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Expressions of interest are due January 18, 2022.

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.

Environmental Justice Graduate Research Award

IDEA Students

Jared Richards

community engagement

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 Award for the 2022-2023 academic year. The $50,000 award will be awarded to an applicant 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 NC communities are encouraged.


Graduate and doctoral students enrolled and registered in any UNC-Chapel Hill department or school for the 2022-2023 academic year may apply. Women and underrepresented minorities are encouraged to apply. Underrepresented minorities in science and engineering are defined by the National Science Foundation as Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives (NSF, 2021). Members of these groups have representation in science and engineering degree programs and occupations that is less than their representation in the total population. (NSF, 2021)


The $50,000 award 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 that can be used for any proposed community collaborator’s participation in the research project (e.g., personnel effort, travel reimbursement, room rental for meetings, incentives for research participation, etc.).

Key Dates

  • January 18, 2022: Deadline for Expressions of Interest
  • March 4, 2022: Deadline for full proposal
  • March 22, 2022: Applicants will be notified of proposal status
  • Summer/Fall 2022: EJ Graduate Research Award 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. 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. 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. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

environmental justice


MST Well Sample

Caniah Lentz


For more information, contact Neasha Graves at Please put “EJ Graduate Research Award” in the subject line.

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

Submit Expression of Interest