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Three Carolina Faculty Receive Inaugural Global Excellence Awards

May 6, 2022
UNC Global

The faculty awardees received their awards at an April 21 ceremony. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)



Three faculty members have been awarded the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs’ (OVPGA) inaugural Faculty Award for Global Excellence in recognition of their contributions to advance global partnerships, education and research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Marianne Baernholdt, Diego Riveros-Iregui and Aaron Salzberg were nominated by colleagues for demonstrating excellence in furthering the university’s global vision articulated in the 2020 strategic plan, Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good. Each awardee will receive a $5,000 award made possible through contributions to the Chancellors Global Education Fund.

Barbara Stephenson, vice provost for global affairs, presented the awards to the faculty members in a ceremony on April 21.

“With so many talented and innovative faculty at Carolina, it was difficult to narrow down our selection,” said Stephenson. “But I believe our three awardees have not only influenced how their departments approach their fields of expertise, but they have also inspired students and faculty across campus and around the world with their global approach to their respective fields.”

About the Awardees

Woman holding a glass award in the shape of a globe.
Marianne Baernholdt is the associate dean for global initiatives, interim associate dean for research and a professor at Carolina’s School of Nursing. (Photo by Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Marianne Baernholdt is associate dean for global initiatives, interim associate dean for research and a professor at Carolina’s School of Nursing. A committed teacher and mentor who has focused much of her career on training the next generation of global health leaders, Baernholdt has received several federal grants to research how quality of care is defined and what factors affect quality of care, especially in global rural areas.

This year, Baernholdt co-led a new course in which students worked on interprofessional teams and participated in a complex global case competition. The course was the first of its kind at UNC-Chapel Hill and finalists went on to compete at a case competition at Emory University.

With support structures created by Baernholdt, the School of Nursing has taught nine OVPGA-supported Collaborative Online International Learning courses, more than any other UNC-Chapel Hill professional school, through which Carolina Nursing reached more than 500 students.

In addition to her work incorporating global learning into the classroom, Baernholdt serves as the founding director of a new center, the Collaborating Center in Quality and Safety Education in Nursing and Midwifery, designated by the World Health Organization to support the development of nursing and midwifery professions worldwide.

David Steeb, former director of global engagement at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, nominated Baernholdt. “Marianne embodies the meaning and significance of global engagement at UNC and is a beacon for us to look up to in navigating the constantly evolving environment of the world,” he wrote.

Woman hands man glass award trophy
Diego Riveros-Iregui is the co-director of the Center for Galapagos Studies, Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Professor of Geography and the principal investigator for the Carbonshed Lab at Carolina. (Photo by Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Diego Riveros-Iregui is the co-director of the Center for Galapagos Studies, Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Professor of Geography and the principal investigator for the Carbonshed Lab at Carolina. His research focuses on watershed science, forest and soil processes, ecosystem ecology, and human-water-environment interactions.

Riveros-Iregui started teaching in Ecuador in 2015. After he noticed that some Carolina students could not afford research opportunities abroad, Riveros-Iregui built the International Research Experiences for Undergrads in Ecuador program as part of the education component of his National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER grant. Since the proposal’s approval in 2019, Riveros-Iregui has taken three cohorts of Carolina students to Ecuador in the summer as part of his NSF research projects, and several of these students have returned to Ecuador to conduct their own research. Riveros-Iregui’s work enhances the college research experience of underrepresented students in science and sets them up for success long after graduation.

Recently, Riveros-Iregui received a 2022-23 Fulbright Scholar Award for his continued research in Ecuador based at UNC-Chapel Hill’s strategic partner the Universidad San Francisco de Quito. He’s also received the J. Carlyle Sitterson Award for Teaching First-Year Students and the National Science Foundation Early Career Award.

Nominator Alyssa LaFaro, content manager for UNC Research, wrote “The students Diego chooses and the bonds they form with one another are incredible – and I think a lot of that can be credited to Diego— to his good instincts in picking students, to his guidance, to his patience and encouragement, and to the autonomy he gives his students to grow into the researchers they need to become.”

Woman speaks about man. She has her hand on his shoulder.
Aaron Salzberg is the director of the Water Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Don and Jennifer Holzworth Distinguished Professor in the department of environmental sciences and engineering. (Photo by Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Aaron Salzberg is the director of the Water Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Don and Jennifer Holzworth Distinguished Professor in the department of environmental sciences and engineering. He currently also serves as a member of the World Meteorological Organization’s Scientific Research Board and recently concluded his role as global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Through his leadership and decades of experience using evidence to influence policy and solve global problems, Salzberg demonstrates to Carolina students many important skills necessary to become tomorrow’s leaders in solving global challenges.

Prior to his work at the Water Institute, he led the development of the first U.S. government-wide Global Water Strategy and worked with international partners to establish global norms and practices that promoted sustainable and integrated management of water resources through the United Nations, the G7 and many other multilateral fora.

At the Water Institute, Salzberg uses good science to drive policy and practice, collecting evidence to improve service delivery and water resources management around the world. He has also been a leader for the World View Teacher Student Initiative, which provides high school educators from eastern North Carolina with a professional development opportunity to expand the depth of their global knowledge.

Charle LaMonica, director of UNC World view, nominated Salzberg due to his leadership and long-term impact within the initiative. “By connecting UNC-Chapel Hill faculty member Dr. Aaron Salzberg to high school teachers and their students, UNC illustrates its commitment to serving all students in the state, encouraging the next generation of global leaders,” LaMonica wrote.

Nominations for the 2023 Faculty Awards for Global Excellence will be accepted December 2022 – February 2023. For more information, please contact Heather Ward, associate provost for global affairs, heather.ward@unc.edu.


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