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People Briefs

For immediate use

Oct. 30, 2007

History student wins national Slavic studies paper award

Emily Baran of Milwaukee, Wisc., a doctoral student in history in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, won a national paper award for her research on Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Soviet Union after World War II.

Baran, who speaks fluent Russian, won the best graduate student paper award from the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies. The organization brings together Russian, Eurasian and East European studies specialists from all disciplines. Her paper won the regional award earlier this year.

Baran’s paper examines how the Soviet media portrayed Jehovah’s Witnesses in order to justify to the Soviet public the government’s harsh persecution of religion after World War II. Entire Witness communities were committed to mass exile in Siberia in 1949 and 1951.

“Emily Baran has distinguished herself as an original, imaginative and tenacious researcher,” said Donald J. Raleigh, Jay Richard Judson distinguished professor of history and Baran’s Ph.D. adviser. “She has established invaluable contacts with Russian scholars and Jehovah’s Witnesses organizations in Russia, Moldova and Ukraine. Her work is a virtuoso performance.”

For more on the Slavic studies association, visit

Photo: For a photo of Emily Baran, click on

College of Arts and Sciences contact: Kim Weaver Spurr, (919) 962-4093,


UNC cancer center research associate recognized for research award

Krishnamurthy Janakiraman, Ph.D., a research associate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center received an American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) and General Electric (GE) Healthcare Junior Investigator Award for Excellence in Biomarker Research at the AFAR scientific conference, “Seeking Biomarkers of Aging and Diseases of Aging.”

The award includes $1,500 for Janakiraman’s research. Janakiraman is a research associate in the laboratory of Dr. Ned Sharpless, assistant professor of medicine and a Lineberger member.

Janakiraman’s research focuses on two molecules that act as tumor suppressors. The molecules, called p16 INK4a and Arf, contribute to aging by preventing cells from performing routine maintenance, and thus have the ability to suppress cancerous tumors. Studying the molecules can help scientists identify signs of aging and understand how tissue aging is regulated.

Lineberger Cancer Center contact: Dianne Shaw, (919) 966-7834 or


UNC cancer center awards three graduate fellows

UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center recently announced its selection of three Graduate Fellows in Basic Sciences.

Thomas Mullen, Liang Cai and Allyson Evans Vaughn received the award at the fall meeting of the UNC Lineberger Board of Visitors. The Lineberger Fellows will conduct cancer-related research until finishing their postdoctoral degrees. The center’s Board of Visitors honors graduate students annually with the highly competitive award, consisting of a $5,000 supplementary stipend. The board began the Lineberger Fellows program in 1988 to promote and encourage graduate students to pursue cancer research.

Cai’s research will focus on the role of a protein called Coronin, and how it affects the architecture of the cell and regulates the cell movement. Dr. James E. Bear, assistant professor of cell and developmental biology, is Cai’s faculty adviser.

Mullen’s research will focus on histone proteins and their relation to cancer cells. Dr. William Marzluff is his faculty adviser. Marzluff is executive associate dean for research in the UNC School of Medicine and UNC Lineberger associate director for core facilities.

Evans Vaughn will research the mechanisms involved in apoptosis, which is programmed cell death. Her research shows that the ability of neurons to inhibit cell death and live long term may be fundamentally similar to the way cancer cells evade cell death and cause disease. Evans Vaughn’s faculty adviser is Dr. Mohanish Deshmukh, associate professor of cell and developmental biology.

Lineberger Cancer Center contact: Dianne Shaw, (919) 966-7834 or


Jones elected to executive committee of plant biology society

UNC biologist Alan Jones has been elected to a three-year term on the executive committee of the American Society of Plant Biologists.

Jones is the George and Alice Welsh Distinguished Professor in the departments of biology and pharmacology and the program in genetics and molecular biology.

The American Society of Plant Biologists, with headquarters in Rockville, Md., is a nonprofit science society of 5,000 members from the United States and about 60 other nations. The society publishes the two most frequently cited plant science journals, The Plant Cell and Plant Physiology.

Jones has been active with the society for more than a decade. Since 2005, he has been associate editor of Plant Physiology, and he served on the journal’s editorial board from 1991 to 1998.

For more information, visit
College of Arts and Sciences contact: Kim Weaver Spurr, (919) 962-4093,