Weekly Update: New Strategic Plan, Art Gallery's Exhibit Opens Today, Alumna Erica Blyther Visit and more...

October 26, 2017
Strategic Plan Cover 2017 BIG

Hi Everyone,
I’m pleased to present the Nicholas School’s new strategic plan, which is the product of more than two years of work by our faculty and staff. The title of the plan, Working Together to Advance Environmental Education and Research, is both an intentional nod toward Duke’s new academic strategic plan, Together Duke, which it complements, and a reflection of a theme that emerged from our planning process: that we have much to gain as a school from collaborating more in our educational and research programs.
The plan has six strategic focus areas, with the following broad goals:

  • Diversity & Inclusion: Increase diversity within all segments of the school, and create an inclusive, schoolwide community
  • Undergraduate Programs: Strengthen and grow our programs and our connections to non-majors
  • Professional Master’s Programs: Efficiently deliver the content and skills that students need for successful careers as environmental professionals
  • PhD Programs: Improve coordination across our programs, and develop a greater sense of a schoolwide PhD student community
  • Research: Build on our current core areas of excellence to take advantage of emerging trends and opportunities related to innovative and interdisciplinary research
  • Faculty Structure: Foster a schoolwide faculty community based on understanding, equity, and respec

The plan presents more specific goals and recommended actions in each of these areas.

We have already started implementing many of the great ideas contained in the plan. I’m grateful to all the members of the Nicholas School community who contributed to its creation. They’ve ensured that we will continue to become a stronger and stronger school.

  1. A new photo exhibit opens today at 4 p.m. at the Wegner Gallery on Environment Hall’s second floor. The exhibit, “Duke Forest Past & Present: A Source of Teaching, Research, and Community,” features a series of historic and contemporary photos that highlight the importance of Duke Forest to our community over the years. If you can’t make the opening reception today at 4, I hope you’ll make time in coming days to stop by and admire the great work our student group Duke SNAP has done in curating this exhibit. 
  2. Scientists have long known that marine animals often mistakenly eat plastic debris because the tiny bits of floating plastic resemble prey. Now, a new study on corals, led by PhD student Austin Allen and research staffer Alex Seymour, finds there may be an additional reason for the harmful behavior. The plastic just plain tastes good, thanks to the hundreds of chemical additives it contains. Based on the findings of their two-part experiment, which ruled out other possible factors, Austin and Alex suspect some combination of chemicals in the plastics is acting as an unintentional appetite stimulant. Further research is needed to pinpoint the specific chemicals responsible and see if they trigger similar responses in other marine species. Dan Rittschof co-authored the study. 
  3. We’re excited to host alumna Erica Blyther T’98 at the Nic School next Thursday and Friday (Nov. 2 and 3). Students will have several opportunities to speak with – and gain career guidance from – Erica, who is environmental supervisor at Los Angeles’ LAX airport. She’ll give a presentation, "Rising TIDE: 3 Ways Diversity & Inclusion are Improving Sustainability for Los Angeles/LAX,” at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in Field Auditorium. She’ll also give her insights on careers in sustainability through a Career Center coffee chat, one-on-one career chats with students, and a lunch with ENV/EOS students.  For more info about her visit, click here
  4. Dozens of prospective MEM, MF and DEL-MEM students will be on campus this Friday morning to participate in our annual fall open house and visitation day. It’s a great chance for us to show off our world-class programs and amazing community. Please help us make them feel welcome while they’re here. 
  5. PhD student Stephanie Hammel has received the 2017 IPA/DGUV Award from the International Society of Exposure Science. ISES presents the award annually to an outstanding young scientist whose doctoral or postdoctoral work is helping advance the development and application of biomonitoring in exposure sciences, toxicology, environmental health or related fields. Please join me in congratulating Stephanie and her faculty advisor, Heather Stapleton, on this honor.  
  6. Amy Kirkland, has accepted a new position as undergraduate program coordinator in the Office of Student Services, the job formerly held by Emily Blanchard.  Amy previously served as Student Services’ staff assistant at the Marine Lab. Please join me in congratulating Amy and welcoming her to Durham! 
  7. Our Office of Development and Alumni Relations has launched a new program called “Home for the Holidays” that aims to pair Nic School students with alumni who live in their hometown or wherever they will be spending their upcoming winter holiday, so that the students can bring the alums up to speed on all the great things happening at our school these days. It’s part of our Go Grow Give alumni engagement program. If you’re interested in taking part, please fill out this survey by noon Friday, Oct. 27.
  8. PhD student Seth Sykora-Bodie has been in Australia for two weeks representing the Nic School as a delegate at the Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources’ annual meeting. He’s working with delegates from the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Russia, China, Australia and other signatories to discuss creating three new marine protected areas, debate tougher regulations for the toothfish and krill fisheries; and devise a climate-change action plan. The meeting runs through this Friday.

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