Earth

Earth: Exploring Our Planet

An Active Storm Season

June 1 marked the start of the 2020 hurricane season — and it’s slated to be an active one. In this Q&A, UNC researcher Rick Luettich talks about this year’s above-average hurricane forecast, the impact these storms have on inland populations, and how COVID-19 may affect vulnerable communities.

Biomechanics on the Fly

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a gliding lizard! A first-of-its-kind study by Pranav Khandelwal and Tyson Hedrick went deep into the Indian jungle to capture and analyze the biomechanics behind the death-defying glides of Draco dussumieri.

Flocking to the Coast

Professors Allen Hurlbert and Keith Sockman want their students out of the classroom as much as possible. Every other year, the UNC researchers lead an avian biology course that explores the physiology, anatomy, evolution, and behavior of birds. Throughout the semester, the class visits wildlife reserves across the state to see these lessons in the field.

The Frog Family

David and Karin Pfennig have created a home away from home in the Arizona desert. For about five weeks every summer, the couple studies spadefoot toads. Long days and nights are filled with collecting specimen, conducting experiments, and recording observations. Not only do they bring along graduate students, but also a pair of special assistants — their daughters.

Emma York Marzolf

Emma Marzolf is a conservation grower at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. She collects native seeds from wild plant populations across North Carolina and then grows and stores them for future seed restoration efforts.

Taking Research to New Heights

From surveying glacial melt to managing wildfires, there are endless ways drones can be used in research. Over winter break, UNC faculty and students completed a drone workshop ­— the first of its kind at the university — developing aeronautic expertise to apply to their research.

The Timber Chronicles

As a paleoclimatologist, Erika Wise studies climate trends from the past thousand years. Her methods of inquiry may be complicated — using microscopic crossdating and isotope analysis — but her research begins with something far more common: trees.

Megan Raisle

Megan Raisle is a senior and Morehead-Cain Scholar double-majoring in environmental studies and geography within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. She studies climate change across disciplines to uncover how to be a more effective advocate for climate action and understand why it sometimes fails.

Xiaoming Liu

Xiaoming Liu is an assistant professor of geochemistry in the Department of Geological Sciences within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. She studies old rocks to better understand Earth's elemental and isotope behavior and, ultimately, its history.

Nehemiah Stewart

Nehemiah Stewart is a junior double-majoring in chemistry and mathematics within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. His research interests include how neurons survive and die in normal and diseased situations and developing methods to combat illnesses. In addition, he is a member of UNC’s JV basketball team and symphony orchestra and recently launched a university-based ridesharing app called Vector.