Onsite Undergraduate Programming

The opening of the Coastal Studies Institute’s state-of-the-art research and education campus on Roanoke Island in December of 2012 has provided many new opportunities for science education on the Outer Banks. The undergraduate programs utilize the location of the campus on the Croatan Sound, and students work in the science labs and teaching spaces within the facility.  Students will use some of the same scientific processes and equipment that our researchers and scientists use while studying the coastal processes of northeastern North Carolina.

CSI currently has program offerings for undergraduate students from all colleges and universities. Many of the programs can also be tailored to complement external course curricula. Please email Lauren Kerlin or call 252-475-5451 with any questions or to schedule a program.  There is a $12-$24 per person programmatic fee for each program which must be paid in advance of the program.

Onsite Opportunities for Undergraduate Students

Exploring Estuaries Boat Program

Boat ride, estuarine ecology, sampling

The Exploring Estuaries Boat Program takes students on an excursion in the Croatan Sound to explore the shallow water habitat of a nearby marsh island. Students will assess species diversity and abundance through a variety of sampling methods, perform water quality measurements, and discuss the dynamic nature of our coastal estuaries. With further exploration of the island, students will understand terrestrial and aquatic estuarine habitats, food webs, coastal processes, and the vital role estuaries play in greater coastal systems.

Waves of Innovation: Exploring Renewable Energy in the Ocean

Foundations of electricity, renewable energy, wave energy

Waves of Innovation presents the ocean as a potential renewable energy source. Setting the stage with the basic principles of electricity and oceanography, this program tasks teams of students with designing, building, and testing model wave energy converters (WECs). This program highlights the roles of the North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy Program and the Atlantic Marine Energy Center in the development of renewable ocean energy technologies and the vision for their application in the future.

Microscopic Marvels: Plankton in our Estuaries

Estuarine ecology with plankton focus

Microscopic Marvels highlights the productivity of estuarine habitats through the study of plankton. Students will learn about the complexity and importance of trophic interactions in estuaries and their essential contribution to the biodiversity and function of coastal ecosystems.

Shoreline Solutions: Creating Resilience in Coastal Communities

Coastal resilience, changing shorelines, dynamic coastal processes

Shorelines Solutions details the dynamic coastal processes of the Outer Banks and the hazards that threaten shoreside communities and habitats. Students will explore the concept of green infrastructure, build and test various shoreline stabilization methods, discuss resilience-building techniques, and think critically about the social and ecological costs and benefits of each approach.

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.