Full-time Staff

Kimberly Abels

Kimberly Abels, Director

learning_center@unc.edu, (919) 962-4426
Kim’s career has been spent fostering the creative, student-centered, tech-savvy communities that are Carolina’s Writing and Learning Center. She enjoys dynamic, interdisciplinary environments where students discuss, evaluate, imagine, discover, reflect, and stretch into new ideas and academic habits. Although she currently spends much of her time collaborating with colleagues to build Learning Center services and programs, she loves meeting with individual students and listening as they define and refine their academic selves. She’s always glad for time to travel, read, make art, and enjoy life in Durham with her husband and two college-aged daughters.

Ashton Davis

Ashton Davis, Academic Coach, Chemistry Specialist

adavis18@email.unc.edu, (919) 962-6389
Ashton’s passion is chatting with college students about chemistry, helping them to understand and even enjoy the central science. She graduated from the University of Florida with a PhD in organic chemistry. Her favorite part of working with college students is watching their confidence bloom!  Ashton is super excited to be an academic coach specializing in chemistry at UNC-CH where she facilitates the CHEMpossible learning groups. Outside of the Learning Center, Ashton enjoys baking, exercising, reading, tacos, and corgis.

Robin Blanton

Robin Blanton, Academic Coach, Biology Specialist

rcb@email.unc.edu, (919) 962-8012
Robin’s background is in biological sciences and public health. She enjoys serving students as an academic coach and counselor.  She facilitates the learning group Bio Cell that serves students in the Biology 101 course. She also assists students as they prepare for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).  She is passionate about her three amazing children and wonderful husband.

Christy Clemons

Christy Clemons, Peer Tutoring Specialist

clemons@unc.edu, (919) 843-8698
Christy loves working with Carolina students, and has done so in a number of ways since coming to Chapel Hill as a grad student in American literature. She has taught writing and literature courses in the English department, served as a tutor for student athletes, and taught GRE and LSAT courses. As the peer tutor coordinator at the Learning Center, Christy selects, trains, and supervises our drop-in and appointment tutors. When she’s not working on her dissertation, she enjoys traveling, playing tennis, and beating her husband at Scrabble.

Marc Howlett

Marc Howlett, Academic Coach, ADHD Support

mhowlett@email.unc.edu, (919) 962-7228
Marc is dedicated to working with college students, strongly believing that everyone can learn, improve, and succeed. As an Academic Coach, Marc collaborates with students to maximize their academic lives. He knows first-hand the transformative power of academic coaching, having utilized the Learning Center and Writing Center extensively as a UNC graduate student. Marc graduated from UNC in 2015 with a PhD in City & Regional Planning. When not working at the Learning Center, Marc and his family frequent Durham libraries, parks, gardens, and transportation facilities.

Bob Pleasants

Bob Pleasants, Assistant Director, Academic Coach, ADHD Support

bpleas@email.unc.edu, (919) 962-8013
Bob’s career in education has given him the opportunity to work one-on-one with students, to teach in classrooms, and to create larger educational programs. He has worked as a writing tutor; taught in communities, high schools, and at Carolina; and has developed and coordinated educational programs for a variety of audiences and ages. Bob is passionate about using education as a tool for both personal reflection and social change, and he wants to create opportunities for all students who enter Carolina to succeed. In his free time, he enjoys running, cooking, reading, and discovering new music in all genres. He is a proud resident of Durham, where he lives with his wife and two daughters.

Kristen Rademacher

Kristen Rademacher, Academic Coach, ADHD/LD Specialist

krademacher@unc.edu, (919) 843-4553
Kristen’s years in education include various roles: classroom teacher, curriculum developer, private tutor and academic coach.  She enjoys helping both undergraduate and graduate students create an overall goal-centered Tar Heel experience, as well as develop effective academic skills.  Kristen has particular interest in students with ADHD and LD, and coaches them to manage and even embrace their learning differences.  Kristen loves yoga, writing, cooking, spending time with her family, and getting to the mountains or beach when she can.

Lara Gerrard

Lara Gerrard, Academic Coach, ADHD/LD Specialist

lgerrard@email.unc.edu, (919) 962-9350
Lara is a UNC alumna who has spent much of her career doing psychoeducational evaluations and counseling with students. She has worked with students across a variety of settings including in schools, learning centers, and private clinics. Most of the students with whom she has worked have had ADHD and/or learning differences, and Lara is excited to bring her prior knowledge and experience with her into her academic coaching at UNC. Lara’s goal is to support students on their academic journey and in achieving their goals. In her spare time, she enjoys art, photography, gardening, the beach, and spending time with her 3 teenage/young adult sons.

Graduate Learning Coaches



Alicia received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Human Relations at the University of Oklahoma, and is here in Chapel Hill to earn an MPH in Maternal and Child Health. She is excited to be an academic coach and work with students at UNC to help them achieve their goals! Her professional and personal goals are to work at United Nations Women, bike the Camino de Santiago, and own a pet teacup pig.



Originally from Rhode Island, Melissa moved to North Carolina in 2015 to pursue a doctorate in School Psychology here at UNC. Broadly speaking, her clinical interests include child mental and behavioral health and parental wellness. She also has a love for research, which is great for her dual role as a Graduate Learning Coach and Research Assistant here at the Learning Center. She is looking forward to working with undergraduate students, supporting them in their endeavors, and watching them become more and more confident in themselves. In her spare time, she enjoys daydreaming about the ocean, exercising, mud runs (think Tough Mudder and Spartan races), and spending time with friends, family, and her adorable Maltese, Ziva.



Nathan moved to North Carolina in 2016 to pursue a doctorate in Religious Studies at UNC Chapel-Hill. He works primarily on the philosophy of technology and thinks about interesting things like psychedelics, parapsychology, and cognitive science. In addition to his academic interests, Nathan practices yoga and is a bodybuilding enthusiast. He lives in Durham with his amazing partner and two pugs. He is excited to work in the Learning Center because he likes to help students develop the skills they need for academic success.