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Research

The UNC Institute for the Environment focuses its research on four critical issues that lie at the heart of our most pressing environmental challenges. Each issue is addressed by campus-wide collaborations between an Institute center and other groups of faculty, students and staff, integrating research, education and engagement in its topic area.

These four critical areas of study focus on:

  • The sustainability of communities. This area of study is coordinated through the Institute's Center for Sustainable Community Design, focusing on the ways in which communities of the future - their buildings, transportation systems, and other aspects - must be designed to make them environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.
  • Energy and environment. This area of study is coordinated through the Institute's Center for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economic Development, focusing on understanding how the energy system of the state, nation and world will make the transition towards sustainability in the coming decades.
  • Watershed science and management. This area of study is coordinated through the Institute's Center for Watershed Science and Management, focusing on the ways in which changes in the landscape - development, conservation, engineered change, etc - affect human health and the natural services of ecosystems.
  • Environmental modeling. This area of study is coordinated through the Institute's Center for Environmental Modeling for Policy Development, focusing on the development of advanced computational and visualization tools needed to understand the relationships between environmental policies, environmental processes and key indicators of environment and health.

These four programs build on UNC's long and distinguished tradition of environmental research. You can learn about the Institute's work in these areas, as well as that of collaborating campus centers, programs, and institutes, departments and individual faculty, by visiting any of the four links above.

Faculty and fellows can utilize the Institute's Research Services to complete their research in the above topics. The Institute's affiliations with several research facilities across North Carolina bring access for faculty and fellows at those locations as well.