Faculty Grants & Activities 2008-2009


Christine Avenarius

Dr. Avenarius continues her data analysis from of material collected during two seasons of ethnographic fieldwork in mainland China as part of her research project, “China and the Rule of Law: Conceptions of Fairness and Justice in Times of Change,” funded by the National Science Foundation. Her cooperation partners are Dr. Qi from the Urban Studies Institute of the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, researchers at the Hebei Academy of Social Sciences in Shijiazhuang, and Professor Dr. Zhao Xudong from the Department of Sociology at the College of Humanities and Development, China Agricultural University. In addition, she works with undergraduate student Whitney Bronson who conducted interviews with urban Chinese high school and college students regarding the fairness of the Chinese university admissions system in Shijiazhuang, China over the course of two summer months in 2008 funded by an REU supplement grant to her NSF grant. Dr. Avenarius is in the process of developing a new research project. She plans to extend her research program to Africa studying the effects of increasing interactions between Chinese traders and African traders on local cultural practices and material culture, specifically in Tanzania, Nigeria, Sudan and Angola.

In December 2008 Dr. Avenarius will give an invited lecture discussing the Social networks of immigrants from Taiwan to Southern California at the University of Trier as part of an interdisciplinary lecture series on networks in economy and migration. In January of 2009 she will attend an international workshop on qualitative and quantitative research methods in social network analysis sponsored by the Humboldt University and held at the European Academy in Berlin. Dr. Avenarius plans to travel to Vietnam in March 2009 to visit local universities and develop a new course on the Cultures of mainland Southeast Asia. Her travel is sponsored by the Asian Studies Program at ECU. She is also invited to give a summer seminar on methods of social network analysis at the University of Cologne over the course of June 2009.

Bob Bunger

Dr. Bunger is teaching ANTH 3009, the Motherhood of God in Eastern Traditions in Fall semester 3008. This course has been updated and revised as a result of Dr. Bunger’s studies in Taiwan in summer 2007. Dr. Bunger is also pursuing lines of research and study suggested by his Taiwan experience.

Jami Leibowitz

Dr. Leibowitz is the Coordinator for ECU's Global Understanding courses. Using ECU’s global classroom, this project connects ECU students with students from other countries for synchronous, real-time, live instruction in a virtual collaborative environment. Through the global understanding project, Dr. Leibowitz works with over 24 international universities from 16 different countries located over five continents. Most recently Dr. Leibowitz traveled to Windhoek, Namibia to recruit the University of Namibia and Namibia University of Science and Technology as our 22nd and 23rd international partners. Dr. Leibowitz also recently returned from visiting Moscow State University, another partner in the Global Understanding course. While in Russia, Dr. Leibowitz gave a paper entitled “An Anthropological Approach to Cross-Cultural Communication in the Global Classroom.” For more information about the Global Understanding courses see:

David Griffith

Dr. Griffith has been to Olancho and Veracruz and is planning on return trips to both this coming fall, first Honduras and later Mexico, to continue data collection on the project entitled "Migration and Knowledge," which is funded by the National Science Foundation. 

He has been invited to speak in Mexico City twice since last year, once at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico a second time at the Tecnologico de Monterrey--Mexico City. The first speech was on Latinos living in North Carolina and the second was on the similarities and differences between U.S. and Canadian guestworker programs. The first led to a published chapter, in Spanish, called, "Leaving Agricultural Labor: Immigrant families in new U.S. destinations." He was also invited to speak in Puerto Rico, on fisheries there.

Last summer he was invited to participate in a workshop called Dialoguing with the Masters, in Taipei, Taiwan, he and other editors taught young scholars how to write journal articles and research proposals.

Megan Perry

During Summer 2008, Dr. Perry was a CAORC Post-Doctoral Fellow at the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR) in Amman, Jordan. Her fellowship primarily was spent working on the final publication of the 1996-2002 Petra North Ridge Excavations with former project director, Patricia Bikai. She also was nominated to the Board of Trustees of ACOR and attended their annual Amman board meeting in June. Megan took time from her fellowship to host two ECU Anthropology graduate students, one of whom is analyzing human skeletal material from an Early Islamic Jordanian site, Qasr Hallabat for his MA thesis. During their week-long trip, they took the opportunity to visit major archaeological sites in Jordan and meet with researchers and scholars familiar with the historical and archaeological context of Qasr Hallabat.

Benjamin Saidel

Dr. Saidel continued his collaborative publication project with Dr. Mordechai Haiman

Linda Wolfe

During the summer of 2008 Dr. Wolfe did a AAAS/Sigma Xi tour of Lake Baikal, Siberia.


Robert Christian

Dr. Christian directs the Coastal Global Terrestrial Observing System (C-GTOS). This is a program through the UN with the secretariat in the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). "The primary goal of the Coastal Module of the Global Terrestrial Observing System is to detect, assess and predict global and large-scale regional change associated with land-based, wetland and freshwater ecosystems along coasts." ( This position has also led him to serve on the Steering Committee of the Coastal Zone Community of Practice of the Group on Earth Observations, an intergovernmental program ( As part of these activities in 2008, he attended conferences and workshops in Spain and Greece. He also has helped rekindle the cooperative agreement between ECU and the University of Ferrara in Italy.

Alexandros Georgakilas

Dr. Georgakilas has focused in several collaborative activities in the field of oxidative clustered DNA damage and cancer. He has recieved two grants, one from the The International Union Against Cancer (UICC) which is the leading international non-governmental organization dedicated exclusively to the global control of cancer and one multidisciplinary grant (with Dr. Sigounas) from NC Biotech center on breast cancer. He has submitted two multidisciplinary grants to NIH involving research groups from Purdue University and University of Pennsylvania. He has continued his leading work on the role of complex DNA damage in breast cancer and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) etiology and predisposition. Five manuscripts have been accepted for publication in peer reviewed high impact journals like Cancer Research, Free Radical Biology Medicine, Cancer Letters and has several manuscripts pending.

Enrique Reyes

Dr. Reyes is presently involved in the forecasting of ecological responses to global climate change, specifically the effects of accelerated sea level rise on coastal communities. Results from several of his projects were presented at several conferences in Gijon, Spain and St. John’s, Canada. As part of his efforts to enhance research activities with international institutions. He was invited to present talks at the Istituto di Scienze Marine in Venice, the University of Padova, and Parma University in Italy. He also had the opportunity to teach a graduate course in Taragona, Spain. He continues to be a member of the editorial board of the journal Hidrobiologica, by the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, México, and of the journal Universidad y Ciencia, Universidad Juárez Autónoma de Tabasco.


Okmyung Bin

Dr. Bin presented a paper, titled "Recreational Demand and Economic Value of Tropical Island Beaches in Malaysia,” at the 29th Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA) Biannual Meetings held in May 2008 in Nonthaburi, Thailand. He has a pending grant proposal ($45,467) for EEPSEA with several researchers from the University of Malaysia Terengganu (UMT). Dr. Bin also presented a paper, titled “The Economic Value of the Setiu Wetlands: A Choice Modeling Approach to Management," at the conference for Current State of Knowledge of the Setiu Wetlands in December 2007 in Terengganu, Malaysia. He is involved in a research proposal, titled "Valuing and Reporting Biodiversity Assets and Carrying Capacity of the Malaysian Marine Parks to Achieve Sustainability," submitted to the Universiti Malaysia Terengganu Top-Down Research Proposal ($495,129). In July 2008, Dr. Bin presented a paper, titled “Measuring the Impacts of Seal Level Rise on Coastal Real Estate in North Carolina,” at the 21st International Conference of the Coastal Society in Los Angeles, California. He also served as a reviewer for International Journal of Intelligent Systems in Accounting, Finance and Management. Dr. Bin continues as a lifetime member of the Korea America Economic Association.


Seodial Deena

Dr. Deena organized and chaired Multicultural and Transnational Lecture, "Walter Rodney, Historian and Social Activist and Africa and the African Diaspora," given by Professor Winston McGowan from the Caribbean (Guyana) on August 28, 2008. Over 100 in attendance. He also organized and chaired the Second Annual Guyanese Friendship Forum, Fort Caswell Beach, NC, August 22-25, 2008. He presented a paper, “The Reading of Politics, Race, and Economics in a Global Humanitarian Book Project for the University of Guyana,” at the Thirtieth Annual Conference of the Association of Caribbean Studies, Toronto, Canada, July 27-August 1, 2008. He also presented a paper, “Oscar Ronald Dathorne—Poet, Novelist, Critic, Scholar, and Educator: Pioneer of Multicultural and Postcolonial Explorations of Black Diasporic Studies,” at the Thirtieth Annual Conference of the Association of Caribbean Studies, Toronto, Canada, July 27-August 1, 2008.

Dr. Deena organized “a global humanitarian book project for the University of Guyana (10,000 books),”spring-fall 2008. He organized and led a medical team of 16 for Guyana, summer 2007. The team conducted a week of free medical clinics in some of the needy areas of Guyana. We raised approximately $75,000.00 worth of medical supplies, medical equipment, and medications. All remaining medical equipment, supplies, and medications were donated to the hospitals. The team of doctors and nurses saw and treated approximately 700 patients.

Slobodanka Dimova

In August 2008, Dr. Dimova presented a poster at the Ninth European Society for the Study of English (ESSE)conference at the University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark.In September 2008, she will hold two workshops on Essay Writing for EFL teachers in Negotino and Veles, R. Macedonia. In October 2008, she will present two papers at the Sixth International Conference of the English Language Teachers' Association in Macedonia (ELTAM-IATEFL)in Skopje, R. Macedonia. 

Thomas Herron

Dr. Herron gave a paper on July 10, 2008 at the Society for Renaissance Studies conference, which met in Dublin. The paper was entitled "Recusant Dreams of a Heavenly Queen: Richard Nugent’s 'Cynthia'". He is co-organizing a conference on the late medieval and early modern Irish Pale, to tentatively take place at Trinity College Dublin on January 13th, 2009. Around the same time, he will lead a round-table panel discussion on the topic of "Sir Walter Raleigh in Ireland" at a conference on Sir Walter Raleigh at the Tower of London, January 9-10, 2009. 

He will also give papers at conferences in Ireland in May. Dr. Herron is also planning a study-abroad trip in Irish literature and culture for ECU grads and undergrads, to take place near Rathdrum, County Wicklow, near Dublin, for Summer Session II in 2009. 

Su-ching Huang

Dr. Huang presented a paper entitled, "The Americanization/Westernization of Jackie Chan: Shanghai Noon as Model Minority Discourse," at the Multi-Ethnic Studies"Europe and the Americas meeting at Leiden University, the Netherlands. 

Ylce Irizarry

Dr. Irizarry presented a paper entitled, "Geographies of Home: Writing Dominicana Migration," at the Multi-Ethnic Studies"Europe and the Americas meeting at Leiden University, the Netherlands. 

C.W. Sullivan III

Dr. Sullivan presented invited lectures on "American Frontier Legends: Nineteenth-Century Cultural Elements in Contemporary American Politics," during American Week at Pannon University in western Hungary and "Macbeth" A Political and Cultural Document,: at Eger University in Hungary. Dr. Sullivan served as Fulbright Senior Scholar in the spring of 2008 at Debrecen University in Hungary. 

Sandra Tawake

Sandra Tawake presented a paper on two novels by New Zealand author Maori Witi Ihimaera, The Matriarch and The Dream Swimmer at the 15th annual New Zealand Studies Association conference in Florence, Italy 2-4 July 2008. She was invited guest and speaker on "Reading Patricia Grace: Who Maori are, how Maori speak, how Maori see,"at the Neustadt International Literature Award Symposium at Oklahoma University, Norman, OK 18-19 September 2008, which honored Patricia Grace, NZ Maori writer, with a $50,000 award. She is planning to attend the 16th annual NZ Studies conference in Frankfurt, Germany in July 2009.

Foreign Languates & Literatures

Juan Daneri

Dr. Daneri presented the paper "The Economy of Religious Conversion in 16th-century Tlaxcala" at the 8th Andean Conference on Latin American Literature (Santiago, August 11-15, 2008); and conducted research on the Legend of the City of the Caesars at the National Library of Chile (Santiago, July-August 2008). 

Jennifer Valko

Dr. Valko presented a paper titled: “Autoetnografía, representación y traducción en Der Medizinmann am Lanin de Bertha Koessler-Ilg” at the JALLA (Jornadas Andinas de Literatura Latinoamericana) Conference in Santiago, Chile, August 2008.

Holly Hapke

Dr. Hapke presented a paper entitled, “Capturing the complexities of Globalization: Gendered Divisions of Labor and Differences” at the International Geographical Congress, Tunis, Tunisia, August 12-15, 2008. She also presented a paper entitled, “Gendered Livelihoods in the Global Fish-Food Regime” at the International Geographical Union Commission on Dynamics of Economic Spaces Conference, Barcelona, Spain, August 5-8, 2008


Michael O’Driscoll

Dr. O'Driscoll's current international activities include reviewing international water resources project proposals for the U.S. Civilian Research & Development Foundation (CRDF). In November he visited Kazakhstan to attend an international workshop on global environmental issues such as the Aral Sea, regional climate change, biodiversity, environmental pollutants, water resources and agronomy. CRDF hosted this NSF-funded workshop in order to bring together U.S. and Central Asian scientists to encourage the development of collaborative partnerships. The workshop activities provided opportunities for scientists to present on their current research, discuss critical environmental issues, and to exchange ideas on how to collaborate on future joint research initiatives. As a result Dr. O’Driscoll and Dr. A. Mamilov, Institute of Ecology, Kazakh State University, have begun to collaborate on research focused on the effects of rice farming on the hydrology of the Ili River system, Kazakhstan


John Tucker

John Tucker led a U. S. Department of Education Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad study tour in Japan, June 10-July 8. Twelve K-12 teachers from the Pitt County Schools participated in this program. Expenses were covered by $78,000.00 grant provided by the Group Projects Abroad program. Participants conducted field studies at historic Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in Kyoto, Nara, and Kamakura; at samurai castles in Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, and Himeji; and met with educators at four universities: Kyoto University of Education, Kyoto University, Osaka University of Education, and Hiroshima Univeristy. K-12 schools affiliated with these universities were also visited. Each of the K-12 teacher participants produced an week's worth of lesson plans infusing Japanese history, language, and culture into their curricula. These lesson plans have been posted at

Tucker published a chapter in a recently published anthology, The Imperative of Understanding: Chinese Philosophy, Comparative Philosophy, and Onto-Hermeneutics (Global Scholarly Publications, 2008), edited by On-cho Ng.

As director of the Asian Studies program, Tucker is organizing an ECU Asia Seminar for area K-12 teachers seeking to infuse Asian Studies into their teaching. The ECU Asia Seminar is being sponsored by the National Consortium for Teaching Asia, and funded by the Freeman Foundation. Local sponsorship is provided by the North Carolina Teaching Asia Network based at UNC-CH. The ECU Asia Seminar will feature ECU Asian Studies faculty giving presentations on India, China, Japan, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. Instruction in yoga, tai chi, Zen meditation, origami, and calligraphy will also be offered. The website for the ECU Asia Seminar is posted at

Tucker has been invited to present a paper at an international conference on the history of cultural interactions, to be held at National Taiwan University, in Taipei, December 11-12, 2009. Tucker's paper is entitled, "Korean Texts and Sino-Japanese Contexts: The Confucian Lexicography of Matsunaga Sekigo (1592-1657)."

Tucker will also serve as a discussant at a follow-up international conference, again at National Taiwan University, entitled, "New Horizons of East Asian Studies in the Age of Globalization," December 13-14, 2008.

Tucker has applied for a 2009-2010 U.S. Department of Education Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad grant, to take a group of twelve North Carolina K-12 teachers to Japan for four weeks, in June-July 2009. Participants for this trip will be recruited primarily from the ECU Asia Seminar.

Tucker and Professor Chun-chieh Huang of National Taiwan University have signed a contract with Springer Academic Publishers to co-edit an anthology of essays on Japanese Confucianism. The volume will be titled, Dao: A Companion to Japanese Confucianism, and is part of the Springer series on Chinese philosophy. The volume, at least 500 pp. in length, will include essays by scholars from Europe, North America, and the Asia-Pacific region. It is scheduled for publication in 2010.

Tucker has been invited to present a paper at an international conference to be held at Rutgers University, entitled, "East Asian Confucianisms: Interactions and Innovations,” on May 1-2, 2009.

Tucker will present a paper at the spring meeting of the Southern Japan Seminar, to be held at Florida International University, in Miami, in March 2009. Tucker's paper will examine the Sengakuji temple in Tokyo as a Sacred and Secular Site.

Internatioanl Studies

Sylvie Debevec Henning

Dr. Henning leads a team from the Greenville Noon Rotary Club, which also includes Harry Adams (Professor Emeritus of Infectious Diseases, Brody School of Medicine) and Ed Davis (Pitt Children’s Clinic), that received a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant of almost $10,500 from the Rotary Foundation for a rural health project in northern India. The Greenville Noon Rotary Club is partnering with the Rotary Club of Dharamsala (India). The funds are being used to purchase a mobile clinic to provide health services, care and immunization to internally displaced peoples in remote areas near Dharamsala. Under the terms of the matching grant, an equal amount of funding was provided by Rotary District 7720 in conjunction with Greenville Noon club and its partner club in India. The Greenville Noon Rotary Club is also working with a community partner, the Tong-len Charitable Trust in Dharamsala, through its ECU liaison Dr. Derek Maher (Associate Professor, Religious Studies Program, ECU).


Ivana Alexandrova

From January until August 2007 Dr. Alexandrova was visiting the University of Paris, South in France. From July 20 until August 10, 2007 she was also a vsitor at Insitut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques in Bures-sur-Yvette, France. From January to August 2008 Dr. Alexandrova visited the University of Toronto, Canada, where she also gave a talk in March 2008. 

W. Teresa Obuchowska

On August 18 Dr. Obuchowska presented her paper entitled "Minimal infeasible constraint sets in convex integer programs" at the conference MOPTA 2008 (Modeling and Optimization: Theory and Applications), which was held at the University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, August 18-20, 2008. She also chaired a session at this conference. 

Alexandra Shlopentokh

Dr. Shlopentokh spoke at a colloquium for the Department of Mathematics and Computing, University of Concepcion, Concepcion, Chile, June 20, 2008 and at another colloquium for the Department of Mathematics, University of Concepcion, Concepcion, Chile, June 23, 2008.


George Bissinger

In September 2007, Dr. Bissinger made an invited presentation at the International Congress on Acoustics in Madrid, Spain. He and his graduate student Christina Fan (Heidelberg University) also presented a contributed talk at the String Instrument session.

In August 2008 he traveled to Australia and visited with Musical Acoustics colleagues Neville Fletcher at Australia National University in Canberra and Joseph Wolfe and his musical acoustics group at University of New South Wales in Sydney, delivering a talk at UNSW on his latest violin research results.

Political Science

Jalil Roshandel

Dr. Roshandel continues his international activities through media and conferences abroad. In 2008 he has had several TV interviews by Voice of America Farsi programs broadcast via satellite to Iran. In addition he was quotes by international press on Middle East related issues. In addition, in two of his articles published by the reformists journals in Iran he has criticized Iran’s foreign policy. He was quoted by international media from Azerbaijan to Egypt and his most recent OPED on Russia-Georgia war was published by (September4, 2008).

In October 2008 Dr. Roshandel is presenting a paper on “ Terrorism and the three pillars of Democratic Peace” at a conference organized by Saint Paul University Ottawa-Canada, followed up by a talk at the Canadian Peacebuilding Network “Peacebuild” and the Center for Security and Defence Studies at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University Ottawa, Canada. 


Laura Anderson

Dr. Anderson is the primary author on the U.S. edition of the Diet Activities and Behaviors Questionnaire, (DAB-Q-US) -- the original author is Dr. Garry Egger of Australia. Dr. Egger is internationally recognized for his work with healthy weight and is the Director for the Center of Health Promotion and Research (Sydney, AUS) as well as a W.H.O. & Australian government Advisor on Communicable Diseases. Drs. Anderson and Egger are working together on the scale.

Rosina Chia

Dr. Chia is in charge of ECU’s Global Academic Initiatives, including 7 sections of the Global Understanding course, the ILEP (International Lecture Exchange Program), the ICEP (International Course jointly taught) and the IREP (research by ECU and international faculty from another country).

Marion Eppler

Dr. Eppler will be teaching Global Understanding: Psychological Perspectives.

Beverly Harju

Dr. Harju is a past president and a member of the NC Fulbright chapter Board.

Heather Littleton

Dr. Littleton will be attending and presenting at the International Society for Stress Studies annual meeting. While the meetings are held in the U.S. or Canada every year, they do bring in many individuals from other nations doing research in the area of traumatic stress.

Lesley Lutes

Dr. Lutes will be attending the Society of Behavioral Medicine in Montreal, Quebec in April. She will present a talk on weight loss outcomes from a phone-based small change program in veterans. She also teaches human sexuality and often discusses international topics on sexual mutilization, gender rights, different countries’ views on sex education and their corresponding STI and pregnancy rates.

Samuel Sears

Dr. Sam Sears and the Cardiac Psychology Research Lab at East Carolina University continues to work internationally on research collaborations focused on evaluating psychosocial and quality of life interventions and endpoints of novel technologies in cardiac disease management. The primary focus of this work is the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) and the accompanying adjustment challenges for patients living with potentially life threatening arrhythmias and the life-saving electric shocks that terminate the arrhythmias. Below are some recent publications including international authors: COLLABORATIONS WITH TILBURG UNIVERSITY RESEARCHERS IN THE NETHERLANDS: Pederson, S.S., Spindler, H., Johansen, J.B., Mortensen, P., & Sears, S.F. (2008).Correlates of patient acceptance of the cardioverter-defibrillator: Cross-validation of the Florida Patient Acceptance Survey in Danish patients. Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology, 31, 1168-1177. Pedersen, SS, van den Broek, KC, Sears, SF. (2007). Psychological intervention following implantation with an implantable defibrillator: A systematic review and future recommendations, Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology, 30, 1546-1554.

COLLABORATIONS WITH AUSTRALIAN RESEARCHERS: Vazquez, L.D., Kuhl, E.A., Shea, J.B., Kirkness, A., Lemon, J., Conti, J.B., & Sears, S.F. (2008 IN PRESS) Age-specific differences in women with implantable cardioverter defibrillators: An international multi-center study. Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology.

COLLABORATIONS WITH CANADIAN RESEARCHERS: Kovacs AH, Saidi AS, Kuhl EA, Sears S.F., Silversides C, Harrison JL, Ong L, Colman J, Oechslin E, Nolan RP. (2008, In press). Depression and anxiety in adults with congenital heart disease: prevalence and predictors. International Journal of Cardiology.