Weekly Update: Ferguson Speaker Marc Edwards, Duke Water Symposium, PhDs & MEMs in the News and more....

March 29, 2018

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

Weekly Update Ferguson Speaker Marc Edwards.jpg

Hi everyone,
I know this is a busy time as you work to complete projects before the end of the school year and have to decide among the many talks and events that occur at this point in the academic calendar. But going to hear Marc Edwards, the civil engineering professor whose investigative science and advocacy helped expose the Flint Water Crisis, is an opportunity you don’t want to miss.
Edwards will be giving a free public lecture at 6 p.m., Monday, April 9, in the LSRC’s Love Auditorium. We have invited him here to give the 2018 Ferguson Family Distinguished Lectureship in the Environment and Society.
Contacted by a concerned mother in 2015, Edwards assembled a team of more than 40 researchers to help Flint residents conduct an unprecedented survey of water contamination in their homes. His role in uncovering the Flint crisis resulted in his being named as one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” and Fortune’s “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.”
So, please add this important talk to your schedule and come early – 5:15 p.m. – to join us for a light reception. You can RSVP here.

  1. The Nicholas School will host the 2018 Duke Water Symposium, focusing on integrated water planning in urban communities, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. tomorrow in Field Auditorium. Na’Taki Osborne Jelks – visiting assistant professor in public health at Agnes Scott College, and founding member and director of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance – will serve as keynote speaker. Alums Trevor Clements MEM’83, Michael Deane MEM’92 and Julia Rockwell MEM’14 will also take part in the event.                                                                                                    
  2. Phyllis Omido, a Kenyan environmental justice activist and winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Award, will give a free talk at noon on Monday, April 2, in Love Auditorium. Omido got her start in grassroots activism when she led a community effort to shut down a local smelting plant after discovering that lead from the plant was contaminating her breast milk and making her baby sick. She has since led a nationwide effort that has successfully shut down other smelters located dangerously close to communities. You can RSVP for her talk here. Omido will also lead a Rising Tide roundtable discussion for Nic School faculty and students on Tuesday, April 3. Details about that event will be shared in coming days. 
  3. Kyle Van Houtan PhD’06 will give a public talk, “Is Conservation Christian? An Ecologist Shares Why His Faith and Science Compel One Another,” at 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 4, at the Duke Divinity School. Kyle is director of science at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and adjunct associate professor here at the Nic School. He will discuss his research on Christian environmental ethics and his personal vocational journey as an empirical scientist looking to explore connections between ecology and theology. You can learn more about his talk here.
  4. The challenges faced by Asians and Pacific Islanders in STEM, including those who also identify as LGBTQ+, will be the topic of a panel discussion at 5:30 p.m. April 11 in Field Auditorium. The event, which is open to everyone, is being hosted by the Duke campus chapters of oSTEM (Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and APIQ (Asian Pacific-Islander Queers). For more info or to register, check out our event listing
  5. Jill Hamilton MEM’18 and Shannon Switzer Swanson MEM'15 are contributing authors of the new book, Femininities in the Field, which explores the experiences of female researchers conducting fieldwork around the world. Through a compilation of personal, reflective stories, the book's 15 contributing authors explore the intersection of gender and field research, looking at issues of access, attire and conduct, sexual harassment, personal safety, well-being and more. It’s great to see the Nic School so well represented by Jill and Shannon.
  6. Orrin Pilkey and research technician Norma Longo have co-authored a paper that tries to explain why coastal erosion and flooding continue to rise in spite of coastal regulation. The researchers argue that the failure to use longer-term projections of erosion rates, sediment supply and effects of sea-level rise, as well as the lack of political foresight and enforcement, are the most frequent reasons why coastal regulations fail. 
  7. Alex O’Neill MEM/MF’19 has been elected as the student representative for the Appalachian Society of American Foresters (ApSAF). In his new post, Alex – who also is one of our Nicholas Scholars – will serve on the Student Executive Committee for the Society of American Foresters (SAF), and help coordinate professional and social events for forestry students in our region as well as leading student events at the upcoming SAF national conference in Portland, Oregon, this October. Congrats, Alex! 
  8. A lesson plan developed by MEM students Anna Windle​ and Alaina Young​ earned second-place honors at SciREN Coast​’s statewide Lesson Plan Competition held at the N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores last month. Their plan, called “Go with the Stormwater Flow,” helps middle school students explore issues related to storm water runoff through hands-on activities. In coming months, it will be made available to middle school science teachers across North Carolina to help improve environmental literacy and promote STEM education. Great job, Anna and Alaina! 
  9. Scientists and students at the Calhoun Critical Zone Observatory in South Carolina hosted more than 90 people during the Southeastern Friends of the Pleistocene Field Conference in February. Our own Dan Richter gave the event’s opening presentation on critical zone science and its interdisciplinary approach. PhD students Zachary Brecheisen, John Mallard and Anna Wade, as well as associate in research Will Cook and lab administrator Paul Heine, also took part in the event. 
  10. Here’s one last reminder that the “I Am Duke Environment” spring photo contest is open through Friday. Submit your best pictures showing how you represent Duke Environment for a chance to win a Sonos One smart speaker or a $100 Amazon gift card. Enter here.

Keep me up to date on what you are doing. Submit your items here.