Studying marine life forms near Gulf oil spill

June 14, 2010

Luke McKay, right, taking sediment cores aboard a research vessel near the spill site

UNC marine microbiologist Andreas Teske and doctoral student Luke McKay are searching the Gulf for life forms that could shed light on the impact of the oil spill and be helpful in the clean-up.

Using dozens of water and sediment samples taken in the Gulf in the wake of the BP spill, Teske and his team are conducting various experiments, such as identifying which microbes are present and how they are responding to the spill.They are collaborating with colleagues at UNC and elsewhere to propose various novel “rapid response” projects that could play a role in monitoring and tackling the spill disaster.

McKay and several graduate students have been working in the Gulf on research expeditions studying the spill and the surrounding area.  McKay was aboard one of the first research expeditions to visit the site and surrounding waters shortly after the spill began to unfold. He sent several days on the RV Pelican in early May, helping gather water and sediment samples.

See more details and photos in the News and Observer.

Click here for details on what Teske, McKay and other UNC scientists are doing to understand and address the Gulf oil spill.


Understanding oil spill plumes

June 9, 2010

UNC College Professors Rich McLaughlin and Roberto Camassa explained on CNN how oil forms plumes under the surface, and why it’s a problem. Click here for the video.

Carolina Arts and Sciences magazine online

February 25, 2010

PlayMakers Reaches Out, Football Fallout, Hotel Rwanda Revisited….  

These stories and more are available in the Spring 2010 issue of Carolina Arts and Sciences magazine. Our semi-annual publication is mailed to faculty, alumni and friends who have made a gift to the College, and is available to all online.

Alum is new social-entrepreneur-in-residence

September 24, 2009

Micah C. Gilmer ’03, a Morehead-Cain Scholar and UNC College alumnus, is Carolina’s new social entrepreneur-in-residence.

Gilmer is now directing Project Innovation, an initiative to examine the courses, programs and services needed to support students interested in social innovation and entrepreneurship. He will create a development and funding plan as well.

He is teaching a new course in public policy called Implementing Change: Barriers and Opportunities n Policy, Government and the Nonprofit Sector.

“UNC has a tremendous history and culture of public service and engagement,” says Gilmer, who has a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Duke.

Click here to learn more about Gilmer and social entrepreneurship across the UNC campus.

Biking for brotherly love

September 17, 2009

Summer is usually all about the outdoors: enjoying the summer weather, and maybe taking a nice bike ride or two. UNC-Chapel Hill senior Stephen Prince of Pinehurst, N.C., took that a bit further. Last summer he biked across the country, raising $34,000 for the Children’s Tumor Foundation.

Stephen did it for his older brother, Andrew, who was a math major at UNC-Charlotte. Andrew battled neurofibromatosis, a tumor-causing disease that affects the growth of brain tissue, for most of his life — until he lost his battle at 23, soon after Stephen graduated from high school.

Taking the 55-day ride from Lubec, Maine to Imperial Beach, Calif. (the easternmost town of the country), gave Stephen the opportunity to grieve his brother’s death. It also helped raise awareness about neurofibromatosis and finding a cure. On his Web site,, he said he “[hoped] that money raised by the ride will help researchers find a cure so that others won’t have to go through everything Andrew suffered.”

Stephen has a double major in history and peace, war and defense in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Read the original story in The Daily Tar Heel:

New Pittsboro-Chapel Hill bus saves commuters big bucks

August 31, 2009

Chapel Hill commuters who live in the Pittsboro area just got the equivalent of a hefty raise, if they take advantage of the new weekday express bus between the Chatham County seat and Chapel Hill. Bus commuters will significantly decrease their monthly transportation costs (putting more money in their pockets) while also reducing their carbon footprint and maybe even their waistlines if they decide to walk or bike to the bus stop, as I’m doing.

It’s free to UNC employees (and very reasonable for all), can be picked up at the County Courthouse in downtown Pittsboro, at the free park-and-ride lot in front of Lowe’s building supply at US 15-50l at US 64 Bypass just north of town, and at Fearrington Village.

UNC employees can get a free yearly pass at the UNC Public Safety Office on Manning Drive. Non-UNC employees can get a monthly pass for $65 in Pittsboro at Piggly Wiggly or Town Hall, and in Chapel Hill at Town Hall. Daily fare is $3 each way, exact change.

It’s a smooth ride that takes 40 minutes to get to the UNC hospital area and about 45 minutes all the way to the Student Union. The best part is leaving the stress to “our driver” when we get to the bumper-to-bumper traffic at the county line, while we sit back and read, talk, text, or listen to NPR on our headphones.

I calculated my direct out-of-pocket savings at about $1500/year (gas and parking alone). If you throw in lower auto insurance rates for commutes under 10 miles, and savings on wear-and-tear on the car (tires, oil changes, etc.), it’s about $5,000 a year total savings. (Even if I had to pay the bus fare, I’d still save about $4,000 a year.) And that’s for a gas-efficient sub compact. If you have a guzzler, you’ll save lots more. And when gas prices go up again, you’ll save even more by riding the bus.

Here’s a link to a calculator to help you figure your car commuting costs and how much you can save by leaving the car at home:

And here’s a link to the Pittsboro Express schedule.

This is a pilot project supported by an extraordinary public-private coalition including federal, state, Chatham county and Pittsboro governments, Chapel Hill Transit, UNC, and the Lowes shopping center.

— Dee Reid

Students climb for cancer cure

June 30, 2009

Rising UNC College seniors Trey Newsome and Patrick Fleming, and pal Jake Lyerly, are climbing mountains to raise funds for curing cancer, according to a recent story in the Herald-Sun, excerpted here:

Newsome, who has a double major in chemistry and psychology, is the founder of Climb for the Cure, an annual fundraiser for cancer research and treatment. It’s an issue that hits close to home: his grandmother, Sherry Townsend, was diagnosed with bile duct cancer in 2000 and was given a 2 percent chance of survival. After receiving treatment at the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, she remains cancer-free, but her illness inspired Newsome to take action….

Newsome, Fleming (who is studying economics and journalism) and Lyerly, undertook Climb for the Cure’s first expedition last June. The three climbed the Grand, Middle and South Tetons in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, raising $15,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. This year, Climb for the Cure plans to raise funds for Caring House, a hospitality house for DCCC. Caring House provides a place for patients to stay with their caretakers while undergoing treatment. According to the organization’s executive director, Sheridan Townsend (also Newsome’s mother), places such as Caring House are sorely needed, especially in the Durham area. ….

In August, Newsome and Fleming will return to Wyoming to scale the state’s highest mountain, Gannett Peak. At close to 14,000 feet, with a 9,000 foot vertical climb and the largest glacier in the Rocky Mountains, it will be a challenging climb. They hope to raise $15,000 through sponsorships and donations; they already have close to $6,000.

Read the rest of the story.