Earth

Earth: Exploring Our Planet

A Leading Research Institution

University Research Week, November 4-8, is an annual celebration of Carolina’s research excellence and an effort to increase participation by students, of all levels, in research activity. Through lectures, workshops, lab tours, and more, the campus community will become more familiar with our world-class research and the strategic initiatives that make Carolina one of the top research institutions in the world.

Kate Richardson

Kate Richardson is a junior and Chancellor’s Science Scholar double-majoring in physics and computer science within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. She researches dark matter and how it might be composed of hypothetical elementary particles called axions.

Oliver Lamb

Oliver Lamb is a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Geological Sciences within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. He explores how seismology and infrasound can be used to study natural phenomena like active volcanoes.

Climate Game-Changers

For thousands of years, the northern Andes Mountains have acted as a carbon sink, preserving organic matter as thick soil. As the planet warms, what will happen to all that carbon? This past summer, Carolina undergraduates traveled to Ecuador to take a closer look.

Donald Fejfar

Don Fejfar is a junior and Morehead-Cain Scholar majoring in biostatistics within the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. He studies how disease relates to food and water quality, security, and accessibility on Isabela Island in Galápagos, Ecuador.

Old Growth, New Life

The Davie Poplar. Walter’s Pine. The Monarch of the Forest. While these natural landmarks on UNC’s campus were here long before the university was, they’ve become a prominent part of its history. But what happens if they die? A team at Carolina has an innovative solution for preserving their stories.

Puerto Rico’s Breaking Point

After Hurricane Maria swept across Puerto Rico in 2017, millions of people lost power — some for nearly a year. But the blackout wasn’t just the work of a powerful hurricane. Decades of debt, economic dependence, and bad financial deals set up the territory and its electrical company, PREPA, for failure. To get to the root of the catastrophe, UNC anthropologist Sandy Smith-Nonini and filmmaker Roque Nonini teamed up to create a documentary about the underlying forces of Puerto Rico’s energy crisis.

A Solution for Seagrass

Seagrasses are vital habitats in North Carolina coastal waters, but their numbers have dwindled over the years. A team at the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences is exploring what type of seagrass structure marine life prefer in order to best approach restoring these important aquatic environments.

Carnivorous Conservation

Native only to a 90-mile inland radius around Wilmington, the Venus flytrap is a symbol of the Atlantic coastal plain’s unique ecology — and a contender for the federal endangered species list. As wild populations suffer due to poaching and habitat loss, UNC researchers work to preserve these carnivorous wonders through genetic testing and seed banking.

Trapped on the Surface

In the past decade, the Cape Fear River has become more susceptible to algal blooms — a potential public health concern for more than 1.5 million people relying on the river as a drinking water source. UNC researcher Nathan Hall thinks droughts and slow flows are the culprit, and aims to predict when future blooms will occur.