Weekly Update: Successful Symposium, Lunar New Year Celebration, Nic Alums at Women in Energy and more....

February 14, 2018

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

PHD Student Ryan Huang Phd Sympsoium 2018.jpg
PhD student Ryan Huang gave a presentation on “How does mangrove fragmentation impact extinction risk of endemic birds?”during the First Annual PhD Symposium last Friday in Environment Hall's Field Auditorium. His advisor is Stuart Pimm.

Hi Everyone,

Improving inclusivity among faculty, staff and students is one of the most important goals of our strategic plan, Working Together. Two weeks ago, we held an info session on our latest effort to promote achievement of that goal: the Nicholas School’s Global Connections Initiative. This new initiative aims at strengthening the academic, social and professional bonds between international and domestic members of our community, to promote cross-cultural understanding, engagement and competence in an interconnected world.

The Global Connections Initiative will hold its first big event of the semester this Friday from 5-7 p.m. in Environment Hall: a Lunar New Year celebration. Come celebrate the Year of the Dog with games, activities, music and dinner. Students, faculty and staff can RSVP for the event here. There will also be a special Lunar New Year lunch in Beaufort at the Marine Lab dining hall from noon to 1 p.m. Happy New Year!


  1. Continuing the theme of inclusion, Janet Hill, a member of the Duke University Board of Trustees, the corporate boards of the Carlyle Group, Dean Foods, Inc., and Esquire Bank, and past owner and vice president of the corporate consulting firm Alexander & Associates Inc. will give a public talk on Feb. 21 on the far-reaching benefits of fostering inclusion and leadership in the workplace. Her presentation, “How to Build an Inclusive Culture and Become an Influential Leader,” will be at 3:15 p.m. in room 2102 of Environment Hall. A Q&A with audience members will follow. For more info check out this story.
  2. A new study led by PhD student Jacqueline Gerson has found dangerously high levels of mercury and its more toxic chemical cousin, methylmercury, in soils, sediments and rivers near artisanal gold mines in the West African nation of Senegal. The findings raise concerns that villagers could be exposed to mercury not only by eating contaminated fish, but also by eating crops grown on contaminated soil or livestock grazing on this land. You can read more about the paper, which was co-authored by Emily Bernhardt and Heileen Hsu-Kim, here.
  3.  “The Oxford Handbook of Water Politics and Policy,” a book edited by Erika Weinthal, will be published Feb. 23 by Oxford University Press. The book focuses on the crosscutting themes of equity, institutional performance and impacts of climate change on water politics and policy across the globe.
  4. PhD student Mark River recently accepted a postdoc position at The Pittsburgh Collaboratory for Water Research, Education and Outreach in the Department of Geology & Environmental Science at the University of Pittsburgh. Kudos to Mark, who’s advised by Curt Richardson, for this distinguished postdoctoral position in water sustainability!
  5. Michael Blum DEL-MEM’15 and his team at the preservation nonprofit Sea of Clouds have succeeded in getting an iconic 160-acre section of the Malibu, Calif., beach added to the National Register of Historic Places. It marks the first time a place has been added to the National Register based on its cultural significance as a surfing site. In addition to protecting the beach from future development, the new designation helps protect water quality and wildlife habitats there – and may provide a precedent for using cultural significance as a rationale for placing other threatened coastal sites under National Register protection. You can read our story to learn more about Michael and his team’s accomplishment.
  6. Alumna Erin Sills PhD’98 has been named Edwin F. Conger Professor of forestry and environmental resources at NC State University. She is widely cited for her research on tropical forestry, particularly her work to develop new and better ways to evaluate the economic, social and environmental impacts of REDD conservation policies. Her new named professorship is a richly deserved honor! Randy Kramer served as Erin’s doctoral advisor during her time here at the Nic School.
  7. Nicholas School alumni Chelsea Barnes MEM'08, Director of Policy Services at EQ Research, and Marina Yakhnis MEM'15, Renewable Energy Specialist at RTI International, will be among the panelists at this year's Women in Energy event on Feb. 22 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. All Duke alumni, students, faculty and staff are invited to sign up for the event, which is sponsored by The EDGE Center at Fuqua and the Energy Initiative
  8. Want to share your favorite memory of Karen Kirchof to help us celebrate her retirement? The Office of Development & Alumni Relations is putting together a photo book to present to Karen at reunion weekend in honor of her time at the Nicholas School. You can submit your stories, thank-you notes, photos and more, here.

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