The UNC Institute for the Environment focuses its research on critical issues that lie at the heart of our most pressing environmental challenges. Each issue is addressed by campus-wide collaborations between Institute faculty and essential disciplines, integrating research, education and engagement in solving the world’s pressing environmental issues and advancing the health and well-being of communities in North Carolina and around the world.

The Institute’s critical areas of study focus on:

  • Financial risk in environmental systems.  The Center on Financial Risk in Environment Systems is a newly launched partnership between UNC’s Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, a part of the Gillings School of Global Public Health, and the UNC Institute for the Environment. The center seeks to demystify the financial risks that environmental events impose on society through developing integrated models of the environmental, economic and engineered systems related to each sector to more fully understand their financial vulnerabilities.
  • Air quality modeling. This area of study is coordinated through the Institute’s Center for Environmental Modeling for Policy Development, focusing on the development of advanced computational and visualization tools needed to understand the relationships between environmental policies, environmental processes and key indicators of environment and health.

These programs build on UNC’s long and distinguished tradition of environmental research. You can learn about the Institute’s work in these areas, as well as that of collaborating campus centers, programs, and institutes, departments and individual faculty, by visiting any of the links above.

Faculty and fellows can utilize the Institute’s Research Services to complete their research in the above topics. The Institute’s affiliations with several research facilities across North Carolina bring access for faculty and fellows at those locations as well.

Latest Research News


Focus Carolina: Greg Characklis (The Well | Mar. 16)

“The purpose of the center is to help a lot of groups and businesses that experience financial risk as a result of extreme environmental events.” Dr. Greg Characklis is the Philip C. Singer Distinguished Professor in the Department of Environmental … Continued

Richard Andrew's book

Book Release: “Managing the Environment, Managing Ourselves, 3rd Edition, A History of American Environmental Policy” by Richard N. L. Andrews (’70, ’72)

In a new book to be released Mar. 17 by Yale University Press, Richard N. L. “Pete” Andrews examines the 50-year history of the modern environmental policy era against the background of the four centuries of American environmental policies that … Continued

Jordan Lake

Wake towns that drink from Jordan Lake should help pay to clean it, UNC report says (News + Observer | Dec. 23, 2019)

Towns in Wake County that take drinking water from Jordan Lake should help shoulder the costs of cleaning it up, says a new report from UNC-Chapel Hill. The recommendation to spread the costs of Jordan Lake’s clean-up was included in a … Continued


UNC scientists partner with citizen scientists to map Earth’s river obstructions

Humans have been manipulating the flow of rivers for millennia. From the earliest known dam built on the Nile by the Ancient Egyptians to modern engineering projects like the Hoover Dam, altering and controlling waterways is one of the defining … Continued