DURHAM, N.C. – Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment (NSOE) prepares to recognize 178 graduates receiving their Master of Environmental Management (MEM), Duke Environmental Leadership Master of Environmental Management (DEL-MEM), Master of Forestry (MF), and International Master of Environmental Policy (iMEP) on May 10, 2024 at 4:00 p.m. at Duke’s Wilson Recreational Center.

Rachel “Roo” Jackson is the student speaker, who will graduate with an MEM in Ecosystem Science and Conservation (ESC), which focuses on natural science, policy, and management issues related to the stewardship of natural resources. Advised by Brian McAdoo, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Earth and Climate Science, Roo recently successfully defended their Master's Project, a case study on Urban Community AgriNomics’ (UCAN) Returning Citizens Project. UCAN teaches formerly incarcerated individuals agricultural education to help them understand, reclaim, and reshape their relationship with the land and their autonomy. A Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Fellow since January 2023, Roo has also served as Conservation Equity Fellow at The Nature Conservancy and community-based outreach specialist at Bluestem Conservation Cemetery. Following graduation, they seek to work as a landscape/conservation biologist. “I believe there is more to this field than just the aspect of science,” Jackson has written. “The social component is just as -- if not more -- important in this predominantly white field.” Jackson seeks to work as a landscape/conservation biologist, and to continue fighting against environmental injustices. Fellow students selected Jackson as their student speaker for Jackson’s commitment to advocacy alongside academia.

The guest speaker will be Duke alumnus Jim Toomey, who graduated with both a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in 1983 and a Master of Environmental Management in 2008. He went on to earn a Master of Arts from Stanford University. While working as an engineer, Jim expanded a political cartoon he had drawn for The Chronicle, Duke’s student newspaper. The cartoon, Sherman’s Lagoon, has been featured in more than 150 newspapers across the United States. It educates and informs readers about critical issues facing oceans. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded Toomey the Environmental Hero Award in 2000 and again in 2010 for his work as an environmental cartoonist. More recently, Toomey has expanded his science communications to filmmaking, producing award-winning short videos for the United Nations, Pew Charitable Trusts and the World Resources Institute.

Graduates are required to complete a Master’s Project for graduation. This year, their projects spanned marine and land conservation; sustainable land use; plastic pollution prevention; sustainable business; green finance/investments; environmental justice; renewable energy, energy transition, and energy efficiency; air pollutants, water management, pollutant emission trading systems, and the impact of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in China; climate-smart technology; and climate change adaptation in various countries, to name a few topics. Learn more about their research on the Duke Libraries collection.

This year’s professional student recognition ceremony will be livestreamed and recorded for friends and family members who cannot attend in person.

Among the 178 professional graduates are 13 students who belong to the DEL-MEM program, a distance-learning Master of Environmental Management designed for experienced working professionals. Twenty-two will graduate with the iMEP degree, a joint degree program with Duke University and Duke-Kunshan University in Kunshan, China. These students spent 18 months in China and their last semester at the Nicholas School.

Additional NSOE recognition ceremonies include one for Ph.D. graduates at 10 a.m. Friday, May 10, 2024 at Duke University’s Love Auditorium, and for undergraduates at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 11, 2024 at Wilson Recreation Center. Receptions will follow all three ceremonies. Learn more at the school’s graduation page