Earth

Earth: Exploring Our Planet

Frank Leibfarth

Frank Leibfarth is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. He studies how to transform chemical building blocks into plastics to provide new and useful solutions for sustainability and human health.

Daphne Klotsa

Daphne Klotsa is an assistant professor in the Department of Applied Physical Sciences within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. She studies the physics of swarms — systems that exhibit emergent collective and cooperative behavior such as flocks of birds, schools of fish, and crowds of people — in order to engineer similar systems composed of moving parts, from self-propelled nanoparticles in solution to cars in traffic.

Derrick Carr

Derrick Carr is a PhD student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. He searches for rare, compact galaxies called nuggets and strives to understand how they form and evolve.

Esteban Agudo

Esteban Agudo is a PhD student in the Department of Biology within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. He explores how temperature affects the feeding rates of organisms living on reefs and how this impacts ecosystems like the Galápagos Islands.

Johnny Randall

Johnny Randall is the director of conservation programs at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. He researches rare plant reintroduction and Venus flytrap genetics as they relate to conservation efforts.

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.