Chemistry and Creativity

Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz will succeed Dr. Karen M. Gil as the Dean of the College of Arts and Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Guskiewicz is pictured at his home in Chapel Hill on Tuesday, October 27, 2015. Guskiewicz, distinguished professor and former chair of the Department of Exercise and Sport Science, is Senior Associate Dean for the Natural Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences. He also is the founding director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center and research director for the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes. Guskiewicz is a leading expert on sport-related concussions across all levels of play, a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, and a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Academy of Kinesiology and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. (Photos ©2015 Kevin Seifert Photography | | 919-208-9458)

Kevin Guskiewicz (photo by Kevin Seifert)

I’m enjoying my first semester as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and I’m delighted that this issue is devoted to exploring how to spark creativity across the disciplines. Thinking in new ways to solve old problems has been critical to my own neuroscience research.

In this issue, you’ll read about how guest artists in our long-running Process Series share their works-in-progress and benefit from audience feedback. You’ll learn about BeAM and our makerspace network that encourages students to pick up tools and apply knowledge learned in the classroom. You’ll experience the work of two faculty in the social sciences and a student entrepreneur who thought outside the box to tackle problems of poverty, disease and child welfare. You’ll meet PlayMakers’ new producing artistic director and hear about her creative approach to her job.

Don’t miss the stories of three alumni who reinvented themselves and their careers thanks to a Carolina education that was both broad and deep.

We continue our coverage of UNC’s academic food theme with profiles of a student and three alumni who are doing creative work in the food world while giving back to their communities.

We also take you on a journey to the beautiful Galapagos to learn how UNC marine scientists are examining the impact of El Niño on the islands.

Be sure to check out additional magazine content, including videos and expanded stories, at

I concur with my colleague, UNC chemist and award-winning teacher Brian Hogan, who said this about creativity: “I am constantly dreaming up new and creative ways to connect scientific material to art, cinema or music. Describing the complex chemical reactions that take place in the cell is similar to describing how an orchestra works. I continuously strive to generate new and creative ways of improving teaching and learning.”

I hope this issue will inspire you to reflect on the value of creativity to your work.


Guskiewicz electronic sig-resized and cropped