Ben Shepard
Ben Shepard

Duke News

Keep up with our core and affiliated faculty in the national and international news. Read their op-ed pieces, quotes and interviews, and cutting-edge research findings.

Fri, Sep 01

Can Lessons from Aviation Be Applied to Autonomous Vehicle?

In civil aviation, automation has reduced workload and stress for pilots, while making flying one of the safest ways to travel. Can these safety lessons apply to autonomous cars – especially with regard to how we as drivers will interact with them? We spoke to a human factors expert to get answers.

Thu, Aug 17

Making Driverless Cars Safe for People on Foot

Right now, there are two ways to be safe crossing a road: Wait until no cars are close by, so there’s enough time to make it to the other side of the street – or communicate with oncoming drivers. As the number of pedestrian deaths on U.S. roads climbs, up 25 percent since 2010 to more than 5,000 people in 2015, the dawn of driverless cars offers the promise of improving that sad safety record.

Read the full article on the Conversation

Mon, Aug 07

For D.C.’s DukeEngage Students, Science and Society are Two Sides of the Same Coin

Duke’s Initiative for Science & Society tries to pluralize the world of science. In order to magnify the social benefit of scientific progress, Science&Society endeavors to make it more accessible, just, and integrated into society. But uses of the word ‘science’ are vast, and the use of ‘science’ in the policy world is even more nebulous. With working definitions of ‘science’ and the scientific process are so easily misconstrued in national policymaking, Duke’s Science&Society program has collaborated with DukeEngage to train the next generation of health leaders to engage the policy machine and vice versa.

Read the Full Article on Duke Today

Fri, Jul 21

SciPol to Add Energy to its Science Policy Coverage

SciPol LogoIt’s tough to overstate the importance of energy, which is critical to nearly all human activity. The discovery, extraction, distribution, conversion, and use of various forms of energy drive our global economy, are inextricably linked to environmental factors, and can have significant impacts on human health and well-being.

That’s why the Duke Initiative for Science & Society is partnering with the Duke University Energy Initiative to launch energy as a topic on SciPol. Starting this month, we will begin to track and translate developments in policy, industry, and science that have direct and intentional impacts on the U.S. energy sector.

We think the timing is perfect. During this watershed year in energy policy, legislative action and executive orders have proceeded at an unprecedented pace. Since January, President Trump has announced intentions to secure America’s “energy dominance” and has undertaken a flurry of activity:

  • Established an Energy Week in Washington, D.C.
  • Opened new pathways for the export of liquefied natural gas
  • Directed the restructuring and streamlining of the Departments of Energy and the Interior
  • Issued executive orders which open the Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas leases (SciPol brief available)
  • Signed into law new legislation supporting coal miners and the companies in which they are employed

The continuation of this new era of energy policy will have wide-ranging implications for researchers, lawmakers, industry leaders, and consumers. At SciPol, we intend to help each of these groups track the changes and understand the potential impacts.

Our partner in this effort, the Duke University Energy Initiative, is a university-wide interdisciplinary collaboration focused on advancing an accessible, affordable, reliable, and clean energy system. The Initiative reaches across business, engineering, environment, law, policy, and the arts and sciences to educate tomorrow’s energy innovators, develop new solutions through research, and improve energy decisions by engaging business and government leaders.

Publishing and curricular opportunities abound:

  • Want to share your own perspective on a hot energy topic?
  • Interested in having your students learn to write energy policy briefs and see them get published on our site?
  • Looking for a paid/unpaid internship, graduate assistantship, or work-study position in energy policy?

Email Alexandra Sutton Lawrence @

About Alexa

Dr. Alexa Sutton LawrenceAlexandra Sutton Lawrence is the lead editor for energy policy coverage on SciPol. She holds a joint appointment with the Duke University Energy Initiative and Duke Initiative for Science & Society. Alexandra is a doctoral candidate in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke, where she worked with Dr. Stuart Pimm to study best practices in biodiversity conservation. Her dissertation, Conservation in the Human Landscape, comprises case studies of leadership, management, and finance in global environmental initiatives.

Alexandra has held previous policy positions at The Wildlife Society and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, and her research has been supported by The Explorers’ Club; National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative; and Sigma Xi.  She is also the founder of Kedge Conservation, a social innovation startup that works to promote financial literacy, access, and equity in East and Southern Africa.

Visit for news, updates, and opportunities to engage with new developments in the United States energy sector.

Thu, Jun 15

Can the Law Enforcement’s DNA Database Tell Police Your Medical Info?


A new study may undermine the argument that taking DNA samples from people arrested for serious crimes is not considered an unreasonable search. With comments from S&S instructor and Duke researcher Sara Katsanis.

Read the full article at Pacific Standard Magazine

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