Sustainability Magazine Articles

November 25, 2021


Dave Haas

Before becoming a student again in 2011, I worked for PopCap Games. We made Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies, and I was COO for a while and ran worldwide game studios. When I turned forty, I decided to leave and do something different with my life.

My heart had always been in science.

A damaged and abandoned sailboat near Beaufort

July 22, 2020


Corbie Hill

Memorial Day 2020 and Carteret County was as mobbed by tourists as Liz DeMattia has ever seen it.

Pratt's Design Pod

February 26, 2020


Corbie Hill

A cold rain falls on Durham. Per the laws of physics, when the water hits the ground it runs downhill. It follows the path of least resistance, carrying with it the detritus of American consumer culture—Pepsi bottles, potato chip bags, six-pack rings, Miller Lite cans. It flows along roadsides and into storm drains. It emerges from culverts, where Lilliputian cascades feed ditches and gullies. It washes a cornucopia of garbage into Ellerbe Creek.

August 12, 2019


Dan Vermeer

I recently attended a panel discussion with three scholars debating life in the “Anthropocene era,” the idea that humans are now the dominant force in shaping the ecological and even geological fate of our planet. With talk about the destructive consequences of our carbon emissions, the devastation of industrial food systems, and the depletion of our natural resources, the discussion was pretty bleak.

August 8, 2019


Laura Knott

Eleven years after I graduated from Duke, I completed a degree at MIT, where focusing on the future is so normal that few people at the institute question it. I was steeped in techno-futurism, in the belief that it’s often best to leave the past behind. But I’m a gardener. I dig. And I think about how living soil is made, and how plants have evolved to sustain themselves—and how, for millennia, growing food has been a political act.

August 8, 2019


Scott Huler

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.

August 8, 2019

I am the little girl at the end of a dirt road seldom traveled on. The curious mind who watched her grandmother weave rugs for eight hours straight, never tiring. The young soul who never understood the land she walked on was crying for help.

August 7, 2019


Jake Chasan

“All right, take your hands off the wheel and pull your feet off the pedals,” the Mercedes-Benz salesperson said. His tone was confident, and his posture relaxed. I was excited to see this “self-driving” car in action. The Range Rover was good, the Tesla was better, but this Mercedes had “250 times more code than the primary flight software in NASA’s space shuttle.” How could it not be the best?

Samantha Emmert helps Victoria Thayer examine a deceased dolphin.

April 28, 2014

“The rolling sand dunes and gentle waves of Emerald Isle are so picturesque that I almost forget why I am here: to conduct a necropsy on a stranded bottlenose dolphin,” wrote Samantha Emmert from the Duke Marine Lab in early 2014. Emmert spent her junior year researching an outbreak of morbillivirus epizootic, a measles-like virus that has ravaged dolphin populations along the Atlantic Coast since last summer.

February 27, 2014

Nearly 5,900 natural-gas leaks have been found under the streets of Washington by a research team from Duke, Boston University, and Gas Safety Inc. Some of the leaks could have posed explosion risks, according to the team.

“Repairing these leaks will improve air quality, increase consumer health and safety, and save money,” says Robert B. Jackson, a professor of environmental sciences, who led the study.


November 12, 2013

Tourists bring them home as travel keepsakes. But for ecologists tracking fish populations, menus are serving a wider purpose.

Menus taken as souvenirs from seafood restaurants in Hawaii have helped a team of researchers glean important insights into the historical trajectory of the state’s fisheries.

A critical part of that history—a span of forty-five years in the middle of the twentieth century—is obscured by the lack of official records.

May 14, 2013

This was one commencement address not bound to be bobbing in the sea of the forgettable. It would not be especially “fun or breezy or grandly inspirational,” as the speaker (and the cultural phenomenon), David Foster Wallace, told Kenyon College seniors in 2005.