Weekly Update: PRIDE, Deepwater Horizon, Beach Cleanup and more...

September 28, 2016

Hi Everyone

The participation of so many Nicholas School community members in last weekend’s successful NC Pride Festival and Parade on Duke’s East Campus was an inspiring reminder of how greatly our school values diversity and inclusion.

But it was also a reminder that as we communicate with prospective students, alums, partners on our research and outreach efforts, and others who play a vital role in our school’s mission, we need to emphasize our commitment to equality and our stout opposition to N.C. House Bill 2, the discriminatory statewide legislation passed last year that unfairly targets the transgender community.

I ask each of you to help spread the word about our community’s rejection of HB2, and about our commitment to making our school a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for all students, faculty and staff, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, or any other defining characteristic.

Prejudice and discrimination of any sort have no place at the Nicholas School. #wearenotthis.

Now, on to this week’s news.


  1. The NC Pride Festival and Parade last weekend drew many Duke and Nicholas School community members. Photo (above) by April Dudash.
  2. Brian Silliman has a study out this week showing that marsh erosion caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico six years ago was much more extensive and permanent than previous assessments suggested. Brian’s analysis shows that at sites where oil covered more than 90 percent of plants’ stems, widespread die-off of grasses at the marsh edge occurred, followed by up to two years of accelerated erosion as dying plant roots lost their grip on marsh soil. By identifying this 90 percent threshold above which spill-induced erosion may be irreversible, the study can help scientists more accurately predict impacts from future oil spills and prioritize remediation efforts in their aftermath. Smart stuff. 
  3. Kudos to the Nic School students, faculty and staff members who volunteered their time last weekend to take part in a beach clean-up on Radio Island. They removed more than 100 pounds of trash and 300 pounds of recyclables from the island’s shores. Duke’s student chapter of The Coastal Society hosted the clean-up as part of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Beach Clean-Up Month. MEM students Sarah DeLand, Julia Lewis, Ashley Gordon, Devon McGhee, Ginny Crothers and Liz Mason helped organize the event. 
  4. A new paper co-authored by Erika Weinthal underscores how government failure to seek broad public input and scientific expertise before enacting potentially polarizing decisions can foster mistrust that undermines the credibility of the decision-making process. The study looks specifically at the fracking issue in Canada’s Yukon Territory, but its findings are widely applicable to a broad range of environmental governance issues, including in climate change, conservation, land-use and resource management.
  5. Research associate Renata Leite Pitman, Center for Tropical Conservation, is taking part in a new initiative in Peru to rehabilitate a juvenile ocelot rescued from wildlife traffickers and reintroduce him into the wild. The project will use GPS technology to track the ocelot – nicknamed Khan, in honor of the black panther in the Jungle Book – and monitor his health for up to three years after he has been set free again. There are very few successful examples of returning Neotropical cats to the wild. Renata’s team hopes what they learn through tracking Khan will help change this. You can learn more here 
  6. The Duke Office of Student Affairs has launched a new website, “Sexual Violence Response and Prevention,” that provides useful guidance about what to do if you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual violence, and proactive steps you can take to help prevent such violence from happening. Thanks to MEM Diego Calderon-Arrieta for bringing this site to my attention, and for reminding me that we all should download Duke’s free LiveSafe mobile app, which provides users with real-time, two-way communication with the Duke Police Department. Let’s all be safe out there!

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