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Sustainable Carolina Podcast

The Intertwined Nature of Sustainability

As part of the UNC Research Community, we strive to share the ways innovation and discovery contribute to a more sustainable campus and community. Every month, a new, 20-minute episode of the Sustainable Carolina podcast comes out. Each episode features students, faculty, and staff making an impact. You can find episodes on Google, Spotify, and Apple podcasts.

Are you part of the Carolina community and interested in sharing your work on an episode? Send an email to


Pilot Episode

Mike Piehler | 2021 Sustainability News

In the pilot episode of the Sustainable Carolina Podcast, recorded in May 2021, Mike Piehler discusses the creation of Sustainable Carolina and its new home within UNC Institute for the Environment. Piehler discusses the work that went into creating the Climate Action Plan, along with its lengthy review process. Things wrap up with a discussion of the Champion Sustainability Fund, a green revolving fund made possible by a gift from HanesBrands.


Season 1

Mike Piehler | Pursuing Sustainability Goals as a Collective

In 2022, the Sustainable Carolina Podcast returned for its first full season. Mike Piehler kicks things off talking about campus collaboration and partnerships. Piehler examines the progress made through the Climate Action Plan and reviews key points from the Water Plan. The episode concludes with strategies for students looking to get involved in sustainability-related research and organizations on campus.



UNC Eco-Concern Study Team | Understanding Climate Change Concerns & Eating Behaviors

Please note: This episode contains discussions around anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.

Some people make food choices based on carbon footprint, according to Melissa Munn-Chernoff of the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders (CEED). After CEED Founding Director Cynthia Bulik approached Munn-Chernoff about a study to better understand the correlation between climate change and mental health, the Center started its Eco-Concern & Eating Behaviors Research Study.



David Gorelick | Finding Your Research Interests

David Gorelick, a postdoctoral researcher at the Center on Financial Risk in Environmental Systems (CoFiRES), discovered an affinity for water research while in the Galápagos. We talk with Gorelick about his academic journey and recent study, which used supercomputers to model water demands and risks. As the U.S. faces growing populations and climate change, the study’s findings can help water providers prepare for the future.



Carolina Drone Lab | Finding Your Research Interests

The Carolina Drone Lab (CARDNL) is housed within the UNC Institute for the Environment. The program facilitates the use of drones and sensors, on campus and abroad, to further research and innovation. CARDNL Research Technician Peggy Mullin and her EcoStudio Intern Steve Yoon (’23) join this episode to talk all things CARDNL, along with a new project mapping UNC-Chapel Hill’s green roofs.


Melanie Elliott | Powering Carolina’s Energy Transition

When Melanie Elliott graduated from Carolina, she had no idea she’d be playing a big role in one of the University’s greatest challenges: achieving carbon neutrality by 2040. In this episode, she talks about tracking campus emissions, understanding the latest trends in the energy transition, and working with students to pass on knowledge (and excitement) about sustainability.


Alex Hopkins | Engaging Through the Energy Transition Initiative

In 2022, UNC Institute for the Environment and UNC School of Law’s Center for Climate, Energy, Environment & Economics (CE3) launched the Energy Transition Initiative (ETI). After just a few short months working for the ETI, Alex Hopkins became interim director. Mike Piehler guest hosts this episode of the Sustainable Carolina Podcast, in which Alex talks about strategies for engaging with policymakers and the University community. He also discusses the strengths of being housed within a University, and how he plans to bolster these strengths to help put Inflation Reduction Act dollars to good use in the energy transition.