With a new decade dawning, Duke Today asked several Duke professors to gaze into their crystal balls to predict major developments in the years ahead. Nicholas School of the Environment professor and Energy Initiative director Brian Murray forecasts improvements in energy storage technologies. This will allow for broader electrification as well as a potential nosedive in U.S. carbon emissions.
Since 2014, Duke University's Energy Research Seed Fund has kickstarted new interdisciplinary research teams to launch innovative projects—sparking collaboration among scholars from the basic sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and other disciplines. The fund helps Duke researchers obtain important preliminary results they can use to secure external funding or otherwise expand future scholarly collaboration.
Story+ is a 6-week paid summer research experience for Duke undergraduate and graduate students interested in exploring humanities research approaches. Two of the projects recruiting team members for summer 2020 are focused on energy topics. Applications are due Feb. 14, 2020.
Duke Energy is expected to execute the country’s largest coal ash cleanup in the next couple of decades. The utility will excavate nearly 80 million tons of coal ash from unlined ponds and move it to lined landfills. On public radio station WUNC’s program “The State of Things,” Frank Stasio interviewed journalist Frank Taylor, Duke professor Avner Vengosh, and Duke Energy spokesperson Paige Sheehan about the implications of payment, environmental impact, and changing politics.
Data+ is a 10-week summer research experience that welcomes Duke undergraduates interested in exploring new data-driven approaches to interdisciplinary challenges. Join a small project team and collaborate with students across different majors and disciplines while analyzing data. This year, there are three energy-focused projects. Applications are due Feb. 27, 2020.
Photojournalist Renée Jacobs documented the rural Pennsylvania town of Centralia, which was nearly decimated by a mine fire in 1962. The photographs capture the confluence of environmental, scientific, bureaucratic, and emotional tragedies. The gallery is open for viewing in the Rubenstein Library on Duke’s west Campus until March 1, 2020.
The Provost’s Office at Duke University has awarded ten groups of faculty and staff with Intellectual Community Planning Grants to foster collaboration around emerging areas of interest. Recipients can use the funds to support the exploration of new collaborations, cover the cost of meeting venues, external speakers, or other meeting costs. One funded group—including several energy researchers—will create the Duke SciReg Center, a unique model for interdisciplinary education in science, law, and policy through actual participation in the regulatory process.
Writing for Forbes, Energy Initiative director Brian Murray examines key developments during the past 10 years of the energy transition. He argues that the decade saw more disruption in the U.S. energy sector than any other period since the 1970s, pointing to a rise in U.S. oil production, coal’s collapse, cheaper solar energy, and more. But the tumult won’t subside anytime soon, Murray predicts. He highlights three of the developments we’re likely to see in the decade ahead.
In 2018, the Energy Initiative's Energy Research Seed Fund supported a Duke team that sought to conduct a “listening tour” on the future of the massive Itaipú Binational Dam. In 2023, the 50th anniversary of the Itaipú Dam treaty, the dam’s energy pricing and distribution agreements will be up for renegotiation. Led by cultural anthropologist Dr. Christine Folch, the team sought to learn about Paraguayans’ visions for how their country could leverage energy generated by Itaipú to drive sustainable development.
"As the environmental peacebuilding community charts new directions for the next 25 years, it is imperative that we continue to support environmental defenders and civil society members as they draw attention to the threats facing the environment,” writes Nicholas School of the Environment professor Erika Weinthal for the Wilson Center’s “New Security Beat” blog.
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