Weekly Update: Girls in Technology, Alumni, Babies and more....

April 5, 2017

Hi everyone,

The smiling young women pictured here were among 135 middle school students and 60 volunteers from across eastern North Carolina who came to the Marine Lab this past Saturday for the 2nd annual Girls Exploring Science & Technology (GEST) event. It was a wonderful opportunity for these young students to participate in hands-on learning activities and group discussions, and to network with scientists and graduate students such as Phd student Sarah Loftus. I’m at the Marine Lab today and plan to thank Sarah for her efforts to foster these young women’s interest in pursuing studies and careers in STEM fields, and also for the superlative job her team of faculty, staff and student organizers did in pulling off this event.

The sun is still shining here in Beaufort and it’s beautiful with the sun on the water and the leaves starting to come out. I’ll be on the road back to Durham by the time you get this – hopefully beating the storm the weather folks are predicting.

In the meantime, read on for much more good news from the school.

Take care,


  1. Distinguished alum Robert Bonnie MEM/MF ’94 returned to campus earlier this week to start a yearlong stint as Duke’s newest Rubenstein Fellow. As many of you know, Robert is former Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His work at USDA has helped pave the way for innovative new public-private partnerships and programs that are revolutionizing how we conserve and sustainably manage natural resources that are vital to both human livelihoods and ecological health. During his time at Duke, he’ll work with students, faculty and staff to advance new initiatives on rural conservation. Welcome back, Robert! 
  2. A detailed analysis of 39 U.S. fisheries, led by Marty Smith,  offers strong new evidence that catch shares end the destructive “race to fish” that compresses fishing seasons. The new study shows that by slowing this competition, catch shares allow fishers to time their catches to match market demand and capitalize on changing profit opportunities throughout the season. It also can reduce occupational hazards and improve the quality of the fish sent to market. Marty and PhD students Anna Birkenbach and David Kaczan published the research today in Nature.  By underscoring the broad applicability of catch shares in 39 different fisheries, they hope it can inform the ongoing policy debate about the use of market-based regulation in fisheries worldwide. 
  3. Daniel Dunn served as an organizer of a side event at the 3rd Preparatory Committee meeting of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea yesterday at UN headquarters in New York. Daniel’s event focused on how legal precedent, ecological connectivity and scientific knowledge can inform efforts to negotiate a legally binding approach for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in waters beyond the borders of national jurisdiction. Guillermo Ortuno Crispo and Pat Halpin were among the experts taking part in the event, which featured the presentation of a policy brief by Daniel, Guillermo, Pat, Steve Roady and MEM student Amalia Alberini on biodiversity conservation in international waters. 
  4. It’s been a busy fortnight for PhD student (and MEM alum) Justin Kirkpatrick. March 30 saw the release of a new report he and fellow alum Sharon Benjamin MEM ’12 wrote for the National Marine Fisheries Service and Bureau of Offshore Energy Management on the economic impacts of offshore wind-energy development on fisheries along the U.S. East Coast. Earlier last week, Justin traveled to the Gulf of Mexico Alliance All-Hands Meeting in Houston to present findings from a large, NOAA-funded research project on the effects of hypoxia on fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico that he conducted with Marty Smith and Lori Bennear
  5. Erika Weinthal is one of the organizers of the 1stInternational Conference on Energy Research & Social Science, being held this week in Melia Sitges, Spain. (That’s near Barcelona, for those of you who are geography-challenged like me.) Joining Erika at the conference is MEM student Erin Litzow, who is presenting a paper, “Determinants of Shale Oil and Gas Regulatory Outcomes in North Dakota,” that she and Erika co-authored with Duke undergrad Brianna Johnson-King and Kate Neville of the University of Toronto. Great to see the Nic School so well represented at this new conference. 
  6. Kudos to MEM student Diego Calderon-Arrieta for spearheading plans for OurDuke Day on April 12 at the Bryan Center Plaza. The event provides an opportunity for students, faculty and staff from across campus to network with diversity and inclusion advocates from student groups at nine different Duke schools and learn more about the student-led D&I initiatives taking place here. To learn more, go here
  7. Alumni blogger Erika Zambello MEM’15 has won second place in the National Federation of Press Women’s Professional Communications contest for a feature story she wrote on “Banding Florida’s Snowy Plovers” for National Geographic’s online “Voices for Biodiversity blog. Great job, Erika! 
  8. Alum Kelly Garvy MEM’15 was featured prominently in a recent Huffington Post article for her work to launch a new North Carolina-based grassroots advocacy group called Protecting Progress. The group, which Kelly launched this January, focuses on environmental and social issues and already has 700 members. To learn more, you can email her at kellygarvy@gmail.com
  9. Last but certainly not least, please join me in welcoming the newest member of the Nic School community. James William “JJ” Johnson was born March 30. He weighed 7 pounds 7 ounces, and proud papa Zackary Johnson reports that both he and his mom, Dana Hunt, are healthy and in good spirits. Best wishes to Zackary, Dana, and JJ’s big sister, Penelope, on this wonderful new addition to their family.


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