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Faculty Research Projects

NC WRRI funds faculty researchers across the state to address a broad range of water resources topics.

Explore Funded Faculty Projects

The table below contains a list of funded faculty projects dating back to 2018. Use the search bar to search particular topics, researchers, or key words. If a final report is available, it has been provided as a hyperlink within the title column. For a list of projects funded prior to 2018, contact John Fear ( Historically funded research and final reports from WRRI can also be found in the NC State research repository.

Project TitleLead ResearcherCo-PI(s)Year startedKey TermsIn the News
Novel Techniques to Enhance Physical and Biological Nutrient Treatment and Recovery at Rural Wastewater FacilitiesMichael R. Burchell, NC State UniversityFrançois Birgand; Praveen Kolar; Ryan Sartor2023wastewater treatment; duckweed; biochar; wetlands; rural communities; water qualityfrom NC WRRI
Microplastic Sources, Abundance, and Cycling Dynamics in Water, Sediments, and Caddisfly Larvae of a Representative Appalachian Headwater BasinJerry Miller, Western Carolina University
Jason Love, Robert Youker, Austin Gray2023K12 engagement; Haywood county; plastic pollutionfrom WCU
Probabilistic Streambank Erosion Curves for Advancing Assessment and Prediction in the Context of Climate ChangeCelso Castro-Bolinaga, NC State University2023streambank erosion; climate changefrom NC WRRI
Improved Quantification of Stormwater Dilution in Wastewater Treatment Plant Influent Using Organic Matter FluorescenceChristopher (Chris) Osburn, NC State University2023sanitary sewer overflowfrom NC WRRI
Potential Impacts of Lithium Mining on Water Quality in North CarolinaAvner Vengosh, Duke University2023water quality; green energyfrom NC WRRI
Flood Typing and Mixed Population Study
Sankar Arumugam, NC State University2023
A Citizen Science Internship Program to Quantify Racial and Economic Disparities in Lead Levels in Drinking Water Across North CarolinaCaren Cooper, NC State UniversityEmily Berglund; Valerie Ann Johnson2021citizen science; contaminants; drinking water; utilities; lead and copper; Shaw Universityfrom The Conversation
Novel Mass Spectrometry Approaches for the Identification of Pesticides and Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in North Carolina Drinking Water SourcesDetlef Knappe, NC State University (formerly Erin Baker)Catherine LePrevost2021Drinking Water; PFAS; groundwater; contaminantsfrom NC WRRI
Performance Evaluation of Novel Resins in Flow-Through Columns for PFAS removal from Drinking Water and Treated WastewaterOrlando Coronell, UNC Chapel HillFrank Albert Leibfarth2021PFAS removal; ionic fluorogel; water treatmentfrom NC WRRI
Fecal Contamination Source Tracking and Forecasting to Support Recreational and Cultural Development in the Black River WatershedAngela Harris, NC State UniversityRyan Emanuel; Daniel Obenour2021Great Coharie River; E. coli; Coharie Tribe; community engagementfrom NC WRRI
Enabling Rural Water Utilities to Create, Transfer Information and Use Digital Service Area BoundariesAshley Ward, Duke University (formerly Lauren Patterson)Lilli Watson; Kyle Onda2021BoundarySync; lead and copper; rural communities; utilities; NCRWAfrom NC WRRI
Developing a Watershed Prioritization Index to Guide Restoration Initiatives in the Upper Little Tennessee River BasinKeith Gibbs, Western Carolina UniversityDiane Styers; Thomas Martin2021water quality; land cover; sedimentation; restorationfrom NC WRRI
Internet of Water: Research and Development toward a linked data system and foundational knowledge network for the Internet of WaterMartin Doyle, Duke UniversityKyle Onda2021GIS; data infrastructurefrom Internet of Water Coalition
Heat-Activated Persulfate Regeneration of Ion Exchange Resins for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance TreatmentMei Sun, UNC Charlotte2021PFAS removal; drinking waterfrom NC WRRI
Data-Driven Analytics Tools to Support Prioritized Management of Stormwater InfrastructureNicole Barclay, UNC CharlotteMichael Smith2021stormwater infrastrucutre; asset managementfrom NC WRRI
Tertiary Anammox for Sustainable Nitrogen RemovalTarek Aziz, NC State UniversityFrancis de los Reyes2020nitrogen removal
Intensification of Anaerobic Digestion: Co-Digestion of Grease Interceptor Waste (GIW) with Thermally Hydrolyzed (TH) and non-TH BiosolidsFrancis de los Reyes, NC State University2020anaerobic digestion; wastewater utilities; biomethane production
Gaston WaterMap: A webGIS to Inform Private Well Owners in Gaston County of Groundwater QualityEric Delmelle, UNC CharlotteWenwu Tang; David Vinson; Douglas Shoemaker; Gary Silverman; Marc Serre (UNC Chapel Hill); Samantha Dye (Gaston County Department of Human Health Services)2020GIS; water qualityfrom UNC Charlotte
Understanding the FOG Deposit Adhesion Mechanism on Different Sewer Line SurfacesJoel Ducoste, NC State UniversityMohammad Ghaz2020sanitary sewer overflow; FOGs
Treatment of Algal Toxins in Drinking Water with UV/Cl2 and UV/H2O2 Advanced OxidationOlya Keen, UNC Charlotte2020drinking water; harmful algal blooms (HABs)from NC WRRI
Multidimensional Assessment of North Carolina Community Water System VulnerabilitiesMegan Mullin, Duke UniversityAmy Pickle2020community water systems; aging infrastructure; water utilities; low income communities
Assessing Controls on Nutrient Loading at the Watershed Scale Through Data-Driven ModelingDaniel Obenour, NC State UniversitySankar Arumugam; Helena Mitasova2020watershedsfrom NC WRRI
Empowering Underrepresented Citizens of Charlotte-Mechlenburg with a Voice and Role in Municipal Stormwater Program GoalsBryan Patterson, Johnson C. Smith University2020stormwater; community engagementfrom NC WRRI
Biological Condition in NC Urban Streams Phase III: Development of a Web ApplicationMichael Paul, Tetra Tech2020urban streams
Determining the Microbial Culprits of Odor/Taste Issues in City of Durham Drinking Water ReservoirsRyan Paerl, NC State University2020urban drinking water; Lake Michie; geosmin; MIB; cyanobacteria; T&O compounds
Effects of Extreme Flooding on Water Quality in Areas of Dense Food Animal ProductionJill Stewart, UNC Chapel HillMarc Serre2020flooding; water quality; public health; CAFOs; Hurricane Florence
Understanding Thermal Stratification as a Key Driver of Harmful Cyanobacteria Blooms on the Cape Fear River, NCNathan Hall, UNC Chapel Hill2019cyanobacteria; harmful algal blooms (HABs)
Treatment of Algal Toxins in Drinking Water with UV/Cl2 and UV/H2O2 Advanced OxidationOlya Keen, UNC Charlotte2019algal toxins; microcystinfrom NC WRRI
Adding Additional Model Years and Other Model Refinements to the Updated Neuse Estuary Eutrophication ModelJames Bowen, UNC Charlotte2018eutrophication; Neuse River Estuary; nitrogen loading
Improving Performance and Examining Expansion of Constructed Wetlands for Tertiary Treatment of Nitrogen from Domestic and Municipal WastewaterMichael Burchell, NC State University2018wetlands; wastewater; nitratefrom NC WRRI
Occurrence of Pesticides in North Carolina Private Drinking Water Wells and Identification of Point-of-use Treatment OptionsDetlef Knappe, NC State University2018pesticides; groundwater
Evaluating Biological Nutrient Removal for Dissolved Organic Nitrogen Quality and its Impact on Phytoplankton Bloom Dynamics in a Eutrophic, Freshwater ReservoirHans Paerl, UNC Chapel Hill2018nutrient removal; eutrophication; DON; harmful algal blooms (HABs); Jordan Lakefrom NC Sea Grant's Coastwatch
Hidden Sediment Sources: Locating and Studying Road-draining Gullies Using a Geospatial Model and Field MeasurementsDiane Styers, Western Carolina University2018sedimentation; LiDAR; GIS

Addressing Real-World needs with Community Collaborative Research Grant projects

The Community Collaborative Research Grant Program (CCRG) is an innovative funding opportunity that requires research approaches that couple local knowledge with scientific expertise. 

A woman leans against a porch railing and talks with a researcher, who is seated on the porch step.