Elizabeth Friend


Elizabeth Friend grew up in North Carolina listening to public radio in the backseat of the family station wagon.  She has been reporting and producing at WUNC since 2016, covering everything from Army history to armadillos.  She's also the co-founder of the beloved summer event series Audio Under The Stars. In her spare time she enjoys exploring the outside world with her family, dabbling in esoteric crafts, and cheese.

A photo of Scott Morningstar and Ronni Zuckerman
Scott Morningstar

When Scott Morningstar graduated high school, he knew college wasn’t what he was looking for. He got a steady job bending tubes, but it wasn't much of a career.

A photo of Sontina and Reggie Barnes
Sontina Barnes

When Sontina Barnes joined the Army in 1993, she was looking for something new.

“I was a junior at N.C. State and I was burned out,” she recalled.

At the time, she was working three jobs on top of school.

James Dantzler poses with his sentry dog named Rip while working security along Highway 1 at the Esso refinery plan in Vietnam in 1969.
James Dantzler

When James Dantzler graduated high school in 1966, he found no one was hiring young men who were likely to be drafted for the Vietnam War. So he joined the Marine Corps. 

“I felt like they were the best, and if I’m going to go to war, I’m going to go with the best,” he said. 

A photo of Daniel Lucas Elliott, who was was killed on July, 15, 2011 in Basra, Iraq, when a roadside bomb hit his vehicle.
Patti Elliott

Patti Elliott remembers her youngest son Lucas was always “kind of an adrenaline junky.”

A photo of David Englert with his son Logan
David Englert

Charlotte resident David Englert served 21 years in the military, first in the Marines, then in the Air Force. 

Just before his 18-year-old son Logan left for college, the two sat down to talk about their life together as a military family.

A photo of Ted and Brittany Corcoran
Ted Corcoran

When Ted Corcoran joined the Army in 2000, he needed a steady job and a place to live.  

"I wish I had a noble reason for joining the military, but in reality, I was very poor, and I didn't have a whole lot of options," Corcoran said.

He trained to be a medic so he would have a skill set that he could immediately put to use in the civilian world. As he neared the end of his stint in the Army, he was working as an EMT and preparing to transition out of the reserves. He never expected to be sent to Iraq.

But in 2005, he got a letter in the mail telling him to prepare for deployment."It was a real simple choice, it was show up a Fort Jackson, or there will be a warrant put out for your arrest for desertion," Corcoran said.At first, he thought he'd just keep his head down and focus on the mission, but as his work roles changed during his deployment, his world view changed as well.  

Coyotes are everywhere in North Carolina.

C'mon, "everywhere?" Really? Yes, really.  To borrow from a commonly used expression: you can't swing a cat outdoors without hitting a coyote around here. (Note: we would never actually swing nor recommend swinging a cat and our sincere apologies to people who don't care to think of cats and coyotes in the same imagery.)

We get into the prevalence of this particular animal species in our new audio special CREEP, which explores how and why coyotes migrated from the southwestern United States to our neck of the woods. Now that they're here, they're here to stay.

The pandemic has infiltrated and affected every aspect of human life, across the globe. The devastating health and economic impacts have been undeniable, and ever-present.

But there’s something else happening that’s not as noticeable: the animals. Creatures with fur, feathers and paws have been spotted in some unexpected places since there haven't been as many humans getting in their way.

WUNC’s Laura Pellicer and Elizabeth Friend were curious about the effect a drastic decrease in human activity might have on wildlife. So they decided to look at one animal in particular, and see if it’s behavior has changed since North Carolina shut down from COVID-19.

On this episode, we’re featuring "CREEP," an audio special about our relationship with wildlife during the pandemic.


Is it just us…or have animals been acting different lately?

CREEP is an unexpected audio documentary for these challenging times. Journalists Elizabeth Friend and Laura Pellicer team up to tell the story of how the COVID-19 pandemic changed our relationship with the animals.

This half-hour special takes listeners on a virtual nature walk – one that makes some unplanned stops throughout history to examine how one species in particular has started showing up in unexpected ways since we humans started social distancing.

Pittsboro courthouse
1nativeTexan / flickr

Researchers from Duke and N.C. State this week briefed Pittsboro officials on the presence of unregulated chemicals in the town's water supply.

Cameras outside the International Space Station captured a stark and sobering view of Hurricane Florence the morning of Sept. 12 as it churned across the Atlantic in a west-northwesterly direction with winds of 130 miles an hour.
Courtesy of NASA

Coastal flooding from hurricanes and other tropical storms is getting worse, according to a recent study by researchers at the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City. Scientists looked at more than 120 years of data on tropical cyclones and rainfall in North Carolina. They found six of the wettest events occurred in the last 20 years. Hans Paerl, the study's lead author, says statistical analysis shows that’s more than just a string of bad luck.

Drone in flight
Don McCullough / Flickr Creative Commons

The Research Triangle has been chosen to host test sites where researchers will develop drone technology in rural and suburban settings.

A water fountain inside a hallway at a school at Chapel Hill Carrboro Public Schools.
Brian Batista / For WUNC

Even low levels of lead can cause harm to children, but 22 states, including North Carolina, don’t require schools and day cares to test the levels of lead in children’s drinking water.

The pro-Confederate group Alamance County Taking Back Alamance County, or ACTBAC, helped install this 20x20 foot flag northwest of Hillsborough last April. Under Orange County's new regulation, this flag would be considered too large and subject to zoning
Alamance County Taking Back Alamance County

The Orange County man who raised an enormous Confederate battle flag on his property along Highway 70 is appealing the county’s ruling that his flag violates a new ordinance.

Lineman Mike Garner and Line Superintendent Shannon Inman prepare to respond to damage from Hurricane Dorian.
Carteret-Craven Electric Co-op / Carteret-Craven Electric Co-op

The lights are out for thousands of people in southeastern North Carolina as crews assess damage from Hurricane Dorian.

The SPCA of Wake County is gearing up to shelter animals in advance of Hurricane Dorian making landfall in the Carolinas.
SPCA of Wake County

Animal rescue organizations are working to get some shelter animals out of areas likely to be hit by Hurricane Dorian.

Wake County Public Schools

Some special education students in Wake County are still waiting for a ride to school due to a shortage of drivers.

Wikimedia Commons

Triangle-based tech company Cree is feeling pressure from U.S. trade disputes with China. CEO Gregg Lowe detailed the company's fourth quarter earnings in a conference call Tuesday. 

“The current operating environment is very challenging,” said Lowe. “Geopolitical and macroeconomic issues impacted our financial results in the fourth quarter, and we expect them to present some additional headwinds in Q1 of 2020 and perhaps beyond.”

A picture of a man using an e-cigarette.
www.vaping360.com / Vaping3650/Flickr

State health officials are investigating a series of hospitalizations possibly related to vaping. Three patients in North Carolina have been treated for a severe lung illness since July.

Aerial photo taken August 4, 2019, shows a large algae bloom in the Chowan River. State officials are warning the public to avoid the bloom, which has tested positive for microcystins.
Environmental Working Group / EWG

Toxic algae are increasingly showing up in lakes across the country. A new study from the Environmental Working Group examines how state and federal agencies monitor microcystins, which are toxins that can form in blue-green algae.

The IR-4 project focuses on specialty crops like fruits, vegetables, nuts and herbs.
Flickr user Josh Mazgelis

The national agricultural research program that works to get regulatory approval for conventional chemical and bio-pesticides will soon be housed at North Carolina State University.

A bus, a car, and four lime green scooters at an intersection in downtown Durham.
Elizabeth Friend / WUNC

Electric scooters are touted by companies as a greener way to get around, but new research from North Carolina State University suggests they have a larger carbon footprint than many users might realize.


The state Marine Fisheries Commission will meet later this month to consider instituting fishing seasons to help increase the stock of one of the state’s key commercial fish species.

A recently hatched Loggerhead turtle crawls on the sand headed for the ocean
National Park Service

A record-breaking number of sea turtle nests have been recorded at Cape Lookout National Seashore this year, and more are expected in coming months. 

The previous record was set in 2016, said B.G. Horvat, chief of interpretation at Cape Lookout, when researchers confirmed 352 established nests.

The proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline run through eight counties in Eastern North Carolina.
Roy Luck / Flickr/ Creative Commons

A federal appeals court on Friday tossed out key permits related to the Atlantic Coast pipeline, saying that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decisions regarding the permits were “arbitrary and capricious,” and that the agency seemed to have “lost sight of its mandate” to protect endangered and threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Windows to the Deep 2019. / NOAA

Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration discovered a methane seep field off the coast of Bodie Island in 2012, but they didn’t get a look at it until this year.

minority obese
Courtesy of the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity

New research from Duke University suggests discriminatory housing and development policies that have shaped predominately minority neighborhoods may be contributing to higher obesity rates in those communities.

 Demolition crews dismantle the building at 806 N. Duke St., next to the site of the April gas explosion in Durham, N.C.
Elizabeth Friend / WUNC

The landscape of North Duke Street in Durham is slowly starting to change, three months after a deadly gas explosion tore apart a block near downtown.  

Demolition crews have leveled one building next to the site of the explosion at the Kaffeinate coffee shop. That address, 806 West Main Street, is the only one on the block with an active demolition permit, according to city records.

Cape Fear River at Raven Rock State Park NC
Keith Weston / WUNC

A study out of Michigan examining the persistence of chemicals like PFAS in drinking water could have repercussions for communities in North Carolina.

OverHook / Pixabay

A new state law creates harsher penalties for those who illegally sell drugs that result in a fatal overdose.

Under the "death by distribution" law, drug dealers can be charged with second degree murder if someone overdoses on an illegal substance they've sold.