Our mission

A marine scientist flies drones off the coast of North Carolina to gather data on native bonnethead sharks. A psychologist offers treatment to women and children addicted to opium in Afghanistan. A historian leads the nation in biographies on Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

These are UNC-Chapel Hill’s researchers, and we are Endeavors — the publication that introduces you to them. Committed to showcasing Carolina’s best science, we use well-crafted stories and vibrant visuals to immerse you in our inspiring research.

Why is requiring police officers to wear body cameras more complicated than it sounds? What happens when a marine scientist teams up with a local fisherman? Why does a nuclear laboratory have a collection of empty champagne bottles? Can virtual reality change the way we communicate?

Browse through our stories and you’ll see why UNC-Chapel Hill is one of the leading research institutions in the nation. You’ll get a glimpse of the people who make Carolina research so special, and a new perspective on the way the world works. Thanks for reading.

-the Endeavors team

Group photo of the Endeavors team. In order, from left to right, Carleigh Gabryel, Alyssa LaFaro, Darren Abrecht, Layla Dowdy, Megan Mendenhall, and Corina Prassos.

Meet the Team

Portrait of Layla Dowdy

Layla Dowdy

Director of Communications

Layla Dowdy develops and executes communication strategy for the Office of Research Communications, which publishes Endeavors. In her role as director, she oversees content production that aims to increase awareness of the value and impact of Carolina’s research accomplishments.

When she’s not promoting Carolina research, she’s dutifully fulfilling her unpaid role as a Little League/musical theater/soccer/(reluctant) dance mom.

Portrait of Alyssa LaFaro.

Alyssa LaFaro

Editor & Lead Writer

Alyssa LaFaro oversees content creation for both the digital and print editions of Endeavors. She produces multimedia stories on a variety of topics, but especially enjoys writing about environmental science, culture and language, and passionate scientists.

She loves reading, cooking, vintage fashion and home décor, and lifting weights — and is overjoyed that she can almost do 10 pullups in row.

Portrait of Darren Abrecht.

Darren Abrecht


Darren Abrecht is the webmaster of endeavors.unc.edu, contributing to everything from backend administration to content editing.

He knows a little about lots of things and a lot about nothing. A fan of cool old junk, science fiction, the visual arts, and the outdoors, he lives in Durham with his son.

Portrait of Carleigh Gabryel.

Carleigh Gabryel

Communications Manager

Carleigh Gabryel helps manage communications from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and contributes content ideas for the digital and print editions of Endeavors.

She loves being outdoors, traveling as often as possible and collecting new recipes to enjoy with her husband.

Portrait of Megan Mendenhall.

Megan Mendenhall


Megan is the lead photographer/videographer for the Office of Research Communications. She’s spent the past two decades in higher education, photographing everything from student life to athletics to research.

In her free time, she enjoys sketching, roller skating, exploring North Carolina’s beaches, and spending time with her family.

Portrait of Corina Prassos.

Corina Prassos

Graphic Designer

Corina Prassos has been designing since she was 14, after receiving her first design software. From illustrations to web design, layouts to infographics, Corina is in charge of branding for UNC Research and Endeavors.

She enjoys thrifting, making things with her hands, going on adventures with her wife, and snuggling her three cats, Archer, Milo, and Aspen.

Portrait of Emmy Trivette.

Emmy Trivette

Multimedia Intern

Emmy is a fourth-year journalism and environmental studies student. Her childhood on the N.C. coast inspires her to conduct and document environmental research for audiences of all backgrounds and interests. In her free time she enjoys swimming, hiking, climbing, and deejaying for the local radio station.