Around the Quad

Research and Service Learning Shape the Campus Community

David Sweet ’14 used biometric sensors to turn the human body into an instrument.Statewide Scholarship

Undergraduate Research Projects Impress at The Research Triangle Park

UNC Asheville students showcased their research at the first RTP360 event at The Research Triangle Park, the largest research park in the U.S. and home to more than 170 global companies. Taking center stage at the Feb. 6 event were December 2013 graduate Erin Litke, who has studied the impact of contact with the West on China’s youth; senior Sophie Berry, who shared her work with The Virtual Lincoln Project; and senior Corey McClintock, who used the literature of Primo Levi as a taking-off point to present ideas on using creative writing to teach chemistry. 

Several students also presented posters of their recent research at the sold-out event, which attracted local businesses from The RTP and area universities. UNC Asheville faculty advisers and administrators accompanied the undergraduates to discuss UNC Asheville research with the Triangle area leaders.

“This was a wonderful opportunity for our students to demonstrate what ‘seriously creative’ means when applied to research, scholarship, innovation and entrepreneurship,” said UNC Asheville Chancellor Anne Ponder. 

Bob Geolas, president and CEO of The RTP Foundation, invited UNC Asheville’s Undergraduate Research Program to make this special presentation and share examples of innovative research and scholarship. 

Kimber Walker, Daisy Torres, Amina Kone and Titi Adeniyi from UNC Asheville’s Connections Peer Mentoring Program spent the day working on the cougar habitat  at the WNC Nature Center.A Day On 

Students Select Service Learning on MLK Holiday

More than 130 UNC Asheville students chose to have “A Day On” rather than a day off on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, joining together to serve the community at eight different sites on Jan. 20, 2014.

The student volunteers tallied approximately 660 hours of service and represented 26 campus organizations, making the 2014 annual event the largest MLK Day of Service in UNC Asheville’s history.

“If we calculate our contributions to local organizations using only minimum wage as an average— that’s almost $5,000 in time donated to the local community,” said Selena Hilemon, program coordinator at the Key Center for Community Citizenship and Service Learning at UNC Asheville.

Visit the Key Center at to learn more about service-learning opportunities at UNC Asheville. 

Visit <a data-cke-saved-href=" href=" data-cke-saved-href="htto:// href="htto:// ></a>National Model

NEMAC Fights Forest Threats with ForWarn Program

UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC) is part of an inter-agency team that has earned the Chief’s Honor Award from the U.S. Forest Service for the creation of ForWarn, the early warning system that tracks forest disturbances and changes in real time. 

The system uses NASA satellite imagery to map coast-to-coast snapshots of the U.S. landscape, showing potential forest disturbances of many kinds. It’s also earned a group achievement award from NASA in honor of the unique collaboration among federal and university partners.

The interagency ForWarn team includes scientists and staff from U.S. Forest Service Eastern Forest and Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Centers, the NASA Stennis Space Center, the U.S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earth Resources Observation and Science Center. 

“What makes ForWarn’s Forest Change Assessment Viewer (FCAV) unique is that it brings a large amount of national-scale environmental data together in a single highly usable and accessible web interface,” said Derek Morgan, NEMAC senior research scientist.

Read more about NEMAC’s projects at

The “Liberal Arts Core” will be in classrooms this fall.Successful Studies

Revised Curriculum Focuses on Liberal Arts Core

After a vote of support from the Faculty Senate, UNC Asheville’s newly revised curriculum, the “Liberal Arts Core,” is being implemented this spring and will be in full effect in the 2014 Fall Semester. The Liberal Arts Core will replace the university’s current general education curriculum, “Integrative Liberal Studies” (ILS).

The new Liberal Arts Core is designed to ensure the continuation of the university’s academic hallmarks—the interdisciplinary approach, the Humanities Program, and intensive instruction in certain areas—while giving students greater flexibility in course selection so they can explore diverse topics and still graduate in four years.

“We wanted to create more flexibility to allow students to move through their programs in a timely way.”—Melissa Burchard, associate professor of philosophy and chair of the Faculty Senate

“We wanted to create more flexibility to allow students to move through their programs in a timely way,” said Melissa Burchard, associate professor of philosophy and chair of the Faculty Senate. “[We wanted] to make sure that students have a certain amount of room for free electives, so that they really do have some space to explore different areas, which is part of the liberal arts tradition.”

The Liberal Arts Core proposal was developed through a two-year process by the Curriculum Review Task Force (CRTF), which involved 30–50 faculty members at different times, with representation from the student government and participation from the Provost’s Office.

Professor Brian Dennison installs a telescope in Lookout Observatory.Research Space

UNC Asheville Readies Astronomy Laboratory

When Lookout Observatory opens on campus, UNC Asheville students and astronomy buffs in the community will have a way to get better views of the stars in an easily accessible location.

This brings a twinkle to the eye of Brian Dennison, Glaxo Wellcome Professor and professor of physics.

“I’m very excited,” said Dennison. “Introductory students now can look through big telescopes and have that close-up experience of the sky. And for advanced students, having this facility here on campus will make all the difference. They will now have ready access to capture images and spectra for research on stars, nebulae, galaxies, comets, asteroids, as well as other astronomical objects.”

A $546,000 Astronomy Club of Asheville donation made construction possible, and Lookout Observatory is operated in partnership with the club. 

The observatory and laboratory features two 14-inch-diameter reflecting telescopes and two smaller companion refracting telescopes that stay in locked focus on the same objects as the larger ones. Equipping the telescopes with video cameras will allow viewing of images by observers in the adjoining room.

Students enjoy walking and biking on the greenways  around campus.Greenway Granted

Community Connection Comes One Step Closer

A $200,000 grant from the 2013 Federal Recreational Trails Program, administered by the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, and a $30,000 grant from the Glass Foundation have enabled UNC Asheville to take the final steps to expand Reed Creek Greenway through property owned by UNC Asheville on Broadway Avenue. 

The project will fill in a missing link in the Reed Creek Greenway, connecting UNC Asheville and Montford with downtown, enabling students and community residents to walk and bike along the creek, removed from traffic on nearby Broadway Avenue.

In addition to linking UNC Asheville to the surrounding community, the greenway also links the UNC Asheville Foundation, the City of Asheville, the Montford Neighborhood Association and RiverLink in a partnership that has provided crucial advocacy and fundraising for the project.  

John Pierce, treasurer of the UNC Asheville Foundation said, “Our students decided to increase their own fees to help pay for the work, and the City of Asheville and RiverLink have partnered significantly in the fundraising for the project. Montford neighbors, as well, have chipped in with financial contributions and hard work to help clean up the property.”