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In this image, Anne Smiley (left), a PhD candidate with UNC's Institute of Marine Sciences, and Renee Jones, an earth and environmental science teacher at Western Harnett High School, examine a tar-like, pitch substance used for various purposes throughout history such as the waterproofing of boats.

The Center for Public Engagement with Science (CPES) partners with environmental faculty across campus to translate environmental knowledge and research results into action in North Carolina communities and beyond. Through informal science education, science communication, and community engagement initiatives, the CPES enhances public understanding of current environmental science and health research and its relevance to daily life, empowering North Carolinians to make informed decisions that protect the environment and public health.

Focus Areas

CPES serves as a campus-wide resource in five key areas: community and stakeholder engagement, K-12 environmental science education, pathways into STEM, experiential education for undergraduates and community/citizen science.

Featured Project – Geo-Health Interns

Now accepting applications for summer 2024 Geoscience and Environmental Health Internships.

This free science enrichment program is for Robeson County students who will be 18 years old by June 17, 2024. Students may be recent high school graduates or entering their last year of high school or early college.

  • Connect with and learn from scientists who live and work in North Carolina
  • Engage with other high school students interested in geoscience or STEM
  • Investigate the natural world through fun field trips and hands-on activities
  • Get ready for a job, career or college degree in STEM!
Learn More
Program flyer for Geo Health Interns.

A message from the Director

Kathleen Gray

In the Center for Public Engagement with Science (CPES), we recognize that research results can be a powerful springboard for transforming thought and informing individual and collective action. For this reason, current, peer-reviewed environmental science/health research is the foundation of CPES activity. We understand that scientific research often requires translation to be accessible and useful to lay audiences, so we rely on community partners to help us identify and respond to pressing environmental issues in North Carolina (NC).

We work in nearby neighborhoods and communities across the state, from the mountains of Jackson County to the coastal waters of Pasquotank County and many places in between. We also collaborate with peers across the country on environmental health issues with a national scope. In all the locations where we are active, our impact is attributable to the focused effort of a talented team that includes university educators and scientists and dedicated community partners.

In CPES, we like to say that we are rooted in research and relevant to NC communities; and we value collaboration and inclusion. If these ideas resonate with you, we hope you will reach out!

Kathleen Gray
Director, Center for Public Engagement with Science

Latest News

Johnson and Graves working together.

The Impact of Smoking and E-Cigarette Use on Asthma (DukeUNCTTS | May 6, 2024)

IE’s Neasha Graves speaks about the impact of smoking for national Asthma + Allergy Awareness Month.

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A stormwater education intern.

EcoStudio matches Tar Heels with internships ( | Apr. 11, 2024)

Since 2018, the program has helped 466 students explore careers in environment and sustainability.

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