Ryan Emanuel is an Associate Professor and University Faculty Scholar in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University, where he has worked since 2010.  His research and teaching focus on hydrology, environmental sciences, and Indigenous studies.  Ryan is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe, the largest Native American tribe in the eastern United States.

Ryan was born and raised in Charlotte, NC – two hours away from the center of Lumbee community and culture in present-day Robeson County, NC.  His parents, also Lumbee, were raised in Robeson County during Segregation, making Ryan the first in his family to attend non-Indian schools. He attended Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools (K-12) during a time when the school system served as a national model for integration, and he was part of the first class of students to receive the International Baccalaureate diploma from a public school in North Carolina.

Ryan was a youth leader in Boy Scouts, worked at Mecklenburg County Council’s summer camp in McDowell County, NC, received awards for service at the Council level, and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Throughout his youth, he maintained close ties with the Lumbee Tribe through regular visits to family in Pembroke and Saddletree, two prominent Robeson County communities.

Ryan participated in a federally-funded Indian Education program within Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, which was designed to support Native American students distributed across one of the largest school districts in the South.

Ryan at Yellowstone Lake

Ryan earned a BS in Geology from Duke University. Before attending graduate school, he worked in raw materials sourcing for a composite deckboard manufacturer in Virginia. Ryan later earned an MS and PhD in Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia.  In 2007, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Center for Global Change at Duke University.  From 2007 until 2010, Ryan was an Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow in the Department of Geology at Appalachian State University (now Geological and Environmental Sciences) where he co-founded the Appalachian Atmospheric Interdisciplinary Research (AppalAIR) program and served as faculty advisor for the Native American Council and Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.

Ryan currently leads the Ecohydrology and Watershed Science Lab at NC State, which conducts scientific research related to water, ecosystems, and climate change. Group members study water and biogeochemical cycles in mountain landscapes, exposure of freshwater ecosystems to salt in coastal regions, and impacts of climate change on Indigenous territories and communities. Lab alumni are professors, academic researchers, and technical specialists in government and private industry. Ryan currently advises the NC State chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES). He works with the national AISES organization on an NSF-funded program designed to broaden participation of Native Americans in STEM-related academic careers.

Professional Record (Full Academic CV)

North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

  • University Faculty Scholar, 2016 – Present
  • Faculty Fellow, Center for Geospatial Analytics, 2016 – Present
  • Associate Professor, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, 2015 – Present
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, 2010 – 2015

Appalachian State University, Boone, NC

  • Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow, Department of Geology, 2007 – 2010

Duke University, Durham, NC

  • Postdoctoral Researcher, Center for Global Change, 2007

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

  • Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant, 2001 – 2007

United States Geological Survey, Charlotte, NC and Raleigh, NC

  • Hydrologic Aide, 1995 – 1998

Professional Honors and Awards

Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professorship

  • North Carolina State University, 2020

Steve Wing International Environmental Justice Award

  • North Carolina Environmental Justice Network, 2019

Nominated for Governor James E. Holshouser, Jr. Award for Excellence in Public Service

  • North Carolina State University, 2019

Distinguished Service to Indian Education

  • United Tribes of North Carolina, 2019

University Sustainability Award (The “Green Brick”)

  • North Carolina State University, 2018

Science Advocacy Award

  • University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, 2016

Community Service Award

  • American Indian Science and Engineering Society, 2015