I’m Charlie Deaton, a graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Institute of Marine Science (IMS) in Morehead City, NC. Broadly, I study the connections between humans, ecosystems, and the coastal landscape as part of the Rodriguez Lab at IMS.


My research specifically focuses on the impacts of watershed-scale (i.e. upstream) land use change on tidal marsh and creek processes. Development, agriculture, and deforestation on land increase the amount of water, sediment, and pollutants that enter our marshes and estuaries, and we are trying to understand how those factors impact tidal creeks, which are important primary nursery areas (PNAs) for commercially and recreationally important species like blue crabs and flounder. I also contribute to studies of the evolution of oyster reefs through time and the implementation of oyster reefs and salt marshes as living shorelines. Understanding the connections between humans and coastal ecosystems and landscapes is critical for making management and policy decisions and helps shape our consideration of the coast as an interconnected system.

Previously, I received my B.S. from the College of William & Mary (2015) in Geology and Environmental Science+Policy, where I did research at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). I worked as a seagrass ecology intern with the Zostera Experimental Network at IMS and VIMS under Dr. Emmett Duffy, and I did my senior thesis with Drs. Chris Hein and Matt Kirwan, studying the ecological and geological connections between the marshes and barrier islands on Virginia’s Eastern Shore (recently published in Geology!).

Twitter: @cddeaton