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.

Time + Tenacity: The Formula for Breakthroughs in UNC Research
Time and tenacity — two essential components for successful research endeavors at UNC-Chapel Hill. With more than 200 years of research under its belt, Carolina houses an ever-growing list of discoveries and inventions, many of which span several decades.


From 1793 to Today


UNC zoologist Robert Coker (right) explains a research procedure to fellow scientists while out in the field, circa 1940s. Coker became the first director of the Institute for Fisheries Research, better known today as the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences, in 1947. Photo courtesy of the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences.

Unearthing Environmental Research

Environmental education and research have deep roots at Carolina, but a lot has changed since the natural sciences came to campus almost 200 years ago. Environmental study at UNC has evolved into a hotbed of research, education, and community outreach.

Photo Courtesy of Kenneth Brinkhous (right) began studying the first known canine carriers of hemophilia in 1947. His research with dogs led to the creation of a blood laboratory, known today as the Francis Owen Blood Research Laboratory — which led to multiple advancements in hemophilia including a blood test, treatments, and knowledge of the disease.

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

UNC began treating blood disorders in 1947 — setting the stage for major breakthroughs in hemophilia and HIV.

Carolina's keepers of the South (left to right, back row first): Bryan Giemza, Chaitra Powell, Rachel Seidman, Steve Weiss, Elizabeth Engelhardt, and Malinda Maynor Lowery. Photo by Megan May.

The South’s Time Capsule

For more than a century, UNC researchers and libraries have collected millions of southern artifacts and documents — making Carolina a hub for the study of the American South.

Pete Peterson in his lab at the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences. Photo by Jon Gardiner.

Captain of the Coast

From the shores of New Jersey to the North Carolina coast, Pete Peterson has always loved the ocean. He’s spent nearly five decades researching its marine life, fighting for its protection, and guiding the next generation of marine scientists to do the same.

In 1984, BJ Campbell — founding director of the UNC Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC) — and other HSRC researchers conducted field observations of seat belt use in Chapel Hill as part of an early incentive campaign called “Seat Belts Pay-Off.”

Hedging High Stakes and Human Behavior

How the UNC Highway Safety Research Center changed America’s driving behavior — saving lives and making our roadways safer.

Deep-Rooted Data

The Carolina Population Center is in it for the long haul. The 52-year-old institution leads data-driven studies that span decades, enriching population research across the world.

This portrait of Dean Kemble, gifted by the class of 1955, hangs in Carrington Hall in the UNC School of Nursing.

The Nursing Pioneer

We’re highlighting Elizabeth L. Kemble, founding dean of the UNC School of Nursing. After becoming dean in 1950, she recruited faculty, oversaw construction of a building and dormitories, and even handpicked the first class of students.

Captain James Lovell, a NASA astronaut who was navigator on the Apollo 8 mission and commander of Apollo 13, trained at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center in the mid-1960s.

Eyes in the Sky

From the first astronomical observatory on a college campus, to the first planetarium in the South, to one of the first administrators at NASA, UNC scientists have long been connected to and inspired by the night sky.

Elizabeth Davis spent 21 years trying to receive a correct diagnosis from doctors about her condition, which prevented her toes from uncurling, causing her to walk with crutches for the most of her life.

The Cure Code

When Fred Sanger figured out how to sequence DNA in 1975, the world changed — and so did UNC. Since its founding in 2000, the UNC Department of Genetics has grown to include 80 faculty, who have taken the world of research and medicine by storm.

Abecedarian Project co-creaters Isabelle Lewis (left) and Joseph Sparling work with an early study participant. The project, one of the world’s oldest and most oft-cited early childhood education programs, celebrates its 45th anniversary this year.

The ABCs of Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education can have benefits over the course of a lifetime — benefits made evident by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute’s Abecedarian Project researchers, who have spent the past 45 years following up with their original research subjects.

Through the Looking Glass

UNC’s computer science department laid the groundwork for 3-D computer-generated graphics and continues to push the boundaries of virtual environments today.

Alice Ammerman checks out local produce with community members at the Carrboro Farmers' Market. Photo courtesy of UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Hometown Health Hero

Alice Ammerman is a powerful force for nutrition research and community-based health promotion. By establishing relationships with community partners and making an effort to understand the context of community health, she aims to form lasting connections and accomplish real change.

Howard Odum sits in his "famous" office in the UNC Alumni Building. Much like his home office, it was covered in books and papers that he didn't allow anyone to reorganize. Photo courtesy of University Archives.

A Father for Social Science

The Odum Institute, the first social science research center in the world, has trained and supported hundreds of researchers specializing in everything from anthropology to city and regional planning to public health for the past 95 years. And it all exists thanks to the determination of one eccentric man.

Kings of Chemistry

How an unexpected discovery transformed the world and made Morehead, Venable, and Kenan household names at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The FPG Child Development Institute was founded by Nancy (left) and Hal Robinson, two UNC psychologists, in 1966.

From Turmoil to Triumph

The major political events of the 1960s set the stage for the founding of the UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, which forever changed education research and practice.