Laura Candler

Web Producer

Laura moved from Chattanooga to Chapel Hill in 2013 to join WUNC as a web producer. She graduated from the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in the spring of 2012 and has created radio and multimedia stories for a variety of outlets, including Marketplace, Prairie Public, and Maine Public Broadcasting. When she's not out hunting stories, you can usually find her playing the fiddle.  

Ways to Connect

teen driver
State Farm Insurance, via Flickr, Creative Commons

Teaching a teenager to drive can be a scary experience for both teens and parents. But a new iPhone app developed by the UNC Highway Safety Research Center and the Center for the Study of Young Drivers aims to lessen that anxiety by helping teens and parents log driving time and meet driving goals before the teen applies for a driver’s license.

The app is called Time to Drive, and it’s rooted in research showing that many teens do not receive adequate driving practice in a variety of potentially challenging conditions, such as on interstates, at night, in heavy traffic, or in poor weather. The app can monitor driving time and keep track of road conditions and routes, allowing parents and teens to meet certain driving goals during the learning process.

flowers,
NC DOT

When it comes to deciding on the best roadside blooms, North Carolina has a lot of options to choose from. Each year, the N.C. Department Of Transportation Wildflower Awards are given to the most eye-popping flower beds across the state and to the division with the best overall wildflower program. On Wednesday in Raleigh, Governor Pat McCrory and NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata announced the 2012 winners and recognized the contributions of two individuals – former Governor Jim Martin and former First Lady Dottie Martin – for their contribution to the Wildflower Program.

NC Composer Robert Ward
Robert Willett / News & Observer

The acclaimed classical composer and Durham resident Robert Ward has died. He was 95 years old.

Ward was known and honored for his contributions to the world of classical music and was chancellor of the UNC School of the Arts (then called N.C. School of the Arts) from 1967 to 1974 before joining Duke University as a music professor.  He composed many symphonies and operas over his lifetime, including an operatic adaptation of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1962.

NC Biotechnology Center
NC Biotechnology Center

Biotech researchers and entrepreneurs from across the region will gather for a networking conference intended to link researchers to funding partners this week. The first Southeast Venture Philanthropy Summit will take place at the at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill April 3-4, and more than 30 foundations will attend, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.  The summit seeks to help local companies tap into philanthropic venture capital.

A scene from last year's Science Festival.
NC Science Festival

The N.C Science Festival – a series of more than 300 science-related events at locations across the state – kicks off this Friday.  It’s the third year for the festival, and it's expected to draw more than 200,000 participants. The first event is a stargazing party for all ages at 45 different sites across the state. Triangle-area venues include the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, Marbles Kids Museum and Imax Theater in Raleigh, the Morehead Observatory in Chapel Hill and Jordan Lake in Apex. 

John Anton, bar manager at Mandolin
courtesty of John Anton

If you’ve never heard of pisco, then you're not alone. But  Mandolin bar manager John Anton hopes to change that.  He wants to introduce pisco – a Peruvian grape brandy – to people in the Raleigh area willing to give it a go, and he believes that a trip to Peru to witness the makers of the spirit can help him do it. Anton will head to the Peruvian town of Ica next month, courtesy of pisco-maker Campo de Encanto, to watch a 90-year-old master pisco distiller in action.

A chimpanzee eats treats from inside a papier-mâché egg at the North Carolina Zoo.
Zoo photo by Tom Gillespie

Who says animals can’t participate in an Easter egg hunt? This weekend, while thousands of children across the state hunt for candy-filled Easter eggs, the North Carolina Zoo will give its animals their own egg hunt.

The “Egg-Stravaganza” begins Saturday morning, and it involves zookeepers putting papier-mâché eggs filled with animal treats inside the animals' living spaces. Some of the lucky creatures that will be getting eggs include gorillas, elephants, ocelots, Red River hogs, seals, bears, and a cougar.

Collegiate entrepreneurs from schools like Pitt, Florida State, Clemson and NC State gathered in Raleigh Wednesday for a different kind of ‘March Madness.’  These business-minded students were not on a basketball court.  Instead, they were bouncing around a working prototype in hopes of winning a big check and a foot in the start-up world. 

Greensboro skyline
Scott Moore, Flickr, Creative Commons

Greensboro may have just gained a new downtown grocery storeand hosted this year's ACC Basketball Tournament, but according to some, it is still lacking in one area: sexiness. A new study from the online travel-dating site MissTravel.com dubs Greensboro as the number one least sexy city in America.

Kay Hagan
hagan.senate.gov

U.S. Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) announced Wednesday morning on facebook that she supports gay marriage.  The announcement comes on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court hears the opening arguments for the Defense Of Marriage Act.

“I have a great deal of respect for varying opinions on the issue,” she says.  “After much thought and prayer, I have come to my own personal conclusion that we shouldn’t tell people who they can love or who they can marry.”

Rangers display seized ivory tusks in the Nouaba`le – Ndoki National Park, Republic of Congo.
Emma Stokes, Wildlife Conservation Society

The North Carolina Zoo has partnered with five other leading conservation organizations from around the world to launch a new software tool aimed at curbing poaching in nature preserves.

The software is called Spatial Monitoring And Reporting Tool (SMART 1.0), and it is intended to assist park rangers and wildlife managers by helping them measure and evaluate the effectiveness of their anti-poaching efforts. Poaching is a major threat to several endangered species, including tigers, rhinos, elephants, great apes, and marine turtles.  Traditional methods of combating poaching are not making a dent in the illegal practice, and there is a growing gap between the sophistication of poachers and the skill level of the law enforcement patrols trying to stop them.  SMART is open-source and free for any organization or individual to download.

The first page of the Carolina Charter of 1663.
N.C. State Archives

People interested in the history of North Carolina can see the front page of the Carolina Charter on display today in Raleigh.  The 350-year-old old document represents the land grant from the King of England to eight of his closest friends and allies who helped him when he was restored to the throne. 

Carl Kasell at a WUNC event in 2007.
Dave Horne/Flickr

At their most recent Annual Meeting, The North Carolina Press Association named Carl Kasell the 2013 North Carolinian of the Year.

Originally from Goldsboro, Kasell is known for his life-long career in radio broadcasting. He also helped found WUNC while in college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Kasell spent 30 years as a newscaster for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, and he currently works on the popular radio news quiz show Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, in addition to being an ambassador for NPR.

Carolina in the Morning
Johns Hopkins University, The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music

If you’ve ever attended a public event or high school choir performance in North or South Carolina, chances are you’ve heard the song “Carolina in The Morning.” But which Carolina does the iconic tune refer to?

Andy Griffith
andygriffith.org

Less than one year after Andy Griffith’s death, his widow intends to raze the house where he once lived with his family. According to friends, Griffith had hoped the house would be turned into a museum.

Cindi Griffith received a demolition permit from Dare County on Monday. The house that she intends to tear down is not the large one that she and Andy built recently, but a smaller one on Roanoke Island that Andy Griffith bought in the 1950’s.

KPCC's Public Radio Show Bracket
Mike Roe/KPCC

You don’t have to be a basketball fan to participate in this March Madness bracket, just a public radio listener. Southern California public radio station KPCC has created an alternative competition pitting 32 public radio shows against one another. Listeners can vote for their favorites on their website.

NC A & T basketball player Adrian Powell at the free throw line.
NC A&T Sports Information

NC A&T will tip it off against Liberty tonight in Dayton, OH as part of the First Four. The Aggies surprised everyone last week when they seized the MEAC championship in a 57-54 win against Morgan state.

Last year Norfolk State represented the MEAC in the NCAA Tournament. As a 15-seed the Spartans defeated 2-seed, Missouri, 86-84. It is one of only six upsets where a 15-seed knocked off a 2-seed. With a victory tonight, North Carolina A&T would meet 1-seed Louisville on Thursday. A 16-seed has never beaten a one-seed.

James Beard Foundation
James Beard Foundation

More than a dozen North Carolina restaurants and chefs earned a spot on the James Beard Award semifinalist list this year, but only one is advancing to the nominee (finalist) category: Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner in Raleigh. Christensen was nominated for Best Chef: Southeast, a position she shares with four other chefs in the region. Here is her reaction on twitter this morning:

fresh peas
courtesy of Andrea Reusing

Like a few others in the Triangle, Andrea Reusing found out she was a James Beard semi-finalist on Twitter.  But of the 13 semi-finalists in North Carolina this year, Andrea Reusing of Lantern is the only one to have ever won the award before.

Everyone knows that NC State, Duke, and UNC can play basketball. But how well do they dance?

The 60th ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament is underway, where North Carolina’s Big Three will compete with other conference teams for the championship.  We found videos of all three North Carolina schools performing the Harlem Shake – a dance that has made waves on the internet in recent weeks.

Phoebe Lawless
Lissa Gotwals

People who bake pies for a living usually do so because they love it. Not to win awards. So when Phoebe Lawless of Scratch bakery learned recently that the James Beard Foundation named her a semi-finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef – an honor she shares with only 19 others in the country – she was thoroughly shocked.   “I certainly did not expect to find myself on the list,” she said.  Lawless learned of the honor while at home on her couch, when someone mentioned it on Twitter.  

Fullsteam's First Frost persimmon ale
Fullsteam

Like last year, Sean Lilly Wilson of the Durham brewery Fullsteam found out that he was on the list of 2013 James Beard Award semi-finalists via Twitter.  And he thought it was a mistake.  His reaction?  “Profound disbelief,” he says.  Wilson’s Fullsteam made the semi-finalist list for the Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional Award, joining names like Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Buffalo Trace Distillery, and The Brooklyn Brewery.

Oh, the fun you can have if you’re a NASCAR driver.  

Even though he’s been a James Beard Award semi-finalist for three years in a row, Chef Aaron Vandemark of Hillsborough’s Panciuto was caught off guard last month when he learned that his name was on the list yet again. He was checking his email and received a congratulatory note, at first not realizing what it was for.  But that’s not too different from last year, Vandemark says. In 2012, he was alone in his kitchen cutting up lamb parts when he received a phone call from a writer in Raleigh who gave him the news.  “I’m always surprised by how informal it is,” he admits, referring to the fact that The James Beard Foundation does not notify its semi-finalists directly.

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