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Rachel Gittman

Adjunct Research Professor

Dr. Gittman is broadly interested in understanding how humans modify the coastal environment and how best to manage or mitigate the ecological consequences of those modifications to sustain ecosystem structure, functions, and services. She is particularly excited about identifying novel approaches for conserving and restoring coastal habitats and supported services in the context of developed coastal areas (e.g. evaluating designs and implementation of living shorelines, testing the methods and criteria for successful ecosystem restoration). Through collaborations with fellow ecologists, social scientists, policymakers, and coastal engineers, she is continuing to explore the ecological and social drivers of coastal development and associated shoreline hardening, as well as identifying ecological, engineering, political, and socioeconomic barriers to the implementation of natural and nature-based alternatives. Additionally, she is currently investigating the role of facilitation and novel materials in determining success or failure of coastal habitat restoration. She is also part of an interdisciplinary and cross-sector working group focused on synthesizing data on coastal habitat restoration projects to inform decision-making and development of achievable metrics and approaches for aligning ecological and social restoration goals. 

Areas of Expertise

Environment & Ecology


PhD, Ecology - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2014)
B.S., Environmental Sciences - University of Virginia (2006)

Lab Members

UNC IMS members include:
Sarah Donaher - PhD
Chris Bailie - postdoc