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Rachel Noble, Ph.D. - UNC-Chapel Hill. Morehead City, NC, US

Rachel Noble, Ph.D. Rachel Noble, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor, Institute of Marine Sciences | UNC-Chapel Hill

Morehead City, NC, UNITED STATES

A main thread of Rachel Noble’s work is the application of novel molecular techniques for applied and basic science.





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Rachel Noble: UNC Hurricane Expert Rapid Water Testing | North Carolina Science Now | UNC-TV Environmental Impact of Hurricanes




Rachel Noble’s research program bridges environmental microbiology and marine microbial ecology. A main thread of Dr. Noble’s work is the application of novel molecular techniques for applied and basic science. She has developed a range of rapid water quality test methods, including those for E. coli, Enterococcus, and Vibrio species and studies the dynamics of microbial contaminants contributed through stormwater runoff to high priority recreational and shellfish harvesting waters. A specific interest is conducting research to partition anthropogenic inputs from reservoir populations in coastal ecosystems, thereby permitting development of accurate models.

Industry Expertise (3)




Areas of Expertise (20)


E. Coli

Water Treatment

Microbial Contaminants


Marine Biology


Marine Bacteria

Coastal Ecosystems

Waterborne Illnesses

Seafood Safety

Fluorescence Microscopy

Cell Culture



Water Quality Testing

Molecular Biology

Microbial Ecology


Environmental Science

Education (2)

University of Southern California: Ph.D., Marine Science 1998

Carnegie Mellon University: B.S., Biology 1991

Media Appearances (8)

Researchers warn of dangerous bacteria from flood waters

WITN  tv


Noble says, "I think a lot of people are doing better about understanding how septic systems work, sewage systems, about the drinking water and the need for bottled water but I do think, the wound infection and protecting people from becoming exposed to flood waters is one of the things we're concerned about most because those wound infections can be very serious."

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After hurricanes, why is it so hard to test for waterborne diseases?

PBS News Hour  tv


“Flood waters, in general, pose a real problem because you have so much area to cover, and so many things that it’s possible for you to test for,” said Rachel Noble, an environmental scientist at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City. “You could test for heavy metals, or maybe for contaminants stemming from hospital waste. There are literally hundreds or thousands of things that we could test the flood waters for.”

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Our Coast’s People: Rachel Noble

Coastal Review Online  online


Profile on Noble’s career and research.

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Produce Safety Tests Could Use A Refresh

Science Friday  radio


In this segment, Ira talks with Rachel Noble, a molecular biologist at the University of North Carolina, about current methods of testing farm fields for pathogens like E. coli, which can take 24 to 48 hours to show results, and a DNA test Noble has developed that could cut that to less than an hour.

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A Texas Woman Died From A Devastating “Flesh-Eating Bacteria” After Harvey

Buzzfeed  online


In Louisiana after Katrina, the CDC reported just over 50 cases of skin infections among evacuees, including two dozen cases of Vibrio bacterial infections. That group of cases was particularly large because the flooding levees and stormwater provided ideal conditions for Vibrio to thrive, Rachel Noble, professor of marine sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told BuzzFeed News.

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Scientists warn that floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey still pose a lingering threat — here’s what to watch out for

Business Insider  online


"For Vibrio, open wounds and scrapes are a major concern. If people with those are exposed to floodwaters and things that came in contact with flood waters, they need to be vigilant about red infection wounds with cellulitis, they need to be seen, and they need to NOT sleep on the wounds," said Noble. "These things can progress over a 10 hour period to a point of no return requiring amputation."

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Ensuring Safe Seafood

UNC System Research Opportunities Initiative  online


Research documentary about testing for bacteria pathogens in shellfish.

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NC Scientist Discovers Faster Method For Testing Shellfish

Public Radio East  radio


Dr. Rachel Noble of the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences, examines water samples in her lab taken from a beach near Morehead City ...

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Articles (5)

Evaluation of multiple laboratory performance and variability in analysis of recreational freshwaters by a rapid Escherichia coli qPCR method (Draft Method C)

Water Research

Tiong Gim Aw, Mano Sivaganesan, Shannon Briggs, Erin Dreelin, Asli Aslan, Samuel Dorevitch, Abhilasha Shrestha, Natasha Isaacs, Julie Kinzelman, Greg Kleinheinz, Rachel Noble, Rick Rediske, Brian Scull, Susan Rosenberg, Barbara Weberman, Tami Sivy, Ben Southwell, Shawn Siefring, Kevin Oshima, Richard Haugland


In this study we determined the performance of 21 laboratories in meeting proposed, standardized data quality acceptance (QA) criteria and the variability of target gene copy estimates from these laboratories in analyses of 18 shared surface water samples by a draft qPCR method developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for E. coli.

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Decadal monitoring reveals an increase in Vibrio spp. concentrations in the Neuse River Estuary, North Carolina, USA

Plos ONE

Brett Froelich, Raul Gonzalez, Denene Blackwood, Kellen Lauer, Rachel Noble


A decade long study was conducted to investigate the ecological, biological, and temporal conditions that affect concentrations of Vibrio spp. bacteria in a well-studied lagoonal estuary.

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Quantification of pathogens and markers of fecal contamination during storm events along popular surfing beaches in San Diego, California

Water Research

Joshua A.Steele, A. Denene Blackwood, John F. Griffith, Rachel T. Noble, Kenneth C. Schiff


Here, we use droplet digital Polymerase Chain Reaction (digital PCR) and digital reverse transcriptase PCR (digital RT-PCR) assays for direct quantification of pathogenic viruses, pathogenic bacteria, and source-specific markers of fecal contamination in the stormwater discharges.

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Differences in Abundances of Total Vibrio spp., V. vulnificus, and V. parahaemolyticus in Clams and Oysters in North Carolina

Applied and Environmental Microbiology

B. A. Froelich, B. Phippen, P. Fowler, R. T. Noble, J. D. Oliver


After sampling of oysters and clams, either simultaneously or separately, for over 2 years, it was concluded that while Vibrio concentrations in oysters and water were related, this was not the case for levels in clams and water.

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Comparisons of statistical models to predict fecal indicator bacteria concentrations enumerated by qPCR- and culture-based methods

Water Research

Raul A.Gonzalez, Rachel T. Noble


In this study, we created prediction models using qPCR-based fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) data in dual-use recreational and shellfish harvesting waters and compared them to published ENT and Escherichia coli (EC) culture-based prediction models in eastern North Carolina estuaries.

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