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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a long and distinguished tradition in environmental research, dating back nearly 200 years.

In 1817 Denison Olmsted joined the University faculty as professor of chemistry, mineralogy and geology. The following year, Elisha Mitchell joined UNC as professor of mathematics and natural history. Both men were from the Northeast and deeply curious about the environment that surrounded them in North Carolina. They traveled throughout the state with their students, surveying and exploring North Carolina's natural areas.

Olmsted published his survey results in two historic reports to the General Assembly before leaving to take a professorship at his alma mater, Yale University, in 1825. Mitchell, who spent the rest of his career at UNC, prepared field manuals for his students and published widely in scientific journals. In 1857 he fell to his death while confirming his earlier determination that the highest mountain east of the Mississippi was in North Carolina. That mountain was later named Mount Mitchell.

The scope of environmental research at Carolina has expanded considerably over time. So has the number and diversity of those involved. Today the College of Arts and Sciences and the Schools of Business, Government, Journalism and Mass Communication, Law, Medicine and Public Health all include Environmental Units at Carolina, research teams and Environmental Faculty at Carolina that focus on environmental issues and problems. Some — like Olmsted and Mitchell — investigate the properties of natural systems. Others study varied aspects of the dynamic relationship between those systems and human activity.

Several units are highly ranked and contain a number of nationally recognized scholars. Among them are the Departments of Environmental Sciences and Engineering and Epidemiology in the School of Public Health; the Center for Sustainable Enterprise in the Kenan-Flagler Business School; the Curriculum in Toxicology and the Center for Environmental Medicine and Lung Biology in the School of Medicine; the Marine Sciences Program and the Departments of City and Regional Planning and Public Policy in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Contact the CEP's Research Programs Office

Associate Director of Research Programs David N. McNelis is responsible for CEP research programs. His responsibility includes the CEP field-site network, all contract research funding and governmental funding and all research administration.

His office is at 103 Miller Hall, adjacent to the Carolina Inn on the UNC campus (on the corner of McCauley and Pittsboro Streets).

David N. McNelis
Deputy Director and
Associate Director of Research Programs
Carolina Environmental Program
CB# 1105, 100 Miller Hall
UNC-Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1105
919-966-9923 (direct)
919-966-9920 (fax)

Carolina Environmental Program
CB# 1105, 100 Miller Hall, UNC-Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1105
Phone: 919-966-9922 | Fax: 919-966-9920 | E-mail: