East Carolina University's proximity to lakes, estuaries, and shallow coastal marine environments enables students and faculty to study these natural features at different levels of ecosystem organization. Within the Howell Science Complex, some of the frequently used facilities for graduate student and faculty research include the Central Environmental Laboratory, which houses equipment for analysis of water, plant, soil, and tissue samples; the Microscopy and Imaging Facility, with transmission and scanning electron microscopes and several ultramicrotomes; the Genomics Core Facility, including an automated DNA sequencer; the climate controlled greenhouse, housing a permanent collection of plants and providing growth space for research; and the Cell Culture Laboratory.
Facilities are also available for research requiring animal care and aquaria. Ecological experiments are commonly conducted at the West Research Campus, where long term research can be accommodated; and the Palmetto Peartree Preserve, a Tyrell County site, with extensive coastline and natural areas, will be available to host ECU researchers. The department has access to a fleet of research vessels for riverine, estuarine, and ocean based research. Additionally, a number of biology students are involved in research projects in the laboratories of faculty in ECU's Brody School of Medicine.