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Chelsey Turner, left, and Cheyenna Francis pose with their poster detailing their research into medication adherence and health literacy among cancer patients. (Photos by Cliff Hollis; videos by Rich Klindworth)


Students shine during Research and Creative Achievement Week

April 7, 2016

By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services

Scholarship is in the spotlight this week at East Carolina University as approximately 360 undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdoctoral scholars are presenting their research and creative work at Mendenhall Student Center.

It’s the tenth annual installment of ECU's Research & Creative Achievement Week, a forum to display discovery in biomedical sciences, business, education, engineering, the fine and performing arts, human health, humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, technology and computer science, and visual art and design.

Senior Kanon Sapp of the School of Theatre and Dance created a dance performance titled “Sk(in/out).” It explores the anatomical function of skin, how people view and treat their own skin and how others view and treat it. Putting the performance together has taught her a lot, she said.

“Through this I’ve learned that whatever happens, you have to be OK with and you have to be flexible and willing to readjust and work in ways you didn’t think you were going to need to,” said Sapp, who plans to go to New York after graduation in May and resume her studies with the Joffrey Ballet School. “It’s really interesting to think about my freshman and sophomore year as I was just dancing, and then my junior year I really picked up on my choreography and just kind of pursued it from there. So it’s most definitely my capstone because when I came to school, I would never have thought this is where I would have ended up.”

Mary Farwell, a professor of biology and co-director of Research and Creative Achievement Week, said seeing students present their work, which might represent their full four years of studies, means a lot.

“For me, this is close to home,” said Farwell, who’s also director of undergraduate research at ECU. “It’s just thrilling. It’s one of my favorite weeks of the year.”

Seniors Matthew Johnson of Asheboro and Brandon Fillette of Weddington, who are in the School of Theatre and Dance and the Honors College, created a student theater, the 5th Street Players, and are putting on a pair of performances this spring. It’s their senior honors project.

“We thought, ‘why not do a show?’” Fillette said. “And through the student theater company we started up it just made sense.”

“We didn’t know the difference between faculty putting on the show and students putting on a show,” said Johnson. “It’s very, very different. It provides a different kind of experience that students aren’t used to, of working with your peers in a creative environment where everybody has to carry the weight in a different scaled production. There’s no faculty running things.”

Junior Nzita Lutete of Raleigh, a junior majoring in neuroscience and chemistry, was presenting research she assisted with that looked into whether using dopamine receptor modulators along with morphine could lengthen the time morphine is an effective pain reliever following spinal cord injury. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that also has painkilling effects.

The research, she said, “excites me.”

The best among the student research projects and the Faculty Mentor Award recipients will be recognized during a Friday luncheon in the Mendenhall Great Rooms.

Additionally, faculty recipients of ECU’s annual research, creative activity and engagement awards are recognized this week for the originality and excellence of their work.

They are Bob Ebendorf, a professor emeritus of metal design in the School of Art and Design, who is receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity; Shouquan Huo, an associate professor of inorganic and organic chemistry, and S. Raza “Raz” Shaikh, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and a member of the East Carolina Diabetes and Obesity Institute at the Brody School of Medicine, who are receiving Five-Year Achievement Awards for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity; and Paige Viren, an associate professor of recreation and leisure studies, who is  receiving the Scholarship of Engagement Award.

More information about those awards is at http://www.ecu.edu/cs-admin/news/rcaw16.cfm.

The week of events runs through Friday. More information, including a schedule of events, is online at https://blog.ecu.edu/sites/rcaw.

Kelsey Cossio, a nutrition student, talks about her poster with fellow student Cody Parris. Cossio's research deals
with liver fibrosis.