Great Adaptations

What does it take to study the deepest places on Earth? The same kind of mettle required to survive them. Tim Shank has spent a lifetime doing both.

Relevance Rediscovered

At 49, Greg Michie gave it all up. His tenure-track position. His flexible schedule. His unhurried lunch hour. (His lunch hour, period.) In 2012, as a citywide teacher’s strike loomed, Michie left the relative comforts of higher education. He returned to the undervalued but indispensable work of public school teaching in America.

Shades of Gray

Jake Lawler came to UNC in 2017 with a football scholarship, a passion for movies and a talent for writing. A longtime foe followed him there, one that he had known since middle school — when he wore crooked glasses and ill-fitting clothes and was teased for being a mixed-race kid.

Compassion as an Action Verb

"How do we institutionalize compassion? If we are all products of our systems, how do we make these systems compassionate? Imagine police departments whose main focus is caring for the community, is compassion. What if, from the very beginning, compassion is the anchor for all our social institutions?"

Weaponized Cells: A Sobering Message About the Virus

Lung researcher Dr. Camille Ehre felt like she was flying a drone over a dense forest, looking for poisonous apples on the ground or in the swaying trees. For more than a month, she piloted her powerful microscope over an area 12 millimeters in diameter populated by cells from the lungs’ airways. Zooming in and out, she hunted between and below their hairlike protrusions for the infectious, spiky orbs of COVID-19.

The Smoke You’ve Been Missing

“When I realized how bad e-cigarette use was in the high schools, I thought, ‘If I don’t do this, who will?’ ” said Ilona Jaspers, who also directs the toxicology curriculum at UNC and is the mother of a junior and a senior at Chapel Hill High School. “If I don’t go out and talk to people and educate them about it and find a way to communicate with them, who will?”

CAR-T is still largely experimental — a futuristic, staggering, frustrating therapy that sometimes works and sometimes does not. (Roger Harris/Science Photo Library)

To Build a Cure

They’re the most promising cancer assassins to come along in your lifetime, but their mission is far from complete. CAR-T is still largely experimental — a futuristic, staggering, frustrating therapy that sometimes works and sometimes does not.

The Banghart Way

Last spring, Courtney Banghart earned the job of a lifetime when she was named the first new Tar Heels women’s basketball coach in 33 years, replacing a coach and taking over a program whose shine had faded under the tarnish of scandal and disconnection. The role is tailor-made for Jim Banghart’s daughter: An opportunity to repair a beloved thing that has fallen out of favor, to patch its holes and mend its stitches — and then go out and win with it.

Holding Onto Herself

For the first time in the almost two years since she began dating Alex Honnold, the most accomplished free solo climber in the world, she allows herself to think about all the things that could go wrong on El Capitan the next day — when Honnold would attempt to become the first person to climb Yosemite’s monolith with no ropes or safety gear.

The Student Body Shop 

What you see, smell and hear here is shop class and home economics refurbished for the digital age. Hundreds of willing participants know this as BeAM, or “be a maker,” UNC’s answer to the worldwide makerspace movement — the collaborative culture of making physical objects using both digital and traditional tools. Now entering its fourth year, BeAM makerspaces are leading the Carolina community and its students through a re-emergence of know-how, in and out of the classroom.

The Art of Perseverance

Students are incredulous when Walters proffers this deal. “You’re going to give me more time and a higher grade? What’s the catch?” But that’s how making and inventing works in the real world, he said. Like pumping gas in a Vermont winter, the first decisions you make often are not your best.

Why Not? The Art of Believing

When Katie Ziglar believes in the power of an idea or a project, it persists — across the decades, across continents, through the halls of the Smithsonian, in the mansions of maharajas, over the demolition of gender barriers and through her polite-but-persistent, lifelong takedown of the phrase, “That can’t be done.”

The Guiding Light

Cancer can magnify the darkness and light we all walk around with — the electricity that fuels a good day with our kids, and the bottom floor of our souls where we struggle with all that we are and all that we could be. The forces are always competing. But the crazy, beautiful thing about Sam Anthony is that he finds a way to let the light win.