Five graduate students are starting new research projects that explore current water resources and coastal issues in North Carolina. These fellowships are funded by North Carolina Sea Grant and the Water Resources Research Institute of the University of North Carolina system.
The research call was designed to reach new and diverse audiences, and applicants were strongly encouraged to collaborate with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions.
“We recognized that there are groups of faculty and students, as well as communities in our state, who have been underserved and underrepresented in terms of water-related research,” notes Nicole Wilkinson, WRRI coordinator for research and outreach. “We wanted to target our funding in such a way that it created opportunities to address some of those gaps.”
The competitive funding opportunity was open to graduate students across the state. The 2017 fellows are from East Carolina University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and UNC-Greensboro. They are:
Jasmine Hayes, a master’s student in public health at the ECU Brody School of Medicine, will design a conceptual model for community resilience. In addition to her advisor at ECU, Suzanne Lea, she also is partnering with UNC-Pembroke’s Department of Nursing.
Hayes aims to develop a community-based participatory resilience approach that especially reaches out to socially vulnerable communities in eastern North Carolina. Hayes will focus specifically on areas in Pitt and Robeson counties that were affected by flooding during Hurricane Matthew.
Justine Neville is a master’s student in natural resources at NC State, and her project includes a partnership with UNC-Pembroke. Her advisor is Ryan Emanuel.
Neville will study the impacts of Hurricane Matthew on the Lumbee River Basin’s water quality. She will focus on the basin’s ability to process and retain nitrate, as this has ramifications for ecosystem health and the coastal economies that depend on that good health.
Yaewon Park is a doctoral candidate in textile engineering, chemistry and science at NC State. Park will be partnering with Durham Technical Community College for outreach. Her advisor is Ericka Ford at NC State.
The research focuses on reducing the presence of manganese contamination in North Carolina well water. Park aims to develop manganese oxide nanofiber filters as an alternative water filtering method.
Frank Stillo is a doctoral candidate in UNC-Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, and will be partnering with RTI International. His advisor is Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson at UNC-Chapel Hill.
The research focuses on private well owners in Wake County who have high rates of water contaminants. Stillo will conduct interviews to identify knowledge and perceptions about well-water use in order to design appropriate risk-communication materials for the public.
Austin Gray, a doctoral student in environmental health science at UNC-Greensboro, will study the presence of antibiotics in rural North Carolina streams and wells. His advisor is Anne Hershey.
The presence of antibiotics in drinking water and streams can have negative effects on human health and the ecosystem. This is especially a concern in the rural environment where surface water and groundwater may not be treated prior to consumption.
North Carolina Sea Grant is a federal/state partnership, with funding through National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Water Resources Research Institute of the University of North Carolina system is a federal/state partnership with funding through the U.S. Geological Survey in the U.S. Department of the Interior.