UNC-Chapel Hill environment experts available for Earth Day interviews

UNC News
4 Min Read

In celebration of Earth Day, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill experts are available to discuss the most pressing climate change challenges experienced in North Carolina and across the globe, as well as innovative solutions. These top experts can address a variety of topics including:

Climate change in North Carolina and how Carolina is part of the solution

Mike Piehler, Ph.D., is a professor, director of the UNC Institute for the Environment, chief sustainability officer and special assistant to the chancellor for sustainability at UNC-Chapel Hill.


Air quality

Poor air quality can stem from a variety of sources, including pollution, emissions from traffic and industry, fires and gas or oil flares. Sarav Arunachalam, Ph.D., and William Vizuete, Ph.D, are available to discuss the sources of poor air quality, why good air quality is important, which communities are most impacted by poor air quality and solutions to improve it.


Angel Hsu, Ph.D., has done research on heat, including urban heat stress and which communities are most heat burdened. She’s also the founder and director of the Data-Driven EnviroLab and can discuss climate and AI and climate policy more broadly.


North Carolina is susceptible to hurricanes, particularly in coastal areas. Rick Luettich, Sc.D., is available to discuss Carolina hurricane season, including storm and flooding prediction. He can also discuss how our changing climate may be changing extreme weather events and their impacts in coastal Carolina.

Impacts on animals

Climate change has impacts on animals’ environments, foods sources and behaviors. Paul J. Taillie, Ph.D., can discuss animal responses to extreme weather events. Allen Hurlbert, Ph.D., can provide information on changing bird and insect populations. Finally, Janet Nye, Ph.D. is available to share how warming oceans affect fish and fisheries.


Social and economic impacts of experiencing a climate disaster

A serious climate change weather event can leave many long-lasting impacts on individuals and communities. Miyuki Hino, Ph.D., can provide information on the social and economic impacts on a community following a climate event.



PFAS are widely used and long-lasting chemicals that have been linked to harmful health impacts on reproduction, thyroid function, the immune system and the liver. Frank Leibfarth, Ph.D., is working to remove PFAS from North Carolina’s water supply through his innovative research. He’s available to share information about this work, as well as the EPA’s new PFAS recommendations. Leibfarth can also speak to plastics recycling.

Renewable energy and electric vehicles

Noah Kittner, Ph.D., studies energy systems at multiple scales, from regional and international power grids to community-owned micro-grids and household energy dynamics, including energy poverty in the US. He also has knowledge on electric vehicle charging and battery energy storage.

Well water

Many North Carolina residents, particularly people who live in rural communities, are dependent on private well water. Wells need proper testing and maintenance to stay free from contaminants that impact people’s health. Kathleen Gray, Ph.D., is available to discuss the state of well water across North Carolina and work being done to ensure safe drinking water.

Interviews can be arranged by contacting  mediarelations@unc.edu or 919-445-8555.