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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Four faculty members honored with Hettleman awards

Four highly promising Carolina faculty members in diverse fields have been awarded the Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prizes for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by Young Faculty.

The recipients, who will be recognized at the Sept. 19 Faculty Council meeting, are Gina Chowa, assistant professor in the School of Social Work; Mark Holmes, associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, Gillings School of Global Public Health; Cary Levine, associate professor in the Department of Art, College of Arts and Sciences; and Garret Stuber, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine.

The Hettleman Prize, which carries a $5,000 stipend, recognizes the achievements of outstanding junior tenure-track faculty or recently tenured faculty. Phillip Hettleman, who was born in 1899 and grew up in Goldsboro, established the award in 1986. He earned a scholarship to UNC, went to New York and in 1938 founded Hettleman & Co., a Wall Street investment firm.


Chowa is known as a rising star within the field of asset building because of her groundbreaking work in examining the effects of asset ownership on youth and families in developing countries.

With her background as a practitioner working with poor families in Africa, Chowa saw how families with few resources struggled with keeping their children in school and envisioned a future of poverty, while people who owned assets invested in their children’s education and planned for the future. She found that this same pattern is repeated in future generations.

Chowa, who came to Carolina in 2008, has designed experiments and randomized controlled trials in four countries to test the impact of assets on a range of development outcomes for young people. One leader in the field said Chowa’s knowledge and experience in asset building was unparalleled within the field of social work.

“Dr. Chowa is truly a change-maker in international social work, and I have every expectation that she will continue along this exceptional path,” said Jack Richman, dean and professor in the School of Social Work.

Mark HolmesHolmes

Holmes focuses on rural health, comparative effectiveness and complex methods for policy analysis, particularly as it relates to public health and health policy. He is recognized for his visionary, innovative research that is grounded in economics and sheds light on issues relevant to health policy.

“Dr. Holmes strives to reach both academic scholars in health services research and economics as well as policy makers; he wants to make a difference in the real world of addressing the public health needs of rural communities, providers and policy makers,” said Sandra Greene, interim department chair.

Holmes joined the Carolina faculty in 2010 after serving as vice president of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, which strives to enhance the efficient, effective delivery of health care to North Carolinians.

His work examining the effect of rural hospital closures on the local economy led to a statewide program to provide grants to financially struggling hospitals. Holmes is currently working on a team projecting the supply of physicians during the next 20 years, factoring in the demand for care with existing specialties to identify the mix of services physicians could offer.


With a specialization in contemporary art, criticism and theory, Levine is widely known for his innovative scholarship. “His research engages a central question of contemporary art history and criticism: the nature and possibility of the political in contemporary art,” said James Hirschfield, professor and art department chair.

Levine’s 2013 book “Pay for Your Pleasures,” published by the prestigious University of Chicago Press, focuses on three longtime California “bad-boy” artists: Mike Kelley, recently deceased; Paul McCarthy; and Raymond Pettibon.

“Professor Levine both interprets art in terms of a surrounding context and interprets that context through the art it generated,” said Mary Sheriff, distinguished professor of art history. “In this way, the visual arts are not merely a symptom of cultural upheaval, they are active participants in it.”

His current book project focuses on the interaction of art and digital technologies.

Since he came to Carolina in 2007, Levine has received several prestigious honors, including a J. Paul Getty Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in art history and selection as a semester-long visiting scholar for the University of Texas at Austin’s Viewpoint Series focusing on contemporary art.


Stuber, who joined the Carolina faculty in 2010, has achieved an international reputation for his work on brain circuitry associated with adaptive and maladaptive behaviors.

Through his groundbreaking research in dissecting brain reward circuits, Stuber and his colleagues have pinpointed the cellular connections that can trigger addictive behaviors, aversive behaviors and obesity. This understanding could lead to the development of ways to regulate the activity of cells in a specific region of the brain, and ultimately to new treatments for eating disorders.

“He has found very surprising and important new organizational principles that underlie complex motivated behaviors,” said William Snider, director of the UNC Neuroscience Center. “Dr. Stuber’s work is highly multidisciplinary. It spans genetic and molecular biological approaches, advanced physiological techniques for monitoring neural activity in living mice, and behavior analysis.”

This research has been published in several prominent journals, including Nature. Stuber also has joined the editorial boards of two major neuroscience journals and is part of a newly formed UNC “translational team” to study mechanisms underlying obesity at levels ranging from human brain imaging to hypothalamic circuitry in mice.