Weekly Update: New Dean at Nicholas School, MEM Named 2018 Energy Scholar, Top Nod to Exec Ed Lead and more....

February 1, 2018

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

Toddi Steelman arms folded.jpg
Alumna Toddi Steelman is the Nicholas School's new Stanback Dean.

Hi Everyone,
There’s no mystery about the big news this week: the selection of Dr. Toddi Steelman as the new dean of our school. As I wrote in an email to the Nicholas community on Tuesday, Toddi will be an inspirational dean and is the right person to lead us forward.
As an alumna of our school (she completed her PhD in environmental and natural resource policy under Bob Healy), Toddi knows Duke and the Nicholas School well. With her Master of Public Affairs from Princeton, she recognizes the value of professional master’s degrees, such as our MEM and MF. She understands schools with a complex menu of educational programs: much like the Nicholas School, the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan, from which she is joining us, has educational programs at the doctoral, master’s and undergraduate levels.
As a scholar and practitioner, Toddi’s work (funded by NSF among other sources) elucidates the complex sources of environmental and natural resource conflicts. It demonstrates how science, policy, community engagement, and decision making can be integrated to resolve those conflicts, including in challenging multicultural contexts. Her work reveals a scholarly commitment to comprehensive, objective, fact-based analysis that confronts the complexity of environmental and natural resource issues head-on, instead of simplifying issues by seeing only one side.
I’ll let Toddi have the last word, via a quote from the announcement of her selection on Duke Today: “We are at a historic crossroad in our need for leadership on pressing environmental issues facing the United States and the planet. I look forward to working in partnership with the talented faculty and staff of the Nicholas School to ready the next generation of students to tackle these challenges.”

  1. The Nic School strategic plan Working Together notes that our faculty’s commitment to fully engaged and effective student mentoring is a critical source of the excellence of our educational programs. I am proud to announce that one of our faculty members has been recognized as being among the very best PhD mentors in all of Duke University: Martin Doyle has received a 2018 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring from the university’s Graduate School. Martin is one of just four faculty members from across Duke receiving the award this year. He will receive a $3,000 prize and will be honored at a ceremony on March 28 at Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Martin’s is achievement is all the more remarkable given that he is also exceptionally committed to our MEM program, as he chairs the Water Resources Management program and mentors our MEM/MF/MBA student interest group in natural resources finance. Lisa Campbell (2006) and Susan Lozier (2007) are prior recipients of the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring. Given the importance of mentoring to our educational mission, I encourage all members of the Graduate Faculty who are in STEM fields and their PhD students and postdocs to participate in the Duke University Center of Exemplary Mentoring’s Mentor Up / Mentor Down workshops on Feb. 8. I would love to see one of our faculty members follow in Martin’s, Susan’s, and Lisa’s footsteps and win the Dean’s Award next year. Congratulations Martin! 
  2. MEM student Taylor Price was named a 2018 Energy Scholar by Net Impact, OneEnergy Renewables and 3Degrees. The Energy Scholars program looks to cultivate and empower tomorrow’s renewable energy leaders through professional mentoring, networking and industry access as they take on the fight against climate change. 
  3. The Energy Data Analytics Lab team won first place at the 2018 Duke Research Computing Symposium poster competition on Jan. 22. The poster was on the team’s efforts to predict electricity access of rural villages in India by applying machine learning techniques to images of lights at night visible from satellite imagery. MEM student Brian Wong was a mentor for the team as its project manager. Tim Johnson served as one of the team’s faculty advisors. 
  4. A 2016 Master’s Project by Jennifer Cole, Jess McDonald and Xinyuan Wen has resulted in a peer-reviewed paper published earlier this month. The paper, which was co-authored by project advisor Randy Kramer, looked at the perceived benefits and barriers of home energy efficiency. MEM alum Jason Elliot, assistant director of Sustainable Duke, served as an advisor and one of clients for the project. 
  5. Hats off to Executive Education program coordinator Laura Lipps for creating multiple contingency plans to make sure the Executive Leadership Institute on Jan. 17-20 went on despite the university being closed due to the recent snow storm. Laura and Chris Wedding delivered a successful course on sustainable communities to members of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators who traveled to Duke from across the country. 
  6. Nicholas School faculty and staff have adopted a Meals on Wheels route in Durham. Our volunteers deliver meals to 15 people along their route in south Durham every Friday. The partnership came about through last fall's Doing Good in the Neighborhood campaign. Interested in helping deliver meals? Get in touch with Sarah Phillips.
  7. The Career & Professional Development Center has a new email address (careers@nicholas.duke.edu) for students to contact the office. This email will allow CPDC to ensure that their clients, who are our professional master’s students, receive a well-informed and prompt response within 24-48 business hours.

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