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VGCC graduate returns to discuss high-tech research

A Vance-Granville Community College graduate returned to his alma mater on Nov. 23 to talk with students who now sit where he once did, and to update them on the exciting scientific research in which he has participated.


Kevan E. Julye, a former Henderson resident and Northern Vance High School graduate, was a Dean’s List student in the College Transfer program at VGCC and received a State Employees Credit Union Foundation Scholarship. He completed an Associate in Science degree in Aug. 2008 and then transferred his VGCC credits to Shaw University. Now a senior majoring in Chemistry at Shaw, Julye was one of three students at his university who were selected this summer to conduct chemistry/physics research through a partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. As he told a group of VGCC Science faculty and students on Nov. 23, this research involved Spintronics, an emerging technological field that studies the spin, magnetic properties, and charge of electrons. “You may never have heard of Spintronics, but actually, you’ve seen it at work in VCRs and eight-track players,” Julye said, emphasizing that the latter technology was before his time. “Now, scientists are trying to apply spintronics to computing,” he explained. Julye showed his audience pictures and described, step-by-step, how he performed his work in a lab in Chapel Hill this summer, which resulted in the construction of a tiny electronic device, on which he performed tests.


“Spintronics research like this could transform our computers into energy-efficient, less expensive, phenomenally fascinating hardware with massive memory storage, because we will be able to replace traditional transistors,” Julye said. “Since computers are in nearly every machine, including our cars, the applications are endless. This research work is ongoing. I feel this is going to lead to big breakthroughs in technology and could also lead to a cleaner planet.” This molecular spintronics research was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Center for Chemical Innovation. Overseeing Julye’s work were Dr. Frank Tsui of UNC and Dr. David Shultz of N.C. State University.


Julye is currently applying to graduate schools and would someday like to work as a college professor. “The fact that I had such great teachers at VGCC is the real reason that I’m where I am today,” Julye reflected. “Each and every one of them gave me something that I’ve taken with me and used beyond VGCC. The activities I was involved in, such as the Ecology Club, contributed as well. VGCC provided a great opportunity for me to jump-start my education. It was at VGCC where I first toyed with the idea of becoming a scientist. After starting classes at Shaw University, my decision was solidified. I was able to build on the foundation that I had from attending VGCC. Today, I am looking forward to entering graduate school at UNC-Chapel Hill and I hope to encourage like-minded minority students to traverse a similar path.”


Above: Former VGCC student Kevan Julye makes a presentation to current VGCC students and instructors in the college’s Civic Center on Nov. 23. (VGCC photo)