Earth

Earth: Exploring Our Planet

Irene Manning

Irene Manning is a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemistry within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. She develops functional materials that capture PFAS — chemicals created in the production of goods like Teflon, stain-resistant fabrics, and food packaging — and remove them from water.

Nature’s Compass

How can animals travel thousands of miles on a migratory path yet most people need to rely on GPS to get around town? UNC researcher Brian Taylor explores the ability of many animals to use the earth’s magnetic field for navigation in hopes of improving humanmade systems.

Unearthing the Planet’s History

About 2 billion years ago, the oceans were green, the land red and rocky, and only 1 percent of Earth’s atmosphere was oxygen. How did the planet become what it is today? UNC geochemist Xiao-Ming Liu collects samples of soil, rocks, and water from places like Hawaii to find the answer.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

About 71 percent of Earth is water. Of that water, 96.5 percent is oceans. So why do most air pollution and emissions studies focus on terrestrial research? An interdisciplinary team of researchers traveled to the Galápagos Islands to uncover how emissions released from the ocean impact human health and the earth.

The Life Botanic

Alan Weakley has spent his career cataloguing the plants of the Southeastern United States. Most recently, he has compiled this work into a digital guide that will aid fellow botanists and citizen scientists alike as they unearth and admire the colorful flora of the South.

Building Resilience for Storm-Battered N.C.

The record-breaking 2020 Atlantic hurricane season included 30 storms, and while North Carolina managed to dodge the 12 hurricanes that made landfall, that won’t always be the case in the future. A team of interdisciplinary researchers at UNC is combining their expertise in areas like human health, ecology, and urban planning to create a long-term holistic plan helping vulnerable communities prepare for the next generation of extreme weather events.

The Invisible Chase

Just over 100 years ago, physicists stumbled upon an elementary particle that could answer questions about the origin of the universe. Elusive and nearly massless, neutrinos may be the solution to understanding everything from the Big Bang to the inner workings of the atomic nucleus — and UNC physicist Julieta Gruszko can’t stop chasing them.

Tiny Molecules, Big Potential

North Carolina native and organic chemist Sidney Wilkerson-Hill is investigating ways to recreate the power of plants in the lab — work that could lead to advances in drug development.

Cooperation Over Competition

Flocks of birds. Schools of fish. Colonies of ants. Their strength is in numbers as they can fend off larger predators, move faster, and mate more easily. Daphne Klotsa, an applied physicist, studies how these biological swarms function in hopes to improve how humans and automated technologies navigate the world.

Research UNCovered, 2019-2020

Since Fall 2019, Research UNCovered has showcased the many faces of research at Carolina, from undergraduate students to faculty, across all disciplines. So far, the series has featured 54 researchers from 10 schools, three centers and institutes, the North Carolina Botanical Garden, and UNC's research offices.