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 scholars to reach their fullest potential they must be surrounded by peers from diverse backgrounds. The cohort’s purpose is to 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 professors. For this reason, we intentionally develop a cohort that works to face adversity and form solutions together. The four years they spend building irreplaceable relationships with each other forms innate qualities of family that last 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's 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

Sweta Karlekar, CSS 4
Major: Computer Science, with an Entrepreneurship minor
Hometown: Ashburn, VA
Research: Computer Science Algorithms in Modeling Educational Data
Bio: Growing up, I couldn’t imagine myself in anything other than STEM. My love for science and desire to help people inspired me to become involved in the Maker in Residence Executive Committee and the Outreach360 refugee mentoring program. I hope to use the resources of CSS to conduct computer science research abroad. After graduating, I aspire to obtain a Master’s Degree in Artificial Intelligence and build a start-up where I can make an impact as a woman in computer science. 
Cherrel Manley, CSS 2
Major: Biology, with a Chemistry minor
Hometown: Fayetteville, North Carolina
Research: Maternal Exposure to Environmental Toxins During Pregnancy
Bio: I am a first-generation college student who is very passionate about research and diversity in science. During my years at Carolina, I have studied abroad in Spain, met amazing people, taken interesting classes both inside and outside of my major, and earned research experience. Upon completion of my undergraduate studies, I aspire to pursue a Ph.D. in epidemiology.
Keyaira Crudup, CSS 4
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Hometown: Greensboro, North Carolina
Research: Prosthetic Technology
Bio: I am a sophomore Biomedical Engineering major here at UNC. In my free time, I volunteer with the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, and I am member of an intramural volleyball and sand volleyball team with some of my fellow cohort members. My success in math and science subjects, along with my experience working with children with disabilities, inspired me to go into a field that used these skills to help those with physical limitations. After graduation, I plan to attend graduate school where I will study prosthetic technology used in the physical rehabilitation process.
Brandon Feaster, CSS 2
Major: Biology
Hometown: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Research: Cancer Research
Bio: I am currently a senior 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. 
Samantha Pagan, CSS 3
Major: Physics, with a Math minor
Hometown: Asheville, North Carolina
Research: Neutrino Physics, with the UNC Experimental Nuclear and Particle Physics group
Bio: I study science because I get to explore the why’s and how’s of everything around me. Outside of school and the lab, I love to dance, be with friends, explore the outdoors, and try new things. On campus, I enjoy being a part of the Women in Physics Club and Blank Canvas Dance Company.  
Kwabena Amankwah, CSS 3
Major: Biology and Chemistry
Hometown: Tampa, FL
Research: Breast Cancer Research
Bio: I am a junior biology and chemistry double major here at UNC. I conduct research in Dr. Charles Perou's lab in the Lineberger Cancer Center, and I absolutely love it. Outside of academics and research, I volunteer at the UNC Children's Hospital and enjoy playing/watching soccer with friends. 

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...

Noah Legall

Noah Legall

As a senior here at UNC Chapel Hill, I am studying Quantitative Biology and Computer Science, a curriculum built around training biologists for research environments that require extra emphasis on math, computer science, and statistics...

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...

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.

Thomas Freeman, Ph.D., Executive Director

Thomas Freeman was born in Washington, DC on May 15, 1981. After moving to Durham, NC, he graduated from Hillside High School. He earned his B.S. in Biochemistry at Xavier University of Louisiana (2003) where he worked with Dr. Tarun Mandal in the College of Pharmacy to develop novel biodegradable nanoscale drug delivery systems. He earned his Ph.D. at Tulane University in Biochemistry (2010) where he worked with Dr. Bill Wimley to use bioinformatics to predict and biophysical approaches to characterize transmembrane proteins in Gram-negative bacteria. His postdoctoral training was conducted at UNC as a SPIRE (Seeding Postdoctoral Innovators in Research and Education) Scholar working with Leslie Parise in Biochemistry and Biophysics to characterize protein-protein interactions of a bizarre little calcium-binding protein called CIB1 (calcium-and-integrin binding protein 1). He also spent a year teaching biochemistry at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, NC during this time. He joined the faculty of the Chemistry Department at UNC in 2014 as a STEM Teaching Assistant Professor. In 2017, the College of Arts and Sciences selected him to serve as the Executive Director of the Chancellor’s Science Scholars.


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.


Noelle-Erin Romero, Program Coordinator

Dr. 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. Her research focused on the Drosophila melanogaster DNA repair protein Fancm. While in her Ph.D. program, Noelle was a graduate program assistant for the Initiative for Minority Excellence (IME), a participant in the Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD), and earned research fellowships and training grants through IMSD, GMB, the National Science Foundation, and The Royster Society at The Graduate School at UNC-Chapel Hill.


Ann Taylor Shaw, Recruitment & Outreach Coordinator

Ann Taylor grew up in Alabama, where she earned a BA in Communication with a double major in Public Relations and Economics from the University of Alabama in 2004. After graduation, she moved to New York City and spent six years exploring careers in strategic communications planning and investor relations before returning to the classroom and discovering her passion for higher education. Ann Taylor earned a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in program analysis and evaluation from Baruch College in 2012. Prior to joining the CSS team at Carolina, she spent five years as an undergraduate admissions counselor for the City University of New York (CUNY).

Through her work in admissions, Ann Taylor developed a strong affinity for connecting students with resources to help them achieve their goals. She is particularly enthusiastic about advocating for students from underrepresented backgrounds and is delighted to continue that work with the Chancellor’s Science Scholars. When she is not at work, Ann Taylor enjoys cheering for the Alabama Crimson Tide, exploring Chapel Hill with her husband and son, and experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen.


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. 


Faculty Advisors

Academic Advisors

Contact Us

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