News Items from UNC Greensboro

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Head shot of Rebecca MacLeod
Dr. Rebecca B. MacLeod

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors has selected UNC Greensboro’s Dr. Rebecca B. MacLeod to receive a 2021 Award for Excellence in Teaching. 

MacLeod, professor of music education at UNCG, is a national and international leader in music education. She champions the idea that everyone can and should express themselves musically and artistically. Music is essential, diverse, and continually evolving. It enhances the lives of all people, and it serves as a universal medium for cultural and personal expression.

“Dr. MacLeod exemplifies the best of the teacher-scholar model,” said Dr. Terri Shelton, interim provost and vice chancellor for research and engagement. “She was the 2015-2016 winner of UNCG’s Research Excellence Award, and it was clear in the review of her research that Dr. MacLeod brought her scholarship into the classroom in an innovative way. In turn, her teaching, mentorship, and the insights gained from her students informed her research. It is fitting that MacLeod’s commitment to excellence in her teaching has been recognized with this extraordinary award.”

At UNCG, MacLeod works with both undergraduate and graduate students, with music majors as well as non-majors. In her Sinfonia course she directs an ensemble of student musicians from across the University. In several courses, MacLeod challenges her students to engage diversity and social equity through music education. She coordinates two programs that provide string instruction to students from underserved populations. Many of these students have blossomed into talented performers who participate in state and national orchestras.

MacLeod is a world leader in string education, and her textbook “Teaching Strings in Today’s Classroom” is becoming a standard for training pre-service string music teachers. Research is central to her teaching philosophy. MacLeod has contributed dozens of essays and manuscripts providing new perspectives and challenges to music and music education. In addition to these contributions, she has developed tools and methods that enable continual teaching and instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic. She curated webinars and internet video channels that impacted thousands of music educators worldwide. By adopting these new technologies to topics and instruction methods that have been taught for hundreds of years without change, she opens the doors for countless new participants in music and music education.

MacLeod received her undergraduate degree from Duquesne University and her MME and PhD from Florida State University. She is a frequent guest conductor and clinician throughout the United States and abroad.

“The College of Visual and Performing Arts congratulates Rebecca MacLeod on this system-wide recognition of her excellence as a professor and music educator, and the difference that she makes in the lives of her students,” said Dr. bruce d. mcclung, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

The Board of Governors presents one faculty member from each UNC System institution with this award every year. The award recognizes outstanding teaching (including online or blended instruction, mentorship, and educational service) that has resulted in the advancement of the profession. It is the highest post-secondary award in the state and carries the expectation that applicants will be exceptional teachers who have extended their pedagogical activities beyond the classroom. 

“I want to thank my students for nominating me for this award. I am so honored,” said MacLeod. “The other person I wish I could thank is Dr. Dennis Askew. He was one of the greatest supporters, and he supported all of the faculty in the School of Music. I just want to say how grateful I was for his mentorship and leadership.”

UNCG today announced faculty award winners for teaching, research, mentoring, and service. More information about the awards, the awardees, and video features, including a video interview with MacLeod, are available here.

The following University message was sent to all employees on April 6, 2021.

We are pleased to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of UNCG faculty in teaching, research, mentoring, and service. Due to COVID-19, we are unable to gather to celebrate the extraordinary contributions of the honorees but are nonetheless proud of their achievements. Please join us in congratulating the award recipients listed below; more information about the awards, the awardees, and video features are available here.

And, please look for the full-page tribute to these deserving faculty in the Greensboro News & Record on Sunday, April 11, 2021, as well as forthcoming detailed UNCG News stories about the recipients.

Teaching Awards

  • UNC BOG Excellence in Teaching Award: Dr. Rebecca MacLeod, Professor, School of Music
  • Mary Settle Sharp Award for Teaching Excellence: Dr. Sarah Daynes, Professor, Dept. of Sociology
  • James Y. Joyner Award for Teaching Excellence: Dr. Sally Koerner, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Biology
  • Anna Maria Gove Award for Teaching Excellence: Ms. Kim Cuny, Senior Academic Professional, Dept. of Communication Studies
  • UNCG Online Award for Excellence in Online Education: Dr. Elizabeth Lewis, Visiting Assistant Professor, Dept. of Mathematics and Statistics

Instruction/Education Related Awards

  • Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award: Dr. Laurie Wideman, Safrit-Ennis Distinguished Professor, Dept. of Kinesiology
  • Thomas Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, Pre-tenured Category: Dr. Chris Wahlheim, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychology
  • Thomas Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, Post-tenured Category: Dr. Sharon Morrison, Professor, Dept. of Public Health Education; and Dr. Sudha Shreeniwas, Associate Professor, Dept. of Human Development and Family Studies
  • Thomas Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, Non-tenured Category: Dr. Aileen Reid, Clinical Assistant Professor, Dept. of Educational Research Methodology
  • Student Learning Enhancement Awards: Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
  • Advising Excellence Award: Dr. Pamela Ladrow, Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Psychology

Service Leadership Awards

  • Gladys Strawn Bullard Award: Dr. Rebecca Adams, Professor, Gerontology Program
  • Holshouser Award for Excellence in Public Service Nominee: Dr. Stephen Sills, Professor, Dept. of Sociology
  • O. Max Gardner Nominee: Dr. Omar Ali, Dean, Lloyd International Honors College

Research Excellence Awards

  • Senior Research Excellence Award: Dr. Jennifer Etnier, Julia Taylor Morton Distinguished Professor, Dept. of Kinesiology
  • Junior Research Excellence Award: Dr. Gabriela Livas Stein, Professor, Dept. of Psychology

In addition, Faculty Excellence in Research & Creative Activity awards were given to faculty in each unit. Please click here for a full list of recipients. 

Please join us in congratulating these outstanding faculty!

Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr.

Terri Shelton
Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement

Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications

Photo of Cerise L. Glenn

Dr. Cerise L. Glenn (Communication Studies) has been selected as an Academic Research Fellow for the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis. The Hooks Institute is a premier center for scholars working on race and social justice scholarship. The Academic Research Fellows Program fulfills the Hooks Institute’s mission of teaching, studying, and promoting civil rights and social change.

Heather Winter (Chemistry & Biochemistry) received new funding from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine (NIH) for the project Metabolomics for Determining Mechanism of Action of Botanical Medicines.” Dr. Nadja Cech is co-principal investigator on the project.

Plants have demonstrated incredible chemical diversity, with compounds that act by unique, often uncharacterized mechanisms. Botanicals have shown promise to reverse antibiotic resistance, re-sensitizing pathogens to existing antibiotics. Combination effects of botanicals with antibiotics are unparalleled by modern treatments, though the mechanisms by which these botanicals act are typically not understood.

Of one of the most problematic multi-drug resistant, Gram-negative pathogens is Acinetobacter baumannii, responsible for severe and often deadly hospital-acquired infections. A few botanicals have been reported in literature to possess inherent antimicrobial activity against A. baumannii, including Viola odorata (sweet violet) and Scutellaria barbata (skullcap). These reports show that V. odorata contains bioactive cyclotides, while the active compounds in S. barbata have not yet been verified. There is no indication on potential mechanisms of action by which the active compounds from these botanicals may be operating. Currently, there are limited techniques available to readily discern the mechanisms of action by which a botanicals at the whole-extract level may be operating.

With the studies proposed herein, the researchers seek to use the botanicals V. odorata and S. barbata as model systems to develop new methodologies that fill this gap. The goal of this research is to (1) develop a new metabolomics-based technique to evaluate bioactive complex botanical and other natural product mixtures and establish mechanism of antimicrobial action at the screening stage and (2) gain insight into the structural features of active constituents based upon mechanism of action for botanicals traditionally employed for the treatment of bacterial infections to validate alternative and integrative botanical therapies.

photo of nadja cech

Dr. Nadja Cech (Chemistry & Biochemistry) received new funding from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine (NIH) for the project “Predoctoral Training: Innovative Technologies for Natural Products and Integrative Medicine Research.” 

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, in collaboration with investigators across campus are working on a renewal of our T32 application with supports predoctoral research training in the biological sciences. Funds from this proposal would support stipends, benefits, and 60% of tuition for five predoctoral students pursuing PhD degrees at UNCG.  The duration of the award is five years.

Photo of Kaira Wagoner

Dr. Kaira Wagoner (Biology) received new funding from Project Apis m. for the project “Hydrocarbon-induced immune priming to improve honey bee colony Varroa-resistance.” 

The health of the honey bee (Apis mellifera) is declining despite the pollinator’s significant contribution to global food security.  The primary threat to honey bee health is the parasitic mite Varroa destructor, which completes reproduction inside honey bee brood cells, and is both a physical burden and disease vector to its honey bee host. While numerous solutions have been implemented to reduce the threat of Varroa, no suitable intervention has been discovered, resulting in the continued decline of honey bee health, annual colony loss rates exceeding 34%, and an ongoing search for improved interventions. Hygienic behavior, the ability to detect, uncap, and remove unhealthy brood from the colony, has been selectively bred for over two decades, and continues to be a promising avenue for improved Varroa management.

To address the need for a more effective and efficient selection tool to measure Varroa-specific colony hygiene, the researchers used cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) elevated in mite-parasitized and virus-infected brood to develop a 2-hour unhealthy brood odor (UBO) assay. During UBO assay trials in 2019 and 2020, the researchers noticed that colonies tested twice within the same week scored significantly higher in the second assay.  Previous work in honey bees has shown that immune-stimulated queens are able to pass pathogen-specific resistance to their progeny, that CHCs can induce queen immune response, and that early-life experiences of workers can confer fitness to similar stimuli later in life. 

Thus, the researchers hypothesize that exposure to unhealthy brood odors can improve honey bee Varroa resistance through immune priming. Here, we propose a series of experiments to test our predictions that 1) queens exposed to unhealthy brood odors produce more Varroa-resistant progeny, 2) nurse bees exposed to unhealthy brood odors exhibit augmented hygienic behavior, and 3) effects of UBO immune priming decrease with time since exposure.

Experiments will include exposure to synthetic UBOs as well as extracts from Varroa-parasitized brood. Should UBO exposure improve honey bee Varroa resistance, interventions could be rapidly implemented to sustainably improve honey bee health through enhanced, Varroa-specific hygienic behavior. Such treatments would avoid the risks associated with many current chemical interventions, such as the evolution of pest and pathogen resistance and the contamination of honey bee hive products with harmful miticides. Thus, this research could have major economic significance, with the potential to benefit honey bees, queen breeders, commercial beekeepers, farmers, and consumers.

photo of nick oberlies

Dr. Nicholas Oberlies (Chemistry & Biochemistry) received new funding from Project Apis m. for the project “Understanding the effects of commercial pollen substitutes and microalgae-based prebiotic diet additives on the honey bee gut microbiome and metabolome.”

Beekeepers have become reliant on pollen substitute (PS) diets as landscapes shift to agriculturally intensive monocultures that do not meet the nutritional requirements of bees [1]. While current commercial PS diets primarily aim to deliver protein to growing colonies, the remaining macro- and micronutrients required by bees are usually overlooked. Development of PSs for honey bees should aim to not only reproduce the nutrition profile of pollen but also its functional properties beyond primary nutrition. For example, it is largely unknown how artificial diets impact the structure and function and the honey bee microbiome. In order to ensure the iterative improvement of PSs for honey bees, it is important to understand how artificial diets and diet additives influence the microbiome and its functions, which can be considered a direct extension of bee physiology and health.

Oberlies also received new funding from Proctor and Gamble for the project “Peak Libraries-Phase 2 plates.”

Dr. Christine Murray (Center for Youth, Family and Community Partnerships) received new funding from UNC Chapel Hill for the project “Examining the Black Box: A Formative and Evaluability Assessment of Cross-sectoral Approaches for Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence.”

This project is a subaward with UNC-CH researchers to conduct research sponsored by NIJ related to conducting evaluations of Family Justice Centers (FJCs). Murray is involved with this work based on past involvement with the evaluation of the Guilford County FJC, as well as her involvement with the statewide FJC Evaluation Workgroup, which is organized by the UNC-CH researchers overseeing the NIJ-funded project.

Murray also received new funding from the The Cemala Foundation for the project “Promoting Infant and Toddler Early Development through Music in Guilford County through Kindermusik Programming and Resources.”

The UNC Greensboro Center for Youth, Family, and Community Partnerships (CYFCP) is participating in a community collaborative that also involves the CYFCP’s Bringing Out the Best program; the Guilford County Partnership for Children; Education, Quality Improvement, and Professional Development for Early Care and Education Programs (EQuIPD), which is also housed at UNC Greensboro; and Parents as Teachers Greensboro.

The purpose of this collaboration is to leverage Kindermusik International’s Guilford County presence through their headquarters in Greensboro to (1) infuse the Guilford County community with Kindermusik’s resources and programming for underserved children ages 0-3, their families, and their early childhood care and education settings and (2) harness the power of music to promote early childhood development in our community.

Chris Chalk during a campus visit in February, 2019.

UNCG alum Chris Chalk ’01 recently Zoomed in for all three days of Michael Flannery’s Acting IV class. Flannery, Associate Professor of Acting, Acting for the Camera, and Drama Appreciation in the School of Theatre, said it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for his students.

“Chris is committed to giving back to his alma mater; he actually texted me about wanting to hang out (virtually) and meet some of the students. He did it totally free of charge. He answered questions, gave lots of acting and life advice, plus watched and critiqued some of their work this year. It was an invaluable experience for all fifteen of them, and it shows what a really great alumnus he is (and what a great friend to me).”

Chalk starred in the hit show “Gotham,” Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Ruined,” and the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of “Fences” alongside Viola Davis and Denzel Washington. He was featured in the Oscar Best Picture film “Twelve Years a Slave” and has been featured in “Homeland” and “Underground.”

A true Spartan, he continues to embrace the motto of service, returning to campus often to mentor students, appear in JustSayingG videos, and provide voice-overs for UNCG brand anthem videos. 

Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications

As announced in Fall 2020, University telephone service for faculty and staff is transitioning from Cisco VoIP to Microsoft Teams Voice over the next few weeks. Teams Voice service gives faculty and staff flexibility in how they make and receive calls, improves collaboration, increases efficiency, and saves the University significant costs.

Once the transition is complete, departments will no longer be billed for standard faculty and staff voice services; these costs are covered by UNCG’s existing Teams license. International long distance charges and optional equipment are not covered under the basic services license, however.

Information Technology Services (ITS) will migrate small groups of staff and faculty to the new services in waves beginning April 13, and finishing by the end of June, 2021. To ensure a smooth and successful transition to Microsoft Teams phone service, ITS will reach out to departments individually to schedule phone service migrations and provide user training on the new application.

A primary goal of this project is to move UNCG forward with modern, agile telecommunications systems. Teams Voice accomplishes this for the University, replicating traditional phone service on our computers and mobile devices. Receiving calls on a laptop or mobile device, rather than a landline phone, allows users to be away from their desk or office without missing an important call.

Because Teams is compatible with our current program, it’s unlikely that departments will need to purchase new equipment for this migration. Any equipment that works with Zoom will work with Teams. Like Zoom, Teams will work with cameras and microphones that are built into devices as well as most USB and Bluetooth headsets. If your department needs new headsets, you can purchase any headset that works with your computer from any vendor, so you can control your own price point.

ITS recommends some headsets that they have tested with Teams, but these are not required. Teams has an app that allows users to move easily between computer and mobile devices. However, using the app on a personal device is a personal choice and is not required. Because the current Cisco phones cannot be used with Teams Voice, departments are encouraged to analyze their use of physical phones to determine if they’re still necessary for your business needs. If your department needs physical phones, see the list of recommended equipment and order as soon as possible.

Beginning July 1, 2021, departments will be able to request new phone numbers for faculty and staff at no extra charge. However, departments will incur a software licensing cost for graduate student lines. ITS will send an announcement about Teams Voice training when registration opens on UNCG Workshops.

Curious about how Teams Voice works? Download the Microsoft Teams app and try it out today. Microsoft Teams can be downloaded from the application catalog or Office 365, where the web version can be accessed. Voice Services Migration @ UNCG provides more information about this University initiative. Faculty and staff may also direct questions to Project Manager Luke DiVenti at diventi@uncg.edu.

Whether researchers with timely insights or students with outstanding stories, members of the UNCG community appear in print, web and broadcast media every day. Here is a sampling of UNCG-related stories in the news and media over the week.

  • Dr. Rebecca Adams was featured in The New York Times in an article about social circles and the pandemic. The feature
  • Dr. Noah Lenstra’s research was featured in the Washington post. The article. 
  • Dr. Randy Penfield was quoted in Triad Business Journal in an article on how Triad universities ranked. The article. 
  • Greg O’Brien was featured in Clarion Ledger talking about the importance of caring for our ancestors. The feature. 
  • Dr. Karen Bull was featured in the Talk City podcast on the details behind the fantastic, new eSports programming that UNCG is embracing. The feature. 

Dr. Omar Ali was featured in a Greensboro News & Record article on his many different titles, including “knight.” The article.