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Read the full story by Alyssa LaFaro, originally published in Endeavors; video originally published in Endeavors

UNC student Meredith Emery’s work is currently on display at the UNC Institute for the Environment.

The artist’s statement

Chapel Hill North Carolina Stream Project, 2018

Local stream sediments, decal imagery on glazed stoneware

16” x 18” each

This project was made possible through The James Boyd Gadson Fund with support from the Office of Undergraduate Research at UNC-CH.

In order to understand the upstream contributing factors causing harmful algal blooms in Jordan Lake, the State of North Carolina commissioned the UNC Chapel Hill Geography Department to conduct field research in 20 streams around Chapel Hill. Led by Diego Riveros-Iregui, Professor of Geography at UNC, the carbonshed lab at Carolina has spent the last several years analyzing the impacts of land use on nutrient loading into these headwater streams across the Jordan Lake watershed. The ultimate goal of Riveros-Iregui’s project is to devise strategies to optimize nutrient management for urban watersheds and reservoirs in rapidly urbanizing watersheds across urban-rural transitions.

UNC Studio Art major and Geography minor, Meredith Emery, joined the carbonshed team in 2018 to photographically document this research through more than 800 photos. After accompanying lab field researchers to stream sites for a semester and equipped with funding from a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Emery has taken 15 of the images, transformed them into decals, and fired them onto clay tiles containing sediments from corresponding stream sites. The ceramic imagery emphasizes erosion, channel incision, and litter ejected into streams from urban runoff and land use proximity. The works embrace the challenge of communicating scientific issues in the public sphere to catalyze social changes and positive behaviors towards our local environments.

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