Weekly Update: Electricity, Gardening, Photo Contests and more...

October 6, 2016

hi everyone

At last week’s Strategic Planning Retreat, a recurring theme expressed by faculty and staff members alike was the benefits our school derives from partnerships with other units on Duke’s campus. One after another of you shared great examples of how these partnerships open new avenues for research and outreach, enhance our teaching, and provide exciting opportunities for our students

I wholeheartedly concur.

Finding new and innovative ways to foster these cross-campus partnerships will be essential to our school’s growth and evolution in coming years. It will underpin our ability to conduct the type of research, and provide the type of training and education, needed to help solve the world’s most pressing problems, which increasingly cross environmental, economic, social, political, cultural and public health lines.

A case in point is the exemplary work (see Item #1 below) that Dalia Patiño-Echeverri is doing with colleagues at the Nicholas Institute and Energy Initiative. Through her technical prowess in modeling power systems and her in-depth knowledge of how utility commission regulation works, Dalia is helping inform policy decisions that will shape the U.S. energy sectors for years to come. Her work already has borne fruit in the design of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, and in state-level implementation of the Mercury/Air Toxics Rule, the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, and the Coal Combustion Rule.

 As we move forward with the strategic planning that will guide our school’s course over the coming decade, let’s not forget about the value of cross-campus partnerships and ways we can foster even more of them. 



Now, on to this week’s items:

  1. Taking a fall break trip or course? Or just having fun?  Take your camera and document your experience. (High-resolution, please.) The Fall Duke Environment photo contest is just around the corner. See more info below. This spring winner was taken by Suzanne Ou in the Dry Tortugas.
  2. Dalia Patiño-Echeverri presented a keynote address yesterday at a daylong symposium, “The Future of the Electricity Sector in the Southeast,” hosted by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Duke University Energy Initiative. In her talk to the policymakers, industry leaders and NGO stakeholders in attendance, Dalia summarized much of her recent research, conducted in partnership with the Nicholas Institute and Energy Initiative, on how different government policies could affect future technological advancements within the region’s energy sector, as well as the possible impacts these policies could have on fuel prices, public health, and other social costs. This is vital work, and a shining example of the type of innovative partnerships and impactful research people expect from the Nicholas School. 
  3. Speaking of high-profile research, Jay Golden is co-lead author of a new USDA report that shows the biobased products industry contributed $393 billion and 4.2 million jobs to America’s recovering economy in 2014. This is the second consecutive year USDA has tapped Jay to crunch the national data and prepare the report, which is shared with federal and state policymakers nationwide. This year’s report features a useful new state-by-state analysis of the economic gains associated with the biobased products industry, and a national assessment of the environmental tradeoffs.
  4. Duke’s Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health Program welcomed 11 alumni back to campus last week for the program’s first-ever Alumni Careers Symposium. The returning alums offered career guidance and presented talks about their diverse career paths to an audience of about 75 current students and postdocs, faculty members or recent alums. The two-day event featured numerous opportunities for informal networking, including a great welcome reception on Environment Hall’s roof that was sponsored by our Office of Development and Alumni Relations. 
  5. Check out the story we posted on our homepage last week about DEL-MEM ’12 alum Brian Holt and his work to develop a sustainable land-use plan and innovative financing strategies to help preserve and expand the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial in California. The memorial marks the site of the deadliest home-front disaster of World War II, an explosion that killed 320 sailors – two-thirds of them African-American – and ultimately led to the desegregation of the U.S. armed forces. Brian is applying what he learned in courses taught by Brian Murray, Liz Shapiro-Garza and other Nic School faculty to develop a visitors’ center and park at the memorial site. 
  6. If you’re interested in having your own garden plot this year on Environment Hall’s rooftop, now is the time to apply. The student-led Green Roof and Orchard Workforce (GROW) team, which manages the garden, is taking applications through Oct. 13 on a first-come, first-served basis. Ready, set, sow!
  7. Maintaining open, two-way communications between students and administrators is vital to the success of the Nic School, so I am holding regular office hours so students can informally sit down with me and tell me what’s on their minds without having to make an appointment. This week’s sessions on Monday and Tuesday resulted in some great discussions. My next office hours after we return from Fall Break will be from 2 to 3 p.m. Oct. 12 in the second-floor lounge of Environment Hall, and from noon to 1 p.m. Oct. 13 in the Dean’s Office. Look for future hours to be posted to the Career and Professional Development Center’s Career Wise e-letter that’s distributed every Monday. I also will hold student office hours in Beaufort during my monthly visits to the Marine Lab. And good luck to our colleagues at the Lab as they brace for Hurricane Matthew.
  8. Last but not least, as we all head out for Fall Break, remember to take along your cameras. The Fall “I Am Duke Environment” Photo Contest begins accepting submissions on Nov. 7. In past years, many of the winning photos have come from Fall Break activities. The Grand Prize Winner receives an iPad; up to four runners-up will receive $100 Amazon gift cards. 

Please keep sharing your good news. Submit your items here.