In 2016, a group of North Carolina researchers published evidence of high rates of PFAS in the Cape Fear River basin. While this unregulated family of chemicals is used in the production of everyday goods, its impact on human health is largely unknown. For the past year, scientists from UNC-Chapel Hill, five other UNC system universities, and Duke University, have researched these potentially dangerous chemicals found in drinking water sources across the state.
Environmental education and research have deep roots at Carolina, but a lot has changed since the natural sciences came to campus almost 200 years ago. From the creation of a sanitary engineering department to relationships stoked by the internet, environmental study at UNC has evolved into a hotbed of research, education, and community outreach.
From the shores of New Jersey to the North Carolina coast, Pete Peterson has always loved the ocean. He's spent nearly five decades researching its marine life, fighting for its protection, and guiding the next generation of marine scientists to do the same.
Capping off a semester of hard work, students in a biological oceanography class put their lessons to the test during a two-day, hands-on field trip to the Neuse River Estuary and the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City.
After spending two months on a research expedition in Alaska last summer, UNC junior Carly Onnink, a biology major, shares her story of field-based discovery.
Most visitors return from Jordan Lake with a tan, a photograph, or maybe a unique bird feather. Ayla Gizlice collects something else entirely — chunks of clay, plastic bags, rocks, and dead fish. The UNC senior incorporates these materials into an art project addressing how human actions shape the physical environment.
While the United States and China take up roughly the same amount of land mass, China’s population is over four times that of the U.S. — and more people means more change in vegetation growth. How do these factors connect to climate change? Conghe Song explores this relationship, pursuing a project that has led to his return to his birthplace: rural China.
How do sea turtles navigate using Earth’s magnetic fields? To shed light on this incredible ability, UNC PhD student Kayla Goforth observes the orientation of their eggs — often in the middle of the night.
Allison Duprey is a sophomore majoring in environmental sciences and minoring in marine sciences within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. She uses drones to study how baleen whales spend and conserve energy when deep-diving for krill.
Tylar Watson is a junior double-majoring in computer science and women’s and gender studies, with a minor in Chinese, within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. Her research utilizes a specialized form of 3D printing called Continuous Liquid Interface Production to optimize the materials and methods for developing thin film membranes.