Weekly Update: Moon Festival, DUML Fellow's Top Nod, Mark Your Calendars and more...

October 5, 2017
moon fest festival asian holiday

Hi everyone,
The International Potluck organized by DICE and FOREM was one of my favorite social events at the School last year. The Moon Festival, held last night on the roof of Environment Hall, was a similarly great blend of community and distinctive foods—in this case, moon cakes (not to be confused with our Southern treat, the moon pie). See photos above.

Across Asia, this mid-autumn holiday marks a time of family gatherings. I hope our festival helped our Asian students feel a little less far from home and surrounded by friends, if not family. Big thanks to our Exec Ed program and the Rising Tide Global Connections Initiative for organizing it.


  1. Daniel Dunn has been named co-chair of the Biology & Ecosystems Panel of the Global Oceans Observing System (GOOS). As co-chair, he’ll use his broad expertise in geospatial technologies and marine conservation to help inform GOOS and its affiliated organizations, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and UNESCO, on how to better coordinate ocean observing systems worldwide. 
  2. As part of Rebecca Vidra’s Community Based Environmental Management class, a group of MEM students traveled to Warren County last week to learn about and volunteer with the nonprofit organization Working Landscapes. They spent the morning learning about the challenges and rewards of running a grassroots NGO from Working Landscapes’ co-founder Carla Norwood, herself a Nic School MEM alum. A fact worth knowing about Warren County: it’s the birthplace of the U.S. environmental justice movement, which is a topic of growing interest at the Nicholas School. 
  3. Congrats to Daniel Holstein, whose 2016 study on mesophotic coral connectivity was recently awarded a Best Paper Award by the journal Coral Reefs. Daniel is a McCurdy Fellow at the Duke Marine Lab. He’s been incredibly productive in his time in Beaufort, but unfortunately, we won’t be able to keep him much longer because – more great news – he recently landed a faculty position at LSU! 
  4. 2017 PhD alum Binbin Li is lead author of a new study in Biological Conservation that finds increased livestock grazing over the last 20 years has damaged a third of all giant panda habitat in one of China’s oldest and most important nature reserves, especially in the reserve’s lower-elevation valleys, which are vital foraging grounds for the pandas. Stuart Pimm co-authored the paper with Binbin, who is now on the faculty at Duke Kunshan University. You can read more about their research here
  5. Lee Ferguson testified before a N.C. House Select Committee hearing last week on the need to implement monitoring programs for emerging contaminants in North Carolina’s drinking water sources. Lee’s presentation, which was on behalf of the N.C. Coastal Federation, focused on how we can be better prepared to detect the unanticipated release of unregulated contaminants – like the chemical GenX that was recently discovered at high levels in the Cape Fear River – into our state waters. 
  6. Andy Read and third-year PhD student Joe Fader have been awarded a Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program Award from NOAA Fisheries. The award provides funding to support Joe and Andy’s work to develop new approaches to reduce the bycatch of toothed whales, dolphins and porpoises in pelagic longline fisheries. 
  7. Mark your calendars: We’ll have two great guest speakers at the Nic School next week. At 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, environmental historian Lisa Brady – an expert on the impacts of military actions on the natural landscape – will present the 2017 Lynn W. Day Distinguished Lectureship. Her topic is “No-Man’s-Land as Nature Preserve: The Strange Case of Cold War Conservation.” Hugh Possingham, chief scientist at The Nature Conservancy – the world’s largest environmental NGO – will join us at 1:30 p.m. the following day (Friday, Oct. 13) to give a free talk discussing how science and technology inform TNC’s approach to conservation. We may also be able to persuade him to share some career advice to students hoping to land jobs in the environmental NGO sector. Both talks will be in Field Auditorium. 
  8. Duke Forest is accepting submissions for its annual photo contest through Oct. 27. Winning entries will be displayed at the Duke Forest’s annual gathering on Nov. 9. For instructions on how to enter, you can check out their Facebook page
  9. More than 100 of former dean Bill Schlesinger’s most thought-provoking essays on environmental issues have been compiled into a new book published by the International Ecology Institute. “Translational Ecology: Collected Writings on Contemporary Environmental Issues” brings together some of Bill’s sharpest commentaries. Many of the writings selected for the book first appeared as posts on Bill’s Nic School blog, Citizen Scientist.

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