Funding Priority

Outreach and Public Service

We will support K-12 environmental science education programs to bring current environmental science with an experiential component to educators and communitybased organizations statewide. In addition, we continue to translate science into action by connecting research with improved public policy and community well-being.

UNC Institute for the Environment

    One Drop at a Time

    Dr. Tamlin Pavelsky, associate professor of global hydrology in the department of geology, has built a career on measuring rivers and lakes. With support from NASA, he is teaming up with our Environmental Resource Program to combine his data with citizen scientists to gain a more accurate picture of water storage in lakes across North Carolina. He hopes to create a prototype citizen-science program, enlisting North Carolinians to help collect height measurements on 15 lakes in the eastern part of the state. These measurements will help discern regional water-storage variations and illustrate how water moves through the Earth’s systems. If the prototype succeeds, NASA will fund worldwide implementation.

    “By tapping into people’s interest in science all over the world, we get a lot more data that can validate assumptions,” said Kathleen Gray, director of the Environmental Resource Program. “The beauty of the citizen science model is you have many more data collectors. We are no longer limited by one researcher and what his or her team can do.”

    Bringing Science to the People

    The abundance of lakes and streams in our state makes fishing popular in North Carolina. Most fish caught are safe to eat, but some found in Triangle-area waters are polluted with dangerous chemicals.To educate the public about the potential dangers, IE’s Environmental Resource Program partnered with the UNC Superfund Research Program to launch Eat Fish, Choose Wisely ( This easy-to-use online tool is the first of its kind in the state. The website features a map of fish advisories that communicate information on health risks, such as the presence of mercury and PCBs. It also warns about threats to specific populations, such as children or women of childbearing age. This resource is one of the many ways Carolina combines research and technology to advance public health.


    More Institute for the Environment Funding Priorities

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    Experiential Education for Future Environmental Leaders

    “This generous gift allows us to invest in the next generation of leaders in the environmental realm by funding transformational professional experiences for Carolina undergraduates,” says Michael Piehler, director of the UNC Institute for the Environment.


    Taking Environmental Studies to New Heights

    “Michael Piehler’s childhood inspired him to pursue his life’s work in restoring ecosystems in need.”


    Living Shorelines

    For coastal homeowners, hurricane season is often a stressful time.


    Teachers ExPLORE NC 

    This opportunity to apply knowledge and skills in new settings, with a supportive peer network, is a large part of what makes ExPLORE NC such a robust and helpful program.


    Innovation for a Sustainable Future

    “When we think about the future, we have to think about clean technology."


    Sites Set on Education

    “I wanted an opportunity to get more hands-on experience and physical involvement in what I’m learning in a typical classroom setting."