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?
I’d like to work in a field that allows me to address public health and environmental justice issues. I’m interested in how these issues intersect with water policy and governance, and in both non-governmental and governmental approaches to improving lives through that lens.

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, public health/environmental health, equitable access to water and sanitation services, environmental justice