Stephanie Prufer presents her research.


DURHAM, N.C. – Twelve students have earned Graduation with Distinction honors from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment this year.

The Graduation with Distinction program recognizes undergraduates who demonstrate academic excellence through the successful completion of a senior thesis based on a substantive independent research project evaluated by a committee of three faculty members. The projects typically include a 25-50 page written report and a poster summarizing its findings.

To earn the honor, students must also have a 3.0 grade point average overall and a 3.2 grade point average in their major.

This year’s recipients of Graduation with Distinction honors (along with their degrees, project titles and faculty advisors) are:

  • Madison Barnes, BS in Environmental Sciences, “Life-cycle Assessment of a 500W WindAid Wind Turbine in Trujillo, Peru,” advised by Lori Bennear;
  • Kiersten Bell, BS in Environmental Sciences, “Inhibiting Reproduction in Caenorhabditis elegans Prevents Swimming Exercise-Induced Protection of Mitochondria and Increases Sensitivity to Mito-Toxins,” advised by Joel Meyer;
  • Lucila Houttuijn Bloemendaal, BS in Earth and Ocean Sciences, “Analysis of Western Tropical Atlantic Thermocline Temperatures from Recent to the Last Glacial Maximum,” advised by Gary Dwyer;
  • Schuyler DeBree, AB in Environmental Science and Policy, “The Changing Landscape of Sustainable Certifications in the Kenyan Tea Industry: An Exploratory Case Study,” advised by Jay Golden;
  • Imani Dorsey, AB in Environmental Science & Policy with a Marine Science Conservation Concentration, “The Swine Farm Problem & Biogas Solution: A Community Focus,” advised by Jay Golden;
  • Brianna Johnson-King, AB in Public Policy with a minor in Environmental Science and Policy, “Barriers that Livestock Farmers Face when Implementing Electrical Energy Efficiency Upgrades on their Farm,” advised by Chantal Reid;
  • Thomas Klug, BS in Environmental Sciences, “Understanding the Impacts of Traditional Cooking Practices in Rural Madagascar and a Way Forward with Improved Cookstoves,” advised by Subhrendu Pattanayak;
  • Aurora Krom, BS in Earth and Ocean Sciences, “Measuring Handedness in Echinoderms; Models for Handedness in Organisms with Pentameral Symmetry,” advised by Alexander Glass;
  • Stephanie von Ungern Sternberg Prufer,AB in Environmental Science and Policy, “Positive Interactions Enhance Salt Marsh Restoration in Regions of High Abiotic Stress,” advised by Brian Silliman;
  • Sara Snyder, BS in Environmental Sciences, “Examining Indigenous Agriculture as Foundation for Southeastern U.S. Agroecology,” advised by Chantal Reid;
  • Michaela Stith, AB in Environmental Science and Policy, “Comparing Values Around Cruise Tax in Iceland and Alaska,” advised by Tim Johnson; and
  • Tanner Waters, BS in Environmental Sciences, “Effects of Arsenite Exposure in Caenorhabditis elegans with Mitochondrial Mutations,” advised by Joel Meyer.

The students presented their research at a symposium on April 20th. 

Tanner Waters discusses his research.

The Nicholas School awards four undergraduate degrees in cooperation with Duke’s Trinity School of Arts & Sciences. Students can pursue bachelor of arts (AB) or bachelor of science (BS) degrees in Earth and Ocean Sciences; a AB in Environmental Sciences & Policy; or a BS in Environmental Sciences. Both of these latter degrees provide students the opportunity to pursue a concentration in Marine Science and Conservation.

Forty-nine Duke undergraduates will graduate with bachelor’s degrees in majors offered by the Nicholas School this year.