What is Climate+? A look into Duke’s new summer program

<p>The Nicholas School of the Environment's Grainger Hall.</p>

The Nicholas School of the Environment's Grainger Hall.

In alignment with the Duke Climate Commitment, Climate+ will give students the opportunity to delve into sustainability issues using data science over the summer.

Climate+ was created in 2022 as a collaboration with The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Duke University Energy Initiative, and the Rhodes Information Initiative. An offshoot of Data+, Climate+ is an intensive ten-week summer research program where undergraduate and graduate students use data science to tackle questions on sustainability, climate change and energy-related problems.

Climate+ projects are led by Duke professors, local research groups or experts in the field and include a number of guest speakers, workshops and interdisciplinary collaborations. Each project looks at either a university-wide, state-wide or coast-wide environmental impact, allowing students to choose what interests them from a variety of concerns and create tangible solutions. Teams are comprised of four students: three undergraduates and one graduate student. 

According to Kyle Bradbury, assistant research professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering and a Climate+ project lead, Data+ hosted a few climate and energy-related projects for a number of years, but the professors leading Data+ knew that there was more they could do to foster such projects. 

“We started Climate+ as a way to grow the number of interdisciplinary climate research opportunities for students on campus, building on the existing successful experiential framework of the Data+ program,” he wrote in an email to The Chronicle. 

This year, Climate+ is offering eight projects, a step up from last year’s five. While two of the projects are continuations of last year’s launch, this summer includes six new projects with topics ranging from the quantification of Duke Dining’s carbon footprint to using satellite imagery to measure the impacts of urban heat islands in Durham. 

“For some students, this may be their first foray into climate research or a data science project,” Bradbury wrote. “We hope the program can be a foundational experience that can spark interest in future engagement with these topics.” 

According to Bradbury, Climate+ also furthers the Duke Climate Commitment, the University’s initiative to encourage student climate research, by cultivating “climate sustainability-fluent changemakers.”

“We’re seeking to build a community of student-practitioners eager to contribute to solutions regarding the climate and energy system challenges of our time,” Bradbury wrote. 

While applications are closed for summer 2023, you can expect next year’s projects to be released in early 2024. 


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