Blog Reader Bios

The Impact of Google Earth

Nancy White

Founder of Full Circle Associates, Nancy helps organizations connect through online and offline strategies.  Nancy is an online interaction designer, facilitator and coach for distributed communities of practice, online learning, distributed teams and online communities. She has a special interest in the NGO/NPO sector. Nancy blogs at> as well as teaches, presents and writes on online facilitation and interaction, social architecture and social media (> She is co-author with Etienne Wenger and John Smith of “Digital Habitats: stewarding technology for communities.” ( Nancy confesses to online interaction, learning and chocolate addictions. She lives in Seattle with her husband and has two grown sons and granddaughter.

Caroline Swartz

Dr. Swartz is Clinical Professor of Economics in the Belk College of Business at UNC Charlotte.  She earned her undergraduate degree in Math at SUNY Fredonia and she earned the MA and PhD at Duke, She has taught at Notre Dame, Emory University in Atlanta, and Aurora University and Roosevelt University in the Chicago area.

In addition to her academic credentials, Dr. Swartz has over 20 years of industry experience.  At BellSouth, she was one of the original members of the international subsidiary.   At Motorola, Dr. Swartz created a major accounts team to increase market share with the largest customers worldwide.  In addition to working at two Fortune 100 companies, Dr. Swartz has worked for a start-up, at Chicago Public Radio, and as an independent consultant.

Cynthia Gerst

Public Policy 1990. Cynthia Gerst grew up in New York City and graduated from Stuyvesant High School, a public math & science magnet school. Her professional experience includes consumer finance and underwriting in Baltimore, Maryland, as well as commercial equipment leasing and corporate financial analysis in Columbus, Ohio. Currently she’s a project manager with Ohio’s Department of Transportation, working in their Office of Innovation, Partnerships, & Energy.
Outside of work:
– her daughter and son are in kindergarten and she manages the web site for the city’s mothers of twins club with over 500 members
– she is a member of Toastmasters
– she is on the board of National Church Residences, a national non-profit providing affordable senior housing and innovative health care solutions.

Lee Miller

Lee Miller graduated from Southern Methodist University and went on to earn a Masters degree in Forestry from Yale and a Ph.D. in Physiological Plant Ecology from Duke.  He’s been a professor at Cornell University and an Editor for journals published by the Ecological Society of America.

Kirk Thompson

Kirk majored in Political Science & French at Duke, and went on to get his MBA in Marketing at Emory/Goizueta Business School – and has worked on both the advertising agency side of the world as well as the corporate and brand side of the world.   He’s been fortunate enough to work directly with or projects with some of the biggest brands in the world:  Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Hilton Hotels.  From advertising to public relations to promotional programs with the Olympics, FIFA World Cup, the Grammys and Tonys and Disney, Sony and Universal films.  All in all:  a career where form AND substance, visuals and words…  all matter.  Born and raised on the east coast, from DC to Florida, he now lives with his family in California.

The Billion Dollar Problem of Aquatic Invasive Species

Richard Merritt

I have been a medical or science writer at Duke University for the last 21 years: the first 18 in the News Office of Duke University Medical Center, and currently in the Communications Office at the Pratt School of Engineering. Prior to that, I was a writer and editor for the North Carolina Public Television network. I have also served as editor of the Garner News, and science reporter for the Oak Ridger Newspaper in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Earned BA degree in English from Earlham College, Richmond, Ind.

Kirsten Dolan

Kirstin Dolan is a graduate of Duke’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, now known as the Nicholas School of the Environment.  She obtained a master’s degree in environmental management with an emphasis in resource economics and policy.  Kirstin did her undergraduate work at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, where she focused in aquatic environments.  She currently lives in Virginia where she is a project director for WSP Environment & Energy, a full-service environmental consulting firm based in Reston, Virginia.  WSP Environment & Energy is part of WSP Group, a 9000-person global consultancy based in London, England.  Kirstin has been with WSP for 20 years.  She is a Certified Professional Environmental Auditor with the Board of Environmental Auditor Certifications in environmental compliance, ISO 14001, and Responsible Care.  At WSP she conducts and manages environmental, health, safety and security and US Department of Transportation compliance and management system audit programs and due diligence projects, and provides multi-media regulatory compliance assistance and training to manufacturing clients in the U.S. and Canada.  She has extensive experience working with clients in the chemical, electronics, food and beverage, electric power generation, and transportation industries.

Marian Keegan

Marian Keegan earned a graduate degree from Duke University School of the Environment, and undergraduate degrees in Biology and Science.  She coauthored abstracts about her genetic research at a medical school and her deer management program at a private community.  Her environmental experience spans North American ecosystems.  Marian has brought value to Fortune 500 companies, state and federal agencies, mid-sized timber companies, research organizations, and community associations by guiding teams of specialists and researchers through complex environmental problems, administering multi-million dollar projects, inventorying forest resources, and providing services to landowners.  She owns a private company and negotiated sales of timberland.  She directs natural resource and environmental programs, and promotes funding and strategic marketing of non-profits.

Nancy Anderson

Captain, U.S. Coast Guard (retired)

Thirty-year career included operational and staff assignments primarily in Marine Safety and Environmental Protection, responsible for the following missions:

  • Enforce safe and environmentally sound operation of U.S. flagged vessels throughout the world
  • Assert authority over foreign vessels operating in U.S. Port State Controlled waters to enforce safe, secure, and environmentally sound operations in U.S. waters
  • Issue licenses and documents to qualified mariners, and promote competency through a combination of training courses, requisite experience, and examinations
  • Conduct inspections of U.S. and foreign vessels, marine facilities, and review plans for vessel construction, alteration, equipment, and salvage
  • Develop and monitor vessel construction and performance
  • Stop unauthorized ocean dumping and regulate the discharge of oil, hazardous substances, and other shipboard wastes into U.S. and international waterways
  • Protect marine mammals
  • Regulate the introduction of invasive species into waterways
  • Respond to oil and hazardous substance accidents and reduce their impact on the marine environment
  • Develop environmental regulations and standards for domestic vessels and marine facilities

Responded to hundreds of incidents from minor marina pollution to ship collisions, plane crashes, and major oil spills.  Assignments included Fifth District Command Center Controller (New Jersey to South Carolina) and Marine Safety Office Miami Executive Officer/Alternate Captain of the Port (Ft. Pierce, FL through the Florida Keys).  Represented the Coast Guard at Harbor Safety Committees, Port Security Committees, community action groups and various joint agency response organizations.  Implemented public education programs and practice drills for conservation, safety and security awareness.

At Coast Guard Headquarters, served on an in-house development team for a major database and incident management system.  Established the first ISO-9001-compliant quality management system & oversaw audits, voluntary or mandated by treaties, to meet international agreements with the UN International Maritime Organization.

Missions come straight from the CG’s web site – different admirals tweak the wording over the years.  I had the privilege of working directly for Admiral Thad Allen at a unit in New Haven Connecticut, then at headquarters where he became Commandant of the Coast Guard – a real forward-thinking leader during tough economic and political times.

My Information Systems Technology MS Degree is from Syracuse University.

Writing about Religion

Brynne Thompson

Brynne Thompson is an investment analyst with Coburn Ventures, an investment firm and consultancy to investment managers.

The work of Coburn Ventures is to identify and invest in monumental shifts in society in our domain expertise of technology, media, telecom and the internet. To this end, Brynne has worked on investments in a broad range of business areas: from Adobe to Imax; from Ansys to Telecity.

Brynne is a Chartered Financial Analyst. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Duke University in 1999. Brynne is originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, where she travels as often as possible to ski and hike the Wasatch Mountains. She lives in New York City with her husband and son.

Elizabeth Davis

I graduated from Duke University in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy.   Philosophy proved to be the perfect choice for someone whose interests are as eclectic as mine were . . . and continue to be.  Looking at each subject through the lens of ethics, I explored world religions, psychology, sociology, women’s studies, Spanish, French, art and dance.

Immediately following graduation, I began an equally eclectic exploration of the world of work.  I have held positions in technology, marketing, administration, finance and legal support.  Across each field, I discovered that the most valuable skill I took away from my studies at Duke was writing (along with its sister skill: speaking.)  And that has continued to prove to be the case as society and industry begin to rely more and more heavily on electronic forms of communication.  Learning and applying the appropriate vocabulary, symbols and syntax are an integral part of every field I have explored.

Given the ongoing breadth of my interests, my work now revolves around non-fiction writing.  Writing is fresh and challenging to me, not just based upon the variety of topics I explore, but also the widely varying modes of communication now readily available.  I tweet.  I text. I ping. I blog.  I chat.  I email.  And, yes, I regularly use snail mail.  Accordingly, I also dabble in typography, graphic design, photography and mixed media.

I look forward to working and learning with the Duke Reader Project as it now introduces blogging into its curriculum.  For someone who completed her degree with only a typewriter at her disposal, I approach this project with a great sense of awe, privilege and excitement.

Leigh Forell

My full name is K. Leigh Forell.  I attended Wake Forest University and received a B.A. in Religion.  I went on to earn my Master of Theological Studies degree from Duke University and my Ph.D. in Language and Literacy Studies from the University of Texas.  I have worked in Academic & Student Services for 10 years at several colleges and university.  I currently serve as Academic Advisor and Diversity Coordinator for the Poole College of Management at NC State University.  I also work as a freelance editor and author of curricula for a nonprofit educational organization.  My partner and I reside in Cary and love to spend our free time outdoors with our amazing, energetic 3 year-old daughter.

Jane Clayton

I graduated from Duke in 1973, with a BA and Zoology major.  I began medical school in August 1973 at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond and graduated in 1977.  I also did a Diagnostic Radiology internship and residency at Medical College of Virginia finishing in 1981.  My fellowship in body imaging was at Northwestern University in Chicago.  I
arrived in New Orleans in 1982, and have been here ever since.

I joined the faculty of the Radiology department at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and taught ultrasound, then breast imaging over the 24 years I was there.  After Hurricane Katrina, I retired from LSU but have recently rejoined the faculty part time.

I have an MBA from the University of New Orleans 2007 and am in the private practice of Radiology in addition to a small portion of my time at LSU.

I have two children.  My son graduated from Duke May 2010.  My daughter is a sophomore at University of Pennsylvania.

I have four siamese cats and one Shar Pei dog.

My other interests are reading, flower arranging, yoga and meditation, and writing.  I am taking Journalism classes on line at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

I like working with students who are sharpening their writing skills.

Leave a Reply