On the cutting edge of environmental teaching and research initiatives, the Duke University Wetland Center and the Duke University Marine Lab are uniquely positioned to develop wetland science, management and conservation technologies, and policies. Duke scientists, having recognized the urgency for integrated multidisciplinary research, established the nation’s first School of the Environment. For more than 70 years, Duke has provided excellence in education and research in diverse fields including ecology, botany, geology, zoology, forestry, coastal management and marine science, natural resource economics and policy, and environmental management.
The Center’s main offices and research lab are housed in the Levine Science Research Research Center (LSRC) on Duke’s West Campus. The 341,000-square-feet LSRC is one of the largest single-site interdisciplinary research facilities in the United States. Additional teaching and meeting resources are available next door in NSOE’s Grainger Hall, which also houses the Nicholas School administration. Grainger was designed to meet or exceed the criteria for LEED Green Building Platinum certification, the highest level of sustainability.
At the lab, the researchers perform chemical analyses of soils, plants and water collected for ecological research. Samples are prepared and analyzed to monitor water quality as well as soil concentrations for various projects. The lab is equipped with multiple chemical analysis equipment: UV-VIS Spectrophotometer, Flow Injection Analysis System, Gas Chromatograph, Total Organic Carbon and Nitrogen Analyzer, Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectrometer, among others. All data is analyzed and maintained in a central database and is overseen by a lab manager.
The Duke University Wetland Center Laboratory has been certified as a Duke Green Lab. The Green Lab program, run by the University‘s Office of Sustainability, recognizes campus labs that successfully manage their environmental impacts. The green lab certification process provides research and instructional staff with specific goals for energy and water conservation, carbon offsets, chemical storage, and recycling.
The Duke University Marine Lab is a 15-acre campus located 180 miles east of Duke’s main campus. It is situated on Pivers Island within the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and adjacent to the historic town of Beaufort. Overlooking North Carolina’s system of barrier islands, sounds, and estuaries, the Marine Lab is bordered by Core Banks and Bogue Banks, in an area well known for its coastal wetlands and rich flora and fauna. The Marine Lab campus includes historic classrooms ideally suited for the study of marine organisms and a new state-of-the-art teaching facility, the Marguerite Kent Repass Ocean Conservation Center. The Research Vessel Shearwater is a 77-foot catamaran designed and built for year-round operations, and is outfitted with state-of-the-art scientific support infrastructure, tools and accessories.
The Stream and Wetland Assessment Management Park (SWAMP) is on a restored section of the Sandy Creek stream and floodplain within Duke Forest near Duke University’s West Campus. A project of the Duke University Wetland Center, the SWAMP ecosystem serves as an outdoor classroom and field laboratory for students and researchers and provides a site for research on biological diversity, hydrology, invasive plant species and other environmental concerns.
North Carolina itself provides an exceptional outdoor laboratory, containing over 5 million acres of diverse freshwater and saltwater wetlands, including pocosins, Carolina bays, mountain bogs, freshwater and saltwater marshes, and bottomland hardwoods. The Carbon Farm Project in Hyde County, NC is a collaborative undertaking of the Wetland Center and Carolina Ranch. The project facilities, including eddy flux tower installations, are used to study the Ranch’s pocosin peatlands and their capacity for carbon sequestration.
As part of a major research university, the Center is able to add a significant dimension to teaching and research through cross-campus interdisciplinary degree programs, faculty appointments, and cooperative projects with faculty members in Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, as well as the Departments of Botany, Zoology, and Geology. The Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy and Schools of Law, Business, and Engineering are among other academic units providing interdisciplinary support to the research being conducted at the Center. By reciprocity agreement, Duke students may also take courses at the nearby University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University.