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Graduate Students Establish Networks for Environmental Justice and Molecular Simulation

The Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies has awarded Duke Support for Interdisciplinary Graduate Networks (D-SIGN) grants to two graduate student groups for 2019-2020.

Duke University Environmental Justice Network

  • Core students: Brandon Hunter, Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering; Katy Hansen, Ph.D. in Environmental Policy; Walker Grimshaw, M.E.M. (Duke) and M.S in Environmental Sciences and Engineering (UNC); Wen Wang, Ph.D. in Economics; Elsa Haag, J.D. in Law
  • Faculty mentor: Megan Mullin

This new network will be comprised of graduate and professional students committed to understanding and addressing environmental injustices in North Carolina, the U.S., and globally. Members will draw on theories from philosophy, political science, public policy, and sociology to analyze how actors and institutions shape the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. This D-SIGN grant supports the first collective effort by Duke graduate and professional students to address issues of environmental justice by supplementing academics, fostering collaborative research, and providing opportunities to develop a professional network. Activities will consist of journal reading club meetings, a seminar series from experts in the field, and interaction with local environmental justice organizations.

Triangle Molecular Simulation Society

  • Core students: Jonathon Yuly, Ph.D. in Physics; Jesús Valdiviezo Mora, Ph.D. in Chemistry; Jacob Lindale, Ph.D. in Chemistry; Shannon Eriksson, M.D./Ph.D. in Clinical Science/Chemistry
  • Faculty mentor: David N. Beratan

Molecular simulation is a staple of research for a number of disciplines in the natural sciences. Simulation techniques drive new research questions, automate molecular design, interpret experimental results, and create educational materials. Molecular simulation is routinely used to support efforts in drug discovery as well as energy sciences, both of which surround important societal problems that may characterize the 21st century. The core students of this D-SIGN grant aim to kickstart an interdisciplinary and cross-school network of students, researchers, enthusiasts, and members of industry interested in the methods and applications of molecular simulation. This network will eventually nurture research collaboration, support, and community within the Triangle area.

About Duke Support for Interdisciplinary Graduate Networks (D-SIGN)

This internal funding mechanism encourages graduate students to explore beyond disciplinary lines, both in research and coursework. The goal is to enable graduate students to build or extend their networks and to integrate collaborative, cross-school experiences into their programs, thereby increasing the number of individuals whose graduate training reflects Duke’s commitment to interdisciplinarity and knowledge in the service of society.

A January 2019 RFP invited all current Duke graduate students (including master’s, professional, and Ph.D. students) to propose interdisciplinary groups and activities. Proposals were reviewed by an ad hoc committee convened by the Executive Vice Provost and the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies, including representation from faculty, deans, institute directors, and graduate students.

Photos, first row: Brandon Hunter, Katy Hansen, Walker Grimshaw, Wen Wang, Elsa Haag; bottom row: Jonathon Yuly, Jesús Valdiviezo Mora, Jacob Lindale, Shannon Eriksson