Nicholas School welcomes Board of Visitors, Alumni Council for Spring Meeting

Nearly 50 members of the Board of Visitors and Alumni Council met in Durham, N.C., on Thursday and Friday, March 21-22, to learn about ongoing research and initiatives at the school.

The Nicholas School Alumni Council began the day at Grainger Hall with a welcome message from Council President Kira Jacobs MEM’97 and Vice President Cakey Worthington MEM/MF’16, who also shared lessons learned from Council feedback. Their presentation was followed by updates on fiscal year 2025 alumni engagement, the Annual Fund, and project teams, as well as the proposed nomination slate for next year and an overview of student projects.

Meanwhile, the Board of Visitors fittingly kicked off the International Day of Forests at the Forest History Society near Duke’s campus. After a welcome from Chair Kathryn Hoenig T’83, P’14, P’18, P’23 and Stanback Dean Lori Bennear, board committee chairs gave updates on the Marine Lab and Business and Professional Development, and the Nominating Committee welcomed following approved new BOV members. New members included:

  • Elizabeth Bacardi P’26
  • Sarah Lambert Daniels T’00, F’05
  • Justin Segall T’05
  • Kyle Glerum T’90
  • Leigh Glerum T’91
  • Roy Ben-Dor T’05
  • Keisha Hunt T’97
  • Margaret “Meg” Athey Lawrence F’03, G’03

Following the committee reports and questions, Nicholas School master’s students Parker White MF/MBA’24, Kate Perry MF/MBA’24, and Simon Sharp MF’24 gave an update on their work on Natural Resource Finance and their master’s client project; and Danny Collins T’24 spoke about his work on CRISPR-based biosensors for monitoring ocean health.

Following the student presentations, four Nicholas School faculty members gave brief talks on environmental trends and research opportunities. Nishad Jayasundara, Juli Plant Grainger Assistant Professor of Global Environmental Health, spoke about pesticides and their impact on chronic kidney disease; Martin Doyle, professor of river systems science and policy, spoke about water systems and the economy; Dalia Patino-Echeverri, Gendell Family Associate Professor, presented on the energy transition and the reduction of carbon emissions; and Jesko von Windheim, Lynn Gorguze-Scott Peters Professor of the Practice, delivered a talk on environmental innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Alumni Council then joined the Board of Visitors for presentation by Council members Niles Barnes MEM’14, deputy director of the East Coast Greenway Alliance, and Julia Chen-Rinaldi MEM’15, senior resilience specialist at Arcadis, where they spoke about their careers and the impact their work is having on carbon emissions reduction and resilience against rising oceans. They also shared why the Nicholas School was important in shaping their careers as well as relationships with other Nicholas alumni.

Following their presentations, Ritson T’81, P’10, P’12, P’15, and Julie Ferguson T’81, P’10, P’12, P’15 provided an update on the Duke Climate Commitment Task Force they are Co-Chairing and gave examples of where Duke can have considerable impact within climate research and education.

At the conclusion of the meeting at the Forest History Society, the Board of Visitors and Alumni Council members left for a private reception at the Washington Duke Inn, where they heard poster presentations from PhD students on their research and offered feedback. The following day was spent touring faculty labs and listening to a research roundup from Professors Martin Smith, Patrick Halpin, and Lee Ferguson, as well as the Cassar Lab.