Duke Digest – June 28, 2013

Duke Digest – June 28, 2013

  • New Center to Study Causes of Teen Substance Abuse
  • RESEARCH: Pratt Engineers Awarded Four Dept. of Defense Grants
  • RESEARCH: Duke Professors Develop Probe to Help Study Brain Activity
  • RESEARCH: Professors Find Fracking is Linked to Water Well Methane
  • Federally-funded study finds slower might mean more secure
  • OPINION: Faculty Members Comment on Supreme Court Rulings
  •  OPINION: Nicholas Institute Director Comments on Obama’s ‘Pragmatic’ Climate Plan
  • OPINION: Law professor on Targeted Killing and Due Process
  • Duke Start Up Challenge, DukeGEN lead the way for college entrepreneurs
  • DUKE EVENT: Live Webcast on Moral Mondays, July 1

NEW CENTER TO STUDY CAUSES OF TEEN SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Duke University’s Center for Child and Family Policy has received a five-year, $6.7 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to study the biology and behavior behind teen drinking drug use. Rick Hoyle, professor of psychology and neuroscience and an associate director of the Center for Child and Family Policy, will lead the effort.

“Marijuana and alcohol use are not going down, so clearly we need new data on what causes people to use. That will gives us clues on how to intervene in ways that encourage them not to use,” Hoyle said.

The study will be run through the newly established Center for the Study of Adolescent Risk and Resilience (C-StARR).

Read More:
New Center to Study Causes of Teen Substance Abuse (today.duke.edu)

RESEARCH: PRATT ENGINEERS AWARDED FOUR DEPT. OF DEFENSE GRANTS
From transparent conductors to acoustic cloaking in water to undersea sensing, scientists at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering have been rewarded for their novel research by being involved in four of 15 large grants recently awarded by the federal government.

These highly sought-after grants, from the Department of Defense’s Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program, are designed to promote basic research conducted by consortiums of universities. All four of the Duke projects received support from the Office of Naval Research, and three of the four projects involve scientists in Pratt’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). Each project is funded for five years at an average rate of $1.5 million annually.

Read More:
Pratt Engineers Awarded Four Department of Defense Grants (pratt.duke.edu)

RESEARCH: DUKE PROFESSORS DEVELOP PROBE TO HELP STUDY BRAIN ACTIVITY
A team of researchers at the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, with support from grants by the National Institutes of Health, have developed a nano-harpoon, which could be helpful in studying brain activity. The nano-harpoon is new brain cell spear a millimeter long, only a few nanometers wide and harnessing the superior electromechanical properties of carbon nanotubes to capture electrical signals from individual neurons.

The team has applied for a patent on the technology, which has a range of applications, from basic science to human brain-computer interfaces and brain prostheses.

Read More:
Carbon Nanotube Harpoon Catches Individual Brain Cell Signals (today.duke.edu)

RESEARCH: PROFESSORS FIND FRACKING IS LINKED TO WELL WATER METHANE
Some homeowners living near shale gas wells appear to be at higher risk of drinking water contamination from stray gases, according to a new Duke University-led study. The scientists analyzed 141 drinking water samples from private water wells across northeastern Pennsylvania’s gas-rich Marcellus Shale basin.

They found that, on average, methane concentrations were six times higher and ethane concentrations were 23 times higher at homes within a kilometer of a shale gas well.  Propane was detected in 10 samples, all of them from homes within a kilometer of drilling.

The new study is the first to offer direct evidence of ethane and propane contamination.

“Our studies demonstrate that the integrity of gas wells, as well as variations in local and regional geology, play major roles in determining the possible risk of groundwater impacts from shale gas development.  As such, they must be taken into consideration before drilling begins,” said Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke’s Nicholas School.

Read More:
Higher Levels of Stray Gases Found in Water Wells Near Shale Gas Sites (Nicholas.duke.edu)
Fracking linked to well water methane (usatoday.com) 

FEDERALLY-FUNDED RESEARCH SHOWS SLOWER MAY BE MORE SECURE
In a study funded by the Army Research Office and the Department of Homeland Security, Stephen Mitroff, professor of psychology found in a laboratory test of visual searching ability, scientists found trained Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening officers were a lot slower than undergraduate students and other civilians. But the amateurs were sloppier.

The test is part of ongoing research by Duke University psychologist Stephen Mitroff to understand how the brain manages visual searching, which is important not only to security but also to cancer screening. The takeaway for the Department of Homeland Security, which helped fund the research, is that training screeners to use methodical, consistent search patterns is the most effective way to improve performance.

Read More:
Slow and Steady Wins the Baggage Search (today.duke.edu)

OPINION: FACULTY COMMENT ON SUPREME COURT RULINGS
In the wake of recent Supreme Court decisions dealing with the Voting Rights Act of 1964,affirmative action, and the Defense of Marriage Act faculty members from the Duke School of Law have provided analysis and expertise through appearances on public radio, live forums, and news commentary.

Gene Patenting
Robert Cook-Deegan, research professor of public policy and Director of the Center for Genome Ethics, Law and Policy, in an opinion piece for The News & Observer answers the question: what next? For Myriad Genetics and the expansion of gene testing.

Affirmative Action
Guy Uriel-Charles, director of the Duke Law Center on Law, Race and Politics, participated in a Huffpost Live forum on the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision to send the Fisher case back to the Fifth Circuit. He says that while lower courts will have no choice but to give affirmative action cases a harder look, don’t expect them to have consistent rulings.

Voting Rights Act of 1964
In commentary on Slate.com, Walter E. Dellinger III, the Douglas B. Maggs Professor of Law, labeled the Supreme Court decision to strike down Section IV of the Voting Rights Act of 1964 a “particularly toxic form of hubris: one that diminishes and disparages the elected representatives of the American people.”

Appearing on National Public Radio (All Things Considered), Charles warns that the decision could provoke partisan politics. On Minnesota Public Radio, he called it an “historic opinion.”

Same-Sex Marriage
Following the decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, Neil Siegel, Professor of Law and Politic Science, predicts that the application of the rulings will be a mixed bag. While some federal agencies will have to decide for themselves if they will grant same-sex marriages federal benefits if they move to states that don’t currently recognize same-sex marriages. Ernest Young, professor of law, says in the Indianapolis Star, “this decision doesn’t have that much to say about what individual states have to do.”

Read More:
Genetic Testing Company Should Free Data (sanford.duke.edu)
 SCOTUS Affirmative Action Decision (huffpost.com)
Supreme Court 2013: The Year in Review (slate.com)
Supreme Court guts the key gain of civil rights, scholars say (minnesota.publicradio.org)
Supreme Court: Congress Has to Fix Broken Voting Rights Act (npr.org)
“What about us?” ask same-sex couples that can’t marry at home (cnn.com)
Supreme Court gay marriage rulings leave Indiana to debate state constitution (indystar.com)

OPINION: NICHOLAS INSTITUTE DIRECTOR COMMENTS ON OBAMA’S ‘PRAGMATIC’ CLIMATE PLAN
Tim Profeta, Director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, attended President Obama’s speech at Georgetown University where he outlined his Climate Action Plan. Following the speech, he and Jonas Monast, Director of the Climate and Energy Program, analyzed the “pragmatic” speech in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist.

They write, “The impact of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan will depend on its implementation—levels of stringency, which facilities are covered, the range of regulatory options available to the states, among other things—as well as the political environment. These details will become clear over time. For now, it is significant that the president has articulated why the nation must address climate change and provided a detailed pragmatic vision for getting started.”

Read More:
Obama’s Pragmatic Climate Change Speech (sanford.duke.edu)
Spotted in DC: Nicholas Institute Director Attends Obama’s Climate Action Plan, Talks Impact and Opportunity (governmentrelations.duke.edu)

OPINION: LAW PROFESSOR ON TARGETED KILLING AND DUE PROCESS
Jeff Powell, professor of law and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel under both President Clinton and Obama, wrote in a guest blog on LawFare,

“There is much to admire in the speech President Barack Obama gave on May 23rd in which he gave us his views on “lethal, targeted action” against high ranking members of al-Qaeda and its allies, above all his acknowledgment that the “laws constrain the power of the President, even during wartime.” For all his speech’s virtues, however, Mr. Obama’s comments about one legal issue, due process, should disturb us deeply.”

Read More:
Jeff Powell on Targeted Killing and Due Process (law.duke.edu)

DUKE STARTUP CHALLENGE, DUKEGEN LEAD WAY FOR COLLEGE ENTREPREUNERS
Being a graduate one month, and company founder and CEO the next isn’t just a possibility anymore: for some, it’s reality. Take Ameya Kulkarni, for example. He’s a 2013 graduate of the Fuqua School of Business, and a top 10 finisher in Duke’s Start-Up Challenge. This month, he pitched his start-up, Jobbertunity, before a crowd of Duke alumni in Silicon Valley.

“I had free reign at Duke to do whatever I felt like, to take risks and get resources and mentorship,” says Kulkarni. “I know a little bit about business now, I know failure is OK, and I have comfort knowing that other people at Duke before me have done it, too.”

The event was a DukeGEN Angel Pitch, which is an outgrowth of Duke’s Innovation & Entreprenuership Initiative. 

Read More:
Colleges help budding entrepreneurs get started (USAToday.com)

DUKE EVENTS: LIVE WEBCAST ON MORAL MONDAYS, JULY 1
Hundreds of people have been arrested at the North Carolina Legislative Building as part of the “Moral Mondays” protests against policies by the Republican-led legislature and Gov. Pat McCrory. Three of those people — Duke professors Willie Jennings, Robin Kirk and Bill Chafe — will participate in a live webcast interview about the protests Monday, July 1, at 1 p.m.

Watch the webcast on the Duke University Google+ page. Tweet questions or comments to @DukeOfficeHours or send them by email to live@duke.edu.

Read More:
Live Webcast July 1: Duke Professors on Moral Mondays’ Protests, Arrests (today.duke.edu)