PhD Student in the Rodriguez Coastal Geology Lab

UNC Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Science

About me

I am a PhD Student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Institute of Marine Sciences. My research interests lie in coastal sediments - their origins and fates. Marshes act as metronomes of sea-level rise, recording changes in inundation within their soils. By tracking the pace of North Carolina’s rapidly shifting wetlands through time and space, I aim to better explain feedbacks between topography and sedimentation. Which areas of our coast are naturally resilient to rising tides – and how can these areas inform preservation efforts?

Outside of this research, you might find me in the great outdoors, teaching hands-on science, cooking with others, or flying a drone.


  • Landscape change in the Anthropocene
  • Remote Sensing
  • Scientific communication and education


  • PhD Student, 2020-

    UNC Chapel Hill

  • BSc in Geology and Environmental Sciences, 2018

    The College of William and Mary

  • Summer Coursework in Entrepreneurship, 2015

    Washington University in St. Louis







PhD Student

Rodriguez Marine Geology Lab

Jun 2020 – Present North Carolina
  • Solving coastal problems from the air using drone-based photogrammetry
  • Using Low-cost Open Source turbidity sensors to track contemporary suspended sediment gradients
  • Extracting sediment cores to recreate post-development deposition patterns across North Carolina’s saltmarsh habitats

Interim Researcher

Perron Lab at MIT

Jan 2020 – Jun 2020 Massachussets
Employed Google Earth Engine to refine estimates of Terra Preta anthrosol distributions in Amazon rainforest

Science Lab Teacher

Peace Corps

Aug 2018 – Dec 2019 Liberia
  • Taught 10th and 11th Grade Physics and Biology courses
  • Organized experiential hands-on learning labs
  • Facilitated teacher training workshops



Measuring Turbidity on Marshes

Using open source turbidity sensors to monitor sediment delivery to varied saltmarsh settings

Evolution of Barrier Island Ponds

Tracking changes in Barrier Island geomorphology over a year on North Core Banks, NC

Effects of Increasing Coastal Sediment Loads on Tidal-creek Levee Morphology

Why do two adjacent environments (creeks and marshes) respond to sediment loading in different ways?

Phillips Island Map

A orthomosaic of Phillips Island for UNC’s planning purposes

IMS 3D Model

Interactive 3D Model of the Institute of Marine Science

Life in Liberia

Blog on my time teaching science with the Peace Corps in Liberia

Mechanisms of Pond Growth on Marshes

Undergraduate Honors Thesis at William and Mary

Recent Publications

Quickly discover relevant content by filtering publications.

3D structural metrics using UAV and LiDAR

Results indicate that UAS photogrammetry can produce robust oyster reef structural metrics that can be highly useful in oyster conservation and restoration.

Mechanisms of Pond Expansion in a Rapidly Submerging Marsh

Our observations from a rapidly submerging marsh in the Chesapeake Bay, United States suggest that the mechanisms and rates of pond expansion change with pond size., and depend on surrounding marsh health

Onset Fragmentation of Salt Marshes

We find the threshold for marsh fragmentation scales primarily with tidal range and that sediment supply is only relevant where tides are sufficient to transport sediment to the marsh interior.



Queen City News

Longform news video on marsh migration

UNC Endeavors

Mucking in the Marshes

ABC 12 - Rip Currents

Brief Rip Current Advisory

Seagrant and APNEP Fellowship

Using open source turbidity sensors to monitor sediment delivery to varied saltmarsh settings

AGU / Quillette

Written Article by Daniel Lelchuk - “Want to Restore Your Faith in Humanity? Visit a Scientific Conference”