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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 nearby estuaries such as Bogue, Back, and Core Sounds. This area contains iconic oyster reef, salt marsh, and seagrass habitats, which have been the subject of extensive research led by faculty at IMS over the last 75 years. Deployment of field site boats permits the students to gain access and directly interact with the local rivers, creeks, estuaries and coastal areas, as well as the ecologically significant Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout areas.

Core Banks


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

Award Opportunities

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

Students around a fire at Core Banks.


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 most suitable for students who are pursuing a degree in EMES or E3P and majoring in Earth and Marine Sciences with a concentration in Marine Biology and Ecology (EMES), Environmental Sciences (E3P), or Environmental Studies (E3P). Attending the field site and taking an additional course emphasizing global oceanic processes fulfills all requirements for the minor in Marine Sciences (EMES). In a typical week, students spend two days in classes, one day on field excursions, and two days conducting independent research projects with resident faculty, internships with local institutions or working on the capstone project.

Students in a boat.


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

Students in the marsh.

Previous Capstone Projects

Contact Information

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

Field Site Blog
Molly Bost on the coast.

“I really don’t know where I would be without the field site. Everything about my professional career has been centered around the field site and what it did for me.”
Read more.

Molly Bost ’13, ’16 (MS), ’22 (Ph.D.)

Estuarine Research Scientist | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration