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Full-time Staff

Kimberly Abels, Director, (919) 962-4426
Dr. Abels has led the student-centered, tech-savvy professional and student communities that comprise Carolina’s Writing and Learning Center for over twenty years. She collaborates with colleagues and campus partners to build Writing and Learning Center services and fosters environments where students imagine, discover, reflect, and stretch into new ideas and academic habits.

Robin Blanton, Academic Coach, Biology Specialist, (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.

Jackie Stone

Jackie Stone, Academic Coach, Math Specialist, (919) 962-9353

Jackie is passionate about working with college students, especially at UNC! She received her Master’s in Mathematics from Carolina, and has taught math classes at both UNC and NJIT. She is excited to be an academic coach at the Learning Center, where she is specializing in mathematics and facilitating the Math Plus study groups for students taking Math 130 and Math 231. In her free time Jackie likes to cook, hike, hang out with Cooper, her adorable puppy, and play board games with her husband.

Lara Edwards, Academic Coach, ADHD/LD Specialist, (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.

Marc Howlett, Assistant Director, Academic Coach, (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 Chapel Hill libraries, parks, gardens, and transportation facilities.

Robin Horton, Peer Tutoring Specialist, (919) 962-7710
Robin has several years’ experience training peer tutors at North Carolina State University and UNC-Chapel Hill. Additionally, she has worked as a writing tutor, an academic coach, and a tutor mentor at UNC-CH’s Writing and Learning Center and at the College of William & Mary, her undergraduate institution. She has also taught a variety of college-level writing and literature courses and been a program assistant for MURAP at UNC-CH, a summer program that promotes diversity in higher education. Robin received her Ph.D. in English Literature from UNC-Chapel Hill in May 2018. Her dissertation research focused on working-class poetry in nineteenth-century America. She currently lives in Chapel Hill with her husband Steven and daughter Ada.

Kristen Rademacher, Academic Coach, ADHD/LD Specialist, (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.

Ben Carpenter, Academic Coach, Chemistry Specialist

Ben is a proud alum of the UNC Chemistry Department, having earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry. While working on his degree, Ben was heavily involved with the creation and implementation of the recitation component of CHEM 101 at UNC. He now leads chemistry support at the Learning Center, and he is passionate about working with students and is excited to be running CHEMpossible, which serves CHEM 101 and 102 students at Carolina. Ben enjoys spending time with his wife and high school sweetheart, Robyn, his son Elliot, and their four (yes four…) cats. Aside from his family and degree, Ben’s proudest achievement is that he made wearing mismatched Converse his signature look!

Tommy Patterson, Academic Coach, STEM Learning Specialist

Tommy comes to the learning center by way of southern Mississippi, where he was an assistant professor of geography and a strong proponent of STEM education. He has taught students across many academic disciplines and has maintained a mission to simplify complex scientific material into easily digestible concepts. He is excited to be with the UNC-CH Learning Center and is devoted to engaging students in STEM. Tommy holds a PhD in Geography but has broad interests and research experiences in biology, statistics, and the environmental sciences. Tommy is a passionate cyclist, prefers to be outside, and will talk your ear off about pinecones.

Franny Brock, Administrative Support Specialist, (919) 962-7710
Franny provides logistical support for the staff and coaches at the Writing and Learning Center on a daily basis. As a long-time writing coach and with experience in faculty and student support, Franny is passionate about creating a welcoming and collaborative atmosphere for student success. She is also pursuing a PhD in Art History at UNC and has experience in museum education, curatorial work, and teaching. As the Admin Support Specialist, Franny will likely be the first face you see when you visit our location in SASB North.

Graduate Learning Coaches


Jacob is excited to be joining the Learning Center as a graduate learning coach! Jacob is a sixth year Ph.D. candidate in the anthropology program where he has worked as a teaching assistant and instructor for the past five years. He has many years of experience tutoring and teaching students in a variety of anthropology, biology, and social science courses. Jacob is a biological anthropologist focusing on the social and physiological aspects of biological aging. Specifically, he investigates the role of pro-and-anti-inflammatory pathways, adiposity, and societal expectations on age-related chronic degenerative conditions and physiological function in young to middle aged adults.


Jennie is excited to be joining the Learning Center as a STEM graduate learning coach specializing in Biology! She is currently a second-year graduate student earning her Master of Public Health with a concentration in Nutrition. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Food Science from Purdue University where she was a TA for public health nutrition and food microbiology courses. Since undergrad, she has worked in community engagement with a food justice nonprofit, has three years of experience managing quality and food safety in food manufacturing, and has developed food safety education resources for North Carolina extension offices. Her goal in pursuing an MPH is to work in community outreach, education, and advocacy regarding food safety and food access. Jennie is eager to start working with students to discover and achieve their academic and personal goals! As a self-proclaimed “foodie,” Jennie spends much of her free time thinking about, experimenting with/making, and eating yummy food. When not studying or working, you can find her baking with her sourdough starter, cooking, reading, traveling, or spending time with her cat and dog.


Jo is a fifth-year Ph.D student in the English and Comparative Literatures Department and is thrilled to be joining the Learning Center as a Graduate Learning Coach. Born and raised in Colorado, Jo completed her BA and her MA in English Literature at the University of Colorado at Boulder. With over a decade of teaching experience, Jo is a big proponent of the idea that learning stems from balancing all of life (both inside and outside of the classroom). She loves working with students to determine a holistic learning-plan that best suits students’ diverse needs and lifestyles. Jo loves to travel to both natural and urban settings (she’s an equal part city and country girl–don’t ask her to pick!), watercolor, and hang out with her 9-year-old malamute mix, Juno.


Meg is a Ph.D. candidate in Musicology in UNC’s Department of Music. Meg previously served as the Learning Center’s graduate student Workshops Coordinator, and she is thrilled to be returning to the Learning Center this year as a Graduate Learning Coach. Meg has five years’ experience as an instructor at UNC, where she teaches in the Music and Women and Gender Studies departments. Meg earned her B.M. in Voice & Opera Performance from Northwestern University in 2015, and received her M.A. in Musicology from UNC in 2017. Meg’s research focuses on turn-of-millennium women singer-songwriters, and is rooted in musical analysis, feminist theory, and social media ethnography. When not coaching, leading workshops, teaching, researching, or writing, you can find Meg working on her latest arts-and-crafts project, perfecting her homemade kombucha recipe, or playing with her nine-year-old rescue hound, Star.


Sarah is excited to be joining the Learning Center as a graduate learning coach with support in Math/STEM! She is a fourth year graduate student in the Department of Mathematics where she has been a teaching assistant and instructor. In addition to teaching, she has tutored many levels of math classes and worked with students in the Math Help Center. She is particularly passionate about getting to know students and helping them reach their goals both inside and outside of the classroom. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her dog, playing pickleball, and watching sports!


Taylor is excited to join the Learning Center as a STEM specialist in Physics! She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Physics from Western Kentucky University, and she is a third-year graduate student in UNC’s Physics and Astronomy Department. Taylor has been a teaching assistant for several UNC Physics courses, has many years of experience teaching, and loves to interact with students! She is interested in Optical Coherence Tomography as an imaging technique, primarily in the study of biological nanotopology. In her free time, you can find Taylor reading a good book, hiking, drinking coffee, or watching movies with her friends.



Tony is a PhD candidate in the Department of History here at UNC, studying Modern Latin America and the Caribbean with a focus on Cuba. He is originally from Florida and completed his undergraduate studies as well as an MA program at the University of North Florida majoring in History and minoring in in International Studies. He is a member of the Institute for the Study of the Americas here at UNC and has been involved in their work with the Instituto de Historia de Cuba in helping foster relations between scholars in Cuba and the U.S.. His areas of research and interest include guerrilla movements and insurgencies as well as popular social movements across the Global South. The main body of his work has focused on the Cuban Revolution and the struggle for Puerto Rican independence. Tony is really happy to be joining the team at the Learning Center and is excited to work with students.