Laura Kathleen Landes

Laura Kathleen Landes

What is your previous work experience?
I worked for about three years as an environmental consultant in Arlington, VA. My team provided contract support for the US EPA's Office of Water, and most of my time was spent working on regulatory development and guidance for drinking water regulations. Before that, I worked as a student intern for the US Department of Energy and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Why did you choose the Nicholas School?
I chose the Nic School for several reasons. Of all the schools I visited, this felt like the right fit - I easily felt at home in the culture and with the people I met at Admitted Students Weekend.

I also felt that it offered the best opportunities to study what I wanted to study - people here were actually talking about all the water issues that I find so interesting, plus talking about an amazing range of other things that I didn't know anything about but knew I wanted to learn more. And finally, I had been hearing great things about the Nic School from many senior people at my company. The school's reputation really stands out in the industry. 

Do you have any areas of interest or special focus you will undertake during your time at the Nicholas School?
I plan to focus my studies on water policy. My professional background is in drinking water, and I want to learn more about that but also about other types of water issues, such as access, equity, and pollution.

What are you looking forward to as a new Nicholas School student?
I am already loving my classes and I know that I have so much to learn from the faculty here. The hardest thing I had to do when I arrived was to narrow down which classes I wanted to sign up for in my first semester - there are so many that sound fascinating. I am also excited for the research opportunities that are available and client-based Masters Project, which sounds like it will be hard work but definitely worth it.

What future plans do you have for your career after the Nicholas School?
At this point, I think I would like to try working for a state or local government. I want to work in a place where I can make a tangible impact on people's daily lives, interact with a community, and find ways to make water safer, more efficient, or simply available. Eventually, perhaps, I may wish to go back to working for or with the federal government, but I think that a more localized perspective is an important thing to start with. That being said, I would also be interested in working with an NGO or an advocacy group.

Personal thanks:

To the Field family,

I can barely express the level of my gratitude for your support of the Nicholas School, and of me. I was humbled and honored to learn that I was the recipient of such a generous scholarship. Being a Field Fellow means that I can attend the school of my dreams without the added stress and worry of a large financial burden.

To be totally honest, I didn't even realize that the Nicholas School was the school of my dreams until I came to Admitted Students Weekend. But then the people I met - faculty, staff, current and prospective students, and alumni - completely blew me away. Their positive attitudes, intelligence, kindness, and passion were exactly what I wanted to surround myself with. I also realized how perfectly the curriculum suited my interests and how incredibly experienced, knowledgeable, and connected the professors are.

I came away from that weekend certain that I would become a Blue Devil. I was so happy - I am fairly certain that I would have made the same decision to attend Duke without the scholarship that you have made possible, but it made the decision (and my life) so much easier.

So for your dedication to the school and to the environment, and for what you have done for me, I thank you.

All the best,

Laura Landes

Career Interests

Water policy, water quality, state and local governance
Employment Sought:


Master of Environmental Management, May 2019
Nicholas School of the Environment
Duke University, Durham, NC
Concentration in Environmental Economics and Policy
Field Fellow in the Nicholas Scholars program
Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, May 2014
The College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA
Major in Economics and Environmental Policy
Dean’s list (Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013) Phi Eta Sigma and Alpha Lambda Delta National Freshmen Academic Honor Societies; National Society of Collegiate Scholars

Professional Experience

Research Analyst September 2014 – April 2016; Analyst May 2016 – July 2017, The Cadmus Group, Inc. Environmental Programs Group, Arlington, VA
Supported the EPA Drinking Water Laboratory Certification Program by: attending regional assessments with EPA staff and reviewing regional documentation of program implementation; synthesizing information from regional trips into reports; and taking detailed minutes of monthly workgroup meetings with regional certification officers on technical topics. Updated 23 Excel-based cost and burden models and three 70-page renewal Information Collection Requests for EPA’s National Primary Drinking Water Regulations to renew the NPDWRs’ OMB approval for information collection. Contributed to white papers on topical drinking water issues such as storage facility issues and disinfectant residuals in distribution systems in order to increase public and industry awareness and knowledge about the topics. Reviewed over 500 applications per year for EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification for buildings by evaluating energy usage and property details and handled ENERGY STAR logo violation questions and requests. Assessed impacts of policy decisions by: performing data collection and analysis, literature searches and reviews; providing logistical and administrative project support; and communicating research results. Provided contract-wide support by coordinating, reviewing, and packaging progress reports, work plans, and travel requests. September 2014 – July 2017
Student Volunteer/Intern, U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, D.C. 
Supported the Stakeholder Engagement team in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by researching stakeholders, synthesizing information and writing reports, and evaluating outside documents. Led Stakeholder Engagement’s effort to provide state and local stakeholders with clean energy financing information and resources. Contributed to stakeholder analysis of over a dozen environmental groups to inform the office’s strategy. June 2014 – August 2014
Student Volunteer/Intern, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C. 
Researched and wrote a report on long-term financing mechanisms for the stewardship of wetland mitigation banks in order to understand the impact of the 2008 Compensatory Mitigation for Losses of Aquatic Resources rule and make recommendations to policy makers and Interagency Review Teams. December 2013 – April 2014
Student Volunteer/Intern
Contributed to an economic analysis prepared of the “Waters of the United States” guidance, written by EPA to reestablish its authority under the Clean Water Act, by using Microsoft Excel to revise the benefits analysis. Assisted with management of public comments on EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. May 29, 2013 – August 15, 2013

Additional Information

Skills: data analysis, cost-modeling, communicating information about public policies Professional Affiliations: American Water Works Association


cost-benefit analysis
environmental economics
excel modeling
public health
stakeholder engagement

Graduation Date

May 2019

Additional Resources

Preferred Location


Preferred Sector

Non-profit / NGO
Research Institute / Think Tank
State / Local Government