Weekly Update: Graduation Recap, Sooty Terns Study, People's Choice Photo Winner and more...

May 17, 2017
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Hi everyone,

We’re easing out of the school year with a short issue, just four items. I wish you a productive but relaxing summer. If you have travel plans, travel safely.


  1. At last Saturday’s Recognition Ceremonies, four graduating students were recognized for singular academic achievements. PhD student Cooper Rosin received this year’s Dean’s Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Manuscript. MEM Mikia Lynn Weidenbach won the Virlis Fischer Award for highest academic achievement among our professional graduate students. Undergrad Donovan Loh won the Sara LaBoskey Award for personal integrity and academic excellence. And undergrad John McDermott won the Thomas J. Laska Memorial Award for outstanding achievement and promise of future success in the earth and ocean sciences. Please join me in congratulating Cooper, Mikia, Donovan and John on these richly deserved honors. (If you couldn’t attend the Recognition Ceremonies, we’ve posted photos and videos from them here. Keep checking back throughout the week. We’ll be posting new content every day.)
  2. A study led by PhD student Ryan Huang finds that stronger and more frequent hurricanes may pose a new threat to sooty terns, an iconic species of migratory seabird found throughout the Caribbean and Mid-Atlantic. The study, which Ryan conducted with his advisor, Stuart Pimm, is the first to map the birds’ annual migratory path and demonstrate how its timing and trajectory place them in the direct path of many west-tracking Atlantic hurricanes, resulting in widespread bird deaths. As Earth’s climate changes, meteorologists predict we may see more frequent and powerful hurricanes in the future -- meaning that the chances of sooty terns being hit by storms will likely go up. You can learn more here.
  3. Congratulations to Katrina Wert MEM’17, whose picture was chosen as the People’s Choice winner in the “I am Duke Environment” spring 2017 photo contest. Katrina’s photo, titled “Whale, look what we have here!,” shows Dave Johnston and Joe Fader, a PhD student at the Marine Lab, on a boat pointing out unique markers on the dorsal fins of short-finned pilot whales as part of the Marine Conservation Biology course in Hawaii. The photo received 126 likes on our Facebook page to win the prize. To see all of the winners, check out our website.
  4. If some of our outstanding alums have volunteered their time or expertise to engage with you, your program or your students over the last year, our Office of Development and Alumni Relations wants to hear from you so we can acknowledge their engagement and thank them for it through our Go, Grow, Give campaign.  Please send their names (and graduation years, if you know them) to alumni@nicholas.duke.edu so we can ensure their contributions are recognized.

Keep the good news rolling in. Submit your items here. Even though the school year’s ended, I’ll be posting monthly updates in June and July before resuming my weekly schedule in mid-August.