Duke Digest — September 5, 2014

In today’s issue:

  • Briefing: NC in the Global Economy, Sept. 12
  • Duke in Washington to Host Election Discussion Series Sept. 18
  • VA Secretary Visits Duke, First Stop on National Tour
  • Duke Research Benefitting Preemies Wins 2014 Golden Goose Award
  • Duke Professor Outlines Need for Drone Policy Reform
  • Duke Profs on Air Strikes in Iraq
  • Duke Professor Receives New Research Grant to Study Carbon Cycling in Peatlands
  • Research: Water ‘Thermostat’ Helps Engineer Drought-Resistant Crops
  • Research: Exporting coal to Asia could slash emissions
  • Counter-terrorism experts, Fmr. Federal Officials to Speak at Duke Sept. 10
  • Duke Welcomes Class of 2018
  • Congressmen Talk Health Policy, Research During Medical Center Visits

BRIEFING: NC IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY 
North Carolina’s economy is at a fascinating crossroads as the country moves toward an increasingly globalized society.  A project maintained by Duke University’s Center for Globalization, Governance and Competitiveness provides information and insight into this crossroads by analyzing data on traditional and emerging industries vital to the state’s past and future. Next Friday, September 12, join Duke University for a presentation and discussion on the web-based North Carolina in the Global Economy (NCGE) project, led by professor Gary Gereffi, director of the Center for Globalization, Governance and Competitiveness. The presentation and discussion will begin at 9:30 am on Friday, September 12 in 1300 Longworth House Office Building. RSVP here.

DUKE IN WASHINGTON TO HOST ELECTION DISCUSSION SERIES SEPT. 18 
With November’s elections quickly approaching, what are the issues that are influencing this year’s campaigns and how will they impact the final outcome on Election Day? Join the Duke University Office of Public Affairs and Government Relations, along with Duke in Washington and the Forum for Scholars and Publics, for a seven-part weekly discussion series that will take an in-depth look at issues central to the midterm elections. Each week will address a new topic, from health care to foreign relations, and the discussions will be led by faculty and experts from the nation’s capital.  The series begins Thursday, September 18, at 4:00pm at the Duke in Washington conference room, 1201 New York Ave, NW, Suite 1110. The first session is “Setting the Stage: Midterm Overview.” For more information, a full calendar and to register click here.

VETERAN AFFAIRS’ SECRETARY VISITS DUKE, FIRST STOP ON NATIONAL TOUR
Robert A. McDonald, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, spoke to a standing-room-only crowd at the Duke University Medical Center last Friday, August 29. It was the first stop on his tour around the country to encourage physicians and other health care providers to work with veterans at VA medical centers. During his visit, McDonald also had the opportunity to meet with Duke University President Richard Brodhead and to speak at the Fuqua School of Business, where he has previously served as the chair of the board of visitors.

Read more:
VA Secretary McDonald: Come work for us (Duke Medicine News)

DUKE RESEARCH BENEFITTING PREEMIES WINS 2014 GOLDEN GOOSE AWARD
Two Duke University faculty members, who in 1979 began investigating the effects of tactile stimulation on infant rats, are among the 2014 recipients of the federal Golden Goose Award. Dr. Saul Schanberg, a Duke University neuroscientist and physician, Cynthia Kuhn, Ph.D., then a graduate student and now a faculty member, and Gary Evoniuk, their laboratory technician, received funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), they were working with rat pups to learn more about factors influencing two key growth markers: an enzyme called ornithine decarboxylase and growth hormone. Through collaboration with Dr. Tiffany Martini Field, a psychologist at the University of Miami School of Medicine, that research led to a landmark study funded by NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), demonstrating that using similar tactile stimulation in human preterm infants, what is now called “infant massage,” also had immediate positive effects: greater growth rates, increased alertness, and a shorter hospital stay (an average of six days shorter), despite the fact that the massaged infants were not consuming more food than those not receiving the massage. These findings have translated into healthcare cost savings.

Read More:
2014: Rat and Infant Massages (Golden Goose Award)

DUKE PROFESSOR RECEIVES NEW RESEARCH GRANT TO STUDY CARBON CYCLING IN PEATLANDS
Curtis J. Richardson, director of the Duke University Wetland Center, has received a $995,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research (DOE-OBER) to study carbon cycling in peatlands. Peatland ecosystems are among Earth’s most efficient carbon sinks. Globally, they are estimated to store more than 550 gigatons of carbon in their saturated soil, a value that approaches nearly one-third of earth’s carbon stock. The new grant, which was awarded through DOE-OBER’s Terrestrial Ecosystem Science Program, will support his study on phenolic compounds and black carbon feedback controls on peat decomposition and carbon accumulation in southeastern peat. Richardson is professor of resource ecology at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

Read More:
New Research Grant Will Support Study of Carbon Cycling in Peatlands (Nicholas School of the Environment)

RESEARCH: WATER ‘THERMOSTAT’ HELPS ENGINEER DROUGHT-RESISTANT CROPS
Duke University researchers have identified a gene that could help scientists engineer drought-resistant crops. The gene, called OSCA1, encodes a protein in the cell membrane of plants that senses changes in water availability and adjusts the plant’s water conservation machinery accordingly.

“It’s similar to a thermostat,” said Zhen-Ming Pei, an associate professor of biology at Duke. The findings could lead to new ways to help plants thrive when water is scarce, a scenario that could become more and more common as droughts increase world-wide. The research was supported by grants from the Department of Agriculture and the National Science Foundation.

Read More:
Water ‘Thermostat’ Could Help Engineer Drought-Resistant Crops (DukeToday)

RESEARCH: EXPORTING COAL TO ASIA COULD SLASH EMISSIONS
Under the right scenario, exporting U.S. coal to power plants in South Korea could lead to a 21 percent drop in greenhouse gas emissions compared to burning the fossil fuel at plants in the United States, according to a new Duke University-led study. 

“Despite the large amount of emissions produced by shipping the coal such a long distance, our analysis shows that the total emissions would drop because of the superior energy efficiency of South Korea’s newer coal-fired power plants,” said Dalia Patiño-Echeverri, assistant professor of energy systems and public policy at Duke. Support for the study came from the Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making (SES-0949710), which is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Read More:
Exporting Coal to Asia Could Slash Emissions (DukeToday)

DUKE PROFESSOR OUTLINES NEED FOR DRONE POLICY REFORM
Writing in Wired Magazine, Missy Cummings, a professor of engineering at Duke, an expert on drones and other robots, and a former fighter pilot, warns that “outdated policies and regulations” will keep the United States from remaining the world leader in innovative unmanned aviation vehicles (UAV) technology. Cummings writes that, “a pathway exists for the US to position ourselves in the forefront to smartly develop and utilize this evolving technology. A more expeditious and comprehensive response by the FAA to opening commercial UAV markets will help ignite an otherwise stagnant market. Adopting these common sense changes in the near-term will considerably benefit our national security— and economy— in the years to come.”

Read More:
We Need to Reform Our Drone Policies (But This Isn’t About Privacy) (Wired)

AIR STRIKES IN IRAQ SHOULD ACHIEVE THEIR STATED GOALS, DUKE PROFESSORS SAY
Several Duke faculty members, who are experts in matters of national security and Middle East policy, weighed in on President Obama’s decision to carry out air strikes in Iraq, saying those strikes “should achieve their stated goals — to protect Americans and help save thousands of threatened religious minorities who face genocide.”

Faculty members Charlie Dunlap (USAF-Ret.), executive director of the Center on Law, Ethics, and National Security; Bruce Jentleson, a professor of public policy and political science at the Sanford School; and David Schanzer, director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill appeared in local and national media outlets analyzing the President’s decision.

Read More:
Air Strikes in Iraq Should Achieve Their Stated Goals, Duke Professors Say (DukeToday)

COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERTS, FMR. FEDERAL OFFICIALS TO SPEAK AT DUKE SEPT. 10
Two leading counterterrorism experts from the Bush and Obama administrations will discuss the terrorist threats facing the nation on Sept. 10 at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. Former assistant to President G.W. Bush for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Fran Townsend and Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, former coordinator for counterterrorism at the U.S. State Department, will discuss “The Evolving Terrorist Threat: What Should Be Done?” The event – which is a Robert R. Wilson Lecture – begins at 5 p.m. in the Fleishman Commons.  It is free and open to the public. David Schanzer, associate professor of the practice of public policy and director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, will moderate the discussion.

Read More:
Counterterrorism Experts to Speak at Duke (Sanford School of Public Policy)

DUKE WELCOMES CLASS OF 2018
The newest batch of Duke students arrived this August and have begun fall classes. The class of 2018 represents 48 U.S. states and 47 countries. The most hail from North Carolina and California — contributing 195 and 144 members to the class, respectively. Other top contributors include New York with 138 students, Florida with 136 and Texas with 101. This class includes a record number of students of color, representing 50 percent of the incoming class, with 495 Asian students, 159 Latino students, 185 African-American students and 19 Native American and Native Hawaiian students. And 224 new students come from other countries — 13 percent of the class.

“My colleagues in the admissions office share my excitement about the Class of 2018,” said Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions. “Their applications reveal how talented they are, but we also learned just how engaged they are in their communities and how enthusiastic they are about Duke. There’s no doubt they’ll be a wonderful presence in the Duke community.”

Read More:
A look at the Class of 2018 (DukeToday)
The Class of 2018 Quickly Gets Down to Business (DukeToday)

CONGRESSMEN TALK HEALTH POLICY, RESEARCH DURING MEDICAL CENTER VISITS
Two members of the North Carolina congressional delegation — Representative G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) — visited Duke University Medical Center in August to observe ongoing research and innovation and discuss developments relating to their work as representatives.

Read More:
Congressmen Talk Health Policy, Research During Medical Center Visits (DukeToday)