Weekly Update: Spring Photo Contest Winner, Commencement & Recognition Speakers, PhD Named Fellow and more....

April 12, 2018

A weekly roundup of Nicholas School news, awards and grants from Dean Jeff Vincent

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GRAND PRIZE WINNER SPRING PHOTO CONTEST: As Sustainability Officer at DLL, Michael Rinaldi MEM’15 works to expand access to credit by leading the company's microleasing projects in Kenya, Rwanda, and Zambia. Here he is inspecting honey with Prince Florentin Nsabiyumuva who leads a group in Rwanda that has utilized the microleasing program. See story #3.

Hi everyone,

Those who attended the dynamic Rising TIDE lecture by Mamie Parker last year, “Power Up! Beyond Stuck, Stalled, and Scared,” will not have forgotten it. The lecture was an uplifting call to overcome the divisions that prevent progress on societally important environmental challenges. Parker drew amply on her own remarkable life story, with a good amount of humor mixed in.

I’m delighted that more of our school community will have an opportunity to be inspired by Parker, as she will deliver the commencement address at the 2018 Recognition Ceremony for our graduating Master of Environmental Management, Master of Forestry, and PhD students on Saturday, May 12. Parker’s career has included leadership positions in the federal government and with nonprofit conservation organizations, and she currently runs a successful public speaking and executive coaching business in Washington, DC. We’re honored that she joined our Board of Visitors this year.

I’m also pleased to announce that Aleksandra Dobkowski-Joy MEM’98 will deliver the alumni address at the Recognition Ceremony. A member of our Alumni Council, Dobkowski-Joy serves as principal and partner at Framework LLC in Stamford, Conn., and is a leading practitioner in sustainability strategy and communications.

This weekend is Duke Alumni Reunion Weekend, so please join me in welcoming back to campus all of the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral Duke alums with Nicholas School connections. That includes the members of our Alumni Council and the many alums on our Board of Visitors. These two important groups will be on campus tomorrow for a combined spring meeting. If you meet any Board or Alumni Council members in the next few days, please take the opportunity to learn more about them, to tell them about your role in the school, and to thank them for their service and support.

  1. Eight faculty members with Nicholas School appointments – Lori Bennear, Martin Doyle, Ryke Longest, Megan Mullin, Billy Pizer, Drew Shindell, Christopher Timmins and  Jonathan Wiener – were part of six groups of Duke faculty awarded multiyear Research Collaboratory grants by the offices of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies and the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. In addition, Associate Professor Marc Jeuland was part of one of five groups that received one-year pilot research grants in the humanities and social sciences. A priority of the Together Duke academic strategic plan, these grants provide flexible funding to strengthen Duke’s intellectual communities and help faculty members find solutions to real-world problems. Read about their projects here.
  2. PhD student Chelsea Clifford was named an Anthropocene Farm Fellow as part of the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ Facing the Anthropocene project, which looks at humanity’s place in the world and what it means for social, political, and institutional change. In partnership with Duke Campus Farm, the fellows will undertake archival and field research on the history of land use and habitation on the farm and its surrounding area, especially as sites of native land use and enslaved labor.
  3. Congrats to Michael Rinaldi MEM’15 for winning the grand prize in the I Am Duke Environment photo contest. The winning photo, “Financing Sustainable Development in Rwanda,” shows Michael and Prince Florentin Nsabiyumuva inspecting honey next to the beehives at the Hills of Nature Beekeepers Cooperative in Rwanda. PhD student KC Bierlich, undergrad Peishu Li, and MEM students Elihu Dietz and Bobbi Lesser were runners-up. You can see all the winning photos here.
  4. Whether you are faculty, staff or a student, everyone can benefit from a dialog about divisiveness among social groups or identities. The Nicholas School will host an interactive theater experience and facilitated conversation, led by Theater Delta, a Durham-based interactive theater company, about managing these conflicts on Tuesday, April 17 at 11:30 a.m. at Field Auditorium. Lunch will be served at the performance. You can RSVP here.
  5. Duke Marine Lab will host the third annual Girls Exploring Science & Technology (GEST) event this Saturday. GEST provides middle school girls the opportunity to participate in hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities alongside female scientists working in those fields. This kind of outreach is essential to fulfill the Nicholas School's and the Marine Lab’s mission to engage our communities. Kudos to the PhD students who organized this important event, especially event coordinator Sarah Loftus, and to all the other volunteers! For more info on this event, check out our story.                                                                            
  6. Arising from a graduate seminar in marine ecology is a new article that finds major geographical and methodological gaps in coastal restoration science. The study, led by PhD student Stacy Zhang, found that the effects of species interactions are often not considered in restoration designs and, as a whole, few restoration studies are conducted outside of North America or Europe despite the global loss and degradation of coastal habitats. Alums Rebecca Cope MEM’16 and Eleanor Heywood MEM’16, undergrad Carmen Hoyt and faculty member Brian Silliman co-authored the paper.
  7. Teaching assistant and alum Dongdong Wang paired up with PhD student Yanlan Liu to write a recently published paper that presents a new method to perform efficient distributed hydrologic simulations. The method will be useful for fine-scale simulations of hydrologic states within inland wetlands and flood inundation areas. Assistant professor Mukesh Kumar co-authored the article.

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