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WCU Stories

Students in a biology lab

Biology Professor Mack Powell Discusses Finding a COVID-19 Vaccine

As a professor in Western Carolina University’s Department of Biology who specializes in immunology and infectious diseases, Mack Powell finds the COVID-19 pandemic particularly interesting. The virus has rapidly spread across the world, shutting down many countries along the way, while killing thousands in the process.  

Constance Owl

Saving A Dying Language

Graduate History student working to translate Cherokee language from native newspapers. Constance Owl’s master’s degree thesis is more than a means to a graduate degree in American history. It’s a portal to understanding and perhaps saving, a disappearing language.  

Forensic Science Students

The Nobel Mission - Forensic Anthropology Students Search for Lost WWII Airman

A mission to locate remains of a missing American airman from World War II in Germany was a homecoming, of a sort, for a Western Carolina University student. Anna Maier, a senior majoring in forensic anthropology, is a native of Germany and was part of a research team made up of WCU forensic anthropology faculty and students who, through a U.S. Department of Defense grant, spent three weeks this summer participating in a forensic archaeological search and excavation.  

WCU Student Brittney Windham

Brittany Windham finds her place in the Black Student Union

In seeking a university to attend, Brittney Windham hoped to find a school that had a Black Student Union she could join. During the spring semester of her freshman year, Windham joined Western Carolina University’s Black Student Union. Shortly thereafter, she entered the Miss Black Student Union pageant – and won.   

The endangered dusky gopher frog.

Saving the Dusky Gopher Frog

Habitat destruction and degradation are mostly to blame for the dwindling numbers of amphibians worldwide, but there are other factors contributing to the overall decline—and some of these remain elusive. Joseph Pechmann's research on conservation and recovery of the endangered dusky gopher frog.  

Researcher Aimee Rockhill

Understanding Coyotes in Western North Carolina

Coyotes have called Western North Carolina home for about 30 years. They’re relatively new to the region compared to bobcats and foxes, who are established residents with hundreds of years of lineage. Western Carolina University’s Aimee Rockhill, an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resources, is examining the role coyotes play on ecosystem function in western North Carolina.   

Latinx Students

New Latinx Studies Minor Available for WCU Students

For the first time, a U.S. Latinx Studies minor will be offered to WCU students this fall, headed by Melissa Birkhofer, a lecturer in the Department of English, who has been named director of the program. With the Hispanic population at WCU exploding over the last decade, Birkhofer is excited to see the minor added to serve that group of students.  

Alumna Elise Holbrook

Alum of the Month: Elise Holbrook

A May 2019 graduate, she has a B.S. in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations. My fondest memories are any classes I had with Dr. Betty Farmer! She was such an incredible influence on me in so many ways. I genuinely loved going to her class every day, and there was never a day I didn’t learn something new. I particularly loved her Gender Communication class.  

Adam Gregory

Graduate Profiles: Adam Gregory

Adam Gregory is receiving his degree in mathematics from the College of Arts and Sciences. Entering as a freshman at WCU, Adam did not plan to study mathematics, yet today he graduates one of the department’s most outstanding students. During the last three years, Adam participated in two National Science Foundation-funded summer programs, one at the University of Texas in Tyler during the summer of 2017, and another at Rochester Institute of Technology during the summer of 2018. He credits WCU faculty with much of his success.  

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