Weekly Update: Nic Turns 25, Drone Discoveries, Film Fest Feature and more ...

March 15, 2017

Hi everyone,

en la orilla film festival xavier basurto at the edge
An official selection of the 2017 Water Docs Film Festival,
En La Orilla is a documentary film produced by Xavier Basurto 
and alum Liza Hoos MEM ’14. Click on a link to watch the
film trailer in their story posted below.

Last night, while much of the East Coast was experiencing the worst winter storm of the year, I was at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco meeting with dozens of Nic School alums who joined us for a special event celebrating the 25th anniversary of our school.
Pleasant temperatures and clear skies aside, it was great evening. I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with so many of our “West Coast contingent” and hearing how their experiences in our classrooms and labs have helped shape their careers. 
Faculty member Brian Silliman, MF/MBA student Eric Smith, alum Shannon Switzer Swanson (who got her MEM in 2015 and is now a PhD student at Stanford), and alum Marico Sayoc (who got her MEM in 1999 and now serves as mayor of Los Gatos, Calif.) all gave excellent talks illustrating the far-reaching impact our research and teaching is having. 
Kudos to Kevin McCarthy and his team in our Office of Development and Alumni Relations for pulling off such a wonderful event. I couldn’t have been prouder.
Sometimes, being a dean has its perks.
Now, on with this week’s news.

  1. If you haven’t seen it yet, the new issue of Duke Magazine – which goes to more than 100,000 alums – includes a cover story about how drones are revolutionizing research. Needless to say, Dave Johnston and his crew at our Marine Robotics and Remote Sensing Laboratory feature prominently in it. 
  2. Senior ENV undergraduate Morgan Irons has received a Brooke Owens Fellowship from The Future Space Leaders Foundation in recognition of her work to develop an innovative design for a closed environmental system (CES) that could sustain life in deep space and other extreme environments. You can learn more about Morgan’s CES technology (which she developed with guidance from Jim Heffernan), the company she’s launched to commercialize it, and her new fellowship here
  3. En La Orilla, a documentary film produced by Xavier Basurto and alum Liza Hoos MEM ’14, has been named an official selection at the 2017 Water Docs Film Festival in Canada later this month. This is the fifth time Xavier and Liza’s movie, which documents the day-to-day struggles faced by small-scale fishers in Mexico’s Gulf of California, has been selected for showing at international film festivals over the last two years. It’s an extraordinary piece of video. Kudos, Xavier and Liza! 
  4. Closer to home, the Duke Superfund Research Center has posted a new video showcasing the research of postdoc Nishad Jayasundara. Nishad studies the evolution and fitness costs of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – aka PAHs – on the Atlantic killifish, an important model species for quantifying how increasing pollution in coastal and estuarine waters affects organisms living there. Nic School IT staffer Paul Zizzo helped Bryan Luukinen and Catherine Kastleman of the Superfund Center’s Research Translation Core team develop the new video.

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