The ten colleges that make up NC State span fields of study from social sciences to textiles to engineering to design. But a stealth college spans almost all of them, weaving itself into the research and extension efforts of dozens of departments without ever showing up on a campus map.

The environment is a major focus for professors throughout NC State. Surveys taken since the early 1990s have consistently identified hundreds of faculty members involved in projects linked to air and water quality, energy conservation, toxicology, habitat preservation, and environmental education and analysis. Chancellor James L. Oblinger says that’s not surprising, considering that part of the University’s land-grant mission involves promoting good stewardship of North Carolina’s natural resources. That emphasis continues to grow as technology and economic growth place new demands on the state’s water, air, fields, and forests. “The environment is closely linked to the University’s strengths in agriculture, forestry, engineering, and veterinary medicine,” Oblinger says, “and we want to use that vigor to move the state toward sustainability—growth that benefits both the environment and the economy.”

No centralized College of the Environment exists on campus, so the breadth of programs may be under the radar for many. But Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies John Gilligan says that research cannot be separated from other work being done by engineers, biologists, and scientists in the other colleges. “We have a number of research centers working on basic science linked to the environment,” Gilligan says, “and it would be difficult, but not impossible, to tie them all together.”

Even without an umbrella college, faculty pull in tens of millions of dollars annually for environmental research. The University’s leadership position in the field has attracted corporate and government entities to Centennial Campus for closer relationships with researchers. These include regional offices for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the National Weather Service and the headquarters of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. As William Ross, secretary of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, puts it, “The research being conducted by NC State has been vitally important to our continuous efforts to bring about a cleaner environment, healthier lives, and a stronger economy for all North Carolinians.”

This issue features some of the best of NC State’s environmental research.