2024 Issue

Chiggers &
Ticks &
Sand Flies

(oh my)

2024 Issue

Chiggers & Ticks & Sand Flies

oh my

A Growing Effort

Sweeping child obesity study expands, seeds new inquiries into heart health and COVID impacts

A three-year-old climbs inside his very own rocket ship. In the process, he gives us data on how to prevent one of the most serious epidemics facing American children. 

It’s a fresh approach by a multidisciplinary team of experts at UNC Greensboro who have joined forces to combat childhood obesity. 

Obesity affects 14.7 million children and adolescents in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is associated with some of the leading causes of death worldwide, including death from diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some forms of cancer. 

Jefferson-Pilot Excellence Professor Esther Leerkes is principal investigator on the $3 million NIH-funded “iGrowUP” study, which is tracking children from ages three through five – a time in their lives when they begin developing independent self-regulatory behaviors.

The study is an expansion of UNCG’s prestigious $2.8 million iGrow – Infant Growth and Development – study.

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“Once a child becomes overweight or obese, it’s very difficult to reverse that trajectory. There’s more attention now on what you can do early in life to prevent weight problems.

Research Excellence Award

While many distinguished scholars are known as experts in one field, English professor Christian Moraru received the Senior Research Excellence Award for his mastery of several.

Known internationally as an – and sometimes “the” – expert in post-WWII American fiction and postmodernism, and one of the most significant 21st-century scholars of world literature, he is also lauded for his deeply nuanced forays into literary theory.

A Force for Youth & Families

A child acting out in preschool. A teenager in trouble with the law. A family reeling from a mental health crisis.

These are just a few of the North Carolinians aided by the Center for Youth, Family and Community Partnerships at UNCG.

For more than a quarter of a century, the center, known as CYFCP, has addressed pressing social concerns among families, children, and young adults across all 100 counties in North Carolina, through wide-ranging programs.

Today, the center continues to expand, with funding skyrocketing to $6.8 million and a robust staff – currently 30 people – closely collaborating with the community.

“What all the programs in the center share is the translation of research to practice for the greater good – and authentic partnerships with the community,” says Terri Shelton, UNCG’s vice chancellor for research & engagement and a prior director of the CYFCP.

Community engagement isn’t just a catchphrase for the center: working in tandem with the community is their North Star.

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“Partnerships with the community are at the heart of what we do, and I would say a lot of evolution for us has been, ‘Where’s the community’s need?.’”

Social Innovation

A Catalyst for Positive Change in NC

Imagine a place where scholars are encouraged to teach, research, and publish – and translate that work into practical solutions that can scale up quickly and effectively.

While many universities reward faculty members who pursue patents, license agreements, and industry collaborations, it’s less common to find an institution that also invests in social innovation and entrepreneurship.

“Social innovation is the intentional development of creative solutions to society’s problems to create positive change,” explains UNCG’s Chief Innovation Officer Dr. David Wyrick. “Social entrepreneurship is similar, but there is an additional focus on applying entrepreneurial principles and generating revenue to achieve sustainability and scalability.” UNCG is building a deliberate culture of both social innovation and social entrepreneurship – and North Carolina communities are reaping the benefits.

It starts with the desire to solve an acute community problem. The need for trauma training among counselors and teachers. To address COVID-19 learning losses in K-12. 

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“It refers to the development and implementation of new ideas, products, or services that can be applied across the non-profit, public, and private sectors.”

From the Vice Chancellor

This issue marks the 15th year of my tenure as chief research officer and my last. What struck me when I looked at the issue we published in my first year is what still moves me in this latest issue – the depth, disciplinary breadth, interdisciplinarity, and quality of the research, scholarship, and creative activity produced by our faculty, staff, and students.

Recently UNCG was recognized again by the Carnegie Foundation for our excellence in community engagement, and we also received the APLU’s designation for excellence in innovation and economic prosperity. The scholarly heterogeneity you find in these pages feeds that larger context – these scholars, and many more like them, are co-creating new knowledge and transforming both our communities and our students.

In many ways, UNCG scholarship reflects …

Published by the Office of Research and Engagement at UNCG

Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement
Dr. Terri L. Shelton

Interim Vice Chancellor for Strategic Communications
Kimberly Osborne

Sangeetha Shivaji

Copy Editors 
Amy Burtch, Janet Imrick, Katy Molony, Alexis L. Richardson

Art Director
Jaysen Buterin

Graphic Designers 
Jaysen Buterin, De’Andre Gilliard, Laiba Siddique

Photography Director
Sean Norona

Contributing Photography
Martin Kane, Loring Mortensen, Jiyoung Park, David Lee Row, Bert VanderVeen

Contributing Authors
Robin Sutton Anders, Mark Barnes, Rachel Damiani, Elizabeth L. Harrison, Janet Imrick, Sayaka Matsuoka, Sangeetha Shivaji, Mark Tosczak, Alice Touchette

Web Editor
Sangeetha Shivaji

Site Manager
Katy Molony

Distribution Manager
Haley Childers

Web Editorial Assistant
Nikkola Brown

Social Media