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Multiple images of researchers working in the field. The first image shows two student researchers, looking at a laptop by a stream in their high boots and weighters. The second image is a close up shot of a student researcher looking at creatures in glass containers. The third image shows two professors, wearing safety glasses, about to pour liquid nitrogen. The fourth image shows a researcher in the lab. The fifth image shows a group of researchers looking at foliage in plastic bags. The sixth image shows two researchers taking images for the library archive, one is standing on a stool while the other holds books open.

Solving the most challenging problems of the day requires innovation and collaboration. Research centers and institutes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provide the infrastructure and support services necessary to help scholars and scientists produce their best work.

When they join a center or institute, faculty members typically retain their appointments in discipline-based departments, continuing to teach students and mentor graduate students. By carrying new knowledge back to their home departments, these faculty members help keep their disciplines on the cutting edge.

Research centers and institutes also help the state’s economy. Their ability to address real-world problems in a comprehensive manner attracts external funding and helps North Carolina compete for economic-development opportunities. a thriving research center or institute is a powerful force for new ideas and beneficial change.


  • Carson Miller, a Carolina graduate student in the Rodriguez lab, demonstrates for teachers how to take soil cores in the salt marsh in 2019.

    Hands-On Science

    The UNC Institute for the Environment is connecting students and teachers in Northeastern North Carolina through GET OUT in NC, a field-based geoscience program focused on the region’s unique coastal ecosystem and partnerships with nearby institutions.

  • Penny Gordon-Larsen

    Focus Carolina: Penny Gordon-Larsen

    Understanding obesity involves far more than the amount of food people consume and the level of exercise they get, says UNC nutritionist Penny Gordon-Larsen, who’s leading an interdisciplinary research team studying how environmental factors, behaviors, and genetics impact weight gain.

  • The Beaufort Wastewater Treatment Plant

    Using Wastewater to Detect, Learn More About COVID-19

    North Carolina is one of just eight states that is funneling its wastewater data to the federal government to track coronavirus. Leading the charge for N.C. is UNC marine scientist Rachel Noble, who launched a wastewater surveillance system last year to help public officials detect and understand COVID-19 in their communities.

  • Elizabeth Frankenberg

    Focus Carolina: Elizabeth Frankenberg

    Using what she learned studying the effects of the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, UNC Carolina Population Center Director Elizabeth Frankenberg is working to understand how communities in eastern North Carolina are affected by and respond to flooding events.

  • bleached corals in the Caribbean Sea

    UNC Joins Consortium to Tackle Coral Bleaching Crisis

    An international consortium of scientists, including UNC’s Karl Castillo, has created the first-ever common framework for comparing research findings on coral bleaching — a major crisis that impacts coastline protection, tourism, and the habitat of 25 percent of the world’s marine species — to help tackle the urgent issue.

  • Microbes and Environmental Shifts In The Galápagos

    In the Galápagos, the interplay between phytoplankton and bacteria influences ocean food webs and energy flow. But how do environmental shifts impact these microbes and the food webs they support?

  • Howard Odum teaching a sociology class

    A Decorated Department Turns 100

    From the nation’s oldest social science institute to world-renowned academics, the Department of Sociology has transformed UNC and the globe. The department celebrates 100 years of service through virtual events and sharing stories that honor the past.

  • Exploring How Gut Health and Anxiety Impact Child Development

    FPG Child Development Institute researcher Cathi Propper and her team are exploring the prenatal experience and the relationship between the gut microbiome and anxiety to determine whether precursors to anxiety can be seen in gut health and how that might … Continued

  • Creating Farmer-Inclusive Maps in the Galápagos

    UNC geography PhD student Francisco Laso uses drone photographs of farmland in the Galápagos to create new farmer-inclusive maps. With input from local farmers, he can categorize the land in a way that is relevant to them, not just to … Continued

  • a red SUV drives on a flooded road

    UNC Researchers Receive NSF Grant to Study Extreme Weather Events with Interdisciplinary Approach

    A new project led by Carolina Population Center Director Elizabeth Frankenberg has received a $3.5 million Growing Convergent Research Award from the National Science Foundation to develop adaptation and mitigation strategies for North Carolinians as they face future storms and flooding.

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