June 8, 2018
This article appeared on Nicholas School of the Environment Website on June 7, 2018. (LINK)
DURHAM, N.C. – A new Duke University-led study has found widespread uranium contamination in groundwater from aquifers in 16 Indian states.
The main source of the uranium contamination is natural, but human factors such as groundwater-table decline and nitrate pollution may be exacerbating the problem.
Several studies have linked exposure to uranium in drinking water to chronic kidney disease.
“Nearly a third of all water wells we tested in one state, Rajasthan, contained uranium levels that exceed the World Health Organization and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s safe drinking water standards,” said Avner Vengosh, a professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.
”By analyzing previous water quality studies, we also identified aquifers contaminated with similarly high levels of uranium in 26 other districts in northwestern India and nine districts in southern or southeastern India,” he said.
The new findings are the first to demonstrate the widespread prevalence of uranium in India’s groundwater. Details
May 3, 2018
This article appeared in Duke Today on May 3, 2018 (LINK)
Duke University awarded distinguished professorships to 26 members of its faculty on May 2 at the annual University Distinguished Professors dinner. Duke India Initiative co-director Dr. Sumathi Ramaswamy was awarded the James B. Duke Professorship of History.Another DII Professor Dr. Subhrendu K. Pattanayak was also awarded the Oak Foundation Environmental and Energy Policy Professorship. These professorships are effective from Jan. 1, 2018. DII congratulates Dr. Ramaswamy and Dr. Pattanayak on this major honor.
April 7, 2018
This article appeared in Duke Today on April 6, 2018 (LINK)
A workshop on the nuances and implications of the India-Africa relationship over time brought scholars from around the world to Duke this week.
“Africa-India: Encounters, Episodes, Entanglements” was organized by the Duke Africa Initiative, the Duke India Initiative and the Duke University Center for International and Global Studies.
The event kicked off on Monday evening with “Out of Time: Africa, India, and Possible Histories,” the workshop’s keynote lecture from Dilip Menon of University of the Witwatersrand. Menon set the tone of the conference by discussing the ways in which we can see Africa and India as connected through material, ideas, people and time. Details
April 25, 2018
This article appeared in Duke Today on April 23, 2018 (LINK)
Researchers at Duke University have installed an experimental "reinvented toilet" at a textile mill in Coimbatore, India, to serve as a real-world testing site. The leaders of the new decentralized waste processing system hope that the trial will lead to commercialized solutions produced through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Reinvent the Toilet Challenge.
The system is designed to reuse water, a huge plus in drought-prone areas. And while it does require a modest power supply, these needs can be met through solar panels or other off-grid solutions. The end goal is a stand-alone system that can help meet the needs of the 2.4 billion people who lack access to safe and effective sanitation.
"This is the first wave of our systems being installed at high-profile sites for the Gates Foundation," said Brian Stoner, who started the program as a Senior Fellow at RTI International before joining Duke as a research professor and director of the Center for WaSH-AID (Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Infectious Disease). Details.
April 2, 2018
The conference which will be held in New Delhi on April 7-8, 2018, will highlight the latest advances and research papers that were presented at the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplant (ASBMT) and Center for Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) annual meeting in Salt Lake City in February 2018. Additionally, Dr. Prasad is also invited as the Keynote speaker at another scientific meeting on histocompatibility and donor selection on April 6th, 2018.
March 29, 2018
This article appeared in India Today on March 15, 2018 (LINK).
Machine brain versus human brain, who will win that battle? We once thought that would be a distant reality, but now it looks like this future is upon us. It has come to our homes, if you have not noticed. Just to explain very simply this very complex subject, my son recently picked up Alexa, an intelligent personal assistant developed by Amazon. Now whenever he wants to do something, he just commands Alexa: "Put out the light, Alexa", and the lights go off in his room. If he wants to listen to music, he says, "I want this song", and Alexa puts that on for him. Alexa also wakes him up. That's artificial intelligence (AI), to put it very simply, programmed to do tasks for you. Now, what is intelligence augmentation (IA)? Details.
March 29, 2018
This article appeared in India Today on March 23, 2018 (LINK).
Duke University professor and brain scientist, Dr. Murali Doraiswamy, was featured in the Indian newspaper India Today. Dr. Doraiswamy offered valuable advice for 21st century students seeking to enter the labor force, suggesting “People who also have strong non-cognitive skills - team building, creativity, strategic thinking, problem solving and social intelligence - will be at an advantage.” He encouraged students to pursue subjects like mathematics, social psychology, neuroscience, robotics and information technology (coding) as more than 800 million jobs will be at risk from automation and artificial intelligence (AI). Details.
February 2, 2018
This article appeared in Indian Express on January 31, 2018 (LINK).
Duke History Professor and DII co-director Prof Sumathi Ramaswamy’s ongoing project was prominently featured in the Indian Express newspaper on the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Titled, “The optics of a dying moment in the life of a nation”, and encompassing both bazaar art including posters and pamphlets as well high art produced by some of the foremost artists of our time, Prof Ramaswamy’s project underlines how art has continued to center around the aspect of ‘lastness’- “Gandhi’s last days, the last possessions, the last walk and most importantly the last utterance.” Details.
December 20, 2017
Avner Vengosh was invited to present an opening keynote presentation titled “Challenges and Opportunities of groundwater resources in Southeast Asia” at the 7th International Groundwater Conference on "Groundwater Vision 2030” held in New Delhi, India, last week. In addition, Professor Vengosh gave a second keynote presentation titled “New Insights into Groundwater Quality in Northwestern India”. The conference was hosted by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and Institute of National Hydrology in India with participation of the ministers and secretaries of the water and environment ministries in India. The presentation of Dr. Vengosh was part of a new research program aims to evaluate emerging contaminants issues in groundwater and drinking water in India, with special emphasis on water resources in northwestern India (Rajasthan, Gujarat). Conference Information.
December 2, 2017
On December 1, the Duke India Initiative (DII) held its first year-end gathering, bringing together members of the Duke community to network, learn about the initiative’s programming, and hear from faculty grant recipients about their DII-funded projects.
45 students, faculty, and staff gathered as Suzanne Katzenstein (Kenan Institute for Ethics); Volker Blum (Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science); Erika Weinthal (Nicholas School of the Environment); Chris Sims (Center for Documentary Studies); and Ana Barros (Pratt School of Engineering) gave short presentations on their DII-funded projects, which covered topics including India’s corporate social responsibility law, water service provision and politics, and creating photovoltaic materials for solar energy. Details.
World Toilet Day: DII Director Dr. Marc Deshusses and other Duke Engineers Tackle the Global Sanitation Crisis
November 21, 2017
This article appeared on Duke Global Health Institute Website on November 21, 2017 (LINK).
On Sunday, November 19, the world turned its attention to the lowly—yet incredibly important—toilet bowl. World Toilet Day was created in 2013 by the United Nations General Assembly to inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis. Today, 4.5 billion people live without a household toilet that safely disposes of their waste.
One of the organizations leading the way toward solutions is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which launched the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge in 2011. Grants were awarded to sixteen researchers around the world who are using innovative approaches—based on fundamental engineering processes—for the safe and sustainable management of human waste.
Duke University researchers are leading two of these important projects, and have been tasked with establishing a new Sanitation Technology Cluster, which will go beyond toilet designs to fill various gaps in sanitation solutions. Below, learn more about how Marc Deshusses, professor of civil and environmental engineering and global health; Jeff Glass, professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Brian Stoner, research professor of electrical and computer engineering, are working to bring sanitation to areas in need.
September 19, 2017
In an iconic photograph, former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy poses in front of the Taj Mahal during a visit to India in 1962. The photo is remembered as one of the most emblematic shots of Ms. Kennedy’s public life, but Duke professor Mike Bergin noticed it for another reason: if you look closely, you can see scaffolding lining one of the landmark’s marble towers.
Bergin’s theory is that the towers weren’t being fixed, but cleaned. The photograph, he believes, is an early artifact of the Taj Mahal’s gradual discoloration due to air pollution. Along with Indian partners, Bergin led the 2009 study that determined why the monument’s once pristine white marble has slowly turned to yellow: layers of dust and pollutants from trash burning have been settling on its surface for decades. Details.
September 19, 2017
Duke University launched an office in Bangalore this summer to foster collaborations between North Carolina-based Duke and Indian universities and organizations.
The entity, called Duke University India, builds on existing Duke-India partnerships, including academic exchange programs and research collaborations.
Duke’s current partners in India include NITI-Aayog, the Center for Environmental Planning and Technology University in Ahmedabad, Narayana Health City, the Indian Institute of Management Udaipur, the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad and the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar. Details.