DURHAM, N.C. – Five Master of Environmental Management (MEM) graduates, one Master of Forestry (MF) graduate and one MEM/MF concurrent degree graduate of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment shared this year’s Virlis L. Fischer Memorial Award for academic achievement.

All seven of the students graduated with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

“Maintaining a perfect academic record is a remarkable achievement. Having seven students do it, despite the disruptions caused by COVID during their first year of study, speaks to the drive and discipline of this year’s graduating class,” said Toddi Steelman, Stanback Dean of the Nicholas School.

This year’s Fischer Award recipients are:


Bihari earned a Master of Environmental Management and a Master of Forestry, as well as a certificate in geospatial analysis. 

As part of her studies, she served as a sustainable food and farming intern with Earthjustice in New York through the Stanback Fellowship program. She was a graduate team member of the Bass Connections project, Impacts of Defaunation on Afrotropical Forests, receiving runner up accolades in the 2022 Bass Connections Poster Competition. She served as a teaching assistant for dendrology and silviculture courses, as well as serving as an active member of the Duke Student Chapter of the Society of American Foresters, serving as the Event Coordinator. Enikoe was a Nicholas Scholar.

Her Master’s Project was “Legacy Pb contamination in the soils of three Durham city parks: Do secondary forest organic horizons effectively blanket Pb in city park soils contaminated by historic waste incineration?”

Andrea Patrice Bruns

Bruns earned her MEM in ecosystem science and conservation.

While pursuing her MEM, she served as Forestry Research Assistant at the Nicholas School and as a Restoration and Resilience Stanback Fellow with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), where she geospatial analytics and developed a communication strategy for TNC’s North Carolina Water Program. She was also president of the Nicholas School Naturalists and co-president of the Duke Conservation Society.  

Her Master’s Project was “Conserving and Restoring the Cape Fear River Basin: A Watershed-Scale Parcel Prioritization.”

Claudia Suzanne Deeg

Deeg earned her MEM in coastal environmental management.

While pursuing her MEM she served as a Small-Scale Fisheries Policy Associate at Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability, where she contributed to the report, “Illuminating Hidden Harvests: The Contribution of Small-Scale Fisheries to Sustainable Development.” She also worked as a coordinator at the Ocean Synthesis Lab.

Her Master’s Project was “A Global Analysis of the Climate Risk of Women in Small-Scale Fisheries.”

Samantha Sarah DiLoreto

DiLoreto earned her MEM in ecotoxicology and environmental health.

While pursuing her MEM, she served as a summer intern at the Duke Superfund Research Center, where she conducted research to analyze firefighters’ exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals using silicone wristbands. This fall, she will begin doctoral studies at Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, where her PhD research will focus on the coexistence of disinfection byproducts and pathogens in drinking water

Her Master’s Project was “Analysis of Ethoxylated Surfactants and Their Degradation Products in Ambient Water, Wastewater and Stormwater of San Francisco Bay, Calif.”

Taro Katayama

Katayama earned his MEM in water resource management.

As part of his studies, he interned as a natural resources management assistant at the National Park Service, where he created and deployed a self-sustaining fog monitoring program at Cabrillo National Monument in California. He also served as a wetland restoration assistant at the Duke University Wetland Center

His Master’s Project was “Analyzing the Water Footprint of Electric Car Batteries—A Dive into the Water-Energy Nexus.”

Christine Natasha Martens

Martens earned a Master of Forestry.

As part of her studies, she served as a forestry intern with the U.S. Forest Service at Natural Bridge, Va. She was an active member of the Duke Student Chapter of the Society of American Foresters, and also volunteered with the Carolina Mountain Club and the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

Her Master’s Project was “Recreation in Duke Forest,” which surveyed recreational activities in the forest and estimated its recreational value at $3.5 million a year—knowledge that can now be used by forest managers to better allocate resources.


Anne earned her MEM in ecosystem science and conservation.

She was active in adding value to her MEM experience by taking additional courses offered by the Durham Arts Council, supported by the Nicholas School Enrichment Fund. 

Her Master’s Project was “A Site Prioritization for Shortleaf Pine restoration in Duke Forest” – which involved stakeholder engagement, data collection, extensive research, analysis in ArcGIS Pro, and modeling in R. Her work, in part, ultimately resulted in creating a list of potential parcels for shortleaf pine restoration for her client, the Duke Forest, to consider in future restoration projects.