Health: Conquering Physical, Mental, and Public Challenges

Rachel Noble

Rachel Noble is the Mary and Watts Hill Jr. Distinguished Professor at the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences. She is also a professor in the Department of Marine Sciences within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences and director of the Institute for the Environment’s Morehead City field site. Her research focuses on understanding the abundance and ecology of dangerous bacteria and viruses that are found in the ocean and within seafood.

Like Mother, Like Child

One in nine new moms struggle with depression — but single moms, immigrants, and those in low socioeconomic situations are even more susceptible. And their children, whose brains triple in size and make nearly 1,000 nerve connections in the first three years of their life, are directly affected. To combat this, UNC nurse scientist Linda Beeber has spent the past two decades developing mental health interventions that treat both the mother and the child as a unit, called the “dyad.”

Cleo Samuel

Cleo Samuel is an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management within the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Her research focuses on improving the equity and quality of supportive cancer care — such as care that optimizes comfort, function, social support, and overall quality of life — through the use of health informatics tools that address systemic barriers to care.

A Massage for Your Brain

A series of studies by one research group in Oregon reported that, on average, children move one full level down the autism spectrum after 20 weeks of Qigong Sensory Training (QST) — a type of massage therapy adapted from Traditional Chinese Medicine. UNC postdoc Kristin Jerger found these results so intriguing that she has published a feasibility study for a new line of research on the neural mechanisms of QST massage.

Kripa Ahuja

Rising junior Kripa Ahuja is an undergraduate researcher in the Division of Clinical Laboratory Science within the UNC School of Medicine. She is also a research assistant at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Her research focuses on cloning the AAV-CXCL 12 gene — an important cancer biomarker.

Virginie Papadopoulou

Virginie Papadopoulou is a research assistant professor within the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at UNC and NC State. Her research focuses on the circulatory bubble dynamics that lead to decompression sickness in scuba divers and astronauts, and how physiological factors acting on microbubbles affect ultrasound cardiovascular imaging and cancer treatment.

Teresa Zhou

Teresa Zhou is a PhD student in the Department of Economics within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. She is a recent recipient of a 2018 Impact Award from The Graduate School. Her research focuses on the policies that are most effective in attracting and retaining physicians in underserved and rural areas, and how changes in physician supply affect patient welfare in the United States.

Frances Reuland

Graduating senior Frances Reuland is a research assistant at The Water Institute. She is majoring in environmental sciences and Spanish, with a minor in chemistry within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. She also plays on the varsity women’s soccer team. Her research focuses on how inadequate energy affects environmental health conditions and facility operations within Malawian healthcare systems.

Cherrel Manley

Senior Cherrel Manley is an undergraduate researcher within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences, majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry. She is also a McNair Scholar. Her research focuses on the relationship between maternal exposure to phthalates — substances commonly found in industrial chemicals — and pre-term births within the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study.

Samantha Kistler

Samantha Kistler is a doctoral candidate and graduate research assistant in the Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry within the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Her research focuses on developing and evaluating the modifications that occur within Ras proteins, which may allow for protein-specific drug targeting. Mutated Ras proteins are found in up to 30 percent of cancers.