This article was contributed by Stuart Borrett, PhD, UNCW Associate Provost for Research and Innovation.
University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) is maturing as a research university and growing the impactof its research and innovation. UNCW researchers are discovering new knowledge and developing solutions to problems critical to the region, North Carolina, and the world. This effort enhances student learning and helps to forge knowledge leaders. Students benefit as the faculty integrate this new knowledge into the traditional classroom, and beyond the classroom, students can join research teams or conduct their own independent research. Here are a set of UNCW research stories to illustrate the impacts of this research.
An interdisciplinary team of faculty led by Dr. Nathan Grove has created a program of research experiences for first year undergraduate students who aspire to work in the marine sciences. Faculty work closely with students during a 10-week summer experience to discover new insights about marine systems, and then the teams collaborate with faculty and staff at D.C. Virgo to prepare classroom materials that highlight the research findings for K-8 students. This effort is funded by the National Science Foundation.
As part of his graduate studies at UNCW, Aaron Ramus conducted an experiment in the Cape Fear River to determine how an invasive habitat-forming seaweed alters marine ecosystem functioning. The species was already present, and his goal was to understand if and how it changed the ecosystem. Counter to expectations, he found that in select cases the invasive species can have a positive effect on the overall ecosystem functioning. This work is published in a well-cited academic journal article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Drug Court Resource Center supports the success of treatment court across the nation that assist those with substance abuse and mental health disorders in the justice system. The center is co-directed by UNCW faculty Dr. Christina Lanier and Dr. Kristen DeVall, and is comprised of an interdisciplinary team of researchers, staff, and students. Their work includes conducting related applied research, sharing knowledge about best practices, and building partnerships. For example, they just released a new report Painting the current Picture: A National Report on Treatment Courts in the United States that includes a summary of some of the most important recent findings from the scholarly literature presented in a way that is accessible to practitioners.
Have you used the Coastal Eco Explorer mobile application to learn about the island ecology at Carolina Beach State Park? For this project, UNCW faculty and students collaborated with park rangers to create a new tool for visitors to learn about and enjoy this local habitat.
UNCW researchers are making discoveries from the Arctic to the Antarctic, from space to the ocean floor. Their work is helping to improve cybersecurity and healthcare outcomes for people in our region. They are helping to build the blue economy, and to understand how we can live resiliently at the coast. The next time you meet a faculty member or student from UNCW, I encourage you to ask them about their research story.
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