Weekly Update: PhD Sworn in as Mayor, Asst. Dean Grads Duke Leadership, Zackary Johnson Named Sustaining Fellow and more....

December 14, 2017

Students in the Duke Environment Leadership program stopped in front of the White House this week during their visit to meet D.C. leaders. Find out more below. Photo by Sergio Tovar.

Hi Everyone,
Greetings from Nepal, where I am attending a workshop hosted by a South Asian research capacity-building organization, SANDEE. SANDEE was started 17 years ago by one of our PhD alums, Priya Shyamsundar—yet another example of the positive and lasting impact our graduates have on the world. Former NSOE Dean Bill Chameides served on SANDEE’s steering committee, and I have the honor of succeeding Bill in that role.
I trust all is well in Durham, Beaufort, or wherever this Weekly Update may find you. This is the final Weekly Update of 2017. We’ll return to your inbox at the start of spring semester in January.

I wish you, your family, and friends a happy and peaceful holiday season.
Best wishes,

  1. I’m happy to publicly announce that the Nicholas School has received $5 million to support environmental research and education as part of a $25 million gift from Jeff and Laurie Ubben to the World Wildlife Fund and Duke University. The gift includes funding for a partnership between WWF and the Nic School to identify solutions that support conservation and sustainable development, and make these new tools and approaches accessible to conservationists and environmental managers worldwide. We are already benefiting from this generous gift, which supported master’s student interns at WWF last summer, and is funding three of our PhD students this year and - with a Bass match - the new Bass Connections Biodiversity Conservation program that was launched this fall. We’re very thankful for Jeff and Laurie’s generosity!
  2. Faculty members Drew Shindell, John Terborgh (emeritus) and Mark Wiesner (secondary, Pratt) were named to Clarivate Analyics’ 2017 list of the world’s most highly cited researchers. To be included on the list, researchers must have published a high number of peer-reviewed papers that rank in the top 1 percent most-cited in their discipline over the last 11 years. You can read more about the recognition here.
  3. John Robinson, assistant dean for information services, graduated from the Duke Leadership Academy, a 12-month development initiative for emerging leaders from across the university. Participation in the program is highly selective based on nominations by Duke’s vice presidents and deans. To top it all off, John and his group won the award for the program’s most outstanding project! Congrats, John!
  4. A new study co-led by doctoral student Varsha Vijay finds that populations of cheetahs in southern Africa have declined about 11 percent since the most recent population estimate in 2015, adding urgency to uplift the species’ conservation status from “vulnerable” to “endangered.” Fewer than 3,600 adult cheetahs remain in the region.
  5. Congrats to Zackary Johnson for being named a Sustaining Fellow of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO).  Zackary and 24 other ASLO members were honored this year for contributing in the advancement of aquatic sciences.
  6.  A new article by PhD candidate Mark River and advisor Curt Richardson shows that authigenic nanoparticles, which form in groundwater upon oxidation of reduced iron, are responsible for a large portion of dissolved iron and phosphorus transport in the Piedmont baseflow. This has implications for the ecology of Piedmont streams and the biogeochemistry of downstream reservoirs.
  7. Five Nicholas School faculty members – Dana Hunt, Zackary Johnson, Jennifer Wernegreen, Emily Bernhardt and Claudia Gunsch – are affiliated with the recently-launched Duke Microbiome Center. The center addresses the pervasive roles of microbial communities in human health, the environment and biotechnology.
  8. Students in the Duke Environmental Leadership program traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to meet with leaders from the private, nonprofit and government sectors, including attorney Kenneth R. Feinberg, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Susan Gordon, Congressman Scott Peters and Executive Director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Larry Selzer. Check out some of the highlights from the trip here.
  9. Once again, join me in congratulating PhD student Rett Newton, who was officially sworn in as mayor of Beaufort on Monday.

Please keep sharing your good news with me. Submit your items here.