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Full-time Staff

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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.

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Ben Carpenter, Academic Coach, Chemistry Specialist, (919) 966-2143

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!

Donovan Wright, Administrative Support Specialist, (919) 962-7710

Donovan provides logistical support to Writing and Learning Center coaches and staff on a daily basis. As the Administrative Support Specialist, Donovan will likely be the first face you see when you visit our location in SASB North. He is passionate about creating a welcoming and collaborative atmosphere for student success. Donovan comes to us from NC State but is excited to be a Tar Heel.


Isaac Raj Waldstein, Academic Coach, Math-Physics Specialist, (919) 843-6532

Isaac is an alum of the UNC Physics Department, where he earned his Ph.D. in physics. His dissertation was in two parts: Cosmology (focusing on dark matter in the early Universe) and gravitational physics (the mathematical description of gravity according to Albert Einstein’s theory of General Relativity). After defending, Isaac spent a wonderful year working at Duke and now he’s thrilled to be back at Carolina leading math and physics support at The Learning Center. He is excited to be running Math Plus, serving MATH 231 students, and Vectorious, which he created as a graduate student, serving PHYS 114/118 students. Isaac believes that math and physics are for everyone, and he enjoys helping students cultivate that belief within themselves. Away from the office, you can find Isaac at the beach or restaurant-hopping, watching basketball, exercising, spending time with his loved ones, and eating Ube-flavored ice cream until his mouth turns purple.

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John Gill, Academic Coaching Specialist, (919) 962-7710

Before joining the Learning Center, John was a professor of German Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University, where he taught German language, culture, and literature classes. He also completed his undergraduate studies at UNC in 2009, and received his Ph.D. from the Carolina-Duke Graduate Program in German Studies in 2020. He is excited to help students create and navigate their own unique path to success, and above all is just eager to support students in any way he can! In his free time, John enjoys doing long bike rides in the woods, or cruising around Carrboro and Chapel Hill on his cargo bike with his partner and their daughter.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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, daughter Ada, and son Graham.

Robin Thady, Academic Coach, Biology Specialist, (919) 962-7710

Robin is a Virginia native and an alumna of William & Mary, where she studied biology and environmental science during undergrad and focused her master’s thesis on wildlife conservation (specifically birds!). She loves working with students and has previous roles as a high school science teacher in Atlanta and as a biology lab TA at William & Mary. She is enthusiastic about helping students find ways to connect with the material they learn in class and explore their interests. Outside of work, you might find her making a mess in the kitchen while baking, tackling a new sewing project, wandering in a thrift store, or hanging out with her cat, Maple.

Graduate Learning Coaches


Jonathan is excited to be joining the Learning Center as a Graduate Learning Coach. He is from Raleigh, NC, and graduated from UNC in 2018. He is a student in the UNC School of Medicine and is currently pursuing his MPH at Gillings in the Population Health for Clinicians Concentration. After graduating from both programs, he will become “Thrice-a-Tar Heel”, and he will continue seeking growth opportunities and meaningful ways to serve others. He is eager to start working with students and will provide support and motivation as students work to achieve their academic and personal goals. When not coaching or studying, Jonathan is probably with his fiancée, but if he is not, he is probably with his family, working out, watching basketball, eating good food, or sleeping.


Sami is a second year graduate student pursuing her Masters in Healthcare Administration and is excited to be a Graduate Learning Coach with the Learning Center. Sami’s hometown is Jamshedpur, India and she attained her Bachelors in Health Sciences at University of South Florida (USF), Tampa. She has over a year’s experience in tutoring undergraduate students on general chemistry and being a Peer Leader at International office at USF. Sami spent her summer interning at Norton healthcare in Kentucky before starting her second year in Graduate school. In her spare time, Sami can be found swimming, exploring new Boba cafés and watching Marvel movies.


Sarah is a PhD candidate in the Department of American Studies. Originally from the Gulf Coast, she researches how communities in that region memorialize hurricanes and conceptualize disaster. Prior to becoming a Graduate Learning Coach, Sarah served as a Southern Oral History Program Field Scholar and a graduate teaching assistant. She loves learning about people’s lives and experiences and supporting students as they navigate both challenges and achievements. Outside of work and research, Sarah enjoys crafting elaborate cardboard box Halloween costumes, reading horror novels, doting on her friends’ pets, and taking trips home to spend time with family.

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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.

Peer Tutoring Graduate Assistants


Gracie is a PhD candidate in Anthropology, studying the archaeology and ethnohistory of the Natchez polity in Southwest Mississippi through the period of European colonization. Her research explores material expressions of identity in multicultural communities. She has worked with the Learning Center since the fall of 2020 and is excited to be back as a Peer Tutoring Graduate Assistant again this year! The Peer Tutors at UNC are the best, brightest, and most conscientious students on campus and it is such a treat to work with them. When she’s not in SASBN or Dey Hall with the tutors, Gracie enjoys teaching fitness classes, getting outside for long hikes in cool places, and cooking overly complicated meals with her partner.











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 Peer Tutoring Graduate Assistant. 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.