While COVID-19 has shaken the world, it has also pushed society to be more innovative and creative — two attributes that have been essential to the success of researchers at UNC. Carolina students, faculty, and staff are engaged in an abundance of projects, making UNC the most cited university in the nation for coronavirus research.
Employing wastewater epidemiology — proven useful in outbreaks of polio and opioid use — UNC microbiologist Rachel Noble is leading a state-wide collaboration tracking novel coronavirus outbreaks across North Carolina, gaining insight that testing individuals does not offer. Preliminary results have shown that by using wastewater, researchers can identify COVID-19 hot spots five to seven days before they are reflected by clinical testing results.
Food allergies have long baffled scientists — much is still to be learned about how they develop and why certain people are more susceptible than others. Researchers at UNC may be able to answer some of these questions by studying an unusual food allergy to mammalian meat called alpha-gal syndrome.
Over its 110-year history, journalism at Carolina has evolved from a single course in the Department of English into the internationally renowned UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media. While the program has experienced exponential growth, its commitment to instilling students with innovative storytelling skills remains steadfast.
In the past, cochlear implants were employed in people with severe hearing loss, improving their ability to hear the conversations around them. But now, studies show that these devices offer benefits to patients with mild or moderate hearing loss - a group that UNC researchers and doctors are soliciting to receive cochlear implants as part of ongoing clinical trials.
Imagine a tool that could cure thousands of genetic illnesses by replacing faulty strands of DNA. What if that same invention could enhance traits like height and intelligence in children through the manipulation of DNA in embryos? CRISPR, a gene-editing technology, is tricky business — and geneticists at UNC are addressing the ethics surrounding it.
When an archaeologist uncovers an artifact, while likely enthralled by the piece, they are more interested in what it can teach them about human behavior. Zooarchaeologists have a similar goal. UNC researchers Benjamin Arbuckle and Heather Lapham use ancient animal remains, texts, and iconography to understand how relationships with animals changed peoples’ lives and the world.
Professors Allen Hurlbert and Keith Sockman want their students out of the classroom as much as possible. Every other year, the UNC researchers lead an avian biology course that explores the physiology, anatomy, evolution, and behavior of birds. Throughout the semester, the class visits wildlife reserves across the state to see these lessons in the field.
David and Karin Pfennig have created a home away from home in the Arizona desert. For about five weeks every summer, the couple studies spadefoot toads. Long days and nights are filled with collecting specimen, conducting experiments, and recording observations. Not only do they bring along graduate students, but also a pair of special assistants — their daughters.
How can students strengthen their education by stepping outside their major and trying something new? Two professors — one in studio art and the other in biology — pose this question to undergraduate students in a course combining science and printmaking.