One crucial dimension of Duke’s interdisciplinary research strategy involves seed grant programs. These early stage investments give faculty and graduate students the chance to explore promising research avenues and assess the potential for more sustained inquiry.
- Through Bass Connections, faculty can receive seed funding to advance their research through year-long project teams and summer projects, such as those in Data+.
- Intellectual Community Planning Grants support groups of faculty to begin or test a new collaboration around a shared interest.
- Duke Support for Interdisciplinary Graduate Networks (D-SIGN) fosters intellectual communities among graduate students from different disciplines.
In addition to these central opportunities, seed grant programs run by the university-wide institutes and initiatives distribute more than $1 million per year to support innovative collaborations among Duke faculty. These include:
- Duke Global Health Institute: Priority Partnership Locations Pilot Research and International Travel Grants
- Energy Initiative Research Seed Fund (in partnership with iiD)
The institutes and initiatives also periodically launch new working groups, such as the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ Rethinking Regulation Graduate Student Working Group.
These seed-funded collaborations frequently lead to significant external grants across the many intellectual domains of the university. For example, Duke’s Humanities Writ Large initiative received a $6 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This emerged from the Franklin Humanities Institute’s seed funding in the form of Humanities Labs, research groups that give undergraduates an opportunity to participate with faculty and graduate students in problem-solving projects and humanities networks. Other examples include a $2 million grant from the Department of Energy for Tuan Vo-Dinh (Pratt School of Engineering), following seed funding from the Energy Initiative, and $1 million from NASA to William Pan (Nicholas School of the Environment) to pursue an early-warning system for malaria, following seed funding from Bass Connections and the Duke Global Health Institute.