Natural Resources and the Environment

This research area focuses on discovering new ways to support and optimize sustainable use of our natural resources and the environment. The cluster will place an emphasis on studying biogas — with the intent to evaluate the spatial, economic and environmental factors associated with developing swine waste into a usable fuel — and water quality and quantity issues in eastern North Carolina.


Research Needs

56%

OF NATURAL GAS CONSUMPTION IN THE TRANSPORTATION SECTOR COULD BE DISPLACED BY BIOGAS PRODUCED IN PART BY HOG WASTE

5.6%

OF ELECTRICITY PRODUCED IN 2016 CAME FROM WIND ENERGY, MORE THAN DOUBLING ITS OUTPUT OVER THE LAST SIX YEARS

EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA’S WATER QUALITY AND QUANTITY MANAGEMENT ARE STRESSED BY BOTH HUMAN AND ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS


Short Term Goals

  • Develop relationships with potential collaborators within and outside ECU that lead energy and natural resources research projects
  • Build interdisciplinary research teams that produce research ideas and grant proposals that carry out biogas, off-shore energy and water projects
  • Identify research opportunities that connect to community and regional needs

Long Term Goals

  • Provide opportunities for faculty and their collaborators to undertake projects through securing external funding
  • Initiate projects that focus on biogas, water resources and other areas in the natural resources and energy area
  • Encourage students and global partners to conduct research associated with energy and natural resources

Research Approaches

  • Create collaborative work opportunities spanning various academic fields to solve pressing problems related to the focus areas of the research cluster
  • Focus on research themes and activities that stimulate funding opportunities and allow for authentic collaboration and engagement with various stakeholders, community partners and government agencies
  • Partner with the North Carolina State Energy Conference and identify potential partners and research opportunities

2018-19 Cluster Seed Grant Proposal Program

During the 2018-19 academic year, ECU’s Natural Resources and the Environment  cluster awarded seed grant money to university faculty members to fund projects related to the cluster’s research mission. The following faculty members and their projects were recommended for funding:

Malali

Agarwala

Project Title
“An Innovative Bio-inspired Hydrokinetic Energy Extractor”

Researchers
Praveen Malali, Center for Sustainable Energy and Environmental Engineering
Ranjeet Agarwala, Department of Technology Systems


Pokhrel

Humphrey

O’Driscoll

Lee

Project Title
“Development and Performance Evaluation of the Next Generation Nano-filters for 1,4-Dioxane Removal from Water and Comparisons with Naturally Available Renewable Filter Matrices (Luffa and woodchips)”

Researchers
Lok R. Pokhrel, Public Health
Charles Humphrey, Health Education and Promotion
Michael O’Driscoll, Coastal Studies
Jinkun Lee, Engineering


Gittman

Blakeslee

Project Title
“Developing Design Criteria and Novel Monitoring Approaches for Oyster Restoration to Improve Water Quality and Enhance Estuarine Habitat Value”

Researchers
Rachel Gittman, Biology
April Blakeslee, Biology and Coastal Studies Institute


Skibins

Project Title
“A Regional Model for Evaluating Pro-Conservation Behaviors Related to Wildlife across Eastern North Carolina”

Researcher
Jeffrey Skibins, Recreation and Leisure Studies


News

 


Picture of Alex Manda
Alex Manda
Co-Director - Energy & Natural Resources
Picture of Burrell Montz
Burrell Montz
Co-Director - Energy and Natural Resources