DURHAM, N.C. – Six Nicholas School of the Environment doctoral students have been awarded Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants that will enable them to do remote summer internships that augment their doctoral research.

Duke’s Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies awards the training grants annually to expand off-campus opportunities for graduate students to acquire skills, knowledge and experiences that will enhance their capacity to carry out original research.

Because of COVID-19, this year’s recipients will conduct their internships remotely.

Axel Berky, who is pursuing a PhD in Environment, will intern with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment on two projects.

As part of the first project, he’ll help create interactive, real-time maps of human health risks from wildfires and smoke exposure. As part of the second project, he’ll contribute to an EPA manuscript on the effect of ambient temperature on end-stage chronic kidney disease patients.

Berky’s faculty advisor is Bill Pan.

Brianna Elliott, who is pursuing a PhD in Marine Science and Conservation, will intern with the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Marine Conservation.

Her chief focus will be to conduct research and prepare a report documenting how the International Whaling Commission can work with Regional Fisheries Management Organizations to reduce the accidental by-catch of marine mammals by commercial fishing and whaling fleets, particularly in the Indian Ocean region.

Elliott’s faculty advisor is Andrew Read.

Rachel Coyte, a doctoral student in Earth and Ocean Sciences, will intern with the nongovernmental organization Earthjustice to produce a scientific report on coal ash contamination’s impacts on communities. She will also produce two literature reviews, the first on the chemistry of ash pond pore water, the second on how long coal ash contamination that’s been released into the environment will continue to leach into surface waters.

Coyte’s faculty advisor is Avner Vengosh.

Keqi He, a doctoral student in Earth and Ocean Sciences, will intern at the U.S. Forest Service’s Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center. He will conduct research on the processes and forces that contribute to wetland degradation at a regional scale in the Southeast, using forest inventory and analysis data, vegetation indices from satellite data, and plant cover characteristic from LiDAR data.

He’s faculty advisor is Wenhong Li.

Julianna Renzi, who is pursuing a PhD in Marine Science and Conservation, will intern at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History to study the impacts of large-scale coral loss on invertebrate communities in French Polynesia, using the Smithsonian’s groundbreaking Global ARMS (Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures) Program.

Renzi’s faculty advisor is Brian Silliman.

Dana Wright, a doctoral student in Marine Science and Conservation, will intern at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to investigate how environment-species interactions govern zooplankton community structure on the southeastern Bering Sea shelf and how changes in the zooplankton may affect the eastern populations of the North Pacific right whale, which is the most endangered population of baleen whale on Earth.

Wright’s faculty advisor is Andrew Read.