The Coastal Studies Institute

Located along the shores of Roanoke Island on East Carolina University’s Outer Banks Campus, the Coastal Studies Institute is a multi-institutional research and education partnership of the UNC system.  Led by East Carolina University, in partnership with NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill, the Coastal Studies Institute focuses on integrated coastal research and education programming centered on responding to the needs, issues, and topics of concern of the residents of eastern North Carolina.  CSI research integrates the natural and social sciences and brings together researchers from different disciplines to answer pressing coastal questions.

CSI research spans a variety of coastal topics from nearshore coastal estuaries to the offshore waters along the continental shelf.  Coastal scientists are researching the processes that drive coastal systems, their effect on our communities and ways we can become more resilient in the face of increasing hazards that threaten our coast.   Ecologists are studying our estuarine systems, their inputs and how we can ensure healthy coastal ecosystems for the future.  Oceanographers and coastal engineers are exploring how ways to harness the power of the Gulf Stream and other renewable ocean energy sources to broaden North Carolina’s energy portfolio.  Maritime archaeologists are uncovering and discovering new shipwrecks and the celebrating the vast maritime heritage of eastern North Carolina.


The campus, completed in 2012 and awarded the LEED Certification, demonstrates how architecture can seamlessly develop a relationship with the surrounding ecosystem. CSI was also awarded:

  • 2014 Chicago Athenaeum International Architecture Award for Best New Global Design
  • 2014 AIA Triangle Honor Award
  • 2013 AIA North Carolina Honor Award
  • 2013 USGBC North Carolina Sustainability Award


The campus spans 213 acres of marshes, scrub wetlands, forested wetlands, and sound ecosystems. While the institute emphasizes northeastern North Carolina in its outreach and educational programs, its scope also encompasses all of the eastern coast of the United States and the mid-Atlantic.
Research at CSI covers a broad range of pressing environmental concerns faced by coastal North Carolina and the delicate ecosystems that are present. By bringing together skilled professionals, scientists, academics, and locals to the North Carolina coast, CSI can provide unbiased research to decision makers of the area, resource managers, and the public.

The Board of Directors advises the Institute on research, education, outreach, development, and policy. CSI also receives direction from the Scientific Coordinating Committee in matters of current and future research, education, and outreach efforts.



CSI’s research focuses on thematic areas including