The UNC-SRP Community Engagement Core connects scientists with people across NC, to put research into action in local communities. We partner with two nonprofit environmental groups—Clean Water for NC and the Winyah Rivers Alliance—to identify solutions to toxic metal contamination of well water. Our partners, along with our advisory board of public health professionals, community leaders, and K- 12 educators, help us to respond to the needs of NC residents whose drinking water comes from private wells.

Our overarching goal is to foster environmental health literacy by working with community-based organizations, Superfund Research Program (SRP) researchers, and policy experts to develop locally relevant solutions to toxic metals contamination of well water.

Community Engagement Core

The overarching goal of the CEC is to foster environmental health literacy.

The Community Engagement Core (CEC) accomplishes our goal through three aims:

  • Through our Public Health Action Committee, facilitate dialogue between researchers & stakeholders about SRP research & reducing exposure to inorganic arsenic in well water
  • Enhance understanding of inorganic arsenic exposure in high-risk communities and implement strategies to reduce exposure
  • Inform development of local & state policies to reduce inorganic arsenic exposure in private well water

With millions of people drinking water from private wells in North Carolina and across the United States, it is of the utmost importance that we thoroughly engage the public in our work. Partnerships with established community-based organizations anchor our lab-based activity to real needs in NC communities and leverage the strengths of the university and our partners to develop creative solutions to well water contamination. Furthermore, as these partnerships help to develop health-protective policies and other physical strategies (such as novel filters) for reducing exposure to toxic metals in well water, we hope to improve health outcomes in some of NC’s at-risk communities.

Core Leader

Kathleen Gray

Dr. Kathleen Gray

Kathleen Gray, PhD
Director, Center for Public Engagement with Science
Associate Director for Outreach and Public Service
Institute for the Environment
UNC-Chapel Hill



Andrew George

Dr. Andrew George

Andrew George, PhD
Community Engagement Coordinator
Institute for the Environment
UNC-Chapel Hill

Sarah Yelton

Sarah Yelton

Sarah Yelton, MS
Research Translation Coordinator
Institute for the Environment
UNC-Chapel Hill

Director: Rebecca Fry, PhD
Deputy Director: Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, PhD
Funding provided by NIEHS grant #P42 ES031007

135 Dauer Drive
253 Rosenau Hall, CB #7431
Chapel Hill, NC, 27599-7431