Weekly Update: Master's Projects, Alumni Reunion, Sustainable Investing Competition and more ...

April 13, 2017
alumni reunion weekend 2017 funny group.jpg

The 3rd Annual Alumni Reunion Weekend was a blast.
Find out more below. Photo by Megan Mendenhall.

Hi everyone,
Trees are leafing out across campus, flowers are blooming like mad, and days are growing balmy, but for many of us the surest sign Spring has truly sprung is that the Master’s Project Symposium starts today.
This year, around 160 students will present individual or group MPs on topics ranging from elephant conservation to water finance, and from urban energy efficiency to new harvesting regimes for Duke Forest. Their presentations are the culmination of two years of rigorous study and training, and represent a major milestone in their professional lives.
I know this is a busy time of year, but let’s all make time today and Friday to sit in on some of the presentations. Presenting to a full room helps make all the blood, sweat and tears worth it. It’s also a nice way to show our appreciation and respect for the innumerable contributions this year’s class has made to our school.
Now, on with this week’s news.

  1. More than 211 Nic School alums and their guests and family members returned to campus last weekend for our annual Alumni Reunion Weekend. It was great reconnecting with so many former students and hearing how they are working as agents of environmental change in governments, businesses, and nonprofits worldwide. You can watch a video here highlighting some of the great discussions we had and fun activities we took part in. 
  2. Kudos to MF/MBA student Eric Smith and MEM/MBA Amanda Bushell, whose team made it to the finals in the 2017 Kellogg-Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Competition last week. Eric and Amanda’s team, which also included Fuqua students Catherine Toner and Zack Gorstein, received multiple honorable mentions for their proposal for an exchange-traded fund that uses shareholder engagement, tracked via environmental, social and governance metrics, to change the investment strategies and practices of multinational corporations. 
  3. Experts from six prominent “payments for ecosystem services” (PES) initiatives in Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Vietnam and South Africa will share their success stories – along with tales of bumps they hit along the road – at a workshop, “Cash for Green: Payments for Ecosystem Services in the Global South,” at 4:30 Wednesday in Field Auditorium. It’s a great opportunity for our students (and the rest of us) to gain a real-world perspective on the pros and cons of PES initiatives and what it takes to make them work within unique local political, economic and cultural realities. If you couldn't make it to the event, you view photos here. Thanks to Liz Shapiro-Garzo for spearheading this event. 
  4. Karl Seltzer, a PhD student in Drew Shindell’s group, has been awarded a spot in the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis’ Young Scientists Summer Program in Laxenburg, Austria. IIASA is one of the world’s top research hubs for integrated assessment modeling of energy and economics, and analysis of climate change and air quality policies. Karl will work with scientists from both these groups during his three-month research stint in Laxenburg this summer. He was one of 52 students, out of more than 340 applicants from 28 countries, selected to participate. 
  5. The Nic School hosted the Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership Tour Wednesday. More than 70 middle-school boys and girls from the Harlem Lacrosse program toured our facilities, met with members of our community, and learned about the environmental field. This is the second year we’ve hosted the group. To see photos from the tour, click here.  
  6. More than 125 students, educators and environmental professionals took part in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic Marine Mammal Symposium – or SEAMAMMS – at the Duke Marine Lab last weekend. Students presented findings from their recent research on marine mammal biology and conservation science. They also took part in panel discussions about the future of the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, led by our own Steve Roady; Ingrid Biedron of Oceana; Brendan Cummings of the Center for Biological Diversity; and Abby Hobber, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association and former director of BOEM. A big thumbs up to Andy Read and his team at the Marine Lab for organizing such a great event. 
  7. Duke Forest will open its newly restored Shepherd Nature Trail this Saturday with a morning-long celebration featuring guided hikes, refreshments and children’s games starting at 9:30. The 0.8-mile looping trail is the Forest’s only interpretive trail and has long been one of its most popular. A matching grant from Durham County helped the Forest overhaul signage, upgrade infrastructure and improve trail conditions. You can get there via Gate C off N.C. Highway 751.

Keep the good news rolling in. Submit your items here.