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Hans Paerl

Kenan Distinguished Professor

Dr. Paerl is an aquatic ecologist who works in coastal, estuarine and freshwater ecosystems. His research addresses aquatic nutrient cycling and primary production dynamics, environmental controls, and management of harmful algal blooms. The Paerl lab also focuses on assessing effects of human and climatic alterations of water quality and sustainability to coastal and inland waters around the globe.

Areas of Expertise/Research Interests:
*Aquatic nutrient and carbon cycling
*Eutrophication and harmful algal blooms
*Human and climatic impacts on water quality
*Managing and protecting aquatic ecosystems

*Institute for the Environment Morehead City Field Site – Field Class

*NC DENR Nutrient Scientific Advisory Committee (Appointed 2015),
*US EPA Scientific Advisory Board, since 2008 (Florida Nutrient Criteria and Reactive Nitrogen in the Environment Committees)
*President’s Interagency Panel on Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States

Select Current Research Grants:

“Lake Erie Center for Fresh Waters and Human Health” National Science Foundation/National Institutes of Health (NSF 1840705, NIH 1P01ES028939-01) H. Paerl is Co-P.I. 9/30/2018-6/30/2023.

“The Cyanobacterial Bloom Microbial Interactome as a Model for Understanding Biogeographical and Seasonal Patterns in Functional Biodiversity” National Science Foundation (NSF DEB 1831096: Dimensions: Collaborative Research)  H Paerl is Co.P.I. 6/30/2018-6/30/2023.

“Reevaluating Pre-denitrification BNR for Low Molecular Weight Dissolved Organic Nitrogen and its Impact on Phytoplankton Bloom Dynamics in Coastal Waters” National Science Foundation (NSF ENG 1803593 Collaborative Research) H. Paerl is Co-P.I. 9/1/2018-9/1/2021.

“Ferry-based water quality monitoring program for Pamlico Sound” NC Dept. of Environmental Quality, 10/1/ 2018-10/1/2020.

“Neuse River Modeling and Monitoring Program, ModMon” National Fish and Wildlife Foundation: 8020.16.053916.

“Evaluating biological nutrient removal for dissolved organic nitrogen quality” NC Urban Water Consortium (Water Resources Research Institute), 3/1/2018/-12/30-2019.





Contact Info

252.726.6841 ext 133 Lab Website


Ph.D. University of California, Davis (1973)
B.Sc. University of California, Davis (1969)
A.A. College of San Mateo (1967)

Lab Members

Haley Plaas - PhD
Malcolm Barnard - PhD