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.

Return on Investment

  • During the 2017 fiscal year, VCR centers and institutes generated $9 in external funds for every $1 invested by the state.
  • The university must have state dollars to sustain our research centers and institutes because external funding will not pay for basic infrastructure.
  • External grants and contracts accounted for nearly 90 percent of the total budget of all VCR centers and institutes combined.
  • During the 2017 fiscal year, VCR centers and institutes attracted nearly $207 million in external funding. Research centers and institutes account for more than 20% of UNC-Chapel Hill’s external funding, which totaled $898 million in FY 2017.


Some of Carolina’s best professors are faculty members in VCR’s centers and institutes. In the past five years, UNC Centers and Institutes faculty researchers have won 43 teaching awards and national designations.

These researchers are currently teaching over 10,000 students at UNC, graduate and undergraduate, and are a vital part of the university’s primary mission. These researchers are also individually mentoring 1,800 graduate and undergraduate students. These students receive an unparalleled opportunity to engage in exciting scientific research and public service that advances their education.

Here are just a few of the ways VCR centers and institutes are helping to educate students at Carolina and beyond:


UNC Research centers and institutes provide nearly 1,400 jobs across North Carolina, including in those counties hardest hit by the loss of textile and manufacturing jobs.


VCR research centers and institutes provide a local base of knowledge and expertise that’s an invaluable resource to state government. In 2013, researchers in VCR centers and institutes:

  • Contributed over 5,000 hours* of unpaid consultation services to NC state and local government.
  • Provided more than $5.8 million* in scientific and technical expertise, infrastructure, and data to state and local government.

Researchers at centers and institutes routinely work with North Carolina schools, libraries, hospitals, and other public service providers. In 2013, UNC-Chapel Hill assisted over 175 North Carolina agencies and sub agencies through the work of VCR centers and institutes. Below is a list of some of the many agencies in North Carolina that UNC supports through the work of VCR centers and institutes.

Local Government

  • Albemarle Regional Health System 
  • Beaufort County 
  • Beaufort County Department of Health
  • Beaufort County Department of Social Services
  • Beaufort County School System
  • Bertie County 
  • Bertie County Department of Health
  • Bertie County Department of Social Services
  • Brunswick County 
  • Brunswick County Emergency Management
  • Catawba County 
  • Catawba County Emergency Management
  • Chowan County 
  • Chowan County Department of Health
  • Chowan County School System
  • Dare County 
  • Dare County Emergency Management
  • Hyde County 
  • Hyde County Department of Health
  • Hyde County Department of Social Services
  • Hyde County School System
  • Johnston County 
  • Johnston County Health Department
  • Martin County 
  • Martin County Emergency Management
  • Montgomery County 
  • Montgomery County Emergency Management
  • New Hanover County 
  • New Hanover County Emergency Management
  • Orange County 
  • Orange County Emergency Management
  • Orange County Planning Department 
  • Orange County Public Schools
  • Yadkin County 
  • Yadkin County Emergency Management

State

  • NC Department of Agriculture
  • NC State Extension
  • NC Department of Commerce 
  • Labor & Economic Analysis division
  • NC Department of Cultural Resources
  • State Library of North Carolina 
  • Department of Environment and Natural Resources
  • Division of Coastal Management
  • Division of Marine Fisheries
  • Division of Soil and Water
  • Division of Water Quality
  • Division of Water Resources
  • Division of Wildlife Resources
  • Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership
  • NC Department of Health & Human Services
  • Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) 
  • Brain Injury Advisory Council
  • Center for State Health Statistics 
  • Community and Clinical Connections for Prevention and Health
  • Division of Child Development and Early Education 
  • Division of Health Service Regulation 
  • Division of Long-Term Care 
  • Division of Medical Assistance
  • Division of Public Health 
  • Injury and Violence Prevention 
  • Office of Disability and Health 
  • Office of the Chief Medical Examiner 
  • State Center for Health Statistics 
  • Division of Social Services 
  • NC Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program 
  • NC Child and Adult Care Food Program 
  • Assistive Technology Program
  • Division of Aging and Adult Services 
  • Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse
  • Falls Prevention Coalition
  • Immunization Branch
  • Office of Rural Health and Community Care
  • State Center for Health Statistics
  • Tobacco Control Branch
  • NC Department of Administration
  • Commission of Indian Affairs
  • NC Department of Insurance
  • Office of State Fire Marshal 
  • NC Department of Labor 
  • NC Department of Transportation
  • Division of Motor Vehicles, Medical Review Section
  • Governor’s Highway Safety Program 
  • NC Department of Public Instruction 
  • Accountability Services
  • District and School Transformation
  • Educator Effectiveness 
  • Exceptional Children 
  • K-12 Curriculum and Instruction
  • Office of Early Learning
  • Race To The Top
  • Superintendent’s Leadership Council
  • NC Institute of Medicine 
  • NC Office of the Governor 
  • Race To The Top
  • NC Office of Information Technology Services 
  • NC Office of State Budget and Management
  • NC State Data Center
  • State Demographer
  • NC Department of Public Safety 
  • Division of Emergency Management
  • Alcohol Law Enforcement 
  • Governor’s Crime Commission
  • State Highway Patrol
  • NC State Education Assistance Authority (e.g., FELS Program) 
  • NC General Assembly 
  • Fiscal Research Division
  • NC Child Fatality Task Force 
  • Perinatal Health Committee
  • Task Force on Preventing Childhood Obesity
  • NC Community College System

Universities

  • NC DOCKS (data-management consortium)
  • East Carolina University
  • Brody School of Medicine
  • Department of Occupational Therapy
  • School of Dentistry
  • North Carolina State University 
  • Friday Institute for Educational Innovation 
  • Institute for Transportation Research and Education at North Carolina State University
  • NC State Climate Office
  • UNC General Administration 
  • UNC Coastal Studies Institute
  • Board of Governors
  • UNC-Chapel Hill 
  • NC AHEC Program and the regional AHECs
  • NC Child Care Health and Safety Resource Center
  • UNC-CH Children’s Hospital 
  • UNC-CH Department of Surgery
  • UNC-CH Health Sciences (various divisions, departments, and schools)
  • UNC-Charlotte 
  • College of Health & Human Services (respiratory therapy)
  • Winston-Salem State University
  • School of Health Sciences

Nonprofits

  • Action for Children
  • NC Association for the Education of Young Children
  • NC Association of Family Physicians
  • NC Brain Injury Association
  • NC Child Care Resource and Referral Council
  • NC Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve
  • NC Emergency Management Association
  • NC Healthy Start
  • NC Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
  • NC Partnership for Children
  • NC Pediatric Society
  • Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina
  • SafeKids North Carolina
  • United Way of North Carolina 2-1-1

Federal Agencies in NC

  • Fort Bragg 
  • National Climatic Data Center 
  • National Weather Service (Raleigh, Wilmington, and Morehead City offices)
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


VCR centers and institutes are conducting over 575 research and service projects in counties across all of North Carolina that help our state’s communities by:

  • Creating jobs for North Carolinians left unemployed after the loss of furniture, manufacturing, and textile jobs.
  • Making North Carolina’s roads and highways safer.
  • Preventing disease in our state.
  • Providing quality education to North Carolina’s children and adults.
  • Helping communities and local government prepare for natural disasters.

Note: Many projects are active in multiple counties.

County Active Projects
Total 577
Alamance 36
Alexander 23
Alleghany 21
Anson 22
Ashe 21
Avery 22
Beaufort 28
Bertie 28
Bladen 23
Brunswick 28
Buncombe 32
Burke 23
Cabarrus 27
Caldwell 21
Camden 25
Carteret 87
Caswell 24
Catawba 23
Chatham 34
Cherokee 23
Chowan 25
Clay 22
Cleveland 22
Columbus 24
Craven 39
Cumberland 24
Currituck 25
Dare 54
Davidson 21
Davie 21
Duplin 23
Durham 104
Edgecombe 29
Forsyth 32
Franklin 23
Gaston 24
Gates 26
Graham 23
Granville 22
Greene 23
Guilford 38
Halifax 26
Harnett 22
Haywood 23
Henderson 24
Hertford 32
Hoke 23
Hyde 28
Iredell 22
Jackson 24
Johnston 25
Jones 22
Lee 24
Lenoir 39
Lincoln 22
Macon 31
Madison 23
Martin 23
McDowell 24
Mecklenburg 29
Mitchell 24
Montgomery 21
Moore 23
Nash 24
New Hanover 38
Northampton 24
Onslow 40
Orange 391
Pamlico 38
Pasquotank 26
Pender 28
Perquimans 25
Person 26
Pitt 25
Polk 22
Randolph 24
Richmond 22
Robeson 26
Rockingham 23
Rowan 22
Rutherford 23
Sampson 27
Scotland 22
Stanly 21
Stokes 22
Surry 22
Swain 23
Transylvania 22
Tyrrell 26
Union 23
Vance 23
Wake 64
Warren 25
Washington 26
Watauga 21
Wayne 29
Wilkes 21
Wilson 26
Yadkin 21
Yancey 24


Read about recent and ongoing projects through which Carolina centers and institutes make North Carolina a safer, healthier, better place to be.

Preparing for Natural Hazards and Disasters

The impacts from hurricane storm surge can devastate North Carolina coastal areas. Without effective preparation and evacuation plans, surges can level homes and businesses, cost billions of dollars, and kill thousands of people. Computer modeling can highlight areas that are vulnerable and need protection or insurance coverage. Storm-surge modeling can also help communities plan for evacuations of vulnerable areas and at-risk populations. Researchers at the Center for the Study of Natural Hazards and Disasters are helping North Carolina better prepare for severe storms such as hurricanes and tropical storms through advanced computing technology and collaboration with local and state emergency managers.

Developed by researchers at the Center for the Study of Natural Hazards and Disasters, the ADCIRC storm surge model predicts when, where and to what extent flooding will inundate a community with greater precision than other available models. The Renaissance Computing Institute supercomputers used to create these models, machines capable of many trillions of calculations per second, give North Carolina a unique local capability to forecast potential storm impacts well before they occur. RENCI also produces complex inland-weather models, which complement the storm-surge models and help weather forecasters and emergency managers predict severe weather and dangerous conditions.

Strengthening Communities

Many North Carolina communities, especially in the inner banks and mountain regions, and in any areas formerly dependent on furniture, textiles or tobacco manufacturing, are facing difficult economic times. Robbinsville, in Graham County, is a community like this: it now has just one major employer, and a one-mile highway bypass has pushed development out of the town’s center. The Graham Revitalization Economic Action Team (GREAT) and the Robbinsville Town Council asked the UNC Institute for the Environment’s Center for Sustainable Design (CSCD) to help develop a plan to revitalize the town and transform it into an attractive area for tourists, businesses and residents. In partnership with UNC’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies and the Asheville Design Center, CSCD researchers led the resulting project, which resulted in the Reimagining Robbinsville Revitalization Plan.

Increasing Child Literacy

Educators in six counties across North Carolina have been collaborating with the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute on the Targeted Reading Intervention webcam project. The TRI project uses a literacy coach, based at UNC, who provides real-time feedback by webcam to teachers working in 15-minute one-on-one sessions with students. With UNC’s Targeted Reading Intervention, struggling readers are gaining at the same rate as their peers.

Such rapid gains are atypical for struggling readers, according to UNC researchers that developed the Targeted Reading Intervention’s webcam approach. And the TRI is also less disruptive to classrooms than other interventions. The project has the potential to place the state’s teachers among the nation’s elite in early reading instruction, and not only because of its classroom effectiveness. The intervention is inexpensive. Rather than districts covering the costs of employing a reading specialist, hiring one-on-one tutors, buying a new curriculum, or paying the travel expenses of experts to remote rural areas – a part-time UNC graduate assistant can web-coach up to 12 teachers in a school.

Advancing Industry

REACH NC (Research, Engagement and Capabilities Hub of North Carolina) is a Web portal that enables businesses, researchers, economic development groups and others to easily tap into the experts and resources available through North Carolina higher education and research institutions. REACH NC currently contains over 8,900 expert profiles representing 19 North Carolina higher education and research institutions. UNC’s Renaissance Computing Institute developed the technical infrastructure and user interface for the project. A recent evaluation of REACH NC uncovered a number of successes. A solar panel production company, which recently brought 75 manufacturing jobs and 30 management positions to a manufacturing plant in Henderson, NC, used REACH NC to learn about energy experts and resources available in the state. The company’s president continues to use REACH NC as a tool in helping to determine whether expansion to new technologies or to other areas of the state is feasible. The evaluation also found that REACH NC saves time and effort for government officials, university researchers, economic development groups, and business professionals who want to know about the state’s research activities and the range of experts available to consult on an issue, collaborate on a large research funding proposal, or assist in solving a business problem.

Read letters we’ve received about how VCR’s centers and institutes have helped the state and the people of North Carolina.

From North Carolina leaders

  • Joe Parker: “The Highway Safety Research Center was a key component of the team that introduced the “Click It or Ticket” seat belt program to North Carolina. Our model developed into a national program that has saved thousands of lives…”
  • Mack B. Pearsall: “Since RENCI’s arrival I have marveled at its great contributions to growth of the applied visualization industry in Asheville. RENCI at UNC Asheville is THE magnet drawing visualization talent to Asheville and birthing an industry…”
  • Kelly Ramsdell: “The Injury Prevention Research Center provides a service to Safe Kids North Carolina that we have been unable to find anywhere else…”
  • Thomas J. Plewes: “North Carolina is leading the way in seeking to improve delivery of community-based services to our wounded warriors, and the Odum Institute’s Citizen Soldier Support Program is an essential part of that effort…”
  • Dave Inscoe: “The quality of jobs and employees at the Institute of Marine Sciences offers an important boost in our mostly rural area…”
  • Robert Jackson: “The Institute on Aging is a successful research, teaching, and community-service entity that provides great leadership across the state…”
  • Stan Polanis: “While the research conducted and published by the Highway Safety Research Center has been helpful to transportation professional across the nation, the HSRC staff has been helpful to local and state efforts too…”
  • Tim Bradley: “The Fire and Rescue Commission would like to thank the Injury Prevention Research Center for its role in providing data as well as technical expertise while the state pursued fire-safe cigarette legislation…”

From students

  • Charles Waters: “I gained tremendous practical knowledge working in the Institute of Marine Sciences shop constructing equipment for underwater experiments and learning to operate small boats. Those summers forever changed my life, and I will always cherish them…”

From educators

  • Jeanne Huntley: “As a school system, we have reaped many rich rewards from having the Institute of Marine Sciences here. Many professionals have been willing to mentor students and encourage them to pursue similar professions after graduation…”

JOE PARKER WRITES:

“During my years as Governor’s Representative for Highway Safety and Director of Governor’s Highway Safety Program, the UNC Highway Safety Research Center was an indispensable partner in improving North Carolina’s approach to highway safety on a number of fronts.

“HSRC provided research, documents to back up its research and expert testimony that were key to bringing about almost every new initiative with which I was involved.

“HSRC was a key component of the team that introduced the “Click It or Ticket” seat belt program to North Carolina. Our model developed into a national program that has saved thousands of lives and reduced the severity of innumerable disabling injuries.

“This same teamwork with HSRC was crucial to success of our “Booze It and Lose It” program, instituting Graduated Licensing; strengthening DWI, child safety and occupant restraint statutes and defending the motorcycle helmet law.”

—Joe Parker, Former Director of the NC Governor’s Highway Safety Program, 2009

MACK B. PEARSALL WRITES:

“I have been involved in economic development initiatives in western N.C. for the last ten years. A part of that effort has been associated with seeking to obtain assistance from the UNC System in the utilization of UNC System intellectual talent to further that cause.

“An area of particular focus in recent years has been a vision for cluster development in the areas of climate change and applied visualization, capitalizing on NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center based in Asheville. In support of that vision, our community has crafted an organization known as CECI, the Centers for Environmental and Climatic Interaction, to coordinate the collective strategy in support of this cluster. The responsiveness of UNC General Administration and the University’s component entities, both locally and statewide, has been essential to these efforts which are now gaining substantial momentum. In particular, we are appreciative and proud of the leadership and collaboration exhibited among the key UNC partners at this point — UNC Asheville, the N.C. Arboretum, N.C. State University, and RENCI. Based on recent events, I would like to focus here on the contributions of RENCI.

“It has been through my economic development efforts that I became acquainted with UNC Asheville’s NEMAC through which interaction I was introduced to RENCI. As a member of Asheville Hub Alliance effort I was excitedly pleased that Asheville was chosen as the first non-RTP RENCI engagement site. Since RENCI’s arrival I have marveled at its great contributions to growth of the applied visualization industry in Asheville. RENCI at UNC Asheville is THE magnet drawing visualization talent to Asheville and birthing an industry.

“RENCI is currently taking a lead role in working between the community and National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and the U.S. Forest Service as a key player in fostering the growth of the climate services industry in WNC. As a critical part of growth of that industry, I eagerly await the relocation of the RENCI engagement site to downtown Asheville in the Grove Arcade, virtually adjacent to NCDC. At last we will have a convenient place to showcase the wonders of the decision theatre and VisWall to community decision makers and the general public. RENCI has helped put Asheville on the national climate services industry map. RENCI presence is seminal to keeping and attracting federal investments in climate services in NC.

“This is one N.C. citizen who clearly recognizes the value of RENCI’s outreach into WNC and appreciates the long-term impact that outreach will have on the welfare of Western North Carolinians. As to staff, I cannot over-sing the praises of David Knowles and his staff in terms of professionalism, effectiveness and an earnest display of abiding interest in the welfare of our community. Thanks to the UNC System and RENCI for making a lasting difference in our community.”

—Mack B. Pearsall, 4/17/2009

KELLY RAMSDELL WRITES:

“On behalf of the Safe Kids North Carolina state office, I would like to take this opportunity to extend our utmost appreciation and continued support for the efforts of the Injury Prevention Research Center. The information collected by the Center regarding risks of injury and death to children has proven invaluable. The Center provides a service to Safe Kids North Carolina that we have been unable to find anywhere else. We have used the data reports generated by the Center continuously and look forward to the next evaluation which we hope to being in 2009. The two reports that IPRC has developed for the state office have allowed coalitions across our state to tailor their programs based on the community needs assessment that you developed.”

—Kelly Ramsdell, Director, Safe Kids North Carolina, 2009

THOMAS J. PLEWES WRITES:

“The problems of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury among our returning service personnel are major concerns for our society. Although the military services are paying increased attention to screening for and treating those who have these wounds, the reactions of many—particularly those in the National Guard and Reserve forces—are delayed until after they have reentered their communities. This timely and comprehensive course brings the best of practice to the local community health care professionals who now are on the front lines in the effort to identify and treat the symptoms. North Carolina is leading the way in seeking to improve delivery of community-based services to our wounded warriors, and the Odum Institute’s Citizen Soldier Support Program is an essential part of that effort. I highly recommend it and express my appreciation to those who have developed it and those who will use it.”

—Lieutenant General (Retired) Thomas J. Plewes, Former Chief of the U.S. Army Reserve and Commander of the U.S. Army Reserve Command, 2009

DAVE INSCOE WRITES:

“The laboratories and offices of UNC’s Institute of Marine Sciences are vibrant places where the lights are on 24 hours a day. With commitment and conviction, they make a difference with high-energy people going about their business with a sense of urgency. They know their work can save and restore natural resources. It can save livelihoods. And, in the hunt for breakthroughs as new medicines from organisms are developed or precise prediction of storm surges are made in their laboratories, it can save lives.

“The Center for Competitive Economics–Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise completed a study in 2004 for the EDC which highlighted that the combined impact of the marine resources in Carteret County “rank among the most diverse, and most comprehensive of marine research complexes in the US.”

“In our quest for clean growth industries, the Carteret County Economic Development Council works collaboratively with our marine science and education resources to exploit the economic opportunities they represent. The EDC led the formation of the NC Marine Science and Education Partnership (MSEP) which has been created to advance economic development from the marine sciences enterprise within the region.

“The UNC IMS is a flagship partner in our NC Marine Science and Education Partnership.

“Additionally, they are a valuable contributor to Carteret County’s social and economic fabric. Its roughly $5 million in annual expenditures are primarily located within the county and are multiplied several times in overall economic impact.

“Recently, the EDC has expressed its confidence in the future of the marine sciences and education potential represented by UNC IMS and our MSEP members by hiring a Marine Science Coordinator to assist in its development.

“The quality of jobs and employees at the Institute offer an important boost in our mostly rural area.

“UNC IMS is key part of an industrial cluster that is important to the future of Carteret County’s and Eastern North Carolina’s economy.”

—Dave Inscoe, Executive Director, Carteret County Economic Development Council, 4/17/2009

ROBERT JACKSON WRITES:

“I am writing to express strong support for what you and your colleagues are doing at the UNC Institute on Aging. The institute is a successful research, teaching, and community-service entity that provides great leadership across the state and is a vital link helping opinion-leaders, academics, students, and advocates understand fully the huge, imminent demographic shifts and the impact our aging society will have on systems and institutions everywhere.

“I appreciate your ability to bring together diverse audiences to discuss critical issues, review important pieces of research and legislation, prepare future academicians, and be a knowledgeable resource to the state on age-related items. Your staff is a wonderful cadre of skilled and experienced researchers, program specialists, and librarians, and they represent the university and the institute with the highest levels of professionalism.

“The state of North Carolina needs the UNC Institute on Aging to assure broad and effective examination of aging issues in our world, and I offer my help in any way I can.”

—Robert Jackson, State Director, AARP North Carolina, 4/15/2009

STAN POLANIS WRITES:

“I am writing this letter to voice my support for the work done at theHighway Safety Research Center. Even though traffic fatalities and the fatality rate per hundred million vehicle miles has declined over the last year, 1,406 citizens lost their lives in North Carolina traffic crashes. This means about 4 North Carolinians per day died simply trying to get to or from work or school, running errands, or trying to go somewhere for leisure activities. On the national level, traffic crashes killed 102 people each day.

“It is important that local state and national efforts to reduce traffic deaths be grounded in science. Since its inception HSRC has brought a rigorous, multi-disciplinary approach to studying traffic crashes. Information of this nature is invaluable in formulating effective public policy.

“While the research conducted and published by HSRC has been helpful to transportation professional across the nation, the HSRC staff has been helpful to local and state efforts too. It was the HSRC that helped Winston-Salem and other cities gain access the computerized crash records they needed to implement local safety efforts. Their staff has worked with law-enforcement agencies on crash investigation and the importance of accurately completing crash reports. They have served as instructors at workshops for local and state engineers and planners and been involved in a number of other efforts that have benefited North Carolina and its municipalities.

“North Carolina is fortunate to have a world class research program to help formulate ways to reduce the human and economic costs imposed by traffic crashes. However, they are more fortunate that it is staffed by people who will also lend a hand to help solve and local safety problems.”

—Stan Polanis, Director of Transportation, City of Winston-Salem, 2009

TIM BRADLEY WRITES:

“The work of the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center is important to the citizens of North Carolina and to the southern region. The information collected and analyzed by the center regarding risks of death and injury from residential fires has proven valuable on numerous occasions to support fire and life safety educational and preventive efforts. The Fire and Rescue Commission would like to thank IPRC for its role in providing data as well as technical expertise while the state pursued fire-safe cigarette legislation. As a direct result of your ability to provide data on deaths and injuries attributed to cigarettes, we were able to convince legislators of the financial impact of cigarette-related fires and the subsequent losses of life that cannot have a dollar figure attached. Having a multidisciplinary research center in our state that focuses on pressing issues in our state and region is a tremendous asset to our own efforts to address fire and life safety.”

—Tim Bradley, Senior Deputy Commissioner, NC State Fire and Rescue Commission, Department of Insurance, 2009

CHARLES WATERS WRITES:

“UNC’s Institute of Marine Sciences was the source for much of my interest in the marine environment. I grew up in the coastal North Carolina community of Morehead City and have always been interested in the oceans and marine biology. IMS provided my first marine-related work experiences during the summer of 2004. During that summer, I worked with Prof. Peterson’s group and was exposed to a wide variety of projects, including oyster, shark, and beach renourishment research. At the end of that summer, I started as a freshman at UNC, choosing to major in biology with a focus in marine science.

“The two following summers, and throughout my sophomore year at UNC, I worked with Professors Lindquist and Martens on sponge research in North Carolina, with complimentary studies in Florida at the worlds only undersea research laboratory, Aquarius. Working with these two professors enabled me to earn my scientific SCUBA diving certification from the American Academy of Underwater Science, which is a strict requirement for conducting undersea research. I made well over 100 dives during those two summers, which I loved more than any other activity in the world. Those experiences solidified my interest in a marine science career. I also gained tremendous practical knowledge working in the IMS shop constructing equipment for underwater experiments and learning to operate small boats. Those summers forever changed my life, and I will always cherish them.

“Working side-by-side with the institute’s fabulous staff and students was one of the best experiences of my life, if not the best. In 2006, I received a prestigious NOAA Hollings Scholarship to conduct research on salmon populations and migrations in Alaska. I have continued this line of research for post-graduate work, and am very grateful to the IMS professors who wrote letters supporting my application for the scholarship. Additionally, I can 100% guarantee you that IMS has had similar life-changing effects on many of my fellow UNC students, including Dan Hoer, Ivana Vu, Gillian Smelick, Sam Perkins, Katie Baer, and Sam Harris.”

—Charles Waters, UNC Chapel Hill Class of 2008, 2009

JEANNE HUNTLEY WRITES:

“I would like to note the importance of the UNC Institute of Marine Sciencesto the economy of this nation, state, and county. The research centers that have been built on the coast where environmental issues facing us now and in the future can be strategically studied are absolutely essential. Ongoing research is our life blood to ensure that the environment we pass on to our children will be a safe and clean one. The presence of these facilities in our county have a huge impact on our economic development bringing high profile professionals and other business entities that profit from the research. As a school system, we have reaped many rich rewards from having this facility here. Many professionals have been willing to mentor students and encourage them to pursue similar professions after graduation. We understand the importance of moving our students into the science and technology fields. Having this institute in our county has enhanced the science experiences our students have been able to have in their courses of studies.

“Losing IMS or seeing its operation drastically cut back would be devastating to our economy and the enriched educational opportunities for our students. A research facility such as this is critical to our future and the issues that face us with our environment.

“I appreciate the fine work coming from your institute and look forward to the partnerships we will have in the future.”

—Jeanne Huntley, Interim Superintendent, Carteret County Schools, 4/13/2009