What is Health and Environment Scholars @Duke?

Our vision is to cultivate environmental leaders in our own community. The ecotoxicologists, oceanographers, environmental journalists, and civil engineers of tomorrow need high-quality, real-world experience today.

Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and School of Medicine have partnered with Durham Public Schools (DPS) and the Duke University Marine Lab Scholars Program to select talented and underserved DPS high school students, from diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, to participate in the Health and Environmental Scholars Program @Duke: a year-long intensive environmental science program. This program features in-person programming featuring weekly sessions with a variety of guest speakers as well as several weekend field trips and lab experiences.

With a strong emphasis on career development, the Health and Environmental Scholars Program positions students for success in college and careers in STEM fields.

This year’s program will run from November 2023 to April 2024.

Students selected for our program have the opportunity to:


– Work with outstanding interdisciplinary faculty and undergraduate students

– Explore local environmental issues

– Collect data in the field

– Learn to give a presentation

– Receive tools for college and career preparation, and

– Interact with experts in a range of environmental and health fields

Students participating in the Health and Environmental Scholars Program @Duke are situated in the heart of main campus. During the program, students experience the Nicholas School of the Environment’s state-of-the-art facilities and Duke’s renowned laboratories. 

This year, the program consists of two modules: Module 1) college and career preparedness in the fall, and Module 2) connections between humans and the environment in North Carolina in the spring. 

Module 1 will occur during November 2023. We will meet each Thursday in November from 6:30-8:30pm on Duke’s campus. Dinner will be provided. In these modules, we will provide guidance on finding the right college, offer comprehensive campus tours, assist in building career portfolios, and discuss the college application process (including financial aid, personal statement writing, and Common App completion). These sessions will also be a chance to meet Duke undergraduate mentors and other scholars in the program.

Module 2 will begin in the spring semester and will occur every Saturday starting Saturday, January 14th and ending April 13th. These events occur from 10 am-4 pm, with lunch provided. During Module 2, students experience the Nicholas School of the Environment’s state-of-the-art facilities and Duke’s renowned laboratories. Health and Environmental Scholars will learn about environmental concepts through the lens of their own community in Durham and North Carolina. Scholars will travel to field sites such as the Duke Marine Lab, Eno River, Duke Forest, and Duke Campus Farm to collect and process data, as well as learn how to communicate their findings. The program will culminate in a final presentation on what Scholars have learned and gained from the program.


Our mentors have put together a resource bank with tips on college applications. Even if you weren’t able to be part of our program this year, email us if you’d like access! 

Program Highlights

Water Quality

Testing water quality near the Duke Reclamation Pond with Duke professor Dr. Neal Flanagan

Lab Tour

Exploring the laboratory in the Duke Cancer Institute guided by graduate students

Museum of Life and Science

Sustainability discussion and activities as well as exploring the Museum of Life and Science's extensive exhibits

Duke Campus Farm

Engaging in sustainable agriculture and helping Duke students on the university's local farm

Environmental Justice

Mock debate and negotiation to create an action plan to adapt a city to climate change

Duke Forest Wildlife Survey

Collecting data on wild reptiles and amphibians observed under cover objects in the Duke Forest