Energy & Environment

Interdisciplinary Themes

Bass Connections projects, courses and summer programs are aligned with the following themes:

Led by the Duke University Energy Initiative

Bass Connections in Energy & Environment cuts across business, engineering, policy and science to educate tomorrow’s energy leaders, create new options through research and improve decision-making about energy.

Students at all levels and in all programs of study gain the knowledge, skills and experience needed to play leadership roles in a rapidly evolving energy future. Bass Connections in Energy & Environment raises the stakes for students and faculty by crossing boundaries through problem-focused education—boundaries among disciplines, educational levels and schools; geographic boundaries; and boundaries between the university, business, civil society and government.

Students can apply to be a part of a project team, register for a course, enroll in a curricular program, participate in energy events and join a student club.

Energy & Environment Project Teams


This project team will investigate the biology, environmental chemistry, urban ecology and socioeconomics of the Ellerbe Creek watershed and its residents. Read more about A City and Its River: Durham's Ellerbe Creek Watershed (2021-2022) »

Antarctica: Open Water at McMurdo Station.

This project team will use imagery from unoccupied aircraft systems to characterize variance and trends in Antarctic coastal habitats over the summer season, applying these findings to establish a remotely sensed baseline biogeographic assessment of dynamic and changing Antarctic coastal habitats. Read more about Biogeographic Assessment of Antarctic Coastal Habitats (2021-2022) »

Marine litter.

Building on the work of previous teams, this project team will use adaptive selection to identify high-efficiency plastic-degrading enzymes, identify and test candidate plastic-degrading enzymes/species and test if plastic acts as a carrier for environmental toxins. Read more about Bioremediating Plastic Pollution to Conserve Marine Biodiversity (2021-2022) »

Wind farm.

Building on previous teams’ work, the project team will use 3D modeling for representing energy infrastructure in satellite imagery, expanding the methods for generating synthetic imagery to include generative models. Read more about Creating Artificial Worlds with AI to Improve Energy Access Data (2021-2022) »

Wild giant otter plays with plastic bottle in the Pantanal.

This project team will develop and pilot an action-civics curriculum on ocean plastic pollution for high school students, empowering young people to engage together in meaningful civic action and focus on the problem of plastic pollution and its impacts on the ocean. Read more about Empowering Youth Civic Action on Plastic Pollution (2021-2022) »

Image courtesy of 2019-2020 project team.

This project involves identifying, designing and prototyping new energy technologies, systems or approaches. Read more about Energy and the Environment: Design and Innovation (2021-2022) »

Gold mining along the Madre de Dios River in Peru.

This project team will design a trial to test the multidimensional efficacy of the Mercury Capture System and its societal adoptability in one of the partner field sites (Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana). Read more about Field Testing a Mercury Capture System for Artisanal Gold Mining (2021-2022) »

Waterfall in Ivindo National Park.

This project team will investigate how declining animal populations impact carbon stocks in tropical forests. Read more about Impact of Declining Animal Populations on Tropical Forests (2021-2022) »


Building on the work of the 2020-2021 team, this project team will investigate the relationship between marine mammal conservation and medical advances in the study of hypoxia on living tissues.  Read more about Learning from Whales: Oxygen, Ecosystems and Human Health (2021-2022) »

Fiji Marine Conservation.

This project team will assess the efficiency, performance and usability of existing machine learning tools and approaches for evidence synthesis to understand the relationships between select conservation interventions and social-ecological outcomes. Read more about Ocean Evidence Gap Map (2021-2022) »

Baltic blooms.

This project team will develop a marine microbial model system to examine the interplay between the key temporal and spatial patterns that shape microbial communities and processes in complex environments. Read more about Oceans of Microbiomes (2021-2022) »

Interior of ultra-high pressure vessel with balloon attachment fitting.

This project team will take on the challenges involved in developing, translating and promoting new technologies to address global problems. Read more about Providing Clean Fuel for the Developing World (2021-2022) »

Rainforest canopy.

This project team will help develop large heavy-lift drones that can fly deep into previously impenetrable rainforest to collect images, sounds and samples from the overstory, canopy and understory layers. Read more about Rainforest XPRIZE: Community Biodiversity Data Collection (2021-2022) »


This project team aims to facilitate a dramatic expansion in the adoption and success of regenerative grazing systems in North Carolina and the Southeast. Read more about Regenerative Grazing to Mitigate Climate Change (2021-2022) »

Spider monkeys at BCI.

This project aims to inform forest restoration and spider monkey conservation on the Azuero Peninsula, Panama, through researching primate seed dispersal and fostering local partnerships. Read more about Understanding Monkey Movement Using Conservation Technology (2021-2022) »

Energy & Environment Courses

Gateway Courses

EGR 95FS: Sustainable Energy Project: Engineering Design and Communication

Fall 2021
Instructor: Rebecca Simmons

In this course, students learn and apply the engineering design process to solve an authentic energy design problem. A variety of local and international nonprofits, companies, medical facilities and organizations pose real-world design questions related to sustainable energy. Read more about Sustainable Energy Project: Engineering Design and Communication »

EGR 95FS-01: Emerging Materials and Technologies for Energy Future

Fall 2021
Instructor: Nico Hotz

This course explores novel materials and technologies that have the promise to fundamentally transform the current energy infrastructure. With the ever-growing global demand for clean, efficient and affordable energy, entirely new approaches are needed to solve the potential energy crisis humanity... Read more about Emerging Materials and Technologies for Energy Future  »

ENERGY 190FS-01: Modern Energy Systems for a Changing World

Fall 2021
Instructor: Brian Murray

This course establishes a broad introduction to contemporary energy topics related to power generation, delivery, energy conversion and efficiency. Both well-established and new methods of energy generation and conversion are discussed, focusing on electricity generation by fossil fuels, nuclear,... Read more about Modern Energy Systems for a Changing World »

ENERGY 190FS-02: History of Energy Use and Power Generation

Fall 2021
Instructor: Tom Cinq-Mars

This course will explore the use of energy throughout human history, starting from the earliest beginnings of humanity to modern power generation. Students will consider the development of different primary energy sources over time, the history of various energy conversion and storage technologies... Read more about History of Energy Use and Power Generation »

Other Undergraduate Courses

ENERGY 89S: Energy & Society

Spring 2021
Instructor: Tom Cinq-Mars

This course explores those questions by examining the interplay between energy and society from the origins of a fossil-fueled society to the present. Read more about Energy & Society »

ENVIRON 201: Integrating Environmental Science and Policy

Spring 2021
Instructor: William Pan

This course explores the interaction between the natural and the social systems as they relate to the environment. Read more about Integrating Environmental Science and Policy »

ENVIRON 245-01: Theory and Practice Sustainability

Spring 2021
Instructor: Charlotte Clark, Tavey Capps

This course explores theories and practices of sustainability with application to the Duke campus environment, including economic, social and environmental factors, and a local to global reach. Read more about Theory and Practice Sustainability »

Undergraduate/Graduate Courses

ENERGY 590-50: Introduction to Solar Project Development

Spring 2021
Instructor: Luana Lima

While most of the electricity in the U.S. is generated using fossil based fuels, there is growing demand for power from renewable sources. Market factors and societal pressures are pushing electric utilities to consider, and in some cases, embrace renewable power generation throughout the U.S. Read more about Introduction to Solar Project Development »

ENVIRON  590-01: Is it Worth It? Evaluating Environmental Programs

Fall 2021
Instructor: Charlotte Clark

Program evaluation is an essential skill among environmental managers, educators, and decision-makers. Read more about Is it Worth It? Evaluating Environmental Programs »

ENVIRON  590D-001: Eyes in the Sky: Modern Remote Sensing from Satellites to Drones

Spring 2021
Instructor: David Johnston, Jennifer Swenson

The course spans current and emerging remote sensing applications for ecology and conservation, with in-depth treatment of satellite and drone apps in coastal biological and ecological research through client-based group research projects. Using current platforms and sensor technologies e.g. Read more about Eyes in the Sky: Modern Remote Sensing from Satellites to Drones »