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Rachel Noble



Rachel Noble
Mary and Watts Hill Jr. Distinguished Professor
Phone: 252.726.6841 ext 150

Fax: 252.726.2426
208 Coker Hall
3431 Arendell St
Morehead City, NC 28557

Areas of Interest

Dr. Noble’s research program bridges environmental microbiology and marine microbial ecology. A main thread of Dr. Noble’s work is the application of novel molecular techniques for applied and basic science. She has developed a range of rapid water quality test methods, including those for E. coli, Enterococcus, and Vibrio species and studies the dynamics of microbial contaminants contributed through stormwater runoff to high priority recreational and shellfish harvesting waters. A specific interest is conducting research to partition anthropogenic inputs from reservoir populations in coastal ecosystems, thereby permitting development of accurate models. In addition to applied research, Dr. Noble is interested in the dynamics of marine microbial food webs, specifically focusing on viral control of bacterial and algal populations, and the interplay among viruses, bacteria including Bdellovibrio), phytoplankton, grazers, and biogeochemical cycling in estuarine and coastal marine environments.

Dr. Noble can be reached by email or phone (252.726.6841 ext. 150).

Check out The Noble Lab’s projects page for information on Dr. Noble’s current research.

If interested in any of the previous projects listed, please contact Dr. Noble, as she is actively searching for qualified students interested in pursuing graduate education at UNC Chapel Hill.

Dr. Noble is also the Director of the UNC Chapel Hill Institute for the Environment Morehead City Field Site which was opened in Fall 2003. For more information on the Institute for the Environment at UNC Chapel Hill, please visit:

For more information about the Morehead City Field Site operating at IMS, please visit here.

As part of the Institute for the Environment, Dr. Noble is also coordinating research efforts to develop interdisciplinary research programs that will study the coastal zone as a hybrid ecosystem of both natural and man-made elements. Given Dr. Noble’s work in environmental microbiology and water quality, she shares a joint appointment with both the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering and the Department of Marine Sciences at UNC Chapel Hill.

Related Links

Noble Lab Website

Graduate Students 

Simone Raszl as visiting Ph. D. student from UFSC (Santa Caterina, Brazil)

Kelsey Jesser (Ph.D. student, MASC)

Justin Hart (M.Sc. student, ESE)

Selected Publications

(asterisks denote Noble lab students and post-doctoral research associates)

Williams, H. N. Lymperolopoulou, D. S., Athar, R., Chauhan, A., Dickerson, T., Chen, H., Laws, E., Berhane, T., Flowers, A., Bradley, N., Young, S., Blackwood, A. D., Murray, J., Mustapha, O., Blackwell, C., Tung, Y., and R. T. Noble. 2015.  Halobacteriovorax, an underestimated predator on bacteria: potential impact relative to viruses on bacterial mortality.  International Society for Microbial Ecology.

*Ghazaleh, M. N. *Froelich, B. A. and R. T. Noble. 2014.  The effect of storage time on Vibrio spp. and fecal indicator bacteria in an ISCO autosampler.  J. Microbiol. Methods.  104:109-16. doi: 10.1016/j.mimet.2014.06.021. Epub 2014 Jul 6.

Heaney, C. D., Exum N. G., Dufour, A. P., Brenner, K. P., Haugland, R. A., Chern, E., Schwab, K. J., Love, D., Serre, M. L., Noble, R.T., and T.J. Wade.  2014. Water quality, weather and environmental factors associated with fecal organism density in sand at two recreational marine beaches. Science of the Total Environment. 1:  497-498:440-7. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv. 2014.07.113. Epub 2014 Aug 20.

*Froelich, B. A. and R. T. Noble. 2014. Factors affecting the uptake and retention of Vibrio vulnificus bacteria in oysters. Applied and Environmental Microbiology.   80(24):7454-9. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02042-14. Epub 2014 Sep 26.

Gulbransen, D., *Gonzalez, R., *Froelich, B., Oliver, J., Noble, R., and K. McGlathery.  2014. Association of Gracilaria vermiculophylla, a non-native, mat forming macroalga, with increased concentrations of Vibrio bacteria in sediment, water, and oysters on intertidal mudflats.  Marine Ecology  Progress Series. 505: 29–36, 2014.  doi: 10.3354/meps10771.

*Froelich, B. A., *Weiss, M. J., and R. T. Noble. 2014. The evaluation of four recent culture-based methods for the isolation and enumeration of Vibrio vulnificus bacteria from oyster meat. J.  Microbiol. Methods. 97:1-5.

*Gonzalez, R. A. and R. T. Noble. 2014. Comparisons of statistical models to predict fecal indicator bacteria concentrations enumerated by qPCR- and culture-based methods. Water Research. 48:296-305

*Froelich, B. A., Bowen, J. D., Gonzalez, R. A., Snedeker, A., and R. T. Noble. 2013.  Mechanistic and Statistical Models of Total Vibrio Abundance in the Neuse River Estuary. Water Research. DOI:10.1016/j.watres.2013.06.050. 47 (15):5783-5793.

*Krometis, L., R. T. Noble, G. W. Characklis, A. D. Blackwood, M. D. Sobsey. 2013. Assessment of E. coli partitioning behavior via both culture-based and qPCR methods. Water Science and Technology. Vol 68 No 6 pp 1359–1369. DOI:10.2166/wst.2013.363

Stewart, J.R., A.B. Boehm, E.A. Dubinsky, T.-T. Fong, K.D. Goodwin, J.F. Griffith, R.T. Noble, O.C. Shanks, K. Vijayavel, and S.B. Weisberg. 2013. Recommendations Following a Multi-Laboratory Comparison of Microbial Source Tracking Methods. Water Research. 07/2013; DOI:10.1016/j.watres.2013.04.063.

Wetz, J. A., *Williams, Z. A., Blackwood, A. D., and R. T. Noble. 2013.  Quantification of Vibrio vulnificus in an estuarine environment: a multi-year analysis using QPCR. OI 10.1007/s12237-013-9682-4.  Estuaries and Coasts. Estuaries and Coasts (2014) 37:421-435.

Examples of Currently Funded Projects:

– Sole PI: Revolutionizing and commercializing rapid molecular diagnostics for viral and bacterial pathogen quantification in marine waters and seafood.  Funding Agency: University of North Carolina General Administration.  Project Duration:  February 2015 to February 2018.

-Co-PI: Evaluation of the Role of Salinity in Determining Levels of Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus in North Carolina Oysters and Clams. Prime Funding Agency: NOAA. Funded as Subcontract to UNC Charlotte. Project Duration: July 2014 to July 2016.

– Co-PI: Meteorological and environmental conditions leading to increases in virulent Vibrio vulnificus abundances in shellfish. Funding Agency: USDA-NIFA.  Postdoctoral Research Fellowship to Brett Froelich. Project Duration:  January 2014 to December 2016.

– Sole PI:  Virus quantification and recovery from complex matrices in San Diego, CA. Funding Agency: Southern California Coastal Water Research Project. Project Duration:   February 2014 to June 2016.

– Sole PI: Microbiological Assessment of Industrial Wastewater Discharge from the RockTenn Paper Mill in West Point, VA.  Funding Agency: WestRock Paper Mills. Project Duration:   July 2014 to June 2016.

– Sole PI:  Molecular Analyses for Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment Study in Tecolote Creek, CA.  Prime Funding Agency: City of San Diego, CA.  Part of a large multi-institutional QMRA Project.  Project Duration:  June 2014 to June 2016.

– Lead PI:  Studying Stormwater Runoff to Better Protect Public Health at North Carolina Beaches.  Prime Funding Agency: NC Sea Grant,  Plus Student Fellowship Stipend Plus Grant Award.  Project Duration:  February 2014 to February 2017.

– Sole PI:  Quantitative Assessment of Rapid Molecular Methods for Rehabilitation of Drinking Water Infrastructure. Funded by 3M.  Project Duration:  May 2013 to June 2016.

CV of Rachel Noble


▪    Gregory W. Characklis (UNC CH ESE)

▪    Douglas J. Crawford-Brown (UNC CH Institute for the Environment)

▪    Nancy White (UNC CSI)

▪    Steve Weisberg (SCCWRP)

▪    Jed Fuhrman (USC)

▪    Jill Stewart (NOAA)

▪    Jim Bowen (UNCC)