In Brief: July-August 2008

August 1, 2008
  • Johnny Dawkins '86, associate head coach of the men's basketball team, has been named head men's basketball coach at Stanford University. A star player during his undergraduate years at Duke, he has served on Duke's coaching staff for eleven years, the last nine as second-in-command. Assistant coaches Chris Collins '96 and Steve Wojciechowski '98 have been promoted to associate head coaching positions. Nate James '01 has been named assistant coach.
  • Bruce Lawrence, Nancy and Jeffrey Marcus Humanities Professor of religion and director of the Duke Islamic Center, has been named one of twenty new Carnegie Scholars. The award comes with a two-year, $100,000 fellowship. Lawrence plans to spend the fellowship studying how religious minorities are treated in Egypt, Ethiopia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
  • Brian Mann, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and material science, has been named a Young Investigator by the Office of Naval Research for his proposal to develop energy generators that can power ocean sensor networks and detect submarines or other vessels. The Young Investigator Program awards grants of up to $100,000 a year for three years.
  • Jeff Scruggs, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, has received a five-year, $400,000 National Science Foundation Early CAREER Award. The award recognizes and supports the early career development activities of teacher-scholars likely to become academic leaders. Scruggs' research involves finding ways to harvest energy from such nontraditional sources as ocean waves, earthquakes, and vibrations caused by heavy traffic on bridges.
  • James W. Vaupel, research professor at the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy and director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany, and Huntington F. Willard, Nanaline H. Duke Professor of genome sciences and founding director of the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy, have been elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
  • The board of trustees has approved a $20 million renovation to the 1929 steam plant located on Campus Drive, near East Campus. The renovated plant will give the university and medical center more steam-producing capacity and, by burning natural gas, provide a cleaner alternative to coal. The 6,600-square-foot plant has been unused since 1978.
  • Duke will name a new endowment for the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership Fund in honor of John F. Burness, who retired as senior vice president for public affairs and government relations in June after seventeen years at Duke. A science lab at Durham's E.K. Powe Elementary School, built with the partnership's assistance, will also be named after Burness.
  • The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation (PBTF) is giving a $6 million grant to its eponymous research institute at Duke. Researchers at the PBTF Institute will use the funds to continue their study of pediatric brain tumors, the leading cause of cancer deaths in children and adolescents.
  • The Pratt School of Engineering has received a gift of $5 million from an anonymous donor to establish a new undergraduate curriculum that will encourage students to think critically about problems that lack obvious solutions. The gift will be used to support new faculty members engaged in innovative work with Duke undergraduates and to help endow a position for a professor of the practice to focus on teaching and developing courses.
  • Several schools and departments have been renamed. The Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences is now the Nicholas School of the Environment. The department of biological anthropology and anatomy is now the department of evolutionary anthropology; and the department of Asian and African languages and literature is now the department of Asian and Middle Eastern studies.
  • Undergraduate admissions received 20,337 applications this year, the highest number in Duke's history. It extended offers of admission to 3,814 students, for an acceptance rate of 18.8 percent, a record low. Administrators plan to enroll some 1,657 first-year students this fall.
  • Duke University Health System has donated medical supplies—including anesthesia machines, patient monitors, exam tables, and thousands of gowns, latex gloves, and face masks—to Chinese hospitals for use in efforts to treat victims of the May 12 earthquake in Sichuan Province.