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Vice Chancellor for Research Terry Magnuson recently announced that Michael Piehler has been named director of the UNC Institute for the Environment. Piehler, an expert on the ecology and biogeochemistry of land-water interfaces and the connection between human activity and the function of natural systems, will begin the directorship July 1, 2018. David B. Peden, Andrews Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics and director of the Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology will continue to serve as IE’s interim director until Piehler begins the directorship.

Piehler currently serves as interim executive director of the UNC Coastal Studies Institute. He is a professor at the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences, holding joint appointments in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Marine Sciences and the Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Department of Environmental Science and Engineering (ESE). He also serves as director of graduate studies and admissions for the UNC Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology.

“With Mike’s appointment, the Institute for the Environment is poised to play an enhanced role as UNC’s pan-campus institute for environmental research, outreach and impact, and it will serve as an active, engaged catalyst for environmental activities at Carolina,” Magnuson said in his announcement. “His appointment represents a key step in the University’s campus-wide goal of enhancing and integrating environmental research and studies.”

Carolina has long been engaged in pan-campus planning to re-imagine the role of environmental studies, research and programs at UNC – a process that, for example, recently led the College to launch its Environment, Ecology, and Energy Program (E3P), enhancing and elevating its Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology.

Under Piehler’s leadership, IE will conduct and facilitate interdisciplinary environmental research, focus the University’s resources on significant environmental topics, and serve as a front door for environmental research, outreach, and engagement at UNC. IE will work in close partnership with environmental programs and centers across campus, such as the College’s new E3P program, the School of Public Health’s Environmental Science and Engineering Department, and the School of Medicine’s Curriculum in Toxicology and Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology. It will help integrate faculty, students, and staff in research, education, and engagement on pressing environmental issues that face communities in North Carolina and throughout the world.

Piehler received his Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Engineering from Carolina and, since 1998, has served as a faculty member at UNC’s Institute of Marine Science. His research concentrates on the ecology and biogeochemistry of land-water interfaces and is focused on understanding the connection between human activity and the function of natural systems. His work is funded by a diverse portfolio of federal, state, and regional sponsors, and he serves on a variety of scientific advisory panels for governments, non-government organizations, and industry.

Adapted from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research’s official announcement.

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