Three Faculty Promoted to Associate Professor, Extension Professor

Heartfelt congratulations were extended early Tuesday morning, April 30 to Applied Ecology faculty Jie Cao, Catherine LePrevost, and Elsa Youngsteadt as their promotions were announced to the department. Cao and Youngsteadt are being promoted to associate professor with tenure. LePrevost is being promoted to extension professor. Promotions are merit-based and reflect the dedication these faculty members have for student mentorship, scientific research, technological innovation, extension, and university service.

Jie Cao,  Associate Professor

As a marine biologist, Jie Cao creates innovative, quantitative assessment models of fish and aquatic invertebrate populations. He is a scientific advisor to natural resource agencies for sustainable fishing practices locally and internationally. By addressing modern problems such as climate change, Cao ensures a brighter future for both marine ecosystems and the fishing industry. 

Cao has been at NC State for the past six years. When asked what aspect of his job he enjoys most, Cao has difficulty choosing just one but particularly enjoys conducting research, participating in extension and mentoring graduate students. “It takes a good chunk of my time to mentor students, but it’s rewarding. Hooding my first PhD student and seeing him starting a new job as a NOAA fisheries scientist gave me a great sense of accomplishment.”

Students on Cao’s research team have the unique opportunity to conduct research at the Center for Marine Sciences and Technology (CMAST). “I can see water from my office window, and it brings me inspiration and creativity in research.”

Catherine LePrevost

Catherine LePrevost, Extension Professor

Catherine LePrevost is a science educator that specializes in pesticides and environmental toxicology. She conducts much of her work in agricultural communities in pursuit of environmental justice for farmworkers. Collaborating with community health providers, LePrevost increases access to health information through technology and professional development. 

Students that work with LePrevost gain valuable qualitative research experience. Her current project is in partnership with the NC Farm Worker Health Program and East Carolina University, funded by the National Institute of Health. “We are conducting a statewide community assessment related to telehealth and digital health tools available to agricultural workers,” explains LePrevost. “Since March, we’ve talked to nearly 30 community health workers and more than 100 agricultural workers in communities across North Carolina. We have plans for listening sessions with medical providers next month. I am excited to collaborate with partners to use what we’ve learned to develop innovative structural interventions to improve agricultural workers’ access to healthcare.”  

Every hard-working faculty member needs an occasional treat from the Howling Cow, and LePrevost is no exception. Her favorite flavor? “Wolf Tracks, of course!”

Elsa Youngsteadt, Associate Professor

Elsa Youngsteadt studies the effects of anthropogenic pressures such as urbanization and climate change on plants and insects. As an entomologist and head of the Urban Ecology Lab, Youngsteadt’s research focuses on species in the order Hymenoptera, including ants and bees. Students that take Youngsteadt’s Urban Ecology course learn about the design, conservation, and maintenance of cities for the well-being of humans and other animals. Extension is an integral part of her work and she offers a wealth of information on planting pollinator gardens, constructing bee hotels, and identifying pollinators for the community. 

Having earned her PhD from NC State University in 2008, Youngsteadt returned to campus as a postdoctoral researcher in 2012 and has been with the university since. Her happy place on campus is the North Carolina State University Insect Collection. “Every time I go in there I get a dose of North Carolina history and heritage. Many of the bee specimens were collected in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s by people who were NC State faculty or state employees at the time, and you feel like you get to know them a little bit by their handwriting on the labels, where in the state they traveled to collect and what kinds of bees they brought back.”

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