Each year, The Graduate School honors graduate students who are making valuable discoveries of direct benefit to North Carolina.This year, 26 students are receiving Graduate Education Advancement Board (GEAB) Impact Awards. These awardees are using state-of-the-art tools and technologies under the mentorship of great faculty and support from the State of North Carolina.

Carolina's graduate students work hard—and they direct their efforts toward a better future for people, communities and industry throughout our state.

View all of the 2015 Impact Award winners and their projects

Tree-Emitted Particles: Possible Link to Lung Inflammation?

Maiko Arashiro, Environmental Sciences and Engineering

Maiko Arashiro

"This work could have important policy and regulatory implications, especially since isoprene-derived particulate matter is enhanced when combined with emissions from coal-fired plants and vehicles."

Jason Surratt, Ph.D.

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Ashley Chaifetz

"Ashley's research provides insights into food transport, storage and handling practices in the emergency food sector, a completely neglected area of food safety policy."

Pamela Jagger, Ph.D.

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Melissa Crane

"From day one, Melissa has been focused on an under-recognized disparity: the underserved population of overweight and obese men."

Deborah Tate, Ph.D.

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Ways to Study N.C. Prison System Trends

Bryan Davis, Statistics and Operations Research

Bryan Davis

"Bryan's research has allowed for a more in-depth understanding of the parole process, and the factors that affect that process, which will have implications for the way such cases are dealt with in the future."

Vidyadhar Kulkarni, Ph.D.

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New Way to Help Painlessly Release Insulin

Jin Di, Biomedical Engineering

Jin Di

"Jin has exceptional passion in developing new methods for improving diabetics' quality of life."

Zhen Gu, Ph.D.

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Kim Gaetz

"Her study has really improved our understanding of North Carolina teachers' exposures to moisture in their school buildings."

David Richardson, Ph.D.

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Cochlear Trauma and Improving Hearing Outcomes

Christopher Giardina, Biomedical Engineering

Christopher Giardina

"The ENT department at UNC does more implants than any other center in the state so we hope that Chris's contribution to the project will lead to direct benefits for North Carolina patients in the near future."

Douglas Fitzpatrick, Ph.D.

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Sofoklis Goulas

"At the time the CAP program was initiated, concerns were expressed that low-income households might be unable or unwilling to spend enough on their homes to prevent rapid depreciation. The clear message of this paper is that these concerns are unfounded."

Lutz Hendricks, Ph.D.

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Telemedicine to Protect Patients, Reduce Blindness

Pooja Jani, Public Health Leadership

Pooja Jani

"She has a real desire to improve access to eye care through telemedicine and reduce the impact of blinding diseases such as diabetic retinopathy for all North Carolinians."

Seema Garg, M.D., Ph.D.

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Jayne Jeffries

"As part of the Food Explorers research team, she has taken a leadership role in planning and developing an intervention designed to increase access to healthy foods among children in Rockingham County."

Laura Linnan, Sc.D.

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Location and Medical Home Effectiveness

Mona Kilany, Health Policy and Management

Mona Kilany

"Mona's findings underscore the value of medical homes for people with severe mental illness in all geographical areas of the state but they also point to other resources that are needed, especially in rural areas."

Joseph Morrissey, Ph.D.

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Helping Hispanic Children Who Have Autism

Jessica Kinard, Speech and Hearing Sciences

Jessica Kinard

"Interviews with the parents who participated in Jessica's research yielded many attestations to the impact her project had on these families, and expressions of their gratitude for the opportunity to work with a Spanish-speaking researcher."

Linda Watson, Ed.D.

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Maggie Kovach

"The findings of Maggie's research are being incorporated into a model that predicts the number of emergency room visits on hot days."

Charles Konrad, Ph.D.

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Treating Childhood Brain Cancer

Patrick Lang, Cell and Molecular Physiology

Patrick Lang

"Patrick's efforts to find new ways to treat medulloblastoma may increase patient survival and inform the treatment of other brain tumors."

Timothy Gershon, M.D., Ph.D.

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Storms and Water Quality for Beachgoers

Kellen Lauer, Marine Sciences

Kellen Lauer

"Kellen's research and interaction with the Town of Wrightsville Beach will have a tangible impact on efforts to increase awareness and improve notification during periods of poor water quality."

Rachel Noble, Ph.D.

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N.C.'s Green Infrastructure

Anna McGeehan, Public Administration

Anna McGeehan

"Ms. McGeehan has translated a complex environmental policy question and provided policymakers with a greater understanding of the challenges relating to stormwater management and drinking water."

Andrew George, Ph.D.

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Creating More Effective Inhalers

John Mellnik, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

John Mellnik

"John's results are mathematically creative and novel, and their translational impact is potentially quite significant."

Gregory Forest, Ph.D.

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Nitrate Contamination of Groundwater

Kyle Messier, Environmental Sciences and Engineering

Kyle Messier

"Kyle's work has a significant impact because it introduces a state-of-the-art mapping method that can be used to map nitrate. Using this method, Kyle was able to find the sources of nitrate in North Carolina—and the extent of pollution."

Marc Serre, Ph.D.

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Could a Supplement Protect Smokers from Influenza?

Megan Meyer, Microbiology and Immunology

Megan Meyer

"Studies like the ones conducted by Megan are crucial to reduce morbidity, mortality and health-care costs associated with smoking in North Carolina."

Ilona Jaspers, Ph.D.

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Justin Milner

"Justin's work is extremely important in the area of vaccine development and in finding potential therapeutic targets for reducing influenza severity in an increasingly obese population."

Melinda Beck, Ph.D.

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N.C.'s Renewable Energy Preparedness

Marie Patane Curtis, City and Regional Planning, Environmental Sciences and Engineering

Marie Patane Curtis

"I am not aware of anyone who has undertaken such a thorough assessment of motor vehicle energy demand and of the supply, demand and deployment issues associated with renewable fuel options for North Carolina."

Richard "Pete" Andrews, Ph.D.

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Creating Effective Antibiotics

Greggory Rice, Chemistry

Greggory Rice

"Gregg has a vision for transferring his basic science work to the deeply practical end of antibiotic discovery."

Kevin Weeks, Ph.D.

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Measuring Benefits of Pharmacy Assistance Program

Andrew Roberts, Pharmaceutical Sciences

Andrew Roberts

"Dr. Roberts offered to take a leadership role on one of the aims of this project, which examined adherence to medications among participants in the program and the effect of this adherence on health outcomes. This work resulted in an important first authored publication and accelerated the completion of the project and success of the grant."

Joel Farley, Ph.D.

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Sea-Level Anomalies and Beach Erosion

Ethan Theuerkauf, Marine Sciences

Ethan Theuerkauf

"Ethan's study was the first to measure beach erosion associated with sea-level anomalies and his results underscore the importance of including them in beach-erosion models and management plans."

Antonio Rodriguez, Ph.D.

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Sara Turner

"Sara's results are an important advance in the field of dynamic adhesives and represent a step forward for manufacturing processes."

Valerie Ashby, Ph.D.

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Using Nanotechnology to Treat Cancer

Lei Zhang, Applied Physical Sciences

Lei Zhang

"If human patients respond to microbeam radiation therapy in similar ways as shown in numerous MRT animal studies, MRT will literally revolutionize cancer treatment."

Otto Zhou, Ph.D.

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