Scholarship honors Revolutionary War hero and family

In the early fall of 1780 during the Revolutionary War, British forces were beginning to threaten western North Carolina and southern Virginia. Brush fires were built on mountaintops to alert communities and local militia of the movement of British soldiers. A brush fire signaled the movement of British Major Patrick Ferguson and his army during a militia meeting near Boone on September 18th, 1780. However, the brush fire signal system did not extend into Virginia where large militias were prepared and waiting.

North Carolina Regulator Martin Gambill was attending the militia meeting and immediately started riding through trails, woods, and underbrush to alert the Virginia militias. Completing over 100 miles in 24 hours, Gambill ended his ride in present-day Abingdon, Virginia. Gambill’s ride helped the Patriots gather their forces and intercept Ferguson at Kings Mountain, leading to a pivotal victory for the Patriots.  

Many members of the Gambill family still live in Western North Carolina. The family curates detailed history of their lineage through frequent contact and family reunions.

In order to remember the historic ride and support the education of students from the mountain areas of Western North Carolina that Martin Gambill called home, descendants of Martin Gambill established the Martin Gambill Endowed Scholarship in 1999. The scholarship generously supports students at Appalachian State University displaying academic potential and financial need from Ashe, Alleghany, and Wilkes counties and applicants who are descendants of Martin Gambill. At a latest reunion of the family, Mrs. Dorothy Lepley made a substantial addition to the endowment that will provide financial assistance for generations of students and keeps the name of Martin Gambill and his significant contribution to the Revolutionary War alive for students of the area. We want to thank Dorothy Lepley for her continued generosity and recognize Dr. Neal Lineback who was instrumental in establishing this endowed scholarship.

Photo: Dr. Neal Lineback and Dorothy Lepley at the Gambill reunion

Geology major wins prestigious scholarship from NOAA

Sophomore geology major Laura Heinen recently won the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship. The scholarship is highly competitive and awarded to a select number of applicants.

Heinen is currently researching groundwater surface water interaction in headwaters with fellow geology major Alex Beck and assistant professor Chuanhui Gu.

The scholarship includes academic assistance for successful undergraduate applicants as well as an appointment to a full-time summer internship at a NOAA facility. Winners receive up to $8,000 per year for academic assistance and a 10-week paid internship at a NOAA facility at $650 per week. Recipients are evaluated after the first year and can be reappointed for a second year with the same financial awards.

The program aims to foster a rich research atmosphere for Hollings Scholars from different academic backgrounds. The internship provides Scholars with real world and practical training experiences in NOAA-related science, research, technology, management, and education activities. Recipients also are eligible for funds to attend the NOAA Scholarship Program orientation, conferences to present research, and a housing subsidy to relocate for the summer internship.

The Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program was established in 2005 to honor retiring Senator Ernest F. Hollings of South Carolina. The program seeks to increase undergraduate training in oceanic and atmospheric science, research, technology, and education and foster multidisciplinary opportunities. It also seeks to prepare students for careers in public service, education, or with natural resource and science organizations such as NOAA.


Appalachian celebrates and honors student research

The 17th Annual Celebration of Research and Creative Endeavors was held on April 10th on the Appalachian campus. Over 115 students and 75 faculty mentors from 26 departments were recognized for their research. Students were given opportunities to present oral and poster presentations describing their work. 

Features speaker Hayes School of Music Dean Bill Peltro said, “We have moved beyond the question of asking why we do research. It is now a part of our fabric at Appalachian.”

Seven students were honored for excellence in their poster presentations. Three awards were given to undergraduate students, three were given to graduate students, and one student was recognized with the Sigma Xi award for interdisciplinary research.

The undergraduate recipients were:

-Geology major Oliver Burns of Birmingham, Ala. – “Paleoenvironmental Reconstruction of an Early Miocene Primate Site; Loperot, Kenya.” Mentor: Dr. Cynthia Liutkus-Pierce

-Psychology major Danielle Giangrasso of Long Island, N.Y. – “Environmental Enrichment Mitigates Seizure Severity in Adolescent Rats.” Mentor: Dr. Mark Zrull

-Chemistry major Kimberly Noel of Asheville – “Water Quality Monitoring of Streams Impacted by Coal Waste Acid Mine Drainage in Southwestern Virginia.” Mentor: Dr. Carol Babyak 

The graduate recipients were:

-Bryce Oakley, appropriate technology – “Occupancy-driven Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Control Within University Academic Buildings and the Associated Energy Impacts: A Case Study of Two Implemented Techniques at Appalachian State University.” Mentor: Dr. Marie Hoepfl

-Charles Tate, biology – “Differential Binding of Land Applied Waste Water to the Three Estrogen Receptors: ERA, ERBA, and ERBB of the Atlantic Croaker.” Mentor: Dr. Shea Tuberty

-Zachary Williams, biology – “Indentification and Embryonic Expression of a Highly Conserved Meis-linked Gene.” Mentor Dr. Ted Zerucha

Geology major Jared Voris of Brevard was awarded the Sigma Xi award for his study “Lateral Osteoderm Analysis of Desmatosuchus Spurensis,” an analysis of two fossilized scales from the crocodile-like aetosaurs found in an Arizona quarry. His mentor was Dr. Andy Heckert. 

The Office of Student Research sponsored the event. More information is available here

Appalachian Studies graduate student wins Carl A. Ross Student Paper Award

Appalachian Studies graduate student Zachary Swick won the Appalachian Studies Association (ASA) 2014 Carl A. Ross Student Paper Award. His paper is titled “Adaptive Policy and Governance: Natural Resources, Ownership, and Community Development in Appalachia.”

The paper examines practices and policies to better manage natural resources and community development in Appalachia. It also give an overview of the problems surrounding land ownership in Appalachia, followed by a summary of larger, contemporary pressures on the region. Swick based his paper from experiences with Drs. Jeff Boyer, Marc Ford and Fred Hay, and former Appalachian professor Dr. Brian Ellison.

The award was presented at the ASA annual conference, which was held this year at Marshall University in Huntington, WV. Appalachian State University hosted the conference in 2013.

Swick will graduate in May with a master’s degree in Appalachian Studies. His concentration is in sustainable development and he will receive a graduate certificate in geographic information sciences. He says he has a “long-term professional goal of promoting rural economic and community development, especially as it related in natural resources, public policy and management.”

The award was established in 1984 and honors Carl A. Ross, Professor of History and Director of the Center for Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University at the time of his death in 1988. 

More information about Swick's paper is available here and more information about the Center for Appalachian Studies is available here

Appalachian to host Conference on Rural Mental Health

The 4th Annual Collaborative Conference on Rural Mental Health (CCRMH) will take place on April 17-18 in the Linville Falls room of the Plemmons Student Union at Appalachian State University. The event is sponsored by the Department of Psychology.

The conference is an annual event dedicated to promoting research, practice, and training issues unique to mental health services in rural areas. The event seeks to provide a collegial atmosphere to encourage the exchange of ideas between presenters and attendees.  

There will be a continuing education workshop titled “Responding to Common Ethical Issues in Rural Areas” by Dr. James Werth Jr. on April 17th. The workshop will address major issues in rural practice such as competence, confidentiality, and multiple relationships. It will suggest potential solutions that can be implemented proactively or at recognition of a problem. Attendees will be eligible for contact hours and continuing education credit from multiple institutions. The workshop begins at 1 p.m. Registration and a $60 registration fee are required. Registration information is available here.

The second day of the conference includes poster sessions, student presentations, roundtable discussions, and talks from Appalachian State University Department of Psychology professors and professors from regional universities. The events start at 9 a.m. The second day is free and open to the public, but registration by April 14th is requested. The registration form is available here.

For more information, a brochure is available here or contact JP Jameson at jamesonjp [at] appstate [dot] edu

Psychology professor receives award from UNC Board of Governors

Professor in the Department of Psychology Timothy J. Huelsman received the Award for Excellence in Teaching from the University of North Carolina system Board of Governors. He is one of 17 recipients from the system.

Recipients of the award were nominated by committees on their home campuses and selected by the Board of Governors Committee on Personnel and Tenure. The recipients represent a variety of academic disciplines. Each winner receives a bronze medallion and a $12,500 cash prize. Huelsman will be recognized and receive his award at the College of Arts and Sciences spring graduation ceremony.

Huelsman received his Ph.D. from Saint Louis University and joined the Psychology faculty at Appalachian in 1997. He is the director of the Department of Psychology’s Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Human Resource Management Program. Huelsman has instructed 14 different undergraduate and graduate courses in his 17 years at Appalachian.

Huelsman was added to the Academy of Outstanding Graduate Mentors in 2013 and added to the College of Arts and Sciences Academy of Outstanding Teachers in 1999.

More information about Huelsman and the award is available here. Additional information about the Department of Psychology is available here

Professor in Department of Physics aids in first discovery of asteroid rings

Physics professor and astronomer Joseph Pollock was part of a team of astronomers that discovered the first documented asteroid with a ring system. The research was published in the March 26 issue of Nature.

The asteroid, “Chariklo,” has two rings and orbits the Sun between Saturn and Uranus. The team was initially monitoring the asteroid as it passed in front of a star. The disappearance of the star as the asteroid passed in front of it indicated the presence of the asteroid. However, Pollock and the team noticed dips in the star’s brightness before and after the asteroid passed. The dips in brightness indicated the ring system.

The observations were made using the Prompt Observatory on Cerro Tololo in Chile. The observatory is part of a large network of robotic telescopes located in Australia, Europe, and the US. Two telescopes at Appalachian’s Dark Sky Observatory are part of the network. The network, labeled “SKYNET,” was established in 2006 at UNC Chapel Hill.

Comparing the observations with those of others citing similar anomalies, Pollock and the team confirmed the existence of the rings. Prior to this discovery rings were found exclusively around four of the largest planets in the Solar System.

The origin of the rings has yet to be determined. However, in a news release by the European Southern Observatory, an intergovernmental astronomy organization in Europe, it is speculated the “rings may prove to be a phenomenon that might in turn later lead to the formation of a small moon.”

More information about the Department of Physics is available here. More information about Appalachian’s Dark Sky Observatory is available here

Appalachian to host Ninth Annual Conference in World History and Economics

Appalachian State University will be hosting the Ninth Annual Conference in World History and Economics. It is an interdisciplinary meeting aimed at bringing together scholars from Appalachian State University with scholars from other universities in North Carolina, the surrounding states, and abroad. The conference will be held on April 12, 2014 in Raley Hall.

There will be 5-6 panels with scholarly papers, divided among different topical themes, including undergraduate and graduate panels. The 2014 theme will be “Defense, Security, and the Economy.”

The 2014 keynote speaker will be economic historian Mark Harrison. Harrison is a professor of economics from the University of Warwick. He is a specialist in the economic history of Russia, communist regimes, and 20th century conflict. Harrison is a research fellow at the Centre for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Birmingham and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He was awarded the Russian National Award for Applied Economics in 2012.

The event is hosted by the Department of History. More information about the event and registration is available here or by contacting Associate Professor in the History Department Jari Eloranta at jari [dot] a [dot] eloranta [at] gmail [dot] com

Chemistry major to attend prestigious cancer research internship program with National Institute of Health

Chemistry major Corbin Ester was selected to participate in the National Institute of Health (NIH) Summer Internship Program in Biomedical Research at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. Ester will work directly with Dr. Mariam Poirier, a pioneer in cancer research in the areas of biochemical dosmistry and molecular epidemiology.

Ester said, “I am immensely honored and eager to begin working with Dr. Miriam Poirier.”

Ester will work side-by-side with Dr. Poirier and other scientists conducting cutting edge biomedical research. The internship covers eight weeks and will begin in late May. The program is extremely competitive, with only 1000 interns selected out of the 6300 applicants in 2013. Scientists working with the NIH review and hand select their own interns.

The National Cancer Institute is the Federal Government’s principal agency for cancer research and training. It coordinates the National Cancer Program, which conducts and supports research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer, rehabilitation from cancer, and the continuing care of cancer patients and the families of cancer patients

Dr. Poirier is the head of the Carcinogen-DNA Interactions Section in the Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute. She is the recipient of the NIH Merit Award and the Women in Toxicology Service Recognition Award.

Ester said, “I look forward to the boundless opportunities to both connect professionally and hone my research skills at the definitive center of cancer research- the National Cancer Institute.”

More information about the NIH Summer Internship Program is available here

Geology major receives grant from Explorer’s Club

Junior Geology major Cameron Batchelor was recently awarded a $2,000 Youth Activity Grant from the Explorer’s Club in New York City to support her fieldwork in Mongolia this summer. Batchelor’s research is titled “Absolute Age Dating of Zircons of Devonian Samples Collected from Central Asia Samnuuruul.”

Batchelor will work with Department of Geology faculty Sarah Carmichael and Johnny Waters.

Waters is a co-leader of the United Nations-supported research team that discovered evidence for catastrophic oceanographic events associated with climate change and mass extinction in Central Asia over 375 millions years ago.

Batchelor worked with Carmichael to assist the UN team’s research by analyzing the rock samples taken from the field sites in Central Asia that were once part of the ocean floor. 

The Explorer’s Club is an international multidisciplinary professional society dedicated to the advancement of field research and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore. The Youth Activity Fund Grant of the Explorer’s Club supports high school college undergraduate students. Its goal is to foster a new generation of explorers dedicated to the advancement of the scientific knowledge of our world. Awards range from $500 to $5,000. 

More information about the Explorer's Club is available here. The Department of Geology website is available here.