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Inside Research

An Internal Newsletter for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research

May 2021

an EMT in an ambulance places nodes on a patient's chest to check their heart rate

A Cool Recovery

Before 2000, if a patient arrived at a hospital unconscious after undergoing cardiac arrest, their chances of leaving alive and with all their brain function intact was slim to none. Now, 50 percent wake up and go home thanks to a cooling therapy, brought to UNC in 2007 by emergency physician Larry Katz.

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Renewing and Strengthening U.S. Government-University Partnerships
by Terry Magnuson, Vice Chancellor for Research

With renewed national enthusiasm for innovation and research, there are now bright opportunities for prioritization of investment in research and higher education, cultivation of domestic and foreign talent, and productive partnerships between universities, corporations, and the federal government.

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All members of the Carolina community are encouraged to get vaccinated for COVID-19. On-campus vaccinations are available for all students, faculty, and staff, as well as family and household members. The latest vaccine information and on-campus reservation link may be found on the COVID-19 Vaccination page. If you have received one or both doses, please inform the university by using the COVID-19 Vaccine Certification.

This has been a challenging time, and we recognize the difficulties that teaching and learning amidst multiple pandemics — including COVID-19, racial injustice and violence, anti-trans legislation, and mental health crises — have created. The OVCR reiterates and echoes the sentiments shared by UNC's leadership team in this recent campus communication. One of the university's primary goals remains supporting our community and fostering resilience during these difficult times.

An array of resources are available on the UNC Office for Diversity and Inclusion website, including information on upcoming educational programming and events and teaching resources.

We hope you will remember to take care of your own mental health and well-being. These resources are also available whenever you need them:

  • The Office of Human Resources offers a series of work/life and wellness programs to support employee physical and mental well-being.
  • The Employee Assistance Program offers confidential counseling and resources to help university employees and their families deal with both personal and work-related concerns.

UNC Research News & Updates

CGS creates videos to promote research during pandemic

The UNC Center for Galápagos Studies recently partnered with the Odum Institute to create a suite of researcher videos spanning the social, terrestrial, and marine environments of the Galápagos Islands. Since travel to the archipelago was halted due to COVID-19, the center decided to create these videos to share its ongoing interdisciplinary research across a variety of topics. Each one features a UNC researcher discussing the challenge their research strives to solve, why the Galápagos is the best place to conduct their projects, the global implications of their work, and how the Galápagos Science Center has helped them achieve these goals.

CRC releases scorecard videos, collaborates on DHS report

Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence (CRC) researchers Phil Berke of UNC and Jaimie Masterson of Texas A&M University are the subject of four new videos from CRC on their work with the Plan Integration for Resilience Scorecard (PIRS). Now in a partnership with the American Planning Association to distribute the tool to communities nationwide, the researchers have worked with pilot communities across the country. Planning and emergency management staff in three of those communities — Rockport (TX), Norfolk (VA), and Nashua (NH) — speak in the videos about how PIRS improved their planning process and resilience to disaster.

CRC staff and education project leaders also recently collaborated on a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report, "Diversifying the Homeland Security Enterprise," which focuses on the progress of its supported undergraduate and graduate programs at four Minority Supporting Institutions — two in Mississippi, one in North Carolina, and one in Puerto Rico — over the first five years of the center.

Save the date: University Research Week 2021

Mark your calendars! University Research Week (URW) 2021 will be held November 8-12, 2021. Once again, UNC will be showcasing remarkable, innovative, and life-saving research conducted by its world-renown faculty and students and inspiring the next generation of scientists through presentations, workshops, and more. The URW planning team is optimistic that this year's celebration will include a mix of in-person and virtual events. More information will be available soon. If you are interested in hosting an event during URW 2021, please contact Layla Dowdy in the Office of Research Communications or Bob Pleasants in the Office of Undergraduate Research.

Inside UNC Research

Terry Magnuson in front of South Building

Cohesion and Collaboration for UNC Research
From day one of his role as vice chancellor for research, Terry Magnuson has worked hard to connect Carolina's entire research community. Recently reinstated to serve another five years, he strives to continue to bring together great minds from across the university.

The brain. Cancer. Data science. These are just a few of the strategic research priorities spearheaded by Terry Magnuson during his first five years as vice chancellor for research. These priorities — which also include the environment; infectious disease; opportunity, well-being, and culture; and precision health and society — were developed by Magnuson and the team he began putting together on his first day on the job. Now, twice each month, he meets with research deans and directors within Carolina's 13 schools, the three divisions of the College of Arts & Sciences, and 13 centers and institutes to discuss additional ways to promote interdisciplinary research.

Magnuson's strength lies in connecting people. This was evident well before he became vice chancellor, having built the university's Department of Genetics from the ground up. In that role, he hired faculty and staff, oversaw research programs, gained funding for the department, and supported student research, all while maintaining his own research program focused on the function of chromatin and gene expression in various diseases.

Those skills have translated well to UNC Research. He not only centralized the research administration offices and oversaw development of the seven strategic priorities, but developed a funding mechanism for interdisciplinary research teams called Creativity Hubs, improved the university's research regulatory compliance and infrastructure — even contributing to the hire of UNC's first director of science and security — supported the expansion of University Research Week, relaunched an annual print edition of Endeavors, and proudly steered the ship of the research enterprise as it broke the $1 billion mark in 2020 for new awards. Creativity Hubs projects, in particular, have brought in more than $25 million in additional funding.

"The most rewarding part, for me, is to see the positive impact that all areas of UNC research have on society, from the arts and humanities, to social and natural sciences, to data and health affairs research," Magnuson says. "One example is the significant contributions UNC faculty have made during the pandemic in all of these areas."

For the first six months of the pandemic, Carolina produced the most research on COVID-19 among all colleges and universities in the United States, according to Microsoft Academic, and continues to be the most cited American university for coronavirus research.

But Magnuson recognizes that none of these efforts are possible without a team that supports the individuals within it. That's why he is proactively addressing structural racism and implicit bias within research through new training programs in diversity, equity, and inclusion. This includes backing the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Research certificate program launched by the Odum Institute earlier this year and continuing to hire diverse faculty through programs like the Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity.

When it came time for Magnuson's five-year review, it's no surprise his colleagues described him as "a top-notch scientist who possesses strength, compassion, and goodness that permeates the research system at Carolina." Others said he is welcoming and supportive of new ideas and personal growth and "a treasure to the university."

Looking toward the next five years, Magnuson strives to continue building what he started: a connected, campus-wide research team.

"UNC could become this country's leading Research I public university and continue climbing in its ranking among the world's finest public or private institutions leading in research and innovation," he says. "My aspiration is to achieve this goal by facilitating and supporting our remarkable faculty, staff, and trainees."

Research Spotlight

H.E.A.L. Helping to End Addiction Long-term logo

RENCI to Help HEAL Opioid Crisis

The Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) shares in a $21.4 million grant to provide data management and stewardship to an NIH-funded research project — the Helping to End Addiction Long-Term (HEAL) Initiative — focused on the opioid and pain management public health crises.

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map of the U.S. showing the six states that gained congressional seats

U.S. Census Changes Congressional Counts

North Carolina just picked up a 14th seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to data from the 2020 U.S. Census. Learn more about what this means for the state in this Q&A with Carolina Demography Director Rebecca Tippett.

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Upcoming Events


Appetite for Life with a Twist

Uncover how mycotoxins — naturally occurring toxins produced by certain molds — threaten food safety and public health in this presentation by assistant professor of nutrition Blake Rushing and hosted by the Nutrition Research Institute.

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Barbara Hanna Wasik Distinguished Lecture

Hear from Louisiana State University psychologist Anna C.J. Long, who will present "Towards Empirically-Supported, Responsive Practice: The Emerging Science of Cultural Adaptation," hosted by the FPG Child Development Institute.

More info

iRODS User Group Meeting

Tune into the 13th Annual iRODS User Group Meeting, hosted by RENCI, which will feature use-case presentations, live demonstrations, and open discussions about requested iRODS features from the user community and core development team.

More info

By the Numbers


days until faculty and staff return to campus. A UNC clinical psychologist and psychiatrist discuss how to make the transition. More…


bushels of shells and 2,000 bundles of marsh grass were used to create a saltmarsh that has helped capture carbon from the atmosphere. More…