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The Institute for the Environment’s Morehead City Field Site (MCFS) is located at the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS) in Morehead City, North Carolina. IMS is strategically located in North Carolina’s central coastal region on 6.5 acres of waterfront property on Bogue Sound. The region is rich in estuarine and wetland habitats and includes the large embayments (e.g., Core, Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds) and estuaries (e.g. Neuse and Newport) that are typical of North Carolina’s coast and tied to much of its seafood production.

Field study opportunities will take students to nearby coastal areas, with a focus on the well characterized Neuse River Estuary-Pamlico Sound system. Pamlico Sound is the second largest lagoonal estuary in the country, and the site of dynamic larval fish and invertebrate activity. It is also the site of extensive research focus on eutrophication and water quality, led by researchers at IMS. Deployment of field site boats permits the students to gain access and direct interaction with the local rivers, creeks, estuaries and coastal areas, as well as the ecologically significant Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout areas.

Students will have accommodation and dining provided at the Duke University Marine Lab on Pivers Island in Beaufort.


Currently, the MCFS is only offered during the fall semester.

Award Opportunities

Please visit the Institute’s Awards + Scholarships page for more information on these awards.


Students who enroll at the MCFS take the following courses:

  • ENEC 204: Seminar in marine issues (2 hours)
  • ENEC 395: Independent Research or Honors Thesis (3 hours)
  • ENEC 471: Human Impacts on Estuarine Processes (4 hours)
  • ENEC 448: Estuarine and Coastal Marine Ecology (4 hours)
  • ENEC 698: Capstone (3 hours)

Coursework for this field site would be suitable for students pursuing a concentration area in Ecology, Earth System Science and Environment and Health.

Students typically spend 2 days a week in classes, 1 day on field excursions, and 2 days conducting independent research projects with resident faculty, internships with local institutions or working on the capstone project.


All faculty at IMS participate in teaching and mentoring field site students at the MCFS. In particular:

Meet the Director

Previous Capstone Projects

Scientific Diving Class

An intensive 2-week scuba diving class that takes place prior to the beginning of the regular semester. Students are trained to design and execute underwater experiments. At the conclusion of the course students are certified with the American Academy of Underwater Sciences to use scuba for scientific research at universities and research institutions across the US. This class is open to students participating in any of the IE field sites.

For further information please contact Steve Broadhurst

Contact Information

For more information about the MCFS, please contact Rachel Noble at (252) 726-6841, ext.150 or email