Beautiful Images,
Inspiring Research

An eye-catching look back at 2014

presented byDuke Research

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Year-end lists typically celebrate great movies, newsmakers and the like. But 2014 was also a year of amazing research and discovery, at least at Duke. Here are some of the year’s most stunning images and accompanying stories of how the university’s faculty, students and alumni expanded the frontiers of knowledge to serve society:

A Half-Century of Lemur Data Moves Online
A half-century of lemur data moves online. Photo by David Haring, Duke Lemur Center.

Nearly 50 years of data for the world’s largest and most diverse collection of endangered primates — like this baby mongoose lemur, Mico — are now available online. The Duke Lemur Center database allows visitors to view and download cradle-to-grave records such as growth, diet and reproduction for more than 3600 animals representing 27 species of lemurs, lorises and galagos — distant primate cousins who predate monkeys and apes. More data will be uploaded in the future. Photo by David Haring, Duke Lemur Center.

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Growing Replacement Tissue Inside The Body
Growing replacement tissue inside the body. Artistic rendering of human stem cells on the polymer scaffolds courtesy of Charles Gersbach and Farshid Guilak, Duke University.

By combining a synthetic scaffolding material with gene delivery techniques, researchers at Duke University are getting closer to being able to generate replacement cartilage where it's needed in the body. Artistic rendering of human stem cells on the polymer scaffolds courtesy of Charles Gersbach and Farshid Guilak, Duke University.

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Conserving The Tropics, With A Camera
Conserving the tropics, with a camera. Photo of grasshopper nymhps by Ian Paul Markham, Duke University.

Duke Nicholas School graduate student and wildlife photographer Ian Markham is a rainforest junkie. He conducts his research in the jungles of central Africa, studying the effects of hunting and logging on the forests and the small mammals that live there. While traveling to Africa this past summer, he stopped for a visit in Panama, where he photographed this rainbow armada of grasshopper nymphs. Photo by Ian Paul Markham, Duke University.

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Hiding Objects With An Acoustic Cloaking Device
Hiding objects with an acoustic cloaking device. Photo courtesy of Steven Cummer, Duke University.

Duke engineer Bogdan Popa examines the world’s first three-dimensional acoustic cloak. The new device reroutes sound waves to create the impression that the cloak and anything beneath it are not there. The phenomenon works in all three dimensions, no matter which direction the sound is coming from or where the observer is located, and holds potential for future applications such as sonar avoidance and architectural acoustics. Photo courtesy of Steven Cummer, Duke University.

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Visualizing Venice With New Technology
Visualizing Venice with new technology. Photo courtesy of Visualizing Venice.

Researchers have used everything from ancient maps, paintings, photos, archival documents and news accounts to GIS and 3D modeling to create new images of five parts of Venice, Italy. Their work is illustrating how the historic city has changed over time. Photo courtesy of Visualizing Venice.

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Explaining Madagascar’s Incredible Biodiversity
Explaining Madagascar’s incredible biodiversity. Photo of chameleons by Jason L. Brown, City College of New York.

No single “one-size-fits-all” model can explain how biodiversity hotspots come to be, finds a study of more than 700 species of lizards, snakes, frogs and tortoises in Madagascar. The results are important because they suggest that climate change and deforestation will have varying effects on different species. Photo by Jason L. Brown, City College of New York.

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A Different Kind Of Classroom
A different kind of classroom. Snorkeling photo by Samantha Emmert, Duke University.

Not many Duke course assignments involve snorkeling in San Salvador. But this is just a typical day for students in the university's Caribbean Invertebrate Zoology class, who traveled to the Bahamas in March 2014 to study a dizzying array of crabs, starfish, sea urchins, jellyfish, corals, clams and sponges. Photo by Samantha Emmert, Duke University.

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Researching The Moon’s Catastrophic Start
Researching the moon’s catastrophic start. Image courtesy of Robin Canup, Southwest Research Institute.

About 4.5 billion years ago, shortly after the Earth’s formation, another planet-sized object is thought to have collided with the Earth. This still from a model shows Earth just after that collision, color-coded according to temperature. The catastrophic impact sent an eruption of dust and vaporized rock into space, which coalesced into a disk of material that eventually formed our moon. One of the leading researchers of the giant impact theory of the moon’s origin is Duke graduate Robin Canup, now of the Southwest Research Institute. Image courtesy of Robin Canup.

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Low-Light Ferns Borrow a Mysterious Gene
Low-light ferns borrow a mysterious gene. Photo by Fay-Wei Li.

During the age of the dinosaurs, the arrival of flowering plants as competitors could have spelled doom for primitive ferns. Instead, ferns diversified and flourished under the new canopy — using a mysterious gene that helped them adapt to low-light environments. A team led by Duke University scientists has pinpointed the curious origins of this gene and determined that it was transferred to ferns from a group of unassuming, mossy plants called hornworts. Photo by Fay-Wei Li.

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Evolving Skulls Show Emergence of Gentler Human Society
Evolving skulls show emergence of gentler human society. Photo courtesy of Robert Cieri, University of Utah.

A Duke study found that human skulls changed in ways that indicate a lowering of testosterone levels at around the same time that culture was blossoming. Heavy brows were out, rounder heads were in. Technological innovation, the development of art and rapid cultural exchange probably came at the same time that we developed a more cooperative temperament and lower aggression. Photo courtesy of Robert Cieri, University of Utah.

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Arctic Lessons From The Shrinking Aral Sea
Arctic lessons from the shrinking Aral Sea. Photo by Tripp Burwell, Duke University.

Lots of dust. Not a lot of opportunities. That’s how one student described the former coastline of the Aral Sea, a body of water in Central Asia that has been steadily shrinking. As it has retreated, the former area of the Aral Sea has undergone much of what is now predicted for the Arctic — not only depleted ecosystems and communities, but also the sprouting of drilling sites for gas and oil on newly exposed lakebed. Photo by Tripp Burwell, Duke University.

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Students, Faculty Co-Curate Rauschenberg Exhibit
Students, faculty co-curate Rauschenberg exhibit. Photo by J Caldwell, the Nasher Museum of Art.

Curator and Duke professor Kristine Stiles organized the exhibition Rauschenberg: Collecting & Connecting, with the assistance of Duke undergraduates Lauren Acampora, Katherine Hardiman, Emma Hart, Jacqueline Samy and Taylor Zakarin, who graduated with distinction for their work on the project. The exhibition spans six decades of work on loan from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in conversation with contemporary art from the Nasher Museum’s collection. It is on view through Jan. 11, 2015. Visitors can also browse an online catalogue featuring essays by Stiles and her students. Photo by J Caldwell, the Nasher Museum of Art.

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3D Electron Microscopy Reveals Gut Structures That Control Appetite
3D electron microscopy reveals gut structures that control appetite. Image courtesy of Rodger Liddle and Diego Bohorquez, Duke Medicine.

Duke researchers are using mouse models to understand how our gut regulates appetite. With help from a high-resolution electron microscope, they produced 3D images of a structure inside specialized endocrine cells of the intestines. The structure helps explain how these cells sense nutrient levels in the gut and send signals that govern appetite. Image courtesy of Rodger Liddle and Diego Bohorquez, Duke Medicine.

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Inside The Oil And Gas Industry
Inside the oil and gas industry. Photo by Megan Hayes, Duke University.

In the aftermath of oil spills in San Francisco Bay and the Gulf of Mexico in 2007 and 2010, Nicholas School graduate student Megan Hayes refocused her attention from competitive sailboat racing to coastal management and environmental policy. This fall, she traveled to Houston to learn more about how crude oil and natural gas are formed and processed as part of her research on arctic oil and natural gas regulations. Among the places she visited was the Houston Museum of Natural Science, whose Wiess Energy Hall displays this refinery model. Photo by Megan Hayes, Duke University.

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A 19th Century Science of Crime
A 19th century science of crime. Photo courtesy of David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Often grouped with astrology and palm reading, phrenology is generally dismissed as quackery today, but that wasn’t always the case. In the Victorian age, phrenologists claimed to predict people's character and mental abilities — including their tendency toward criminal behavior — based on the shapes of their skulls. Visiting scholar Courtney Thompson pored through 150-year-old books, letters and diaries in the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke to understand how phrenology was used in criminology in the 19th century. Photo courtesy of David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

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Conserving the North Carolina Coast
Conserving the North Carolina coast. Photo courtesy of Leslie Acton and Courtney Pickett.

Salt marshes, tidal flats, oyster beds and acres of seagrass cover the Rachel Carson Reserve, a nature preserve near the coastal town of Beaufort, North Carolina, where students in the five-week Marine Conservation Summer Institute developed a plan for long-term monitoring of invasive species. Photo courtesy of Leslie Acton and Courtney Pickett.

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Film: A Conservation Research Tool
Film: a conservation research tool. Photo by Shannon Switzer, Duke University.

As part of an effort to determine which aspects of a mangrove restoration initiative were working, Nicholas School graduate student Shannon Switzer conducted 50 filmed interviews with a diverse cross-section of community members in the coastal city of Calapan, south of Manila in the Philippines. Photo by Shannon Switzer, Duke University.

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Pushing The Boundaries of Cancer Therapy With Ion Beams
Pushing the boundaries of cancer therapy with ion beams. Photo by Aakash Sahai, Duke University.

Cancer therapy using ion beams has been proven to be more effective than conventional technologies. In this picture, created by Duke graduate student Aakash Sahai, an ion-beam is shown at its source from a novel future technology that will make cancer therapy more affordable to patients. Darker colors show higher energy protons. Sahai’s image won first place in the 2014 Mahato Memorial Image Contest, an annual event in honor of Abhijit Mahato, a former engineering graduate student who was tragically murdered in 2008. The contest is a memorial to Mahato’s passion for both science and photography. Photo by Aakash Sahai, Duke University.

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Getting To The Root Of Enamel Evolution
Getting to the root of enamel evolution. Photo by Duke Photography.

Along with our big brains and upright posture, thick tooth enamel is one of the features that distinguishes our genus, Homo, from our primate relatives and forebears. By comparing the human genome with those of five other primate species, Duke researchers produced new insights into how evolution shaped our teeth, one gene at a time. Photo by Duke Photography.

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See-through Creatures Hide In Plain Sight
See-through creatures hide in plain sight. Photo by Sönke Johnsen, Duke University.

When Duke biologist Sönke Johnsen goes scuba diving in the open ocean, he looks for creatures that are hard to see. Some deep sea animals — like this eel larva — use an unusual trick: They’re transparent. The larva’s nearly flat, see-through body helps it avoid being eaten in parts of the ocean where hiding places are few and far between. Photo by Sönke Johnsen, Duke University.

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