Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Robotics, Autonomous Technology & Policy

Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Robotics, Autonomous Technology & Policy

Deadline: August 31, 2016

Duke Science & Society Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Robotics, Autonomous Technology & Policy

The Duke Initiative for Science & Society invites applications for the 2016-2017 Science & Society Robotics, Autonomous Technology and Policy Post-Doctoral Fellowship Program. This fellowship is intended for individuals with a PhD in robotics or engineering related fields interested in an academic or policy career working on the intersection of robotics and society.

Science & Society

The Duke Initiative for Science & Society (“Science & Society”) examines the wide-ranging and integral role of science in social institutions and culture. Science & Society integrates and fosters innovation in related research, education, and engagement at Duke by adopting an interdisciplinary approach to understanding how science and human endeavors intersect with a specific focus on ethical, legal, and social implications for science. For more info:

Humans and Autonomy Lab (HAL)

Research in the Humans and Autonomy Lab focuses on the multifaceted interactions of human and computer decision-making in complex sociotechnical systems with embedded autonomy. Autonomous systems today, and even more so in the future, require coordination and teamwork for mutual support between humans and machines for both improved system safety and performance. Employing human- systems engineering principles to autonomous system modeling, design, and evaluation, and identifying ways in which humans and computers can leverage the strengths of the other in an autonomous system to achieve superior decisions together is the central focus of HAL. For more info:

The Fellowship

The fellow will lead the Humans and Autonomy Lab section of a vertically-integrated, cutting- edged interdisciplinary project using innovative means to analyze, research, and communicate up-to-date information about new developments in science policy. Fellows engage in research and analysis, author and edit policy-related briefings on science-based laws and regulations, track news, events, and key players in the robotics and autonomous technology fields, and manage a team of undergraduate and graduate level research assistants and editors.

The Science & Society Fellowship is a residential one-year fellowship, with the presumption of renewal. Fellows are housed in the Humans and Autonomy Lab of Missy Cummings, Ph.D., and dedicate one half of their time to supporting the activities of Science & Society Science Policy Project, twenty five percent of their time to seeking and applying for grants to scale the Duke Science Policy project, and twenty-five percent of their time on independent and/or collaborative research projects. Fellows are provided with office space, a competitive stipend, and benefits.

Fellowship Responsibilities:

• Lead a topical team focused on robotics and society as part of the Science Policy Tracking Program, a program designed to provide an informational resource for scientists, policy makers, the public, students, and other stakeholders interested in science and technology policy developments and news.

  • Active participation in identifying funding opportunities and applying for funding for the Science Policy project
  • Participate in relevant conferences, workshops, and seminars
  • Pursue independent and/or collaborative research in robotics and autonomous technology and policy

The Application Process:

Applicants should submit a CV, contact information for three references, a writing sample, and a research proposal (in 2,000 words or less) to Mary Jo Smith ( The subject line of the email application should read “Application 2016 Robotics and Policy Fellowship Program” and must be received no later than 5 p.m. on August 31, 2016. Fellows will be chosen based on demonstrated academic merit, on likelihood of future success in academia or science policy, and on strength of their research proposals.

SciComm Fellows Program

SciComm Fellows Program

Deadline: August 24, 2016

The Duke Initiative for Science and Society hosts the SciComm Fellows Program, which provides an opportunity for faculty and postdocs to develop communication skills and put those skills into action. On three Fridays this fall, 24 Fellows (faculty and postdocs) will:

  • Explore the empirical benefits of communicating science
  • Develop speaking, writing, and storytelling practices for diverse audiences
  • Learn to answer difficult, controversial, and critical questions from the media
  • Tweet, blog, write op-eds, and present their research to engage the lay public
  • Prepare policy briefs
  • Engage with policymakers and funders

Training sessions will include work with experts in science communication, media, narrative, and policy, as well as hands-on spoken and written exercises across multiple platforms. As part of a diverse class, Fellows will develop skills essential to doing meaningful outreach with real impacts, including opportunities to brief policymakers, write op-eds, give public talks to lay audiences, and participate in media interviews.

All regular-rank faculty members and postdoctoral fellows in the STEM disciplines are eligible, but admission is competitive.


Three Fridays this Fall:

  • September 16
  • October 7
  • October 28

The first two sessions will run from 8:30 AM to 1:30 PM and will include continental breakfast and lunch.  The third session will run from 12:00 PM to 5:30 PM, will include lunch and will conclude with a Happy Hour during which participants will have the opportunity to practice the skills they developed over the course of the three workshops.


The workshops will be held at the Duke Initiative for Science & Society’s facility in the Erwin Mill Building (2024 West Main Street, Bay A, Second Floor).  We’re located on 9th and Main Streets (between East and West Campus), with ample visitor parking.

How do I apply?

Faculty members and postdocs can apply here. Senior faculty members are encouraged to nominate promising colleagues and postdocs. Postdoctoral fellows must identify a faculty sponsor. The application deadline is August 24, 2016.

How much does it cost?

Science & Society covers the $750 tuition costs for the program if Fellows participate in all three sessions. However, as is consistent with Duke University policy for professional development activities, Fellows will be charged for the cost of each missed session ($250/session).  All admitted applicants must provide a fund code to which any missed-session costs will be charged.


Email Dr. Jory Weintraub at jory(at)duke(dot)edu.

Sponsored by: Duke Initiative for Science and Society

Preparing for Job Market, Grad Students Create Online Lessons for Humanities Center

 Humanities grad students Hannah Ontiveros and Kelly Tang participated in the NHC pilot program

Doctoral students in the humanities know they’ll be entering a tight job market. This summer, four Duke students gained an edge by building their pedagogical skills at the National Humanities Center in Durham.

Each student chose a text that addresses elements of a standard high school curriculum in American history or literature and created an online National Humanities Center lesson for high school teachers.

Johnnie Holland, a Ph.D. student in History, selected an anti-lynching pamphlet by Ida B. Wells. Ph.D. student in English Karen Little chose “Ballad of the Landlord,” a poem by Langston Hughes. History Ph.D. student Hannah Ontiveros worked with an anti-feminist speech by Phyllis Schlaffly. Kelly Tang, a Ph.D. student in Art, Art History and Visual Studies, took on Citizen 13660, a graphic novel about the internment of Japanese Americans.

The pilot internship program grew out of conversations between Richard Schramm, then the vice president for education programs at the National Humanities Center, and Ed Balleisen, vice provost for interdisciplinary studies at Duke. Four graduate students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill joined the cohort.

“Our meetings were highly collaborative, providing ample opportunity to receive insightful feedback from peers and NHC staff—often from the perspective of what works practically in a classroom and what teachers’ needs are,” Tang said. ”We were encouraged to explore and experiment at every step and were given advice on how to conceptualize our plans, not what they should be.

“And I think we felt a greater awareness of a Triangle-area graduate student community that may individually work on different time periods, source materials and methods, but share an interest in bettering classrooms throughout the United States.”

To create their lessons, the students developed a framing question, orientation for teachers, background information for students, interactive exercises and a follow-up assignment. Over four sessions, they received coaching and critiques of their work in progress from their dissertation advisers.

In an evaluation, students reflected on their experiences, which many noted would enhance their career prospects. The National Humanities Center hopes to offer the program again next summer.

“The internship was a great experience,” said Ontiveros. “It had me thinking critically about not only my pedagogy and writing for a non-academic audience, but also about how to ask the really simple questions that cut to the core of a document—an invaluable skill for a historian. It was also inspiring to work with my fellow interns. Each person’s work raised important and very interesting questions.”

Originally published on Duke Today

Photo: Humanities grad students Kelly Tang and Hannah Ontiveros participated in the NHC pilot program.


2016-17 Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS) Research Incubator Awards Announced


Eight interdisciplinary research teams at Duke have been selected to receive the 2016-2017 Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS) Research Incubator Awards (five new awards and three continuation awards).

The DIBS Research Incubator Awards program is designed to encourage innovative approaches to problems of brain function that transcend the boundaries of traditional disciplines. The award provides seed funding for collaborative research projects that will lead to a better understanding of brain function and translate into innovative solutions for health and society.

2016-2017 New Awards

Repeated Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) modulation of insula-based functional connectivity

  • Investigators: Merideth Addicott (Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences), Greg Appelbaum (Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences), Timothy Strauman (Psychology & Neuroscience), Bruce Luber (Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences)

Bioelectronic Medicine and Cholinergic Regulation of Postoperative Cognitive Dysfunction

  • Investigators: Niccolò Terrando (Anesthesiology), Warren Grill (Biomedical Engineering), Christina Williams (Psychology & Neuroscience), Chay Kuo (Cell Biology), Miles Berger (Anesthesiology)

Neurogenesis and Behavioral Recovery in Animal Models of Huntington’s Disease

  • Investigators: Richard Mooney (Neurobiology), Cagla Eroglu (Cell Biology), Debra Silver (Molecular Genetics & Microbiology)

The nature of disgust: An interdisciplinary inquiry

  • Investigators: Kevin LaBar (Psychology & Neuroscience), Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (Philosophy), Nancy Zucker (Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences)

Building a Fiber-Integrated Microscope System for Two-Color Optogenetic Probing of Ensemble Activity in Freely Behaving Animal

  • Investigators: Yiyang Gong (Biomedical Engineering), Fan Wang (Neurobiology)

2016-2017 Continuation Awards

Optimized Temporal Patterns of Spinal Cord Stimulation to Treat Chronic Pain

  • Investigators: Warren Grill (Biomedical Engineering), Ru-Rong Ji (Anesthesiology), Nandan Lad (Surgery)

The Power of Imagination

  • Investigators: Felipe De Brigard (Philosophy), Kevin LaBar (Psychology & Neuroscience), M. Zachary Rosenthal (Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences)

Pediatric neurotrauma

  • Investigators: Cameron R. ‘Dale’ Bass (Biomedical Engineering), Mohamed Abou-Donia (Pharmacology & Cancer Biology), Carolyn Pizoli (Pediatrics), Carrie Muh (Surgery), Bruce Capehart (Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences), Mustafa Bashir (Radiology)

Originally published on the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences website

Duke Student Synthesizes Music and Machinery

When rising sophomore Jeffrey Wubbenhorst began to restore a decommissioned synthesizer for his independent study, he wasn’t sure what it would lead to. Fast forward a semester, and the Duke student and his refurbished Moog Synthesizer 1c — affectionately nicknamed “Misty” or “Mystery Moog” — have landed at Moogfest 2016: a mecca for engineers, futurists and electronic artists.

I think the synthesizer, as a device, is really perfect for Duke, because Duke is so interdisciplinary… You’ve got psychoacoustics. You can teach physics with this. You can teach calculus, believe it or not. Of course, you have the musical side of it. Engineers love this!

By Jonathan Lee; originally published on DukeToday