Three hours from Durham’s main campus is the Duke University Marine Lab (DUML), our affectionately named “Campus by the Sea.” For masters students like me, who are concentrating in Coastal Environmental Management (CEM), we’ll spend our second year here in Beaufort, studying topics ranging from biological oceanography and marine ecology to fisheries policy and the social sciences.
Last weekend, a group of fellow CEM students and I drove down to Beaufort to visit DUML, many of us for the first time. On the drive down, I felt an odd mix of nerves and excitement—after months of applying to graduate programs, deciding on a school and choosing an area of focus, things were finally happening. I had committed so much time and energy to reaching this moment, that visiting the Marine Lab in person felt somewhat surreal.
The weekend was a whirlwind of information, amazement and anticipation for the two years to come. Here’s a sneak peek into some of the cool things happening at DUML:
1. Innovation is taking flight. While visiting the lab, we had a hands-on look at one of DUML’s latest feats: the use of drones for marine research. DUML’s Marine Conservation Ecology department is exploring how marine robotics and remote sensing, including the use of Unoccupied Aircraft Systems (UAS), can be used to map, monitor and protect marine environments.
2. The students here are smart, seriously cool people. There is rarely a conversation I have with students in the Nicholas School that doesn’t leave me inspired and asking questions. This weekend, several second-year CEM students presented the initial stages of their Masters Projects, which included research ranging from marine bioacoustics to the effects of climate change on coastal vineyards. I often remember that my classmates will someday be my professional colleagues – and I have to say, I’m pretty stoked.
3. Community involvement is powerful and prevalent. DUML students and faculty are heavily involved in Beaufort and surrounding communities, collaborating in numerous ways. Last weekend, the Duke Chapter of the Coastal Society, run by second-year CEM students, organized a community beach cleanup at Radio Island beach, and I had some great conversations with scientists and families from the area during the event.
4. The next Olympic beach volleyball team is in the making. One great thing about going to school by the sea? Beach volleyball breaks between classes. Add that to the paddle boards and kayaks that DUML students can use, and the backyard truly is your playground.
5. It’s impossible not to be inspired. If you’ve ever spoken with someone who is incredibly excited about what they do, you know this to be true. Passion is contagious, and the Duke Marine Lab is full of passionate people.
DUML shares a seaside campus with NOAA’s Beaufort Lab, and several other groups, including the NCSU Seafood Laboratory and the NC Division of Marine Fisheries, who are just down the road. Beaufort, and surrounding towns, collectively form one of the country’s largest hubs for marine research and innovation. Needless to say, I am incredibly excited to spend next year studying at the Duke Marine Lab.