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UNC Institute of Marine Sciences IMS Dr. Mike Piehler

Mike Piehler

Professor; Director, UNC Institute for the Environment

Dr. Piehler is a coastal ecosystem ecologist. His research focuses on transport and processing of nutrient and carbon, particularly the role played by microbial communities at the coastal land-water interface. The Piehler Lab’s work spans a broad range of both microbial systems and coastal habitats. Dr. Piehler is particularly interested in how human activity affects the interactions between pollutants and native microbial communities in our coastal systems, and the challenges and opportunities that those interactions present.

Areas of Expertise/Research Interests:
Estuarine nutrient cycling
Coastal stream dynamics
Ecosystem services
Coastal restoration

Capstone group research course (ENEC 698)


North Carolina Sea Grant Advisory Board

North Carolina Policy Collaboratory Advisory Board

Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association Board of Directors

Lake Mattamuskeet Water Quality Research and Monitoring Working Group

Select Current Grants:

Collaborative research to manage stormwater impacts on coastal reserves – National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative.

Potential for ecosystem restoration in Lake Mattamuskeet, NC – North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

UNC Jordan and Falls Lakes Nutrient Study – North Carolina General Assembly.

Sediment nutrient fluxes in Jordan Lake – NC Policy Collaboratory.

Denitrification in the North Carolina Oyster Highway – North Carolina Wildlife Habitat Foundation.

Dynamics of Extreme Events, People, and Places (DEEPP) – UNC Creativity Hubs.

Contact Info

252.726.6841 ext 160 Lab Website


Ph.D. Univ. North Carolina Chapel Hill (1997)
M.S.P.H. Univ. North Carolina Chapel Hill (1994)
B.S. Univ. North Carolina Chapel Hill (1990)

Lab Members

Adam Gold – PhD
Anne Smiley - PhD
Mollie Yacano - PhD