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Duke Innovates Together to Protect the Planet

In the face of enormous challenges endangering the planet, including climate change, plastic pollution, and biodiversity loss, Duke innovators are working together to find solutions with advances in data science, tracking techniques, and corporate accountability.

Here, we spotlight some recent collaborations by Duke innovators working to make the world better—safer, healthier, and more sustainable.

Faculty from environment, engineering, policy, and Trinity organized the Energy Data Analytics Symposium, which brought together researchers, energy and data science professionals, and students from 19 countries and nearly 100 organizations to discuss using data science techniques to transform energy systems.

A multidisciplinary Marine Medicine group explored the nexus of the environment and human health, creating a strategy for long-term funding support of an Oceans and Human Health Initiative and hosting a virtual Oceans and Human Health Symposium.

To compete for the Rainforest XPRIZE, a cross-campus Duke team used drones and infrared cameras to catalog biodiversity in the rainforest.


The travel industry has an enormous impact on the health of the planet. Duke Alumni Travels, in partnership with the Nicholas School of the Environment, created sustainability monitoring and standards for travel operators and is at work on other initiatives to align with Duke’s overall missions in climate commitment and anti-racism.

The Plastics Pollution Policy Inventory, created in response to the call by the United Nations Environment Assembly to monitor and address the global plastic pollution problem, is an updateable and searchable database of public policy documents targeting plastic pollution. Governments, industry, researchers, nonprofits, and other stakeholders can use it to identify policy gaps, design, impact, and beyond.

With support from the Energy Initiative and Fuqua’s EDGE Center, dozens of students from degree programs across Duke led Energy Week at Duke. This year’s theme, “Upheaval and Resilience,” explored massive shifts in the energy industry and entrepreneurship in uncertain times.


Duke undergrads partnered with Bass Connections, the Duke Environmental Alliance, and the Environmental Student Union to produce Operation Climate, a podcast that aims to raise awareness of climate change, its impact, and innovations and technology being developed at Duke to help solve it.

Applying a computer algorithm to satellite imagery of North Carolina’s coast over 35 years, a Duke team mapped “ghost forests”—trees killed off by seawater rise—and gained new understanding of the impact of extreme weather events. The team is collaborating with other researchers to expand their study to coastal regions from Cape Cod to Texas.

As Duke nears its goal of carbon neutrality by 2024, our community is collaborating to capitalize on changes brought about by the pandemic, harness the power of biogas, find and utilize innovative carbon offsets, and more.


Learn how Duke innovates together…

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