President Obama to award National Medal of Technology and Innovation to UNC-Chapel Hill’s Joseph DeSimone at the White House, May 19

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President Obama to award National Medal of Technology and Innovation to UNC-Chapel Hill’s Joseph DeSimone at the White House, May 19

 

(Chapel Hill, N.C. – May 17, 2016) – On Thursday, May 19, President Barack Obama will award the National Medal of Technology and Innovation to Joseph DeSimone, a distinguished professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. DeSimone will be one of 17 scientists, engineers, mathematicians and innovators who will receive the nation’s highest honors for achievement and leadership in advancing the fields of science and technology. He will be recognized for making lasting contributions to America’s competitiveness and quality of life while helping to strengthen the nation’s technological workforce.

 

WHEN:            Thursday, May 19, 2:30 p.m. EDT

 

WHERE:          The White House, East Room

 

MEDIA REGISTRATION:  This event will be open press, but space is limited.  Members of the media who wish to cover this event must RSVP via the following link by 1 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, May 18: https://www.whitehouse.gov/webform/media-rsvp-president-obama-award-national-medals-science-and-national-medals-technology-an-0

 

LIVESTREAM: The White House will run an ongoing livestream of the event for media representatives that cannot attend but plan to cover the ceremony, starting at 2:30 p.m., at www.whitehouse.gov/live. Trouble-shoot telephone number for day-of is (202) 470-5151.

 

PHOTOS: UNC-Chapel Hill will provide high-resolution photos immediately following the event. Photos from the event should also be available from the Medals Foundation later in the day at nationalmedals.org.

 

VIDEO: UNC-Chapel Hill will provide b-roll following the event for Thursday’s late-night newscasts and Friday morning shows.

 

INTERVIEWS: DeSimone will be available by phone for interviews. Please contact Thania Benios at (919) 962-8596 to schedule an interview.

 

– Carolina –

 

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 113 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty – including two Nobel laureates – staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 308,000 alumni live in all 50 states and 150 countries. More than 167,000 live in North Carolina.

 

Communications and Public Affairs contact: Thania Benios, 919-962-8596, thania_benios@unc.edu

Dr. Ken May named interim dean of UNC School of Dentistry

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Dr. Ken May named interim dean of UNC School of Dentistry 

 

Critical near-term objectives to be focus for UNC School of Dentistry as it searches for a permanent dean

 

(Chapel Hill, N.C. – May 17, 2016) – Dr. Ken May, a longtime faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will take on the role of interim dean at the UNC School of Dentistry, effective July 1.

 

May joined UNC School of Dentistry in 1976, after earning both his undergraduate degree and doctorate in dentistry at UNC-Chapel Hill. This will be his second time serving as interim dean, bookending several leadership roles during his long and successful career.

 

“Dr. May will provide excellent leadership, as he has with his numerous appointments at the School,” said UNC Provost James W. Dean Jr. “We will provide him with every form of support as we search for a permanent dean.”

 

A nationwide search has already launched with the objective of having a new dean in place by the start of January 2017, when May plans to fully retire.

 

The current dean, Dr. Jane Weintraub, announced in December that she would step down after five years to return to research and teaching. She will continue her faculty appointment in the department of dental ecology with an adjunct appointment in the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

 

As interim dean, May will lead critical near-term initiatives, including continuing the growth of the School of Dentistry’s research portfolio, facilitating the strategic planning process, guiding the school through its accreditation site visit in the fall and continuing the School’s ongoing efforts for greater diversity and inclusion.

 

During his early career at the School, May focused his research on the clinical evaluation of dental restoration materials. He then moved on to serve in a variety of roles, including associate professor and professor of operative dentistry in the student dental clinics and graduate clinics, director of admissions and student affairs, associate dean for administration and planning, vice dean, a practitioner and interim dean, once before, in 2005.

 

May’s service to dentistry in the state has included a term as delegate to the North Carolina Dental Society House of Delegates and several leadership roles in the Third District Dental Society and Durham-Orange County Dental Society. May is a fellow in the American College of Dentists, International College of Dentists, Academy of Dentistry International and the Pierre Fauchard Academy. He has served as treasurer of the Dental Foundation of North Carolina.

 

 

– Carolina –

 

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 113 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty – including two Nobel laureates – staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 308,000 alumni live in all 50 states and 150 countries. More than 167,000 live in North Carolina.

 

Communications and Public Affairs contact: Thania Benios, 919-962-8596, thania_benios@unc.edu

 

 

 

Two specific methods prevented weight gain in young adults for three years

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Two specific methods prevented weight gain in young adults for three years

Researchers describe two weight gain prevention strategies that could help with obesity prevention worldwide

 

(Chapel Hill, N.C. — May 16, 2016) — Two specific diet and exercise strategies have been shown to prevent weight gain among young adults over a sustained three-year period, providing long-needed evidence for weight-gain prevention in an era of alarming obesity rates across the world.

 

“Prevention is key for fighting obesity, but until now, we didn’t have any concrete evidence for guiding patients on how to prevent that weight gain,” said Deborah Tate, Ph.D. a professor of health behavior and nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Now, for the first time, we do.”

The study, reported last week in JAMA Internal Medicine, focused on young adults (18 and 35 years old), during which the potential for weight gain is highest. On average, young adults gain about 30 pounds during this period. The slow, but pervasive weight gain during these years lays the foundation for obesity, which contributes to diseases such heart disease and diabetes.

 

In their work, Tate and colleagues tested two different diet and exercise strategies – the daily small changes approach (200 participants) and the periodic large changes approach (197 participants) – to see which approach was best for preventing long-term weight gain.

 

As the name implies, the large changes group made significant changes at the program’s outset such that they reduced their average calorie intake by 500 to 1,000 per day for eight weeks, and gradually increased their physical activity to 250 minutes per week and were encouraged to maintain that activity. The small changes group reduced its average calorie intake by 100 per day and was encouraged to take 2,000 more steps using a pedometer each day throughout the course of the study.

 

The results were remarkable in both groups: “During this three year period, adults in this age group, on average, would have been three to six pounds heavier, but they were two to five pounds lighter,” said Tate. “This sets them up for reduced obesity risk and fewer health problems.”

 

Also, both approaches cut the obesity risk by half, such that only seven percent of the small changes group and eight percent of the large changes group became obese as opposed to 16 percent in the control group.

 

“There was always this prevailing belief that if you make small changes to your diet – walk further, take the stairs, cut out a snack – you can prevent weight gain, but nobody had put it to the test,” said Tate.

 

The findings not only support this prevailing belief, but also introduce a new “large changes” approach – one that shows that weight loss due to a short burst of significant calorie reduction at the beginning of a program can help stave off typical weight gains.

 

At the outset of the study, researchers met with both groups groups 10 times over a four-month period to develop the skills and an approach to diet and exercise that would prevent weight gain during this high-risk period. One of the key elements of both approaches was daily weighing, to keep tabs on their weight and to guide diet and activity changes over time.

 

“Could they do it? Could they remember? Could they make the adjustments?,” asked Tate. “We found that not only could they do everything that they were encouraged to do, but that it worked to prevent weight gain. That was the best part.”

 

Tate was the principal investigator of the UNC-Chapel Hill study site. Tate collaborated with Drs. Rena Wing and Mark Espeland and colleagues from Miriam Hospital and Wake Forest School of Medicine on the study. Due to the success of these programs, the team received funding to follow the study participants to see the effects at six years.

 

— Carolina —

 

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 113 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty – including two Nobel laureates – staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 308,000 alumni live in all 50 states and 150 countries. More than 167,000 live in North Carolina.

 

UNC Communications and Public Affairs contact: Thania Benios, (919) 962 8596, thania_benios@unc.edu

Women ratchet themselves up the social ladder, one high heel at a time

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Women ratchet themselves up the social ladder, one high heel at a time

What high heels reveal about the deep human urge for status

 

(Chapel Hill, N.C. – May 4, 2016)Fashion seems to embrace two opposite goals—fitting in with the crowd and standing out from it. Now new research reveals that the choice to fit in or stand out depends on who exactly the crowd is – and the size of their high heels. That is, women adjust their fashion to look similar to the rich but different from the poor.

 

Kurt Gray, a co-author at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his colleagues investigated thousands of shoe purchases made by women who move to different cities, showing that women adopt the local trends when moving to wealthier cities but ignore them when moving to lower socioeconomic (SES) cities.

Stilletos by State

Heel sizes across the U.S. When moving to richer locations, women embrace local trends; when moving to poor locations, women ignore them. Credit: Gilt

“In other words, women want to look like the rich girls, and different from the poor girls,” said Gray, an assistant professor of psychology in UNC College of Arts and Sciences.

 

To examine trends of conformity and individuality, Gray and his colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University and Yale University teamed up with a large-online fashion retailer. They examined five years of shoe purchases—16,236 in total—of 2007 women who moved between one of 180 U.S. cities. Because fashion choices are hard to quantify, they used a straightforward number: the size of high heels.

 

Their analyses revealed that heel sizes changed when women moved, but not uniformly. When women moved to higher SES zip codes such as New York City or Los Angeles, the heel size closely matched the heel size that other women in that zip code had bought—showing a desire for conformity. But when women moved to lower SES zip codes, the heel size closely matched the heel size of their own past purchase—showing a desire to keep their individuality.

 

The team of researchers, who included Jeff Galak, Nina Strohminger, Igor Elbert and Gray, label this phenomenon “trickle down conformity,” because fashion preferences trickle down from the top but seldom up from the bottom. As Gray explained, “Walmart watches the styles on the runways in Milan, but Milan never watches the styles at Walmart.”

 

The explanation for this lopsided conformity is the deep human urge for status. “From the beginning of time, people have thirsted for respect and social standing, and have aligned themselves with the powerful and distanced themselves from the powerless,” said Gray. “So it makes sense that they do the same with heel sizes.”

 

There is also reason to believe that this “aspirational fashion” is getting more prevalent. Inequality is increasing in America, and research reveals that the bigger the gap between rich and poor, the more people want to look rich. Such aspirations fuel the fortunes of fashion sites that provide high-status goods for low prices.

 

This study examined only women, but there is no reason to believe it applies only to them. “Men do the same thing when they purchase clothes, electronics or cars,” said Gray, “When you move from Wichita to LA, you look around and sell your Chevy for a BMW, but when you move from Los Angeles to Wichita, Kansas, you look around, and then just keep the BMW.”

 

This research builds off the past work of Gray and Strohminger, which examined what color combinations make outfits the most fashionable. “We often think of fashion as something frivolous, but it’s an industry worth $1.7 trillion annually, and clothing often helps define ourselves,” said Gray.

 

With their current study, Gray and colleagues reveal that fashion industry isn’t only about making money, but letting people look like they belong with money.

 

–Carolina –

 

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 113 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty – including two Nobel laureates – staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 308,000 alumni live in all 50 states and 150 countries. More than 167,000 live in North Carolina

 

UNC Communications and Public Affairs contact: Thania Benios, (919) 962 – 8596, thania_benios@unc.edu

Two UNC-Chapel Hill scientists elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

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Two UNC-Chapel Hill scientists elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Researchers’ election to prestigious academy underscores UNC-Chapel Hill’s impact on health, disease and the environment

 

(Chapel Hill, N.C. – May 4, 2016) – Two scientists from UNC-Chapel Hill have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies that includes some of the world’s most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers, artists, as well as civic, business and philanthropic leaders.

 

The addition of Joel Kingsolver, Ph.D. and Keith Burridge, Ph.D. brings the number of current faculty who have been elected to the academy to 38.

 

“This is one of the top academic honors in the country,” said UNC-Chapel Hill Provost Jim Dean. “And so to have two of our own honored and recognized is not only a recognition of merit and accomplishments, but a reflection of how our University attracts and retains the best and the brightest. We are so proud of their distinguished work and scholarship, which shape some of the most important health and environmental issues of our time.”

 

Kingsolver, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Biology, studies how insects and other organisms respond to rapid environmental change:  how recent climate warming is affecting alpine butterflies, and whether they can evolve to keep up; how insect pests colonize and adapt to new regions and continents; how invasive plants are threatening native butterflies; why some insect species become agricultural pests, but their close relatives do not.

 

Burridge, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Cell Biology and Physiology, has conducted seminal research on the basic building blocks of cells for four decades. His work on the basic mechanisms of cell biology and cellular movement has been at the forefront of the field and has led to a much deeper knowledge of how cells, especially cancer cells, do what they do, a feat that has led to the identification of new drug targets.

 

Kingsolver and Burridge were elected to the academy 2016 class among 213 new members, including novelist Colm Tóibín, La Opinión Publisher and CEO Monica Lozano, jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter, former Botswanan President Festus Mogae, and autism author and spokesperson Temple Grandin.

 

– Carolina –

 

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 113 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty – including two Nobel laureates – staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 308,000 alumni live in all 50 states and 150 countries. More than 167,000 live in North Carolina.

 

 

Communications and Public Affairs contact: Thania Benios, 919-962-8596, thania_benios@unc.edu

 

Media invited to cover events during UNC-Chapel Hill’s Commencement weekend, May 6-8

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Media invited to cover events during UNC-Chapel Hill’s Commencement weekend, May 6-8

Anne-Marie Slaughter, trailblazer in male-female equality, to address 2016 graduates

 

(Chapel Hill, N.C.— May 4, 2016) – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will host its spring Commencement on Sunday, May 8 at 9 a.m., featuring Anne-Marie Slaughter, a critically acclaimed author and trailblazing public leader who made waves with her article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” as Commencement speaker. Members of the media are invited to attend all of the events scheduled throughout the weekend in celebration of Carolina’s graduates.

 

In addition to presiding over Commencement, Chancellor Carol L. Folt will connect with students, alumni and their families at a number of special events. She will speak at the Red, White and Carolina Blue Graduation honoring Carolina’s military-affiliated graduates and she will recognize a group of first-generation students during a special diploma signing.

 

The weekend will culminate in the formal Commencement presentation, with the Class of 1966 walking into Kenan Stadium with the Class of 2016 to listen to Slaughter’s address. As president and chief executive officer of New American and the author of her groundbreaking 2012 article in The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” Slaughter sparked a renewed national debate about the continued obstacles to genuine full male-female equality.

 

Capturing the excitement and emotions of Carolina students as they share all of these moments with their professors and families will make for moving and celebratory coverage, both leading up to Commencement and on graduation day.

 

Friday (May 6)

Red, White and Carolina Blue Graduation

9 a.m.

The Great Hall of the Frank Porter Graham Student Union

Folt will attend this special graduation ceremony honoring Carolina’s military-affiliated graduates. The ceremony will pay tribute to their service and their accomplishments as

students by presenting graduates that are veterans, currently serving in the military or ROTC students commissioning upon graduation, with red, white and blue honor cords. The students will wear their cords at Sunday’s Commencement as special recognition for their military commitment. This ceremony is part of the University’s continued expansion of support for military-affiliated students. Media coverage would be a great way to acknowledge these dedicated students and service members. For more information, see https://deanofstudents.unc.edu/redwhiteandblue.

 

Media check-in: 8:45 a.m.

If you would like to cover the event or have any questions, contact: Jim Gregory (919) 962-8431, jim.gregory@unc.edu. He will also be the on-site contact on May 6.

 

Friday (May 6)

Carolina Firsts graduate diploma signing ceremony

2 p.m.

The Dialectic Hall of New West

The pride, excitement and emotion of Commencement are true for all graduating seniors but for first-generation graduates and their families, this time of year means even more. Folt will acknowledge this milestone when she hand-signs the diplomas of five graduating Carolina Firsts students. She will make brief remarks before the signing and both she and the students will be available for interviews afterward.

 

All five students are recipients of The Friday Award, which honors graduating first-generation college students who share former UNC system President William C. Friday’s passion and commitment for public service and education. While Folt will be signing the diplomas of all 662 first-generation undergraduate students graduating this May, the Friday Award honorees will be the only students to have their diplomas signed in-person.

 

Media check-in: 1:45 p.m.

If you would like to cover or have any questions contact MC VanGraafeiland, (919) 962-7090, mc.vangraafeiland@unc.edu. She will also be the on-site contact on May 6.

 

Saturday (May 7)

Doctoral hooding ceremony

9:30 a.m.

Dean E. Smith Center

Folt will speak at this colorful hooding ceremony, acknowledging those students that became masters in their fields. Graduate students, including those who earned their Ph.D.’s in the past academic year rather than just in the spring semester, will come to the stage to have the hood of the Commencement regalia conferred by their advisors or dissertation committee chairs. This is a great opportunity to showcase the diverse areas of academic focus Carolina supports and the exemplary students it inspires to invest in a lifetime of research and learning.

Hooding live stream link: http://commencement.unc.edu/spring/livestream-hooding.php.

The full ceremony will also be available on the University’s YouTube channel a few days afterward and can be found at http://commencement.unc.edu.

 

Speaker: Dr. Samantha Joye, Carolina alumnus and ocean researcher who studied the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, will deliver the keynote speech. Read more about Joye here: http://carolinachronicle.unc.edu/2016/ocean-researcher-to-address-graduates/.

 

Sunday (May 8)

Commencement

9 a.m.

Kenan Stadium

Commencement website: http://commencement.unc.edu/

Commencement live stream link: http://commencement.unc.edu/spring/index.php

 

The full ceremony will also be available on the University’s YouTube channel a few days afterward and can be found at http://commencement.unc.edu.

 

The Class of 2016 will walk into Kenan Stadium with the Class of 1966, which is celebrating its 50th Reunion over the weekend. Also, Folt has arranged for an empty chair with flowers to be placed in the first row of seated graduates as a tribute to the students Carolina lost this year.

 

Speaker: Anne-Marie Slaughter, an acclaimed author and president and chief executive officer of New America, will deliver Carolina’s spring Commencement address. For more information on, visit http://unc.live/1rlutdO and the University’s homepage (http://www.unc.edu/spotlight/five-questions-commencement-speaker-anne-marie-slaughter/).

 

Slaughter photo: http://unc.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Miscellaneous/G0000_YPXmPhWYxM/I0000aTzeIZpOXmo/C00005plBUJIuM28

 

Slaughter will have a small window of media availability following the ceremony. Please contact Jim Gregory if you are interested in interview time: (919) 962-8431, jim.gregory@unc.edu.

 

Honorary Degrees: During the ceremony, UNC-Chapel Hill will award honorary degrees to five individuals. For more information on all of this year’s honorary degree recipients, visit

http://commencement.unc.edu/spring/index.php

 

Inclement weather: The Commencement ceremony will be held in Kenan Stadium. If it rains during Commencement, the Chancellor and organizers may shorten the ceremony, but it will not be relocated. Umbrellas will be permitted, but guests should use caution when opening umbrellas and be mindful of those seated around them.

 

If severe weather is expected Commencement morning, the University may postpone the ceremony to allow for the threat to pass. If there are weather-related delays, the latest possible start time for Commencement would be 11 a.m. If severe weather threatens while the ceremony is in progress and the attendees’ safety is at risk, the ceremony will be canceled and guests will be advised to seek shelter. The ceremony will not resume. Communications and Public Affairs will inform media representatives about the delay or cancellation. Weather-related updates will be available at unc.edu and commencement.unc.edu. Carolina also offers text alerts to inform media and all Commencement attendees if the main ceremony has been delayed or canceled due to weather or any unexpected circumstances. Sign up at http://commencement.unc.edu/spring/index.php.

 

Graduates: May Commencement is for students completing degree work this spring or summer. The official number of graduates is not yet available, as not all grades have been

recorded or students cleared for graduation. As of May 4, the University registrar estimates

that 6,029 students will graduate Sunday: 3,721 with bachelor’s, 1,383 with masters, 251 with

doctoral and 651 with professional degrees from the schools of dentistry, law, medicine,

nursing and pharmacy; and 23 with certificates.

 

Media parking: A limited number of spaces will be reserved in the department of public safety

lot off Manning Drive. From Manning, turn onto Paul Hardin/Public Safety Drive (one traffic

light west of the intersection of Manning and Skipper Bowles Drive/Ridge Road) and turn left

into the public safety lot. Media identification will be required. Parking will be available along

the left side of the cones across the lot and toward the 2nd entrance to the lot as indicated by a

special sign at the entrance.  Do not park in numbered spaces. Please RSVP to Thania Benios (thania_benios@unc.edu) no later than noon Friday (May 6).

 

Media representatives also may use lots and shuttles provided for Commencement guests, explained at http://move.unc.edu/events/commencement/.

Traffic into Chapel Hill is expected to be heavy from 7:30 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.

Media check-in/seating: From the parking lot, walk past the trees to Kenan Stadium. Enter through Gate 6. Walk left, enter at section 120, walk down to the field and turn right to reach media seating on the field. Karen Moon and MC VanGraafeiland from Communications and Public Affairs will be checking in press at the media table. This year, all graduates will be seated on the field. However, media representatives will not be permitted in student or guest seating areas during the ceremony.

Broadcasters, videographers and photographers: Audio feeds will be available. Access to the field and surrounding track level will be limited to the designated media seating area. The setup will include a good spot for shots of crowd reaction. Broadcasters are asked to bring their own drop cords.

Other ceremonies: Many individual schools and departments will hold their own ceremonies during Commencement weekend. Locations and times are posted at: http://commencement.unc.edu/spring/locations.php.

 

-Carolina-

 

Communications and Public Affairs contacts:

Jim Gregory, (919) 962-8431, jim.gregory@unc.edu

MC VanGraafeiland, (919) 962-7090, mc.vangraafeiland@unc.edu

Thania Benios, (919) 962-8596, thania_benios@unc.edu

 

 

 

 

UNC-Chapel Hill scientists find likely cause for recent southeast U.S. earthquakes

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UNC-Chapel Hill scientists find likely cause for recent southeast U.S. earthquakes

 

Study shows pieces of the underside of the North American Plate peel off, sink into the mantle – a process likely to produce more earthquakes in southeastern U.S. in the future

 

(Chapel Hill, N.C. – May 3, 2016) – The southeastern United States should, by all means, be relatively quiet in terms of seismic activity. It’s located in the interior of the North American Plate, far away from plate boundaries where earthquakes usually occur. But the area has seen some notable seismic events – most recently, the 2011 magnitude-5.8 earthquake near Mineral, Virginia that shook the nation’s capital.

 

Now scientists report in a new study a likely explanation for this unusual activity: pieces of the mantle under this region have been periodically breaking off and sinking down into the Earth. This thins and weakens the remaining plate, making it more prone to slipping that causes earthquakes. The study authors conclude this process is ongoing and likely to produce more earthquakes in the future.

 

“Our idea supports the view that this seismicity will continue due to unbalanced stresses in the plate,” said Berk Biryol, a seismologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and lead author of the new study. “The [seismic] zones that are active will continue to be active for some time.” The study was published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Solid Earth, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

 

Compared to earthquakes near plate boundaries, earthquakes in the middle of plates are not well understood and the hazards they pose are difficult to quantify. The new findings could help scientists better understand the dangers these earthquakes present.

 

Old plates and earthquakes

Tectonic plates are composed of Earth’s crust and the uppermost portion of the mantle. Below is the asthenosphere: the warm, viscous conveyor belt of rock on which tectonic plates ride.

 

Earthquakes typically occur at the boundaries of tectonic plates, where one plate dips below another, thrusts another upward, or where plate edges scrape alongside each other. Earthquakes rarely occur in the middle of plates, but they can happen when ancient faults or rifts far below the surface reactivate. These areas are relatively weak compared to the surrounding plate, and can easily slip and cause an earthquake.

 

Today, the southeastern U.S. is more than 1,056 miles from the nearest edge of the North American Plate, which covers all of North America, Greenland and parts of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. But the region was built over the past billion years by periods of accretion, when new material is added to a plate, and rifting, when plates split apart. Biryol and colleagues suspected ancient fault lines or pieces of old plates extending deep in the mantle following episodes of accretion and rifting could be responsible for earthquakes in the area.

 

“This region has not been active for a long time,” Biryol said. “We were intrigued by what was going on and how we can link these activities to structures in deeper parts of the Earth.”

 

A CAT scan of the Earth

To find out what was happening deep below the surface, the researchers created 3D images of the mantle portion of the North American Plate. Just as doctors image internal organs by tracing the paths of x-rays through human bodies, seismologists image the interior of the Earth by tracing the paths of seismic waves created by earthquakes as they move through the ground. These waves travel faster through colder, stiffer, denser rocks and slower through warmer, more elastic rocks. Rocks cool and harden as they age, so the faster seismic waves travel, the older the rocks.

 

The researchers used tremors caused by earthquakes more than 2,200 miles away to create a 3D map of the mantle underlying the U.S. east of the Mississippi River and south of the Ohio River. They found plate thickness in the southeast U.S. to be fairly uneven – they saw thick areas of dense, older rock stretching downward and thin areas of less dense, younger rock.

 

“This was an interesting finding because everybody thought that this is a stable region, and we would expect regular plate thickness,” Biryol said.

 

At first, they thought the thick, old rocks could be remnants of ancient tectonic plates. But the shapes and locations of the thick and thin regions suggested a different explanation: through past rifting and accretion, areas of the North American Plate have become more dense and were pulled downward into the mantle through gravity. At certain times, the densest parts broke off from the plate and sank into the warm asthenosphere below. The asthenosphere, being lighter and more buoyant, surged in to fill the void created by the missing pieces of mantle, eventually cooling to become the thin, young rock in the images.

 

The researchers concluded this process is likely what causes earthquakes in this otherwise stable region: when the pieces of the mantle break off, the plate above them becomes thinner and more prone to slip along ancient fault lines. Typically, the thicker the plate, the stronger it is, and the less likely to produce earthquakes.

 

According to Biryol, pieces of the mantle have most likely been breaking off from underneath the plate since at least 65 million years ago. Because the researchers found fragments of hard rocks at shallow depths, this process is still ongoing and likely to continue into the future, potentially leading to more earthquakes in the region, he said.

 

Editor’s note: This press release has been reproduced in its entirety from the American Geophysical Union and can also be found here.

 

– Carolina –

 

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 113 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty – including two Nobel laureates – staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 308,000 alumni live in all 50 states and 150 countries. More than 167,000 live in North Carolina.

 

 

Communications and Public Affairs contact: Thania Benios, 919-962-8596, thania_benios@unc.edu

 

Researchers find brain circuit that controls binge drinking

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Researchers find brain circuit that controls binge drinking

 

Turning off a circuit between two brain regions could reduce instances of binge drinking

 

(Chapel Hill, N.C.—April 26, 2016) – Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have identified a circuit between two brain regions that controls alcohol binge drinking, offering a more complete picture on what drives a behavior that costs the United States more than $170 billion annually and how it can be treated.

 

The two brain areas – the extended amygdala and the ventral tegmental area – have been implicated in alcohol binge drinking in the past. However, this is the first time that the two areas have been identified as a functional circuit, connected by long projection neurons that produce a substance called corticotropin releasing factor, or CRF for short. The results provide the first direct evidence in mice that inhibiting a circuit between two brain regions protects against binge alcohol drinking.

 

“The puzzle is starting to come together, and is telling us more than we ever knew about before,” said Todd Thiele of UNC-Chapel Hill’s department of psychology and neuroscience, whose work appears in the journal Biological Psychiatry. “We now know that two brain regions that modulate stress and reward are part of a functional circuit that controls binge drinking and adds to the idea that manipulating the CRF system is an avenue for treating it.”

 

The extended amygdala has long been known to respond to psychological stress and anxiety, such as when someone loses a job or a loved one; and the ventral tegmental area to the rewarding properties of natural reinforcers, such as food, but also to the reinforcing properties of drugs of abuse, including alcohol.

 

In their work, Thiele and colleagues show that alcohol, a physiological stressor, activates the CRF neurons in the extended amygdala, which directly act on the ventral tegmental area. These observations in mice suggest that when someone drinks alcohol, CRF neurons become active in the extended amygdala and act on the ventral tegmental area to promote continued and excessive drinking, culminating in a binge.

 

Thiele said these findings may shed light on future pharmacological treatments that may help individuals curb binge drinking and may also help prevent individuals from transitioning to alcohol dependence.

 

“It’s very important that we continue to try to identify alternative targets for treating alcohol use disorders,” Thiele said. “If you can stop somebody from binge drinking, you might prevent them from ultimately becoming alcoholics. We know that people who binge drink, especially in their teenage years, are much more likely to become alcoholic-dependent later in life.”

 

The study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. A link to the study can be found here.

 

—Carolina—

 

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 113 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty – including two Nobel laureates – staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 308,000 alumni live in all 50 states and 150 countries. More than 167,000 live in North Carolina.

 

UNC Communications and Public Affairs contact: Thania Benios, (919) 962 8596, thania_benios@unc.edu

Researchers behind landmark study on adolescent health receive Golden Goose Award

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Researchers behind landmark study on adolescent health receive Golden Goose Award

 

A 25-year-old study has had major impact on understanding adolescent health and its effect on long-term adult well-being

 

(Chapel Hill, N.C., Mar. 31, 2016) – Five researchers whose determined pursuit of knowledge about the factors that influence adolescent health led to one of the most influential longitudinal studies of human health—with far-reaching and often unanticipated impacts on society—will receive the first 2016 Golden Goose Award.

 

The Golden Goose Award honors scientists whose federally funded work may have seemed odd or obscure when it was first conducted but has resulted in significant benefits to society.

 

The researchers are Barbara Entwisle, Kathleen Mullan Harris, Ronald Rindfuss, Richard Udry, and Peter Bearman, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill), who are being cited for their extraordinary multidisciplinary, longitudinal study of the social and biological factors that influence adolescent health, and their work’s wide-ranging and often unexpected impacts on society.

 

In the late 1980s, Rindfuss, Udry, Entwisle and Bearman first designed The American Teenage Study, which focused specifically on teenage sexual behavior. In the early 1990s Udry, Bearman and Harris designed a broad-based study on adolescent health and they executed the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, or Add Health for short.

 

“This project exemplifies the best in team science,” said Barbara Entwisle, vice chancellor for research and former director of the Carolina Population Center. “It reflects the diverse interests of the team that designed it, not in the sense that each has a defined part, but rather in the sense that all perspectives are fully embodied in the whole.”

 

The social scientists’ landmark, federally funded study has not only illuminated the impact of social and environmental factors on adolescent health—often in unanticipated ways—but also continues to help shape the national conversation around human health. Their work has provided unanticipated insights into how adolescent health affects wellbeing long into adulthood and has laid essential groundwork for research into the nation’s obesity epidemic over the past two decades.

 

The award will be announced this evening at 7:00 p.m. at an event at the Long View Gallery in Washington, D.C. celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Carolina Population Center at UNC-Chapel Hill, in conjunction with a meeting of the Population Association of America.

 

The path breaking nationally representative Add Health study has answered many questions about adolescent behavior, with particular attention to health and other risky behaviors.

 

The study has followed its original cohort for more than 20 years, and it is now providing valuable information about the unanticipated impacts of adolescent health on overall wellbeing in adulthood. For this reason, the researchers recently changed the study’s name to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, and it is a landmark example of how longitudinal research can yield extraordinary and unexpected insights.

 

“The 20 year, and continual, investment by the National Institutes of Health in Add Health is the reason we are successful,” said Kathleen Harris, the James E. Haar Distinguished Professor of Sociology and director and principal director of Add Health at UNC-Capel Hill. “And they are investing in basic science. They’re agreeing that what we’re going to learn 20 to 30 years down the road is going to matter – and it does.”

 

–Carolina—

 

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 113 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty – including two Nobel laureates – staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 308,000 alumni live in all 50 states and 150 countries. More than 167,000 live in North Carolina.

 

About the Carolina Population Center

The Carolina Population Center works on path-breaking research to address population issues in 85 countries and across the United States, as well as locally in central North Carolina. The center is rich in expertise with 64 faculty fellows, 54 predoctoral and postdoctoral scholars, and a highly skilled staff engaged in more than 50 funded, population-related research projects.

 

About Add Health

The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) is a longitudinal study of a nationally representative sample of adolescents in grades 7-12 in the United States during the 1994-95 school year. Add Health combines longitudinal survey data on respondents’ social, economic, psychological, and physical well-being with contextual data on the family, neighborhood, community, school, friendships, peer groups, and romantic relationships, providing unique opportunities to study how social environments and behaviors in adolescence are linked to health and achievement outcomes in young adulthood.

 

UNC Communications and Public Affairs contact: Thania Benios, (919) 962 8596, thania_benios@unc.edu

 

 

 

UNC-Chapel Hill Pharmacy School Ranked No. 1 by U.S. News & World Report

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UNC-Chapel Hill Pharmacy School Ranked No. 1 by U.S. News & World Report

 

A decade of aggressive growth, enhanced efficiency and a focus on improving patient care earns the UNC Eshleman School of Pharmacy the number-one spot in the nation

 

(Chapel Hill, N.C. – Mar. 30, 2016) — The Eshelman School of Pharmacy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has climbed to the number-one spot in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings of the nation’s best pharmacy schools.

 

“We have always been proud of our rankings and this is another very special year,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “We owe our gratitude to our pharmacy faculty, students and staff who measure their success by the number of lives they have impacted with their care, research and support. They capitalize on our premier location within the Triangle and on our health affairs campus to move forward the collaborations, partnerships and strategic initiatives that make UNC-Chapel Hill one of the best research universities anywhere.”

 

For the 2017 edition of “America’s Best Graduate Schools,” U.S. News surveyed deans and faculty at more than 130 accredited pharmacy schools in the U.S. They were asked to rank the nation’s top schools and their Pharm.D. programs, a professional degree for pharmacists similar to the M.D. for physicians or D.D.S. for dentists. Since Doctor of Pharmacy programs were first ranked in 1997, the school has risen to number one from seventh in 1998 to third in 2005 and second in 2009 and 2014.

 

“We are extremely gratified to receive this acknowledgment from our peers,” said Bob Blouin, dean of the pharmacy school. “It is important to know that this ranking is not an end unto itself but rather a validation of who we are, what we do and what we believe in as a school. Our continued purpose is to accelerate needed changes in health care, education and research to improve the health of the citizens of North Carolina and the world.”

 

Since the last U.S. News ranking of Doctor of Pharmacy programs, the School has rolled out a number of initiatives that have contributed to increased opportunities for students and to the quality of its degree programs:

 

  • The school is leading preclinical and clinical pharmacology efforts to flush out hidden reservoirs of the virus as part of the $20 million HIV Cure partnership between UNC and GSK.
  • In 2015 the school launched a reengineered Pharm.D. curriculum that includes more active learning in the classroom, more experience with direct patient care and greater opportunities for students to participate in research activities.
  • In December 2014, alumnus Fred Eshelman, made a historic $100 million gift to the school to establish the Eshelman Institute for Innovation, which funds and supports high-risk, high-reward proposals developed by school students, faculty and staff. While the institute has only recently made its first awards, the announcement of the gift put the pharmacy school in the national spotlight.
  • The school founded a satellite campus for Pharm.D. students in Asheville, North Carolina, with the goal of providing more health care practitioners for the western part of the state. The new campus offers a Rural Health Scholars program that prepares students to work with a variety of health care providers in practices that serve the needs of North Carolinians living in rural and small communities.
  • Funding for the school’s research enterprise has grown from $2.2 million in 2002 to $22.7 million in 2013 (peaking as high as $27.7 million in 2012). The school’s research program have generated 15 companies between 2005 and 2014 and 131 patents over the same period.
  • To provide students the chance to explore and influence pharmacy practice around the world, the school formed the PharmAlliance partnership with University College London and Monash University and also established the Global Pharmacy Scholars Program.
  • The school has taken a leading position in nanomedicine and pharmacoengineering by establishing a prestigious training program in cancer nanotechnology, overseeing an $11.3 million grant to fund the Carolina Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence and receiving a grant to develop a nanoformulated treatment for stroke.
  • Powerful collaborations drive the school’s efforts to improve care and lower costs through better use of medicines. Key partnerships include a medication-management project with Community Care of North Carolina, Inc. and GSK and a study funded by a $2.4 million grant from the American College of Clinical Pharmacy to examine comprehensive medication management in primary-care medical practices.

“This latest ranking reflects the quality of our program and is a testament to the talent, hard work and dedication of our students, alumni, faculty and staff.” Blouin said. “It is also a direct result of the tremendous support we have received from our alumni, the University and the state of North Carolina over the last decade.”

 

For more details on the U.S. News ranking and methodology go to: http://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/articles/rankings-methodologies.

 

 

–Carolina—

 

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 113 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty – including two Nobel laureates – staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 308,000 alumni live in all 50 states and 150 countries. More than 167,000 live in North Carolina.

 

UNC Communication and Public Affairs contact: Thania Benios, (917) 930-5988, thania_benios@unc.edu