Cullowhee, NC, United States
Cullowhee, NC, United States

Western Carolina University is a coeducational public university located in Cullowhee, North Carolina, United States. The university is a constituent campus of the University of North Carolina system.The fifth oldest institution of the sixteen four-year universities in the UNC system, the university was founded to educate the people of the western North Carolina mountains. The university has expanded its mission to serve the entire state and the nation and has grown to become a major cultural, scientific, and educational force in the state and region. WCU now serves more than 10,000 full-time undergraduate and post graduate students, providing an education to students from 48 states and 35 countries. Enrollment for fall 2014 was 10,382. Wikipedia.

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News Article | February 22, 2017

NEW YORK, Feb. 22, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Dr. Sharon Metcalfe, Interim Director of Nursing at Western Carolina University, has been selected to join the Education Board at the American Health Council. She will be sharing her knowledge and expertise on Nursing Education and Clinical / Didactic Testing. A photo accompanying this announcement is available at With over a decade of experience in the field of Nursing Education, Dr. Metcalfe offers valuable insight in her role as the Interim Director of Nursing at Western Carolina University. Located in Cullowhee, North Carolina, Western Carolina University is a public regional institution of higher education that is committed to offering quality education at an affordable rate.  Ranked as one of the top fifteen public regional institutions in the South, WCU give prospective students an opportunity to choose from more than a hundred and fifteen majors and concentrations ranging from Biology, Computer Information Systems, Spanish, Business Administration and much more. As the Interim Director of Nursing at Western Carolina University, Dr. Metcalfe’s day-to-day responsibilities include oversight of programs and forty facilities, management of scholarships, the university budget, and community groups. Prior to her role as the Interim Director, Dr. Metcalfe gained leadership experience as the Dean of Nursing for at Lees-McRae College and Mayland Community College. In the clinical setting, Dr. Metcalfe has served as the Director of Pediatrics (Denver, Colorado Children's Hospital), Director of Neonatal Services at Rose Medical Center (Denver, Colorado), and Nursing Administrator of Pediatrics, Critical Care, Intensive Care, and Neonatal Intensive Care at Wake Forest Medical Center-Baptist Hospital (Winston-Salem, North Carolina). In 1997, Dr. Metcalfe earned her Doctorate of Education in Adult and Community College Education from the North Carolina State University. She went on to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and receive certification as a Registered Nurse from the University of Colorado. Dr. Metcalfe maintains affiliations with the North Carolina Nurses Association and Sigma Theta Tao. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Mountain Area Health Education Minority and Underrepresented Students Council, and the Board of Directors for the Social Services division of Asheville, North Carolina. Dr. Metcalfe’s desire to pursue Nursing Education developed through a natural progression. Looking back, she attributes her success to her supportive husband Lee and her loving son Trevor. Due to her commitment and dedication to the field of Nursing Education, Dr. Metcalfe has been awarded the 2016 Health Science College Award, 2006 100 Best Nurses Award, and 2005 Native American Teacher of the Year. Among her many accomplishments, Dr. Metcalfe has published three significant articles on mentoring, social determinants and educational barriers for diverse students, and the nature of cultural competency. In her free time, she enjoys traveling to Europe. As a certified Parent Child Interventionist, Dr. Metcalfe volunteers her time being a high risk parenting educator for the Department of Social Work conducting seminars for foster parents that struggle with difficult children during the fall of each year. Considering her future, Dr. Metcalfe hopes for continual growth in research, and education by teaching a RN to BSN program.

Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 79.92K | Year: 2011

Non-invasive methods are required to measure the turbulence in supersonic jet plumes in 3-D with high temporal and spatial resolutions. The turbulent supersonic jet plume changes rapidly both in space and time, and hence any viable approach must acquire the entire 3-D velocity field at even faster speed for comparison with the temporal and spatial velocity field solved in Large Eddy Simulations. Unlike conventional LIDAR scanning techniques, which cannot scan through the entire 3D volume of the jet plume fast enough, and also unlike particle imaging velocimetry, where added invasive"seeds"are required, the proposed Micro-Plasma Turbulence Velocimetry (uPTV) is designed to deliver simultaneous imaging of the entire turbulent of the jet plume without added seeds. A photon-counting imager is concurrently under development for optimal uPTV. During Phase 1, we will setup uPTV system, demonstrate uPTV concept on a limited-scale wind tunnel, and correlate the stereoscopic image data. The prototype is readily deliverable. In Phase 1 Option and Phase 2, we will construct, test and optimize a full-scale fieldable uPTV system for a typical jet plume, in laboratory setting, at the hanger and on the airfield, for delivery to DoD laboratory.

Butcher D.J.,Western Carolina University
Applied Spectroscopy Reviews | Year: 2013

Optical analytical atomic spectrometry includes the techniques of atomic emission, atomic absorption, and atomic fluorescence. In this review, developments in these techniques are reviewed from January 2011 through June 2012, including a summary of applications in various areas of science. The goal is to summarize the most significant recent developments in optical atomic spectrometry. © 2013 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Butcher D.J.,Western Carolina University
Analytica Chimica Acta | Year: 2013

Molecular absorption spectrometry (MAS), originally developed in the 1970s, is a technique to determine non-metals in flames and graphite furnaces by monitoring the absorbance of diatomic molecules. Early studies employed low resolution instruments designed for line source atomic absorption, which provided a limited choice of analytical wavelengths, insufficient spectral resolution, and spectral interferences. However, the development of high-resolution continuum source atomic absorption spectrometry (HR-CS AAS) instrumentation has allowed the analysis of challenging samples for non-metals as well as some difficult elements to determine by AAS, such as aluminum and phosphorus. In this review, theory and analytical considerations for MAS are discussed. The principles and limitations of low resolution MAS are described, along with its applications. HR-CS AAS instrumentation is reviewed, emphasizing performance characteristics most relevant for MAS. Applications of flame and HR-CS GFMAS are reviewed, highlighting the most significant work to date. The paper concludes with an evaluation of the enhanced analytical capabilities provided by HR-CS MAS. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 473.18K | Year: 2015

This project seeks to understand prehistoric and historical Norse uses of whales, seals and walruses in the North Atlantic and Eastern Arctic over the course of the Middle Ages, from 800-1500 CE (Common Era). Evidence from Arctic and North Atlantic historical and literary sources and archaeological sites reveals frequent use of marine mammals by prehistoric hunters and scavengers and Norse settlers, but details about the uses of whale, seal, and walrus are unquantified, broad and approximate. These northern regions are critically important ecosystems to current North American economies and interests. They were home to the worlds earliest whaling industries and support ongoing sealing and whaling traditions. However, we know almost nothing about the origins and scale of whale, seal, and walrus use in these once fertile waters. Given the complexity of marine food webs in regions like the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, reconstruction of preindustrial or pristine maritime ecosystems is critical in modern restoration efforts and for the preservation and sustainable use of fish and mammal populations today. Without clear knowledge of ancient and early historic marine mammal populations, we cannot gauge what healthy marine mammal populations would look like today.

The fourteen-member research team, from the disciplines of humanities, history, archaeology, biology, genetics and others, aims to investigate the deep history of whale, seal, and walrus use in the Eastern Arctic and North Atlantic. This research will span the first settlements of the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland in the Viking Age (beginning around 800 CE), through the Medieval Warm Period (circa 1000-1250), and concluding with the Little Ice Age at the end of the Middle Ages (1300-1500). In addition to assessing the social, cultural, and economic importance of marine mammal use among Norse populations, the research study uses cutting-edge genetic and chemical analyses to provide a far better understanding of marine mammal populations in the Arctic and North Atlantic before the major changes resulting from industrial-scale hunting beginning in the sixteenth century. Evidence from houses, burials, and trading sites, from current archaeological excavations and museum collections, as well as histories, sagas, maps, illuminated manuscripts and other traditional sources of knowledge, are combined with scientific approaches to ancient animal bones and the genetic stories that they can tell. This project will build interdisciplinary connections across the social and natural sciences, will bring together researchers and students from six countries and eleven academic institutions and museums, and will employ the most current technologies and scholarship in genetics, biology, digital humanities, and zooarchaeology. The research team hopes to uncover new evidence about the marine animals that populated medieval seas, and the manners in which medieval Icelanders, Greenlanders, and others encountered and exploited these mammals. The project team will produce scholarly articles, translations, new genetic and zooarchaeological data sets, will participate in academic conferences and public presentations, and will design both curricular and museum materials to communicate our results to a broader audience. Undergraduate and graduate students will be guided through transdisciplinary research collaborations in the US and abroad. Finally, the team scientists think that their results may also aid colleagues in the natural sciences in reconstruction of ancient seas, climates, animal populations, and environmental change, with direct application to major issues of future sustainability.

This project seeks answers to fundamental questions about medieval marine mammal exploitation, focusing on Norse uses of whales, seals and walruses in the North Atlantic prior to 1500 CE. In a region dominated by charismatic Arctic megafauna, where modern industrial whaling was born and where current whaling and sealing attract global attention, the prehistory and early history of marine mammal use remain unclear in its scale and purpose. The researchers transdisciplinary approach employs Local and Traditional Knowledge (LTK), digital humanities, environmental histories, and innovative technologies of genetic analysis to new and existing sea mammal archaeofaunal assemblages to produce a holistic long-term perspective on the social, cultural, and economic history of marine mammal use in medieval northern Europe. This research spans the first settlements of the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland in the Viking Age and the Medieval Climatic Optimum, through the Little Ice Age onset in the high Middle Ages and Early Modern periods. The length of the project survey period (+ 700 years) will result in samples across a broad range of time and space, which allows the science team to contextualize newly-generated aDNA marine mammal data across several documented periods of major climate change in the North Atlantic and Subarctic.

The project will also provide a far better understanding of marine mammal dynamics in these regions prior to the major changes resulting from industrial-scale hunting impacts beginning in the sixteenth century. The project utilizes: 1) a new integration with the rich medieval written record for Iceland aided by digital and environmental humanities approaches; 2) a greatly expanded zooarchaeological database created since the International Polar Year (IPY) by the North Atlantic Biocultural Organization (NABO) research cooperative; 3) newly expanded capabilities in ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis, allowing species-level identification on a wide range of otherwise unidentifiable sea mammal bones; 4) new data management and visualization tools providing more effective cross disciplinary communication and wider public engagement through cooperation with the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NISDC) and NABO project management system; and 5) facilities for wide transdisciplinary dissemination of results through the Integrated History and Future of People on Earth (IHOPE) program as part of the Future Earth global change initiative. This project will build capacity for scientific collaboration and data management, dissemination, and visualization, while improving species-level identification, exceeding current capabilities of simple morphometric analysis or collagen fingerprinting of sea mammal bones from archaeological contexts and museum collections. In addition, it offers the promise to create important new bodies of evidence for a range of scholarly disciplines across a broad temporal and geographical series of case studies.

Finally, the proposed projects use of extant data sets - textual, archaeological, biological - may provide an innovative new model for transdisciplinary analysis of premodern marine mammal use that can be applied across the North Atlantic and circumpolar Arctic. The researchers hope to establish a historical baseline of marine mammal use that reveals a more complete economic and ecological portrait of the Norse North Atlantic. Through collaborations with North Pacific and Western Arctic colleagues, the research teams work will complete a circumpolar perspective of prehistoric and early historic marine mammal exploitation. By answering fundamental questions of marine mammal use, this research has the potential to provide context or evidence for lost genetic diversity among key marine species, now under pressure from both natural and human drivers of environmental change. This integrative approach, including collaboration of scholars and students from twelve institutions across North America and Europe, also provides new models and innovative methodologies for transdisciplinary research in the social sciences and humanities, with direct application to major issues of future sustainability.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 557.36K | Year: 2015

A previous NSF-supported project has resulted in high retention and improved GPA for STEM majors at the University of Central Florida. In an effort to expand on this work the institution has partnered with investigators at the University of NC-Wilmington (a primarily undergraduate, public institution) and Florida Atlantic University (a research-1, public institution) to study the ways in which a community built on disciplinary research will affect the retention of first-year students in STEM. The participants will live together in a learning community, take courses together, and work as research apprentices in faculty laboratories. This model, which has been shown to be particularly effective with students from underrepresented groups and first generation majors, will be adapted to include strategies for retaining transfer students through to graduation as well.

The core elements of the UCF model are the development of an academic research community that provides students with hands-on learning opportunities, access to faculty and trained graduate student and peer research mentors, and integration into student life through a wide variety of academic, social, and service activities. This project will address three research questions that are central to the national goal of increasing the number of high quality STEM graduates who go on to graduate school and into the workforce: (a) Can the UCF research community model be adapted successfully to accommodate a transfer student population? (b) What factors within a STEM research community influence transfer student success and impact transfer student retention? And (c) To what extent is the retention success of a current model replicable at other, public institutions? Formative and summative assessment will focus on the efficacy of the model on student retention and success in STEM for the different student populations (first-year and transfer) and at different institutions. The plan will use a mixed-method approach to assess the effectiveness of the proposed educational tools and educational content in fulfilling the desired learning outcomes, from both educators and participants perspectives. Student retention and GPA will be compared to matched cohorts. The findings from this project will be presented at state and national meetings such as the Florida Statewide Symposium on Engagement in Undergraduate Research and the Council on Undergraduate Research biennial conference. Results will also be submitted to the Journal of College Science Teaching.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: S-STEM:SCHLR SCI TECH ENG&MATH | Award Amount: 625.18K | Year: 2014

The United States faces a national need to increase substantially the number of American scientists and engineers. This project at Western Carolina State University addresses this need by providing academic and financial support to students pursuing engineering and engineering technology degrees at that institution. This initiative is called SPIRIT: Scholarship Program Initiative via Recruitment, Innovation, and Transformation. SPIRIT creates a focused approach to the recruitment, retention, education, and placement of engineering and technology students with academic talent and financial need. This program helps to develop domestic, workforce ready, engineers by providing scholarships that will assist qualified SPIRIT scholars to reduce their financial burden for obtaining an undergraduate education. The project promotes diversity in STEM fields, specifically for lower income students in STEM.

The project will utilize student-centered strategies to achieve goals for student retention and success in engineering and engineering technology majors. The educational program focuses on problem-based learning communities that nurture technical skills and professional skills. Students will be recruited into horizontally and vertically integrated cohorts that are developed into a Project Based Learning (PBL) community. The community will be characterized by extensive faculty mentoring, fundamental and applied research, hands-on design projects, and industry engagement. The horizontal integration method creates sub-cohorts with same-year students from different disciplines such as electrical engineering or mechanical engineering working in an environment that reflects how engineers work in the real world. The vertical integration method will enable sub-cohorts from different years to work together on different stages of projects in a PBL setting. The objectives of the SPIRIT program are to ensure an interdisciplinary environment that enhances technical competency through learning outcomes. These outcomes address improvements in critical skills such as intentional learning, problem solving, teamwork, project management, interpersonal communications, and leadership.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 286.60K | Year: 2012

Western Carolina University is awarded a grant for laboratory renovations at the Highlands Biological Station (HBS) located in the Blue Ridge of western North Carolina Established as a center for research and training in the heart of the southern Appalachians, a temperate zone biodiversity hotspot, the William Chambers Coker Laboratory has been the primary locus of research and training at HBS for over 50 years. HBS serves all 17 institutions in the University of North Carolina system and annually attracts dozens of researchers from the US and abroad, hosts numerous visiting college and university classes, and for decades has offered an extensive program of summer courses in diverse areas of field biology.

Built in the 1950s, the West Wing of the Coker Laboratory is extensively used yet increasingly outmoded with modernization a top-priority renovation project to improve accessibility, and increase capacity and capability for research and training. Improvements will include (1) increasing the number of research laboratories in the west wing and equipping them with adequate work surfaces, lighting and electrical outlets, and (2) expanding and reconfiguring the main training lab to increase the amount of well-configured bench space and add additional equipment such as a fume hood, sinks, and storage for lab supplies. Common to both of these areas are electrical upgrades (the existing electrical system is not grounded and consists of 2-wire romex) and insulation/climate control (there is presently no insulation in this block building, and no humidity control). Improving safety and functionality through electrical and HVAC upgrades and reconfiguring research and teaching space of this wing for optimized use will yield a net increase in research laboratory space by 33%, and teaching/training space by 62%.

A prodigious quantity of scientific research and graduate and undergraduate courses have taken place in the Coker Laboratory over the years, largely centered around the unique and rich flora, fauna, and ecology of the region. As research base for numerous senior research groups and training ground for undergraduate and graduate students in many areas of terrestrial and aquatic ecology and organismal biology, these improvements will further enhance the high quality research and educational experiences for which HBS has been known for decades. Scientific productivity is closely linked to quality of research space, and HBSs ability to host researchers in expanded, modernized and ergonomically designed laboratories translates into quality publications and other research products. The Coker West Wing improvements also permit HBS to provide higher quality and quantities of immersion training in field biology, critical to preparing current and future generations of tertiary students from a variety of partnering institutions. Engagement with the local and regional communities will enable citizens to connect with and better understand the natural world through HBS-sponsored workshops, programs, and related activities for groups ranging from K-12 students to life-long learners to professionals conservation non-profits and federal and state agencies.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 306.18K | Year: 2010

With this award from the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) and the Chemistry Division, Professor David D. Evanoff and colleague Scott Huffman from Western Carolina University will acquire a Raman microscope. The proposal is aimed at enhancing research, research training and education in diverse areas of study that include identifying the materials and methods used to produce the cultural heritage artifacts of the various southern Appalachian people, measuring to what extent silver nanoparticles of varying size can increase the efficiency of electron production in organic solar cells through metal enhanced fluorescence, and determining the mechanisms by which organic wastewater contaminants move through and bind Southern Appalachian sub-soil systems.

Raman spectroscopy measures the vibrational frequencies between atoms and molecules in a sample which are characteristic of the chemical content, composition and structure of the material. A Raman microscope scans across a sample to provide a spatial image of the chemical composition in response to the laser probe. This widely used technique, employing lasers to probe the material, is non-destructive. This instrument will strengthen undergraduate education by use in their research projects and in laboratory courses including a forensic chemistry course. Outreach activities with local high schools will give students a sense of research and illustrate the interconnectiveness of science, history and art.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 199.10K | Year: 2011

Although many benefits of authentic undergraduate research done by individuals have been described in the STEM literature, few efforts have extended undergraduate research in classes throughout the curriculum (from introductory to capstone classes) by using undergraduate research groups. This study is using hydrogeomorphic field areas on and near the PIs campus as a backdrop to implement experience-appropriate, authentic research throughout the geology curriculum and is measuring the impacts of these research experiences on student learning. The fundamental question that the study is testing through quantitative and qualitative methods is whether learning gains associated with these group research experiences are similar to the research gains of individual undergraduate research projects that are widely reported in the literature. The PIs are also examining the experiential learning of student research fellows that serve as apprentices and help run the research station.

Students enrolled in introductory classes through a capstone senior research seminar are addressing experience-appropriate, authentic, science problems that build on the research strength of faculty. These classes are fully integrating the PIs research and teaching functions. Hydrogeomorphic research topics are regionally and scientifically relevant problems related to water quality, landslides, groundwater and surface-water interaction, erosion due to land development and landscape evolution. Students in classes are addressing these issues in both natural and developed settings through experiments, monitoring, mapping and measurements.

The intellectual merit of the project is to understand and evaluate geology student learning gains as a function of group research based learning throughout the geology curriculum, and the results are helping the STEM community to better understand how learning gains vary at different geology class levels. The broader impact of this study is determining whether group research and individual research have similar learning gains. Insights gained from the current study of how to implement undergraduate group research is facilitating its extension to a larger population of students.

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