Weekly Update: Commencement, Sustainability Award, Graduation with Distinction honors and more...

May 4, 2017
 Tim Johnson's sustainability award

Read about Tim Johnson's sustainability award below.

Hi everyone,

The year goes fast. Commencement is barely a week away, and I will – for the first time as dean –  have the opportunity to shake the hands of all of our hardworking graduates as we celebrate their time at the Nicholas School. I hope you will join me.

While I’m “dusting off” my academic robes, there is still much to be done before the festivities start. Good luck to you students who are finishing exams and to faculty and staff who are trying to navigate the end-of-year pileup of work and events.

This will be one of my last Weekly Updates before we start the summer schedule. I expect there will be enough news for at least a couple more. So, I will keep this short and let you get on with this week’s news.


  1. Congratulations to the 10 undergraduate students earning Graduation with Distinction honors from the Nicholas School this year. They are Nina Berlin, Jeff Feng, Morgan Irons, Jessica Kuesel, Noah Lieberman, Eva May, Kayla Morton, Chandra Rouse, Jaidev Satish and Katherine Vayda. The Graduation with Distinction program recognizes undergraduates who demonstrate academic excellence through the successful completion of a rigorous senior thesis. These students will be among 53 undergrads receiving bachelor’s degrees in majors offered by the Nicholas School next weekend. For more information on the students’ Graduation with Distinction projects, read the full story.
  2. Tim Johnson was honored with the Outstanding Leadership in Sustainability faculty award at the Sustainable Duke awards luncheon last week. He was nominated by Lin Zuo T’20 for spending time outside the classroom to give the Duke Green Devils – a group of first-year undergraduates working to make East Campus more sustainable – an evening presentation on electric vehicles. In her nomination, Lin wrote, “Professor Johnson gave a group of freshmen the chance to learn about a unique technology from an expert. It was really unique to connect with a grad school professor over dinner and good discussion.” Kudos to Tim for taking time to link with our undergraduates in this tangible and powerful way! 
  3. The International Sea Turtle Society (ISTS) has presented its 2017 Champions Award to the State of the World’s Sea Turtles (SWOT) Network, a global initiative co-managed by Pat Halpin and his OBIS-SEAMAP team at our Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab (MGEL). The SWOT Network uses geospatial technologies to compile the most current data available on sea turtle populations and their habitats. These maps and databases are shared freely with researchers and conservationists worldwide. Research associate Connie Kot, MEM alums Patricia Villegas and Andrew DiMatteo, and former postdoc Bryan Wallace were among the current and former MGEL affiliates on hand at ISTS’ annual symposium last month to accept the award on SWOT’s behalf. 
  4. Research projects by Dalia Patiño-Echeverri, Marc Jeuland and Mark Wiesner were among those receiving funding from the Duke University Energy Initiative's Energy Research Seed Fund. Seven projects involving 14 Duke faculty members were selected to receive a total of $240,000 from the fund this year. Dalia’s project will project future electricity demand in China, Marc’s will estimate energy reliability using remote sensing imagery data and machine learning, while Mark’s will build a high-performance system for capacitive deionization – a promising water treatment technology. You can read more about the projects here.
  5. Diego Calderon-Arrieta MEM’17, Jason Lee MEM’18 and Prasad Kasibhatla were honored at Monday’s Graduate & Professional Student Council Celebration Banquet for outstanding teaching, outreach and advocacy on behalf of Duke’s graduate students. Diego and Prasad both received Jo Rae Wright Student Advocacy Awards, while Jason received the Community Citizenship Award. Congrats!

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