Weekly Update: Marine Lab Dodges Storm, Dean's Office Hours, Nic School Invited to UN Global Initiative and more...

August 30, 2017
Dean Jeff Vincent students eating story.jpg

Hi everyone,
To the relief of students, staff, and faculty on our Marine Lab campus in Beaufort, a feared tropical storm didn’t materialize this week. Residents of Texas and Louisiana were less fortunate.  Hurricane Harvey dropped more than four feet of rain in some areas, a record for the continental U.S., flooding vast areas and displacing hundreds of thousands of people.
Our thoughts are with the victims of this storm, including our many alums in Texas and Louisiana and the many other members of our school community who have family or friends there. Please visit the webpage of Duke’s Office of Durham and Regional Affairs to learn how you can help them. When Hurricane Matthew struck North Carolina last year, the Nic School’s response was truly amazing. Let’s do our best to help those in Texas and Louisiana now.
The New York Times’ lead economics writer David Leonhardt observed in an op-ed earlier this week that “the severity of Harvey … is almost certainly related to climate change.”  Our own Drew Shindell, Nicholas Distinguished Professor of Climate Sciences, has reminded me that a similar point was made after Hurricane Sandy flooded much of New York and New Jersey.
Yet, climate leadership by the U.S. federal government has collapsed, which means that leadership must come from other sources. Duke is doing its part: our goal of carbon neutrality by 2024 is more aggressive than Paris, and President Price has signed the “We Are Still In” open letter on Paris. Here at Nicholas, in early June we joined partners around the world in signaling our support for the Paris Climate Accord by lighting our LEED-certified buildings in green.
For now, state and local governments, corporations and NGOs are among the organizations that must provide climate leadership in the U.S., but they need individuals to lead them in that direction. To our students: Please take full advantage of the opportunities the Nicholas School offers you to become those individuals, whether it’s through courses, including ones in our Global Environmental Change program; by keeping up with our faculty’s cutting-edge climate research; or by engaging with our partners on campus, in particular the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Duke University Energy Initiative which work with partners outside Duke to develop improved climate policies and low-carbon energy sources.
Let’s work toward a world with less carbon in the air and fewer Harveys in the news.

  1. This week, we announced the news that the Nic School has became the first school of the environment invited to join the United Nations Global Compact’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative. This is a big deal. Membership in PRME gives our students and faculty new opportunities to work with peers from other member institutions on corporate sustainability and sustainable development research; gain access to proprietary data; attend and present our research at international forums; and collaborate with corporate managers worldwide on new outreach projects. Kudos for Deb Gallagher for spearheading this initiative. 
  2. Please welcome Chris Wedding, who joins us as an Executive in Residence. Chris is the CEO and founder of IronOak Energy, which focuses on clean energy finance and advisory services. He has taught courses on business, finance, and strategy in green building and clean energy in our DEL-MEM and Executive Education Programs since 2008. This year, he will teach courses on environmental and energy finance and related topics in our new Business & Environment Program, and he will collaborate with Deb Gallagher and other program faculty on the development of the curriculum for the program. 
  3. Please also welcome Dave Koester, who recently joined our Environmental Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center as an associate in research. Dave has a lengthy background in technology translation with an emphasis on new product introduction, engineering management and business development, including with Cronos Integrated Microsystems and Nextreme Thermal Solutions. He will work with Jesko von Windheim on Jesko’s NSF-funded PFI-BIC project, which aims at developing technology for detecting leaks in underground, oil-filled communication cables. He will assist with teaching and mentoring students in our EIE courses and certificate program, too. 
  4. A new study led by PhD student Yanlan Liu finds that increasing atmospheric humidity and CO2 concentrations can partially alleviate forest mortality risk due to climate change. At a time when many of the world’s forests are experiencing severe droughts, increased heat stress, longer wildfire seasons and other climate-related ills, Yanlan’s findings provide timely insights into how we can better manage these vital resources to help ensure their continued health and productivity. The study was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Faculty members Mukesh Kumar and Gabriel Katu, and recent PhD graduate Tony Parolari, were co-authors. 
  5. Please join me in congratulating Nic School alum Mike Mascia PhD’00, who last month became the first social scientist to be named president of the board of the Society for Conservation Biology. SCB is the world’s largest professional society for conservation students and professionals dedicated to conserving Earth’s biological diversity. It’s great to have one of our own helping leading such a prestigious organization. 
  6. Check out this great video about second-year MEM student Lina Khan’s internship experience at the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association this summer. As part of her Stanback Internship, Lina is learning the ins and outs of grant writing, data analysis for energy efficiency, and other skills that will serve her well in her professional career. 
  7. Faculty and students who rely on Duke Libraries for research help (that would be all of us, pretty much) have a new resource they can call on. Brittany Wofford has been appointed the Nic School’s new librarian. She has been at Duke Libraries for several years and previously worked as a librarian for Sociology and Cultural Anthropology. Don’t hesitate to reach out to her for any help. 
  8. The Duke Environment Ambassadors – our newly rebranded student blogging team – is now taking applications for students who want to blog about environmental topics and their experiences here at the Nic School. Applications are open through Sept. 6. We’re looking to recruit up to 10 students who love to write, post photos and make videos – all the things you already do on social media. Did I mention that you get paid? For more info or to apply, go here

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