PhD Student Heather Heenehan Receives Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

April 1, 2016

Tim Lucas, 919/613-8084,

DURHAM, N.C. – Heather Heenehan, a Ph.D. student in marine science and conservation at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, has received a 2016 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Heenehan was one of only two doctoral students university-wide selected for the prestigious honor this year by Duke’s Graduate School.

Heenehan, who is based at the Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort, N.C., is a fifth-year doctoral student whose research focuses on the bioacoustics of spinner dolphins in Hawaii and how their behaviors and health can be affected by underwater noise pollution and human disturbances.

Since the joining the Ph.D. program at the Marine Lab, she has served as a teaching assistant in nine courses and taken part in Duke’s Preparing Future Faculty and Certificate in College Teaching programs.

In spring 2015, she co-taught the popular “Marine Megafauna” course, for which she helped develop a new iPad app called Cachalot, which serves as a digital textbook for students in the class and is available for free use outside the classroom by anyone interested in learning more about marine animals, their habitats and behaviors. She also was part of the Marine Lab team that created an iPad-based system for experiential teaching on underwater acoustics that is now used in numerous classes, and as an undergraduate research tool and in public outreach.
Heenehan is an active participant in numerous K-12 educational outreach programs, including the Girls in STEM Mentorship Program, the Scientists with Stories program, and the Scientific Research and Education Network.  Her outreach work has been featured in numerous campus publications and local news stories, and in the Huffington Post.

David W. Johnston, assistant professor of the practice of marine conservation ecology at the Nicholas School, is Heenehan’s faculty advisor.