Earth: Exploring Our Planet

In Sync

12,340 miles separates the North Pole from the South Pole. But many geophysicists believe the two points are connected. How has always been a mystery, but UNC geophysicist José A. Rial has a hypothesis — they actually “talk” to each other through a natural process called synchronization.

Casey Berger

Casey Berger is a PhD student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy within the UNC College of Arts and Sciences. She is a Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellow and a William Neal Reynolds Fellow within The Graduate School’s Royster Society of Fellows. She uses high-performance computing to simulate interactions between particles to understand situations that arose in the early universe — and still occur inside our atoms, stars, and special materials like superconductors.

Conserving Rare Plants: It Takes an Army

Fort Bragg, the largest military installation in North Carolina, spans 500 square miles packed with sand dunes, longleaf pines, and a handful of rare and endangered plants. To protect the vital vegetation covering training lands, the army base has partnered with the North Carolina Botanical Garden to reintroduce four species endemic to the region.

Measuring the Health of a Marsh

Carter Smith, a PhD candidate at the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences, uses underwater sonar to count fish in low-visibility environments — a good indicator for the overall health of a marsh ecosystem.

Eyes in the Sky

Ever since the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina has proudly proclaimed to be “first in flight." Less well-known is Carolina’s connection to deep space — from the first astronomical observatory on a college campus, to the first planetarium in the South, to one of the first administrators at NASA, UNC scientists have long been connected to and inspired by the night sky.

Cheng Cao

Cheng Cao is a PhD student studying geological sciences within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. Her research focuses on understanding Earth’s evolution over time, as well as the chemical processes that take place on the planet’s surface.

Rachel Willis

Rachel Willis is a professor of American studies, global studies, and economics within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. Her research focuses on how sea-level rise, drought, and increased storm severity threaten port communities, influence migration, alter global food sheds, and impact future access to work through complex water connections related to infrastructure for global freight transportation.