• Community Sense of Place Community Sense of Place Tourism Impacts and Second Home Development: A Sustainable Approach
  • Climate, Weather, and Tourism Climate, Weather, and Tourism Tourism destinations and their individual tourism businesses are all vying for tourists at their respective locations.
  • Engagement and Community Engagement and Community In partnership with the Office of Engagement, Innovation, and Economic Development.
  • Rural Tourism Rural Tourism Sustaining rural America is one of today's pressing issues.
  • RESET RESET Race, Ethnicity, and Social Equity in Tourism
  • US Travel Care Code US Travel Care Code The United States Travel Care Code has been developed and is managed by the Center for Sustainable Tourism.
  • RETI RETI The Renewable Energy in Tourism Initiative
  • Tourism and Entrepreneurship Tourism and Entrepreneurship Developing the local tourism industry as part of an economic development strategy.

Graduate Assistants
A team of Research Assistants, graduate students from various disciplines, provide assistance in research and program development and management to advance Center Initiatives in support of sustainability and tourism.



Emily Ayscue

RETI Webinars & Climate, Weather, and Tourism Initiative

Emily is originally from Kansas but grew up near Louisburg, NC. As an undergrad she studied Geology here at ECU, as well as French and Music. At the Center, Emily will be marketing and managing the RETI webinar series and developing a Climate, Weather, and Tourism newsletter which would provide seasonal climate and weather forecasts for the coastal tourism industry here in North Carolina. She also works as a Teaching Assistant for Paige Schneider's Tourism Development class. Emily's hobbies include playing and writing music, hiking, camping, and fishing.


JP Duncan

NC GreenTravel & Sustainable Tourism Practices Initiative

JP was born and raised in North Carolina where he has spent his life living in various parts of the state. Being born in Beaufort, he has a love for the outdoors especially being on the water. This mixed with his time living in Caswell County have made him an advocate of the wilderness. JP has a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in managerial finance from East Carolina University. He became interested in studying sustainable tourism while working at a brewery. This interest was sparked from a desire to reduce waste in order to preserve the environment. JP is currently working on the NC Green Travel Initiative and the Sustainable Tourism Practices Initiative for the Center.


Scott Gray

Entrepreneurship Climate Study & Second Home Tourism Study
Scott Gray is a native of Greenville, NC and has returned to his hometown with big goals. He is currently working on his MBA and MS in Sustainable Tourism. After completing his undergrad in ECU's College of Business, Scott lived in Ocracoke and Boone, NC while working as a barista, bartender, and chef, but has returned to his hometown with big goals.He has traveled throughout South America and Europe with his studies. Scott is an avid surfer, music lover, hiker, gardener, brewer, fisherman, hunter, and is an all around outdoorsman. He is currently involved with work on the E-metrics project with Dr. Carol Kline as well as the Sea Grant project with Dr. Huili Hao and Dr. Craig Landry.Scott is currently being published for his work with the Institute of Outdoor Drama, establishing a “Going Green Initiative for the IOD.” Scott’s thirst for knowledge, love of his home state and the outdoors, are sure to lead to very prosperous ventures in his future.

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Wilson Hoggard

Race, Ethnicity, Social Equity, and Tourism (RESET) Initiative

Wilson was born and raised in Eastern North Carolina in the small town of Merry Hill. Wilson’s family has worked in logging and farming so at a young age in life he was exposed to the environment and sustainable practices. For his undergraduate degree he went to North Carolina State University acquiring a BA in History where he primarily studied African American History. He hopes to research the rural south during his time at the Center of Sustainable Touris

    Lucy Hurtado       

Lucia Hertado

Data Analysis with State Tourism Office

I am originally from Quito, Ecuador. As an undergrad I studied Hospitality Management at Universidad San Francisco de Quito. During my undergrad years, I participated in the Disney College Program for eight months at Orlando, Florida. My love for traveling and experiencing new forms of culture is what brought me to the center. Additional, I love to swim, cook, travel, paint and all forms of art. My interests in sustainability range from rural entrepreneurship to green restaurant/ lodging entrepreneurship.  Currently, I am investigating perceived benefits and barriers for the adoption of sustainable practices in NC, and how to reduce carbon footprint in study abroad programs.

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Chris Johnson

Second Home Study, Roanoke River Development Project

Chris was born and raised in Long Island, New York, and completed his undergraduate degree upstate at SUNY Brockport earning a teaching degree in physical education. He moved to North Carolina after graduation and taught in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School district for five years. During his undergrad years, Chris participated in three study abroad trips, ranging from one month, to one semester, to one year in Spain, Australia, and Brazil respectively. His love of travel and exotic, beautiful places goes hand in hand with his appreciation for the land and different cultures. In addition to his travels and cultural exchanges, being an Eagle Scout has also helped Chris to become a steward of the world and appreciate its natural resources. Chris thoroughly enjoys home cooked meals (and will happily do the dishes), good company, and anything that takes him outside. He loves to run, hike, sail, camp, paddle, and explore. All of these interests have brought him to the Center.

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Daniel Johnson

Daniel was born and raised in a small farming community outside of Elizabeth City, NC. He spent most of his youth exploring the wilds of eastern North Carolina. He received his BS in Anthropology with a minor in Environmental Health from Western Carolina University and fostered a love for the mountains. Daniel spent 10 years as a commercial construction safety professional in Raleigh assisting in major construction projects. He most recently helped start a small sustainable farm outside of Beaufort. He is especially interest in sustainable food systems, agritourism, and rural development. In his free time Daniel enjoys camping, hiking, farming, and surfing.


Leah Joyner

Visitor Study Project & Sustainable Food Systems

As a native of Greenville, Leah is excited to return home to her roots in Eastern North Carolina. Leah recently graduated from Appalachian State University, nestled in the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains of Western NC, with a BS in Technical Photography and a BA in Sustainable Development. During her undergraduate time at ASU she had the opportunity to work as an intern with the Johnson County Farmer’s Market through a USDA Food Grant, creating a local food strategy for economic development and community engagement. This project encouraged her to seek out people interested in reversing their roles in the food chain from food consumer to producer. Consequently, she developed an independent study which resulted in a year-long documentary project focusing on a sixth generation family farm in Happy Valley North Carolina. This project inspired Leah to continue on a path dedicated to using visual imagery to inspire pride in self-sufficiency and elicit interest in the movement towards more sustainable agrarian lifestyles. She hopes to combine this documentary perspective with the initiatives the Center for Sustainable Tourism in already working on. Leah will be working on the Center’s Visitor Study Project, and conducting research on Sustainable Food Systems. When not busy looking at the world through a lens, Leah enjoys gardening, cooking, and a good book.

Sam Myers 

Sam Myers

EPA Research Project

Sam is from a small eastern NC town called LaGrange. He first became interested in tourism studies when he began working on his BA in Parks and Recreation Management with a concentration in Tourism at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. After graduation, Sam started his first full-time job with the Outer Banks, working for a vacation real estate company where he obtained his real estate broker's license. This work experience fueled Sam's interests in tourism studies even further. As a graduate student, Sam is now working on an EPA funded research project with our engineering department that is focused on making vacation rental properties more environmentally and economically efficient.


Shan Newton

NC Agricultural Systems

Shan Newton owes his lineage to the beautiful lands of North Carolina. As an undergraduate, he studied classical guitar at the ECU School of Music before switching his major to a BA in Classics. His translations in ancient Latin and Greek led him to study most intimately the effects of policy in Plato's De Republica, and the inspirational reflections of Marcus Aurelius's Ad Se Ipsum. In an effort to round out his education, Shan completed a Certificate of Accounting, before enrolling in the dual Master program at ECU. Now earning his MBA and MS in Sustainable Tourism, he conducts research pertaining to food studies and security, evidence-based leadership in hospitality management, and tourism in Cuba. He has other interests in mythic tourism, climate change, integrating sustainability indicators into accounting and financial project valuation, and tourism management. Shan also serves as Treasurer for the Students for Sustainable Tourism group, is a recent graduate of the Engagement, Outreach, and Scholarship Academy, and stays highly involved on campus by attending conferences and lectures. Shan's love for other cultures, his passion for understanding, and his fervent desire to make a positive impact in the world makes him a great asset to the Center for Sustainable Tourism.


Heather Rubright

Cuba Research, Food and Tourism Entrepreneurship

Heather was born in Virginia but was mostly raised in Florida. She attended the University of Florida and received degrees in Psychology and Sociology. She worked in social services for a number of years before attending the University of Central Florida to obtain an MBA. After obtaining her degree she continued to work in a hospital setting assisting uninsured patients obtain Medicaid and Social Security Disability. She moved to North Carolina for a change of scenery and worked as a disability examiner before discovering the MS program in Sustainable Tourism at ECU. She is excited to finally find a path that aligns with her personal interests and passions. This year she will be working on data obtained in Cuba regarding arts and cultural tourist activities and amenities in Havana, food and tourism entrepreneur profiles, and assisting in the writing of a paper about understanding food entrepreneurs within the context of two theories. In her free time she enjoys the beach, hiking, camping, exercising, and traveling in addition to many other outdoor activities.

Charis Tucker 

Charis Tucker

Race, Ethnicity and Social Equity in Tourism (RESET) Initiative

Charis was born and raised in Chesterfield, VA. She joined the Pirate family as an education major earning an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education (2003) and a Master's degree in Adult Education (2011). Charis' membership to an international travel club spurred her desire to turn her passion into a profession. After learning about the varied travel experiences of other minority members, she was intrigued to find out more about the field especially as it relates to African Americans and how she could assist others in traveling more. The Center's RESET Initiative seemed to be the perfect fit!

Sustainable Tourism | About Us | Graduate Assistants

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