Weekly Update: Graduation Recap, Chinese Environmental Scholars Forum, Congrats to Cindy and more …

May 18, 2018

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

Nicholas School 2018 PhD Graduates

Nicholas School 2018 PhD Graduates

Hi everyone,

Inspiration was easy to find during last weekend’s commencement festivities. Faculty advisors described the remarkable research accomplishments of their graduating PhD students during our first-ever doctoral student ceremony on Friday (see photo above).

At our graduate and professional student recognition ceremony on Saturday morning, keynote speaker Mamie Parker, alumni speaker Aleksandra Dobkowski-Joy, and student speaker Elihu Dietz reminded us why the Nicholas School’s mission is so important, mixing in a good amount of humor as they did. On Saturday afternoon, the faculty directors of our undergraduate programs recounted the impressive achievements and post-graduation plans of our graduating majors and concentrators at our undergraduate recognition ceremony. Click here for a photo-filled recap of our Saturday events.

And at the Duke commencement ceremony in Wallace Wade Stadium on Sunday, Apple CEO Tim Cook highlighted climate change as a societal challenge that he called on Duke’s graduating students to confront. Who better to do that than Nicholas School grads?

We offer the heartiest congratulations to all of our 2018 graduates, and we welcome them to the ranks of our thousands of alumni. We look forward to their continued membership in our community through our innovative Go-Grow-Give alumni engagement program. We hope they will come back home to Durham and Beaufort often, and soon.

With the academic summer now having officially begun, the Weekly Update will switch to a monthly schedule until classes start again in the fall. We wish you a great summer, and look for us again in your inbox around mid-June.
Safe travels,


  1. This weekend, the Nic School will host the fifth-annual Chinese Environmental Scholars Forum. Nearly 200 scholars from all over the world – including more than 30 academics from top universities in China – will attend. The forum, which is open to the Nicholas community, kicks off today at 6 p.m. with a welcome reception on the second floor of Environment Hall. The event will continue Saturday and Sunday with talks and sessions on a wide range of environmental issues. Check out the full agenda for details. 
  2. Congratulations to Cynthia Peters, assistant dean of student services, for reaching 40 years of service to Duke! She was recently featured on Duke Today for her impressive achievement. Join me in thanking her for her dedication to the Nic School and the university. 
  3. A new paper by Daniel Dunn shows that using automatic identification systems (AIS) data to track the movements of fishing boats in international waters could help to improve governance and monitor illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing. The technology also could improve enforcement of a proposed U.N. treaty on biodiversity conservation in waters beyond national jurisdiction. Pat Halpin and PhD student Guillermo Ortuño Crespo co-authored the paper. You can read our story for more details.
  4. Twelve MEM students received funding to cover the costs of travel to their international internships this summer. Support for the awards comes from the Nicholas School International Internship Fund, the David Brower Endowment Fund and the Kuzmier-Lee-Nikitine Fund. This year’s recipients are Dienyabou Barry, Shiyuan Dong, Sophie Erfurth, Ian Ferguson, Michael Keppler, Seokmin Kim, Yue Lin, Thomas Lutken, Mya Nwe, Kelli Palaka, Taylor Pfeiffer and Benjamin Siegelman. Read more about their internships here.
  5. The Nicholas Institute has released a new report on fisheries and food security, written by the World Food Policy Center’s Abigail Bennet PhD’16 and a team of global experts, including Xavier Basurto. The report synthesizes our current understanding of capture fisheries’ global contributions to food and nutrition security and explores drivers of those contributions. It comes on the heels of the recently agreed-on United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes the goals to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition. Abigail and Xavier’s co-authors on the report include the Nicholas Institute’s John Virdin as well as collaborators from the World Bank and the Environmental Defense Fund.

Nicholas School Graduation 2018

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