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Congratulations to the Winners of the 2020 Faculty Scholar Grant!

Abbie E. Smith-Ryan, Ph.D., CSCS*D, FNSCA, FACSM, FISSN is an associate professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science, where she serves as the Director of the Applied Physiology Lab. She is also an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Allied Health Sciences. Her research interests center around exercise and nutrition interventions to modify various aspects of body composition, cardiovascular health, and metabolic function.  She is an active researcher in the field of metabolism, sport nutrition and exercise performance, in both healthy and clinical populations, leading projects funded by the National Institutes of Health and international and national industry sponsored clinical trials.  Dr. Smith-Ryan contributes to the current body of scientific literature with over 130 peer-reviewed manuscripts; a number of scholastic books and book chapters; and international/national presentations. Dr. Smith-Ryan currently serves as a University liaison for the ‘Working on Women in Science (WOWS)’ initiative, Faculty Athletics Committee, and the Institutional Review Board. She has a passion for improving the health and quality of life of others through evidenced-based research. In her research project funded by CWC, her goals are to “comprehensively evaluate body composition, metabolic parameters, and exercise capacity in women at all stages of the menopause transition” and “identify relationships between body composition, lifestyle factors, physical activity, and metabolism through the progression of menopause.”


Julia Gibson is the head of the Professional Actor Training Program at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill where she is an associate professor in the Department of Dramatic Art and a resident acting company member of PlayMakers Repertory Company.  She has performed as an actor on and off Broadway and at major theatres across the U.S. as well as on TV and film.  She has directed at the Rattlestick, Chautauqua Theatre Company, Portland Stage, Gulfshore, and other theatres, as well as Juilliard, NYU, SMU and Stella Adler.  She received her MFA from New York University, is a founding member of The Actors Center in New York City, and the National Alliance for Acting Teachers, and is a Fox Fellowship recipient.  Julia has narrated over 160 audio books.  She has written two full-length plays, one of which was a semi finalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, and is currently working on her third, which she started with the assistance of a Junior Faculty Development Award.  She just completed a year with the Center for Faculty Excellence’s Leadership Fundamentals Program. In her CWC-funded research project, she aims to “fully shine the spotlight on mature women, provide roles for older actresses, tell their stories and give them visibility” in the world of theater.

Sarah E. (Betsy) Bledsoe is associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work and an associate at the Family Informed Trauma Treatment Center in Baltimore, MD. Her training includes a doctorate in social work from Columbia University, a master of social work from the University of Pittsburgh, and a bachelor of arts in psychology from the University of Tennessee. Her research has long focused on the emotional health and wellbeing of women with a special focus on mothers. She has spent over 20 years working to understand the best practices for supporting the mental health and wellbeing of mothers and their children. This work has led her to projects focused on adapting evidence-based interventions for low-income, racial/ethnic minorities and other disenfranchised groups of mothers, to studies aimed at better understanding the impact of traumatic and violent experiences on subsequent mental health and wellbeing, and most recently to community based research with mothers, colleagues, and community partners here in NC aimed at understanding the strengths, challenges, and gaps in services around maternal health and wellbeing. Her CWC-funded research will “address gaps in services and support for rural mothers with a focus on improving maternal mental health and addressing associated disparities in maternal and child health to increase health equity.”

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