Vance-Chalcraft receives 2023 Harriot College Dean’s Early Career Award

East Carolina University’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences has awarded Heather Vance-Chalcraft, assistant professor of biology, the prestigious 2023 Dean’s Early Career Award.

Established in 2015 through the generosity of the Harriot College Dean’s Advancement Council, the award recognizes and rewards exceptional performance by tenure-track assistant professors. It represents the college’s breadth of faculty excellence in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and mathematics.

East Carolina University's Heather Vance-Chalcraft has been awarded the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Science's 2023 Dean’s Early Career Award.

East Carolina University’s Heather Vance-Chalcraft has been awarded the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Science’s 2023 Dean’s Early Career Award. (ECU photo)

“I am honored to receive the award and would like to thank the college advancement council for recognizing the efforts of tenure-track faculty,” Vance-Chalcraft said.

“Dr. Vance-Chalcraft is a collaborative and talented STEM educator, and I am pleased she is being recognized with this award,” said Allison S. Danell, dean of Harriot College. “She is establishing an impressive portfolio of both discipline-based scholarship and engaged research, and I am sure this success will continue well beyond this early career stage.”

Vance-Chalcraft began working at ECU in 2004 as a fixed-term teaching faculty, and in 2018, she moved into a tenure-track position.

Through her research, Vance-Chalcraft focuses on making biology more accessible and engaging by exposing students to authentic research practices, demonstrating the relevance of biology outside of the classroom, and integrating strategies to improve team competencies.

“I am currently a principal investigator (PI) or co-PI on five National Science Foundation grants that aim to increase the use of open science approaches, improve team competencies, increase the number of minority students graduating in STEM fields and going into graduate school, and increase the number of highly qualified STEM teachers for middle and high schools,” she said.

In addition, Vance-Chalcraft has served as the director of outreach for ECU’s Biodiversity Initiative. Partnering with regional organizations, the initiative strives to bring information related to biodiversity and the environment to eastern North Carolina residents.

“I am fortunate to work in a department and college with great colleagues. They help provide a supportive environment, and they regularly inspire me with the wonderful contributions they make to the university and region,” Vance-Chalcraft said. “I also find satisfaction in working with our students. They are generally appreciative of faculty efforts, and I particularly enjoy being able to encourage a student who may have been previously overlooked.”

Vance-Chalcraft was recognized for the award during a reception in April, and she will be honored at the college’s fall convocation ceremony.