The Duke Digest - April 20, 2012
In Today's Issue:
- Duke in DC Program Set to Launch Next Spring
- Duke Office Hours: Live at 2pm, Kaplan CEO to Address Costs, Value of Higher Ed
- Study: Greater Focus Needed on Methane Leakage from Natural Gas Infrastructure
- Student Spotlight: Olympian and Public Policy Senior Helping Consumers to Choose "Green" Oil
- Research: Computer-Designed Molecules Point to New Therapy for Cystic Fibrosis
- Duke Rises to Fifth in Federal Research Rankings
DUKE IN DC PROGRAM SET TO LAUNCH NEXT SPRING
Next spring, about a dozen Duke undergraduates will head to the nation’s capital for a new Sanford School program that will combine classroom learning with real-world education and interactions with practicing policymakers.
“Duke in DC: Public Policy” will be based in the new Duke University Washington Center at 1201 New York Ave. NW, a few blocks from the Metro Center and McPherson Square subway stations. Students will take four courses, work as interns four days a week and complete a research project.
“I always thought we needed an institutional link to Washington, where a lot of the nation’s policies are made and where we have a whole network of relationships with alumni and others,” said Sanford Dean Bruce Kuniholm. The goal is “not to take Duke to DC but to develop in DC something totally different that can be a galvanizing, transformative experience for students,” he said.
Duke in DC Program Set to Launch Next Spring (sanford.duke.edu)
DUKE OFFICE HOURS: LIVE AT 2PM, KAPLAN CEO TO ADDRESS COSTS, VALUE OF HIGHER ED
A public conversation on the priorities of American higher education April 20 will include Duke alumnus Andrew Rosen '82, CEO of the education company Kaplan and author of "Change.edu: Rebooting for the New Talent Economy." Also on the panel will be Laurie Patton, Duke's dean of Arts and Sciences, and George Leef, J.D. '77, director of research at The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.
The event, "Higher Ed: Who Can Afford It and Who Benefits From It?", is part of Reunions Weekend and begins at 2 p.m. in Room 0016 Westbrook in Duke's Divinity School. The discussion is this year's Duke Magazine Forum, and will be webcast live as part of Duke's Office Hours series on the university's Ustream channel.
Kaplan CEO Addresses Costs and Benefits of Higher Education April 20 (duke.edu)
STUDY: GREATER FOCUS NEEDED ON METHANE LEAKAGE FROM NATURAL GAS INFRASTRUCTURE
Natural gas is seen by many as the future of American energy; a fuel that can provide energy independence while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A study published this week in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, however, finds that the emissions-reducing benefits of switching to natural gas from other fossil fuels could vary widely due to potential methane leakage.
“Methane is the prime constituent of natural gas and is itself a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Our analysis shows that in some scenarios, the climate benefits of using natural gas as a fuel for motor vehicles in place of gasoline may be offset and delayed for decades because of methane leaks from infrastructure involved in the production, transportation and use of the natural gas,” says William L. Chameides, dean of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. “However, the balance sheet would tip strongly in favor of natural gas if those leaks can be eliminated.”
Chameides conducted the study with Ramon A. Alvarez and Stephen P. Hamburg of Environmental Defense Fund, Stephen W. Pacala of Princeton University and James L. Winebrake of the Rochester Institute of Technology. Alvarez and Pacala were the study’s corresponding authors.
Greater Focus Needed on Methane Leakage from Natural Gas Infrastructure (nicholas.duke.edu)
STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: OLYMPIAN AND PUBLIC POLICY SENIOR HELPING CONSUMERS TO CHOOSE "GREEN" OIL
The summer before she started at Duke, Rebecca Ward was in Beijing at the 2008 Olympics thwarting fencing competitors with cool competence. Ward arrived on campus having won two Olympic bronze medals to add to her collection, which also includes a gold medal from the 2006 World Fencing Championships and second place in the NCAA Women’s Saber Championship. Now a public policy senior, she is finishing her Duke career with a different battle in mind: fighting against environmental degradation.
In a class taught by Lincoln Pratson, professor of earth and ocean sciences at the Nicholas School for the Environment, Ward discovered the focus for her honors thesis: the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico and the resulting oil spill, the largest in U.S. history.
That summer, Ward interned for U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley from her home state. Ward said she spent much of her time taking calls from indignant Oregon residents who wanted the government to fix the oil spill and to punish rig owner British Petroleum (BP).
Ward returned to Duke resolved to uncover the underlying issues: What were the mechanisms that controlled the oil industry and how could oil companies be held accountable for environmental negligence? She decided to explore these questions through a public policy honors thesis that ultimately focused on returning power to the consumer.
Helping Consumer Choose "Green" Oil (sanford.duke.edu)
RESEARCH: COMPUTER-DESIGNED MOLECULES POINT TO NEW THERAPY FOR CYSTIC FIBROSIS
By developing software that uses 3-D models of proteins involved in cystic fibrosis, a team of scientists at Duke University has identified several new molecules that may ease the symptoms of the disease.
Computer algorithms created by the team predict how well a given molecular structure will block a basic protein-protein interaction known to occur in cystic fibrosis.
The results, which appear in the April 19 Public Library of Science Computational Biology, suggest that computers could make drug design for cystic fibrosis faster.
"We have known the genetic cause of cystic fibrosis since 1985. Now, by understanding its biology and chemistry, we can design and create targeted drugs to correct for the genetic flaw," said Bruce Donald, a Duke computer scientist and biochemist who led the study.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Computer-Designed Molecules Point to New Therapy for Cystic Fibrosis (Duke.edu)
Professor Donald's Lab (cs.duke.edu)
DUKE RISES TO FIFTH IN FEDERAL RESEARCH RANKINGS
Duke University was the fifth-largest research university in the nation in fiscal year 2010, with $983 million in research expenditures, according to a preliminary analysis from the National Science Foundation's Higher Education Research and Development Survey.
The university's research expenditures for FY 2010 grew by 21.6 percent from the previous fiscal year, although part of that growth resulted from a change in how NSF collected data. The study showed the national total for university research and development spending growing by 6.9 percent during the same period.
National research expenditures, a number that reflects actual activity rather than grants awarded, totaled $61.2 billion for FY 2010.
Duke Rises to Fifth in Federal Research Rankings (duke.edu)