SOT Meet Series

The Monday Meet series features conversations with people with strong ties to  North Carolina who have compelling personal stories. Host Frank Stasio talks with a range of people about their life, work, and how the two intersect.

Aziz Sancar is a professor at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine and 2015 winner of the Nobel Prize for chemistry.
Max Englund / UNC Health Care

Aziz Sancar grew up as a farm boy in a small town in Turkey. He was a bright child and attended medical school. He returned to his hometown and practiced medicine for a few years.

But even in his daily practice, Sancar had questions about how things worked on the molecular level.

Joe Kwon is the cellist for the Avett Brothers and also runs a popular food blog based on where the band eats.
Front of House Photography

As a kid, Joe Kwon spent all of his time doing two things: practicing the cello and eating delicious food.

His family had recently immigrated to North Carolina from South Korea so his house was always filled with family and lavish Korean cooking.

Oscar Wong started Highland Brewing Company in Asheville in 1994 and passed along the business to his daughter, Leah Wong Ashburn.
Carrie Turner / Carrie Turner Photography

Leah Wong Ashburn has been around beer all her life.

Her father Oscar Wong is considered the "godfather" of craft beer culture in western North Carolina. In 1994, he founded Highland Brewing Company, the first legal brewer in Asheville since Prohibition. Today, Highland is the largest homegrown craft brewery in North Carolina.

Roland Kays is the director of the biodiversity lab at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and a professor at N.C. State University. He has an interest in the ecology and conservation of animals, particularly mammals.
Roland Kays

Roland Kays has spent his life studying the behavior and history of animals.

It started in high school when he ran the eggs of a fruit fly through an x-ray machine at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The experiment did not yield the results he wanted, but it did lead to a life as a zoologist. 

Today, Roland has a number of expeditions under his belt, including trips to Africa and South America. In 2013, he was part of the team that discovered a new relative of the raccoon, called the olinguito.

This picture was taken at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard in 2013. Jaji was rehearsing with her undergrad research partner, Cansu Colakoglu, for a lecture-recital on U.S. and British black composers.
Tony Rinaldo

Duke English professor Tsitsi Jaji remembers the noises of independence outside her window in her home country of Zimbabwe when she was 4 years old. Jaji grew up as a part of Zimbabwe's first legally integrated generation and witnessed the country's recovery from harsh colonial rule.

Melissa Radcliff is an advocate for children with incarcerate parents as the executive director of Our Children's Place.
Melissa Radcliff

More than 2.7 million children in the United States have an incarcerated parent and more than 25,000 of those children live in North Carolina. But while conversations around mass incarceration are on the rise, the stories of these children often remain invisible. 

George Gopen, professor emeritus of the practice of rhetoric at Duke University
Duke University

George Gopen thought it was a riot when he beat his college roommate in a pun contest.

"If you keep maltreating your girlfriend, she will send you a dijon letter that says poupon you."

While he loves to pun, Gopen does not take words lightly.

He has spent 45 years teaching literature, composition and rhetoric; the complexities and eloquence of the English language.

So when he heard President George W. Bush give a muddled speech in 2001, George Gopen felt compelled to write the White House.

President Richard Nixon greeting Robert and his late wife Sallie Brown in the White House
Robert Brown

In the 1960s, High Point resident Robert Brown worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. as a fundraiser. Brown has also advised several prominent American politicians, including Senators John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, and Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

Rhiannon Giddens
Michael Weintrob

For as long as she can remember, Rhiannon Giddens has been singing. Growing up in Greensboro, she sang in youth choirs, despite not knowing how to read music. But that was okay, because Giddens said she received the best kind of teaching as a child.

Emil Kang is the executive director for the arts at UNC-Chapel Hill. He wants to elevate the arts to be as big as basketball in Chapel Hill.
UNC-Chapel Hill

Emil Kang bucked expectations when he decided to pursue a career in the arts. He was the first in his family born in the United States after his parents emigrated from Korea, and he was expected to capitalize on the new opportunity by studying medicine.

Charmaine McKissick-Melton at a ceremony for Sigma Tau Delta, an English honor society.
Chi Brown / NCCU Office of University Relations

In 1963, the Durham School Board extended the desegregation of schools to elementary school students. Third-grader Charmaine McKissick-Melton and her brother, Floyd Jr., were two of the first African-Americans to integrate North Durham Elementary School.

A portrait of Deondra Rose when she was four
Deondra Rose

Deondra Rose has always been 10 steps ahead of her peers.

She took an interest in government and politics in first grade while running for student council and says that many of her most vivid memories about growing up revolve around electoral politics—like when she lost her first election in 4th grade because she refused to vote for herself.

Marco Williams is a filmmaker and film educator. Here he is filming Lloyd Knight, Marth Graham Dance company for the film Echo.
Marco Williams

Note: This is a rebroadcast from earlier this year.

Marco Williams is a filmmaker who is not afraid of telling stories that others don't want to tell. 

He has produced more than a dozen documentaries exploring race, death, violence and the American psyche. His work has earned him an Emmy, a Peabody, and a litany of other documentary awards.

Meet Robert Brown

Aug 3, 2015
Image of Brown meeting with Nelson Mandela in South Africa at his home in Johannesburg.
Robert Brown

Robert Brown is one of the most influential North Carolinians you’ve never heard of.

He had a pretty humble start in High Point, where he was born and raised. He was among the city’s first African-American police officers in the 1950s.

But he moved on quickly, first as a federal drug enforcement officer, and then as an adviser to some of the world’s most powerful people: Martin Luther King Jr., Richard Nixon, Nelson Mandela and John F. Kennedy, and that’s only part of the list.

Image of Glen Warren and his three children
Glen Warren

Glen Warren vividly remembers the first moments of single fatherhood: he was standing in the living room of his new mobile home with his three kids, and he quickly realized that he had no idea how to make them dinner. 

In the coming years he learned how to piece together meals, filed for child support, and worked multiple jobs to put food on the table. And through all of this, he became increasingly certain about one thing: fatherhood is incredibly important. 

Image of Marshall Brain, creator of howstuffworks.com and a professor at N.C. State
N.C. State University

North Carolina State University professor Marshall Brain grew up in southern California with a father who was a computer scientist at NASA during the agency's heyday.

Brain watched his father work on lunar excursion modules for the Apollo missions and later, major train systems in San Francisco and Atlanta.

In his spare time, he helped Marshall build a bubble machine out of spare parts. It was an enchanting childhood, and it is no wonder that Marshall was a curious boy who developed a love for all things mechanical. 

Image of Tommy Sowers
Duke University

Tommy Sowers served two tours in Iraq as a green beret. The Duke graduate earned a Ph.D. at the London School of Economics, and he taught at West Point and at Duke.

Sowers ran as the Democratic Party's nominee for Missouri’s 8th Congressional District in 2010 and later became an assistant secretary for the Veterans Affairs. He worked to help veterans gain access to benefits.

Profile photo of Mark Dreibelbis from the NCHSAA.
www.nchsaa.org/ / www.nchsaa.org/

For Mark Dreibelbis, not much is more exciting than the world of high school sports. From the fans to the rules, he loves every minute. As an associate commissioner with the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, Dreibelbis serves on national committees that have adopted a host of new rules in recent years aimed at keeping student athletes safe.

Image of Ramon, who helps out with a Know Your Rights training session.
Ramon Zepeda

Foreign-born farmworkers are vital to the American food system. But while most of the produce that ends up on American plates is handpicked, the day-to-day lives of people laboring in the fields still remains more or less invisible. Ramón Zepeda is a 28-year-old working to change visibility of farmworkers.He grew up in a small farming community in Jalisco, Mexico. Most of his family members have spent time in the fields, and he has devoted his life to working in solidarity with underrepresented workers.

Image of Joel Bourne
Andrew Tie / WUNC

Eastern North Carolina native Joel Bourne was living down the road from his family farm at the end of the Green Revolution in the mid-20th century.

At that time, newly modified wheat seeds produced an agricultural boom that allowed farmers across the world to grow more crops than ever before. It was the answer to a growing crisis of food scarcity.

Image of John Heinemeier
York Wilson for Faith & Leadership

The Rev. John Heinemeier says ministers should be agitators. In fact, he calls Jesus an agitator.

Rev. Heinemeier spent more than five decades stirring things up and serving congregants in inner-city New York, Boston and Baltimore. He helped integrate churches in the 60s and 70s, bringing together Latino and African-American congregations. He also worked to develop the Nehemiah strategy for housing. He now serves as an Episcopal Minister in Oxford, N.C. 

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) talks with WUNC's Frank Stasio
Andrew Tie / WUNC

U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) quickly ascended from a seat on the parks and recreation commission in Cornelius, N.C., to speaker of the North Carolina House in 2011, and finally U.S. Senator.

In his first five months, Tillis has taken a particular interest in the military with seats in the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Tillis about national security, deregulation, immigration and other issues in Washington.

National Security

Image of Chapman in Shanghai with Professor Meihua Zhu, on the left, a former visiting scholar at UNC.
Mimi Chapman

The power of art is not lost on Mimi Chapman. She is a professor at the UNC School of Social Work who believes that art can have a profound impact on people’s ability to empathize. She also studies how art can help illuminate conscious and unconscious biases and affect how people treat one another.

Image of Duke Professor Missy Cummings, drone advocate and expert.
Missy Cummings

This is a rebroadcast from November 3, 2014. To visit the original post click here.

  

Although the word drone may at first evoke an image of a stealth killing machine, the work of Mary 'Missy' Cummings proves drones are much more than that initial thought. 

The Man Who Touched His Own Heart, is a history of science and medical efforts to understand the heart.
Little, Brown & Co/2015

Biologist, writer and professor Rob Dunn was not always going to be a scientist, but he was probably born to be one. 

UNC-Chapel Hill

In 1972, Frances Campbell was a mother of two, simply looking for a part-time job in Chapel Hill, when she stumbled upon what would be a groundbreaking study on early childhood education.

Researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill asked her to examine the benefits of early education on children from poor families. They called it the Abecedarian Project.

(Read a 1974 booklet that describes the project here.)

Meet Al Buehler

May 4, 2015
Members of the men's track team pose with Coach Al Buehler.
Duke University Archives. Durham, North Carolina, USA.

Today's show is a rebroadcast of an interview with Duke University coach Al Buehler.

Meet TROSA Founder Kevin McDonald

Apr 20, 2015
Kevin McDonald is the founder of TROSA.
trosainc.org

Throughout his youth, Kevin McDonald was searching for a sense of belonging.

His father was in the U.S. Air Force, which meant his family moved a lot during McDonald’s childhood. Wherever they moved, McDonald felt severe anxiety in his constantly changing social situation. 

His life in the home came with another set of challenges.

"My mother was very, very abusive. Physically and emotionally," he told host Frank Stasio on WUNC’s The State of Things.

Cynthia Bulik

Cynthia Bulik grew up as a lover of international language and culture. She was the first in her family to leave the dry cleaning business and go to college, and she was determined to study diplomacy and international relations. But when she was required to take a psychology class her freshman year at The University of Notre Dame, it changed the course of her life.

Patrik Henry Bass is from Laurinburg, North Carolina and now he's the editorial projects director for Essence Magazine.
http://www.essence.com/

Patrik Henry Bass has spent the last 49 years searching for the extraordinary moments in life. 

As a child he found those moments in the books he devoured at the library—the stories he read carried him far beyond his hometown of Laurinburg, North Carolina. His love of literature led him to a career in journalism. Today he's an award winning writer and the editorial projects director of Essence Magazine.Host Frank Stasio talks with Bass about his life journey and the many careers that led him to his dream job in New York City as a curator in the literary world. 

Pages