Campus News

What I did this summer

Carolina faculty and staff mentored students, reconnected with colleagues and pursued research on campus, across the state and far away.

Keith Sockman and students take a yoga break while doing field work on the behavioral ecology of wild songbirds in the Colorado mountains.

Thanks to the Carolina faculty and staff members who responded to our request, we know what many of you did this summer. After a year of pandemic restrictions on meetings and travel, Tar Heels spent a busy season teaching, researching and working on several special projects on campus and far away.

Here are some samples:

Keith Sockman

Position: associate professor, biology, College of Arts & Sciences

Summer location: San Juan Mountains, Colorado

person on mountain studies map

I conducted long-term field work on the behavioral ecology of wild songbirds. In semi-remote conditions, we captured, banded and measured birds; collected digital audio recordings of song; monitored egg laying, incubation and nestling development; and collected environmental data. We then link these measures to behavioral cues and responses to better understand the ecological factors regulating reproductive decision-making.

Gidi Shemer

Position: teaching associate professor, faculty adviser for undergraduate biology majors, College of Arts & Sciences

Summer location: Online

zoom screen whiteboard drawings about genetics

I led the Science and Math Achievement and Resourcefulness Track program. SMART is a summer program with 18 undergraduate students who pursue research in STEM. Beyond their research projects, the students (underrepresented minorities and transfer students) learned how to write, read and present science.

Antonio B. Rodriguez

Position: professor, earth, marine and environmental sciences, College of Arts & Sciences

Summer location: eastern North Carolina

Salt marsh is under threat of accelerating rates of sea-level rise and intensifying land-use change. This summer our lab collected drone data and sediment cores in tidal creek salt marshes in eastern North Carolina to find out how different parts of the marsh responded to and recorded that change in the sedimentary record. This research helps us better understand the resilience of our coasts.

Daniel Sherman

Position: Lineberger Distinguished Professor of Art History and History, College of Arts & Sciences

Summer location: Washington, D.C.

"The Louvre, Afternoon, Rainy Weather" by Camille Pissarro

“The Louvre, Afternoon, Rainy Weather” by Camille Pissarro

I visited a number of museums and monuments, notably the superb French paintings collection of the National Gallery, in preparation for my fall courses Monuments and Memory (ARTH/HIST 514) and Picturing Paris, 1800-2000 (ARTH 283).

Adrian Marchetti and Scott Gifford

Position: associate professors, earth, marine and environmental sciences, College of Arts & Sciences

Summer location: North Atlantic Ocean

research expedition to the North Atlantic Ocean

Students from the Marchetti and Gifford Labs sailed on a research expedition to the North Atlantic Ocean as part of EXport Processes in the Ocean from Remote Sensing. EXPORTS is a NASA/National Science Foundation project that studies how carbon and energy move through the ocean. Our labs collected seawater aboard the RRS James Cook to understand what microorganisms are present and the role that they play in ocean carbon cycling.

Jennifer Gates-Foster

Position: associate professor of classics and archaeology, College of Arts & Sciences

Summer location: western North Carolina

man in front of abandoned rock chimney in forest

I have been working on an archaeological project to trace early trails and habitation in partnership with the Pisgah National Forest and the Old Fort and McDowell County communities, among others. By locating and curating objects all but lost among the understories of the forest (ancient pathways, agrarian homesteads, overgrown pastures, remnants of logging or milling operations), this project aims to reconnect the diverse communities of western North Carolina.

Eric Kirby

Position: professor and department chair, earth, marine and environmental sciences, College of Arts & Sciences

Summer location: Klamath Mountains, California

group collecting samples in California mountain river

In June, I led an expedition with students to these northern California coastal mountains. They sit above the Cascadia subduction zone, one of the largest plate boundary faults in North America, and our samples of sand and gravel will help determine how quickly the mountains are being uplifted and eroded.

Toshi Hige

Position: assistant professor, biology, cell biology and physiology, Integrative Program for Biological and Genome Sciences

Summer location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

four people outside Genome Sciences building

My lab studies learning and memory using fruit flies. This summer, we hosted Robyn Stanek, a biology and physics teacher at Wakefield High School, as a member of the Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership. During her time in the lab, Stanek got hands-on experience with fly genetics, fly courtship behavior and reward-learning in larvae.

Emily Eidam

Position: assistant professor, earth, marine and environmental sciences, College of Arts & Sciences

Summer location: Prudhoe Bay, Alaska

group preparing buoys to be launched into ocean

My lab specializes in coastal geology. Arctic coasts are eroding rapidly, and we are studying how the sediment generated from that coastal erosion is distributed across the continental shelf by waves and currents — on seasonal scales, using observations and over hundreds of years, using models/forecasts.

David J. Baker

Position: Peter G. Phialas Distinguished Professor, English and comparative literature, College of Arts & Sciences

Summer location: just outside Dublin, Ireland

Maynooth Castle

Maynooth Castle photo by William Murphy from Dublin, Ireland, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

I went to the Republic of Ireland for a deferred Fulbright to work on a digital humanities project, MACMORRIS: Mapping Actors and Contexts: Modeling Research in Renaissance Ireland in the 16th and 17th Century. This project is based at Maynooth University, just outside of Dublin.

Janet Nye

Position: associate professor, earth, marine and environmental sciences, College of Arts & Sciences

Summer location: coastal North Carolina


man gathering samples in wire basket
Climate change impacts our oceans and all the life within it. The Nye lab spent the summer in Morehead City conducting experiments to help better understand what happens to fish and where they might go as the waters warm.

Jeffrey A. Greene

Position: McMichael Distinguished Professor of Educational Psychology and Learning Sciences, School of Education

Summer location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

group sitting around a fire

After more than a year of collecting data and conducting research via Zoom, our CLICK lab team (studying how people Critique, Learn, Investigate and Construct Knowledge), vaccinated but still distanced just to be safe, got together in person to celebrate perseverance and plan for more and better scholarship in the days ahead.