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Museum of Life and Science joins multi-institutional effort on climate change with North and South Carolina communities

For Immediate Release – October 5, 2021 | 11 am

Media Contact:
Matt Pusateri, Senior Director of Marketing
(919) 220-5429 x390


DURHAM, NC – The Museum of Life and Science will take part in a multi-institutional effort led by North Carolina State University to develop climate resilience solutions in frontline communities in the Carolinas. Supported through a grant administered by NOAA’s Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment program, which funds research teams that help expand and build the nation’s capacity to prepare for and adapt to climate variability and change.

The team, which includes researchers from NC State, North Carolina Central University, UNC-Chapel Hill, the Museum of Life and Science, Furman University, and South Carolina State University, is tasked with building community partnerships to advance climate resilience and health equity in the region.

“The threat and impact of climate change is one of the most consequential issues we face as a community,” said Carrie Heinonen, President and CEO of the Museum of Life and Science. “As a museum dedicated to public engagement in science, we’re proud to be part of this collective effort to listen to communities throughout the region and help advance more equitable solutions to the impacts of climate change.”

“Extreme weather and climate events like heatwaves and hurricanes impact every community, but not all communities are affected equally,” says Kathie Dello, director of the State Climate Office and primary investigator on the project. “Underserved communities disproportionately feel the impacts of these events. We need to co-develop solutions with communities to protect the health and well-being of Carolinians from climate-driven disasters.”

By partnering with local communities and conducting place-based research, the team will look at how a larger framework of historical discrimination, disinvestment, and health inequities shapes climate risk.

“Resilience happens at the local level, but communities need help turning data into action,” says Jennifer Runkle, a research scholar at the N.C. Institute for Climate Studies and co-PI on the project. “We will first listen to communities as they describe their climate concerns, which may not be neatly untangled from other challenges. It’s an exciting and critical time to rethink local resilience by elevating the voices of our most underserved residents to ensure the health and well-being of all North Carolinians.”

In addition to developing strategies for community resilience, the team will also focus on building community-level climate literacy by implementing community-sciences programs to track physical and social science metrics.

“The experiences of underserved communities at the start of the climate crisis will be reproduced in every Carolina community as climate change impacts become more widespread,” says Louie Rivers, associate professor of forestry and environmental research at NC State and co-PI on the project.

“Climate change is happening now, and we can see the effects,” Dello says. “By working with individual communities to create climate resilience solutions from the bottom up, we hope to provide a transferrable, national model that will protect the most vulnerable in every community from climate-driven impacts.”


About the Museum of Life and Science

Located less than five miles from downtown Durham, the Museum of Life and Science is one of North Carolina’s top family destinations. Our 84-acre campus includes a two-story science center, one of the largest butterfly conservatories on the East Coast, and beautifully landscaped outdoor exhibits. Our interactive experiences include Dinosaur TrailEllerbe Creek RailwayHideaway WoodsInto the MistEarth Moves, and Aerospace, which features one of the largest collections of Apollo-era NASA artifacts in the state. The Museum is also an AZA-accredited zoo, home to rescued black bears, lemurs, endangered red wolves, and more than 60 species of live animals. The Museum is celebrating its 75th anniversary and its ongoing commitment to the communities of Durham, the Triangle, and North Carolina. To learn more, visit