Weekly Update: Duke Water Symposium, Recognition Ceremony, Preserving Data Sets and more ...

March 30, 2017
weekly update group story duke water symposium 3-30.jpg
The Duke Water Network and the Duke Student Association of Wetland Scientists 
organized the 2017 Duke Water Symposium at Duke Gardens this past Friday.
Great turnout. Here I am with keynote speaker James Dalton, director of civil works,
US Army Corps of Engineers, and students and faculty from his alma mater, NC A&T.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Brennan.

Hi everyone,

This Friday and Saturday we’ll be bursting at the seams as 170 prospective MEM and MF students join us for Admitted Students Weekend. This year’s group is the largest, most diverse and most qualified cohort we’ve ever hosted.
I don’t need to tell you how important the weekend will be – not only for us, but for the visiting students, who will be looking for confirmation that the Nic School is the right fit for them.
Please take time to join us at some of the events we’ve planned – the full schedule is posted here –  so you can welcome them and their families to our community, assist them in finding their way around our campus, and answer any questions they may have. 
The personal interaction you have with them makes a huge difference in helping us continue to attract the world’s most outstanding future environmental leaders to our school community. 
Now, let’s get on with this week’s bumper crop of news.

  1. Pablo Arenas, director general of the Mexican National Fisheries Institute, will be our guest speaker at this year’s Recognition Ceremony for MEM, MF and PhD candidates and their families on Saturday, May 13. Over the course of his nearly 30-year career, Dr. Arenas has led the push to enhance the sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture facilities in both Mexico and the United States. We’re honored to have him speak to our 2017 graduating class (which includes his son Esteban Arenas, who will be receiving an MEM in Coastal Environmental Management). 
  2. Stuart Pimm has joined forces with two national nonprofits, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Media and Democracy to prevent hundreds of environmental data sets on government websites from being removed by the Trump administration. Last week, Stuart and the centers filed three Freedom of Information Act requests designed to ensure continued free public access to a wealth of data – from eight different federal agencies – on energy, climate, sea level rise, water, marine conservation, threatened and endangered species, and other critical environmental issues. Many media outlets have reported the sudden disappearance of such data from federal websites recently. Please join me in thanking Stuart for his efforts to defend our access to this vital science. 
  3. Speaking of defending science, The Nic School Student Council is co-sponsoring a chartered bus to the March for Science in Washington, D.C., on Earth Day (April 22). There are only 55 seats, first come first served, and tickets are $30. To reserve a seat, you must complete the RSVP form and submit payment by April 6. Further details are provided on the form. 
  4. Faculty member Alex Glass spent Spring Break teaching a course on climate change in North Carolina for undeclared freshmen and sophomores. The five-day course, which Alex taught as part of Duke’s Spring Breakthrough program, drove home the impacts of climate change through hands-on learning, including visits to the former FACE site in Duke Forest (where the students learned about carbon sequestration), and a day spent on the Outer Banks (where they witnessed the effects of sea-level rise). Great job, Alex!
  5. A new study led by PhD student Danica Schaffer-Smith reveals that drought and reduced seasonal flooding of wetlands and farm fields threaten a globally important stopover site for tens of thousands of migratory shorebirds in California’s Sacramento Valley. Danica and her team used more than 30 years of Landsat satellite images to conduct their analysis, which shows an area of flooded habitat more than twice the size of Washington, D.C., has been lost. Faculty member Jennifer Swenson and researchers from Point Blue Conservation Science co-authored the study.
  6. Nic School alum Michael Mascia PhD'00 and faculty member Xavier Basurto are co-authors of a new paper in Nature that finds the widespread lack of staffing and funds is preventing many marine protected areas worldwide from reaching their full conservation potential. While fish populations grew in 71 percent of the 589 MPAs studied, the level of recovery was strongly linked to the management of the sites. At MPAs with sufficient staffing, increases in fish populations were nearly three times greater than those without adequate support. You can learn more here. 
  7. The student groups DukeSNAP and WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) are co-hosting a free symposium, “Communicating Science and Politics,” from 1 to 6 p.m. this Friday, March 31. Featured speakers will include bestselling author (and former Nic School research associate) Sheril Kirshenbaum, bestselling author and Duke graduate student Vanessa Woods, and Talia Sechley MEM’16, now a policy fellow at the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Center. Times and locations for all events are here.
  8. MEM student Samantha Kuzma has received the 2017 Zirzow Memorial Student Award from the National Association of Environmental Professionals. NAEP presents the Zirzow Award each year to a student who demonstrates outstanding potential for leadership in the environmental field. Samantha, who will graduate with an MEM in water resources management this May, received the honor at the NAEP annual conference in Durham yesterday. 
  9. MEM/MBA students Paige Swofford, Liz Arnason and Mike DeNoia brought home top honors from the Challenges in Energy Case Competition held at the UCLA Anderson School of Management last month. Their team, which also includes MBA student Yochai Ben Haim, nabbed first place for their business plan for developing an energy consulting firm in the renewables sector. You can learn more here
  10. Faculty member Marty Smith and PhD students Anna Birkenbach and Stephanie Stefanski all presented new research at the North American Association of Fisheries Economists forum in La Paz, Mexico, last week. Marty presented a paper on induced innovation in global seafood markets and taught a half-day workshop on how to publish. Anna presented preliminary results from her dissertation on the New England groundfish sector program and its effects on fishing behavior. Stephanie presented preliminary work on the institutional design of Argentina’s catch share program. 
  11. As part of Alumni Reunion Weekend, the Nicholas Scholars program and our Office of Development and Alumni Relations will host a panel discussion, “Environmental Leadership: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” at 4 p.m. Friday, April 7 in Field Auditorium. Nic School alums Paul Quinlan MEM/MPP ’06 of ScottMadden Inc., and Mary Turnipseed PhD'10 of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation will lead the panel, which will be immediately followed by a Student + Alumni Career Conversations networking event. (A second networking event is being held at 10:30 the following morning for students who can’t make it on Friday.) For more info or to reserve a space at the networking events, go here.  Students and alums are also invited to take part in the Forever Duke Days events being held at the Bryan Student Center as part of the weekend’s festivities.

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