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.

4 grads make USA Today All Academic Teams

June 9, 2010

Our students keep making us proud, but we’re not surprised. Four new graduates of UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences made USA Today’s All USA College Academic Teams:  Libby Longino, Jimmy Waters, Henry Spelman and Lauren Teegarden.

Libby and Henry are Rhodes Scholars;  all four students had full four-year merit scholarships to UNC.  Click here to learn more and to read the USA Today’s coverage.

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.

You gotta hear this one….backwards

February 9, 2010

Meghan Shea, a UNC College undergrad majoring in biology, can speak backwards. She talked about it frontwards and backwards on NPR Week-End Edition. Check it out.

E-News: Blues Goldmine, Nicholas Nickleby, Chinese Lessons

December 3, 2009

In the latest edition of Carolina Arts and Sciences E-News:

  • UNC historian and folklorist William Ferris spent the 1960s and 70s traveling the back roads of his native Mississippi tracing the roots of American blues music. He found them in church halls, prison fields and rural homes, where he recorded and filmed African American musicians and storytellers.
  • Like everyone in PlayMakers Repertory Company, Jeff Meanza plays multiple characters in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. The company’s most ambitious undertaking ever runs on the Paul Green stage through Dec. 20.
  • Wyatt Bruton ’11 spent last summer in Beijing, where he worked at a public relations agency during the week and taught in a migrant village on the week-ends.

Learn more here.

HOPE Garden: Where homeless and neighbors grow together

November 10, 2009

David Baron — a UNC-Chapel Hill undergrad studying biology, ecology and social entrepreneurship – understands the importance of fresh whole food for human and environmental health. But it bothers him that not everyone has access to locally raised fruits and vegetables.

So last year he founded HOPE Garden, combining community garden plots with a small-scale urban farm and job training program for homeless people.

The project, part of UNC’s Campus Y Homeless Outreach Poverty Eradication (HOPE) project, will rent about 25 individual, 4×8-foot raised-bed plots to local residents for $100 annually. At the same time, the garden will provide transitional employment, skill-building, income and food for homeless people tending common space in nine adjacent 60-foot beds.

“We combined an urban farm with a community garden to bring the community in to help socialize the homeless and give them a support network,” Baron said. He explained that he and project volunteers would work with homeless individuals they know are ready for employment training.

The 5,000-plus square-foot garden is enclosed by deer fencing on publicly owned land at 2200 Homestead Road. Farmers have access to free public transportation via Chapel Hill Transit. The homeless gardeners will be able to sell produce at the local farmer’s markets and donate the rest of their harvest to a local homeless shelter and kitchen.

Baron received a $10,000 grant for the garden from philanthropist Kathryn Davis (Projects for Peace). He’s taking time off from his undergraduate studies this fall to develop the gardens with volunteers, including students from UNC and local public schools as well as homeless people. They have been working together to grow collards, kale, lettuce and turnip greens.

Saturday a group of volunteers showed up to plant mulberry trees and blueberry bushes, with guidance from expert garden installers and educators associated with Bountiful Backyards.

Last summer, Baron had an internship with Growing Power, run by urban farming guru and McArthur “Genius” Fellow Will Allen. Baron trained at Allen’s famous Milwaukee farm, helped run the project’s other farm in downtown Chicago and sold produce at local farmer’s markets there. Before that he apprenticed on a farm in Tanzania.

UNC’s APPLES Service Learning program is giving students academic credit for participating in HOPE Garden. Other partners are the Town of Chapel Hill, N.C. State University, Active Living by Design program , the NC Botanical Gardens, and several local nurseries and garden businesses.

Anyone interested in particpating in HOPE Garden can reach Baron at

UNC’s living laboratory in the Galapagos

October 14, 2009

UNC and partners at the University of San Francisco – Quito, Ecuador, are developing a living laboratory to prevent ecological damage in the fragile Galapagos Islands. Learn more.