Coastal Studies Institute

Who we are

Led by East Carolina University (ECU), The Coastal Studies Institute (CSI) is a multi-institutional research and educational partnership of the UNC System including North Carolina State University, UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Wilmington and Elizabeth City State University.  The Coastal Studies Institute, located on the ECU Outer Banks Campus, focuses on integrated coastal research and education programming centered around the needs, issues, and concerns of coastal North Carolinians by bringing together the various disciplines of both the natural and social sciences.

Coastal Studies Institute Mission

To undertake research, offer educational opportunities, and provide community outreach that embraces the unique history, culture and environment of the maritime counties of northeastern North Carolina.

CSI Research, Education and Outreach

The research expertise of CSI span a variety of coastal disciplines including coastal dynamics, ecology, biology, economics, environmental geography, social and behavioral sciences, and engineering.  The program uses an interdisciplinary approach and scientific advances to provide effective solutions to complex problems while helping coastal communities, ecosystems, and economies thrive.

Engagement is core to the mission and CSI has a robust outreach program with staff that are actively engaged with coastal communities through meaningful education offerings for the general public, life-long learners, and K-12 students and teachers. 

ECU Outer Banks Campus

The Coastal Studies Institute is located on the ECU Outer Banks Campus on Roanoke Island.  The campus site is adjacent to the Croatan Sound, part of the Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine system, the second-largest estuary in the United States.   This LEED Gold-certified coastal campus spans 213 acres of marshes, scrub wetlands, forested wetlands, and estuarine ecosystems.  Dr. Nancy White, founding director of CSI, played a pivotal role in the development, design, and completion of the coastal campus, which opened it’s doors in early 2013.

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

BOARD of Directors

The CSI Board of Directors consists of professionals with strong backgrounds in coastal issues; including research, development, outreach, education, and policies that affect coastal communities. The Board promotes UNC’s mission in helping it serve the people of North Carolina at a high level of excellence in every area of endeavor of the Coastal Studies Institute.

The Coastal Studies Institute Board of Directors meets twice annually to discuss the projects and progress of the Coastal Studies Institute.

Board Members

Dr. Jack Bagwell, President, College of the Albemarle

Mr. Orion Rolf Blizzard, III – CSI Board Chair, Turnpike Properties

Mr. Malcom Fearing – Business Owner

Dr. Kirk Havens, Research Associate Professor, Director, Center for Coastal Resources Management, Virginia Institute of Marine Science


Dr. Walter HOolton, Physician (retired)

Mr. Steve Keen – Adair, LLC

Mr. Mike Kelly, Business Owner

Mr. S. Paul O’Neal – Towne Insurance

Mr. James Rispoli – Professor of Practice, NCSU Center for Nuclear Energy Facilities & Structures

Ex-Officio Members

Dr. Reide Corbett – Dean & Executive Director, Integrated Coastal Programs, Coastal Studies Institute

Dr. Ken Halanych – Professor and Executive Director, UNCW Center for Marine Science

Dr. Grant Hayes – Acting Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, ECU

Ms. Norma Houston – Chief of Staff, UNC System Office

Dr. Ron Mitchelson -Special Asst. to the Chancellor, ECU

Mr. Wally Overman – Dare County Commissioners

Dr. Margery Overton – Vice Provost for Academic Strategy, NCSU


Dr. Kuldeep Rawat – Thorpe Endowed Professor and Dean, School of Science, Aviation, Health, and Technology, ECSU

Dr. Harvey Seim – Professor, Department of Marine Science, UNC Chapel Hill

Dr. Kimberly van Noort – Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs & Academic Officer, UNC Systems Office

Dr. Michael Van Scott – Interim Vice Chancellor for Research, Economic Development, & Engagement, ECU

Meeting Minutes

Led by East Carolina University (ECU), The Coastal Studies Institute is a multi-institutional research and educational partnership of the UNC System including North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Wilmington, and Elizabeth City State University.


Based at the Coastal Studies Institute (CSI), the North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy Program (NCROEP) advances inter-disciplinary marine energy solutions across UNC System partner colleges of engineering at NC State University, UNC Charlotte, and NC A&T University.  Click on the links below for more information.




ECU's Integrated Coastal Programs (ECU ICP) is a leader in coastal and marine research, education, and engagement.   ECU ICP includes the Coastal Studies Institute, ECU's Department of Coastal Studies, and ECU Diving and Water Safety.


The faculty and staff at the Coastal Studies Institute come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, as well as departments and organizations including ECU Department of Biology, ECU Department of Coastal Studies, NC Sea Grant, the North Carolina Renewable Energy Program, and the UNC Institute for the Environment.


Tour the ECU Outer Banks Campus and learn about the research, education, and engagement projects of CSI and ECU Integrated Coastal Programs through our 360 virtual tour.


The ECU Outer Banks campus is home to the Coastal Studies Institute.
Located on Roanoke Island along the banks of the second largest estuary
in the United States, this coastal campus spans 213 acres of marshes, scrub wetlands, forested wetlands, and estuarine ecosystems.