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Environmental research at Carolina is both broad in scope and deep in application and presents an opportunity for environmental justice research that enhances our understanding of the implications of environmental exposures for socially and economically marginalized communities in our state and beyond.  Much of the environmental work conducted in both the university and state is not analyzed through an environmental justice lens; therefore, using publicly available data sets or data from completed research projects to test environmental justice hypotheses is an opportunity to efficiently develop insights into environmental justice issues throughout the state. Graduate students at UNC-Chapel Hill are often actively engaged in large research projects that span a range of disciplines, and we welcome a diverse and motivated pool of applicants to pursue those projects.

Environmental Justice Graduate Research Scholarship

The UNC Institute for the Environment (UNC IE) welcomes talented graduate students from diverse academic and personal backgrounds to apply to the Institute’s Environmental Justice Graduate Research Scholarship for the 2024-2025 academic year. Two $25,000 scholarships will be awarded to two separate applicants who can demonstrate a research plan that broadens understanding of environmental justice issues in marginalized communities in North Carolina, with research methods that could be modeled for use beyond the state. Interdisciplinary projects and collaboration with N.C. communities are encouraged.


Graduate and doctoral students who will be enrolled and registered in any UNC-Chapel Hill department or school for the 2024-2025 academic year may apply. We encourage applications from students who are low-income or first-generation. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.


Each $25,000 scholarship may be applied to graduate school tuition, student fees, books and supplies, travel, health insurance, housing, food, and other school and personal expenses. Applicants may also apply for a small stipend (up to $5,000) that can be used for any proposed community collaborator’s participation in the research project (e.g., focus group materials, room rental for meetings or workshops and travel).

Key Dates

  • February 7, 2024: Deadline for expression of interest (Proposal packet will be provided after completion)
  • March 22, 2024: Deadline for full proposal
  • April/May 2024: Applicants will be notified of proposal status
  • Summer/Fall 2024: EJ Graduate Research Scholar begins research project

Key Terms 

  • Environmental  justice (EJ) is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income in the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. Read more from the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Fair treatment  means no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental, and commercial operations or policies. Read more from the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Environmental health disparities (EHD) exist when communities exposed to a combination of poor environmental quality and social inequities have more sickness and disease than wealthier, less polluted communities. Read more from the  National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.


For more information, contact Rachel Noble at Please put “EJ Graduate Research Scholarship” in the subject line.

Funding for the Environmental Justice Graduate Research Scholarship is provided by the UNC Institute for the Environment.