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Protecting our coast The UNC Institute of Marine Sciences

For more than 70 years, the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences has served the state and nation by conducting cutting-edge research, training young scientists, providing expertise to governmental agencies and industry, and promoting new knowledge to inform public policy that preserves our coastlines and keeps North Carolinians safe.

Originally opened as the Institute for Fisheries Research in 1947, the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences sits on 6 acres of waterfront property in Morehead City today and is home to 10 faculty members, nearly 30 graduate students and 60,000 square feet of research space.

A boat with the UNC seal painted on the side.

The institute will soon enter a new chapter of its history when it joins the College of Arts & Sciences’ newly formed Department of Earth, Marine and Environmental Sciences, which will also combine the College’s departments of geological sciences and marine sciences.

The new department will officially launch July 1 and will bring together more than 30 faculty members, nearly 70 graduate students, numerous postdoctoral researchers and research and technical staff at facilities in Chapel Hill and the institute’s coastal marine lab.

A woman in snorkling gear stands in the water.

In addition to creating new degree offerings for undergraduates, the merger will allow IMS researchers to take their critical work to the next level and make an even larger impact by tapping into more of Carolina’s resources to serve our state through research and environmental projects that protect communities and marine resources.

Keep reading to see how the institute cares for our state’s marine habitats and the people that depend on them.

A woman holds a crab in her hands.

Hurricanes aren't the only aspect of North Carolina's coastline and marine habitats that requires careful attention and research.

From the longest-running shark survey in the U.S and shoreline restoration projects to tracking COVID-19 through wastewater and examining the dangers of freshwater algal blooms, IMS researchers are looking for solutions to many of our state's health and environmental challenges.

Click on a story below to learn more about IMS research