UNC Program Promotes Energy Awareness Among Local HS Students

The UNC Institute for the Environment is a collaborative, cross-departmental organization which focuses its research on critical issues that lie at the heart of our most pressing environmental challenges. Specific areas of focus include: sustainable communities, energy and the environment, watershed science and management, and environmental modeling.

This week the Institute is hosting 28 local high school students who will spend a week on the campus of UNC exploring topics related to current energy use, climate change, alternative energy and sustainability as part of the Climate Leadership and Energy Awareness Program (Climate LEAP). Science educators from the UNC Institute for the Environment (IE) and the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center (MPSC) along with scientists from UNC will contribute to programming and lead hands-on sessions and lab tours. The program will enable students to take part in hands-on STEM activities such as the construction and testing of dye-sensitized solar cells and wind turbines. Students will take field trips to locations such as the UNC co-generation plant, chemistry laboratories at the UNC-based Energy Frontier Research Center and the Carolina Campus Community Garden.

Funded by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, this student science enrichment program is free and participants are paid a $500 stipend for attending the summer program and participating in at least four follow-up activities during the academic year. In addition, students are asked to conduct a community outreach project to educate others about energy, climate change, and/or sustainability.

The program is lead by Dana Haine, K-12 Science Education Manager for the Institute and proud member of Chapel Hill High School’s class of 1991. Haine credits her outstanding CHHS science teachers for inspiring her to pursue a career in science. In the five years that the Environmental Institute has been running the program, she has seen how it inspires students to seek out more science classes in high school and select STEM related majors in college. When not running the Climate LEAP program Haine and her colleague hold workshops for K-12 science teachers and are available as a resource for educators across the state.

The Environmental Institute provides yet another example of the broad, positive reach of UNC in our education community. It’s good to know that our aspiring scientists have programs like this one available to encourage their ambitions.


UNC Researcher Remembered As ‘Outgoing,’ ‘Passionate’ About Science

Both UNC and the wider Chapel Hill community have been devastated by the murder Dr. Feng Liu of the Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

Born in 1955, he was a father, husband, professor, researcher, and more.

Liu earned both his BS and MS in pharmaceutics science at the Shenyang Pharmaceutical University in China, and his PhD at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. In 2005, he became part of the UNC community after being brought from Pittsburgh with a research team.

Dean of the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, Bob Blouin, told WCHL what he remembers about how Dr. Liu originally became part of the UNC community and how he remembers first meeting him.

“We recruited them to help transform our school into a national leader in nanomedicine and drug delivery, and I believe that he, along with many others have actually done that,” says Blouin. “I grew to know him later as a wonderful, kind, gentle, but endearing personality; someone who quietly touched the lives of other faculty, staff, and students.”

Blouin also talked about what he will remember the most about Dr. Liu.

“He had a contagious smile,” says Blouin. “He was by nature a very outgoing personality, something that you don’t appreciate when you meet him. I think in many respects, [he] surprises people with his high level of engagement, and so it was that smile that I believe I will always remember.”

Liu was recognized throughout the U.S. and the world for his contributions to the field of molecular pharmaceuticals and his efforts to combat cancer.

When asked about what impact Liu had on his students, Blouin recalled an individual who spoke during the private memorial that was held by the School of Pharmacy on July 25.

“It was from a graduate student who simply described him as a role model,” says Blouin, “a person who had a passion for science but at the same time had the strong desire to work in an environment in which people mattered, and that he had a strong desire to not only get to know the people that he worked with, but to create a work environment in which they enjoyed coming to work everyday and working with one another.”

His colleagues knew that something was undoubtedly wrong when Dr. Liu did not return from his daily walk after lunch on Wednesday afternoon. He was later found unresponsive after being attacked at 1 p.m. at the intersection of Ransom Street and West University Drive, a mere two blocks away from UNC campus and the School of Pharmacy.

Dean Bob Blouin offered these as his final words about Dr. Feng Liu:

“Our university community is shocked by this tragedy, and he will be deeply missed by many.”


911 Call: Professor Was Breathing Before First Responders Arrived

The 911 call in response to the beating and subsequent death of a UNC professor Wednesday afternoon reveals he was alive when first responders arrived on the scene.

The following is a redacted recording of the 911 call. Listener discretion is advised.

“There is an individual laying on the street at Ransom and West University.”

“At where?” the dispatcher asked.

“Ransom and West University. Right near the intersection here,” the caller said.

Fifty-nine-year-old Feng Liu of Durham was a professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. He was known by his colleagues to take walks around the southern part of campus during his lunch breaks to reenergize.

Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said a Town employee was one of the first to arrive to find that the professor had been attacked. He added that even members of the police department were shocked by the random crime that claimed the young professor’s life.

When the caller arrived to find Liu laying in the street, already there were signs of concern.

“And he’s just laying in the street?” the dispatcher asked.

“He’s kind of laying to the side, breathing hard. And he’s breathing and there were two gentlemen here when I pulled around the corner and there are couple of other people hanging out here now,” the caller said.

The dispatcher asked the caller to wait, then the caller went on to say, “According to a lady here who is pre-med, there is blood coming out of his nose and his mouth – and his ears.”

“There’s blood coming out of his nose and his ears?” the dispatcher asked.

“His ears, yes ma’am.”

The dispatcher asked his age,

“He looks like he’s in his mid-30s,” the caller said.

The dispatcher then asked if the man was awake.

“No, he’s unconscious. He’s not responding,” the caller said.

“He’s unconscious?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Is he breathing?”

“He is breathing, yes ma’am.”

“Is his breathing completely normal?”

“It sounds hard but he is breathing.”

First responders arrived and attended to Liu. He was transported to UNC Hospitals just a few blocks away. According to the News and Observer, prosecutors said Liu was hit in the head with a rock. He died the next morning as a result of serious head injuries.

The call also revealed that a number of people responded to the area in a reasonable amount of time, leading to ask the question of why the assailants chose that location and that time to take those actions.

Chapel Hill Police received enough information from someone who said they witnessed suspicious activity in the area to apprehend the suspects and arrest them Wednesday evening.

Derick Davis II, 23, of Scots Pine Crossing in Durham and Troy Arrington Jr., 27, of Johnson Street in Chapel Hill were arrested and charged with first degree murder, felony robbery, and assault. They’re being held at the Orange County jail without bond.


UNC Receives Second-Highest Fundraising Total

UNC was given its second-highest fundraising total through gifts and grants in fiscal year 2014, despite a complete change in leadership.

Chancellor Carol Folt began her tenure as the 11th chancellor of the University. In her first year, she developed and hired her executive staff, completing the process with the hiring of Matthew Fajack as the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration beginning this fall.

The University received $297.5 million last year, which is a nine-percent increase from the previous year.

Chancellor Carol Folt says that speaks a great deal about the supporters of the University that continued giving through a time that was mired in an academic scandal.

“When I look at those numbers, I think it tells me that, first of all, there’s an amazing commitment to Carolina,” Chancellor Folts says. “To be raising at that level before you go into a campaign is unusual. That means people really care.”

Commitments, which include pledges as well as gifts, also rose by nine percent, from $248.3 million to $310 million. The commitments helped create five endowed professorships in addition to 58 undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships.

Board of Trustees Chair Lowry Caudill says the numbers speak for themselves.

“I think it’s an absolutely fantastic thing,” Caudill said. “We had a transition in leadership last year. The fact that we were able to move through that year and have one of the highest fundraising years we’ve had in University history—that tells you something about the good things that are happening at Carolina and how people really think about Carolina.”

To see the complete breakdown of last year’s fundraising at Carolina, click here.


Former Scholarship Athletes Invited To “Complete Carolina”

Updated 1:12 p.m., July 24, 2014

Chancellor Carol Folt and UNC are offering scholarships for life to all student athletes.

“We’re all thinking about improving the athletic experience; it’s part of the national dialogue,” Chancellor Folt said announcing the program titled “Complete Carolina” at Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting. “What’s exciting about this program for us is it’s allowing us to build on what we’ve already been doing. We have this real thrust in improving our advising and improving all of our counseling, but also, we’ve always wanted to bring our athletes back, and quite a few have come back, but we really decided that it was time to make sure we could formalize it, make it easier, and ensure the funding so that we could increase the number of students that do come back.”

She said the timing of the announcement was critical so the reapplication process can begin for the upcoming semester.

Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham said this solidifies UNC’s commitment to providing everyone with an education.

“Part of the national discussion is, ‘what do we provide for students’,” Cunningham said. “We provide them an education; that’s what the collegiate model is. So, we want to fulfill that obligation to all of our students.”

In addition to providing financial support, the University will provide student-athletes who left the University in good academic standing with free room, board, and books. They will also be placed in a new, “enhanced” advising program.

“We added two additional advisors last year,” Cunningham said. “Now, we’re trying to get all the students to meet with advisors in the College of Arts and Sciences each semester. So, we’ve already added some staff. If we need to add more as we move forward, we will.”

Cunningham said Complete Carolina will be funded completely by the Ram’s Club. He added that UNC averages about a 90-percent graduation rate among student-athletes.

UNC Faculty Council Chair Bruce Cairns said the faculty is completely behind this initiative.

“There’s a commitment on the faculty’s part to ensure that all of the students who have attended Carolina have the opportunity to complete their degree and be leaders in their community,” Dr. Cairns said. “So, we’re very excited about it.”

He says, regardless of the national conversation, this was something that was crucial for the University.

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” Dr. Cairns said. “It always starts with that. If that helps that ongoing conversation, then that’s great. Carolina has always led. Clearly we’ve had some challenges. We need to address those challenges, and I think that this is a major step forward.”


UNC BoT To Hear $180 Million MEASURE Plan Thursday

The UNC Board of Trustees will hear just how a $180 million grant will be spent Thursday morning.

The Board held its regular committee meetings Wednesday and will be presented with reports from each on Thursday. Those committees include Finance and Infrastructure, Innovation and Impact, External Relations, and University Affairs.

At the start of this month, UNC announced it received its second largest single grant in the sum of $180 million for the MEASURE project. The U.S. Agency for International Development presented the grant to the Carolina Population Center for MEASURE, which stands for Monitoring and Evaluation to Assess and Use Results Evaluation project.

The project has brought in nearly $600 million in all since its inception in 1997.

The Board will also hear about UNC’s Galapagos Lab and Science Center and The Honors Study Abroad Program.

UNC’s Board of Trustees meets at the Carolina Inn Thursday beginning at 8:00 a.m.



Perl, Pioneering UNC Neuroscientist, Dies At 88

Neuroscience pioneer Dr Edward R. Perl has passed away at age 88.

Perl was the Sarah Graham Kenan Professor Emeritus of cell and molecular physiology at UNC School of Medicine.

Dr. Edward R. Perl

Dr. Edward R. Perl

His groundbreaking work more than three decades ago identified a particular class of nerve cells that respond exclusively to pain. His discovery paved the way for research into pain-relieving drugs that block their function.

Perl was instrumental in the formation of the Society for Neuroscience and served as acting president in its first year of existence from 1969 to 1970.

He also established the Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize, which includes a $10,000 award in recognition of significant achievements in neuroscience. Four past recipients went on to win the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine.

He is survived by his wife, children, and grand daughters as well as many students and colleagues.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize, through the Medical Foundation of NC, 880 MLK Jr. Blvd, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514.


Prosecutor: Hearing In UNC Agents Case On Hold

HILLSBOROUGH – This week’s scheduled hearing for five people charged with violating North Carolina’s sports agent law by providing benefits to former Tar Heels football players has been postponed.

Orange County district attorney Jim Woodall said Monday that the hearing originally set for Wednesday is on hold until a later date that hasn’t yet been set.

Prosecutors have provided tens of thousands of investigative records to defense attorneys for review. It’s unclear when the case could reach a trial.

A grand jury indicted the defendants in September for violating the state’s Uniform Athlete Agent Act by providing benefits to former players Marvin Austin, Greg Little and Robert Quinn in 2010. The defendants include a Georgia-based sports agent and a former UNC tutor.


UNC’s Summer Green Named To U.S. U20 World Cup Roster

Story by Dave Lohse

CHICAGO, ILL. – U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team head coach Michelle French has named her 21-woman roster that will represent the American side at the 2014 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup, being held in Edmonton, Montreal, Moncton and Toronto, Canada, from Aug. 5-24.

North Carolina rising junior forward Summer Green (Milford, Mich.) has earned one of the roster spots, continuing a long tradition of Tar Heel players who have competed in the U20 World Cup. Two years ago in Japan, Tar Heels Crystal Dunn, Kealia Ohai and Bryane Heaberlin led the United States to the gold medal.

Green’s current Tar Heel teammate, junior midfielder/defender Katie Bowen, will compete for the New Zealand team at the U20 World Cup and was named the captain of the Football Ferns’ side earlier this week.

All three of the USA’s group games will be broadcast live across the ESPN platforms. The U.S. plays its first two Group B matches at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, opening its tournament on Aug. 5 against Germany at 5 p.m. local (7 p.m. ET on ESPNU and WatchESPN) before facing Brazil on Aug. 8 at 8 p.m. local (10 p.m. ET on ESPNU and WatchESPN).

The USA will finish group play on Aug. 12 against China PR at Moncton Stadium with a kickoff at 5 p.m. local (4 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and WatchESPN). The curtain-raising clash between the USA, which has won this tournament three times, and Germany, which has it won it twice, will pit the countries that played in the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Final in Tokyo.

“We have a good mixture of leadership, talent and great technical ability on all three lines,” said French. “We have a lot of tactical understanding and creativity based on the way they read the game, and I see a lot of grit and bite in the way we defend. The combination of these factors gives us a very well-rounded team.

French named her squad after the first week of a two-week training camp in Seattle, Washington, which will be the last domestic event for the U.S. team before it leaves for Canada in late July. French put her player pool through a thorough evaluation process over the past year and a half, taking a hard look at almost 80 players in training camps and games.


Cunningham Says UNC Working To ‘Move Forward’

Things just have not gotten easier for North Carolina and athletic director Bubba Cunningham.

The school spent another year dealing with off-field issues, from the eligibility of a top basketball player to a long-running academic scandal and now a reopened NCAA investigation. The Tar Heels also failed to win an Atlantic Coast Conference championship in any sport for the first time.

“We’re wrestling with some of the toughest issues you can wrestle with,” Cunningham said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It’s taxing on the faculty. It’s taxing on the faculty council. It’s taxing on the coaches, on the students in the classroom. It is something that as an institution, we have to figure out how we can move forward.”

UNC finished 14th in the 2013-14 Directors’ Cup standings of the nation’s top overall sports programs, the first time in six years and the fourth time in the competition’s 21 seasons that it failed to make the top 10. Cunningham pointed to ACC expansion and parity as factors in the title-less season.

“It’s not that the sky is falling,” he said, “but you do need to pay attention and see what we can do to improve performance.”

The highlight was women’s tennis finishing as NCAA runner-up, while men’s tennis reached the final eight, women’s basketball came within a game of the Final Four and field hockey reached the national semifinals. Football — led by Cunningham’s first major hire, Larry Fedora — regrouped from a 1-5 start to win a bowl game.

But much of Cunningham’s third season was spent dealing concerns outside the lines.

The school spent much of 2013 investigating violations by NBA prospect P.J. Hairston before deciding not to seek his reinstatement from the NCAA, ending his college career.

Scrutiny of academics for athletes increased in January when a former UNC learning specialist told CNN that the majority of football and basketball players she studied from 2004-12 read at below-grade levels, though three outside researchers later said the data did not support her findings.

The school also hired former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein to investigate the causes of fraud — first found in 2011 — in the formerly named African and Afro-American (AFAM) department featuring classes with significant athlete enrollments and dating to the 1990s.

Then, in June, former basketball player Rashad McCants from the 2005 NCAA championship team told ESPN that tutors wrote papers for him and coach Roy Williams knew he took some of the AFAM classes in question. Weeks later, the NCAA said it was reopening its probe into academic misconduct because new information was available.

“It certainly has taken longer than I anticipated,” Cunningham said. “In 2011 we all thought we had NCAA issues with agents and amateurism. 2012 is really when the academic challenges arose. In 2013 we had a chancellor leave … so we’ve had a year of transition.

“It has been a long time to see similar issues arise. Now we’re all hopeful that this final report that we’re doing (from Wainstein) … will bring closure to it.”

Cunningham and provost James W. Dean Jr. have also spent the past year leading a review of how UNC handles academics for athletes, from the admissions process to academic support programs and NCAA compliance education. It will last into the fall.

Along the way, UNC has put some facility projects to the side while dealing with everything else.

UNC is looking at updates for an aging Fetzer Field, home to the soccer, lacrosse and outdoor track programs. UNC is also mulling upgrades or even a replacement to the Smith Center, the 21,750-seat home to men’s basketball built in 1986. Both are still in planning stages.

“It’s not always going to be perfect,” Cunningham said. “I think what I have tried to bring to the department is a sense of calm, a sense of consistency that we are moving in a positive direction, that we do have a plan in how we can continue to improve and that we’re working together for a common goal: for these students to have an outstanding experience.”