Scott Huler

Scott Huler is the senior staff writer. He is the author of six non-fiction books and has written on everything from the death penalty to bikini waxing, from NASCAR racing to the stealth bomber, for such newspapers as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Los Angeles Times and such magazines as Backpacker, Fortune, and ESPN. His award-winning radio work has been heard on "All Things Considered" and "Day to Day" on National Public Radio and on "Marketplace" and "Splendid Table" on American Public Media. He hates wearing dress-up clothes.

ARTICLES BY Scott Huler

  • November 19, 2019
    ANIMALS AND MICROBES
  • Image of Chris Crabtree with some fans
    November 19, 2019
    The Holly Springs Salamanders, losing 8-0 in the bottom of the ninth on a humid Piedmont evening, are down to their last at-bat. With desperation baserunners the ’Manders’ only sliver of hope, rising junior Chris Crabtree faced a three-and-one pitch well out of the strike zone. There are times when you take that pitch, work the base on balls, get a runner on, and hope against hope.
  • Image of upper molar of the micromammal
    November 19, 2019
    A group of Duke and other scientists have found a tiny fossilized tooth that identifies the smallest monkey in the world’s fossil record. They have named the monkey and added it to the fossil record, which is cool. But what’s really remarkable is the effort behind the finding of that tooth and the vast hole in our understanding that the little fossil begins to fill.
  • A headshot of NCMA director and Duke alumnae Valerie Hillings
    November 19, 2019
    When her phone rang last fall, France Family Professor of art, art history, and visual studies Kristine Stiles recognized the voice on the other end of the line. “Do you know who you’re talking to?” the voice asked. “Of course,” she said. “Valerie.” Valerie Hillings ’93: student, research assistant, protégé, then friend and ultimately colleague, curator at the Guggenheim. A voice Stiles would never mistake.
  • An image of Duke alumnus Frank Konhaus and his wife, Ellen Cassilly
    November 19, 2019
    Early evening. A crowd of fifty or so mills around two levels of galleries and assembly space: a modernist house filled with visitors, the living room lined with folding chairs, the kitchen island covered with wine bottles, pimento cheese dip, ham biscuits, and fruit. Framed photographs cover every wall, and people leaf through books and read gallery guides left in easy reach on shelves and windowsills.
  • August 8, 2019
    For a guy who spends his time studying climate change, facing down the future of an Earth warming at an astonishing rate, under the management of a population that commonly resists even admitting its problems, Drew Shindell seems surprisingly optimistic.
  • May 17, 2019
    Outfitted in someone else’s camouflage protective vests and helmets, preparing to walk the perimeter fence of a concrete motor-pool containment of the Third Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, a half-dozen Duke students give considerable thought to what might happen on their circuit. They’re on a simulation exercise helping the Special Forces figure out how to best get medical care and information to units as they fight, far from support.
  • May 17, 2019
    Start with scales. You’re playing the cello, and you want to get used to new players, so you go back to the beginning. And you play scales. “Scales are something you do your entire life,” says Ciompi Quartet violist Jonathan Bagg. “So it’s kind of like calisthenics. But we weren’t in the habit of doing that as a quartet before Carrie came.”
  • May 17, 2019
    ANIMALS AND MICROBES
  • February 11, 2019
    Take a peacock feather out of a tall glass vase. Balance the feather, by the point of its shaft, on your finger— one finger. You can move, but try to stay steady, just keeping the long, curving feather vertical.Good luck.
  • February 11, 2019
    What with gut feelings and gut instincts, you have heard of the stomach being cast as a second brain. Diego Bohórquez, assistant professor of medicine at the Duke School of Medicine, thinks that may have the order backward.“Very simple organisms do not have a brain,” he says, smiling. “But they have a gut.”
  • February 8, 2019
    ON A SWELTERING AFTERNOON in September, in front of the Carr Building on East Campus, a young black woman addressed a gathering of a couple hundred members of the Duke and Durham communities. She stood in front of a building named for Julian Carr. She stood on ground Carr donated to the university. She was not there to praise Julian Carr. Or, for that matter, Duke.
  • October 24, 2018
    During a sunny lunchtime on the Bryan Center Plaza in the first week of classes, a throng of students crowd around Dorian Bolden ’02, surrounded by his wife, his kids, and some associates, as he uses a giant pair of Duke Blue scissors to cut a long Duke Blue ribbon in front of his brand-new coffee shop, Beyu Blue. “It is by far the coolest thing as an alum to come back on campus,” Bolden says, “and be among all of us students.” He laughs. “Well, all of you are students,” he says.
  • October 24, 2018
    Dan Richter Ph.D. ’80 and Will Cook ’88 are poking around the basin of a tiny tributary of the Tyger River in South Carolina, looking for a buried tree stump. It is overcast, and a steady rain falls, and they are not having much luck. The scientist who discovered the buried stump on a previous expedition actually stumbled across it while she was lost; her directions have been good but somewhat open to interpretation.
  • June 12, 2018
    Rodney Wynkoop settles into the spot near the front of the chancel in the chapel, the spot in the choir rows where he’s sat just about every Sunday for nearly thirty years.
  • June 12, 2018
    At a lectern in the White Lecture Hall on East Campus in March, civil rights activist, professor, and journalist Charlie Cobb admitted to his audience that activists mistrust how they’re represented by those not on the front lines. “Many of us have long been dissatisfied with the historiography of the movement,” he said.
  • June 12, 2018
    When Adam Wax A.M. ’96, Ph.D. ’99, president and chief scientist of Lumedica, has a question about the basic science behind the design of the affordable, cutting-edge biomedical imaging machines Lumedica makes, sometimes he needs to go back to his lab at Duke, where he’s professor of biomedical engineering.The journey covers exactly one stairway.
  • June 12, 2018
    ANIMALS IT’S A WORLD OF TRADEOFFS, PART I: Toenail fungus seems to have given up sexual reproduction in order to more effectively reproduce on your feet.
  • June 11, 2018
    The Duke Honor Council had Kushal Kadakia at hello. “On opening night of orientation week,” recalls Kadakia, a rising senior biology and public policy major. That first night of O-week, all freshmen gathered in the lacrosse-stadium bleachers. Among presentations by luminaries like Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek ’76, M.H.A. ’78, LL.M. ’93, the Honor Council chair gave a speech about the Duke community standard and unfurled a banner bearing its three principles.
  • April 20, 2018
    A few minutes into the 2018 State of the Union speech, the president makes his first factual claim: “Since the election we have created 2.4 million new jobs.” FactCheck.org is on the case immediately, offering a quick take.
  • April 20, 2018
    Brian Hare admits he was kind of rooting for the bonobos.
  • April 16, 2018
    Kate Bowler is told that if she goes to Amazon. com, types in “ever,” and watches the autofill, of all the products in the entire world her best-selling new book, Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved, will come up second. The only thing more popular on Amazon is “everything bagel seasoning.”
  • February 7, 2018
    The most frustrating thing was the mason. “He spoke, maybe, two words of English,” says senior Lily Coad, who spent the summer after her sophomore year as a DukeEngage student in Kochi, India, surprisingly, building a garden. Nobody expected him to speak English, of course. But nobody had expected to be working with him in the first place.
  • February 7, 2018
    If you go canoeing through rapids, you’ve encountered standing waves—spots where the flow of water off various rocks and impediments creates diffraction patterns among the waves formed by the obstacles. A standing wave is a wave shape that stays in one place even though the water creating it continues to flow. If the standing wave is strong enough, it changes the direction of your canoe when you run up against it.
  • February 7, 2018
    Steve Schewel ’73, PH.D. ’82 used to carry in his wallet a picture of Terry Sanford holding a bullhorn, addressing a crowd of students who in 1970 had staged a sit-in on the traffic circle. In the wake of the Kent State shootings two days before, Schewel, then a freshman, had joined the crowd that stopped traffic to protest the war and the shootings.
  • January 25, 2018
    The fifteen or so first-year medical students, most in blue scrubs, sit around a conference room table in the Trent Semans Center. They are looking at their hands through little horizontal frames, little more than pieces of clear plastic.
  • October 30, 2017
    Postdoctoral fellow Sho Yaida has helped solve a mystery about the physical nature of glass. But as interesting as the breakthrough is, perhaps equally interesting is Yaida’s choice of tools—the same ones used by Newton and Darwin. For research recently published in Physical Review Letters, Yaida spent a month at his desk calculating, using nothing more technological than printer paper and free pens from the supply cabinet.
  • October 30, 2017
    Duke Gardens executive director Bill LeFevre seems at home in a golf cart. He zips along the gardens’ crushed gravel pathways, up and down hills, through gates and over bridges, many of which were built during his tenure. Horticulturists, curators, and volunteers seem to have an ear for the cart’s humming and step aside, smiling as LeFevre rolls by.
  • October 30, 2017
    Fenella Saunders ’95 leaned across a restaurant table: “They’re talking about tearing down Epworth,” she said urgently. “You must find out about this. They must not knock down Epworth.” She was far from alone in her concern: a rumor had spread. Letters came in, to Duke Magazine and to the administration: What was up with Epworth? Epworth was under siege. Save Epworth!
  • August 18, 2017
    Jimmie Banks’ first job as an electrician at Duke involved changing lightbulbs in the chapel—lowering the chandeliers weekly to replace any that had burned out. It came naturally, since he had spent a few years before that working for a Raleigh company that changed factory light bulbs.He’d been a cook, too, and he’d wired up mobile homes and laid down underground wires and fiber-optic cables.
  • June 6, 2017
    All night long people are up and down, the noise complicating sleep. Parties. Barking dogs. Motorcycles and cars driving by. Kids crying. People talking, laughing, using the bathroom. Sleep becomes a thing of fragments. We all know the story, right? Downtown Manhattan? Krzyzewskiville?
  • June 6, 2017
    In the basement of Biddle Hall, off a quiet midcentury-modern lobby where a fountain cheerfully splashes, hundreds of years’ worth of classic musical instruments sit, illuminated and displayed behind glass walls. The Duke University Musical Instrument Collection came to Duke in 2000 as the Eddy Collection, though new instruments and acquisitions enlarge the collection all the time.
  • June 6, 2017
    When the Duke Department Of V-DAY Zine came out, the single sheet of paper that origami turned into a sixteen-page publication, while impressive, was the least clever thing about it.
  • June 6, 2017
    Two events that happened within two days of each other got the attention of chemistry major Vaibhav Tadepalli ’17 and chemistry Ph.D. student Chris Reyes. But they had nothing to do with chemistry.On July 6, 2016, during a routine traffic stop, a Minnesota police officer shot and killed Philando Castile; on July 8, Missouri police officer Michael Flamion was shot and paralyzed as he walked toward his car during another traffic stop.
  • May 26, 2017
    One day while wandering the stacks in the Perkins Library in 1969, Duke student Charlie Bond idly opened a door to what he thought was a closet. It turned out to be a stairwell, blocked at the bottom.
  • May 26, 2017
    IN THE DARKENED BLACK BOX of the tiny Brody Theater in Branson Hall, a cone of light shines down from a single spot, illuminating an empty circle on the dusty black floor. Surrounding it sit a dozen or so students holding scripts, their faces illuminated, their backs melting into the darkness.“I’m entrusting you with what is most important to me in this world,” reads one. “I know that you won’t betray me.” Says another, “Aeneas, it is time.”
  • April 19, 2017
     
  • April 19, 2017
    When Marshall Price came to interview for a job at Duke’s Nasher Museum of Art in 2013, he discussed an exhibition he was already mulling: Price wanted to feature emerging artist Nina Chanel Abney. Price got the job. He’s now Nancy Hanks Curator of modern and contemporary art at the Nasher.
  • March 10, 2017
    “Would you like to fly a plane?” asks Rett Newton, Ph.D. student at the Marine Lab, cheerfully proffering the controller to a Parrot Bebop, an inexpensive starter drone that beginners can safely manage. I give, in order, what I assume must be the two most common responses to that question. First: “Has anyone ever said ‘no’ to that question?” (no one has).
  • March 6, 2017
    "THE INTERNET ASSUMES EVERYONE IS WHITE.""A strong statement maybe, but Winston Henderson B.S.E. ’90, J.D. ’96 takes out his phone to offer a simple demonstration.
  • March 6, 2017
    Is it…a balloon? An airship of some sort, tethered to the turf? A children’s pool, blown onto its side?
  • March 6, 2017
    Things got interesting early on in the Vietnam Staff Ride taken by the Duke Program in American Grand Strategy (AGS) in early January. Sparks flew on the very first evening when Ho Chi Minh and Le Duan exchanged harsh words. “He pointed out that he had been part of the Vietnam independence movement before it began the purging of noncommunist members and reproached me about the use of violence,” Ho said.
  • December 16, 2016
    When Laurie Bley stepped on stage in Johannesburg to welcome attendees to MMX16, the annual Duke Menell Media Exchange, she entered to the strains of “The Room Where It Happens,” the song from the Broadway show Hamilton in which Aaron Burr yearns to go behind closed doors, to enter the chambers of power.
  • December 15, 2016
    A cormorant splashes around in the Duke Stormwater Reclamation Pond while Megan Fork, sitting in the shade under the shelter at the end of the pier with colleague Chelsea Clifford, takes a break from writing her Ph.D. thesis, “Stormwater and Organic Matter in the Urban Stream Continuum.” Fork tells stories of stormwater investigation, which can at times go somewhat rogue.
  • October 24, 2016
    Robert Coffey, executive director of Duke Dining Services, remembers taking the decisions that years of meetings and student focus groups had yielded and presenting them to the West Union builders. “I remember the designer saying, ‘Fire pit? NitroCream? Really? You want do to this on a college campus?’ ”
  • October 20, 2016
    The last of the beeping trucks have backed up and growled away; the plywood fence has come down. The quad looks like the quad again. Grass has filled back in, shrubs grow against the comfortable old Duke stone, and you approach West Union looking for something to eat.
  • Vocal fry
    February 18, 2014
    By the time you finish reading this story you will have learned the following things: Men can hear fertility status in a woman’s voice—and they like it; a big, deep “me Tarzan” voice seems to help not just men but women succeed in politics and business; the pitch and tone of a CEO’s voice in a conference call may give you information about stock performance; women have it even tougher than you knew; and there may be evolutionary value in this whole “vocal fry” trend (think Kardashian end-of-s
  • May 15, 2013
    Hello, I'm Danio. I know it’s crowded, but come in. I started showing up in places like this in the 1980s, and now I come here by the tens of thousands. You may say it feels like a meat market, but I prefer to think of it as just a nice place to swim, eat, and mate. Mating, after all, is a significant part of my job, and I excel at it. I hope that doesn’t make you uncomfortable.
  • Arlie Petters. Photo by Michael Zirkle, Photographed at the Nasher Museum of Art
    January 31, 2008
    Put your right hand on your right temple, and your left on your left temple. Now gently squeeze; don't let up.Okay. Now you are ready for a conversation with Arlie Petters, the energetic, broadly smiling man in the striped short-sleeve shirt and comfortable brown slacks who has come to meet you at a Barnes & Noble café.

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