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Carolina students spent a semester along North Carolina’s coast trying to solve a real-time issue affecting one of the Cape Lookout National Seashore’s barrier islands. The students were participating in a program at the UNC Institute for the Environment’s Morehead City Field Site and worked with the National Park Service to study a series of new ponds created by over wash from Hurricane Dorian in 2019.

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Morehead City Field Site Blog


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.


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:

Previous Capstone Projects

Contact Information

For more information about the MCFS, please contact Antonio Rodriguez at (252) 726-6841 ext 140 or via email