Duke University

Dan Vermeer Executive Director of the Center for Energy Development and the Global Environment
fuqua.duke.edu / Center for Energy Development and the Global Environment


When he graduated from college, Daniel Vermeer did not want a job. He wanted only to wander through Asia and continue learning about world religions. But his adventures led him to some unexpected destinations, including corporate America. He led water sustainability projects for Coca-Cola and advised Fortune 50 companies on their water policies. 

Gordon Lew via Flickr

Middle school students are more likely to face discipline problems when surrounded by large numbers of students who are repeating grades, according to a new study from researchers at Duke University.

The findings explain that suspensions and behavioral problems, including substance abuse, fighting and classroom disruption, escalate among students across the school community as the number of older or retained students increase.

Dancing the African Diaspora: Theories of Black Performance February 7-9 2014 Duke University
African-American Studies at Duke University / http://aaas.duke.edu


For centuries, countless dances were born out of the disbursement of African people.  Dancing The African Diaspora, a new conference at Duke University, explores dances by people of African descent.

David Pizarro black and white photo, laughing


Feelings of disgust can be a useful in navigating environmental threats. When we are disgusted, we avoid contaminated or poisonous things. But new research shows that disgust may also subconsciously influence our political and moral judgments. Psychology professor David Pizarro examines the ways disgust affects decision-making in the political realm.

Alex Granados

Duke University Junior Tom Shelbourn got his own version of culture shock when he took the Sounds of the South English class last semester.

He is from England, and when he attended a performance of the Fisk Jubilee Singers and listened to them sing  "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," he knew he'd heard the song before. But not like that.

"It's actually a chant that you will hear at every international rugby game," he said. "You will hear that song often louder than the national anthem at times."

First-place winners of Duke University's 'Rethink Education: The Innovation Challenge' Winter Forum pose for a picture. The team proposed an online database that can be shared between schools in North Carolina and India to improve STEM education.
Reema Khrais / WUNC

A high tech pen-pal system shuttling messages,  knowledge and know-how between schools in Durham and those in India. A program that would have students repair bicycles as a part of their studies. How about older students teaching younger students through video tutorials? Or paying high achieving students to tutor?

These were some of the bright ideas cooked up by Duke undergrads for the “Rethink Education: The Innovation Challenge” winter forum at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business

Nyuol Tong, Duke student and writer, from South Sudan
http://www.selfsudan.org/ / Self Sudan


When Nyuol Tong was six years old, his family was caught in the crossfire of the Sudanese Civil War. After living in Sudanese refugee camps, and Egypt, Tong made his way to the United States. 

When Nyuol reflects on his life in Sudan and Egypt, he talks about the constant shifting he had to do in order to survive. 

Duke scientists look into the brains of songbirds.

Scientists are learning fascinating things by studying songbirds. 

Rob Bixby / RobBixbyPhotography, Flickr Creative Commons

A new study from Duke University shows the importance of maintaining key species to support biodiversity. 

Researchers manipulated the populations of crabs, snails and fungus in a salt marsh in Georgia.  Brian Silliman is an associate professor of marine conservation biology at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.  He says each species provides an important function in preserving the marsh. 

man with glasses, stroboscopic training, in running position
Peter Friesen @NHLCanes / Carolina Hurricanes

It's pretty amazing to think that strobe lights in a club, the ones that make you kind of dizzy, could actually help our brains process images.

Duke researchers knew that they were on to something. They had done at least one other study on "stroboscopic visual conditions." So, they teamed up with some men whose livelihoods depend on visual acuity, hockey players, to test their theories out.

They designed special glasses with kind of an internal strobe light. The glasses intermittently let vision in, and then cut it off.


James Joseph grew up in the heart of Klan country in Louisiana.

He vowed to one day earn the respect of the racist leaders. Years later, he became the first ambassador to South Africa to present his credentials to Nelson Mandela. Host Frank Stasio talks to James Joseph, professor emeritus of the practice of public policy at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

Mandela, Mary and james Joseph shaking hands
Joseph family archives

Nelson Mandela was a global icon who had an incredible humility. And one of the interesting things I remember about my experience is that when I presented my credentials to Mandela, as the U.S. Ambassador, he invited my wife and I to have tea with him afterwards. And we were sitting there, both of us thinking, ‘How do we approach asking Mr. Mandela to take a picture with us?’

South Sudanese Writer and Duke Student, Nyuol Tong
selfsudan.org / Self Sudan

When Nyuol Tong was six years old, his family was caught in the crossfire of the Sudanese Civil War. After living in Sudanese refugee camps, and Egypt, Tong made his way to the United States. 

When Nyuol reflects on his life in Sudan and Egypt, he talks about the constant shifting he had to do in order to survive. 

Jessica Jones
Jessica Jones

Every college football season, there’s usually one team that turns out to be a surprise. This year, it’s Duke.

The Blue Devils have won ten games-- the most in school history. It’s a big turnaround for a team long overshadowed by basketball and a laughingstock of the Atlantic Coast Conference. But now, Duke is headed to the ACC championship game.

The team earned its invitation to the ACC over the weekend, after it beat UNC.  At a sports bar near campus, lifelong Duke fans Larry Goss and Bobbi Harris hugged each other with tears in their eyes.

Wesley Hogan
Christopher Sims, via CDSPorch.com

Wesley Hogan's interest in storytelling stretches back to her childhood. 

Creative Commons

Think you’re avoiding the advertisements when you fast forward through using your DVR?

Think again. New research from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business shows that sometimes commercials are even more effective when you’re not paying attention. Host Frank Stasio talks to Gavan Fitzsimons, a professor in Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.

DSA Chorus
Leoneda Inge

The Fisk Jubilee Singers are known world-wide for their flawless voices and performance of Negro Spirituals.  Paul Kwami is the choir’s musical director and is on a five city, high school southern tour to personally help young voices hone and preserve the songs that have inspired people of all cultures.

Kwami’s first stop: The Durham School of the Arts.

duke.edu / duke.edu

Samuel Buell had an interest in justice from a young age. As a child, he sat in front of the TV with his parents and watched the Watergate hearings. He knew it was momentous, but he didn’t understand the exact significance until much later.

The Neuse River bike and pedestrian trail in Raleigh, forest, trees.
City of Raleigh

Researchers at Duke University have found evidence that climate change is shortening the life cycles of trees in the U.S.

Research in tropical areas like Peru has suggested that trees are migrating to cooler areas by producing offspring in higher elevations or latitudes, but the latest study says most plants in the U.S. might not be able to move quickly enough to keep up with rising temperatures. 

Transforming Knowledge: Public Talks on Women's Studies 1976-2011 by Jean Fox O'Barr
http://www.shewrites.com/ / She Writes Press


Jean Fox O'Barr was denied a teaching job at Duke University in the late 1960s. The reason? Her gender.  But later a few years later, with a shortage of professors, they asked O’Barr to join the political science department. She went on to found the Duke women's studies department and co-founded the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture. 

Branford Marsalis, Arlie Petters, and Juliana Makuchi Nfah-Abenyi join the State of Things for the roundtable conversation.
Laura Lee

On this week’s roundtable, a jazz great, a leading string theory mathematician and an accomplished writer share their diverse perspectives on the latest headlines. They’ll discuss a range of issues from the latest Middle East update to the challenges facing minorities in higher education. 

A Coquerel's Sifaka lemur at the Duke Lemur Center.
Laura Candler

Researchers at Duke University say studying hibernation in a certain species of lemur is giving them a better understanding of how sleep might help people with serious injuries or diseases. 

The Nasher Museum brings Doris Duke's Islamic art collection in Hawaii to North Carolina.
Doris Duke Foundation

Doris Duke, heiress to the American Tobacco Company fortune, built a sprawling estate in Hawaii in the 1930s. She named her secluded getaway Shangri La and she spent the rest of her life filling it with Islamic art. After her death, Shangri La was opened to the public.

Duke released a new study that looks at the high depression rate in clergy members.
public domain

A new study from Duke shows that clergy have a higher rate of anxiety and depression than the national average. The study, conducted by the Clergy Health Initiative at Duke Divinity School, surveyed all United Methodist Clergy in North Carolina and found that their depression rate was 8.7 percent, which is higher than the national average of 5.5 percent. Anxiety rates were 13.5 percent.

A new study looks at the availability of caloric information from fast food restaurants online.
jasonlam via Flickr, Creative Commons

Many of the nation's largest restaurants chains are making calorie information available on menus online, according to new research out of Duke University. Part of the Affordable Care Act mandates the information be provided on all in-store menus for chains with more than 20 stores. Lead author of the study Gary Bennett is an associate professor psychology, neuroscience, and global Health at Duke, and he says there are huge variations on how caloric and other nutritional content is presented to consumers.

A Steinway piano along with about 500 other items from Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans' estate will be up for auction this weekend
Brunk Auctions

This weekend, bidders will have the opportunity to take home a piece of North Carolina history when hundreds of items from Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans' estate go up for auction.

Semans was a longtime Durham philanthropist and the great-granddaughter of Washington Duke, who helped to create Duke University and founded the American Tobacco Company. She passed away in early 2012, and left a lifetime's collection of art, jewelry, furniture and household items behind.

A new Duke University study could have implications in math education for young children.
Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class D. Keith Simmons

You may not have heard of it, but it's a skill you probably use everyday, like when choosing the shortest line at the grocery store or the toll booth with the fewest number of cars. Approximate number math, or 'guesstimating,' is the ability to instinctively estimate quantities without counting. Researchers at Duke University set out to discover whether practicing this ability would improve symbolic math skills, like addition and subtraction.

Female Migrant Domestic Workers often face less than ideal conditions at their new homes.
Evil Erin

It's not uncommon for women from developing countries to migrate to richer nations looking for jobs and better living conditions. They often find jobs as domestic workers, but all too often, these women experience abuse, illness, mental health problems and limited access to medical care once they arrive at their new homes.

Sunburnt feet after a kayaking trip.
Laura Brunow

New research out of Duke University could put an end to painful sunburns. Scientists have discovered a way to block TRP-V-4, a skin molecule responsible for the redness and pain following prolonged sun exposure.

"Like reddening, formation of soreness and blisters... influx of blood, inflammatory cells, of cells that make itch," said Wolfgang Liedtke, a neurobiology professor at Duke. "That is the tissue injury response down to the level of non-visible."

The pink ribbon is a symbol for breast cancer awareness.

UNC- Chapel Hill and Duke researchers will share national grant money to further breast cancer studies. Ten programs at the schools will get $3.6 million from the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The research will investigate causes and develop vaccines.

Pam Kohl, the director of Komen's Triangle to the Coast affiliate, says this funding can be as important to scientists as it is to patients. Kohl points to Komen Scholar Kimberly Blackwell of Duke as one of those who benefited.