Duke Digest — September 27, 2013

In today’s issue:

  • RESEARCH: Ten-year Project Redraws the Map of Bird Brains
  • COMMENTARY: Engineering Professor on the “Myths of College Debt”
  • COMMENTARY: Nicholas Institute Director on Impact of EPA Climate Change Rules
  • RESEARCH: China’s Synthetic Natural Gas Plants will have Heavy Environmental Toll
  • Making Federal Officials Visits Work for the Classroom
  • Sanford Professor Seeks to Bring DC, Media Knowledge to the Classroom
  • Duke Law Professor Testifies Before House Judiciary Subcommittee
  • COMMENTARY: Duke Faculty Weigh in on Health Care Implementation
  • Dept. of Energy Official to Address Energy Security in Era of Climate Change Oct. 1
  • Duke Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Black Students Concludes Oct. 3-6

 

RESEARCH: TEN-YEAR PROJECT REDRAWS THE MAP OF BIRD BRAINS
Pursuing their interests in using the brains of birds as a model for the human brain, an international team of researchers led by Duke neuroscientist Erich Jarvis and his collaborators Chun-Chun Chen and Kazuhiro Wada have just completed a mapping of the bird brain based on a 10-year exploration of the tiny cerebrums of eight species of birds.

This federally-funded research, builds the awareness that birds can be a model for many questions regarding the human brain, including vocal learning, deafness, Parkison’s and Huntington’s, according to Jarvis.

Read More:
Ten-year project redraws the map of bird brains (today.duke.edu)

 

COMMENTARY: ENGINEERNG PROFESSOR ON THE ‘MYTHS OF COLLEGE DEBT’
Vivek Wadhwa, professor of engineering, wrote in The Wasthington Post,

“The cost of college today is, in inflation-adjusted terms, roughly double what it was in 1980. This creates legitimate concerns about the continued affordability of a college education.

But the debaters often have their facts wrong. Very few Americans graduate with $100,000 in debt; college makes more sense today than ever; and no, our universities aren’t plundering their endowments to fund  college dorms and football stadiums.”

Read More:
Five myths about college debt (washingtonpost.com)

 

COMMENTARY: NICHOLAS INSTITUTE DIRECTOR ON IMPACT OF EPA CLIMATE CHANGE RULES
Jonas Monast, Director of the Climate and Energy at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, commented on NationalJournal.com’s question, “What impact will the regulations announced last week have on the nation’s electricity sector, and the broader economy?” that “concerns that the EPA’s recent proposal covering new power plants will cause an increase in electricity prices, affect grid reliability, or have an immediate impact on coal markets are overstated.”

Read More:
Sizing up EPA’s Climate Rules (nationaljournal.com)

 

RESEARCH: CHINA’S SYNTHETIC NATURAL GAS PLANTS WILL HAVE HEAVY ENVIRONMENTAL TOLL
Coal-powered synthetic natural gas plants being planned in China would produce seven times more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional natural gas plants, and use up to 100 times the water as shale gas production, according to a new study by Duke University researchers

The study, co-authored by professors at the Duke Center on Global Change, says that China has neglected these environmental costs in its drive to meet the nation’s growing energy needs, the researchers say, and might lock China on an irreversible and unsustainable path for decades to come.

Read More:
China’s synthetic natural gas plants will have heavy environmental toll (Nicholas.duke.edu)
China’s plan to clean up air pollution could be a climate disaster (washingtonpost.com)

 

MAKING FEDERAL OFFICIALS’ VISITS WORK FOR THE CLASSROOM
With upheaval in Egypt and Syria, cable newsrooms and kitchen tables across America are engaged in debate over the nation’s role in the global community. With the help from visits from current and former federal officials in the last month, similar conversations have taken hold in the classrooms and auditoriums of Duke University.

Read More:
Making Federal Officials’ Visits Work for the Classroom (Today.duke.edu)

 

SANFORD PROFESSOR SEEKS TO BRING DC, MEDIA KNOWLEDGE TO THE CLASSROOM
Bill Adair, Pulitzer Prize winning founder of “PolitiFact,” joined the Sanford School faculty this year as the Knight Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy. In addition to running PolitiFact, he had been the Washington Bureau chief for the Timessince 2004 and had covered the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court as well as general political news.

Adair, who is also the new director of The Reporter’s Lab at the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy, will focus on creating ew digital tools for reporting to counteract shrinking numbers of journalists covering all levels of government.

Read More:
Bill Adair: Creating New Forms of Journalism (sanford.duke.edu)

 

DUKE LAW PROF TESTIFIES BEFORE HOUSE JUDICIARY SUBCOMMITTEE
Duke Law professor Barak Richman testified on Capitol Hill on Sept. 19 on the competition in the healthcare market and how it might be affected by healthcare reform.

Richman testified before the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law of the House Judiciary Committee in its hearing titled “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Consolidation, and the Consequent Impact in Competition in Healthcare.”  An expert in antitrust and healthcare policy, Richman has researched and written extensively on the problem of provider monopolies in the healthcare market.

Read More:
Richman Testifies Before House Judiciary Subcommittee on Healthcare Reform and Competition (Law.duke.edu)
Richman Testimony (governmentrelations.duke.edu)

 

COMMENTARY: FACULTY WEIGH IN ON HEALTH CARE IMPLEMENTATION
As the October 1 “go-live” date for health care exchanges approaches, Duke faculty have appeared in a number of news articles, showcasing their expertise in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Dr. Peter Ubel, a professor of business and public policy, appeared on “Markeplace,” saying that uncertainty over health care reform “can be a very powerful emotion.”

Duke Law Professor Barak Richman and Sanford School of Public Policy Associate Professor Don J. Taylor, Jr. commented in a Triangle Business Journal on potential issues facing the health exchange roll out, and their specific impact on North Carolina.

Read More:
Obamacare proponents acknowledge mistakes, problems with health exchanges (bizjournals.com)

 

DEPT. OF ENERGY OFFICIAL TO ADDRESS ENERGY SECURITY IN EAR OF CLIMATE CHANGE OCT. 1
Daniel Poneman, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, kicks off the Energy Initiative’s 2013-14 Energy Speaker Series, in an Oct. 1 address on “Energy Security in the Era of Climate Change.”

In his talk at the Sanford School of Public Policy, Poneman will outline the challenges and set out the vision -– and necessary actions -– for a future where Americans will drive the innovations and investments that will promote jobs and prosperity while addressing our technological, environmental and security needs.

Read More:
DSE Poneman kicks of 2013-2014 Energy Speaker Series (energy.duke.edu)

DUKE’S COMMEMORATION OF THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF BLACK STUDENTS CONCLUDES OCT. 3-6
Duke University’s nine-month commemoration of the 50th anniversary of when black undergraduate students first enrolled at the school will conclude Oct. 3-6 with several events that are free and open to the public.

Many of the “firsts” returned to campus last April for Reunion Weekend. Duke alumnus Sen. William “Mo” Cowan (D-Mass.) provided a keynote speech giving historical context to their struggle and experience, highlighting the importance of higher education in the black community.

Read More:
Full coverage of the nine month celebration, along with a schedule of events for the upcoming finale weekend here.