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Nora Purcell

Kathleen Sebelius (left), U.S. Health and Human Services secretary, chats with Nora Purcell (right) and another member of the Haiti team.

January 2013

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News & Events

Lighting the fire, through epidemiology
Judge denies request contesting Warren Wilson votes
The Pollinator’s Corridor creator speaks Feb. 6
Todd Elliott ‘15 participates in NSF research program
Billy Edd Wheeler Day in Buncombe County
Activist in Residence: Timothy B. Tyson
Learn, Laugh, Live - Weekend@Wilson 2013
In the media
Links

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Lighting the fire, through epidemiology

Nora Purcell ’09 has a passion for tracking how diseases spread, a passion she discovered during an internship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC hired Purcell upon graduation as a geographer mapping and analyzing public health developments. After three years in Atlanta, she joined a team of more than 300 CDC scientists and staff in Haiti to help the country rebuild its health services infrastructure after the devastating 2010 earthquake and cholera epidemic.

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Judge denies request contesting Warren Wilson votes

Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway on Jan. 15 denied a request to stay certification of the results of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners race in District 2, which includes part of the Warren Wilson campus.

Republican candidate Christina Merrill had contended that county election workers failed to follow state law in the handling of 44 ballots cast by Warren Wilson students and staff in District 2, north of Warren Wilson College Road. Merrill finished 18 votes behind Democratic candidate Ellen Frost for the second seat in District 2 in the Nov. 6 general election. Frost was sworn in as a commissioner about three hours after Ridgeway filed his order, giving Democrats a 4-3 majority on the Buncombe board.

Merrill filed the complaint in Wake County seeking a full hearing after the Buncombe County and N.C. elections boards ruled that she had not shown probable cause to warrant such a hearing. She has not said whether she would further pursue the matter.

"Lesson to our students: Every vote counts, even if it takes awhile," says WWC Media Relations Director Ben Anderson.

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The Pollinator's Corridor

The Pollinator’s Corridor creator speaks Feb. 6

Aaron Birk, creator of the graphic novel The Pollinator’s Corridor, will give a free public presentation on Feb. 6, 7 p.m., in Canon Lounge. Birk’s presentation is titled "The Anarchist's Apiary: Guerrilla Gardening, Urban Architecture and Restoration Ecology in the Post Industrial Age." A book signing will follow the presentation.

Set in the aftermath of the 1970s landlord fires, The Pollinator’s Corridor follows the lives of three friends who attempt to convince wild bees and butterflies to cross the Bronx by planting “corridors” of native flora throughout the industrial wasteland. Connecting fragmented forests, watersheds and city parks, the heroes restore biodiversity to the blighted ghetto by uniting marginalized communities and laying the foundations of ecological health in an age of crisis and decline.

Birk, now based in Philadelphia, began work on The Pollinator’s Corridor in 2003, while employed as a forester in New York City’s Central Park. Along with his efforts in restoration ecology, Birk continues to hone his craft in illustration, puppetry and acrobatics. Sponsored by New York Foundation for the Arts, he also is recipient of two major grants from The Independence Foundation and Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts.

Birk is the first speaker sponsored by the Speakers Fund for Sustainability of Warren Wilson’s Environmental Leadership Center. Support also comes from the College's creative writing, biology and business departments, as well as from the Work Program Office. While on campus, Birk will be a guest lecturer in several classes in disciplines such as writing, business and art.

For more information contact Ellen Querin, program coordinator of the Environmental Leadership Center, at 828-771-3006 or querin@warren-wilson.edu.

Todd Elliott ‘15 participates in NSF research program

Todd Elliott, a sophomore from Union Mills, N.C., was among four undergraduate and graduate students from the United States selected to participate in “Studies of Fungal Biodiversity in Northern Thailand,” a National Science Foundation research initiative that focuses on collecting and documenting fungi and fungus-like organisms in the understudied tropical forests of northern Thailand.

In addition to research, the program placed a strong emphasis on international collaboration. In summer 2012 students from several countries gathered at the Mushroom Research Center to collect, identify and deposit around 1,000 collections in the Mae Fah Luang University Herbarium. Elliott focused on collecting hypogeous and entomopathogenic fungi. He and the other students wrote descriptions of specimens, conducted chemical tests, took samples for molecular analysis, sketched, and photographed the specimens. The research opportunity allows students to focus on their fields of study through the hands-on research and collaborative experiences that are essential for educating and inspiring biologists early in their careers.

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Billy Edd Wheeler

Billy Edd Wheeler Day in Buncombe County

Billy Edd is a talented country boy who’ll never lose the common touch.
-Chet Atkins

Warren Wilson’s own talented country boy, Billy Edd Wheeler, celebrated his 80th birthday on Dec. 9. Billy Edd graduated from Warren Wilson Junior College in 1953 and went onto become an award-winning songwriter, playwright, author and artist. He has received 13 awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) for songs recorded by Johnny Cash, Elvis, Judy Collins, Neil Young and 90-some other artists. The songs include “Jackson,” “The Rev. Mr. Black,” “It’s Midnight” and “Coal Tattoo.” To learn more about Billy Edd’s storied career, visit billyeddwheeler.com.

During Billy Edd’s birthday celebration, President Solnick shared well wishes from Governor Bev Perdue and a proclamation from County Commissioner Chair David Gantt declaring December 9, 2012, “Billy Edd Wheeler Day” in Buncombe County. Then, Billy Edd took to the stage to perform a selection of his greatest hits with President Emeritus Doug Orr and Rich Bellando ’59. Jay Vernali joined them on keyboard and faculty member Kevin Kehrberg played upright bass. Local band Underhill Rose, fronted by alumna Molly Rose Reed ’04 and Eleanor Underhill ’03, performed a wonderful rendition of “The Coming of the Roads” in tribute to Billy Edd. Members of the Wheeler family, including his wife Mary Bannerman Wheeler and children Lucy and Travis, were part of the occasion as well as friends from near and far.

Activist in Residence: Timothy B. Tyson

Timothy Tyson, best known for his powerful memoir Blood Done Sign My Name, will be Activist in Residence from early February to early March.

In addition to various student-focused activities both on and off campus, Tyson will make public presentations. On Feb. 10 at 7 p.m., he and musician/activist Mary Williams will present “The Vision of the Black South” in Ransom Fellowship Hall. Tyson also will preach Feb. 10 at the College chapel’s 11 a.m. service. On Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m., he will lead a discussion after the film Blood Done Sign My Name is presented in Jensen Lecture Hall.

Tyson currently is senior research scholar at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and the Department of American Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill; and visiting professor of American Christianity and Southern Culture at Duke Divinity School. His research recently played a decisive role in winning a pardon of innocence from N.C. Gov. Beverly Perdue for the “Wilmington 10,” civil rights activists wrongfully convicted in the firebombing of a white-owned grocery store in 1971 and sentenced to a total of 282 years in prison.

Warren Wilson’s Activist in Residence program, sponsored by the Office of Spiritual Life, offers students, faculty and staff models of civic engagement along with the opportunity to consider pressing social justice concerns as a community. For more details on Tyson’s public events at Warren Wilson, contact Brian Ammons, college chaplain and spiritual life director, at 828-771-3747 or bammons@warren-wilson.edu.

Learn, Laugh, Live - Weekend@Wilson 2013

Taking place June 28-30, Weekend@Wilson is a fun weekend where alumni, parents and friends participate in interesting and useful workshops and stay in the dorms while enjoying the summer beauty of the Swannanoa Valley. If you have a skill, talent or interest to share, please consider participating as a workshop instructor. We are accepting workshop proposals through February 4. Past topics include beekeeping, painting on canvas, jewelry making and wine tasting. If you are interested in leading a workshop or need more information, email Ally Wilson.

In the media

Rev. Allen Smith ‘92 and Kenilworth Presbyterian Church

Video by Rayna Gellert ‘98 filmed in the WWC garden

In Defense of Stink

Cover Artist: Billy Edd Wheeler ‘53

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