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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Focus Carolina

Every day, faculty members at UNC-Chapel Hill engage in groundbreaking research, innovative teaching and public service that makes an impact in our community and the state, nation and the world.

Tune in to Focus Carolina during morning, noon and evening drive times and on the weekends to hear their stories and find out what ignites their passion for their work. Focus Carolina is an exclusive program on WCHL, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. You can listen to WCHL at 97.9 FM or 1360 AM.

Current Focus Carolina episodes

Vin Steponaitis is Secretary of the Faculty and the William E. Leuchtenburg Distinguished Professor of Archaeology and Anthropology at Carolina. As secretary of the faculty, he oversees the Office of Faculty Governance and assists in presiding over the regular meetings during the academic year. His research focuses on pre-colonial Indian cultures of the American South, including the origins of political centralization, chiefdoms, studies of ancient art styles and the analysis of ancient ceramics.


Focus Carolina Archive

Penny Abernathy studies areas of the country that are at risk of becoming news deserts and finding sustainable business strategies to keep local news organizations in business so they provide news that educates and informs citizens in a democracy.

Allison Aiello studies how diseases like the flu are spread and what social factors might determine who gets a disease, how often it might recur and how it is spread.

Alice Ammerman is interested in design and testing of innovative ways to provide community-based nutrition and physical activity intervention approaches to prevent the risk of chronic diseases in primarily low income and minority populations.

Frank R. Baumgartner is known for his work on racial dynamics in the criminal justice system, among other topics.

Linda Beeber has spent much of her career studying factors that contribute to depression for vulnerable new mothers and developing interventions to improve mental health and interactions between mother and child

Anita Brown-Graham, director of ncIMPACT, focuses on creating opportunities and removing barriers to work-based economic opportunities, particularly for residents in distressed communities.

Peg Carlson is director of the School of Government’s Center for Public Leadership and Governance, an initiative designed to integrate, coordinate and expand the School’s leadership, governance, and management programs and scholarship.

Jon Easter leads the Center for Medication Optimization in the Eshelman School of Pharmacy. The center seeks to solidify the role of pharmacy practice in new, value-based healthcare payment and care delivery models by building a hub to support internal and external collaboration, research and education.

Deen Freelon researches how digital media influences political opinions and how those opinions are expressed online. He also creates tools for computational analysis, a new area in communication and journalism research.

Amelia Gibson looks at how members of marginalized communities access health information.

Katrijn Gielens is an internationally recognized expert in international retailing and product innovation. She studies the effects of store closings on communities and on consumers.

Kelly Giovanello studies human memory and changes in the brain caused by disease. Her goal is to predict patients at risk for Alzheimer’s and diagnose the disease sooner.

Cheryl L. Woods Giscombé focuses on health disparities among African-Americans and investigates how stress and coping strategies contribute to health outcomes. She also leads self-care initiatives and mentors future nurses.

Amy Gladfelter is interested in how cells are organized in time and space, studying how cytoplasm is spatially patterned and how cells sense their own shape.

Jeffrey A. Greene focuses on digital literacy, specifically he studies self-regulated learning, or how students can actively and thoughtfully achieve their academic goals via building knowledge, learning effective skills, and adopting positive dispositions toward learning.

David Gotz studies and development of visual methods for information analysis and communication. He is also the assistant director for the Carolina Health Informatics Program.

Carissa Byrne Hessick is the director of the Prosecutors and Politics Project at Carolina’s School of Law. The project was started to bring scholarly attention to the accountability of elected prosecutors, to understand the relationship between prosecutors and politics, and to give voters better access to information about campaign contributions they receive.

Shawn Hingtgen is a scientist specializing in cell and gene therapy.

Melina Kibbe is a renowned researcher of novel therapies for patients with vascular disease and is a passionate advocate for gender equality in biomedical research.

Dr. Lewis Lampiris is the director of the UNC School of Dentistry’s Dentistry in Service to the Community program, which sends rising fourth-year dental students to underserved areas to provide dental care.

Dr. Jessica Lee is the Demeritt Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry in the Adams School of Dentistry at Carolina. As a board-certified pediatric dentist, her primary research interests are in infant oral health, access to dental care for young children and health services research. She also explores innovative treatments for pediatric patients who have lost teeth through trauma and for patients with permanent teeth.

Bo Li and the scientists in her lab are trying to unlock the hidden chemistry of bacteria for use in new antibiotics. Her research uses genomic-guided techniques to identify possibly therapeutic properties of bacteria, which could lead to new treatments for infectious diseases such as staph infections and respiratory infections.

Melissa Lippold researches parent-youth relationships and the role they plan in preventing risky behavior in adolescents and promoting adolescent physical health. She is interested in the design of family-based interventions to improve family relationships and promote healthy outcomes for adolescents.

Rebecca Macy is passionate about ending family violence and helping victims of human trafficking live safe, independent lives.

Ed Maydew is the director of the UNC Tax Center, which brings together tax scholars, policymakers and practitioners.

Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody is the founder and director of the UNC Perinatal Psychiatry Program of the UNC Center for Women’s Mood Disorders. She serves as the executive medical director for the system-wide Well-Being Program of UNC HealthCare and the School of Medicine.

Jonas Monast directs the Center on Climate, Energy, Environment and Economics (CE3) at Carolina’s School of Law. His work focuses on the interaction of federal and state energy policies, aligning energy and environmental policy goals, and regulatory options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Richard E. Myers II served as both a defense attorney and later a federal prosecutor before returning to his alma mater to join the UNC School of Law faculty in 2004.

Mitch Prinstein uses a developmental psychopathology framework to understand how adolescents’ interpersonal experiences, particularly among peers, are associated with depression, self-injury, and health risk behaviors.

Dr. Rocio Quinonez is known for her work in children’s oral health, including her signature collaborations: the Baby Oral Health Program (bOHP); its sister initiative, Prenatal Oral Health Program (pOHP); and Into the Mouths of Babes.

Kurt M. Ribisl co-leads the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Ribisl’s primary research interest is reducing tobacco use by youth and adults with a particular focus on regulating the sales and marketing of tobacco products at the point of sale and on the internet.

Kelly Ryoo is focused on creating ways to design and use technology to help English learners with science.

Brad Staats examines how individuals and organizations learn and improve to stay relevant, innovate and succeed.

Vin Steponaitis is Secretary of the Faculty and a professor of archaeology and anthropology at Carolina. His research focuses on pre-colonial Indian cultures of the American South.

Brian Sturm is a professional storyteller who has dedicated his career to exploring the experience of immersion and the various influences that help us become completely engrossed in whatever we are doing, whether that is reading, listening to a story or playing video games.

Will Vizuete’s research focuses on atmospheric chemistry and the formation of air pollution.

Daniel Wallace directs the Creative Writing Program at Carolina and teaches courses on writing fiction.

Jeff Welty is an expert in criminal law and procedure in the School of Government. He founded  the North Carolina Criminal Law Blog and serves as  director of the North Carolina Judicial College, which provides training and education to the state’s judicial officials.

Erika Wise studies the Earth’s climate, past and present, using tree ring science or dendrochronology.

Sheryl Zimmerman co-directs the research program on aging, disability, and long-term care in the UNC Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research.