Making a Difference: Helping to Uncover Links Between Environmental Exposures and Human Health

Years ago, Annie Falk was exposed to toxic chemicals in her own home and experienced firsthand how life-changing and life-threatening such an exposure can be. Falk and her husband Michael learned that these hazardous chemicals had come from common household products like paint, carpeting and wallpaper – even a fiberglass tub. Through the long and painful process of healing and remediation, the family learned to question everything that entered their home.

When their children enrolled at Duke, Annie and Michael were introduced to the Nicholas School and Dr. Heather Stapleton’s groundbreaking work on links between environmental exposures and human health. The Falks, who are now members of the Nicholas School Board of Visitors, decided to support Stapleton’s research philanthropically.

“We are excited by Dr. Stapleton’s research exploring the routes of human exposure to chemicals, especially common indoor air pollutants and how they affect children in particular. We hope her research will change how industry communicates with the end users of their products, and ultimately that this work will help other families.”


-Annie & Michael Falk P’16 and P’18
Members, Nicholas School Board of Visitors


“As board members, it has been encouraging to learn about the Nicholas School’s holistic view of conservation and its efforts to partner with Duke’s medical, law and business schools. While my husband’s and my passions lie in environmental health and toxicology, it has been an eye-opening experience to meet with leaders in the fields of climate change, oceans, sustainability and more. Ultimately, it is all interrelated.

-Annie Falk P’16 and P’18
Member, Nicholas School Board of Visitors