Environmental Sciences


Faculty and students participate in research

The Department of Environmental Sciences is actively involved in applied research, linking environmental quality with management capacity and educational opportunities. Both faculty and students participate in research which can not only lead to significant discoveries, but also make teaching and learning real. In the classroom or in the field, the environment is the perfect laboratory. 

Faculty Research

Faculty Research

Dr. Jeffery Hill, Chair & Professor

Research focus: human dimensions of natural resource management, particularly within coastal ecosystems. 

Previous Research: 

North Carolina Coastal Reserve Program Initiatives
Faculty from UNCW's Department of Environmental Sciences are working with the Department of Geography and Geology to map visitor impacts at three Coastal Reserves (Bird Island, Bald Head Woods and Buckridge).

Dr. Jamie Rotenberg, Associate Professor

Painted Bunting Observer Team (PBOT)
The eastern population of Painted Bunting is in decline. Our main goal focuses on developing strategies for sustaining eastern Painted Bunting populations, with volunteers playing a major role in monitoring and collecting data in the field to meet that goal. Join Dr. Rotenberg and his citizen science monitoring project to help the Painted Bunting in the Carolinas. Become a Painted Bunting Observer Team (PBOT) member. Click here for the website and more information.

Harpy Eagle Research Project
Dr. Rotenberg and his Belizean colleagues were recently awarded their second year of funding from The Nature Conservancy for his research project, "An Integrated Community-Based Harpy Eagle and Avian Conservation Program for the Maya Mountains Massif. For more information please visit the website.

Dr. Anthony Snider, Associate Professor

Dr. Snider has focused on use value taxation, forest resource utilization, coastal land use change, and problems associated with deer populations in resort developments.  His current research interests include sustainable agriculture and factors motivating environmentally responsible behavior.

Dr. Rachael Urbanek, Associate Professor

Dr. Rachael Urbanek’s main research interests focus broadly on urban wildlife management, human dimensions of wildlife, and human-wildlife conflict and resolution. Her current work involves predator exclusion to protect sea turtle nests, long-term use of highway underpasses, and carnivore presence throughout New Hanover County. Read more about Dr. Urbanek's research and work with students on her faculty website.

Dr. B. Troy Frensley, Assistant Professor

Dr. Frensley is serving as a Co-Principal Investigator on the funding program "NSF Advancing Informal Science Learning (AISL)" along with colleagues from Clemson University (Dr. Bob Powell, Principal Investigator; Dr. Ryan Gagnon, Co-PI) and Virginia Tech (Dr. Marc Stern, Co-PI) to conduct a study of environmental education (EE) programs for youth across the United States. The project titled "What leads to better outcomes in informal STEM-based environmental education programs for youth?" will examine the characteristics and outcomes of a large sample of EE programs for youth to elucidate program characteristics that most powerfully influence 21st century learning outcomes.  The award amount is $1,944,846 and duration of the project will be October 1, 2019 to December 31, 2023.  EE programs for youth, particularly day-long school field trip programs, are popular and reside at the intersection of formal and informal STEM education. Such field trips provide opportunities for diverse audiences to participate in shared learning experiences, but current understanding of what leads to success in these programs is limited. This large-scale study will address this gap in knowledge by investigating the linkages between program characteristics and participant outcomes for at least 800 single-day EE field trip programs for youth in grades 5-8, particularly programs for diverse and underserved audiences. This study will result in the identification of evidence-based practices that will inform future program design for a wide variety of settings, including nature centers, national parks, zoos, museums, aquaria, and other locations providing informal EE programs. 

Dr. Monica T. Rother, Assistant Professor

Dr. Rother conducts research within the broad disciplines of forest ecology, wildland fire ecology, biogeography, and dendrochronology (tree-ring science). Her current research uses tree-ring records to understand historical wildfire activity in longleaf pine ecosystems throughout the Southeastern Coastal Plain. She is also involved in studies that examine recent climate-driven changes in wildfire activity and post-wildfire forest recovery. Read more about Dr. Rother’s research, including opportunities for students on her faculty website.