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The Graduate School has named eleven graduate students as recipients of its 2022 Impact Award.

Announcing the 2022 Impact Awards



The awards are generously supported by its Graduate Education Advancement Board (GEAB), which showcase graduate students and recent graduate alumni whose research contributes to the educational, economic, physical, social or cultural well-being of North Carolina communities and its citizens.

The eleven students, whose research interests range from car crash risk to the migration of fish, come from many areas of campus. They all have one thing in common: a commitment to service and to improving the lives of North Carolinians.

Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said graduate student research positively impacts our state every day and is a critical piece of the University’s research mission.

“Our graduate students are committed to serving our state. The Impact Awards are emblematic of this commitment—all supported by a world-class research enterprise,” Guskiewicz said. “I look forward to these awards every year and enjoy learning the ways in which our graduate students are leading research and discovery across the state and beyond.”

The 2022 Impact Award recipients are:

    • Sofia Benson-Goldberg; recent doctoral graduate; Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences; Department of Allied Health Sciences; UNC School of Medicine
      • Improving readability for COVID-19 documents from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    • Caitlin Biddell; Ph.D. student; Department of Health Policy and Management; UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
      • Understanding financial assistance processes in rural and non-rural oncology care settings in North Carolina
    • Jeliyah “Liyah” Clark; Ph.D. candidate; Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering; UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
      • The effects of diet and drinking well water on lower birth weight
    • Montana A. Eck; Ph.D. candidate; Department of Geography; College of Arts & Sciences
      • How precipitation affects the risk of car crashes in rural and urban parts of North Carolina
    • Elise Hickman; Ph.D. candidate; Curriculum in Toxicology and Environmental Medicine; UNC School of Medicine
      • Effects of e-cigarettes on respiratory immune health
    • Phillip Hughes; Ph.D. student; Pharmaceutical Sciences; UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy
      • The role of psychologists in improving outcomes for North Carolinians experiencing mental illness
    • Irene Mulloy Manning; Ph.D. candidate; Department of Chemistry; College of Arts & Sciences
      • Improving water quality in North Carolina
    • Lewis Naisbett-Jones; Ph.D. candidate; Department of Biology; College of Arts & Sciences
      • The sheepshead fish and its contributions to our coastline and our state
    • Irene Newman; Ph.D. student; Department of American Studies; College of Arts & Sciences
      • “Friendly folks in robes”: white nationalist women and organized terror in the Triad, 1979
    • Lindsay Savelli; master’s degree student; Health Equity, Social Justice and Human Rights concentration; UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
      • Addressing environmental racism and asphalt plant pollution: Anderson community environmental quality and health
    • Suruchi Shrestha; recent doctoral graduate; Department of Microbiology and Immunology; UNC School of Medicine
      • Reducing unintended pregnancies in North Carolina by exploring non-hormonal contraception

Students from 21 different academic programs were nominated this year, said Suzanne Barbour, dean of The Graduate School.

“Our graduate students continue to demonstrate the ways in which their research directly affects the lives of North Carolinians, which provide us with hope and a vision for the future,” Barbour said. “I have every confidence that the graduate students who receive Impact Awards drive change in our communities and beyond, and that’s worth celebrating.”

More than 300 individuals have received Impact Awards since their inception. Graduate students and recent graduate alumni apply for the annual awards and are nominated by their academic departments. A cross-disciplinary team reviews the nominations and selects award recipients based on the significance of their work to North Carolina and on their ability to effectively communicate their research.

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