Orientation Information

Tulips in spring at the Chapel Drive-University Road entrance to campus.
Photo Credit: Bill Snead, Duke University

We hope your summer is going well!  The information found on this page will help you get situated as a grad student here at Duke and also within the Integrated Toxicology & Environmental Health Program (ITEHP).

Prior to arrival:

ROTATIONS (three rotations in two different departments during your first year) – Secure your first rotation by contacting UPEH faculty members directly. You may also want to work on securing your second rotation, especially if you are interested in rotating in a popular rotation lab.  You may also secure your second and third rotation however this is not necessary prior to your arrival. If you have questions or concerns about who to contact, be sure to reach out to Dr. Joel Meyer (Director of Graduate Studies) to discuss.

Training Grant enrollment in “xTrain” – you will be supported on an NIH training grant funding for the coming year. In order to do this, we need to establish an account for you with NIH’s ERA Commons. In the coming weeks, we will set up your profile and you will receive an email that will prompt you to access a system called, “xTrain” within era Commons. You will need to set up a username and password and enter your own demographic data. As soon as you receive the official email from NIH, please act on it. We can’t process your payroll info until your info is submitted with NIH/xTrain.

·         Receive and activate your NetID – A Duke NetID is a unique user ID assigned to each student. Your letter and/or email will instruct you to activate your NetID online.  If you do not receive your NetID within three to four weeks of completing the online enrollment form, please contact the OIT Service Desk at (919) 684-2200.

You will need your NetID to access:

o   Duke e-mail account – start using it as soon as possible. I will send emails to both your official duke email and your current email until school starts but after Orientation Week, I’ll only use your Duke email account.

o   IACUC / IRB Protocols – most of you will need to be added to lab protocols and will be required to complete training before you may begin working in a lab.

o   ACES (for registration and grades),

o   Sakai (for course information),

o   digital file storage

o   the DukePass portal, your Duke-issued Web space, computer labs and more. After completing the online enrollment form, you should receive information regarding your NetID by both email and in a letter mail to the address on your application within three to four weeks.


Enroll in Duke’s Student health insurance (or opt out if applicable): http://studentaffairs.duke.edu/studenthealth/health-insurance

·         Review Graduate School student resources information at http://gradschool.duke.edu/student/index.php

·         Academic Calendar may be viewed at: https://registrar.duke.edu/academic-calendar-2017-2018

·         PAYROLL:  Generally, for your first two years, you will be paid monthly (last business day of the month) via the “noncompensatory payroll system” and will receive your first check on September 30th. Your first check will be an actual check but as long as you complete the direct deposit forms and submit them with your payroll documents during Orientation Week, your check should be direct deposited by the end of October.

Be sure to complete and bring the following documents with you on the first day of orientation:

    • Please bring either your passport OR any 2 of the following items: driver’s license, social security card, birth certificate (originals, not photocopies).


    • W-4 Federal Income Tax


    • NC-4 North Caroline State Income Tax


    • Electronic I-9 form.


    • Direct Deposit form – students with an already established checking account should present a pre-printed and voided check. Starter checks that do not have your name and address printed on them are not accepted by payroll.


  • Students without pre-printed checks will receive a Direct Deposit form to take to their bank to fill out and authorize direct deposit. Return the direct deposit form to Eve before the start of classes.

·         With the exception of Parking and one or two minor fees, your cost of attendance is billed to your account and a credit is posted by the graduate school finance office.

·         Cautionary note: If you receive a bill from the Bursar for tuition or fees, always contact the DGSA. Do not submit payment. All tuition and fees are paid for as a part of your fellowship but sometimes there is a delay in posting credits to your bursar account. On the flip side, know that if you have outstanding charges for parking permits or fines, you will not be permitted to register for the next semester until you pay. We’ve seen late payments for such charges result in students being un-enrolled for very minor amounts, which then results in administrative hassles nobody wants to deal with.

·         PARKING: Be sure to visit the Duke Parking website: http://parking.duke.edu/parking/permits/students/graduate_students.php to purchase a parking permit if needed.  Permits are available to new students starting in June (notification will be sent to your duke email). Parking permits for proximate (to LSRC) lots are LIMITED and the waitlists are long so attempt this as early as possible. The cost of the permit will be added to your Duke account which can be paid once you arrive at Duke. Green or Central are recommended if available. Be careful when looking at “proximate” lots such as Mill Lot as some of these are not proximate to research buildings or classrooms. Carpool passes are also available for two or more graduate students and these are generally in much closer parking lots than individual parking permits that are available to new students. Additionally, put your name on waitlists for proximate lots (circuit and chemistry for example). These waitlists are very long and can take 2-3 years to get so try to get on the waitlist asap. For those that prefer to bike to campus, you can obtain a few single-day parking passes from the parking office. 

·         *****Submit your immunization information to student health: http://studentaffairs.duke.edu/studenthealth/new-students/immunization-requirements This is required before the start of classes and is best taken care of before you arrive in Durham as it can sometimes take a while to acquire the information. This is an NC state requirement and you will not be permitted to attend class until your immunization record is on file. 

·        Secure housing. The student affairs housing website has helpful information regarding off-campus housing including housing near campus or on bus routes for those without transportation, student surveys for the last several years rating apartments and neighborhoods and current housing classifieds including roommate listings http://www.studentaffairs.duke.edu/communityhousing. The Duke List  is also a good resource. Please feel free to contact me or a current student in the program (possibly your mentor during the interview weekend) to get more advice on particular locations. Appendix material with more info is attached for your review, should you need assistance.

·         Prior to the start of Orientation Week (by August 15th) please send a brief biographical blurb / paragraph and a picture you’re comfortable having posted on the UPEH website: https://sites.nicholas.duke.edu/envhealth/people/

After you arrive in Durham and at Duke:

·         Stop by the Program office to say hi! LSRC A346a

·         Explore Environment Hall just in front of the LSRC. Check out the rooftop garden!

·         Obtain your Duke Card. This is best done early prior to arrival of the undergraduates. The Duke Card Office can be found at the Telcom Building Your first DukeCard is free, and it is a requirement for all students. This card has the option to open a FLEX account. You can add money to this account and use it to purchase food on campus tax free. http://dukecard.duke.edu/

·         LSRC A335 desk space will be available beginning during Orientation Week when second year students rotate out of the office. Open desks are secured on a first come, first served basis. Danille Wiggins (DGSA for Nicholas School manages student office assignments).

·         Register your computer for access to Duke’s wireless network: https://dukereg.duke.edu/

·         Familiarize yourself with Nicholas IT information: http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/it/ and Duke’s Office of Information Technology site: http://oit.duke.edu/

·         Complete the appropriate tax forms and bring them to the Program Office – you will all be paid via fellowship on the non-compensatory payroll (I process the forms for you) and taxes are not deducted. You will want to be sure to have at least some taxes taken out of your paychecks so that you aren’t stuck with a big tax bill in April. (You will switch to the compensatory payroll system in your third year at which time, taxes are automatically deducted, usually at the highest rate possible so it’s always a good idea to double check your withholding information).

·         Complete the attached automatic deposit form and bring it to the Program Office. Your first check will be a paper check but you should receive your second check in your bank account if you complete this form during your first week at Duke.

·         Update your graduate school record in ACES regarding change of address, if applicable.

·         Sign up for Duke alert notifications (optional): http://emergency.duke.edu/


·         Contact Dr. Kuhn to meet with her for your initial advising meeting to discuss your classes and possible rotations. ckuhn@duke.edu

·         Once you meet with Dr. Kuhn (any time over the summer or during orientation week) let me know and I will adjust your registration settings to allow you to register for classes through the online ACES system: http://www.registrar.duke.edu/registrar/studentpages/studentlinks.html The system should be fairly intuitive for you. Search for your class; book bag them; and then register / submit. You may need permission numbers, in which case, you should contact the professor directly. Your required classes for UPEH are for the Fall semester are: Pharm 533; Pharm 847S; and ENVIRON 501.

·         ORIENTATION WEEK: Orientation events begin on Monday, August 21st. This special week’s events are for you to enjoy and will go a long way in helping you become more familiar with your new intellectual home. UPEH students are included in the Nicholas School Student Orientation since the NSOE is where our offices (yours and mine) are located. The schedule for NSOE orientation is currently pending (the new schedule will be sent out at the beginning of August) but is held in tandem with the larger Graduate School orientation. I’ve attached last year’s NSOE schedule (merged with the Graduate School orientation schedule) so that you will know what to expect in terms of the week’s pacing. Be sure to review the Graduate School orientation events page.

Responsible Conduct of Research Training (RCR)

·         Attend RCR Training will be held on  August 25-26 at the end of the regular orientation week. RCR training information is posted here You will be contacted over the summer with more information. 

·         Consider attending Duke Basketball Campout. This attracts hundreds of graduate and professional students making it a great way to meet new people and get to know others in your program. This event is usually attempted in groups (to increase the chances of winning a season ticket) so if you are interested ask others in the program about potential groups to join or form your own group. More information can be found at http://sites.google.com/site/gpscbasketball/Home.

·         Note that Tox Seminar (Pharm 847S) will commence on Friday, September 1 in Field Auditorium, Environmental Hall. We will post the schedule as soon as possible. Lunch is available beginning at Noon and talks generally begin at 12:05 pm and run for about an hour. This is a required class for your first year but in subsequent years we recommend that you attend as frequently as possible in order to stay in touch with the UPEH community.