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

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. Jack Hall, Assistant Chair & Professor

Dr. Jack Hall is currently investigating the role of physical environmental characteristics that control the distribution of mangrove, seagrass, and reef ecosystems on Calabash Caye, Belize.  As part of the study, the distribution, type, and amount of macro- and microplastics are being documented.

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, Assistant 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 research involves the effects of non-consumptive recreation and environmental factors on Arkansas State Park biodiversity and the synergistic effects of humans and red foxes on loggerhead sea turtle nests on Masonboro Island, North Carolina. Her previous research has focused on white-tailed deer, raccoons, terrestrial turtles, and feral cats. She is also collaborating with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission in  establishing a long-term fox monitoring program in North Carolina’s Coastal Plain region. The goal of the monitoring program is to assess the current population status of gray and red foxes and investigate if their populations are being affected by increasing urbanization and/or the expanding coyote population in the region. Read more about Dr. Urbanek's research and work with students on her faculty website.

Student Research Opportunities

The Department of Environmental Sciences emphasizes the importance of scientific research in the shaping of our discipline. Faculty members encourage active research participation by students. If you are interested in learning more about the environment or if you want to set your job or graduate school application above the others, get involved in research! Talk with your professors about their research and the about the possibility of working with them on one of their projects.