North Carolina

Leave It to Beavers

As urban regions in the Southeast continue to grow and develop, harmful pollutants enter nearby waterways more frequently. UNC researchers think one of the best solutions to prevent this may be investments in the habitats of the furry neighbors already in our backyards: beavers.

Paving New Paths to Choline

UNC Nutrition Research Institute assistant professor Isis Trujillo studies choline, an essential nutrient that is critical for brain development in the womb. A former postdoctoral researcher, she now runs her own lab and is exploring choline’s impact on gene expression to uncover how maternal nutrition influences fetal brain growth.

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.

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.

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.

A History Suppressed

A dark time in our nation’s history, the period between the end of post-Civil War Reconstruction and 1950 saw thousands of African Americans murdered via lynching – predominantly in the South. Two UNC professors hope to honor these individuals by uncovering injustices that, for decades, have been systematically erased from public memory.