Community Outreach

The ECU department of biology is committed to providing education and outreach regarding the living world to the larger community. Below are just a few of the projects that are currently occurring. If you are interested in visiting our department or having us come visit you please contact, Heather Vance-Chalcraft, Teaching Associate Professor and Director of Outreach for the Center for Biodiversity.

Education and Outreach Centers

Center for Biodiversity: The Center for Biodiversity (CB) is a unit within Biology and the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences at East Carolina University which promotes and supports research, education, and outreach associated with global biodiversity. Dr. David Chalcraft is the Center Director and Dr. Heather Vance-Chalcraft is the Director of Outreach.


Center for Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics Education (C-STEM): The goals of C-STEM are to improve the quality and quantity of K-12 science and math teachers, provide strong experiences in science and math for all students, create a supportive environment for multidisciplinary research between educators and STEM professionals, and encourage community engagement. Dr. Mary Farwell is currently the Director of the Summer Ventures program. Dr. Vance-Chalcraft and Dr. Gardner currently serve as the Biology Department liaisons to the center.


A Time for Science: A Time for Science is a nature and science learning center dedicated to advancing science literacy and competency by encouraging and supporting student participation in science, engineering, and mathematics competitions. Dr.’s Chalcraft and Vance-Chalcraft volunteer their time to facilitate and support student participation in a variety of nature and science projects. A Time for Science activities calendar can be found here.

Education and Outreach Events

High School STEM Day: This is an annual event meant to showcase STEM fields at ECU. It is intended to familiarize high school juniors from eastern North Carolina with ECU STEM programs and the campus. Most recently, in 2013, The department of biology was one site that hosted about 100 of these students from approximately 20 area high schools.


North Carolina Student Academy of Science: The North Carolina Student Academy of Science (NCSAS) is an organization for students in grades 6-12 in alliance with the North Carolina Academy of Science. Each year, ECU Biology and the Center for Biodiversity hosts the District meeting at which students have the opportunity to share their research in competition. Winning students are invited to compete at the annual state meeting at the North Carolina School of Science and Math in Durham. Dr. Heather Vance-Chalcraft is the district co-director, along with Nancy Bray from A Time for Science.

North Carolina Northeast Regional Science and Engineering Fair: For the last several years East Carolina has hosted winners of school science fairs from eleven counties in the northeastern region of North Carolina. In this regional fair students compete by presenting posters to local expert judges for a chance to compete at the state level. Dr. Mary Farwell and Dr. Grant Gardner have co-directed the fair for the last two years.


Camp Seagull/Camp Seafarer Outreach Education Day: The YMCA camps, Camp Sea Gull and Camp Seafarer, provide three summer camp sessions for children and teens (age 6 to 16). Each camp hosts approximately 800 campers per camp session and some of the activities the campers can participate in include seamanship, fishing, and other water activities. Since 2011, during the third week of each camp session, the Kimmel lab travels to each camp to conduct an 'Outreach Education Day.' With the campers and camp staff's participation, Dr. Kimmel and his students conduct zooplankton tows, water quality measurements and collect a variety of estuarine animals to show the campers. They use microscopes to view the animals and also use this opportunity to talk about the importance of estuarine organisms collected.


Bertie Early College High School Project: Dr. Ed Stellwag and Dr. Bruce Boller are developing a project for students that involves the isolation and characterization of extremeophile microbes for the development of cellulolytic enzymes for the biofuels applications.

JH Rose High School Outreach: Dr. Ed Stellwag is working with a team of 10  biology, chemistry and forensic science teachers at JH Rose High School in Greenville to implement laboratory exercises for DNA extraction, PCR amplification, and DNA sequencing for their students.


Noyce Grant: ECU Noyce Scholars prepares the next generation of STEM educators with significant financial support for science or math teaching licensure and the Master of Arts in Teaching degree. Drs. Claudia Jolls and Heather Vance-Chalcraft are co-principal investigators on this National Science Foundation grant to the ECU College of Education, along with Drs. Ron Preston (PI), Anthony Thompson, Frank Crawley (co-PIs), and Rose Sinicrope (external evaluator), all of ECU Department of Mathematics, Science, and Instructional Technology Education (MSITE). 

Nerd Nite: Nerd Nite is a monthly event held in more than 50 cities across the globe during which several folks give 18-21-minute fun-yet-informative presentations across all disciplines. Imagine learning about everything from math feuds or the science of the Simpsons, to the genealogy of Godzilla or debunking beer myths.

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