Focus Carolina: Rebecca Macy (A)

– Chancellor Carol Folt

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is Chancellor Carol Folt and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. Dr. Rebecca Macy is passionate about ending family violence and human trafficking. Through her research at the School of Social Work. She works with organizations to bring economic empowerment and other much needed services to victims and their families allowing them to create independent lives for themselves.

 

– Host

Although Dr. Macy has done research around the world her current work is close to home.

 

– Dr. Macy

I have a project that’s wrapping up that came about because a group of us were having meetings here in Orange County. People who work on the front lines of dealing with the issue of domestic violence and some community members who really care about the problem. We all realized that we haven’t had a domestic violence shelter in Orange County for over 20 years and we’ve really struggled as a community because of that. One out of four women experience domestic violence and it looks like our numbers here in North Carolina are even higher than that. And it has a lot of devastating consequences for women and their families. And we don’t have one of the typical services, a shelter here in Orange County. And so through meetings we decided to do a needs assessment so we can figure out what is it that we need here in Orange County. Because even though shelters are a typical practice, research shows there’s not a lot of evidence that shelter works– that it makes families safer that it helps women and their kids get into housing more quickly. And it’s really expensive to mount and sustain a shelter and so we thought maybe we need to do something more nimble and flexible.

 

– Dr. Macy

I led a team overat  the School of Social Work. We had over 200 people in Orange County participate in either research, interviews or focus groups or surveys and give us their feedback and input about what are the critical needs here in Orange County when it comes to domestic violence and housing? What are some of the solutions we should try and how do we move forward? And it was great to see just the outpouring of people in this community who really were willing to participate, give us their two cents and really care about the issue. So we found out through this research that shelters probably not the best answer for Orange County and probably other North Carolina communities that we need something that’s much more flexible. Three-pronged approach: flexible funding to help people who just need that little extra money to get what they need to get into housing or to save money to get their car fixed or money to buy a uniform so they can go to work. Some people need crisis short term housing but, probably more single housing like an apartment where they can go for a few days or a few weeks just you know regroup and figure out a safety plan and to move forward. And then some people need rapid rehousing to get them into permanent housing. So right now the Orange County Compass Center led by Cordelia Heaney, who is the executive director, have a working group and they have some funding to try out some of these initiatives. We’re gonna build something here it’s probably going to have that three pronged approach.

 

– Host

Dr. Macy and her team think the models they are building here can work elsewhere in the nation.

 

– Dr. Macy

I think what we learned from Orange County is that this flexible multipronged approach can be adapted to other communities so it’s not just shelters, it’s not just crisis housing. It’s helping women with small amounts of money sometimes can make a big difference it’s a lot less expensive than shelter, it’s more empowering for women. And that solutions like rapid rehousing can really make a difference. Most communities may benefit from a shelter but they need those other approaches. I would love to roll this out in other communities and see if we could be rigorously test this and see if this is maybe an approach that works maybe just as well or better than shelter for less money. In our predominantly rural place, maybe you need a different type of housing there or you don’t have the housing stock to get into rapid rehousing. You still might need flexible funding but maybe you need to develop some affordable housing or maybe in urban areas you need a slightly different type of housing. So I think every community is going to be a little bit different. Although these philosophies or the underlying strategies might be the same. One of the options we’re looking at here in Orange County is maybe we’d have multiple apartments that would be scattered throughout the community. There would be safety measures put into place. There’d be support services for the women in their family but, that woman could stay there for a couple weeks or a couple months. They don’t maybe need permanent housing or maybe they’re going into permanent housing but that would be a way they could get on their feet, regroup and then figure out what the best next step for their lives is.

 

– Chancellor Carol Folt

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro. com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Rebecca Macy (B)

– Chancellor Carol Folt

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is Chancellor Carol Folt and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. Dr. Rebecca Macy is passionate about ending family violence and human trafficking. Through her research at the School of Social Work, she works with organizations to bring economic empowerment and other much needed services to victims and their families allowing them to create independent lives for themselves.

 

– Host

Dr. Macy works with Restore New York City one of a few organizations dedicated to helping foreign nationals brought to the U.S. under false pretenses.

 

– Dr. Macy

Here in North Carolina we have a growing problem when it comes to human trafficking. And that’s what Restore focuses on. So women who come from other parts of the world who are trafficked into the Greater New York City area for sex or for labor their whole mission is to help those women get back on their feet. And over time through collaborations and lots of meanings, I’ve become a main evaluator for some of the Restore programs, specifically their transitional housing program and their economic empowerment program. And I think what we learned there can help us here in North Carolina. People who are trafficked across the United States here to North Carolina but then also people who come from outside of North Carolina. So if we can figure out what works in Restore thats something I can bring back here to Chapell Hill. We’re finding that women who come in to their program from human trafficking situations have a really serious health and mental health needs which isn’t too surprising cause they’ve been through a lot of trauma they haven’t gotten a lot of health care. So the housing program really works to help the women get back on their feet and we’re seeing after a year in the program women are reporting much less depression, much less trauma, better physical health. We’re also finding that the women themselves tell us “Hey I need not just housing and help with my health but I need a job.I need an economic future for myself.” A lot of these women have children sometimes back in their home country but they want to support their families. So that’s why Restore launched the economic empowerment program. It’s a basically a job readiness program that matches women with employment in the New York City area doing all sorts of jobs– food service, cleaning, sometimes management. It depends on the women’s skills and education. And so far women are getting into those jobs and sticking with them and earning good living wage employment income. So we love to really now use rigorous research to look at whether or not that that that program might work in a scientifically sound way and if that’s something we can replicate in other communities. So I think the economic empowerment programs are really important. We often think people coming out of trafficking situations their biggest need is housing because a lot of times traffickers provide that housing and I think there’s truth in that but we’re also finding that it’s not just housing.

 

– Dr. Macy

It’s not just how with trauma or mental health that for women who have a job. We get women who’ve been in these really terrible employment situations where basically they’re forced into that doing a job that brings them dignity brings them a living wage income isn’t involved in any illegal activity is really important. And so we’re hoping we can standardize that program, figure out what works well about that program and then that’s something we could take to other communities bring back here to North Carolina.

 

– Host

Over the holidays, Dr. Macy will visit China to learn more about domestic violence over there as well.

 

– Dr. Macy

I’m lucky and really honored to be a visiting scholar to Jinan University in Guangzhou which is right across the bay from Hong Kong. And just like every other place domestic violence has been a problem for the ages it’s been around but recent changes in the law in China have meant people can use the court systems to address domestic violence. And China is really looking to Western countries to see “OK. What have you tried? What works there? What hasn’t worked there? How can we learn from you?” And then I’m also interested because they’re just developing responses in some areas to the problem of domestic violence. They’re doing some really innovative things like pairing up as a domestic violence center within a court system. And we do that some in the United States but not as much as I think they’re doing in China. So I’m hoping I can learn from my Chinese colleagues as much as you know I’ll be giving to them and talking to them about our experiences. We’re hoping that this can be the start of ongoing collaborations and partnerships. It’s a fascinating country and I feel really honored to be able to go and learn from what they’re doing.

 

– Chancellor Carol Folt

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Nigel Shaun-Matthews (A)

– Provost Bob Blouin
Welcome to Focus Carolina. An exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m Provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL.

– Provost Bob Blouin
Dr. Nigel Shawn Matthews is a facial reconstructive surgeon and TMJ expert at the USC Adam school dentistry. He treats both adult and young patients with arthritis and other job related issues. He is also a strong advocate for using tailored dentistry to expand dental services across our state.

– Host
Dr. Matthews has brought revolutionary treatment to a troubling condition.

– Dr. Nigel Shaun Matthews
The temporomandibular joint or the TMJ as its better known. It’s actually just the medical term for the jaw joint. So it’s that joint. If you put your finger just in front of your ear and open and close your mouth is that round knobbly joint you feel moving. Essentially it’s just your jaw joint. There’s a hinge joint. It’s unquestionably the most used joint in the human body. We use our jaw joints not just when we are awake. We also use them when we sleep.

– Dr. Nigel Shaun Matthews
People will gnaw. People will chew. People will talk and utilize their jaw joint even while they’re asleep and as a result of that there are lots of things with that joint that can go wrong. So JAW JOINT or TMJ problems are exceptionally common in the population and somewhere between 25 to 40 percent of the population will at some point in time in their lives have a problem with their jaw joint. So it’s a bit like backache. It’s out there. If you don’t have a problem with your jaw joint now there’s a good chance you will at some point in your life and the temporomandibular joint problems can affect people of any age actually.

– Dr. Nigel Shaun Matthews
People seem to think it’s just the domain of the older population. That’s not the case at all. It can affect children as young as 5, 6 years of age and it can affect adults at the other end of the age spectrum. In the 70s, 80s and this whole range of diseases that can relate to the temporomandibular joint and the kind of conditions that I see are things like arthritis, are things like trauma, are things like cancer affecting the jaw joint. There are all sorts of options. Even just benign diseases that don’t relate to either.

– Host
One of the conditions that Dr. Mathews sees regularly in his work is a particular form of arthritis that affects the youngest in our community.

– Dr. Nigel Shaun Matthews
The condition that I see and I treat a lot is a condition called juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). The word idiopathic simply means that the cause is unknown. So we don’t know what causes it, but it’s essentially a very aggressive form of arthritis in children under the age of 16. And that can really affect their lives tremendously. Both from the pain point of view in the jaw joints. Functionally they can’t use their joints much at all. And also there’s the impact it has on the growth of the lower jaw and how that makes them look in appearance wise. It can affect them psycho socially because their jaws do not develop in the same way. These kids can often be affected in a way that they are aware that they look different. And for kids growing up whether they’re toddlers, whether they are teenagers, whether they’re older teenagers their appearance matters. It’s a big deal for them when they are mingling with their peers or schoolmates. So that’s very very important.

– Host
Dr. Matthews has formed a collaboration that not only encompasses UNC but also the Duke Dental school.

– Dr. Nigel Shaun Matthews
When I came here to the U.S., I set up this combined collaborative clinic with my pediatric rheumatology colleagues at UNC and also at Duke. I became aware that it just seemed as if there was no real forum where these children with jaw joint complaints, particularly with juvenile arthritis, were being managed effectively. So what I undertook to do was, based on a model of a similar clinic I set up in the United Kingdom, which is a multidisciplinary clinic. So the clinic involves two stages essentially. It involves several disciplines. So I provide a surgical input because I’m a surgeon.

– Dr. Nigel Shaun Matthews
We have our pain specialist at the UNC school of dentistry, the oral facial pain specialists. We have the pediatric rheumatologist both from UNC and Duke. We have our neural radiology colleagues whose job it is to interpret the MRI scans of these kids frequently have to have to monitor their disease. We have our dental radiology colleagues and we also have a pediatric nurse practitioner. So there’s six or seven disciplines involved in this kind of collaborative care of each individual patient. We have a what I call a virtual clinic in the morning where all six or seven disciplines get together in a room and we connect via teleconferencing modalities where we then discuss each individual patient one by one review their scans and then we will customize a treatment plan for each patient based on the overall input of every member of that group.

– Dr. Nigel Shaun Matthews
So by the time we finished we already have a clear idea of what we’re going to be offering that patient terms of ongoing management. And that’s when I will discuss with the caregivers, the parents, the kids themselves what treatment we’ll proposed to offer them based on the overall discussion we had as a group. And they know they’re getting input from several different disciplines all at the same time.

– Provost Bob Blouin
Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

Focus Carolina: Nigel Shaun-Matthews (B)

– Provost Bob Blouin
Welcome to focus Carolina an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m Provos Bob line and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WGBH Joe DiMaggio Sean Matthews is a facial reconstructive surgeon and TMJ expert at the USC Adam School of Dentistry. He treats both adult and young patients with arthritis and other job related issues. He is also a strong advocate for using tailored dentistry to expand dental services across our state.

– Host
Since arriving at UNC, Dr. Mathews has been a strong advocate of teledentistry which is a long distance diagnosis through camera devices.

– Dr. Nigel Shaun Matthews
I think it’s fair to say that North Carolina is in the grip of an all health care crisis. And when we look at the figures within our state and the figures nationally I think that clearly is the case and it should not be the case that should not be having this current day and age we live in a country is extremely wealthy. The health care system is the envy of many. Yet there are so many out there in the rural underserved communities who don’t have access to any form of decent health care and so I all health care dentists if we look at some of the figures we know that something like 13 percent kindergarten children have untreated tooth decay that’s a lot because it payers I can’t afford to access a dentist or just don’t have time to get them to dentists or there’s no dentist available know something like over 20 percent or one in five adults over the age of 65 have naughty at all which is incredible when you think about it in this day and age.

– Dr. Nigel Shaun Matthews
We know that a lot of the challenges that we face are based on the fact that here in North Carolina something like 27 percent of dentists accept medicare and that was starting to figure in 2012 27 percent. But the figure nationally is forty two percent. So we’re well below that threshold line of the number of dentist who accept Medicaid and can reach out and treat this kind of patients. We know that in 2014 something like one point six billion dollars was spent here in the United States health care system an emergency department dental visits solutions that’s patients presenting to emergency departments with dental problems like toothache one point six billion dollars at an average cost of seven hundred fifty dollars per visit.

– Dr. Nigel Shaun Matthews
So the rule of tele dentistry which is a subgroup of telehealth is to give patients that opportunity to be able to access dental care remotely so they can be seen and consult specialists who may be hundreds of miles away or maybe even in a different state and that specialist can offer them an opinion of what their pervading problem is and how best to seek treatment. So that’s the benefit of having dentistry that improving access to oral health care throughout the state of North Carolina especially for those in the room an underserved community. We know that we have 100 hundred counties here in North Carolina. Three of those counties have no dentists at all. And something like most about dentists concentrated in a fifth of the counties in North Carolina. Obviously the urban areas. So you can see why so many people within our state are disadvantaged.

– Host
Dr. Mathews is from Barbados and was trained in the United Kingdom where the health care system is vastly different.

– Dr. Nigel Shaun Matthews
So my entire working career really is focused for the first 25 years in the United Kingdom and then in the last five of nearly five years here in the United States here at UNC. The health care system the UK is very different. It is free. It is free at the point of delivery. So in the United Kingdom they do not face the same kind of healthcare challenges that they faced here in the US where it’s insurance based. It’s a frustration of mine that it’s not uncommon when I have my clinics every day that the patients here the US that I’m not allowed to treat because they don’t have health care or there’s some subtle quirk or nuance of their healthcare policy that doesn’t allow them to have what I consider to be the gold standard treament that they require. But in the UK patients are offered that treatment free they don’t have to worry about paying for it because it’s part and parcel of what’s called the National Health Service in the United Kingdom the NHS. So that’s one overriding difference. We don’t have to deal with insurance companies at all in the United Kingdom but it’s clear that’s not the case here in the United States. One of the things I’m extremely proud of and my role as a director of telehealth at UNC is that the North Carolina Dental Society have been very invested in trying to help to move the needle forward to improve access to all health care recognizing that there are challenges here in North Carolina. My colleagues in that NCDS organization are you know right at the forefront of helping to drive this process forward but, in order to do that we have to make sure that we embrace and bring key stakeholders from across North Carolina. They all have to come along on this journey. Otherwise it will never work.

– Provost Bob Blouin
Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

Focus Carolina: Ed Maydew (A)

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is Chancellor Carol Folt and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. Dr. Ed Maydew’s research at Kenan-Flagler Business School focuses on the effect taxes have on decision making. He serves as the director of the UNC Tax Center. They build bridges to help tax scholars, policymakers and practitioners better understand tax research and how it affects real world issues.

 

Dr. Maydew chose accounting as a profession, but doesn’t think it was really a choice. His father was also an accountant.

 

My father was an accounting professor specializing in tax. And it turns out that I am an accounting professor specializing in tax. And I have one sibling he’s a tax attorney, younger brother. So one of the other jokes that we sometimes tell is maybe there’s a genetic component to that, some sort of gene that people haven’t identified that predisposes people to be interested in tax and accounting. I really credit my dad with a lot. We had a lot of conversations growing up really broadly about economics and finance and that definitely sparked my interest in tax and economics and accounting. I travel quite a bit to present my research around various places and sometimes when you get on an airplane. Someone will sit down next to you. What’s the first thing they ask you? Where are you going or what you do for a living? So I will say, well I’m an accounting professor, and nine times out of ten honestly that shuts down the conversation right there so suddenly the in-flight magazine becomes really interesting or the headphones go on or something like that. But one time out of ten the eyes light up and they’ll inevitably say something about some tax issue they had asked me for advice, or they’ll, maybe they run a small business and they’re interested in accounting or they have some sort of background in accounting or tax.

 

In his research and teaching, Dr. Maydew concentrates on the practical aspects of accounting and the choices people make with their money.

 

I think generally like a lot of researchers and you know broadly at universities, I’m just trying to understand how the world works in a better way. In my case, that’s how accounting and tax play into that role, into that world and influence decision making. In my office, above my desk, I have a picture of a world map essentially from the 1500s, and that’s sort of a metaphor for how I think about research. So if you think about our world map in the 1500s you kind of have the broad outline of the continents but there’s a lot that was unknown. And that’s really kind of my approach to research. We know some things but there’s a lot we don’t know and I’m just trying to do my best to fill in parts that we don’t know. Most of my research involves corporate tax. It’s usually databased, empirical and so we’ll try to, you know, just understand more about how taxes influence their decision making or how accounting influences their decision making. I’ve done quite a bit of work on what we might think of as tax planning, corporate tax planning, and what we’d call “effective tax rates,” which are the taxes you would actually pay, say an average tax rate, versus statutory tax rates. We’ve done a lot of work to try to understand why these rates vary across companies and across time. And frankly a lot of it is still not well-understood. So we looked at companies over long periods of time, because we know in any given year, the taxes you pay can bounce around quite a bit just because of various things. And that really has spawned a large amount of research by us and by other researchers just to try to understand why that can be the case. And it turns out, two different companies in the same industry and find that they have widely different effective tax rates over a long period of time. A lot of reasons for that. Maybe part of the difference could be based on who runs the company. Maybe their attitudes towards tax avoidance, their networks in terms of who they know to draw on for tax expertise, you know, their networks of advisers.

 

Heads of large companies get a lot of publicity over the success or failure of those companies, and Dr. Maydew tries to find out how predictable that is.

 

It’s very hard to know whether an executive makes a difference in the company’s tax planning, because it could be that those companies differ on lots of dimensions, not just the person running it. So how do you isolate the effect of the executive? So we built this huge database of executives and followed them across companies and we were able to find that some executives seemed to exert a pretty big influence on their firm’s tax planning. So we gathered lots of biographical information about the executives: where they went to school, how they’re paid, are they paid based on stock compensation or more straight salary? Now that doesn’t tell you exactly what they’re doing, but that’s part of the fun of research. You know it just keeps you going.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews, visit chapelboro.com and click on “WCHL on demand” or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Ed Maydew (B)

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is Chancellor Carol Folt and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. Dr. Ed Maydew’s research at Kenan-Flagler Business School focuses on the effect taxes have on decision making. He serves as the

director of the UNC Tax Center. They build bridges to help tax scholars, policymakers and practitioners better understand tax research and how it affects real world issues.

 

Part of Dr. Maydew’s research is properly applying the tax code to personal or corporate returns and the difference between legal and illegal tax avoidance, both here and abroad.

 

There are a lot of different ways to think about tax. If you were starting a business with some friend of yours, maybe you would start a partnership let’s say. So how would you figure out how you’re going to split up the income with your friend? Well you would negotiate with your friend and you would come up to some agreement. Maybe you get 60-percent, your friend gets 40-percent, or you take the first X thousand dollars of income and your friend takes the rest. But you would negotiate that. And that’s partly the way you can think about the tax code, whether it’s the U.S. or another country. It’s a complicated agreement between the government and citizens and companies on how they’re going to split up income from production. So there are similarities and differences with a partnership that you would create with a person. Similarity is that it’s a set of complicated rules that determine how you split up profits. The difference is that the tax code is really not negotiated with the government. Usually it’s just sort of imposed upon the company or the citizen. And we could argue about maybe through the political process you can lobby and have some influence but largely imposed on you. So that seems to give the power to the government, but on the other hand, the government has to create one set of tax law that covers so many different fact patterns and different tax payers. And once they do that, private parties are able to do their planning given those laws, and so that kind of gives them power to private parties to execute their tax planning. When we use the word “tax evasion” that refers to illegal activity. Evasion is really hard to study because, empirically, because people have incentives to hide it. So it’s very hard to get data, but it’s important because any money lost any tax revenue lost to evasion is just tax revenue that has to be made up by other law abiding people. So it’s very important from a policy perspective to kind of get a handle on tax evasion. We did one study where we accidentally discovered that we could understand something about tax evasion. We started down a path to doing another study and we were looking at cross-border income.

 

Sorting out what goes on with offshore banking and investments is literally an international challenge.

 

And it turns out central banks keep track of investment flows between countries. Most of it is just purely legal movements of capital, but some fraction of that is money that’s being hidden. And the question is always like, how big is that fraction? In this study we found a way to kind of estimate how much was due to tax evasion and how much some information exchange agreements were influencing that. In the 2000s, a lot of the developed countries got together and started to enact information sharing arrangements with each other to try to combat people from hiding money offshore. So we started studying that. It turns out that since these information exchange agreements were signed at different points in time with different countries, we could kind of look to see how this foreign portfolio investment changed during those time periods to try to get some handle on how much of the was due to tax evasion and whether these exchange agreements had any effect on those flows. And we found that they did. We can’t hand a tool to the IRS to help identify a particular case of tax evasion, but we could at least come up with some sense of how much was occurring and how effective these exchange agreements were. We found that they were pretty effective.

 

As director of the UNC Tax Center, Dr. Maydew builds bridges between tax scholars, policy makers and practitioners through sharing research at several summits and symposiums.

 

We run a conference every year where we bring together scholars from around the U.S., and someone around the world, from these different disciplines to present their research and better understand how taxes are influencing behavior. We’ll bring together various scholars from Duke and UNC and from other schools around the country and we’ll give the students an immersive seminar and in tax research. So to us, it’s a lot of fun but it’s a very intense week to present the research and better understand the role of taxes and business decisions.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews, visit chapelboro.com and click on “WCHL on demand” or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Samantha Meltzer-Brody (A)

Welcome to Focus Carolina. An exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. At the School of Medicine, Dr. Samantha Meltzer Brody is dedicated to investigating new treatment options for postpartum depression. She also created a telemedicine program that allows physicians across the state to consult with Carolina’s medical professionals about patients in their practices.

 

Almost everyone knows someone who has been impacted by a maternal mental health issue. Whether it’s ourselves, our mothers, our sisters, our aunts, wives, husbands. And maternal mental health affects at least one in nine women, postpartum depression being the most prevalent. And that’s approximately 10 to 15 percent of all women that give birth. Postpartum depression is a much more severe, long lasting form of depression and it is one of the greatest complications of childbirth. Depression that occurs during pregnancy or postpartum is called perinatal depression and both of these can cause a huge problem for families.

 

Our work at UNC is public service and that is part of Carolina’s mission.And it’s been enormously rewarding to me to try and intervene with moms and families at a most vulnerable time to have a meaningful impact. I’ve been at UNC almost 19 years and it is the interdisciplinary and collaborative spirit that really characterizes the university and has been vital for my work. I’ve been able to collaborate with people across many departments in the schools of medicine, nursing, public health and social work. This has been really synergistic and has allowed us to do exciting work.

 

In 2004, we created the UNC Perinatal Psychiatry Program which now has a clinical presence across the Triangle. We wanted to make sure we were able to serve moms in the state to make sure we’re ensuring the maternal mental health of the women and families of North Carolina.

 

While many academic centers do great research, not all run clinical programs and we wanted to make sure we were able to do both. So one of the ways to address maternal mental health is to reach moms wherever they are. Our team at UNC has worked to develop innovative clinical programs that can improve our ability to deliver care. We’ve been able to embed mental health providers both in OBGYN clinics, pediatric clinics, family medicine clinics. We’ve worked hard to train medical students and medical residents so that they’re able to address maternal mental health issues in the next generation.

 

Dr. Meltzer Brody’s work on developing medicines that treat postpartum depression have shown potentially life changing results and have drawn national publicity.

 

One of the things we’ve been able to do is work on novel clinical trial drug development for the last five years. It’s been a really exciting time for us. The USFDA approved  Zulresso (Brexanolone) for the treatment of postpartum depression making this the first drug specifically indicated for postpartum depression. I’ve had the privilege of serving as the academic principal investigator of the clinical trials of Brexanolone and this approval is likely to change the way postpartum depression is treated for women with severe symptoms. Given the robust results of the Zulresso clinical trials, we believe that this is going to be an important treatment option that could provide relief for women with postpartum depression: a disorder that can have a range of severity but can be devastating for mothers and families. Brexanolone or Zulresso works differently than currently existing antidepressant medications. Common symptoms of postpartum depression, a mood disorder in women that can be triggered by the normal fluctuations in reproductive hormones that occur during pregnancy to postpartum, can include low mood, feeling overwhelmed, anxious, having ruminating thoughts.

 

Some moms withdraw from the baby in her family. At worst, women can have suicidal thoughts. And postpartum depression again is one of the most common complications of pregnancy impacting at least one in nine mothers in the United States. These profoundly depressed women who came to our unit and were able to participate in the first open label study had a markedly robust response within the first 24 hours of what was a 60 hour infusion. In total of all women who received the drug in the clinical trials the majority, about 70 percent, had a robust treatment response and this was maintained over the 30 day follow up period.

 

Ninety-four percent of women who had an initial response continued to have a sustained response at the 30 day follow up period after treatment.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Samantha Meltzer-Brody (B)

Welcome to Focus Carolina. An exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m Provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. At the School of Medicine, Dr. Samantha Meltzer Brody is dedicated to investigating new treatment options for postpartum depression. She also created a telemedicine program that allows physicians across the state to consult with Carolina’s medical professionals about patients in their practices.

 

Dr. Meltzer Brody’s team has also developed a smartphone app to help warn women about postpartum depression.

 

One of the things that’s so important is understanding what causes postpartum depression. What triggers this often devastating complication of childbirth? There are enormous hormonal fluctuations that normally occur in all women who give birth between pregnancy to postpartum. And one of the things we were curious about is who are the women who develop postpartum depression? Everyone has the normal hormonal fluctuations but only some mothers appear to be vulnerable to this. We’ve been fortunate to have NIH-funded work focused on understanding the genetic signature of postpartum depression. Genetic studies require very large sample sizes. Often thousands of people need to participate and this can take a very long time.

 

Our team has been fortunate over the last few years to be able to partner with Apple. And using their research kit, we’ve created the PPD ACT app. This is an app that any woman can download. And it asks them about their clinical experience with postpartum depression and then gives them the option to donate a DNA sample using a spit kit. The PPD ACT app was the first Apple Research Kit that allowed collection of genetic samples. The app has had a huge impact. We have had thousands of women across the country participate and we’ve had more than 3500 DNA samples that have come in via a spit kit. And these are now being contributed to an international consortium that is actively studying the genetic marker for postpartum depression.

 

This has been a large team effort with the Departments of Psychiatry and Genetics and a huge team of collaborators. To date we have identified over 15000 cases of women with postpartum depression around the world. And we are now working toward a large scale postpartum depression genome wide association study. Collaborators at UNC include Dr. Patrick Sullivan and Dr. Jerry Guintivano in the Department of Genetics. This work has been also made possible by the UNC Health Care and School of Medicine innovation center that’s been directed by Dr. David Rubinow and Carol Lewis. This work is really an example of the best of the collaborative spirit at Carolina.

 

This kind of partnership and team science allows us to do innovative work that would otherwise be impossible.

 

Another focus of Dr. Meltzer Brody’s multidisciplinary work is supporting all women across the state of North Carolina.

 

One of our missions at the UNC School of Medicine is to serve the people of North Carolina. And we’re really excited about new work that allows us to partner with the state and reach women to provide expert consultation and perinatal mental health. This is part of our mandate. We’re also working to have the delivery of psychotherapy both in-person and remotely using telehealth funded by a different federal grant.

 

Our mission is to change the way we deliver clinical care using the best of research and science to develop new treatments and new ways of doing things that will improve the way women are treated with postpartum depression and make care better than it was before. Postpartum depression is the greatest cause of maternal mortality. For women to suffer in silence and not know that the symptoms they’re having are not okay, one of the most important things we can do is for all new moms who are having symptoms of depression or anxiety and not understanding what it means. It’s not your fault. You have not done something wrong.

 

The most important thing is talking to your doctor or health care provider. Being screened and getting treated. There are effective treatments and helping you get better is not only good for you and for the mom but it’s critical for the baby. Postpartum depression, if untreated, can cause difficulties with mom-baby bonding and attachment and that can have really long lasting negative consequences for the child. So it’s so important that anyone suffering with postpartum depression is screened and treated and there’s lots of good resources to find including on our wesite at UNC but also on Postpartum Support International.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Jonas Monast (A)

Welcome to Focus Carolina. An exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m Provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. Jonas Monast directs the Center on Climate Energy Environment and Economics at Carolina’s School of Law. He is focused on aligning energy policy and environmental goals. He’s also studying how decisions we make today will influence the future.

 

We’re not an advocacy organization so we wouldn’t go into a state lawmakers office and say this is what you should do. We will first off say “What are the issues that you’re grappling with? What are the questions you have?” But also make sure that they understand that the electricity sector is changing. There are more options for consumers to control how they use their electricity– how they interact with the electricity grid. But also make sure they understand that, in terms of environmental protection, there are a lot more options and likely are going to be more options in the future to ensure that we can meet the three goals of affordability reliability and environmental protection. And if they have better information our theory is that with better information then we get to better policy outcomes.

 

I think that most policymakers are very interested in having good solid information. They may make different value choices. They may use that information and and come to different conclusions. But I think that, on the whole, policymakers would prefer to have more solid objective information than less. The role that we try to play at CE3 is not to tell the policymakers what they should do but to recognize they have a lot of people who are telling them what they should do what we want to do is help them understand what the choices are help them understand the implications of the choices if they go one direction versus the other.

 

And today also helped them understand that they may be able to achieve multiple benefits. It’s not just affordability versus environmental protection. A lot of the options now for electricity generation are cleaner and are cheaper. So, renewable energy is getting cheaper, battery storage is getting cheaper, natural gas is cheaper and there are fewer emissions from a natural gas-fired power plant than a coal-fired power plant, for example.

 

Professor Monast and his colleagues at CE3 and the UNC Law School create a two-way bridge between experts and academia. Policymakers and stakeholders who are engaged in these important energy issues.

 

So we do that by releasing white papers we do that by creating roundtable discussions where we make sure that we in academia are hearing the questions that policymakers are asking and then we can go back and make sure that our work is focusing on those real time applied questions. Our energy laws in this country were designed largely around our understandings of the electricity sector in the 1960s and 1970s and those laws, unless they change, those laws are going to influence how the electricity sector of the 2040s and 2050s is evolves. So, what we try to do with the Law School is first make it clear what the current rules are.

 

Explore how those current rules are going to influence questions about the role of renewable energy, the role of battery storage, the role of centralized electricity generation versus the role of distributed generation. If the laws don’t change that’s going to take us down a certain trajectory and that trajectory is going to look more like the past. If we want the electricity sector to look different or if we want to bring in more values more public policy goals in the electricity sector then we need to understand how to strategically make some of those changes.

 

Encouraging students to practice law in the energy and environmental sectors is an important goal of CE3.

 

Ensuring that students are prepared to go out and practice law in energy or environment today requires more than just a very good classroom education. It requires understanding the factors that are causing environmental policy to change, causing the electricity sector to change. Understanding where the sources of conflict are understanding historically how the law has evolved and where it may go and what some of the constraints are. We create opportunities for students to participate in our roundtable discussions that we have with stakeholders and public policymakers so they’re not just hearing from professors they’re also hearing from the people that they may be working for or working with in the future.

 

We have students as co-authors on the white papers when we’re trying to answer a question that we’ve heard from a public policymaker making sure that students are working side by side with us to address some of these pressing societal questions. I think one important thing to do is ask hard questions of politicians as they run for office. If we expect legislators at the state level or at the federal level to take climate change seriously they need to know that we take climate change seriously.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Jonas Monast (B)

Welcome to Focus Carolina. An exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m Provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. Jonas Monast directs the Center on Climate, Energy, Environment and Economics at Carolina’s School of Law. He is focused on aligning energy policy and environmental goals. He’s also studying how decisions we make today will influence the future.

 

A major project that we have at CE3 right now is focusing on how electricity sector competition is changing and how states could harness some of those changes to deliver benefits to consumers in terms of lower energy prices but also benefits to consumers in terms of better environmental outcomes. So,reducing the environmental impact of the electricity sector. So generally we think of competition as delivering lower prices. As long as a company doesn’t have too much control over the market then consumers would have multiple choices. So if one company is charging prices that are too high they have other options.

 

In the early 1900s, states treated electric utilities as natural monopolies. So states made the determination that having multiple companies building large centralized power plants and running their own power lines from those power plants to our homes and businesses would actually result in higher costs for consumers rather than lower costs. So that’s what’s called a natural monopoly. So the states treated those as monopolies and in exchange for the electric utility not facing competition the utility, which is a private firm, agreed to have the state regulate the rates that it charges consumers.

 

So that’s the role of North Carolina’s Utilities Commission; is setting the rates that Duke Energy can charge to its ratepayers. So at  CE3 what we’re focusing on  trying to help stakeholders and policymakers understand is there is more of an ability now to harness opportunities for competition to deliver those benefits. So that can be in terms of increasing opportunities for homeowners to install solar panels on their rooftops. So third party leasing, for example, allowing other companies besides just the utility to install solar panels, own those solar panels, and the homeowner pays a fee is at least for having those solar panels. So they don’t need Duke Energy Commission to do that even though they’re in Duke Energy’s exclusive service territory other companies are now providing power to end users. So that’s a change.

 

Professor Monast points to other innovations that can help home and business owners to cut down on their energy costs such as the Smart Thermostat.

 

So there are multiple strategies out there and I think that is important for stakeholders that care about these kinds of things to understand that it’s not just a choice of have competition, don’t have competition. Break up the monopoly or not break up the monopoly. There are a lot of other ways that we can harness competition, allow the utility to keep playing the role that it plays, allow the utilities commission to still have some oversight into how the electricity sector evolves into the future and still achieve some of the environmental benefits and some of the affordability benefits that we expect out of the evolving electricity sector.

 

So you can program that thermostat to control your energy usage. Maybe use less energy because you’re not heating or cooling your house when you’re not there. Even when you are using the power using it at times when the electricity may be cheaper if we had time of use rates, for example, than when it’s more expensive. So that’s just one example of a number of these technological options that are available to consumers now. Again where you don’t have to get permission to use them. But it does require the utility to react differently because we may be using power at different times during the day or we may be using less power overall as a result.

 

When we wake up in the morning, electricity demand goes up. When we come home in the afternoon in the summer here in North Carolina electricity demand goes up because we’re using our air conditioners. So these smart thermostats can actually help the utility by moving electricity demand to other parts of the day. So if electricity demand is going up in the afternoon that means that the power provider either has to turn on more power plants or convince enough of us to turn off our air conditioners or turn off our large industrial facilities at that point during the day. And then power can be cheaper because we’re not running as many power plants.

 

It also means that if we’re getting that power from fossil fuel fired generation then if we’re not turning on as many power plants we’re not emitting as many pollutants. So CE3 at UNC School of Law just released a policy brief in collaboration with the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University that’s focusing on exactly this issue. It’s about harnessing competition in states that don’t want to move away from monopoly utility. So what are some of the options for doing so? How can states be more strategic about it rather than just simply saying “we want to increase consumer options for solar” or “we want to increase consumer options for energy efficiency.”

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Richard Myers (A)

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is Chancellor Carol Folt and I’m excited to introduce this new series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. Richard Myers was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Central District of California. A transfer lead him to Raleigh and later to Carolina’s School of Law. Today is the Rules Committee Chair for the Eastern District Court in North Carolina. At Carolina, he organizes seminars that incorporate his real world, firsthand experience to teach his students.

 

Richard Myers immigrated to the U.S. with his family when he was 10. As a federal attorney, he loved to say I represent the United States of America.

 

I’m a Jamaican native. We moved to Miami for four years and then moved to North Carolina. Lived in Wilmington, went to high school, college and graduate school there, and I was a newspaper reporter there for four years. My bachelor’s was pre-law, poli-sci; master’s is history with an emphasis on intelligence and national security, so I thought I was leaving to become a State Department or federal agent of some kind. But that didn’t play out. I became a newspaper reporter at the Wilmington Morning Star sort of by accident. I went in to talk to somebody, sort of doing an informational interview and I ended up getting the job and it was a great four years. I couldn’t think of any better training for becoming an investigative attorney than being a journalist. After a year I realized that the people who were doing the things I found most interesting affected the way people thought about problems. A lot of those folks were lawyers. I had sort of done all I could do as a reporter. And so the time to move had come. So when I started thinking about what do I really want to do, I applied to law school.

 

Myers applied to UNC and received the prestigious Chancellor Scholarship, which paid for his tuition. He served as a teaching assistant to Ken Brown, who was also dean of the UNC Law School at the time.

 

Ken Brown invited me to be a co-author on his book on evidence and is probably one of the top five people in the country on evidence law. Law school was sort of opened the world up. It gave me a lot of opportunities and a lot of different places. I clerked on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal which is considered the second highest court in the country by a lot of folks. Justice Scalia was there, Justice Thomas was there. So it’s an amazing experience.

 

Myers graduated with honors in 1998 and accepted an associate position with O’Melveny and Myers in Los Angeles.

 

I was under white collar crime group and the partners were former federal prosecutors. It’s one of the few places where you get a lot of real trials at a very sophisticated level.

 

Myers knew his next move, but it happened literally overnight when the World Trade Centers were attacked on 9/11.

 

My mom called me from the east coast and said “wake up, something strange is going on in New York.” You know I saw the second plane hit and then they shut down the country, right? And that made me realize, this is I’ve been thinking about this thing, but I want to get into the game. And so Sept. 12, 2001, I took my paperwork that had been sitting in a desk drawer for some day and sent it in. All right. I’m going to do this now. This was something I felt that I could do and that I owed back to a country that had been really good to my family. I think it’s not that strange to have lives change that day. I think there are a lot of people who have stories where that was a pivot point. I applied to be a federal prosecutor and I’ve been thinking about that for a while but that was a catalyst. I was a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles for a little while and a federal prosecutor in Raleigh for a little while.

 

After serving his country, Myers got the chance to serve his university and he jumped at it.

 

And then my alma mater came calling and said, “Hey, would you be interested in teaching here?” And I said no I can’t think of anything more important to do with my time. And so I went from you know cutting trees down one at a time to building axes. And that’s sort of how I think about it. I send my students out in the world and I won’t see all the things they do to change the world, but I know they’re changing it. So if I have a little part in that, then I affect the future. I was a private sector with the newspaper, went to law school, public sector clerking for a judge, private sector. Went on to be a federal prosecutor which, I tell my students, if you’re going to practice law, it’s a great job. Your job is to do the right thing. That’s your job every day. I love living in Chapel Hill and you know, I went to law school here so I knew what I was getting into when I came back and couldn’t be happier with being at my alma mater and being in Chapel Hill.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews, visit chapelboro.com and click on “WCHL on demand” or visit unc.edu.

Focus Carolina: Richard Myers (B)

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is Chancellor Carol Folt and I’m excited to introduce this new series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. Richard Myers was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Central District of California. A transfer lead him to Raleigh and later to Carolina’s School of Law. Today he is the Rules Committee Chair for the Eastern District Court in North Carolina. At Carolina, he organizes seminars that incorporate his real world, firsthand experience to teach his students.

 

Myers teaches classes in criminal law and procedure and also has two very important projects outside of the classroom.

 

The chief judge of the Eastern District of North Carolina, he invited me to serve as the academic chair for their rules committee. How we’re going to go about the business of appearing in court. So here is how long pleadings can be. Here’s what you have to do when you actually enter the courtroom. There are lots of things that actually have written rules, because it’s like putting on a play and you want it to spend as little of the jury’s time figuring out the rules of the road as possible. You want it to look the same every time. How do we do this in a way that’s going to be as fair as possible and set neutral rules of the road? How do we make sure that the First Amendment issues are met while at the same time making sure that the secrecy is met so that witnesses aren’t in danger? So sometimes you get into interesting big balancing.

 

Another important project Myers works on is a badge camera symposium on when and why police should wear a badge camera.

 

The UNC Law Review, which is our sort of in-house journal, and we have a symposium which is an issue of that journal that is devoted to a single issue. How does badge camera change our knowledge of what the police are actually doing, the dangers they actually face, any abuses that might actually exist? How do we think about what badge cameras provide to us? We’ve had them rolling out piecemeal all over the country with very different policies. So we had a symposium that sort of thought about what do they do. Some of the big issues are who wears them? When are they turned on? When are they turned off? How long do you store the video? Who has a right to have access to the video? If you have access to the video, how do you protect victim privacy? So figuring out how all of the complex questions fit together in departmental policies was really interesting, because a lot of these are written by police departments and they look very different if they were written by police departments or if they were written by a civil liberties organization or if they were written by somebody else. And so we sort of took a bunch of the policies and said, “here are the things that every policy should have in it and here are the big questions you know you need to answer.” And after that, politics is local.

 

Police badge camera policies can differ from one police force to another, and from one state to another.

 

If your vision of who the police are is Andy Griffith, you have a very different badge camera policy than if your concern is Bull Connor and he’s going to set the dogs and fire hoses on peaceful marchers. If you have different visions of who the police are, you set your policy differently and that’s local. We did a second day that was for law enforcement and politicians and so we had folks who were city council, all the way up to the North Carolina legislature and we had beat officers and chiefs of police and we sort of had a closed one-day information sharing opportunity where we all sort of talked about these issues and what we might think about. And some of it I’m sure will end up in departmental policy some of it will end up in the way legislation looks in the future, and some of it will end up being how lawyers think about how should we litigate for things like access to police video.

 

How and when to use the badge cameras remains a sticking point, one that has yet to be resolved.

 

Some folks resist it until they’ve had it for a little while and they’ve had a false accusation and they can go to the video. None of us want a camera that’s filming me while I go to the bathroom in the middle of my shift; I’m going to have a problem. So questions like when do you turn it on and when do you turn it off and when can you turn around and when can you turn off and who controls that. So figuring out how you’re going to even make those simple human accommodations actually belongs in your policy. When you get down to the nitty gritty, you really can come up with very different responses. I think good cops really like having it at the end of the day. They do a very hard job for us. I’m a believer in the cameras. I think the cameras do a lot. I also think some of that stuff can be taken out of context if you don’t know. And we have to make sure we give them protection and the benefit of the doubt, as well. I actually think it’s a really complex issue.

 

Thank you for listening to focus Carolina, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews, visit chapelboro.com and click on “WCHL on demand” or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Mitch Prinstein (A)

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is Chancellor Carol Folt and I’m excited to introduce this new series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. This year Carolina chose Dr. Mitch Prinstein’s book, “Popular,” as its first-year students’ summer reading book. As part of his research, Dr. Prinstein explains why childhood popularity plays a key role in human development and how it still influences people as adults in their personal and professional lives. Dr. Prinstein works in our clinical psychology program, part of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience in Carolina’s College of Arts and Sciences.

 

Dr. Prinstein believes his new book is more critical to young society than ever.

 

I wrote the book because people don’t often realize how important our popularity is in predicting so many different areas of our lives, and in particular right now I’m a bit concerned that our world is focusing on the wrong kind of popularity, when we should be focused on the kind that helps us be happy and successful. When most people hear the word “popular,” they think about the times they were in high school and who is kind of cool, or most visible, dominant, influential, kind of powerful. That is one type of popularity that psychologists have studied, but it turns out that’s related to pretty bad outcomes long term. Most people who had that kind of popularity are at much greater risk for anxiety, depression, relationship problems and addictions. The kind of popularity that we should care about begins when we’re really young—three or four years old–and it has to do with how much we’re well-liked by others, how much we make other people feel happy, valued and included. That seems to be related to a whole host of positive outcomes professionally, personally, and it even helps us live longer.

 

Popular could be a valuable guide for students embarking on an important fork in the road of their lives.

 

Over three-quarters of college students enter school hoping for an opportunity to hit the social reset button, to get a new reputation and start over with some new friends. Chapel Hill students are no different. I’m so excited that this book was selected because it offers a virtual instruction manual for how to do that the right way, how to make sure that if you’re starting over and you’re trying to be popular, you’re focusing on the right kind of popularity and how to do so that will help you break the bad patterns you might have developed while you were a, maybe not as cool as you wanted to, high school student.

 

Often the adolescent brain is not trained to handle life in a completely new environment.

 

It doesn’t matter if you’re 22 or 102. We all had our brains develop in high school in a way that makes us see things for the rest of our lives as if we’re still adolescents. It makes us expect people to interact with us in the same way that people interacted with us when we were in high school. The most important thing we can do is realize that, although our brain might be trained to make us think that people are responding to us the way they used to, we’re in a completely new environment now. People are interacting with us in completely different ways and we have to stop ourselves from thinking of us as that 14-year-old version that is still inside, and recognize that people see us as someone completely different than who we once were.

 

And social media can compound the problem.

 

It’s human nature for us to make assumptions, and most of us make assumptions in our social lives as well and that can be really good. But once we leave high school and enter into a new context, whether we’re about to start college, or even as an adult who’s about to start a new job, we need to challenge those assumptions. We need to ask sometimes, kind of getting the feeling that maybe this didn’t go so well or that maybe someone’s responding to me in a negative way. But let me just check in and ask them, “Is this the way you’re thinking right now or am I coming across the way that you think I am?” and well, very often people are surprised to find out that their emotional reaction to a situation is based on old news, something that happened to them decades earlier, and the people around them are actually interacting with them in a way that’s totally different than how people treated them when they were in high school.

 

According to Dr. Prinstein, parents are often caught between the generational gap created by social media.

 

Well, parents are in a tricky spot because none of us have the social lives that teens have now on social media. Most kids spend more time interacting with their peers through a device than actual face-to-face or voice-to-voice interactions. They’re not having real relationships. That’s something parents can really help with, to reintroduce real conversations back into adolescents’ and young adults’ lives.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews, visit chapelboro.com and click on “WCHL on demand” or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Mitch Prinstein (B)

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is Chancellor Carol Folt and I’m excited to introduce this new series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. This year Carolina chose Dr. Mitch Prinstein’s book “Popular” as its first-year students’ summer reading book. As part of his research, Dr. Prinstein explains why childhood popularity plays a key role in human development and how it still influences people as adults in their personal and professional lives. Dr. Prinstein works in our Clinical Psychology Program, part of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience in Carolinas College of Arts and Sciences.

 

Parents can encourage their college bound children to interact the way they did and not rely on social media profiles.

 

When kids go to college, parents remember their own experiences in college and there’s a lot of research showing how much there’s an intergenerational similarity between what parents go through in their social lives and what young adults go through, as they kind of learn from their parents. It’s really important for parents to be careful about the messages that they’re sending, and also how they’re experiencing popularity today as adults in their own professional and personal lives. One of the things that we talk about a lot in the book is the way in which these popularity dynamics continue to play out all through middle age and as we are elderly too. Kids watch that they learn from that and they take their messages about what parents value by looking at what it seems like parents are valuing in their own adult relationships.

 

Despite parents having less knowledge about social media Dr. Prinstein thinks they can still help their children avoid the pitfalls of online relationships.

 

Parents do a great job talking with their kids about their social lives offline. Parents don’t do as great a job asking their kids what their online social interactions are and if they did, they might have an opportunity to talk a little bit more about how their kids should be interpreting what they see online. If you saw someone post, let’s say something dangerous or inappropriate or illegal on their profile, why do you think they really posted that? How to help adolescents take those online experiences and use them to enrich offline experiences, which unfortunately is just the opposite of what often happens now. Very often teenagers will take what they’re doing offline and use it merely for fodder to increase the number of their followers online. That’s where parents can help kids reverse that damaging process.

 

Dr. Prinstein has studied how developing old-fashioned relationships can help relieve the stress of online meet ups.

 

In my lab, we’ve been doing a lot of research on the effects of social media and how that influences developing competencies. And a very recent graduate from my lab, Dr. Jackie Mnisi, and I found that the extent to which kids are interacting on social media at times when they’re supposed to be developing basic romantic relationships skills, kind of in those high school years, the more time they been on social media the more delayed their romantic relationship skills are. So there is good reason for us to think about how to engage in these behaviors in moderation. Most people don’t realize the extent to which kids experience interpersonal stress really spikes in adolescence and continues up until around the age 25 particularly for females. There’s a tremendous increase in the rate of depression. By the age of 25, one out of every five young women will have experienced a clinically diagnosable major depressive episode. This is an epidemic that we don’t talk about very often. But the college student years are a very important time for us to care about stress and depression, particularly among females.

 

Dr. Prinstein says mental health screening is a vital first step for parents who are worried about their children’s behavior.

 

We need to be screening all adolescents and young adults for depression and suicidal thoughts, and we need to be referring those who are thinking about suicide directly to a qualified mental health professional, who can use one of the many evidence-based procedures that we currently have to prevent any exacerbation of those symptoms and prevent suicide. So we need to connect people who are vulnerable to mental health treatment immediately.

 

Open communication between parents and children is the best first step toward relieving stress and keeping people safe.

 

There’s no better medicine to prevent depression and suicide than open conversations between parents and children that express empathy and caring and a willingness to hear even the most scary thoughts that adolescents might be thinking about as they’re dealing with a lot of stress.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit chapelboro.com and click on “WCHL on demand or visit UNC. edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Rocio Quinonez (A)

Welcome to Focus Carolina. An exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is Chancellor Carol Folt and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. When she was young Dr. Rocio Quinonez dreamed of working in a children’s hospital. Today she’s a pediatric dentist at the School of Dentistry where she works to make sure children see a dentist by age 1. She oversees the baby oral health program which insures dentists are ready to treat infants and toddlers setting them up for a lifetime of healthy teeth.

 

After graduating from the UNC School of Dentistry Dr. Quinonez’s dream was to work in a children’s hospital and today she is a well known expert in creating pediatric dental programs.

 

I really wanted to be a pediatric dentist at a children’s hospital. I imagined a career doing that and my dad even wrote me a poem about it when I graduated. However, as my career developed, hospital dentistry became one of the many areas in pediatric dentistry that I have been engaged in. The programs have been a team effort and have focused on prenatal and early childhood oral health. They are called the Prenatal Oral Health Program also known as pOHP and the Baby Oral Health Program known as bOHP. The goals of the programs have been to educate, in the case of pOHP, prenatal providers and dentists about the safety of caring for pregnant patients and how to collaborate and provide interprofessional care with an emphasis on prevention.

 

For the Baby Oral Health Program, the focus has been on educating the dental team who care for young children. Whether they’re a general dentist or pediatric dentists on best practices. This has been pretty exciting time— a new adventure for me. The changing healthcare system and environment certainly calls for health professionals to re-examine how best to educate our students who need to be resilient for the next 40 years of their career while having the skills and confidence, not just to excel in the current practice models, but help define future ones. Our curriculum here at the UNC School of Dentistry is called ACT for Advocate, Clinician, and Thinker.

 

I’m extremely lucky to be working with a great team. Our Curriculum Innovation Steering Committee and we have an outstanding and accomplished faculty team that will be the architects of the curriculum. We expect that our first class will begin in the summer of 2021 using this new framework. So we’re really excited about this.

 

The practice of treating children at a young age is a relatively new concept.

 

The idea that we should be seeing infants and toddlers was actually first introduced by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry in the mid 80s. It was not until 2003, however, the National Pediatric Medical guidelines actually mirrored this. What we now call the “Age 1” dental visit. So prior to that, physicians actually recommended that the first dental visit occur at age 3. Another way to think of this is first tooth, first birthday, first visit. With a goal to help promote health and disease prevention. Currently about 40 percent of children will begin kindergarten with a history of cavities, a disease that can be prevented.

 

bOHP aims to provide oral health professionals with the tools they need to deliver preventive oral health services to children that help shift trajectories of Health.

 

Dr. Quinonez is a staunch advocate of getting started earlier versus waiting a little longer.

 

There’s some pretty compelling evidence that emanated from a professor in economics at the University of Illinois. His name is Dr. James Heckman. He was interested in really understanding the gains to be had by investing early in the life course compared to later. Dr. Heckman actually won the Nobel Prize in 2000 and was able to demonstrate that early investment in human capital actually yields a return that’s nearly three times greater when focusing on prenatal and early childhood rather than later in the life course. In a world of limited resources and from a societal perspective this is pretty impactful data and noteworthy to consider.

 

Getting parents to bring their children to a dentist at a young age remains a challenge. And it often begins through conversations with older members of the family.

 

There are multiple ways but among the most effective is educating pediatricians and family physicians to counsel families about oral health beginning when their first tooth emerges into the oral cavity. Which is approximately between 6 and 8 months of age. Physicians are often the gateway to referring those children to a dentist or what we’d like to call the dental home. In North Carolina, there’s been a national leader in this area with a program called “into the mouth of babes.” The evaluation of this program has been part of a national policy conversation and has helped promote Medicaid reimbursement for physicians to deliver these preventive oral health services in the medical home and refer a child to a dentist. Being engaged with the evaluation component of these programs has been one of my proudest accomplishments in my career.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Rocio Quinonez (B)

Welcome to Focus Carolina. An exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is Chancellor Carol Folt and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. When she was young, Dr. Rocio Quinonez dreamed of working in a children’s hospital. Today she’s a pediatric dentist at the School of Dentistry where she works to make sure children see a dentist by age 1. She oversees the baby oral health program which ensures dentists are ready to treat infants and toddlers setting them up for a lifetime of healthy teeth.

 

Besides getting young patients started at an early dental care Dr. Quinonez also specializes in prenatal treatment for pregnant mothers.

 

Prenatal Oral Health Program also known as pOHP was a collaboration between both the UNC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the School of Dentistry. There’s a tremendous gap in the care of pregnant patients not just in North Carolina, but nationwide. Particularly among low income populations. And there’s a lot of work to be done to shift the culture, as many dentists were trained years ago that they should not treat the pregnant patient. The science really no longer supports this and pOHP aims to train generations of dentists that are comfortable and caring for pregnant patients as a prelude to caring for the child.

 

So we’re really excited that our students are able to have these experiences here at the UNC School of Dentistry. We have developed websites for a prenatal and baby oral health programs that are used internationally. Actually this summer I visited Xinhui (?) Hospital in Southern Medical University in China where they’ve implemented our programs. Just last year a faculty from NYU came to you UNC to learn more about our programs as they developed theirs. It’s really humbling to see others share your vision and use your work to advance their cause.

 

The pOHPand bOHP programs have dramatically increased the dialogue on funding and insurance coverage for pediatric and prenatal dental care.

 

For that program, this work certainly helped lead the national conversation that promoted Medicaid reimbursement for oral health of young children in the medical home. For a prenatal program, we hope that our work can help inform current policy. We’ve been able to demonstrate that many pregnant women enter the dental system quite late, namely in the latter part of the second trimester.Aand subsequently it does not leave a whole lot of time to deliver a comprehensive oral health care. Highlighting the missed opportunity with our current pregnancy Medicaid policies that only cover dental services until the time the baby’s born. I imagine a time when dental services can be seen as a family unit from pregnancy to 3—mirroring many of the national early childhood initiatives highlighting the first 1000 days of life. Which focuses on a preventive mindset of health care for both the mother and the child.

 

As Associate Dean for educational leadership and innovation, Dr. Quinonez works on reinventing curriculums.

 

This has been a pretty exciting time — new adventure for me.The changing healthcare system and environment certainly calls for health professions to re-examine how best to educate our students who need to be resilient for the next 40 years of their career while having the skills and confidence not just to excel in the current practice models, but help define future ones. Our curriculum here at the UNC School of Dentistry is called ACT for Advocate, Clinician, and Thinker. I’m extremely lucky to be working with a great team. Our curriculum innovation steering committee and we have an outstanding and accomplished faculty team that will be the architects of the curriculum. We expect that our first class will begin in the summer of 2021 using this new framework. So we’re really excited about this.

 

The daughter of an educator and physician, Dr. Quinonez is still gets her inspiration from multiple sources.

 

So many people have inspired me and continue to inspire me. I really wanted to be a pediatric dentist at children’s hospital. I imagined a career doing that and my dad even wrote me a poem about it when I graduated. I have to say that my parents have been pivotal. My mom worked with children growing up and she helped me see a window into that world and my father, now a retired physician and academician, has always been an inspiration. I’m really inspired every day I walk into the front doors at the School of Dentistry by the interactions with the students the families we care for and my colleagues.

 

UNC is really an extraordinary place and I’m inspired by a sense of duty. My desire to model for my sons and have them really understand the responsibility we all share in trying to leave the world a better place. And finally my husband who inspires me every day and reminds me that I can really do this.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews, visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Kurt Ribisl (A)

Welcome to Focus Carolina. An exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m Provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. At the Gillings School of Global Public Health, Dr. Kurt Ribisl researches how to reduce youth and adult tobacco use. He studies how cigarettes and e-cigarettes are marketed in stores and on the Internet. He also co-leads the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

 

In some ways the tobacco business is still booming. Dr. Ribisl studies the latest trends and findings.

 

So the good news is that cigarette smoking is at the lowest recorded level for both youth and adults. And this is really the work of tobacco control programs and these tobacco control programs have prevented 8 million premature deaths since 1964. So this is just a fantastic success story. Right now, we’re concerned about the rise of e-cigarettes and vaping. This is something that’s happened in the last five years. We’re seeing now that more kids in high school are vaping or using an E-cigarette than are smoking a cigarette. So this is probably one of the most interesting areas that we’re now looking at is how to address this issue of vaping.

 

Another area that’s interesting in tobacco control, I would say, is the retail environment or the store environment where cigarettes are sold. And they’re sold at gas stations, convenience stores, some pharmacies and for 20 years the main thing you’re doing at stores was focusing on just not selling to children. So let’s do a good job of verifying age and identity of the buyer. Also there were some excise taxes that we know that were applied and those reduce smoking. But now we’re seeing a lot of really innovative ways of regulating the way that cigarettes are sold in the U.S..

 

So San Francisco, for instance, just recently put a cap on the number of tobacco retailers. They have 45 retailers per supervisor all district and they’re not allowing any new ones to open or get a permit until the existing ones go out of business or don’t renew their license. In some cases they have over 100 in these districts and so it’s going to be a while before they have any new retailers. Over a dozen states have tobacco 21 where you have to be at least 21 or older to buy cigarettes and e-cigarettes and other products.

 

Most places that had been age 18 so they’re raising that up. I would also say Chicago, Minneapolis are restricting menthol products. Newport’s a major menthol brand. And so there’s been concern over some of these flavors and additives in cigarettes. So I think we’re seeing a lot of really interesting innovation at the local level for how to regulate cigarettes with the ultimate goal of reducing youth and adult smoking and tobacco use.

 

The U.S. was the first country to put warning labels on cigarette packs in 1960, but did not update them until 1984. However, imaging on U.S. packs is still tame compared to those found in Europe.

 

So people have traveled overseas have seen different cigarette warnings than we have in the U.S.. And so those warnings depict, like, diseased lungs and hearts and so forth. And these pictorial or picture based warnings are much more effective than the text warnings which in the U.S. appear on the side of the pack. That’s a small surgeon general’s warning. In fact, we’re tied for having the worst warnings in the world. One of the key things that we’d like to see the U.S. Food and Drug Administration do is implement a graphic pictorial warnings on cigarette packs.

 

We’ve done a couple of studies where we’ve looked at countries that have done this and we find that it reduces the smoking rates and people quit more often as a result of these warnings. We also did an experimental study here led by Dr. Noel Brewer in the School of Public Health. And what he did is he’d labeled people with these warnings similar to ones that are used in other countries and half the people got those warnings and half had the normal Surgeon General’s warning and those pictorial warnings cause people to quit more often. And so we think that they have great potential and it’s a relatively cheap and low cost policy for the U.S. government to implement.

 

Dr. Ribisl also co-leads the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

 

We have over 55 faculty in our group and they specialize in oncology, social and behavioral Sciences, communication, health policy and we work on ways of preventing cancer doing a better job of screening for cancers. And if people have cancer, how to promote better survivorship. It’s a fantastic interdisciplinary group that we’ve got here at the cancer center. We’re doing work all over the state of North Carolina really from the mountains to the coast and eastern North Carolina. We’re doing work. We’re constantly testing new interventions that will promote breast cancer and colon cancer screening.

 

We’re trying to promote HPV vaccination, reduce obesity and also preventing smoking and other tobacco use. So these are a number of the things that we’re doing to reduce the cancer burden in North Carolina.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews, visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Kurt Ribisl (B)

Welcome to Focus Carolina. An exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m Provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. At the Gillings School of Global Public Health, Dr. Kurt Ribisl researches how to reduce youth and adult tobacco use. He studies how cigarettes and e-cigarettes are marketed in stores and on the Internet. He also co-leads the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

 

Dr. Ribisl says juul is the hottest new e-cigarettes among young smokers.

 

Juul is a really new phenomenon. Hit the marketplace in the last few years. If you’ve seen the product before it looks like a USB flash drive. Fits in the palm of your hand and it has a very high level of nicotine that’s delivered in a very smooth way. They have a patented technology to deliver nicotine in a way that is not as harsh. It comes in a number of flavors that are appealing to youth like mango. And so this is a real dilemma right now. Seven out of 10 products sold at stores now are our juul.

 

So they have a really large market share. And this is one of the key things that we have our eyes on in the area of tobacco control. Because of the nature of the device, because it’s smaller it fits in your hand and so you can do what’s called covert vaping. And so kids are sometimes doing it in school. There’s a joke in the high schools that there are two lines for the bathroom, one for people who actually have to go to the bathroom and the other line for people who are juuling. And so this is a key thing that we’re focusing on. It has a nicotine salt technology as part of why it’s a very smooth form of the nicotine delivery and this is something we really need to make sure that we reduce. One of things that we need to make sure of is that kids cannot buy e-cigarettes online.

 

A few years ago my colleagues and I did a study where we had underage kids try and buy e-cigarettes from websites and nine out of 10 times an underage youth was able to buy an e-cigarette. So it’s important that we do enforcement operations to make sure that the cigarette sellers online are doing a better job of verifying the age of their buyers.

 

An area Dr. Ribisl and his team are studying at UNC is how to put a warning label on e-cigarettes.

 

Right now there is one warning label required on the packaging and so that it talks about how an E-cigarette contains nicotine and this type of warning we think is useful but we think that we could do a better job of doing warning labels and so are our research team is looking at ways how we could label the actual device because a number of times people will buy the device, they’ll toss out the packaging and not see a label anymore. Whereas with a cigarette they’re in the pack and you’re seeing the warning label every time you’re smoking.

 

And so we want to see the warning label, to have the reminder of the warning label each time you use the product. If you’re a pack a day smoker you’re smoking 20 cigarettes per day. So you’ll see the warning label each time. And then over the course of a year that’s over 7000 times you’re exposed to a warning label. So we think that the warning labels hold great potential for reducing smoking. One of the things that’s different about these e-cigarettes is they come in a wide array of candy and fruit flavors.

 

In fact, there was a researcher who did a study to track how many flavors that are. And he found over 7000 flavors of e-cigarettes are available. They come in flavors like mango, strawberry, gummy bear. These are really appealing to youth. And a recent study looked at kids who started vaping. Eighty four percent of them used a flavored product. So these flavors seem to play a role as people are starting out using the product and they’re very appealing to kids and so I think one of the things that we need to think about doing is restricting flavors.

 

I’m not sure we’re ready to ban every flavor yet but there definitely needs to be some ways of restricting flavors because we don’t need 7000 candy and fruit flavored e-cigarettes.

 

Parents can play an important role in monitoring and controlling the e-cigarettes their kids use.

 

Parents should be concerned about vaping and their child. So there are three things I would recommend for parents. Number one, educate yourself about e-cigarettes. And there is some fact sheets that the CDC has put on their Web site and you could learn about the products see what a Juul device looks like if you don’t know what they are. Because a number of times kids will have an e-cigarette the parents won’t even know that they have one. Secondly, talk with your kids. Share information about what you’ve learned by educating yourself and also set norms that using an e-cigarettes is not acceptable or any type of tobacco product.

 

So be very clear about that. And thirdly, parents should be role models. And if you’re a smoker or tobacco user, quit. Talk with a health professional about ways of quitting, set a quit date and stop using the product. While you’re trying to quit, make sure you never use a tobacco product in the house or in a car around your family.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews, visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Kelly Ryoo (A)

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is Chancellor Carol Folt and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. In the School of Education, Dr. Kelly Ryoo is developing tools to help eighth grade students, including students who speak English as a second language, to learn about science with simulations and visualizations. She and her team are creating tools to help students learn scientific concepts and discuss what they’re learning. When the materials are complete, they will be shared online for any teacher to download at no cost for use in the classroom.

 

Dr. Ryoo was the valedictorian of her undergraduate college class in Korea, where she was inspired to erase the language barrier that made science difficult to understand.

 

Well, I didn’t plan to be the valedictorian. But yeah it was actually, it was a surprising news. I was out of the country and when I came back I got a voicemail from the school. They’re like “oh, you will be valedictorian and like you have to come to a graduation ceremony.” I majored in public health and health education and I had an opportunity to teach high school students like for about one semester as a student teacher. And I was using video resources to help them understand defensive mechanisms. And at that time, we didn’t have a YouTube or great internet access, so we had to literally edit all the videos of movies to help them better understand. And that made me realize that it would be great to utilize technology for education.

 

Dr. Ryoo earned a Master of Arts in learning design and technology at Stanford. She remained in Palo Alto to get her doctorate in learning sciences and technology design with a specialization in science education. In 2012, she came to UNC to put her education into practice and developed a project that teaches science in public schools in low income areas with high teacher turnover and language diverse students.

 

My research focuses on promoting equity for linguistically diverse students in science education, through the design and use of visualization technology. I am particularly interested in how these visualization technology can create equitable learning opportunities for English learners who speak English as their second language. They are the fastest growing population in the United States, but it has been a challenging task for teachers to support them in mainstream classrooms because they are such a diverse group of students with the different levels of proficiency in English and their home languages. They can speak English to communicate their ideas and they receive instruction in English in mainstream classrooms. But research has shown that they can struggle with the academic language of science. So we work with those science teachers and English as a Second Language teachers to design visualization technologies and inquiry projects to better support their science learning.

 

Dr. Ryoo’s young students help communicate about their projects by building models to visualize the experiments.

 

My current project we use different forms of visualization technology, including simulations, animations and modeling environments. We designed those technologies and implement them into inquiry projects. So each unit of our project is about a week or two weeks long and these technologies can help students engage in science practices, like a scientist would do. They can design their experiments, they can collect data, they can analyze data to support their claims, they can develop a visual model of their understanding of the scientific system. And what’s really exciting about our project is that these technologies can provide automated feedback based on student work. So each student can have different types of feedback and they can use that kind of feedback to refine their work.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapel Burle dot com and click on Debbies CHL on demand or visit you and see dot edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Kelly Ryoo (B)

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is Chancellor Carol Folt and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. In the School of Education, Dr. Kelly Ryoo is developing tools to help eighth grade students, including students who speak English as a second language, to learn about science with simulations and visualizations. She and her team are creating tools to help students learn scientific concepts and discuss what they’re learning. When the materials are complete, they will be shared online for any teacher to download at no cost for use in the classroom.

 

Dr. Ryoo’s public school students are divided into four units and they work in pairs. The goal is to help them talk to each other about science and develop hypotheses and have fun coming up with the solutions.

 

My current research is funded by the National Science Foundation. And this is a five year project and we are entering our third year. We work with four Title I middle schools in North Carolina. They are all within 50 miles from UNC-Chapel Hill, they serve a large number of students who speak English as their second language and who receive free or reduced lunch. We work with to their eighth grade science teachers to design, test and revise visualization technology and inquiry projects that these teachers implement as part of their regular science class. One example would be visualizations that teachers implemented is a simulation. Simulation allows students to manipulate different variables and design their own virtual experiments. They can see the results with their experiment in multiple forms, including molecular animations or observable level animations, pictures, graphs and text. So they can have different ways of understanding these abstract and complex scientific concepts. Another example of our visualization is a modeling environment. And this technology allows students to visually represent their ideas about a scientific system using icons, labels, stems and text. And it has been found to be effective to give English learners a way, multiple ways, to represent their understanding because they do not have to rely on linguistic resources to articulate their ideas.

 

Dr. Ryoo was not daunted by the differences she has found in North Carolina public schools as compared to those that she worked with in California.

 

I think that California has a lot of English learners in mainstream classrooms. And it has been like that, so I think schools and teachers are more equipped with the resources and support systems. I think North Carolina is one that the states with the fastest growing population of English learners. That’s why I came to UNC. Because even though this increasing number of ELs in public schools, I think North Carolina public schools are not quite ready to support all these diverse learners in mainstream classrooms. So I think that teachers need more resources and the strategies to better help all students, including English learners succeed in science.

 

Privacy laws keep Dr. Ryoo from talking about the specific schools she works with but there are certain requirements.

 

We looked at all the schools in North Carolina within 100 miles from UNC-Chapel Hill that meet the criteria that we were looking for, because our project focuses on helping linguistically diverse students. So we’re looking for schools that had a certain percentage of students who speak different languages at home and it didn’t give us many options to choose from. And a lot of those schools are very far from Chapel Hill. And since we are doing classroom studies, we need to be in the classroom every day doing data collection. We chose those four schools that met the criteria and also those teachers who are willing to work with us, because it’s an extensive research project that involves teachers as designers, so we work with the teachers throughout the year. So we were using those criteria to choose these four schools.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews, visit chapelboro.com and click on “WCHL On-Demand” or visit UNC.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Brad Staats (A)

Welcome to Focus Carolina. An exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here at WCHL. Dr. Brad Staats integrates his research in operations management and human behavior to understand how teams perform at their best. At Kenan-Flagler Business School, he leads the Business of Health Care initiatives to help university experts develop innovative ways to curb health care spending, improve outcomes and foster innovation.

 

Dr. Staats heads the UNC Center for the Business of Health which targets some of our biggest health care challenges.

 

Health care in the U.S. is big business. It’s almost 20 percent of GDP and that would make it equivalent to the fifth largest economy in the world. We spend more on health care in the US than any other country in the world. Unfortunately, we get some of the worst outcomes in the developed world. We have big challenges around cost, around affordability, access and other concerns. And so the goal of the Center for Business of Health is to really bring together the resources of Carolina to impact these challenges. To not only take a business school perspective, but to draw on whether it’s the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, Gilling School of Global Public Health, School of Nursing, our new Adams School of Dentistry, School of Medicine as well as across arts and sciences social work elsewhere.

 

And to think about interdisciplinary solutions we see our goal as really twofold. One is as a catalyzer. Trying to connect the different researchers across campus and connect with practice. So we recently had a convocation with almost 200 folks from across Carolina thinking about these business of health opportunities. And so I think that catalyzer your role is really taking, kind of, all of the great work that we’re doing here and bringing it out to impact practice. The second, kind of related to that, is to turn these possible solutions into action. Not leaving it as theoretical knowledge but helping organizations, helping providers, helping patients in the state of North Carolina and beyond.

 

The center right now has three primary focus areas. We’re interested in innovation in delivery, innovation in payment models, and then that kind of entrepreneurship and new discoveries. And so thinking about with all three of these how do we change health? So not just treating folks once they’re sick but really for all of us. Right. Health care is something that we’re all concerned with. And so trying to impact that. I think what’s so exciting to me about this is at Carolina there are just a number of amazing folks who are doing great work.

 

And often more than people realize. And so trying to draw on these amazing experts and resources in a way to really change how people think and act. To change meaningfully the health care discussion and then the health care actions. So that over this next decade we can look and see, kind of, the new ways we’re approaching the problems.

 

Dr. Staats has a new book out titled “Never Stop Learning: Stay Relevant, Reinvent Yourself and Thrive” where he examines both success and failure.

 

I worked in industry for a number of years and been struck when I saw individuals, teams and organizations that performed at very different levels with what I thought of as similar resources.

 

They started in similar places. And I came to appreciate it was a story of learning. Some did and thrived. Others did not and really struggled and so I decided to go back to academia to try to make sense of this. What I came to appreciate was as I began looking thinking it was just a story of processes, right? “Can we take the right steps and then we’ll learn.” That’s why I’m an operations professor. Is that yes processes are absolutely critical, but so too are behaviors. That it’s people in these systems as we work through things and that when we look at ourselves it turns out when it comes to learning we’re often our own worst enemies.

 

And so over the last 15 years as I’ve worked with organizations, I’ve tried to look at their data, work with them to understand what these problems are. How can we turn them into solutions?  Unfortunately, while I’ve yet to meet an organization that doesn’t talk about how failure is important. Casual conversations with folks in those organizations highlight how difficult it is to really take on failure. We’re often afraid to try because failure could have negative consequences for us. We realize there’s that risk and so we don’t even go there. Unfortunately, sometimes even when we fail we might pretend that it didn’t happen and try to deny it’s existence.

 

So this is back to that we can be our own worst enemy if we don’t identify really how to take that risk how to learn and try new things to understand why we failed. Even when we try things and it then goes poorly we have to be willing to admit what happened. To kind of look ourselves in the face and see that learning opportunity creates an advancement for us.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Brad Staats (B)

Welcome to Focus Carolina. An exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here at WCHL. Dr. Brad Staats integrates his research in operations management and human behavior to understand how teams perform at their best. At Kenan-Flagler Business School, he leads the Business of Health Care initiatives to help university experts develop innovative ways to curb health care spending, improve outcomes and foster innovation.

 

Dr. Staats studies why people succeed and fail and how sometimes they learn better from the failures of others rather than their own.

 

Other’s failures are a great source of learning for us. The challenges that whenever we take an action we have to figure out how much of that was what I did? How much of it was the situation? And unfortunately when we look at ourselves we’re likely to blame the situation when things go bad. The good news is when things go bad for somebody else we actually might blame them. Now that has other issues. But for learning, it means we look and try to understand what they did. So we did some studies with cardiac surgeons looking at data there. And so in failure in that context unfortunately means a patient passes away. Sometimes someone really is sick and too sick to survive an operation.

 

When we dug into that data what we found is that surgeons did not appear to learn from their own failures when their individual procedures resulted in a fatality. But rather they did learn from those around them. They were able to look and see, kind of, what were the elements what could they have improved upon. What could they have done better. And so what that tells us is that when we think about failure– a couple of things. One, looking outward, trying to see what others are doing why they’re doing it and then bring those lessons back to yourself. A chance to learn from failure without experiencing it directly. The other though, is recognizing for ourselves, trying to be honest when we look in the mirror don’t explain things away, “it’s just the situation”, but I always ask that question, right? What could I have done better evaluative contexts are particularly challenging, right? When things have gone wrong and we view it as a judgment of ourselves then we try to explain it away. “Oh that wasn’t me that was the situation.” And so those are contexts that other people are going to be particularly valuable.

 

I think the element is even in those contexts. We need to try to look to see, kind of, what could we do better and always asking that question, right? How can I improve? How can I change what I did? is extraordinarily important. The idea is that failure can be a threat to ourselves ,right? When something goes wrong, it means I’m not good enough. And we need to change that mindset from “I’m not good enough” to “I have an opportunity to improve.”

 

Dean Smith once said that he struggled with playing poorly and winning versus playing well and losing, a sentiment. Dr. Staats understands.

 

So I think sports is a great example of this challenge of focusing on the process not the outcome. We tend to think that if we get a good outcome it means we followed a good process and if we get a bad outcome we followed a bad process. But that’s not always the case, right? Sometimes you can do everything well and still lose. Sometimes you can do very little well and just get lucky and win the game. Any fan of the NBA has looked at the 76ers and knows that famous phrase of “trust the process” which is incredibly important from a learning standpoint that we have to focus on the process if we want to learn.

 

There’s a great study looking at the NBA. And what they found was that with NBA coaches if they won by a lot of points, they were unlikely to change their starting lineup. If they lost by a lot of points, they were likely to change the starting lineup. Ideally a previous game informs a coach’s preparation and adjustments. The coach takes time to think about what worked or not personnel and abilities and the opponent as well. But instead what the research shows is that many coaches alter their strategies significantly due to just the outcome. And this ends up hurting long term performance.

 

And so we need to take kind of these lessons learned from athletics into our organizational context. Say a salesperson wins a deal or we have a new product launch. And we need to dig into the process, right? Was it just luck or are we really good at something that we want to repeat going forward. And so as we work towards that process we have a chance to reinforce the things that work and keep improving them. We live in a world where we’re always on where we’re rushing and constantly going. Takes me back to some advice I got from a dear departed mentor.

 

So I was rushing through a meeting one time he put a hand on my shoulder looked me in the eye and said “Brad don’t avoid thinking by being busy” and so a reflection creates that opportunity for us to actually think and then learn.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Vin Steponaitis (A)

– Provost Bob Blouin

Welcome to Focus Carolina. An exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m Provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL.

 

– Provost Bob Blouin

Dr. Steponaitis has been at UNC for more than 30 years. But the Harvard graduates accent gives away that he went to college in his hometown.

 

– Dr. Steponaitis

My parents were refugees from Lithuania in World War 2. Came to this country in 1949. I was born soon after that. So I grew up in Cambridge. I ended up going to Boston Latin School the oldest public school in the country. I was fortunate to get into college at Harvard from there and went to the University of Michigan got my PhD. Spent my first eight years as a professor at SUNY Binghamton and then came to Chapel Hill in 1988 and I’ve been here ever since. It’s a wonderful place to live.

 

– Dr. Steponaitis

It’s a great university, great place to raise children. So I feel very fortunate that things ended up this way. The secretary of the faculty is one of two elected faculty wide offices at UNC. One is the chair of the faculty. The other one is the secretary of the faculty. And one way to describe what we do is by analogy. So faculty governance at UNC were the Starship Enterprise. The chair of the faculty would be Captain Kirk. And my role as secretary is like Scotty. I keep the wheels of faculty governance turning I make sure that the enterprise moves and does what it’s supposed to do.

 

– Dr. Steponaitis

I’m responsible for the elections. I’m responsible for faculty council and the agenda that faculty council takes up each month. And so all the logistics of faculty governance are things that I’m responsible for. Faculty governance involves many, many faculty about 300 faculty about 10 percent of the fact at UNC are involved in some way at any given time in faculty governance. There are many, many committees, some of which are elected some of which are appointed, and the main legislative body for the faculty is called faculty council. With other universities it’s often called the faculty senate. The faculty marshal that leads the faculty into commencement and other university ceremonies is an appointedoffice and the faculty athletics representative for NCAA is an appointed office. The chair of the faculty is directly elected by the faculty the secretary of the faculty, which is my role, I’m elected by faculty council. And those faculty council members are elected by the faculty. We have an agenda committee that meets about a week before faculty council we talk about what the issues should be that are brought up and then I put together the agenda and the meeting is based on that. We’ve had a lot of big issues in recent months but we stick to a pretty tight schedule so faculty council meets once a month during the regular school year and we meet from three to five on Friday afternoon and we do our business in two hours.

 

– Dr. Steponaitis

Much of the challenge in putting together the agenda is figuring out how to structure things so that we can get the important things done in two hours. And then in my role as parliamentarian during the meetings, the key is to get 90 members of faculty council through what are often complicated issues in a relatively short amount of time. We’ve had a lot of contentious issues of late and faculty come in concerned that we handle these issues in the right way. There’s often debate. We’ve had some really interesting debates about resolutions that were passed recently with many amendments coming from the floor.

 

– Dr. Steponaitis

But in the end I think we do a pretty good job of coming to a reasonable consensus.

 

– Provost Bob Blouin

One of the most contentious issues in Dr. Steponaitis tenure with the faculty council was, of course, the debate over Silent Sam.

 

– Dr. Steponaitis

We did spend a tremendous amount of time debating what to do about Silent Sam.

 

– Dr. Steponaitis

And you’re right that there are some issues where we don’t control the outcome in the sense that it’s not our decision as to what happens. But our hope is that by expressing our opinion in the form of resolutions that we passed about what should be done about Silent Sam that our voice makes a difference and that’s really what faculty governance is about. Sometimes, for example on matters of educational policy, faculty make the decisions. In other areas other bodies such as university administration or the board of trustees or the Board of Governors make the decision.

 

– Dr. Steponaitis

But even in those cases the faculty wants to make its voice heard and so faculty council is is one route by which that voice takes shape and is transmitted to the people who do make the decision. It’s not unusual for faculty to have opinions. It’s not unusual for faculty to have disagreements among themselves and disagreements with people in the administration or outside the university. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s how we move forward it’s how new ideas come into practice. And so faculty often gravitate to that field of endeavor simply because of the freedom that they have to think to express their views and to engage in debates.

 

– Provost Bob Blouin

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Vin Steponaitis (B)

Welcome to Focus Carolina. An exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m Provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL.

 

As secretary of Carolina’s faculty Dr. Vin Steponaitis has the privilege of recognizing outstanding individuals who are awarded honorary degrees at Spring Commencement. A professor of archaeology in the College of Arts and Sciences, he studies precolonial Indian cultures in the American South including excavation along Hillsborough’s new Riverwalk.

 

As part of his role as secretary of Carolina’s faculty. Dr. Steponaitis has special duties at UNC’s Commencement and University Day every year.

 

One of the really fun parts of my job is the fact that at Commencement I read the citations that honor the folks who are receiving honorary degrees. It’s, of course, a big part of commencement. And I work closely with the process by which those candidates are selected. One of the highlights of the year for me is meeting the people who are about to be awarded these honorary degrees. They’re just extraordinary people from many different walks of life. Most of the  people who get honorary degrees have a long and distinguished careers many, many accomplishments. And so, in writing the citations that are read at commencement it is hard to distill a lifetime of accomplishment into a very brief citation that’s read.

 

But I try to pick on the things that I think the folks at commencement that the audience will connect with. And I also try to focus on the things that really set these people apart from the many other talented people who are nominated for honorary degrees. The key awards that we present publicly each year are the honorary degrees at commencement and then the Distinguished Alumnus and Alumni awards at University Day and all of those awards really given to extraordinary folks.

 

When he is not engaged in faculty governance, Dr. Steponaitis is literally digging into the history of North Carolina.

 

I’m trained as an archaeologist and throughout my career I’ve worked in the American South. When I meet someone and I tell them that I’m an archaeologist the first thing they assume is that I’m– I dig somewhere in Egypt or Mesopotamia or maybe Mexico or Peru. And often people are surprised to hear that I dig right here in the south and it’s really an extraordinary thing. The United States is different from most other first world countries. Most people are not aware of the ancient history of the place where we live. They’re not aware that people have been living here for more than fifteen thousand years.

 

And so what archaeologists do is they look for evidence that tells the story of the people who lived here in those early days before the written records and before the kinds of tools that conventional historians use came into being. Over most of that 15,000 years the only people who lived here were the American Indians, the Native Americans. There’s a tremendously long history that’s been uncovered by archaeology. We know that people first came here at the end of the last Ice Age and when they first arrived they were hunters and gatherers who lived in relatively small groups.

 

And over time populations increased, towns were established, agriculture began being practiced, people started to farm and you had the development of large elaborate political systems chieftains with monumental sites made of earthen mounds that were found all over the South. We can find traces of buildings, we can find traces of the tools people use. We find traces of the foods the animal and plant foods they ate. And by bringing all these lines of evidence together we reconstruct how people lived in the past and how those ways of life changed through time. When we go out and we dig we find evidence from the past and we write scholarly articles and scholarly books that talk about what we found but we also really tried to get what we’ve learned out into the public eye so people understand more about the past.

 

And it’s really important to know that what this ancient past is — particularly in North Carolina which has the largest Indian population east of the Mississippi River. This is history that relates directly to these Indian people that live here today. We try to do everything we can to make the public more aware of this ancient history. So back in the 1990s we created this electronic publication called ‘Excavating Occaneechi Town’ and it was published by UNC press. It was their first ever electronic monograph. It was like a book but it came on CD-ROM and it still exists.

 

We have a web version of it that people can still use. It was a tool that was useful to scholars but also had what we call the virtual dig where people could recreate a dig on their computer screen. The site of Occaneechi Town in Hillsborough was excavated by UNC starting in the 1980s. It’s located very close to downtown Hillsborough. And my colleagues Heather Lapham and Steve Davis at UNC are gonna be doing an excavation there. So people who go along that stretch of Riverwalk will be able to see some of these excavations in progress.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Brian Sturm (A)

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is Chancellor Carol Folt and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. Dr. Brian Sturm’s research at the School of Information and Library Science focuses on how people become immersed in what they hear and read. A professional storyteller, he established Story Squad, which encourages young children to read, assists older children with understanding the structure of a story and helps older adults maintain their mental agility and imagination.

 

Since he first taught to young campers in California, Dr. Sturm has seen how stories told can have an almost hypnotic effect on children. As a professional storyteller for nearly 25 years, he analyzes children’s literature for what makes the best stories to tell. My research is geared around this whole sense of fascination or immersion. When people read a book and get totally lost in the narrative story to the point that they don’t hear the telephone ring or they don’t hear or someone call, that kind of intense, focused attention is what intrigues me. For me it doesn’t really matter where it is, but my primary interest has been in storytelling because it happens there as well. Storytelling, reading, videogames, theater experiences, listening to music. It happens, this sort of light, trance-like state in many different sorts of information contexts. And so my goal has been to explore them in as many as I can but with a real focus on this sense of what happens when people listen to a story. One of the things I’ve been noticing is that children in modern society are growing up increasingly hooked into technology, but they’re also decreasingly exposed to the world of folklore and the folktales have survived for generations because they’re really, really good stories. If you think about it, in an oral society, if a story isn’t good and all it is, is told, then it isn’t told anymore and it disappears. But for me the interest is that they are and they need to be told and they need to be experienced and children need to hear them.

 

Dr. Sturm goes into elementary schools in North Carolina with his literacy outreach program, which he calls the Story Squad, as an alternative to reading books.

 

And so they encounter them in the curriculum, oftentimes in third grade in North Carolina. But it’s not extensive and they tend to read them. They tend not to listen to them. And so my goal with Story Squad is to get folktales heard again in as many different places as I can. And the literacy component of it is primarily for young children, to get it into the schools, to let children hear stories, experience stories. The stories that I share are stories that the children could go and then tell again to their parents or their friends or whatever. So there’s a gifted quality to folktales storytelling, to say “here’s a great story. Listen to it, enjoy it and go retell it.” So that’s part of the literacy piece. So I mean you see the young kids plugged into their iPods or their iPads and their ear buds. And so it’s changing the way we interact with texts, whether that’s for good or ill, I’m not sure yet. I think the jury is still out and we’re going to have to explore that. I think we’re currently exploring technologies because we can and not necessarily because we should, and we don’t know the impact of these technologies. But that’s been the case forever. I mean when books were invented, the oral performers were saying, “oh this is going to kill memory and it’s going to be awful” and Aristotle was up in arms.

 

With his Story Squad, Dr. Sturm has delivered more than 165 storytelling performances in local schools over the recent academic year.

 

The Story Squad is me and my students going out and performing. So the listeners are listeners, not active participants in that sense. I’m not training people out in the community to tell stories. I’m exposing them to stories and letting them listen. One of the things I found and one of the research studies I did in the school was that, if in the storytelling performance you have the book with you and you show it to the children, then they go check it out. We found that the increase in circulation of the stories that were used in storytelling and showed the children was about 18000percent higher than the rest of the folktale collection in the library. Telling the story orally and then picking the book up and saying, “go check it out in your library.”

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews, visit chapelboro.com and click on “WCHL On-Demand” or visit unc.edu.

Focus Carolina: Brian Sturm (B)

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is Chancellor Carol Folt and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. Dr. Brian Sturm’s research at the School of Information and Library Science focuses on how people become immersed in what they hear and read. A professional storyteller, he established Story Squad, which encourages young children to read, assists older children with understanding the structure of a story and helps older adults maintain their mental agility and imagination.

 

Dr. Sturm also goes outside his own comfort zone with a different setting at the UNC Hospital.

 

They approached me and said, “would I come over and tell stories?” and I thought this was a wonderful experience this will be. And I remember going up and it is split into two pieces. The first piece is to go to the actual school and they bring the children down to the school who are healthy enough to want to come and I perform for about an hour for them and tell them stories and we talk. And then the children who aren’t healthy enough to come down, who are in their rooms, I go up with one of the teachers and we go around and the teachers ask if the child would like me to tell a story and if all of the clearances are okay and, you know, they’re healthy enough, I can go into their room and tell a story. And it has been an incredibly rewarding experience, but also incredibly emotionally difficult to see these children who are struggling. But when you go in and you see them all wired up and hooked up and then you tell them a story and you see them do the light hypnotic trance, where they’re just gone from the hospital, they’re in their own imaginative world of the story and then they’re smiling and laughing and they’re carrying on with the characters. It’s amazing. Very, very moving and powerful.

 

Improving reading scores in North Carolina is another goal of Dr. Sturm and his Story Squad.

 

Changing reading scores is not something that’s going to happen quickly. So my first goal was to get into one of the local schools, actually where my son went at Estes Hills, and to share these stories. So the first year I just told stories in the first grade classrooms and didn’t do any research, and the second year we bought some books for the library and then we did the circulation study to see whether we could motivate the children to check the books out of the library. And the third year we created these video surrogates instead. And we showed those instead of going in in person and we found about a 300-percent increase in circulation of those books. So that wasn’t actually connected with reading scores at that point. It was just trying to see whether we could have any impact on the children at all and motivate them to check the books out. The ultimate goal is to get these videos into many schools in North Carolina that are either failing or struggling in their reading assessments scores and see whether we can, not necessarily improve their scores, although that would be wonderful if we could find that kind of relationship, but motivate them to read and to check out the books. That’s a measure that I think is accessible and we can actually show direct impact within the year on that kind of a measure.

 

In 2017 Dr. Sturm took his wife, Monica, and their 12-year-old son to China on a cultural exchange about reading education there and in the U.S.

 

My goal in going over was to share my particular process of folktales storytelling and to talk about children’s librarianship in North America and because China is building these absolutely magnificent structures that are not public libraries in our sense of the word, they are a five-story children’s library dedicated just to children.

 

And they have wonderful collections in them. They have very well-educated librarians, but they don’t do a lot of programming in our sense of programming. And so one of the goals for bringing me over was to say, “here’s a style of programming that maybe you haven’t considered.” And it was fascinating to me that they hadn’t considered it, because China has an incredible folklore history and the folktales from China are amazing,, and they do tell them but they haven’t yet commandeered them for children’s librarianship the way we did in North America in the late 1800s, early 1900s.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews, visit chapelboro.com and click on “WCHL on demand” or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Will Vizuete (A)

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is Chancellor Carol Folt and I’m excited to introduce this new series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. It is easy to take for granted the air you breathe every day. And at Carolinas Gillings School of Global Public Health, scientists like Dr. Will Vizuete are working hard to be sure our air is clean. In his lab, Dr. Vizuete studies air quality and improves the computer models that are used to shape important environmental policies.

 

I’m in one of the first engineering departments in the School of Public Health and one of only two in the country. And the big public health problem that I’m most interested in is air pollution. Air pollution kills more than six and a half million people globally. It’s been linked to all kinds of diseases. In fact, more people die from diseases from air pollution than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. There are lots of sources of air pollution that we’re exposed to both inside and outside. And one of the main pollutants that have been associated with people dying has been what we call “particulate matter,” or particle pollution, and these are mixtures of solid particles or liquid droplets that you find in the air. For example, the beautiful Appalachian mountains, sometimes called the Smoky Mountains. That pretty white haze, well that haze are particulate matter, and when we’re exposed to that at different levels it’s been associated with diseases such as heart disease and cancer. So some of these particles are natural right, such as dust and dirt, soot that comes from burning out of an exhaust or a smoke from wood fires or fireplaces. All of those things form these particles in the atmosphere that we see.

 

Dr. Vizuete and his team study air particles which are also formed in the atmosphere via chemistry such as atmospheric aerosols and create a significant public health risk.

 

In order for us to mitigate that risk and our exposure to these aerosols, we need effective policies–controls to bring our exposure to these atmospheric aerosols down. We have to have an understanding of where these particles come from and how these particles are made in the atmosphere. My interest is in helping produce some of that effective policy and in order for us to do that, we have to be able to predict how these particles are formed in the atmosphere and how that changes in the future due to either changes in our climate, changes in our emissions sources, changes in our industries, how population growth changes. And to capture all that complexity, we rely heavily on air quality models. And these air quality models are used to justify policies, to justify future controls. And so if we don’t have accurate models we won’t have effective policies. My work in the School of Public Health is to bring in the latest science that we understand about how aerosols are formed in the atmosphere and improve our air quality models so we can make accurate predictions.

 

The same models that are built to predict air quality are also used to understand how the climate is changing. Dr. Vizuete’s work could have a great impact on global warming.

 

Aerosols in the atmosphere can both absorb heat, warming the atmosphere, but it can also cool the atmosphere by scattering light back into space. The aerosols can also affect clouds and how clouds change the energy balance of the atmosphere. So aerosols are very important in understanding how changes in our climate are going to occur in the future.

 

The Clean Air Act, a federal law, mandates the use of air quality models to justify future control strategies to the Environmental Protection Agency. If the models are not entirely accurate, they may end up producing controls that are not as effective as they could be. Clean Air Act has already passed legislation, so it’s up to the executive branch, which is the EPA, to enforce those laws. Folks at the EPA are appointed by elected officials. On the state level, there’s state regulatory agencies on the forefront trying to do the best they can and producing effective policies. And so I try to work with those folks at the state level, as well as at the federal level.

 

Dr. Vizuete has been at UNC since 2005, and his role involves teaching students on all levels who already have an interest in public health.

 

So we have a lot of students who are in the sciences, as well as the health science fields, who are all interested in tackling these very hard intractable public health problems, like air pollution and climate change. So a lot of the research that we publish on are by graduate students who are working on their masters and their Ph.D. and they’re working with EPA scientists and other federal scientists trying to improve these models,ringing the latest science. I also do research in the Galapagos for example and so we have undergraduate students come with me to the Galapagos Islands where we teach about atmosphere chemistry and we also take samples of aerosols there and so we can learn how aerosols are formed in a marine environment.

 

Thank you for listening. To focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapel bird dot com and click on Debbies CHL on demand or visit you and see dot edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Will Vizuete (B)

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is Chancellor Carol Folt and I’m excited to introduce this new series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. It is easy to take for granted the air you breathe every day. At Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, scientists like Dr. Will Vizuete are working hard to be sure our air is clean. In his lab Dr. Vizuete studies air quality and improves the computer models that are used to shape important environmental policies.

 

Dr. Will Vizuete is an associate professor at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Although UNC does not offer an engineering major, there is ample opportunity for students to study engineering and related fields.

 

Just recently, just a few years ago John Hopkins added their engineering department to the School of Public Health. But we were certainly the first. It goes back to the sanitary engineers before the engineering left for N.C. State. Decided to stay in the school public health because they felt they were much closer toward these public health issues. Eventually that evolved into what is now the Environmental Science and Engineering Department where we look at both air quality, water quality and health science. So it’s a fantastic place to work, especially for students because we have a lot of interdisciplinary work. Human behavior aspects, chemistry, physics all work together to try to solve this really big public health problem. If you’re an engineer or a scientist interested in finding solutions for public health problems, whether it’s water scarcity or air pollution or climate change, you can do that at UNC-Chapel Hill.

 

Dr. Will Vizuete’s father immigrated to Brooklyn from Ecuador and his mother to Greenwich Village from Guatemala. He was born in Utica, New York, but his family eventually settled in St. Louis which he called home in his youth.

 

My whole life always been interested in chemistry and have always been an engineer. I think what defines an engineer in my opinion be the pragmatic application of science. The perfect combination of that in my mind was chemical engineering and so I knew I wanted to apply my science and then it became a wish that I applied for. And I saw that there were chemical engineers who were using their knowledge of chemistry and engineering and applying it to air pollution and that really fascinated me and I was looking around after I was done with my graduate work for places where I could do engineering work, but for a public health issue. And what better place than in the School of Public Health and Environmental Science and Engineering department here at UNC? It’s a unique place. It’s because of the fact that we are engineers but we’re all devoted to public health issues. So really love the fact that it’s an interdisciplinary department. We work with chemists, toxicologists, mechanical engineers, chemical engineers, physicists, meteorologists all working on these really big problems. Also, UNC-Chapel Hill, the air quality group has been there for over 40 years. If you look at all the air quality models that are used around the world, a lot of the chemistry that’s used in those models were being tested with the experiments that were conducted here.

 

Dr. Vizuete and his family live in Carrboro, where they love the diversity in the community, as well as at the university.

 

I always say that this is kind of a company town and folks in my neighborhood also work in the university. And so it’s fun to interact with those folks off campus–connections that I would not normally have made. It’s a really fun and exciting place to work and play.

 

Dr. Vizuete spent most of his childhood in St. Louis and is still an avid Cardinals fan. While he is a season ticket holder for UNC baseball and tries to watch as many Tar Heel sports events as possible, Dr. Vizuete’s first love remains jazz music, and at one time would have been happy to have a record store where people could listen to their favorite artists.

 

I love jazz and Jamaican music. That’s my two big loves of music. I was a D.J. as an undergraduate student. I did college radio as a graduate student. I’ve always loved collecting jazz records and Jamaican records and playing them over the air. I also play a little bass. I’m trying to learn some of these Jamaican rhythms and playing around with some of the other dads in the neighborhood. We have fantastic radio in the area, including this own station, lots of great music and shows that are put on by these universities. As a music lover, this is a great place to be and happy to be here.

 

His favorite jazz and Jamaican artists?

 

If I had to pin me down to one cat, I would pick Miles Davis. Miles is one of the few artists in any genre that’s really innovated the sound more than once. He at least two, maybe three times, changed the sound of jazz as we know it. A lot of great, wonderful musicians may change sound once, then they kind of retire and fade out but Miles was always trying to be innovative, always trying to be new, and that’s kind of an inspiration in my own work. In what we do in our research, we always have to be innovative, new and continuing to find new things. So Jamaican music? That’s a hard one. So many great artists. I’m going to go with Gregory Isaacs. Fantastic vocalist and I can’t not stop listening to him all the time, so I would put him as probably my number one.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews, visit chapelboro.com and click on “WCHL on demand” or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Daniel Wallace (A)

Welcome to Focus Carolina. An exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m Provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. Daniel Wallace directs Carolina’s creative writing program in the Department of English and Comparative Literature in the College of Arts and Sciences. A New York Times best selling author, his first novel “Big Fish” was adapted into a film directed by Tim Burton and a Broadway musical. He teaches courses on fiction writing.

 

Professor Wallace believes talent is important in becoming an accomplished writer. But curiosity and passion are even more so.

 

I teach freshmen and sophomores, juniors and seniors and a lot of the students when they come in they’ve never taken a writing class before they’ve ever written a short story. So they just want to figure out is this something cool or is this going to be something fun. They’ve thought about it. A lot of them have a real talent that they didn’t know was there and I think college is for that, it’s for discovery. I think people coming in not knowing what they want what they’re going to do. Some of them yeah I’ve taught what seems like genius to me.

 

There’s people that come to it and are able to do it immediately but my experience with it has been that it’s slow and steady progress that it’s really more dependent on interest and passion and where your heart is. So by the time somebody is a senior at UNC they’re a completely different writer than they were when they came in and that’s really great to see, I think. Hang out with somebody for four years and see them change completely happens a lot. We start very beginning as if you’ve never read a story before and by the time that you become a senior you’ve gone through introduction, intermediate and more advanced and then there’s this class that you take as a senior which, as far as I know, is not offered at any other undergraduate program in the country but it’s a yearlong class very small nine or 10 people together the whole year same professor and you write what ends up being a book . A hundred pages short book of fiction or poetry or non-fiction depending on what you know you’re looking at.

 

That book is published in the Wilson Library archives on campus so you become a published writer after that class. It’s really really cool. All of our classes are taught in a workshop basis. And it’s different I guess I think than almost any other class in the university where you bring your work and your story or poem and share it with the rest of the class. They read it and share their feelings about it with you then you rewrite the work based on the feedback that you got. You have to be brave a little bit I think to do that to just put yourself out there and nobody does it with their biology tests.

 

It’s just the stories and some of the stuff is so intimate and personal that people it can be a big deal. Talent is great. It’s necessary but it’s not sufficient. There are a lot of people with talent that just don’t have the passion for it and it’s not enough just to be talented. Some of the writers that I’ve had to I looked at and thought ‘Were they able to follow this passion after college, they could do something’ but if your heart’s not in it, it’s just not in it. Really, it’s about wanting to sit down by yourself in a room every day and write that has something that’s extra literary.

 

It has something to do with who you are as a person how you like to spend your days.

 

Professor Wallace says being a lecturer at UNC makes him a better writer.

 

When I started out as a writer, which predates everything, I wasn’t thinking in terms of my future, really, I wasn’t thinking in terms of what I was going to be doing from day to day and week to week as the years progressed. Other than writing and like so many things in my life I was drawn in and fell into this opportunity to teach and I started to sub for people and I became a lecturer at UNC and this is the early 2000s and I found that being able to engage with these people who have at least during the course of the time that we’re together, twice a week for a couple of hours, have the same interest that I do and are open and eager to hear what I have to share.

 

It helped me as obviously every class I got better and better as a teacher but selfishly, it also helped me as a writer because what I taught them is the same things that I try to tell myself. We all work according to the same rules we want to be interesting. You want to give somebody a reason to turn the page and be articulate and clear, original if possible. So these are the things I teach them and those are the things that I remind myself through teaching them. Plus I mean where else could you get to hang around with some of the most intelligent young people anywhere.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Daniel Wallace (B)

Welcome to Focus Carolina an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. Daniel Wallace directs Carolina’s creative writing program in the Department of English and Comparative Literature in the College of Arts and Sciences. A New York Times best selling author, his first novel ‘Big Fish’ was adapted into a film directed by Tim Burton and a Broadway musical. He teaches courses on fiction writing.

 

Writing is perhaps the most transferable and necessary skill students can carry into any profession they choose.

 

This consciousness that you have to bring to this process which is understanding that what we do every day is tell stories and have always done it. And no matter what happens to us after we leave the university that’s what we’re going to be doing. There are two ways of looking at it and they’re both correct which is for me writing stories is a thing that’s important in and of itself. Making art, entertaining other people, trying to find something new that hasn’t been said before and you saying in your own way, that you can make a really wonderful little story about that. On the other hand, there’s no more portable skill that you can have as a person in the world than that skill of telling a good story and being interesting being articulate and clear anytime of the day or night.

 

This skill is one that will do well by you. And so, I think of it it’s impracticality and practicality are both equally important. Most people who play college basketball are not going to go into play professional basketball and most of the people who take my creative writing classes are not going to go on and be novelists. So you’ve got to find the portable skills from each of these things take with you outside of the classroom. And I don’t think you can read or write too much. It’s hard and I think that’s why people avoid it.

 

It’s a muscle that you need to get working and keep fresh. It turns us into more empathetic beings who can understand that we’re not the only people with feelings on the planet Earth. Other people have problems and issues  and they’re– and we’re the most important thing I think is the more you read the more you realize that we are all the same that we all share the same hopes. We have so many of the same miseries. We’re not the only people whose hearts have been broken. It makes us part of a human community and that’s something that is lost when reading becomes secondary or tertiary in our world.

 

Writing is a solitary it’s it’s not necessarily lonely but it’s alone. The way we teach it  at UNC it does allow you to get out of that space at least for a little while every week by bringing yourself into the classroom, bringing your work out of the room into the classroom. That sort of editorial collaboration that happens is essential to becoming a writer. If it stays with you alone in that room it’s going to die there. So that’s the sort of collaboration I think that happens with the arts. It’s little bit different than it happens in other aspects of the university.

 

Daniel Wallace became known to the world when his novel ‘Big Fish’ was published in 1999 and has since been translated into 25 languages and made into a popular movie.

 

People want to hear from you after you’ve published a book. You take your work into the bookstores and to places all over the state and the country obviously. And so there’s that sort of collaboration that is entailed as well.

 

One of the differences between the undergraduate writing program at UNC and other programs like it is that all of our professors are working writers. They’re all really well published and they all continue to write and publish. They’re not teaching from a book, really. They’re teaching from their life. There are dozens and dozens if not hundreds of writing manuals out there that cannot possibly replace somebody who’s actually done it. I know for a fact I wouldn’t be teaching if I hadn’t published or I don’t think that I would ever have tried to teach without being published because that- -I couldn’t stand up in front of a class and tell them that I knew anything.

 

It was only after my first book ‘Big Fish’ was published that I started to teach a little bit and then gradually worked myself into it. It is helpful I think for a student to have a professor whose work they admire or at least realize is a thing that happened in the world and that the professor understands that the whole experience. And it does give you some authority that you wouldn’t have otherwise, I think.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Jeff Welty (A)

Welcome to Focus Carolina. An exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here at WCHL. In Carolina’s School of Government, Jeff Welty specializes in criminal law and procedure. As the founder of the North Carolina criminal law blog, he guides individuals interacting with the criminal justice system. As the director of the North Carolina Judicial College, he provides training for all state judges, magistrates and clerks of court.

 

Welty graduated from Cal Berkeley and then attended Duke Law School where he was the executive editor of the Duke Law Review. Following his arrival at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill he started and still runs the North Carolina Criminal Law Blog for UNC’s School of Government.

 

Nobody asked me to start it. It was something that I wanted to start. The first post was in early 2009 and initially it was just me writing something every day for the blog, having read other legal blogs and thought that was a good way to disseminate ideas and engage with people I thought we could have something like that here that helps users stay on top of changes in the criminal law or address interesting issues. And before long several my colleagues started pitching in and contributing posts and now there’s five or six of us that write for it and we have something new every single weekday and we’ve done it for 10 years.

 

I was a regular reader of several of the big national legal blogs so I guess in that sense it was on my radar screen. It wasn’t something that I necessarily had thought about doing. And it’s funny when I first started it I can still remember having 20 readers a day or 30 readers a day. You know now it’s one 125,000 a month or something like that. Those were big victories when we broke 50 and broke 100. That was really exciting. So it’s fun.

 

We certainly address current legal issues. We’re reluctant to wade into active cases. We try to be at the School of Government– neutral and non-partisan and unbiased and so I think unless it’s really obvious that one side or the other has got it right we’re reluctant to comment. But we’re really good at providing background and context and sometimes we’re good at addressing controversies that are abstracted from a particular case. I’ll give you an example. I’m working on a post right now about whether a police officer who stopped somebody for a traffic stop and finds out that the person is legally carrying a weapon, open carry or legal concealed carry with a permit, whether the officer can take that person’s gun away for the duration of the stop. That’s the question that comes up a lot for me. I’ve had a number of officers ask me that question and citizens as well. And so I’ll write about that and say what I think the law is and a little bit about why. Not in the context of any specific controversy, b ut in the context of a legal issue that comes up all the time and that people are interested in. So the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is a federal court that encompasses North Carolina, issued a ruling relatively recently that basically said if an officer thinks that somebody in a traffic stop has a gun the officer can take it away for officer safety for the duration of the stop.

 

Not every court necessarily sees it that way but the Fourth Circuit case is probably the closest guidance that we have. So if a North Carolina officer asked me I’d say yeah they probably can take it away.

 

Professor Welty left his private practice in 2008 for his position at UNC and since 2015 he has been director of the North Carolina Judicial College.

 

The Judicial College is really focused on educating the judiciary. So, judges, magistrates, clerks of court. The neutral officials that resolve disputes. We at the School of Government also work with a bunch of other audiences and that includes prosecutors and defense lawyers and police officers and all that. But the Judicial College is really focused on those neutral judicial officials. So that’s where we’d educate them about the law and about law adjacent topics– mental health, DNA that kind of thing. DNA is a great example of the need for something like the Judicial College because the science changes every year and the law changes all this forensic science stuff has been heavily influenced by some national organizations that have looked at the validity of forensic science and found some of the techniques like blood spatter techniques to be not very well grounded.

 

So if a judge’s knowledge is sort of frozen in time at point A and they never learn all the new stuff that’s coming out, they’re not going to be as effective of a judge and that’s a great example of why it’s needed. People ask sometimes “well don’t judges know the law?” Usually when they start they know whatever portion of the law they were practicing as a lawyer they don’t know it all. And then the law and all the issues that go into the criminal justice system change over time and so there’s a real need to help judicial officials stay current.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Jeff Welty (B)

Welcome to Focus Carolina. An exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here at WCHL. In Carolina’s School of Government, Jeff Welty specializes in criminal law and procedure. As the founder of the North Carolina criminal law blog, he guides individuals interacting with the criminal justice system. As the director of the North Carolina Judicial College, he provides training for all state judges, magistrates, and clerks of court.

 

Another way Professor Welty has helped him bring trial law into the 21st century is by converting a 1000 page trial manual into a more user friendly digital format.

 

In addition to the work that we do with judges we work with prosecutors as well. And historically we’ve produced something called the Prosecutors Trial Manual which was a thousand page behemoth of a book that covered all the practical stuff prosecutors need to know. It was a great reference. It was so big and cumbersome that prosecutors did not want to carry it around into court and maybe they’d be a little bit embarrassed to be carrying it around into court. So what we did recently is we put a bunch of time and some money into translating it online. Not just slap the PDF up there and hope for the best but really creating a natively digital product that’s indexed and it’s searchable and it’s interactive. Prosecutors can leave comments or questions if they have them about different issues they can talk to each other.

 

It’s got a news feed. So it’s really sort of a home base for prosecutors and they can get it on their phone they can get it on their iPad they can get it on their laptop it’s really cool. And the prosecutors have really liked it. And I think it’s a potential model or platform that we might use with future products too because it’s great. It’s really slick. It’s really usable, it’s really modern. I think it’s one of the best things we’ve done. Some parts of it. Anybody can access go on there and see much of the basic legal information that’s what are the proper procedures for getting an indictment or how do we decide whether to change venue in a case. A defense lawyer can access that, a defendant can, a concerned citizen can. Then there’s password protection for the part where prosecutors can talk to each other. “Hey I had a case like this and here’s what I did and it worked or it didn’t work. Have you ever thought about doing this?” That stuff would be behind a password protection so there is a kind of a free exchange of ideas. But the basic legal information that’s there for anybody.

 

Professor Welty wasn’t exactly sure what he was getting himself into when he left private practice to accept the position that you and see the graduate of Cal Berkeley and the Duke Law School has found his work inspiring.

 

So number one it’s nothing like what I expected. I thought this was going to be ivory tower academia where I thought great thoughts and read the books and published papers and wore a tweed jacket with elbow patches and had a kind of a slow contemplative pace of life. That’s not it at all. Typically my day involves a whole bunch of emails and phone calls from court officials in the middle of trials or doing important business and needing help right then, intermixed with a little bit of writing some collaborating with colleagues. It’s much faster pace than I ever would have imagined.

 

And I think that’s good for me because I think it keeps me alert and engaged and on my toes. Number two, I had really high expectations for this job because during the interview process I was asking some of the folks that that worked at the school already how they liked it and what were the pluses and minuses many of them had come from private practice as well so I was kind of trying to get a sense of what the transition was like. And one of my colleagues said I love this job so much they are going to have to carry me out of here when I die.

 

And with that in mind I came expecting the job to be great. And it absolutely has been. I think a couple of things I really like about it are the freedom to pursue issues that interest me, the opportunity to work with terrific bright collegial folks every single day, the opportunity to pursue the public service mission. Somebody once told me that being a professor is like finding a loophole in life. I would say that I like a little bit more to winning the lottery. So I feel very fortunate to have the job that I do.

 

We’re unique in what we do. There are some other states that have something similar. The university based public service centers. But when I compare what we do and what they do I just think that what we do is terrific. The quality of it the quantity of it. The history of the work that we do in the partnership between us and the courts. And I don’t think it’s really matched anywhere else. I’m happy to come to work every day and it’s a wonderful university. That’s for sure.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Erika Wise (A)

Welcome to Focus Carolina. An exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here at WCHL. Dr. Erika Wise studies the Earth’s climate by looking at tree rings. As a faculty member in the Department of Geography, she collects tree trunk samples to determine how old trees are and when droughts and fires may have occurred. Capturing this data allows her to recognize climate change patterns and predict future ones.

 

A native of Ohio, Dr. Wise earned her three college degrees from schools out West before coming to UNC in 2010. Technology allows her to study trees virtually all over the planet.

 

I did think when I came here that I would probably start studying more eastern climate but I still have lots of questions I’m still trying to answer about the West. A lot of the data we use for climate we can access from anywhere. So satellite data, online data. And then I do go out there every summer to collect my tree ring data. So I still travel out there and look for old trees. You can at least get an approximate age by counting the rings. And we do a slightly more in-depth process called ‘crossdating’ because trees are sometimes tricky and like to put on what we call false rings or they sometimes miss a ring.

 

So we like to look at them pretty in-depth under the microscope to make sure that we’re really assigning the exact year to each ring. Tree rings have actually played a pretty big part in understanding future and current climate change. So it’s kind of this interesting thing where I study climate from centuries ago, but I, like most people who do this, are motivated by this concern for what’s happening recently in climate and what could happen in the future climate. So one of the ways that we know that climate now is different and that it’s changing in a different way is because we have these longer records from things like tree rings that we can use to compare recent climate change to past climate variability.

 

It’s kind of interesting because when you’re in a university setting and you’re around scientists and scientists agree that climate is changing, the globe is warming. But then in other contexts like if I’m on an airplane and I say that I’m a climatologist… I recently had a woman who sat next to me and she asked me what I did and I said I was a climatologist and she kind of patted me on the arm and she said “Oh I believe in that honey.” Unfortunately, there’s a lot of information out there that’s that’s intentionally trying to confuse people about climate change where we should be debating what we should do about it instead of whether it’s actually happening.

 

Dr. Wise says data on climate change is collected in ways we could never imagine except cutting trees in half to count their rings.

 

Climatologists use a lot of different data to study climate so we have satellites now where they can give us a lot of data for a lot of the globe. So places we didn’t used to have data like in the oceans or in a lot of the Southern hemisphere or the poles. And then we have this whole set of things that are usually called paleoclimate proxies, something out there in the environment that is recording climate conditions in some way. Corals record conditions in the ocean and there’s the sediments and lakes and oceans or the bottom of the lakes and the oceans are actually recording things like droughts and floods and they have all these tiny little organisms in there that have some sort of climate signal in them.

 

And then there’s tree rings. So it’s actually a lot easier to take a sample from a tree than it is to take one from a glacier, for instance. And trees are really good recorders of climate. The right types of trees. Also they have this great feature where they have what we call annual resolution so you can really assign an exact calendar year to all those rings back through time. And so you know exactly when that ring was grown and you can get that information. That’s one of the reasons that they’ve been really useful for it –for looking at past climate.

 

I’m talking about in the class and a concerned student raises their hand and asked about that. Wtake out what’s basically a straw sized sample from the tree. So we use a tool called an increment borer. That is what foresters use to check tree health. It takes it out from the bark edge of the tree all the way through the center. So you can still see all the rings through the tree but it doesn’t kill the tree. So trees are used to getting things drilling into them like insects so they just fill in the hole with with resin and keep growing.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Erika Wise (B)

Welcome to Focus Carolina. An exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here at WCHL. Dr. Erika Wise studies the Earth’s climate by looking at tree rings. As a faculty member in the Department of Geography, she collects tree trunk samples to determine how old trees are and when droughts and fires may have occurred. Capturing this data allows her to recognize climate change patterns and predict future ones.

 

Much of Dr. Wise’s research studies how much and why the climate has actually changed.

 

Understanding past climate is really important for understanding recent and future climate and that seems a little counterintuitive. But when you think about our recent climate changes that satellite data we have for climate only really goes back to the 1980s or so. And even those thermometer and rain gage data they for the most part go back to the late 1800s. Some a little bit earlier in the East Coast. But we started burning fossil fuels quite a lot in the mid-1800s. So all of our other types of climate data really already covered this period of time where humans were already starting to affect the climate.

 

So to be able to say “is recent climate change different?” we have to be able to compare it to something. And so we need these other tools to be able to know what the past climate was like so we can say “hey are these recent trends different?” Tree ring data, ice core data all these other types of data can really, kind of, show this bigger window on past climate so that we can compare anything that’s happened recently to the way things were before there were a lot of fossil fuel burning happening. We’re continually finding new methods to look at past climate what are called stable isotopes to look at past climate or the waxes and tree leaves.

 

So if you touch a leaf and it’s really waxy that wax that’s on there can be preserved and used to study past climate. There’s things called pack rat mittens which are really cool. So pack rats preserve everything that they collected around them so you can learn about past environment. So even when you already had the tree ring or you had the ice core. But we are always finding new ways to get different types of information out of out of that data. We often think of climate models for looking at future climate, but models are also used to look at past climate and those are always being improved as well.

 

One thing that I really focus on is looking at those big climate patterns like El Nino or one of those big atmospheric patterns we’ve heard of recently as the polar vortex. So these kind of things happening at that scale like big hemispheric scales really affect us and affect climate all over the world. So for instance, we had a couple of really huge El Ninos and in the 80s and 90s and the question is is that a global warming signal or do we see those back through time as well? So just again trying to see if things we’re experiencing recently are different than those things that we experienced in the past.

 

One of the two classes Dr. Wise teaches each semester also debates climate change and global warming.

 

The controversy about global warming does not have to do with science. No one could ever present enough data to convince people who are climate change deniers that climate change isn’t happening because it’s not based on science. There’s been a lot of misinformation put out to make people feel like there is a scientific debate about climate change. That debate is happening in kind of a different realm that’s separate from science. So there’s been a lot of studies that have shown you if somebody does not, quote unquote, “believe in climate” change there’s no amount of data you can show them that would change their mind because that’s not really data based.

 

It’s based on a belief that scientists are telling you climate change is happening for some other nefarious reason. Like that they want more bigger government or they want more money or something like that. But in any surveys about what Americans care about, climate change tends to come in pretty low. So most people don’t think about climate change. There’s some people who just think it’s some vast conspiracy from scientists who are really concerned about climate change. And then there’s people in the middle who are just kind of confused because they hear all of this different types of information and they don’t know who to believe or they don’t know what the actual state of the science is. So it’s kind of, unfortunately, moved out of science and into this other realm that has to do with social media and politics and a lot of things like that.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Sheryl Zimmerman (A)

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is Chancellor Carol Folt and I’m excited to introduce this new series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. Anyone who has ever cared for an older adult with dementia knows the difficulties of providing the right level of support at the right time. At Carolina’s School of Social Work, Dr. Sheryl Zimmerman is an internationally recognized expert on long term services and support for older adults. Through her research, Dr. Zimmerman develops evidence-based practices that help caregivers respond to medical events and support daily living activities.

 

That type of research I do is very interdisciplinary and it’s all focused upon better understanding care needs of older adults and different services that older adults need and especially older adults who have need for long term care services and supports.

 

Dr. Zimmerman earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Illinois before completing her doctorate at Illinois Chicago. Since arriving at UNC in 1997 she has been named a Kenan distinguished professor and associate dean of research.

 

So I started my professional, academic and clinical career in Chicago and I moved to Maryland and worked at University of Maryland about 1989, 1990, started doing research there and found that there was a lot of really promising opportunities related to aging and in long term care and even better opportunities to do research here. There was not a lot of research in that area happening at UNC-Chapel Hill, so the timing just seemed perfect to come here and be able to really make contributions in a new way and on a new campus.

 

In 2016 Dr. Zimmerman was recognized as the nation’s top ranked social work scholar on aging. She credits much of it to the collaborative atmosphere in Chapel Hill.

 

That is really important. Town and gown communication and interaction, engagement in the work we do: both my own work in health services research and the work that other people the School of Social Work do. Specific to me, a lot of it is related to long term care which means creating partnerships with long term care organizations, nursing homes, assisted living, daycare. The way we build scholarship and the way we have impact is working closely with partners in the community to understand what services they provide, what are the care needs of people who live in the community and are and are using these services, and then working together to develop and test new interventions. So without that kind of engagement it really couldn’t be done.

 

The growth of the aging population in this country is startling.

 

The numbers are, in large part, why I ended up doing what I’m doing. Almost half a million people across the nation are 65 years and older. It’s going to be almost 100 million people by 2060. That’s a lot of people with a lot of care needs and a lot of organizations that need to respond to those care needs. What people don’t realize, is they often think about older adults. That’s them that’s not me. Well obviously it is hopefully going to be all of us at some point and the need for services is something people don’t fully appreciate. People who reach 65 right now, almost half of them are going to need to use some long term care services at some point in their life. So I expect well close to half the people listening we need to recognize that they are going to be in a daycare, assisted living, in a nursing home and they have about a 50-percent chance of that being a nursing home, which is really expensive. You’re talking about $140,000 at least in long term care costs.

 

Dr. Zimmerman looks at the most feared diagnosis in the dementia family, Alzheimer’s disease, as opportunity rather than a terminal illness.

 

There’s nothing new or surprising about how prevalent Alzheimer’s disease is and the fact that it’s growing and is going to continue to grow. So you put together the huge numbers of older adults, which by 2050, is going to be 16 million people with dementia. And really it’s almost like being a kid in a candy store thinking about what you can do working in engaged scholarship and thinking about all the host of different areas that are relevant to develop, improve and test services to improve care and outcomes, quality of life for older adults.

 

Thanks to the work of researchers and caregivers, dementia no longer carries the stigma it once did for older adults.

 

Dementia was if you will, a quote-unquote kind of death sentence. And what we know now is that with much better understanding of what dementia is and what the care and service needs are,here absolutely is quality of life. We need to know better how to provide those services and understand what services are needed for people with dementia.

 

Thank you for this need to focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews it Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Sheryl Zimmerman (B)

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My name is Chancellor Carol Folt and I’m excited to introduce this new series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. Anyone who has ever cared for an older adult with dementia knows the difficulties of providing the right level of support at the right time. At Carolina’s School of Social Work, Dr. Sheryl Zimmerman is an internationally recognized expert on long term services and support for older adults. Through her research, Dr. Zimmerman develops evidence-based practices that help caregivers respond to medical events and support daily living activities.

 

While assisted living, nursing homes and Alzheimer’s care can’t have specific services, Dr. Zimmerman has found an intervention with all three to help reduce pneumonia.

 

One project is helping care providers in nursing homes brush people’s teeth. If any of the listeners have had a family member in a nursing home, been to a nursing home, it is not surprising that toothbrushing often does not get done. It’s oftentimes a challenging task because it’s hard to get a tooth brush into someone’s mouth. It has long been recognized that oral hygiene and toothbrushing has been something that has been one of the least well-provided services in nursing homes. The same time what has come to be known, is that people in nursing homes, when they get all that bacteria building up on their plaque, building up on their gums, with gingivitus, when they cough or can’t swallow well, that bacteria goes into their lungs and causes pneumonia. There have been estimates that we could reduce as many as half of pneumonias in nursing homes by merely brushing people’s teeth. Over the past 10 years, we developed a program called “Mouthcare Without a Battle.” It can be found online mouthcarewithoutabattle.org. We’ve been working and disseminating across the country is helping direct care workers know some of the basic techniques for brushing people’s teeth. It’s relevant in nursing homes. It’s relevant and assisted living it’s relevant for home care and it’s a larger problem than people appreciate. We’ve just finished working with 14 nursing homes, helping half of them do Mouth Care Without a Battle. And we found we reduced the risk of pneumonias by 32-percent. And it’s applicable; when we’ve presented this work to family members who take care of people at home, and not just people with dementia, but anyone who’s impaired and needs help with their oral hygiene.

 

Another new program of Dr. Zimmermann’s is a simple, inexpensive way to keep older people from falling in the darkness.

 

We’ve got a really innovative and fun project we’re about to be starting. We call it the “night light study.” Our night lights study is using a special configuration of lights with the understanding that it’s not just the need to have some illumination in a room. We are putting night lights along the bathroom doorframe. So when people wake up and they get out of bed, that vertical and horizontal orientation of lighting that helps them better configure their body. And for that there were some very good preliminary data showing that people really actually are more stable upon leaving their bedside when they have that type of lighting. So we’re really excited about that for a couple of reasons: one, because we expect it will reduce falls, another because it’s pretty inexpensive. You know we’re always looking for new care services that people can do without spending a lot of money, for obvious reasons. And then the third thing, is that it doesn’t require staff time. So you’re really talking about an inexpensive, standalone intervention that can potentially reduce falls.

 

Many people with parents and grandparents who have dementia are choosing to care for them at home.

 

Three-quarters of the caregiving is done by family caregivers in the community. People have estimated how many hours of care they provide. The numbers are almost close to like $40 billion of care is provided by family caregivers. We talk a lot about assisted living and nursing homes, but it’s family caregiving is a really different animal than it used to be.

 

Like many in their fields, Dr. Zimmerman was inspired by a personal story.

 

I had already started working in this area but my passion became so much stronger. And it was my parents, my father who had dementia. And as his dementia was just starting, we didn’t necessarily know that dad had dementia. It’s kind of a slow growing type of confusion. His name was Aaron. My mother would say, “Aaron, you have to pay attention more why are you not paying attention.” And I was certainly aware of what was happening, but my mom never really could fully wrap her head around the fact that my father was not in control of knowing or not knowing. And it kind of broke my heart, which really solidified my ongoing work in this area.

 

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews, visit chapelboro.com and click on “WCHL on demand” or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Marisa Marraccini (A)

– Provost Bob Blouin

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. I’m Provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. Dr. Marisa Marraccini is an assistant professor in Carolina’s School of Education. As a school psychologist, her research focuses on developing guidelines to help students transition back to school and recover from suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

 

– Host

Professor Marraccini’s primary focus is stabilizing the school reentry process across the state for kids who have been hospitalized.

 

– Dr. Marraccini

My goal is really to develop a set of standards or a protocol that all schools can work from and all hospitals can work from. But I don’t necessarily want it to be uniform. Every family, every kid, every school is a little bit different and a little bit unique. So the idea being that we have a sense of what it is that schools generally can provide to kids who are in crisis so that hospital clinicians have a better sense of “OK I can make a recommendation” for a kid to use a pass to get out of class whenever they’re really really struggling versus making recommendations that schools just really don’t have the ability to bring to fruition. If a hospital clinician was to make a recommendation for a child going back to school that they needed like a one on one support but that child never had any special education services to begin with the school has to start from the very beginning to begin to try to get this child any services.

 

– Dr. Marraccini

And so there sort of is a disconnect sometimes between what’s the best thing that a kid can get and what the school actually able to do. And I’m really trying to bridge that gap so that both institutions who are working really hard to support kids can work together to support the kids. Each school is equipped to do a certain amount and there’s always something a school can do. So one of the things that I’ve studied is the importance of school connectedness, right. So kids who feel more connected to their school and to their teachers are less likely to report having suicidal thoughts and behaviors and that sort of is just generally. I mean obviously doesn’t account for a lot of other factors. But it points to the importance of something as simple as a teacher caring about a student or a teacher showing that they care about a student. So these guidelines might not be as specific as you need this specific resource or this specific one on one aid but, it may be more helpful so that teachers and school professionals who are working with these kids after they’ve experienced the significant crisis to feel comfortable knowing that just saying that they care or not being afraid to say like “Hey you shared with us that you were hospitalized, I’m here if you need to talk about anything during the day”. It could be as simple as something like that but it could be as complex as a particular kid needs a really specific supports and a gradual reentry to the school and they need more time to make up specific academic work. There’s just so many different factors.

 

– Host

By studying the schools that have better resources., Professor Marraccini can simplify ways for all schools to help kids in need.

 

– Dr. Marraccini

Last year I conducted a study where we surveyed school psychologists across the country to just better understand what it is that schools are doing because we really just don’t even know that. There’s sort of this wonderful large preventative focus on suicide prevention in schools. But oftentimes the kids who are actually in crisis after they’ve been identified are sort of left hanging because we don’t really know how to help these kids. I wanted to know, well ok so, anecdotally I experienced that as a condition in schools. What our schools actually doing. We surveyed a little over 100 school psychologists just to find out if they had protocols and procedures and if they did what they were. And we found that 45 percent had some sort of informal procedure. So they may not have had it written down, it might not have been outlined explicitly but they knew what to do when something like this happened. And that only 16 percent had something formal. And so that leaves nearly 40 percent who had nothing no procedure at all. So just knowing that there are nearly 40 percent of schools that aren’t even thinking about this issue necessarily until it’s happening points to the need for these guidelines. We’re doing these interviews with parents and kids. Kids who’ve been hospitalized for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. And then we’re also interviewing school professionals so school psychologists, school counselors, school social workers, nurses, principals, teachers and then also hospital clinicians. But we’re also conducting a statewide survey to get a better sense of what it is that schools in North Carolina are doing to support kids. And yes we have to go through the district to get a better sense of of what’s happening at a district level. And if these protocols and procedures are within one school or within the whole district. So we’re going to take all of this information and develop these guidelines and disseminate them to schools and hospitals across the state of North Carolina.

 

– Provost Bob Blouin

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Marisa Marraccini (B)

– Provost Bob Blouin

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m Provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. Dr. Marissa Marraccini is an assistant professor in Carolina School of Education. As a school psychologist, her research focuses on developing guidelines to help students transition back to school and recover from suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

 

– Host

School climate and how parents deal with it is an important part of Professor Marraccini’s study.

 

– Dr. Marraccini

School climate is sort of like the heart of the school. It’s the way everyone feels when they walk into a school. And so it’s impossible I think to ignore school climate when we talk about kids coming back to schools after being hospitalized. If a child or an adolescent has a wonderfully positive experience at their school and then they experience this crisis when they’re coming back to school that’s obviously going to be an important thing to consider. School might actually be a really welcome place for them. On the other hand if the adolescent really feels unsafe or has been experiencing bullying or other negative peer interactions before their hospitalization those are things we’re going to want to address right when they return because they’re not just gonna go away.

 

– Dr. Marraccini

I’ve been so lucky to get to meet with and interview some really resilient and insightful parents and kids who’ve been through this experience of hospitalization. And they’ll have totally different experiences of course but across all of them there are experiences that they found helpful. And then there’s things that they wish that they knew. And so one thing that I think, based on these interviews, that parents should really know is that during adolescence considering suicide or suicidal thoughts is actually relatively common among teenagers and that within a one year timeframe we know that nearly one out of five high school students is going to report or seriously consider suicide attempt. And so that’s a very sobering number. And despite its, it being common it’s critically important that we take all of these thoughts very seriously. And that can be kind of a common disconnect to learn that it’s common and feel grounded in knowing that you’re not the only one going through this and also taking it very seriously. Teens rarely directly come to their parents when they’re first considering suicide. So it’s really important that parents listen to their children with all of their listening capabilities and so not just assuming that they know their teenagers fine because they were fine a couple of years ago but really being in the moment and listening to who their kid is right now.

 

– Dr. Marraccini

And so learning some of the warning signs for suicide is a great thing for parents to do. And so for example some of those include sudden changes in behavior or thoughts or thinking. Sudden drops in grades, increases in alcohol use or drug use or if a kid’s withdrawn socially suddenly and that’s a shift change. And then talking about suicide or death or researching suicide methods are also important warning signs to pay attention to.

 

– Host

How should parents react if they see some of these warning signs with their kids?

 

– Dr. Marraccini

So if a parent is concerned about their child they should handle this like they would handle any other crisis. So they need to remain calm to the best of their abilities which can be really difficult and to ask their child directly if they’re thinking about suicide and certainly seek help. If you as a parent are experiencing a crisis like this. And in the moment you’re worried about your child’s safety make sure that you don’t leave them alone. Make sure that they don’t have access to anything they could use to hurt themself and this includes simple things like tacks or knives, kitchen knives but also guns and firearms. Even if those guns and firearms are locked up make sure that your child doesn’t know where the key is or police remove them from the house. So those are important things to consider kind of across the spectrum of trying to pay attention to these issues or if you’re actually learning about it yourself. One of the things that I think is really important for other teenagers to know is that kids are often not going to directly seek help. They may however confide in a friend. And so as a friend if you have any concerns about your peer it’s really important to speak up.

 

– Dr. Marraccini

At the end of the day it doesn’t hurt to be conservative as a friend or as a parent. And so if you do have concerns speaking up is is worth it. And if you’re wrong and if that kid’s fine and it was just a misunderstanding then the worst thing that you’ve done is shared a little bit of information and been wrong basically. But if you don’t speak up and there is a risk then you could really be saving a life. I mean there often times is confusion. Text messaging and social media, kids post didn’t say all sorts of things that they may not say in person but I think we need to capitalize on that because they may be more willing to speak up in that context.

 

– Provost Bob Blouin

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Erika Wilson (A)

– Provost Bob Blouin

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL.

 

– Provost Bob Blouin

At the UNC School of Law, Erika Wilson researches laws and policies that may affect educational equality for disadvantaged students. She is dedicated to ensuring all students have access to good schools.

 

– Host

Much of Professor Wilson’s work stems back to Brown vs. the Board of Education in 1954. It was this Supreme Court decision that allowed the federal government to mandate for the desegregation of America’s public school system.

 

– Erika Wilson

We like to say we’re a nation of laws. The laws are only as good as the execution and commitment to following the laws. Brown was a Supreme Court decision and so the Supreme Court interprets the Constitution and says what is permissible or not. And so it’s really up to the states to decide whether or not they’re going to comply with the rulings from the Supreme Court in the case of Brown. Many states decided that they just weren’t going to. The primary way that the federal government got the states to comply, eventually, was to threaten to pull their funding. There were federal statutes passed that tied receiving funding from the federal government for schools to compliance with Brown vs. Board of Education. That happened around 1964 and that’s why you had that huge time gap between Brown and 54 and when schools actually started to take meaningful steps to integrate.

 

– Erika Wilson

So the thing that drew me to this area is actually my own family background. My parents grew up in the south and they went through high school in terms of their level of education and they always pushed me to go to college and beyond. So I’m the first person in my family to graduate from college and certainly to go beyond and get postgraduate education. And so the idea of education as a transformative force in many people’s lives. Particularly, I think for African-Americans like myself who are the first really post civil rights generation who had some of the same opportunities to get educations that maybe some of our parents and grandparents didn’t have. And so I always like to tell the story that probably the reason I’m sitting here today is because when I was in high school I transferred to a magnet school for math and science and it was a much more rigorous experience and it was tough.

 

– Erika Wilson

I mean I struggled for a very long time through much of my high school career I would say but had it not been for that experience I’m not sure that I would have completed college. To be honest, because just the ability to be exposed to a higher quality and caliber of education really gave me the tools that I needed to not just get into college but to be successful when I got there. And so that personal experience made me think more about how do we open up better educational opportunities for all students but particularly for students like myself who come from historically marginalized backgrounds and what role does the law play in both again creating educational opportunities or restricting educational opportunities.

 

– Host

Professor Wilson’s personal background led to the causes she pursued in law school.

 

– Erika Wilson

So I grew up in Las Vegas Nevada and so Las Vegas did not have schools that were segregated as a matter of law but they were racially segregated and there was litigation and as part of the litigation the state of Nevada agreed to what’s called a federal court desegregation order that required students like myself who lived in the predominately African-American side of town to be bussed to a predominately white side of town. And so I always had some interest in why dynamics were what they were when it came to schools and race. And then when I got to law school I would say and I studied constitutional law that was really the first time that I was introduced to Brown vs. Board of Education. And some of the cases that came after Brown. And so my own personal life started to make more sense. What I understood what Brown was about and what cases that came after Brown said and so particularly in the South many school systems needed federal money to run and to run well and so that was really the stick so to speak to get a lot of school systems particularly in the south to comply with Brown and the portions of the Civil Rights Act that gave the federal government the ability to withhold funding if they did not.

 

– Erika Wilson

Actually, even today the most segregated racially segregated schools are in the Northeast and Midwest and many places there did not have segregation on the books as a matter of law, but as a matter of practice they did and many still do today. And so an important limitation of Brown was that it really only applied to school systems or states that had written in the law that students had to be separated.

 

– Provost Bob Blouin

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Erika Wilson (B)

– Provost Bob Blouin

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m Provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL.

 

– Provost Bob Blouin

At the UNC School of Law, Erika Wilson researches laws and policies that may affect educational equality for disadvantaged students. She is dedicated to ensuring all students have access to good schools.

 

– Host

Professor Wilson also directs clinics at the law school that gives students real life legal experience.

 

– Erika Wilson

We have nine different clinics. I teach in a general civil litigation clinic. But our clinics are akin to and medical school students to some sort of practical residency or rotations where they actually learn how to be doctors by working on real patients. And so for law school and our clinics is the same concept. Our students learn how to be lawyers by handling real cases with real clients. I always ask people “Would you ever go to a doctor who’s fresh out of medical school but had never seen a patient before?” and they say “of course not.” But when it comes to lawyers this actually happens all the time that students go through three years of law school never having talked to a real client or worked on a real case. And so our clinics changed that model by giving students an opportunity to work on real cases with real clients. And so are the kinds of work our clinics has a wide range of kinds of cases. We for the most part represent clients who otherwise could not afford counsel and we represent them on issues ranging from issues housing people who are getting evicted, for example, people who are living in substandard housing, people who have been discriminated against in their employment.

 

– Erika Wilson

These kinds of everyday bread and butter issues that greatly affect people. But these people can’t afford to get a lawyer to help them. So we represent them and our students get to to act as real lawyers representing the clients in this work. And so it ties in also to my education research because I also in my clinic represent students who need, for example, Individualized Education Plan our students may represent them in getting an IEP. We have another clinic that represents students in school discipline proceedings where they’ve been long term suspended or expelled. We will have student serve as lawyers to those students in those proceedings.

 

– Host

The students in Professor Wilson’s clinic often wind up providing more comprehensive legal counsel than expensive private law firms.

 

– Erika Wilson

One of the benefits of being represented by the clinic is that we have a whole team of students to dedicate to working on client cases. The students really are able to dig deeper and further than a lawyer who is on the clock and being paid by the hour might be able to do. The students really really dig in and we really as part of our teaching methodology encourage students to engage in thorough representation to research every issue and angle possible and to really be zealous in their representation of clients. So I would actually argue I may be slightly biased but our clinic and our clinic students are better than the lawyer who is being five hundred dollars and hour and we’re going to go farther and harder for our clients. One of the things I always tell my student is that I used to litigate it at a law firm that does charge in excess of five hundred dollars an hour and I’m gonna show you how to litigate like them but only better. And so they definitely take that to heart and we’ve gotten fabulous results for many clients and just made a tremendous difference I think in terms of the access to justice gap because a lot of clients can’t afford lawyers and civil cases and so the clinics we play a vital role in the community in terms of helping clients to get the access to justice that they should receive.

 

– Erika Wilson

All of our clinics are run by full time faculty members and so the faculty member is limited to teaching only eight students. And so the faculty member serves as a supervising attorney on all of the cases that the student works on. The faculty member also teaches the principles of lawyering. How to lawyer a case and then the students go out and apply those principles through their actual case representation. Every clinic is different in terms of exactly how many cases they will take on in a given year. If a case actually goes to trial, for example, our students are doing the trial and they’re being supervised by the faculty member who is a licensed North Carolina attorney. And so we are very careful and meticulous in terms of the cases that we do take on and the ones that we actually the students to work on to make sure it’s a valuable learning experience for the student and to make sure that we have the expertise to appropriately assist the client.

 

– Provost Bob Blouin

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Robert Bashford (A)

– Provost Bob Blouin

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m Provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL . In his role as associate dean for rural initiatives at the UNC School of Medicine, Dr. Robert Bashford recruits medical school students who have what he calls a rural heart. He helps train and mentor those students to be primary care physicians in underserved areas of North Carolina.

 

– Host

Dr. Bashford is the first in his family to attend college and from a young age was drawn to helping people.

 

– Dr. Bashford

I think because my dad had a third grade education and had to make his way in an impoverished world. And he did and had a company, a plumbing company, and I saw a lot of people that were underserved and didn’t have anything. I love the state and I think my lots of years at UNC have learned that we’ve got massive pockets of no service to poor service in the health care world in this state. I came to UNC after finishing NC State. I went to medical school here then did a residency obstetrics here at UNC. Went to Wilmington, North Carolina delivered probably 1500 babies got tired and decided that I wanted to do what I wanted to do when I came to med school, which would be a psychiatrist. I came back and did a residency and a fellowship in adolescent psychiatry and then I became a teacher in the Med School, then admissions dean in the Med School and most recently have been promoted, which is a scary word, to associate dean for the Rural Initiative. The mission is getting clearer and clearer and it is to initially put docs in rural spaces in North Carolina where there are no docs and we’ve got 80 rural counties. We’ve got counties that have literally no docs. We’ve got counties that have no surgeons. I’m a psychiatrist– the mental health system is broken into smithereens in this state.

 

– Dr. Bashford

So we began to attract young people that grew up in a rural space. First brought them into Med school. They have to come in through no special portal because you can’t afford to lose them academically. Then begin to talk to kids that grew up in rural spaces about forgiveness of debt and they’re going back into rural spaces to practice primary care. What I learned going to Alabama and Wisconsin, I went all over to learn who had done it and I learned two big things. One –start small until you can’t buy these folks. They’ve got to have, quote, a rural heart. They’ve got to want to be back in that rural space. If you grew up in Charlotte you’re not going to go out into the country to practice medicine.

 

– Host

Much of Dr. Bashford’s work is supported by the Kenan Rural Scholars Program.

 

– Dr. Bashford

This is all through the Kenan trust. This was a conversation seven, eight years ago between the folks at the Kenan Trust. Krasno, Dick Krasno, Tom Kenan and me about how to go about putting more people into rural spaces. We’re now trying to get allied health occupational therapy physical therapy–All the people that support the docs debt forgiveness and go out with them. This is a trend across the country in the medical world to try and have a rural initiative and the other part of that is to teach our students and (have) part of the curriculum become Population Health. Population Health is treating people before they get sick. Treating people away from the hospital and trying to keep them well instead of treating them when they get sick. There’s two parts. Kenan Rural Primary Scholars Program and the Kenan Interprofessional Scholars Program which is the occupational, physical therapy, social workers, nurses all the people that make the doctor’s job work. We’re at 62 now having started in 2013. You will get into medical school and then I’ll begin to talk to you and get in front of these students. In fact I talked to one yesterday. She’s from a rural station in northeastern North Carolina. She wants to go back there and practice and we will pick 8 to 10 to 12 rural scholars. We will then put them at campuses in Asheville or in Chapel Hill or Wilmington and they’ll spend the summer in a rural setting. It’s been seven weeks, after the first year med school with a doc that practices in a rural setting. I mean I laugh and say ‘if you talk funny and you make good grades I’m listening to you.’

 

– Provost Bob Blouin

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Robert Bashford (B)

– Provost Bob Blouin

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m Provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. In his role as associate dean for rural initiatives at the UNC School of Medicine, Dr. Robert Bashford recruits medical school students who have what he calls a rural heart. He helps train and mentor those students to be primary care physicians in underserved areas of North Carolina.

 

– Host

For Dr. Bashford there is one more important piece to the rural health care puzzle.

 

– Dr. Bashford

There’s an equally important piece which is pipe lining. That is going backwards and getting in front of these young people in high school and junior high school and talking with them about things they had never even dreamt, which is the concept of being an occupational therapist, a pulmonary therapist, nurse, a social worker. There are lots of ways to get to the table.  So pipe lining is a really important part of what we’re doing. I would say the most important thing that we’ve done in a big picture setting is insert the concept of population health into the curriculum and the minds of our learners.I’ve got one of my assistants in Brunswick County going to the high schools there to talk to the students about the concept of being in health care, not necessarily a physician, but so many different ways to get to the table.  They’ve never thought about the idea that they could be an occupational therapist and make a massive difference in the needs of patients. All aspects of Allied Health those fields that support the doc and make it possible for him to be more effective and in fact know how to do things that Doc has no idea how to do. Doctors do not know how to do the things that physical therapists know how to do. The team is what makes the difference and my fantasy is that we will, if the legislature will help us, forgive debt which they put money  in the game as has the medical school. If they will help forgive debt for allied health then we’re really on our way. We’ve got a place at UNC and NC State in which we get into their pre health clubs and we begin talking to these people about–this is a step up from high school– about how toegin to think about what they want to do in medicine and health care and meet with them, have sessions in which we talk about the many many ways that they haven’t thought about. Besides medicine dentistry obviously. Other people that we become really attached to is the Farm Bureau. Larry Wooten, that’s President of the Farm Bureau, says “Let me help you go to communities that want you to be there.” You can’t go plop down on a community and put up a sign. You need to be wanted there and you need to be integrated into the community. He’s going to be helpful to us as we move into rural spaces because he’s got a farm bureau in every county.

 

– Host

One goal of rural medicine is to make sure that patients don’t have to travel to metropolitan hospitals.

 

– Dr. Bashford

There’s a new hospital beginning in Columbus, North Carolina due south of Asheville. It’s gonna be a new hospital– a rural hospital– and we will begin with one of our rural scholars who’s going to go there as a family practice doc and then we’ll build around her and build the allied health and other needs she has. But she’s going to be the (unintelligible) at the beginning of that hospital to take care of people instead of them having to go to the big hospital. This primary care doc sits down. Medicine has changed so much. Primary care extends way beyond just family medicine. That’s the basis of it but, we also need a surgeon. We badly need psychiatry. We badly need different fields. Psychiatry is probably gonna have to go to some some version of telepsychiatry to make it work in rural spaces. This doc sits down with the patient and has time to talk with them and assure that they’ve understood what we’ve said is the best way. I’m lucky. My father would want me to say I’m not lucky, I’m blessed because I’ve been trained by people that sat down with the patient and listened to them and I’ve had that magnificent training all the way through my time at UNC Medical School. I should be retired and I’ve hit a sweet spot. I mean every time I get ready to stop I get passionate about it. I’m nuts about this. I drive people crazy talking about.

 

– Provost Bob Blouin

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Mohit Bansal (A)

– Provost Bob Blouin

Welcome to Focus Carolina,  an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m Provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. Dr. Mohit Bansal directs Carolina’s natural language processing lab. His team from the computer science department and the College of Arts and Sciences is building machines that understand complex human language and also generate human language allowing for more realistic interactions.

 

– Host

Dr. Bansal has become an expert in natural language processing referred to as NLP.

 

– Dr. Bansal

I can define NLP in limited terms how to build machines or artificial agents intelligence agents that can both understand human language very naturally written or spoken as well as generate human like language. So nowadays it’s very easy to sort of explain NLP. Pn Tuesday when I was in the undergraduate class, I was giving them slides on what is NLP be around them. So it’s very easy to start with things like Alexa and Google Home and Siri as examples because it’s doing both NLU and NLG. NLU would be natural language understanding because it has to understand what you said first and then it also does NLG which is natural language generation because it generates a response to what you said.

 

– Dr. Bansal

So obviously these are more constrained systems because they’re products and they have to be very careful and there’s all the legal issues probably. On the research side in academia and also researchers in these labs like Google Labs and Microsoft research labs and Facebook labs they focused more on the research and more sort of risky and adventurous side of things. These are known as dialogue models or also conversational agents because they’re having conversations with you. So we’ve been looking at things that along with other folks in the community on how to extend these types of Alexa models but for more adventurous things like, can we add personality to them?

 

– Dr. Bansal

So when paper we had at a journal last year was how to add politeness or rudeness to them. Because there was an article actually about Alexa or one of these products about how it might make your kids rude because they can talk to it in any way they want and it still does the thing that they say. So then should there was a debate on whether these sort of conversational agents should be sort of imitating politeness, rudeness, strictness. But there’s a sort of thin boundary between them becoming a therapist which we don’t want. But on the research side we’ve shown how it’s very challenging to have a dialogue model that can both to generate a relevant response to all the conversation behind it as well as have some style or better linguistic element like politeness. So again we have sort of a knob. How much to turn it towards politeness vs. rudeness.

 

– Host

Dr. Bansal has worked on the next generation of artificial intelligence and enhancing the ability of computers to process visual data and see what’s happening around them.

 

– Dr. Bansal

We also did things like how to make dialogue models have eyes– vision, right. Can they generate dialogue while also being relevant to visual surrounding information? So in our data set we had videos and conversation and then the model had to generate a response that was both relevant to the conversation history but also the video that’s happening live. So one good dataset resource for this was online Twitch games. Because if you play these online games there is a video about the game happening which is a pretty complex game like a strategy game. There are sort of building homes, destroying mansions and armies and all that and then there’s also a life conversation happening about the game right next to it on the webpage. So that’s a good source of data to build these models in the beginning. That can we take that live video and the live chat and then get the machine learning model or agent generate the next response based on relevant to both the video and the text. We’ve been extending things like that but also bringing in external common sense. They only learned from what the data tells them. All these models are trained on a lot of human annotated data. So how do we expect them to have external knowledge or things that are common sense for you and me.

 

– Dr. Bansal

So these all need to be incorporated into the model with data. It’s not they’re not born with it or they’re not learning this implicitly through feedback from the world. These models basically do something called supervised learning where they already have tens or hundreds of thousands of examples training examples on when they see a certain video. What are the labels of the objects in those videos. What are the labels of the actions in those videos. Same for dialogue, you create training data where you’ve already annotated a hundred thousand conversations of what’s the conversation and what’s the next response. So there’s a training phase and then there’s usually a test phase which is unseen. The bottom line is we wanted these models to generalize, right. They should be able to do well on new things that have not been seen during training.

 

– Provost Bob Blouin

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Mohit Bansal (B)

– Provost Bob Blouin

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m Provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. Dr. Mohit Bansal directs Carolina’s natural language processing lab. His team from the computer science department in the College of Arts and Sciences is building machines that understand complex human language and also generate human language allowing for more realistic interactions.

 

– Host

In Dr. Bansal’s lab, work is also being done on a version of Cliff Notes for the modern age–a summarization application available on your phone.

 

– Dr. Bansal

This is also one of the maybe main examples of natural language generation. So the idea of automatic documents summarization would be to take a very very long document or even several documents, which is known as multi document summarization, and being able to compress that information into maybe a hundred words. So that maybe you could read it on your phone screen because you can’t scroll 100 pages on your phone screen. So this is how to do this automatically, right. A machine needs to take care of three or four things here. First of all it needs to make sure that the information that’s being put into summary is relevant to the original document. It cannot start generating contradictory or unrelated information. Then it needs to make sure that it’s not generating redundant information into the summary. Because if you only have hundred words the machine cannot add the same information and two or three times. It has to keep bringing in new information. Another thing is saliency. Is it bringing in the most important information from the documents? And then the last one might be informativeness. How much are you learning new things as a human after reading that summary? So it has to basically in its optimization function or the objective that it’s maximizing. It has to take care of all these things together. So this known as automatic document summarization. We had a pretty interesting paper on this last year which is I think still New York State of the Art results but also importantly it made the models 20 times faster. Because these are very slow models we are generating word by word up to a hundred words. So the trick that we did was we combined two types of summarization models–extractive summarization and abstractive. Extractive summarization is something which means just choose the sentences from the original document that should go in the summary but abstractive summarization tries to rewrite those sentences.

 

– Dr. Bansal

Basically it actually wants to use the space even more efficiently so it tries to compress and rewrite sentences. So we did both we said let’s first extract the sentences that are relevant and then each of them can be rewritten and compressed in parallel, like together, instead of one after the other. So that brings in the speed and then you connect the two models with something known as reinforcement learning which basically is a feedback loop to connect to models that don’t have direct supervision between them. They don’t have training data to connect the two.

 

– Host

Dr. Bansal when the students work in what he calls a good sized lab they have a lot of fun teaching computers what to do and how to think.

 

– Dr. Bansal

At this point we have around 12 to—maybe around 12 to 13 PhD students with me and then also we work a lot with undergraduates. The UNC has really strong undergraduate students. So we’ve self published several papers with our undergraduates. One of them received those CRA undergrad award honorable mention last year which is probably the highest undergrad research award in the country. So we have two or three students probably working on each of these main directions like some are doing multi-model vision and language stuff, some idea of focusing on language generation, summarization, dialogue modeling. Some are working on more core machine learning algorithms like how to basically use bandage-style models or how to automate machine learning. Can machine learning learn on its own? As opposed to adding human rules in it. We have good synergy there’s usually groups or subgroups of students that are always sort of talking to each other and then we do a weekly reading groups where we order some good food and we choose a few papers that we want to discuss and then students take turns presenting them and then we have a lively discussion. Everyone’s asking questions debating once or twice a month. We also try to go out lunch or dinner together maybe go to a good brewery or a good restaurant. I’m currently the director of the UNC NLP lab. It’s not that I’m directing saying like no you have to do this or you have to do that. It’s sort of back and forth brainstorming usually where sometimes I have an initial idea and then the student will pursue it and change the idea and make it better. Sometimes the student has an idea I’ll try to help and make it more sort of interesting or publishable and how it fits their thesis.

 

– Provost Bob Blouin

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Suzanne Barbour (A)

– Provost Bob Blouin

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m Provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. As the new Dean of the graduate school at Carolina, Dr. Suzanne Barbour is working to train the next generation of scholars while ensuring that students interested in non-academic career paths and nontraditional students have meaningful programs to help them advance in their careers.

 

– Host

Dean Barbour is getting familiar with a graduate school program that has nearly 30 percent of UNC’s total student enrollment.

 

– Dean Barbour

So the first few months have been very very important for me because I had the same position at the University of Georgia–Dean of the graduate school. It’s really important for me to learn the norms and the culture here at Carolina during my first few months. I’ve also gotten the opportunity to get to know some of the important leaders and I’m starting to get to know the students as well and that gives me the opportunity to find out what the unique needs, challenges and opportunities are here at Carolina.

 

 

Carolina prides itself on its low stone walls and I think that really does typify the culture. At some institutions that can be very challenging to work across school and college boundaries and those things are not so challenging here at Carolina and this is really important in graduate education because we all know that the years of training graduate students in silos, disciplinary silos, are gone. And that students are going to be of most benefit to the workforce if they’re trained across disciplinary boundaries. And so low stone walls really promote that kind of training.

 

 

There are a number of reasons why graduate education across the country need to be thinking beyond just the traditional learners. In graduate education we will always be in the business of training traditional scholars; folks who are going to go off and push the boundaries back in their disciplines be the next generation of Nobel Prize laureates, of scholars in education and science and humanities and arts. But the long story short is that the demographics of the workforce are changing. The future graduate student I think is going to be this nontraditional learner. This adult learner who comes back to gain the skills they need to continue to be competitive in the workforce. And so we at Carolina have to be in the business of providing training for these quote-unquote nontraditional learners. That training may come in the form of degree programs some of them may be sent back for example by their companies to do master’s degrees. But I think we also have to be prepared for the possibility that some people will be coming back not to get a degree but rather to just get some skills those skills might come in the form of a certificate program. They might even come in the form of something even smaller than that. Perhaps just a few courses that essentially earn them a badge or some sort of designation that they’ve gained those skills.

 

– Host

To serve this state university, Dean Barbour believes the graduate programs have to be flexible to accommodate these so-called adult learners.

 

– Dean Barbour

There’s some discussion in graduate education now about the possibility of having stackable credentials with the idea that an individual might come back and do a couple of these badges stack them together and ultimately gain a degree over the course of a few years in order to serve our constituents–and of course Carolina that’s the citizens of the state of North Carolina. We’re gonna have to think beyond the traditional degree program and start thinking more about how we serve these nontraditional learners. Carolina’s in the midst of taking a really critical look at data science, an area that’s really growing in the workforce, thinking about how we can expand our programming and data science.

 

 

And so we’re looking now at a couple of certificates in data science which might be stepping stones to larger degrees. For example, I can imagine a student taking a certificate in data science and ultimately aspiring to go into a master’s program in bioinformatics for example. And that’s the kind of thing that we can do at Carolina. For years and years, certainly back when I did my PhD, PhD students were trained to be faculty members and back then a good percentage of us did indeed end up in those kinds of roles. But the data now tell us that PhD students are going out into a much broader array of career paths and in fact only about one in five of them are actually going to aspire to be faculty members.

 

 

And so we need to prepare PhD students for the roles they’re actually going to take. And that’s where it becomes important for PhD students to not only get a sense of the other career paths that are out there but also to have some opportunity to explore those paths so they can figure out the ones that are best for them. We in the Carolina graduate school can continue to help them to do that by expanding our programming in experiential professional development. And the goal there is to provide students both with the opportunity to explore what used to be called alternative career paths and now we know that academics is really the alternative that we want them to have the opportunity to explore those paths through a variety of mechanisms from networking opportunities with people who are in non-academic career paths to panel discussions to internships to site visits. We want to make sure the Carolina graduate students have the opportunity to see these paths so that when they make decisions about the paths they choose for themselves they can make educated decisions and ultimately land in careers that are satisfying and make them feel as though they’re giving back and making a difference.

 

– Provost Bob Blouin

Thank you for listening to Focus Carolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.

 

Focus Carolina: Suzanne Barbour (B)

 

– Provost Bob Blouin

Welcome to Focus Carolina, an exclusive program sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m Provost Bob Blouin and I’m excited to share this series of interviews with our Carolina faculty here on WCHL. As the new dean of the graduate school at Carolina, Dr. Suzanne Barbour is working to train the next generation of scholars while ensuring that students interested in non-academic career paths and nontraditional students have meaningful programs to help them advance in their careers.

 

– Host

After barely a month on the job Dean Barbour got a crash course on the state of North Carolina by joining other faculty and administrators on the Tar Heel Bus tour during the October fall break.

 

– Dean Barbour

It was absolutely fantastic. We spent three days touring the southeast of the state. We started out in Siler City. We went as far east as Wilmington. We saw the middle of the state, got to see some of the hurricane ravaged parts of the state. And it’s really important to me for a number of reasons. First of all not from North Carolina and so it gave me an introduction to at least a part of the state which I think is going to be very valuable to me. I also met some amazing people on the tour both on and off the bus. For example in Lumberton we met a group of graduate students who were involved in hurricane relief and are doing some really amazing things that are benefiting both the students because it is part of their scholarship they’re PhD students and their studying. But at the same time they were doing some tremendous things to help the community. There was one student for example who is helping community members to filter their water after a hurricane. Sometimes these private wells get contaminated. And so we had unique strategies to help folks keep their water clean. There is another group that were involved in mold remediation and they were both educating folks in the community on how to– the dangers of mold and how to remediate mold and they also had a lending library of equipment that one would use to remediate mold in one’s house.

 

 

And so these students were making a tremendous tremendous difference and I think that’s one of the stories we need to tell at Carolina. Graduate students are doing amazing things that help help the state both on campus and off campus. I would also mention that it was really fascinating to be on the bus too. The bus was 30 people from a variety of disciplines different units on campus. Some of these were people who were already in leadership positions at the institution some of them were faculty members who were probably aspiring to be leaders. They all had one thing in common and that is that they love Carolina they love the state of North Carolina and they were excited to see how how the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill is making a difference across the state. It was a really unique opportunity and I’m very very grateful that I got the opportunity to participate.

 

– Host

Dean Barbour is well aware of the pressures on graduate students that might be even greater than undergraduates who don’t face major life decisions right away.

 

– Dean Barbour

There are a lot of data now suggesting that when you compare graduate students to their peers they’re more likely to have severe anxiety or to be depressed and that’s at least in part because of this career path angst. A lot of students come into graduate school, especially PhD students, with the expectation that this is the road to an academic position as a faculty member. And again the data suggests that one in five are actually going to be in those positions and so students end up in this career crisis at some point during graduate school.

 

 

It’s not uncommon that that happens. To the extent that we can expose them to other career paths, provide them with opportunities to develop skill sets to go into those paths, we’re going to help graduate students to kind of mitigate this career angst and hopefully that’ll have a positive impact on their mental health and ultimately their productivity and career outcomes. Faculty mentoring is absolutely critical for graduate students. Most faculty go into those positions knowing that they’re going to have to mentor students. But many of us when we were in graduate school didn’t have very good mentoring ourselves.

 

 

And so sometimes faculty don’t know how to be good mentors and another role the graduate school plays is in helping faculty to understand best practices and mentoring for graduate students, which is actually quite different than mentoring for undergraduate students and therefore not all faculty are prepared to do it or to do it well. Most faculty have the best of intentions and they’re very much intended to make graduate school the best experience they can for their students. Our job as a graduate school is to be there as a support mechanism to make sure that they can do that.

 

 

Undergraduate students are essentially there to get a degree. Graduate students are there to get a degree as well but that degree is pretty much seamlessly woven into the career path they’re going to take. And so those career decisions those career opportunities are really in the best of all possible worlds. They’re intricately woven into the degree process for a graduate student in a way that isn’t so much the case for undergraduate students. I say the other difference in mentoring undergraduates versus graduate students is undergraduates just don’t know quite as much as graduate students do.

 

 

Graduate students know they have choices and they know those are tough choices. They also know that they have to make those choices in a timely fashion so they can aspire to the career path of their choice. The immediacy of having to make those kinds of decisions I think weighs more heavily on graduate students than it does on undergraduate students and faculty need to be prepared to help students when that heavy burden of making the right career decision falls on them.

 

– Provost Bob Blouin

Thank you for listening to FocusCarolina sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To hear more interviews visit Chapelboro.com and click on WCHL On Demand or visit unc.edu.