biology

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.

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.

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.

Divya Narayanan

Divya Narayanan is a junior double-majoring in neuroscience and music within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. She explores the neural connections between the auditory cortex and thalamus to understand how the brain processes and reproduces sound.

Unlocking the Genetics of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders have long been discussed in strictly psychiatric terms, but a study from the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders is reconceptualizing these illnesses. Through international genetic sampling, Cynthia Bulik, the center’s founding director, aims to puzzle out the biological factors behind eating disorders and improve the success of treatments.

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.

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.

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.