The ceiling inside the dome of the U.S. Capitol

Category: Blog Page 1 of 13

Gary Gereffi Briefs Congress on Supply Chain Resiliency

Gary Gereffi, professor emeritus of sociology and founding director of the Duke Global Value Chains Center visited the nation’s capital on July 15, 2021, to brief Congress on global supply chain resiliency.

“Recent disruptions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have brought both the significance and risks of supply chains to the American consciousness as never before…It has resulted in unprecedented supply shortages and demand fluctuations that have affected virtually all U.S. industries,” Gereffi testified.

He went on the note the importance of a renewed federal focus on supply chain resiliency. Following up on a White House report on the topic in June 2021, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing on July 15th, Implementing Supply Chain Resiliency, which included testimony from Gary Gereffi.

Gereffi’s opening statement gave senators an overview of the recent emergence of supply chains as a research field and looked at the evolving geographic shifts and focus on Asia in supply chains.

Highlighting the traditional model of top-down supply chain models, Gereffi offered the success of North Carolina in the Global Economy Project as an example of a bottom-up model that builds resiliency in the United States.

Looking at the NC textile industry as an example, Gereffi noted, “Among the insights gleaned from the NC-Global Economy project is that traditional industries like textiles and furniture have adapted in striking ways to recent political, economic and technological shifts. While North Carolina’s textile firms accommodated NAFTA by continuing to supply apparel customers that moved to Mexico and Central America, the industry also embraced technological change via the growth of nonwoven and “technical” textiles in the state’s output and exports.”

Duke and Aspen Institute Experts Consider Federal Policy and Its Environmental Justice Impacts

Environmental justice touches all aspects of life – from the food we put on our tables, the water in our faucets, the communities we live in, even our international affairs and much more. As the Biden administration has already set goals to address the climate crisis, a key component in tackling climate issues, domestic and abroad, is environmental justice.

Duke in DC recently hosted a Beyond Talking Points virtual event series, which convened a group of experts from Duke University and the Aspen Institute to discuss the environmental justice impacts that result from food, agriculture, trade, international relations and water infrastructure. The panelists considered ways the federal government could incentivize or advance sustainability as well as increase access to essential resources.

Beyond Talking Points is a regular briefing series exposing the federal policy community in Washington, DC to in-depth discussions on critical issues facing America and the world. Each event features a complex and relevant policy topic to be discussed by a panel of experts from Duke and external organizations.

This series was held on consecutive Friday mornings beginning on May 21st through June 4th, and featured Duke faculty from the Sanford School of Public Policy, Divinity School, Law School, Pratt School of Engineering, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and John Hope Franklin Humanities Center.

The events were attended by a range of congressional staffers representing over 30 House and 14 Senate member offices, including 7 different offices representing North Carolina’s congressional delegation, as well as 6 Senate and 9 House committees. Other attendees included staff from 6 different federal agencies.

Below is more information about the panel from each conversation with the title serving as hyperlink to the recorded discussion.

Food & Agriculture: Who We Feed and How We Farm 

  • Kelly D. Brownell, Director of the World Food Policy Center and Former Dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University
  • Norbert L. W. Wilson, Professor of Food, Economics and Community, Duke Divinity School
  • Corby Kummer, Executive Director of the Food and Society Program, Aspen Institute
  • Moderated by Pipa Elias, Deputy Director of the Environment Program, Walton Family Foundation

The Role of Environmental Justice in International Trade and Diplomacy

  • Rachel Brewster, Jeffrey and Bettysue Hughes Professor of Law, Duke School of Law
  • Jackson Ewing, Senior Fellow, Duke Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions 
  • Moderated by Jariel Arvin, Foreign and World Fellow, Vox

Infrastructure Priorities: Water’s Role in Promoting Equitable Planning and Investment

  • Catherine Flowers, Environmental Health Advocate and 2020 MacArthur Fellow
  • Martin Doyle, Director of the Water Policy Program, Duke Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
  • Greg Gershuny, Executive Director of the Energy and Environment Program, Aspen Institute
  • Moderated by Andrew Jones III, Incoming Professor at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Investing in Water and Sanitation Infrastructure With Equity in Mind

“Citizens have to be engaged and make our voices heard to have an impact on the policies that are put in place. Even when political figures change, the policies are still there,” explained Catherine Flowers, environmental health advocate and 2020 MacArthur Fellow, during a Duke in DC event on June 4th.

Flowers joined Martin Doyle, director of the Water Policy Program at Duke Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Greg Gershuny, executive director of the Energy and Environment Program at the Aspen Institute and Andrew Jones III, incoming professor at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering in the department of civil and environmental engineering for Infrastructure Priorities: Water’s Role in Promoting Equitable Planning and Investment, part of the Beyond Talking Points series on environmental justice.

When it comes to the political will to address water and sanitation infrastructure, Martin Doyle believes “technology exists to do amazing things with water – to clean it, to move it, to pump it, but it takes the political will and a fairly large amount of money and energy,” and as a result, “the technology may not as well exist.”

Due to climate change, many of the problems Americans are facing with water and sanitation are growing. It’s no longer just isolated to rural areas – Flowers mentioned that the current systems were not built to respond to climate change, which results in sunny day flooding, even in urban areas.

When we think about investing in new technologies that account for climate change, Greg Gershuny notes that in terms of research and development, “we need to think about not just what we need now, but what we need 10 years from now. When we install these technologies, they’re going to last for decades in some cases, so we’ve got to be thinking ahead.”

Environmental justice plays a significant role when we consider how all communities in the U.S. will have access to affordable and sustainable water and sanitation. Gershuny said, “for people who have clean drinking water and sanitation, it’s really easy to forget that there are a lot of people within the U.S. that don’t have access to those things… as we deploy these new technologies in the U.S. to more communities, it helps drives down the price of those technologies which then allows more communities to build them.”

A large number of federal agencies – Department of the Interior (DOI), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) all address issues related to water. However, Doyle pointed out that, “In the end, water is local.“ State and local governments provide the vast amount of funding for water and the federal government is needed for coordination among these different entities.

Meanwhile, Flowers commended the administration for looking “at all of these issues through an equity lens.”

“What we’re seeing now is there is a correlation between people having a voice, that’s why we see a lot of voter suppression laws coming into play now, and whether or not there is going to be sanitation equity.”

Advancing technology infrastructure to provide accessible information about water is crucial to help empower communities to advocate for themselves and address their problems. “We need to be able to put the data and the science in the hands of the people so they can advocate for themselves,” added Andrew Jones, “we have 21st century and 18th century technology opportunity in the same bowl.”

The group agreed that water data and reports need to be more accessible and digestible to the general public. Doyle explained that “the things we basically communicate about water – if you wanted to design a system that was more intentionally opaque, it would be difficult to do so.”

Flowers also stated, “we’re talking about solutions, but we don’t even understand the problem yet because there has been no central collection of data.”

“People should know where their watersheds are and where their water comes from,” said Flowers, “the more we know, the more we are educated about it, the more informed our decision making can be.”

In terms of private industry’s role in both water security and environmental justice, Doyle said, “we keep hoping that big corporations and manufacturing facilities will make water-based locational decisions – that they will move to areas with sustainable water.” However, companies continue to make investments in areas known for their water insecurity.

“When major investments in something as central to our economy and national security as chip manufacturing is being placed in areas like Arizona, that clearly has water challenges it really does start to raise questions about whether we’re putting ourselves in a place where national security and water security are truly intertwined.”

Moving forward, the only way to ensure people care about these issues is to show how everyone is affected.

“One of the principles of environmental justice is you have to let the people speak for themselves and the second principle is do no harm,” Flowers explained, “we will never have equity until we have community engagement.”

By Lizzie Devitt, 6/15/21

A Global Perspective on Environmental Justice Through Trade and Climate Change

Domestically, we have begun to gain a deeper understanding of environmental justice, but what does it mean when we consider policy and relationships at the international level?

On May 28th, Rachel Brewster, the Jeffrey and Bettysue Hughes Professor of Law at Duke School of Law and Jackson Ewing, Senior Fellow at Duke Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions participated in a conversation titled, The Role of Environmental Justice in International Trade and Diplomacy, moderated by Jariel Arvin, Foreign and World Fellow at Vox.

“Trade ideally would do something positive for the environment and environmental justice,“ Rachel Brewster stated. However, “trade has a history with environmentalists as being more interested in the free flow of goods and services across borders than environmental goals and I think there is just a lot of distrust. The trade regime is definitely on board with the idea that climate change is a problem, but at the same time, they want environmental issues addressed in a certain way.”

Brewster outlined two of the major issues she sees between trade and the environment and environmental justice – carbon border adjustment mechanisms (CBAMs) and energy subsidies.

When one country has its own cap and trade or carbon tax system and other countries do not, the country with a system in place will essentially tax goods and services imported at the border, otherwise known as a carbon border adjustment mechanism.

Brewster hypothesized that the European Union, which already adopted a cap-and-trade system, is likely going to implement a carbon border adjustment mechanism in the near future and begin with taxing carbon intensive goods including steel, aluminum, paper, textiles and chemicals.

CBAM would apply to all countries, which does pose new implications for environmental justice in terms of the distributional effects, particularly for low- and middle-income countries. Brewster explained that some potential solutions include implementing a generalized system of preferences (GSP) program with certain countries to lower tariffs and additional climate negotiations to deal with the redistribution.

In the case of energy subsidies, Brewster said she hopes “that trade can be of help on these issues and at the very least, get out of the way.”

Subsidies point to an area where international trade and the environment intersect. Brewster explained that it’s important to be aware of the distributional elements and often times “dealing with justice should be a state-by-state issue.”

Jackson Ewing opened by first noting his area of expertise, climate change mitigation, “differs from most environmental challenges in being a truly global collective action problem.”

Given this global nature, each country’s individual goals and actions play a role in leveling the playing field. Ewing added, “since the Paris agreement was ratified, we now have highly differential targets across all countries in the world… fundamentally shifts the way these market interactions will work and calls into the efficacy and justice of exchanging those emissions reductions across borders.”

Ewing noted a variety of regimes at play in coordinating countries’ actions. One is that he expects to play a bigger role in the future is in the private sector – voluntary carbon markets. He said that not only does he think “they are part of the solution and are not going anywhere,” but also, they are “proven to be adept in reaching the outcomes.”

In terms of the environmental justice issues attached to this, he acknowledged that reductions of emissions also have a range of co-benefits and that lead to continued carbon emissions elsewhere.  “The criticism often lobbied by these market-based mechanisms is that they allow companies and the jurisdictions where they exist to continue their own pollutive activities that have nefarious consequences for those in the area and they make up for it by paying elsewhere.”

While the tension between environmental and justice goals persists, there are still efforts to consider. Implementing emission quotas, for instance, could help alleviate the most significant effects.

By Lizzie Devitt, 6/9/21

Springing into Summer: The Washington, D.C. Edit

Between the cherry blossoms and cicadas, this spring has seen a flurry of activity from the administration and Congress. The White House has released several major proposals including the American Jobs Plan, American Families Plan and most recently, the FY22 President’s budget request. At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Congress has begun its work in response to the President’s budget and major legislation from infrastructure to matters related to technological competitiveness with China. Below are some of the highlights this spring with direct impacts for Duke University, its faculty, staff and students.

FY22 Budget Request

The White House released its much-delayed full FY 2022 budget blueprint on May 28th. The $6 trillion proposal includes the two previously released infrastructure proposals –  $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan and the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan – as well as $1.5 trillion in discretionary spending.

Overall, the President’s budget request proposes $171.26 billion in research and development and  $3.3 billion in discretionary funding for higher education programs. As illustrated by the chart below, the administration recommends strong to substantial increases for most of the research and education programs of interest to Duke.

On the research side, many of the proposed increases can be attributed to the creation of new entities, such as $6.5 billion request for a new Advanced Research Projects Agency – Health (ARPA-H) at NIH and a new Technology, Innovation and Partnerships Directorate at NSF, as well as the broad infusion of funding for climate science across multiple agencies, including the creation of an Advanced Research Projects Agency-Climate (ARPA-C).

At the Department of Education, the budget would increase the maximum Pell grant to $8,370 for the 2022-2023 school year, through a combination of discretionary increases in the budget and mandatory increases through the American Families Plan. The White House is also proposing making Pell available to “DREAMers,” or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. Federal Work Study was allocated $1.190 million, which is the same funding level as FY21.                 

Congress has already begun holding hearings on the FY 22 request, and the House Appropriations Committee is expected to begin markups later this month.

Biden-Harris Administration: Appointments and Executive Orders

Over the past several months, the Biden administration has completed its nominations for all cabinet-level positions and all have been confirmed by the Senate, with the exception of OMB Director, which is currently held by Shalanda Young in an acting role due to nominee Neera Tanden’s withdrawal from that post.

Several current and recent Duke faculty members and staff have been tapped to serve in the administration including,

  • Robert Bonnie as Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation at the Department of Agriculture
  • Ronnie Chatterji as Chief Economist in the U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Arti Rai as Senior Advisor in the Office of General Counsel in the U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Chris Schroeder as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice
  • Marta Wosinska as Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Economics.

President Biden issued an executive order forming the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States, comprised of a bipartisan group of experts including several Duke faculty members: Guy Uriel-Charles, Walter Dellinger, Margaret Lemos and David Levi.

For a comprehensive list of administration positions and the status of nominations and confirmations, you can visit our website here.

Research

A major focus of congressional debate over the spring has been on the nation’s innovation capacity and global competitiveness. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Todd Young (R-IN) reintroduced their Endless Frontiers Act, which would create a new $100 billion Technology and Innovation Directorate at NSF and create regional innovation hubs through the Department of Commerce. Framed as an effort to boost technological competition with China, it became a centerpiece of a broader competitiveness measure – the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA). Several Senate committees were tasked with creating proposals to address challenges from China, which were ultimately incorporated into the bigger package, and several include provisions addressing concerns with foreign influence and research security issues. The package also contains authorizations for the Department of Energy, NASA, and DARPA. The Senate is expected to continue consideration of USICA next week, with a potential vote on final passage.

The House is taking a different approach so far with the House Science, Space and Technology (SST) Committee developing more traditional reauthorization measures for NSF and DOE Office of Science. Although the Endless Frontiers Act has been reintroduced in the House, it is anticipated that the House SST Committee’s NSF for the Future Act will be the centerpiece of any sort of competitiveness package in that chamber.

Foreign Influence and Research Security

As noted above, the Senate’s US Innovation and Competition Act contains multiple provisions addressing issues related to foreign influence and research security. Some of these are incorporated in the base bill and others have been offered as amendments. This includes a ban on federal research awards to participants of foreign talent recruitment programs sponsored by China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, lowering of the Higher Education Act Section 117 reporting threshold, which requires universities to report foreign gifts and contracts they receive that is valued over the threshold amount, from $250,000 to $50,000, and requires universities to ensure all faculty and staff report any gifts or contracts from a foreign source and maintain a searchable database of that data.

Over 500 amendments were filed and several amendments of serious concern were either voted down or are unlikely to make it to the floor for a vote. It is expected that some of these proposals could arise during the upcoming consideration of the annual defense authorization bill.

Higher Education

In May, the Biden administration announced its plans to overhaul a wide range of federal higher education policies including gainful employment, public service loan forgiveness and a variety of other student aid policies. The Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education will hold three public hearings to receive feedback from stakeholders on potential issues related to rulemaking. The conversations will address the Pell grant, which Duke and a wide range of higher education institutions and associations have advocated for doubling.

The department’s Office of Civil Rights will also hold a series of public hearings to gather information on how to improve Title IX enforcement, beginning on June 7th.

Immigration

In April, Immigration and Citizenship Enforcement (ICE) announced that the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will extend its March 2020 guidance regarding distance learning for the 2021-2022 academic year.

After closing during the pandemic, a selection of embassies, including China and India, have announced they are beginning to reopen for visa appointments. More information on the phased resumption of visa processing is still emerging, and our office continues to monitor its progress.

Duke’s President Vincent E Price participated in a roundtable conversation on March 25th alongside North Carolina’s Governor Roy Cooper to urge Congress to take up important immigration-related legislation. The event was hosted by the American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC).

Additional Updates from Washington, DC

This spring, several Duke faculty participated in virtual Capitol Hill advocacy events, including those in support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and National Quantum Initiative.  President Price also engaged in several virtual meetings with new and returning members of the North Carolina congressional delegation.

On May, 19th, Duke’s Chris Monroe testified at the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Energy hearing, Accelerating Discovery: The Future of Scientific Computing at the Department of Energy. Monroe, an architect of the National Quantum Initiative (NQI) and current member of the National Quantum Information Advisory Committee, provided perspective on progress made so far under the NQI. Duke Government Relations posted a full blog recap of Monroe’s testimony here.

Duke in DC also hosted a 3-part virtual series, Beyond Talking Points: Environmental Justice, which convened a group of Duke and Aspen Institute experts to discuss food and agriculture policy, trade and diplomacy, and water and infrastructure and how policies in each area related to environmental justice.

If you’re interested in more information and resources from Washington, D.C. – Duke’s Office of Government Relations has created new and updated pages on its website that keep track of all executive orders, regulations and cabinet-level appointments relevant to Duke, as well as letters and statements from Duke and Duke-affiliated associations and updated info on the North Carolina delegation and the 117th Congress. The Chronicle of Higher Education also provides regular updates on new developments in higher education in the early days of the Biden-Harris administration.

By Lizzie Devitt, 6/4/21

Care Infrastructure for Whole Child and Family Health

“As a pediatrician – I believe that a care infrastructure is deeply needed to enable that coordinative response to address the needs of young families and, in turn, to address the growing disparities that we see in our pediatric communities that have been highlighted during the COVID pandemic,” stated Dr. Debra Best, associate professor in the departments of pediatrics and community and family medicine at Duke School of Medicine.

Best joined a panel on May 26th with her colleagues – Kenneth Dodge, professor of public policy studies at Duke as well as founder and principal investigator at Family Connects and Kimberly Friedman, policy engagement & analysis coordinator at Family Connects – for a conversation about care infrastructure, the Family Connects model and how federal government can consider implementing programs like it and investing in deeper, more holistic care infrastructure. The event was moderated by Dr. Lee Beers, MD, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and medical director of community health and advocacy at Children’s National Hospital.

Ken Dodge started the conversation by giving a description of care infrastructure and the impetus for developing the Family Connects model. Dodge explained they learned in their work, “that families giving birth are largely on their own in our society to find supportive services – whether it’s getting a housing loan or seeking mental health services for postpartum depression or finding the best childcare. As a result, many families giving birth are frightened and alone and do not access the resources that they need.”

“Family Connects works like a pediatrician,” Dodge stated, “but for psychosocial development, social services, and emotional and behavioral support.”

Dr. Best also touched on the fragmented systems of support and services for new families and the difficulty navigating them. “The answer isn’t another program, rather a system of engineering between programs,” she explained, “which would create a cohesive system of care and support whole person health and care from the start.”

Family Connects International began in Durham but has since grown to be implemented in 17 states and 43 communities nationwide. Dodge explained that in 2009, he and his colleagues set a goal to lower the child abuse rate in Durham. From there, the group launched into formative research that led to development of the Family Connects model.

“We found success,” said Dodge, “and we did actually help lower mother anxiety, increase their self-confidence, which led to positive outcomes in terms of lower rates of child abuse by about 39% and also lowered the costs for emergency medical care for young children.”

Now, the focus of the organization is supporting states and communities that seek to include the Family Connects model in their early childhood system of care, including the state of Oregon. Kimberly Friedman discussed the program’s presence in the state,In 2016 [Oregon] passed some really bold legislation that creates a universally offered newborn home visiting program to be rolled out statewide. What is unique about this, in terms of building a care infrastructure across the state, is the requirement within the legislation that commercial health plans… reimburse for the cost for those universally offered newborn home visiting services for their members.”

In terms of state and federal funding, “To have this type of service recognized as preventative service, so that for high deductible health plans, it could be covered, Family Connects should never be something that a family pays for, it should be a universal service… With a statewide or larger metropolitan rollout similar to what we are doing in Chicago, we need an infrastructure, a backbone, to partner with us and support this work.”

By Lizzie Devitt, 6/1/21

From the Farm to Your Table: Duke and Aspen Institute Experts Brief Federal Policymakers on the Connections Between Food, Agriculture and Environmental Justice

“This topic, I really believe is the closest connection that people have with the environment and nature – which is agriculture – we all need to eat.”

On Friday, May 21st, Pipa Elias kicked off the first event in Duke in DC’s virtual Beyond Talking Points series on environmental justice, Food & Agriculture: Who We Feed and How We Farm. The conversation was targeted towards federal policymakers to better understand how an environmental justice framework can be applied to food and agriculture policy.  Elias, deputy director of the environment program at the Walton Family Foundation, facilitated a conversation with a group of nationally renowned academic and policy experts on food and agriculture.

The panel included Kelly D. Brownell, director of the World Food Policy Center at Duke University, Norbert L. W. Wilson, professor of food, economics and community at the Duke Divinity School and Corby Kummer, executive director of the food and society program at the Aspen Institute.

Norbert Wilson provided a frame for the conversation and the series by defining environmental justice stating, “It’s the confluence of economic disparities, health disparities and communities of color that we see food justice and environmental justice coming together.”

Kelly Brownell highlighted the importance of this broader framework for policymakers noting, “Certain areas of food policy that have previously been disconnected,” explained Brownell, “There is policy magic to be had at the intersection of these areas…there’s also a missed opportunity to build a stronger coalition of voices arguing for change if you can bring people and institutions across this area.”

The Federal Government’s Role: Past, Present and Future

Wilson touched on the importance of federal programs and real-world examples from being a recipient. Wilson credited the 4-H program as what got him involved in agriculture. “I went to predominately Black schools and by the time I was in middle or high school, we were all receiving free lunch… I went off to college and graduate school interested in agriculture because I had been a “4-H”-er for years.”

In terms of business and agriculture, the Aspen Institute’s Corby Kummer explained that “COVID-19 has exposed a lot of fault lines,” in terms of the brittleness of the supply chain, “the companies that were set up to supply big institutions suddenly lost their customers and they couldn’t repackage the goods to go into retail and supermarkets where the shelves were empty.”

Kummer listed several additional aspects of environmental justice in agriculture, including pollution from agricultural run-off, the redlining of farmlands which can lead to farmers pushed closer to hog farms and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) industrial fans that are exhausting manure and other pollutants. He mentioned that while the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is aware of this, more steps should be taken.

Policy Solutions and Strengthening Relationships

Brownell highlighted the role of non-governmental organizations and non-profits in saying, “Institutions like universities can provide research support, technical support and communication capacity that the community organizations may not have, but the work needs to emanate from the communities.”

The group all emphasized that communities really need to invest time, in addition to financial investment. This “deeper investment” allows for those working in their own communities to see things through and deliver longer term, sustainable solutions for food and agriculture.

By Lizzie Devitt, 5/27/21

On the Hill: Chris Monroe Briefs Congress on Quantum Computing’s Role in Nation’s Scientific Computing Enterprise

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology held a hearing on May 19th, Accelerating Discovery: The Future of Scientific Computing at the Department of Energy, which included testimony from Duke’s own expert, Chris Monroe.

“Quantum computers are as revolutionary as they are challenging to grasp and build” testified Chris Monroe, the Gilhuly Family Presidential Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics and cofounder of IonQ, Inc, during a US House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Energy hearing looking into the future of advanced computing at the Department of Energy. Monroe was joined on the panel by Department of Energy leaders, including Georgia Tourassi, adjunct professor in radiology at the School of Medicine and director of the National Center for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and academic computational experts.

Monroe, an architect of the National Quantum Initiative (NQI) passed by Congress in 2018 and current member of the National Quantum Information Advisory Committee, provided perspective on progress made so far under the NQI, including the launch of five quantum information centers, one of which Duke is partner, through the Department of Energy, and noted the equally important contributions made by the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Standards and Technology in the nation’s quantum quest. “One beauty of our national system in funding science is that we have many agencies all with different missions… collaboration between those agencies is really what’s going to keep America in the lead in this field.”

Chris Monroe speaking at the hearing on May 19th

Several subcommittee members raised questions about current and potential applications of quantum computers, including Rep. Deborah Ross (D-NC), who touted the Triangle’s rich innovation ecosystem and zeroed in on potential security applications in light of recent high-profile cyberattacks. Monroe noted that the “known killer application of quantum computers is codebreaking” but it’s still a very complex problem. Earlier in his testimony, he highlighted a few areas where these systems have known strengths, particularly in the optimization of complex problems dealing with large datasets in fields such as molecular and materials design for energy and medicine. However, the ultimate “killer application” is still unknown, which makes it all the more important to get these systems into the hands of users to discover new and transformational possibilities for quantum computing.

Posted on May 20th, 2021

Key Things to Know About Duke’s Advocacy on Federal Immigration Policy

As we near the end of April and the conclusion of the spring 2021 semester, we are also approaching the 100th day in office for President Biden. While his administration has been vocal about working to reverse many immigration policies of the Trump administration, much of the work in this area takes time. Given this, here is a review of where things stand right now on several key immigration priorities for Duke and what may change as many colleges and universities are planning for the 2021-2022 academic year.

1) Reopening consulates and embassies is a top priority

Despite progress on many fronts in the battle against the COVID pandemic, there are still lasting effects impacting many international students. Notably, many international travel restrictions remain in place. While at the same time many U.S. consulates and embassies are still closed to in-person interviews which are currently required for student visa approvals.

Duke has joined many peer schools and higher education associations in urging the State Department and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prioritize student visa applications. While some progress is being made, for instance in India, Duke and others in higher education are urging the Administration to maintain flexibility for international students through the fall 2021 semester as visa processing works to catch up from the backlog built up over the course of the pandemic.

Recommended steps to address these issues were outlined in a letter sent to Secretaries Blinken and Mayorkas on behalf of major higher education associations, many of which Duke is member.

2) DACA recipients deserve long-term stability

Higher education associations and industry leaders have submitted multiple letters to the Senate urging their passage of the Dream Act of 2021, which was recently passed by the House of Representatives. While the Dream Act of 2021 does not represent a comprehensive approach to all immigration issues, Duke recognizes it is an important first step in addressing several key priorities for our student and employee recipients of DACA.

President Price recently joined other leaders from the Carolinas in urging Congress to take up important immigration related legislation.

President Biden has also signed Executive Orders on preserving and fortifying DACA and restoring faith in our legal immigration system. Additionally, DHS Secretary Mayorkas has reiterated the Department’s intent to issue new rules in support of the President’s EO.

3) Likelihood of Congressional action on visas remains uncertain

As is always the case, there are numerous proposals in Congress to change the visa system in the United States. Many are simply partisan messaging bills staking out positions to restrict or expand visa access.

However, there is bipartisan agreement in Congress on some areas that would impact Duke, including changing the per-country visa caps and security concerns, particularly from Chinese nationals. Any legislative changes to visa policy would likely be part of a broader immigration package that the Biden administration is currently negotiation for with Congress. While the likelihood of passage and scope of immigration legislation remains uncertain, Duke and the higher education associations remain in constant contact with the administration and Congress about our priorities.

Triangle Universities Join Forces to Discuss Federally Funded Research in the Region

North Carolina’s universities are extremely successful in attracting federal research dollars to the state. Reported in the most recent National Science Foundation (NSF) annual Higher Education Research & Development (HERD) Survey, the Triangle area universities, taken together, performed $3 billion in research during fiscal year 2019. 

On April 8th, Sandy Williams, Duke’s Vice President for Research and Innovation, joined senior research leaders from North Carolina State University, North Carolina Central University (NCCU), the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and the North Carolina Department of Commerce Science, Technology and Innovation Office for “The Impact of Federal Research Investment: Research Triangle Region of North Carolina.” The virtual roundtable discussion showcased the impact of those federal investments to the state of North Carolina and beyond.

Williams, along with his colleagues, provided a high-level overview of the Triangle research enterprise, beginning with a few examples of past federal investments that are impacting North Carolinian’s today, including previous funding that helped build capacity for the quick development of a vaccine for COVID-19. The panelists also noted the multiple public-private partnerships that support innovation in the state and collaborations between the universities, from research projects to joint programs and centers to shared resources and facilities, that further strengthen the region’s research and innovation ecosystem.

 Staff from several congressional offices and committees were in attendance, including those representing members of the North Carolina delegation.

Page 1 of 13

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén