organization preparing Guilford County children for kindergarten. “She can quickly toggle between high level thinking and in-the-weeds detail, depending on what’s needed at any given moment.”

While her time at the University might be closing, Shelton has high hopes for future Spartans, encouraging them to seize every chance to grow their knowledge. She says, “I hope they take advantage of all the opportunities at UNCG, including the co-curricular opportunities, international programming, connecting with the community, undergraduate opportunities to participate in research, and to connect with our faculty who are exceptional mentors.”

Story by Janet Imrick, University Communications 
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications; and courtesy of the Office of Research and Engagement

Student studies a lab sample with her professor in the UNCG biology lab.

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