Call for Applications: PhD Lab Scholars 2016-17

PhD lab

Deadline: July 15, 2016

The PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge seeks PhD Lab Scholars for 2016-2017. The purpose of the PhD Lab is to foster innovative new digital research and teaching practices in the humanities and social sciences.

In 2016-2017, PhD Lab Scholars will be expected to be enter the program with a digital project at any stage of development, attend semi-monthly luncheon workshops (on Fridays from 12:00 to 1:30 pm) for PhD Lab Scholars and invited faculty to present and get feedback on their work, and engage in a larger campus conversation about the future of digital research at Duke particularly in the humanities. The PhD Lab will also host a number of seminars and workshops on professional development topics: student-centered teaching methods, how and why to build an online professional presence, how to build a professional website, CV workshops, and practice job talks. These are not mandatory, but highly recommended for PhD Lab Scholars to attend. The PhD Lab will strive to connect Scholars to a variety of programs already on the Duke campus and in the Triangle. Special events may be held on other days of the week besides Fridays.

The PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge is part of the Duke Digital Humanities Initiative, and is based in the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute at Smith Warehouse. It partners with many existing programs on campus. Next year, the PhD Lab will be in its fifth year, and will be Co-Directed by Professors Philip Stern, Victoria Szabo and David Bell.

What do PhD Lab Scholars get?

  • $2,000 annual stipend
  • Assigned workspace in the PhD Lab
  • Opportunity to seek feedback on work from invited faculty and other PhD Lab Scholars
  • Access to resources and contacts through the Duke Digital Humanities Initiative and HASTAC

What are PhD Lab Scholars expected to do?

  • Actively work on a digital project and invite feedback and collaboration where useful
  • Attend luncheon workshops (usually two per month), on Fridays from 12:00 to 1:30 pm, where PhD Lab Scholars and invited faculty will present their work and seek critical feedback
  • Engage in a larger campus conversation about the future of digital research at Duke particularly in the humanities.
  • Attend other relevant professional development workshops
  • Blog about or present their work at conferences

Who is eligible to be a PhD Lab Scholar?

To participate as a PhD Lab Scholar, you must:

  • be a doctoral student in a humanities or social science department at Duke University OR in a program with a “digital knowledge” component that will benefit from a humanistic perspective OR be a MFA student in Duke’s Experimental and Documentary Media Arts program.
  • have an interest in enhancing one’s skills, ideas, and research using digital tools and new ideas of online collaboration, community, and networks
  • have a set of skills and interests that can actively contribute to the community of the PhD Lab

If you are interested in applying, please fill out the application. For additional details about the PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge visit or email

Note: Past PhD Lab Scholars, other PhD students at Duke, and PhD students from other universities in the Research Triangle who meet these criteria may be invited to join the PhD Lab community as Affiliates at a later date. Affiliates will be able to attend all of the public workshops and events, but are not eligible for financial support or travel grants.)


Originally published on the PhD Lab at FHI website

A Neuroscience Student Profile

Hometown: Knoxville, Tennessee

Current Research: I’m working in the Perception, Performance, and Physiology Laboratory on a long-term project that collects sensorimotor function data and concussion history from athletes and analyzes that data in conjunction with on-field game statistics. The goal is to find ways in which sensorimotor function, concussion history, and sport performance correlate with one another. We hope to use any relationships we find to develop specific training methods that can improve game performance as well as concussion diagnosis and recovery protocols.

My thoughts on neuroscience education: Studying neuroscience is exciting because it’s helped me understand how people function on the most microscopic and basic level, which can then be applied to so many different fields to predict and explain behaviors in a wide array of contexts. For instance, many of the same neuroscience principles come into play in making risky economic decisions, appreciating music, and training for sports.

What jump-starts my brain: I’m fascinated by sports science, especially the long-term impacts of brain trauma in athletes who sustain concussions throughout their careers. As we learn more about the brain and concussions we can improve concussion diagnosis and treatment protocols, which will hopefully improve the long-term health of athletes.

Kelly Vittetoe is part of Duke’s class of 2017.

Originally posted on the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences website

Sustainable Energy Initiative Finds First Home at Duke University


Two faculty members at Duke University have catalyzed the formation of an international network of researchers studying at the intersection of energy, environment and global economic development, hosting the inaugural workshop of the Sustainable Energy Transitions Initiative (SETI).

The workshop, “Sustainable Energy Transitions in Developing and Emerging Economies,” held in late April, attracted more than 40 researchers from across the world, representing two dozen institutions, 20 countries and five continents.

The SETI workshop “is expected to generate knowledge about how access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy impacts economic development, and what society can do to facilitate that transition,” says Subhrendu Pattanayak, a professor in Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

That impact is gaining increased global attention, as reflected in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in September 2015. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 sets targets for the U.N.’s Sustainable Energy for All program, which aims to “ensure universal access to modern energy services, improve efficiency and increase use of renewable sources” by the end of the next decade.

Like his co-principal investigator, Marc Jeuland, Pattanayak holds appointments in the Sanford School, the Nicholas School of the Environment and the Duke Global Health Institute. Pattanayak and Jeuland, with grant support from the global Environment for Development Initiative (EfD), established Duke as the initial administrative home for SETI under the auspices of their Household Energy and Health Initiative, an interdisciplinary research group focused on air quality, improved cookstoves and clean fuels. At Duke, the Sanford School, the Energy Initiative, and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions provided additional sponsorship for the workshop.


“Duke is a logical place [for SETI],” says Jeuland, “because we have a critical mass of both faculty and students who are interested in energy transitions and energy poverty issues.”

Pattanayak also lists research labs and groups focused on energy and development at the Pratt School of Engineering, the Nicholas School and the Sanford School, and notes the regional presence of the Triangle Research Initiative on Household Energy Transitions. “The Sustainable Energy Transitions Initiative aims to leverage these existing resources to build a global network of interdisciplinary and collaborative research with an emphasis on environmental economics and policy,” he says. watches.

The SETI workshop represented a crucial first step in building that network, assembling social science researchers and practitioners from institutions across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas to share knowledge and coordinate future activities. The workshop focused on several topics related to the global energy transition:

  • Lack of access to electricity and  modern fuels;
  • Drivers of the energy transition in low- and middle-income contexts, including lessons learned from past experiences;
  • Impacts of energy transition on human health, labor, forests, regional air quality, and global climate;
  • Gaps in the relevant research, including the growing importance of renewable energy technologies; and
  • How future research efforts may be coordinated in ways that are policy-relevant.

“The research presented shed light on specific studies, but more importantly on key research gaps,” Pattanayak says. “For instance, while a number of researchers are working on adoption and impacts of clean cooking technologies, our understanding of demand for other, promising energy technologies (such as low-cost solar systems) remains insufficient.” The identification of this and other knowledge gaps will guide the topics for future workshops, including a smaller SETI event to be held in Chile in November 2016.

The gathering also laid groundwork for funding processes and online infrastructure to support international research collaboration, as well as strategies to create visibility for research on energy transitions in the developing world through vehicles such as special-issue proposals to academic journals and joint sessions at conferences.

“Looking ahead,” Jeuland says, “the vision is that SETI is a center without walls, that administrative leadership will rotate, and that activities will occur in diverse settings, much like our other collective research efforts.”

Photo 1: Subhrendu Pattanayak presenting a research proposal on SETI at the Environment for Development Initiative meeting in November 2015.

Photo 2: Marc Jeuland addresses guests at a reception at the SETI workshop at Duke.

Originally published on the Duke University Energy Initiative website

Search Begins for Climate and Energy Program Lead

New NicholasInstitute logo web

Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions has launched a search for their next Climate and Energy Program director.

“We are at an incredibly important point in global climate and energy policy,” said Nicholas Institute Director Profeta. “This opening allows for someone to lead a team that plays a role in critical environmental debates centered around the Clean Power Plan and other environmental regulations, the transition of the future electric grid, and next steps for U.S. climate policy.”

A search committee comprised of Nicholas Institute staff and Duke faculty will lead the expedited search. The chosen candidate will replace Jonas Monast, who has directed the program for more than five years and who previously co-directed the Nicholas Institute’s Climate Change Policy Partnership for more than three years. In July, Monast will join the faculty of the University of North Carolina School of Law where he has also taught as an adjunct professor. There, he will establish the Center for Climate, Energy, Environment and Economics.

“Jonas’s many distinctions as a teacher, scholar, and sought-after advisor to environmental policy makers and stakeholders make him an irresistible recruit for UNC,” Profeta said, noting Monast’s commitment to improving public policy will ensure strong ties to Duke. “It’s collaboration that helps get us closer to a solution and Jonas will continue to team up with our group on work at UNC. Today’s environmental issues are bigger than any one organization.”

While the position will remain open until filled, the committee will begin considering applications July 1. For more information on the position, visit our career page.

Originally published on the Nicholas Institute website
Media contact: Erin McKenzie (erin.mckenzie[at] or (919) 613-3652)

Post-Doc Bonnie Kaiser’s Work Blends Anthropology, Epidemiology and Humanities

Post-doctoral fellow Bonnie Kaiser joined the Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) last August after completing a doctorate in anthropology and a master’s in public health in epidemiology at Emory University. Kaiser conducts global mental health research with a focus on cultural aspects of measurement, communication and intervention design, and it was DGHI’s growing global mental health initiative—along with her long-standing collaboration with DGHI faculty members Brandon Kohrt and Deborah Jenson—that drew her to Duke.

Kaiser’s PhD research, based primarily in Haiti, demonstrates how a nuanced cultural understanding of perceptions and experiences of mental illness can improve clinical communication and intervention design. Her publications have explored culturally-based idioms of distress and mental health communication, development and testing of transcultural measurement tools and treatment decision-making.

In Haiti, Kaiser explained, “people don’t talk about ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety.’ They use terms that actually mean something a little bit different, though there might be some overlap between the terms.” Understanding these differences is important, she says, because research suggests that effective communication in a clinical setting improves patient engagement with interventions, ultimately improving health outcomes. And this nuanced understanding also applies to developing, implementing and evaluating interventions.

Kaiser Looked at Resilience across Factors in Dissertation

Kaiser’s dissertation research in Haiti explored the broader topic of resilience. She conducted epidemiologic surveys to learn about people’s experiences related to mental health and resilience—including the traumatic events they experienced and their daily stressors, as well as their social supports.

From her large sample, she was able to identify two groups of people: those who appeared to have better mental health than predicted given past traumatic experiences, and those who had undergone similar exposures yet experienced mental distress as a result. She conducted follow-up interviews with about thirty participants and spent five months participating in the daily lives of eight of them to learn more about their experiences and their supports. Ultimately, her goal was to determine the factors that might explain the different mental health outcomes.

She’s currently expanding her dissertation into a book that explores the concept of “resilience” and how it can be useful as a research and public health construct to inform intervention development.

Kaiser’s Connection to Duke Goes Back Several Years

Eight years ago, Kohrt and Kaiser overlapped for a year at Emory while he was completing his PhD in anthropology. They continued to collaborate on Kaiser’s projects in Haiti as he stayed at Emory to complete his medical residency. She met Jenson through an opportunity at Duke’s Haiti Lab, which Jenson co-directs, about four years ago.

For the past few years, the three of them, along with Hunter Keys—a PhD in anthropology candidate at the University of Amsterdam—have been writing a book that examines ideas of trauma and mental health interventions in the context of Haiti. The book analyzes the post-earthquake mental health response in Haiti and critically explores assumptions about the universality of trauma experiences, suggesting instead that interventions be sensitive to the ways that individuals and cultural groups may be conceptualizing and experiencing trauma differently.

Kasier Is Helping to Launch New Health Humanities Lab

Currently, Kaiser’s main focus is developing the structure and programming of DGHI’s new Health Humanities Lab in collaboration with Kohrt, Jenson and associate global health professor Kearsley Stewart. Due to launch this fall, the Health Humanities Lab will engage students, faculty and partners in humanities questions in the context of global health through a range of activities, initiatives and resources.

“I’m really interested in how we can provide training opportunities for students to help them learn about and engage with the culture, language and history of their fieldwork sites to complement the methodological skills they’re developing through their courses,” Kaiser said. These opportunities might include web-based resources such as “cultural portfolios” developed by students and faculty members, creative partnerships to provide language instruction, seminars and conferences.

Kaiser is also involved in teaching courses and providing qualitative methods and analysis consulting at DGHI.

DGHI’S Appeal to Kaiser Is Multifaceted

Kaiser was attracted to DGHI because of its focus on global mental health and interdisciplinary research. “The way DGHI facilitates interdisciplinary interaction is so different than what I’ve seen elsewhere,” she said. “It’s so easy to interact with people in different fields here, and bringing multiple perspectives to a project is really exciting to me.” She’s especially looking forward to the interdisciplinary Bass Connections project she’ll be involved in starting this fall to establish a new global mental health integrative training program.

Kaiser also appreciates the fact that a number of DGHI faculty members conduct intervention research, an area of particular interest for her as she plans the next phase of her career. Another draw for her is the opportunity to help DGHI incorporate more qualitative methods and analysis training into the graduate curriculum. “Qualitative methods are becoming a more central part of global health work, so it’s exciting to see that DGHI is working to give students a strong foundation in qualitative research,” she said. “And I’m glad I can be a part of that.”

Originally posted on the Duke Global Health Institute website

Head of DGHI’s Master of Science in Global Health Program Steps Down

On June 30, Christopher Woods will be stepping down as the director of the Duke Global Health Institute’s (DGHI’s) Master of Science in Global Health (MSc-GH) program and the director of graduate studies. Woods, a professor of medicine and global health and chief of the infectious diseases division at the Durham VA Medical Center, has led the program since its inception in 2008.

Melissa Watt, assistant research professor of global health, will become the director of the MSc-GH program and the director of graduate studies. Watt is currently the associate director of the program. She has been a faculty member of DGHI since 2012, and her work focuses on HIV infection, maternal health and mental health.

Nathan Thielman, professor of medicine and global health, will replace Watt as the associate director. Thielman is also director of the Global Health Pathway, which offers extended overseas training opportunities for residents and fellows through the Hubert-Yeargan Center. He has been affiliated with DGHI since its inception, and his research focuses on critical clinical and social issues that affect people living with or at risk for HIV infection.

“We owe much gratitude to Chris for developing and launching our MSc-GH program,” said DGHI director Michael Merson. “Chris’ vision and leadership has been instrumental in DGHI now having one of the leading master’s programs in global health in the country.”

At the recent Master of Science in Global Health commencement ceremony, Merson honored Woods with a framed photo collage that chronicles the history of the program and noted, “Chris’s faculty colleagues have been impressed with how much he cares for students and how he works tirelessly to nurture their personal and professional growth, all while balancing a clinical practice, directing a laboratory and conducting robust research programs in infectious diseases around the world.”

Woods reflected, “It’s been an honor and a true pleasure to work with faculty and staff at DGHI and Duke University to build this program.”

Woods will continue as a faculty member at DGHI.

Originally published on the Duke Global Health Institute website

Duke’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Program Helps Launch Moogfest in Durham


Noted rapper GZA joined Duke Professor Mark Anthony Neal at a panel discussion at Moogfest. Photo by Dominque Benjamin

Duke’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative (I&E) played a prominent role in Durham’s first hosting of Moogfest last weekend.  More than 4,000 artists, entrepreneurs, futurist thinkers, musicians and engineers came to downtown Durham for four days of an eclectic variety of musical acts, panels, workshops and fun activities.

From the Bullpen in downtown Durham, just a block from the heart of the festivities, I&E was host to nine panels and workshops in the David M. Rubenstein Classroom. They ranged from artist talks to hands-on sound and video development workshops. Nearly 300 guests from all over the country and world participated in programming in the Bullpen.

Notable guests to the Duke I&E space included: CEO of the American Association of Independent Music Richard James Burgess, Steven Marks (Chief, Digital Business and General Counsel for the Recording Industry Association of America), Aly Khalifa of SPARKcon, Matthew Ganucheau of the Gray Area Foundation, Jennifer Juniper Stratford of Telefantasy Studios and Undervolt & Co., the global design firm IDEO, and artist Ed Bear. Duke alumnus and I&E coach Jake Stauch, founder and CEO of NEURO+, was a panelist on “Found the Future Of…,” a panel presented by ExitEvent.

Duke University and the Durham community joined together to support the festival’s first year in Durham.  Moogfest, listed as one of the top summer music festivals by Rolling Stone magazine, has previously been held in Asheville and New York City.


Here is a complete list of Moogfest workshops held at the Bullpen:

  • Sound Sculpting in a Website  – Matthew Ganucheau (Gray Area) • Hacking Sound (Systems)
  • Video Synthesis + Collaboration  – Jennifer Juniper Stratford (Undervolt & Co) • Stephi Duckula (Undervolt & Co.)
  • Software as an Extension of the Creative Process –  Andrew Benson  Undervolt & Co.
  • Founding the Future Of… Presented by Exit Event
  • IDEAS to ACTION: Exploring Creative Design Methods with IDEO  – IDEO
  • Build Your Own Optoelectronic Sequencer with littleBits  – Ed Bear • Hacking Sound (Systems)
  • New Terrain: Record Labels and the Evolving Digital Landscape – Richard James Burgess • Steven Marks
  • Sonifying Data  – Jonathan Dinu (Gray Area) • Hacking Sound (Systems)
  • Artist Talk: The Making of ‘Convergence’ – Floating Point Collective

For more information on Moogfest, go to

By Nancy Knowles; originally posted on DukeToday