We are the
Chancellor's Science Scholars

Serious and focused research shapes our scholars identities as scientist and provide clear paths to outstanding postgraduate programs.

We are the
Chancellor's Science Scholars

Your family, your network of peers who support and motivate you to do better. The cohort of CSS students is diverse, vibrant and will challenge you to become a better person and scientist.

We are the
Chancellor's Science Scholars

Throughout your experience with the program you will build relationships with mentors and campus partners who will continually seek you out to offer support and advice.

We are the
Chancellor's Science Scholars

The basis for your success as a scientist is your work inside the classroom. Our expectation is outstanding students who achieve excellence in every discipline, while knowing we are there every step of the way!


We believe that in order for our students to reach their fullest potential they must be surrounded by peers from diverse backgrounds. The cohorts purpose it provide a space where students can challenge one another to think differently and ask questions that foster intellectual and social growth.

We know that students learn just as much from each other as they do from their professor. That is why we are intentional in developing a cohort that works to face adversity and form solutions together. The four-years they spend building irreplaceable relationships with one another forms innate qualities of family that move with them for a lifetime.

Chancellor's Science Scholars at UNC

UNC’s Chancellors Science Scholars program began as a partnership in 2011 with UMBC’s nationally recognized Meyerhoff Scholars program and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The purpose of these relationships was to diversify and provide access to jobs in the fields of STEM.


As scientists, we know that many of the most important challenges in our nation and world need to be met by advances in science and technology. But, most importantly we recognize that with a lack of diversity in these fields there is a lack of talent.

As an organization the Chancellor Science Scholars work to bring awareness to the issues of diversity as well as provide a space where students, regardless of background, can be supported to pursue fields in STEM.


We seek to maximize student success by building a community of learners who work collaboratively to succeed academically and in research.

We also open doors for students to experience research within and outside of the university, allowing them to be an active part of the teams of scientists addressing some of our most fundamental scientific questions.

Together, our scholars are prepared to move into Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D programs after graduation, and to become part of the next generation of leaders in science and technology.

CSS Mentoring Program

Mentoring is one of the components of the Chancellor’s Science Scholars program that contributes to our overall program goals. We help Scholars develop a mentoring circle, with the student-scholar in the center, by guiding them to create a group of mentors inside and outside of UNC-CH to support their academic and career goals. Mentoring in CSS has 4 primary outcomes for Scholars, UNC faculty and graduate students, and those external to UNC who wish to support students:

  • Social Capital
  • Exposure
  • Role Modeling
  • University Commitment

CSS Mentors include faculty, graduate students, and professionals working in scientific research careers who wish to support emerging scholars in science at UNC. Faculty mentors are the cornerstone, and provide Scholars with a university based resource for academic advice, exposure, and research. Graduate students are mentors at the next immediate career stage for our scholars. Graduate students in the UNC Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity program volunteer to be mentors for CSS students and provide peer support and advice.

As Scholars go off and begin to establish a network off campus, external mentors also become a part of their circle. Whether working in industry, government, or another university, these mentors provide an additional perspective in career development. Through structured activities related to research, goals, and professional networking, CSS Mentoring Circles provide a unique and additional layer of support to Scholars.

meet our scholars

Our Scholars are diverse, passionate and committed to excellence.

Scholar Images

What Our Scholars Say

Shaily Aghera, CSS 2
Major: Biology, Spanish minor
Hometown: Fayetteville, North Carolina
Research: Oral cancer research in Dr. Amelio’s lab in the Dental School
Bio: I have always known I was interested in the sciences and I realize that more and more every day at UNC! Working in Dr. Amelio's lab teaches me so much and helps me reinforce concepts I have learned in my classes. Aside from school, I am on the committee for Relay for Life and love dancing!
Cherrel Manley, CSS 2
Major: Biology
Hometown: Fayetteville, North Carolina
Research: Quantitative Proteomics in Plants
Bio: I am a first-generation college student, who is very passionate about research and about diversity in science. I am looking forward to studying abroad, continuing to meet new people, taking more interesting classes outside of my major, and eventually, conducting my own research. Upon completion of my undergraduate studies, I aspire to attend graduate school where I will study toxicology.
Xavi Velasquez, CSS 2
Major: Biology
Hometown: Gastonia, North Carolina
Research: Molecular Biology
Bio: I am a sophomore at UNC-Chapel Hill. When I am not studying, I like to play my clarinet, run, and watch basketball with my friends!
Brandon Feaster, CSS 2
Major: Biology
Hometown: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Research: Cancer Research
Bio: I am currently a junior biology major at UNC on the pre-med track. In my past time away from school I am member of the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students, MAPS, Carolina Fever, where I attend every UNC sporting event, and I hope to play club soccer this upcoming fall.  After graduation I plan to pursue an MD degree, however I have not decided what type of medicine I want to practice just yet. 
Anna Atencio, CSS 1
Major: Geology
Hometown: New Bern, North Carolina
Research: Marsh growth rates in correspondence to adjacent oyster reefs
Bio: I grew up on the coast with a family that loves science, travel, and outdoor activities. My adventurous personality has brought me here as part of the first class of CSS where I spend my weekdays focused on school and research, and I backpack as far as a I can throughout weekends and breaks.  
Changfeng Cheng, CSS 3
Major: Chemistry
Hometown: Shijiazhuang, Hebei, China
Research: Nanodroplets/DNA extraction and organic synthesis
Bio: I am a sophomore chemistry major with a minor in mathematics. I am a part of the AXΣ chemistry fraternity, and enjoy playing basketball and running in my spare time.

Select scholar research

Whether it's getting your hands dirty in an estuary along North Carolina's Coast to find solutions to erosion or discovering how the inflammation of different proteins attribute to neurodegenerative disorders our scholars engage in research early on during their undergraduate career. Check out some of our scholars below and the work they are doing in the lab.

Diana Lopes


As a certified lifeguard and a sophomore in high school, I recognized the symptoms of a stroke while I observed that my 80-year old Cuban grandfather was having trouble folding his newspaper. Research on his condition and a restless zeal...

Kristen Gardner


DNA is the body’s building blocks; it codes for everything. But what happens when our DNA is damaged? When the code is ruined? Organisms have different ways of repairing DNA damage to protect genome integrity. A repair mechanism for single base...

Adam Kunesh


What if we could produce a material which changed color, like the skin of the chameleon or the octopus? My research into this phenomenon, called tunable color, revolves around not the chameleon or the octopus, but the Blue Morpho butterfly...

frequently asked questions

UNC's Chancellor's Science Scholars program is dedicated to expanding and diversifying America’s scientific and engineering workforce. Our approach aims to increase the likelihood of student success by setting high expectations, building community among students, and involving students in research.

The Chancellor’s Science Scholars program is not solely a financial arrangement. Scholars are a part of a program that provides intensive academic advising, a cohort of fellow Scholars, assistance with research placements, internship and graduate school applications, and other support necessary to ensure success at UNC. Scholars are required to sign a contractual agreement and must abide by program policies related to grade point average, program participation, major, and other relevant features of the program.

The Chancellor’s Science Scholars program includes a $10,000 merit scholarship per academic year for a total of eight semesters, excluding the summer sessions. The recipient must be enrolled full-time, maintain a GPA above 3.0, and have a B.S. major in a STEM as defined by the program. With a pre-approval by the Academic Advising Program, seniors who are target to graduate on time may take one “underload” semester, minimum of 6 hours. Any other arrangements must be pre-approved by the Program and the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid.

Students must intend to pursue a Ph.D. or combined M.D./Ph.D. in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and biomedical science, engineering, computer science or other related STEM disciplines.

No. CSS aims to prepare students to enter PhD or combined M.D./Ph.D. programs. The Chancellor’s Science Scholars program is not for students whose sole goal is to attend medical school, MD, DDO, DO, DVM, et cetera.

The Summer EXCELerator provides students with an accelerated entry to UNC by allowing students to become acclimated to UNC and the rigors of university level courses and testing before the semester begins. The CSS Summer EXCELerator program includes for-credit coursework in mathematics and the social sciences, training and seminars in science, analytical problem solving, group study, site visits, and social and cultural events. The unique experience of Summer EXCELerator is also important for forming the cohort bond that will assist students as they navigate their undergraduate years and beyond.

As individuals begin the process of applying to UNC we encourage students to submit their application by the Early Action deadline. This is to ensure all applicants are considered fully for the Chancellor’s Science Scholars program. We are reviewing students based on their academic performance, leadership qualities, commitment to diversity and demonstrated interest in science, as illustrated by their coursework, extracurricular activities, reference letters and essays.

In addition to the review process, all students have the opportunity to complete the Excel Survey that is listed in the UNC supplemental portion of the Common Application, we advise students who are interested in CSS to select it as one of your three preferences. Based on this information we will then reach out to students to complete two short essay questions specific to CSS. After review from our office, students will be notified along with their admissions decision if they are invited to our Selection Weekend. This weekend occurs at the end of February/beginning of March and is an opportunity for students to visit campus, learn more about our program and participate in interviews with STEM faculty and university staff. Students will be extended an offer to the Chancellor’s Science Scholars program shortly after the conclusion of Selection Weekend.

Scholars must maintain a 3.00 cumulative grade point average and working toward a major in one of the core STEM disciplines offered at UNC-Chapel Hill. Majors include: applied science/biomedical engineering, BS, biology, BS, chemistry, BS, computer science, BS, BS-MS, environmental science, BS, mathematics, BS, and physics and astronomy, BS. Students may choose to double major or complete minors in any other disciplines, as long as their primary focus remains in the sciences. Any other majors must be approved by the Program Staff.

Chancellor’s Science Scholars form a community on campus during their time in the Summer EXCELerator program. Entering in to their first year Chancellor’s Science Scholars live together in the same dorm as to ensure they are supported by one another. CSS students continue to live on campus until their junior year. In their senior year we believe that giving scholars the opportunity to live off campus prepares them for life in graduate school and beyond.

our program team

Our team is committed to the success of our scholars. We believe in the cohort, close mentoring, and whole student models that provide our scholars with the support necessary to reach their goals.

Mike Crimmins, Ph.D., Executive Director

Michael Crimmins was born in E. St. Louis, Illinois on January 3, 1954. He received his B.A. degree from Hendrix College (1976) and his Ph.D. from Duke (1980), where he worked on synthetic applications of intermolecular photochemical cycloadditions under the direction of Professor Steven W. Baldwin. He was a postdoctoral associate at the California Institute of Technology working with Professor David A. Evans from 1980-81. He joined the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1981 as Assistant Professor of Chemistry. He was subsequently promoted to Associate Professor (1988) and Professor (1993). In 2003 he was named Mary Ann Smith Distinguished Professor. He has served as Chair of the Department of Chemistry and as Senior Associate Dean for the Natural Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences and is currently the co-director of the AAU Project Site for Undergraduate STEM Teaching at UNC-CH and Executive Director of UNC’s Chancellor’s Science Scholars program.


Richard Watkins, Program Coordinator

Dr. Richard Watkins earned his PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, UNC-CH, in 2014 in Microbiology and Immunology with a specialty in Virology. Dr. Watkins’ research focused on the factors that influence disease progression towards AIDS in HIV infected patients. Prior to attending UNC-CH, Dr. Watkins earned a bachelor degree in science in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from Fayetteville State University in 2007. Dr. Watkins played varsity football for Fayetteville State University throughout his entire undergraduate experience.


Samantha DeVilbiss, Program Coordinator, First-Year Students

Dr. Samantha DeVilbiss is the Coordinator who works primarily with first year Scholars, overseeing the Summer EXCELerator experience and the peer mentoring program and assisting students in learning about themselves as scholars and gaining the skills necessary to thrive in the sciences at Carolina and beyond. Sam graduated from the University of Iowa with her BA in History and Anthropology and certifications in Museum Studies and Education as well as her MA in College Student Development. She graduated from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln with her doctorate in Educational Studies and has worked at multiple institutions of higher education in the areas of orientation, transition, retention, academic advising, peer mentoring, academic recovery, and more.


Warner Underwood, Recruitment & Outreach Coordinator

Warner was born in a small town in Eastern North Carolina where BBQ was a noun, not a verb, and a place where she quickly learned the value of education. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in English and a minor in Social Entrepreneurship and during her time as an undergrad worked for a college access non-profit in Durham as the Internship Coordinator.

Warner's love for connecting students and resources, helping students discover their best selves, flourished and led to a job in the Undergraduate Admissions Office at Carolina. Her passion for students is clear as she continues to work in the Chancellor's Science Scholars program through recruitment and day-to-day support.


Patricia Beighle, Business Administrator

Pat received an undergraduate degree in Biology from Rhode Island College and a PhD in chemistry from UNC-Chapel Hill.  After graduate school, Pat spent a year in Switzerland at L’ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne as a research fellow and then did a post-doctoral fellowship at Cal Tech.  Most of her research has been in the area of photo-induced electron transfer mechanisms. Pat then hired into DuPont and spent 20 years in various research and technical management roles, including representing research and manufacturing operations on various global business teams. After taking an early retirement, Pat worked as a consultant for a photopolymer technology business in Tennessee, serving as VP for Operations. Pat came home to UNC and for the last 5 years, has worked in Carolina Counts and provided support for the Chancellor’s Science Scholars since its inception. 


Bill Marzluff, Faculty Advisor

William Marzluff received his A.B. in Chemistry from Harvard College, his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Duke and did postdoctoral work in Biology at Johns Hopkins University. He was on the faculty at Florida State University, Chemistry Department, Biochemistry Division, from 1974-1991. He moved to UNC-Chapel Hill in 1991 as Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the School of Medicine and Professor of Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Director of the Program of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. He served as Interim Chair of the Biochemistry Department from 1994-1997 and Associate Dean for Research of the School of Medicine from 1997-2010. His research interests are in the control of gene expression in animal cells, focusing on posttranscriptional regulatory mechanisms.

Mark Peifer, Faculty Advisor

Mark Peifer grew up in Minnesota and was a first-generation college student. After graduate school at Harvard and postdoctoral work at Princeton, where he had the chance to work with future Nobel Laureate Eric Wieschaus, he began his faculty career at UNC in 1992. Mark and his lab carry out an NIH funded program to determine how the single cell fertilized egg self-assembles into an animal, a process he regards as almost miraculous. They use the fruit fly Drosophila and cultured human and mammalian cells to determine how cells choose fates and how they assemble into tissues and organs. They think these are awesome basic science questions but have also been excited to contribute to our understanding of how the proteins they study can, when they go wrong, contribute to human diseases like colon cancer.

Noelle Romero

Noelle Romero

Program Coordinator

Noelle-Erin Romero received her B.S. from Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA, in biochemistry and molecular biology. She received her Ph.D. from the curriculum of Genetics and Molecular Biology, GMB, in 2016 from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Please contact Noelle for any questions you may have about our program.

Contact Us

Chancellor's Science Scholars Program
Kenan Laboratories
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3290