Duke Ph.D. Students Receive Grants to Enhance Their Training through Remote Internships

GSTEG grantees.
Top row: Axel Berky, Brianna Elliott, Rachel Coyte, Brooks Frederickson, Jaime Gonzalez; bottom row: Keqi He, Hannah Ontiveros, Julianna Renzi, Dana Wright

Nine Duke University doctoral students have received Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants (GSTEG) for Summer 2020 from the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies.

The goal of this grant competition is to expand the opportunities for graduate students to augment their core research and training by acquiring skills, knowledge, or experiences that are not available at Duke and that will enhance their capacity to carry out original research. In light of constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Summer 2020 request for proposals was revised to focus on doctoral students with only partial or no summer funding; applicants could propose remote internships with a community organization, government agency, NGO, or cultural institution.

Axel Berky, Ph.D. in Environment

Host: Environmental Protection Agency
Faculty Advisor: William Pan

Berky will remotely intern with the EPA’s Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment. In the first of two main projects, he will join a multidisciplinary team that is developing a platform for the public to interact with information related to the risk of wildfires and smoke exposure. This will consist of helping create interactive maps of human health risk from wildfire smoke that can be easily interpreted and updated to reflect real-time monitoring. In the second project, Berky will contribute to a manuscript on the effect of ambient temperature on end-stage chronic kidney disease patients from the U.S. Renal Data System.

Brianna Elliott, Ph.D. in Marine Science and Conservation

Host: U.S. Department of State, Office of Marine Conservation
Faculty Advisor: Andrew Read

Considered the largest global threat to marine mammals, bycatch is the incidental capture of non-target species in fisheries. For the past year, Elliott has been leading an initiative in partnership with the International Whaling Commission to research the policy response of Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) to reduce marine mammal bycatch in their fisheries. After presenting her research to the IWC’s Scientific Committee this month, Elliott will continue developing this research and a report with recommendations to the IWC to work with RFMOs to address marine mammal bycatch, particularly in the Indian Ocean region. Since the U.S. is an IWC member, Elliott will collaborate with the Department of State through a remote internship focused on the bycatch report and other fisheries-focused policy tasks.

Rachel Coyte, Ph.D. in Earth and Ocean Sciences

Host: Earthjustice
Faculty Advisor: Avner Vengosh

Coal combustion residues (CCRs), including fly ash, are some of the largest industrial solid wastes in the United States. Coyte will work to connect the science behind CCR environmental contamination with the impact that such contamination could have on real communities. She will write a report with findings and produce two literature reviews for Earthjustice. The first literature review will look at the chemistry of ash pond pore water; the second will focus on research that works toward answering the question, how long will coal ash continue to leach contaminants into the water?

Brooks Frederickson, Ph.D. in Music Composition

Host: So Percussion
Faculty Advisor: John Supko

The So Percussion Summer Institute (SoSI) is an international gathering of college-aged percussionists and composers. Normally held over two weeks at Princeton University, SoSI exposes young musicians to the thinking and practices of some of the contemporary-classical music scene’s most lauded composers, percussionists, actors, choreographers, and artists. An alumnus of SoSI, Frederickson will develop an online curriculum. He will create materials for synchronous and asynchronous learning that cover a wide variety of topics connected to the creation and performance of new music. He will also create an online environment that encourages collaboration among participating SoSI students.

Jaime Acosta Gonzalez, Ph.D in Literature

Host: nonsite.org
Faculty Advisor: Michael Hardt

nonsite.org is an academic journal that features writing on aesthetics, politics, and art. Contributors often explore such issues as the relationship of the work of art to the spectator, matters of intention and interpretation, and the social ontology of the work of art. Acosta Gonzalez will serve as an editorial assistant during his remote internship. For the book review section, he will identify new and noteworthy books in the fields of art history, philosophy, literary criticism, and critical theory, then assign reviewers and collate the responses into a readable form for a scholarly audience.

Keqi He, Ph.D. in Earth and Ocean Sciences

Host: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Faculty Advisor: Wenhong Li

Wetlands protect our shores, reduce the impact of floods, absorb pollutants, improve water quality, and provide habitat for animals and plants. However, wetlands are threatened by climate change. In order to understand the processes and driving factors of wetland degradation in the southeast United States, He will remotely intern at the Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, part of the Forest Service under the USDA. He will examine locations and time of the degradation at a regional scale, using Forest Inventory and Analysis data, vegetation indices from satellite data, and vegetation characteristics from LiDAR data.

Hannah Ontiveros, Ph.D. in History

Host: CWS Durham
Faculty Advisor: Nancy MacLean

Humanitarian organization Church World Service (CWS) is one of nine refugee resettlement agencies in the United States. The Durham office focuses on supporting immigrant and refugee new arrivals in the Triangle area. As a remote intern, Ontiveros will undertake two interconnected research projects. First, she will compile data on CWS Durham activities, funding streams, and spending, as well as on the state of immigrant and refugee populations in the region. Second, she will carry out qualitative research aimed at aligning CWS Durham’s requests for funds with the desires of individual and institutional donors.

Julianna Renzi, Ph.D. in Marine Science and Conservation

Host: National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
Faculty Advisor: Brian Silliman

To increase understanding of reef ecosystems, the Smithsonian launched the Global ARMS (Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures) program. ARMS are stacks of PVC plates that have been deployed around the world to describe invertebrate diversity. This summer, Renzi will use data from ARMS in Mo’orea to determine the impacts of large-scale coral loss on invertebrate communities in French Polynesia. She will synthesize DNA metabarcoding data (sequences of a small section of organisms’ genomes that is taxonomically distinct), invertebrate survey data, and environmental data that may be influencing invertebrate recruitment.

Dana Wright, Ph.D. in Marine Science and Conservation

Host: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Faculty Advisor: Andrew Read

The eastern population of North Pacific right whale (NPRW) is the most endangered population of large baleen whale. The few remaining whales are thought to feed predominantly on zooplankton on the southeastern Bering Sea (SEBS) shelf. The Bering Arctic Subarctic Integrated Survey (BASIS) contains a rich time-series (1992-2016) of zooplankton and forage fish count data on the Bering shelf during the seasonal period of presumed NPRW foraging. Wright will use the BASIS dataset to investigate which environmental-species interactions (ESI) govern zooplankton community structure on the SEBS shelf, with the ultimate goal to assess whether the ESI conclusions support the current Oscillating Control Hypothesis that describes lower trophic level dynamics in the region.

A Community That Writes Together

Black faculty create an effective structure to boost productivity and support each other’s scholarship

Faculty members writing.
Members of the Writing and ReseArch Productivity (WRAP) Group for Underrepresented Faculty take part in a writing retreat. (From left: Sarah Gaither, Gustavo Silva, Sherilynn Black, Tyson Brown, Robert Turner, Jarvis McInnis, Sally Nuamah, Jean Beaman)

“Write!”

For Sarah Gaither, this command reminds her what she needs to make time to do. As an assistant professor of psychology & neuroscience at Duke, she balances a robust teaching and research load with administrative duties, meetings with collaborators and students, leadership of the Duke Identity & Diversity Lab and more. Advancing her own scholarship can get squeezed to the margins, but she can’t allow that to happen during this critical period in her career.

From manuscripts, grants and book chapters to opinion pieces and responses to editors, junior faculty need to write to build their tenure files and advance in rank.

Protected writing time is key. And for Black scholars like Gaither, a supportive community can be a big help in navigating this stage of faculty life.

Wrtite.
WRAP members create a reminder of their purpose at a weekend retreat.

A Group for Writing, Mentoring and Friendship

Musah.
“I have been sitting on a grant idea for months, and having this structured writing time finally gave me the opportunity to start drafting and editing the proposal.” –Samira Musah, Biomedical Engineering

Gaither joined the Writing and ReseArch Productivity (WRAP) Group for Underrepresented Faculty shortly after coming to Duke. Today she serves as co-leader along with Tyson Brown, associate professor of sociology, who founded the group in 2016.

Smith.
“Attending WRAP improved my writing and productivity. It is a wonderful space where I feel welcomed and validated.” –Martin Smith, Education

WRAP offers weekly writing sessions, weekend writing retreats and other programming. The aim is to build community among Black faculty, increase their publication rates and enhance their sense of inclusion on campus.

“With very few minority faculty in my department, WRAP has been essential in creating a support system for my faculty life transition,” Gaither says, “and the guided writing time has been critical during my first years on the tenure track.”

As universities pursue efforts to improve the racial climate on their campuses, Brown says that “faculty of color often do a disproportionate share of racial equity labor such as serving on diversity committees, helping to navigate racial incidents and recruiting and training students of color. While racial equity labor is essential, it can also be taxing and take away from time for research.”

Seed Funding for Faculty Initiatives 

Duke’s Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement has provided seed funding for WRAP since 2018. Faculty Advancement Seed Grants provide a financial head start for faculty-led initiatives aiming to foster a sense of community, build networks and promote a welcoming and respectful climate for all members of Duke’s academic units.

The seed grants program is part of the office’s multifaceted approach to faculty development and advancement, whose goals are to support hiring and retention, to provide resources and programs to help faculty succeed as scholars and mentors and to foster a welcoming and professional environment.

“When faculty mobilize around campus, that influences the whole ecosystem here,” says Sherilynn Black, associate vice provost for faculty advancement. “Everyone can benefit, including postdocs, students and staff.”

A member of the Duke community for the past two decades, Black earned her Ph.D. in neurobiology, followed by a postdoc position and an appointment as assistant professor of the practice of medical education.

“Being with the group is like exhaling,” says Black, who is an active participant in WRAP herself. “It’s implicitly understood what you’re going through.”
Cary.
“WRAP sessions help to transcend boundaries to create a highly productive workspace that fosters a real sense of community.” –Michael Cary, Nursing
Learn more about the Faculty Advancement Seed Grants Initiative and check out the Faculty Advancement and Success (FAS) Workshop Series, which provides learning opportunities, resources and networking for all faculty at Duke.
Faculty standing outside.
WRAP members build community at the Durham Hotel. (From left: Tyson Brown, Gustavo Silva, Sherilynn Black, Jarvis McInnis, Sarah Gaither, Jean Beaman, Sally Nuamah, Robert Turner, Paul Robbins)

Structured Writing with Accountability

Wilbourn.
“This group reminds me of the importance of writing and connects me to minority faculty for questions about being underrepresented at Duke.” –Makeba Wilbourn, Psychology & Neuroscience

WRAP members participate in a weekly two-hour writing session. “In the first 10 to 15 minutes, we talk about our goals for that session,” Gaither says. “We go around the table and hear from each person. Then we do 90 minutes of writing. We close by taking 15 minutes and asking each person to assess the success of that session” as well as how things are going with research, teaching and life in general.

Harris.
“WRAP has been one of the highlights of my first year at Duke.” –Deonte Harris, International Comparative Studies

If faculty are not on campus, they can join the group virtually.

Each week an average of seven members show up and a total of 22 faculty and postdocs have participated. They represent 14 disciplines and units across campus.

“It’s like a triple accountability system,” Gaither says. “You’ve got the time blocked, and people mark their calendars. And when we’re writing with similar people, we want to see how things are going; if someone doesn’t show, I’ll call them and ask where they were. There’s also a shared Google sheet. Everyone logs the hours and minutes they spend every week on writing.”

In addition to the weekly sessions, two weekend-long writing retreats are offered during the year to increase the group’s writing time. Each person aims to create a publication-ready article by engaging in structured writing sessions.

Bridging Gaps

Silva.
“WRAP is an incredible initiative that allowed me to protect my writing time in a very supportive environment.” –Gustavo Silva, Biology

As the group evolves, Brown and Gaither are adding some new components. They see a need for making connections between faculty ranks and plan to encourage Black associate professors and visiting faculty to join. Senior faculty members and campus leaders will also bridge the gap by serving as guest speakers.

A one-day writing retreat in Durham will supplement the weekend retreats and accommodate faculty for whom overnight travel is a challenge.

WRAP members help each other by reviewing drafts and discussing strategies for navigating job situations. A listserv with 30 members supplements in-person conversations.

Increased Productivity, Confidence and Inclusion

Addo.
“I was warmly welcomed into this community of brilliant scholars that had created a space for research productivity, accountability and fellowship.” – Fenaba Addo, Sanford School of Public Policy

“Co-leading and participating in WRAP programmatic activities has greatly enhanced my productivity, and led to opportunities and connections with faculty in other units across the university,” Brown says. “I’ve found that meeting weekly to write alongside others has been useful for providing accountability and protected time for writing. Participating in the group has also fostered a sense of community and provided opportunities for us to discuss our scholarship, teaching and unique experiences.”

Other members report improved daily writing habits, greater self-confidence both academically and personally, increases in research productivity and enhanced feelings of inclusion and community.

At last count, Brown and Gaither identified a substantial output among members over the past two years: collectively they submitted 28 papers, 17 grant proposals and 14 conference abstracts, and they have two books in preparation.

Perhaps most importantly, they are doing this work together as a community. “The group has been so supportive,” says Gaither. “It has made my Duke experience better!”

Faculty on beach.
WRAP members take a break during a writing retreat at the beach. (From left: Fenaba Addo, Paul Robbins, Samira Musah, Omer Ali, Sherilynn Black, Gustavo Silva, Sarah Gaither)

By Sarah Dwyer; originally posted on Duke Today

Listening for Zora: Merging Sonic Archives with the Digital Humanities

Zora Neale Hurston text and images.
Images from the timeline created by the authors

By Janel Ramkalawan, Ayanna Legros, Chloe McGlynn, and Luoshu Zhang

What happens when a group of students participates in a collective from a range of disciplines? How do a premed student, historian, neuroscience major, and English scholar seek to parse out the life and work of anthropologist, folklorist, and novelist Zora Neale Hurston? How can the digital humanities aid our understanding of sound? How does a team made of half undergraduates and half doctoral students unify to engage in research methods in a humanities seminar?

This fall, Professor Tsitsi Jaji collaborated with the Bass Digital Education Fellowship program and 2019-2020 Fellow Hannah Rogers to incorporate the digital humanities into the classroom. Our collective focused on Zora Neale Hurston’s anthropological work in Florida and the Caribbean (Haiti and Jamaica) with particular attention paid to the text Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica (1938). Most people have heard of Zora Neale Hurston and recognize her for her popular literature. Yet few are aware of the contributions that she made to sound studies and ethnography.

We paused to reflect on the experiences of working across methods, areas of expertise, schedules, and interests.

Chloe McGlynn, Senior, Neuroscience and English

Chloe.Working on a team is easiest when there are clear goals set and it can be difficult when people are coming from different academic backgrounds or people lack experience with digital projects. Further, we all had different schedules and different levels of responsibilities.

So, it became important for us to define our goals, to be clear, communication [had] to be good, and everyone [had] to be equally invested in the project. Sometimes we spent a lot of time catching each other up. People are busy. Also, conflicting visions can be hard on a project. And people work at different speeds.

Ayanna Legros, Ph.D. Student, History

Ayanna.One challenge that our group came across was that we wanted to create a mixtape yet were made aware that rights may be an issue. Do we speak to a lawyer? Do seek out resources at Duke? We referred to Hannah Rogers and requested a handout with clearer guidelines for rights. In my experience, obtaining rights for digital projects is not always standardized so it was a great learning moment to have to pause and request help and support. What came to fruition was an in-depth discussion between the whole team alongside Professor Jaji.

Finally, another thing I learned from this experience is that faculty must request permission to publish from students. This is a great thing to keep in mind as I pursue my teaching career.

Luoshu Zhang, Ph.D. Student, English

Luoshu.For me the most interesting thing about doing this project is that because we had so much time to work on it, and we all come from different academic backgrounds with different insights and approaches, we often had too many ideas, too many things we wanted to cover.

So trying to narrow down the scope of our research was a real challenge. Yet it was always in the process of making choices that we found our most creative ideas.

Janel Ramkalawan, Senior, English and Premed

Janel.The preliminary planning stages of the project (selecting our topic, scope, content, and creative angle) were, in my opinion, the most challenging aspects of our process. Flexible project requirements, a wealth of possible directions, and our lack of exposure to the broader digital humanities landscape made it challenging to decide upon and flesh out a targeted approach. We wondered how about legality of digitizing archival materials and the originality of creating digital historical maps.

I think during this phase, it would have been beneficial for us to have sought out greater librarian/technologist/scholar support as the realm of digital humanities is new to us, and evidently necessitates sustained and collaborative engagement. I think our team did a great job of working together in a nonhierarchical and communicative way.

Creativity and flexibility were key to making this project a success! For more information about collaborative projects in the humanities at Duke University, check out the Bass Connections program, Humanities Unbounded Labs, Humanities Labs in the Franklin Humanities Institute, and the Story+ summer program, to name just a few.

Ten Groups of Faculty Receive Intellectual Community Planning Grants for 2020

Campus in winter.

The Provost’s Office has awarded Intellectual Community Planning Grants to ten groups for the 2020 calendar year.

A key goal of Together Duke is to invest in faculty as scholars and leaders of the university’s intellectual communities. To foster collaboration around new and emerging areas of interest, Intellectual Community Planning Grants (ICPG) ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 are available to groups of faculty. Recipients can use the funds to support the exploration of new collaborations, covering the cost of meeting venues, food, external speakers or other meeting costs, and research to identify potential collaborators at Duke and elsewhere.

The 2020 grants include faculty from all of Duke’s schools as well as the University of North Carolina, NC State University, and NC Central University.

Bridging Social Determinants of Health with Clinical Extensions of Care for Vulnerable Populations

Bridging team members.

This group will establish a partnership between Duke’s Clinical Translational Science Institute and the Social Science Research Institute in order to develop a portfolio of scholarly activity that tackles the interplay of social determinants of health, clinical health outcomes, and the advancement of health equity. Members will develop a compilation of resources to facilitate interdisciplinary and collaborative research and take advantage of short-term synergies that allow for additional coauthored publications. They will also develop research proposals to design and test one or more interventions.

Developing a Neuroethics and Theological Studies Network

Developing Neuroethics team members.

What can theological studies contribute to neuroethics, and vice versa? How can the engagement of theological studies with neuroethics best be facilitated? How can further interdisciplinary collaboration at Duke shape such dialogue? This group seeks to foster and expand the work of an emerging international cohort of scholars working at the intersection of theological studies and neuroethics.

Duke SciReg Center: Science in Regulation, Law, and Public Policy

Duke SciReg ICPG members.

Bringing together Duke faculty and students from STEM disciplines, law, and policy, this group will seek to facilitate the provision of timely comments from Duke experts to state and federal agencies on pending regulations that implicate scientific and technical issues. Following a series of conversations and planning events, members hope to establish a center at Duke that would create a unique model for interdisciplinary education in science, law, and policy through actual participation in the regulatory process.

Entity Resolution with Applications to Public Policy and Business

Entity Resolutions ICPG members.

This collaboration will enable the formation of a multidisciplinary lab of social scientists, public policy analysts, business scholars, mathematicians and statisticians who seek to understand the practical issues related to entity resolution (ER)—the processes of removing duplicates from large databases and engaging in accurate record linkage across databases. There will be regular meetings of the member research groups to explore applications of ER tasks in public policy and business; one Ph.D. student will work on a project to implement members’ developed tools into software for public distribution and a working paper.

Housing and Health: A Multisector Community-driven Approach to Achieving Health Equity

Housing ICPG members.

Combining a community engagement process with interdisciplinary expertise, these faculty hope to address social, economic, and environmental influencers of health, with the eventual goal of transforming Durham into a healthier place for its most vulnerable residents. Members will participate in an interactive, facilitated pre-planning meeting and four design-thinking workshops with community partners, followed by a post-workshop debrief and a meeting to determine next steps and future directions.

Human Rights Futures

Human Rights ICPG members.

This community of human rights scholars plans will discuss a new temporal framing for human rights: one that remains aware of past grievances and the need for reparations, but that places such awareness in the service of a sustainable and desirable future. Involving graduate and undergraduate students, the group will explore a number of ideas for how this multiyear project might come to life. Following several working lunches, the group plans to launch a “speculative fiction book club,” host a guest speaker, and convene a day-long workshop.

  • Lead: James Chappel, History, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Kathi Weeks, Gender, Sexuality, & Feminist Studies, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Robin Kirk, Cultural Anthropology, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Adam Rosenblatt, International Comparative Studies, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Liliana Paredes, Romance Studies, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Marion Quirici, Thompson Writing Program, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Jen Ansley, Thompson Writing Program, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Emily Stewart, Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute

Light-based Methods in Neuroscience and Biology

Light-based ICPG members.

This group aims to cross-pollinate ideas among neuroscientists, engineers, and data scientists. Each meeting focus on related questions requiring interdisciplinary engagement (e.g., How can we use light-based methods, such as scanless holography, adaptive optics, computational optics approaches, and genetically encoded activity sensors and actuators such as bacterial opsins, to investigate neural function?) Members will share information about resources for addressing these questions and communicate across Duke to strengthen imaging infrastructure.

North Carolina Saltwater Intrusion and Sea Level Rise

NC Saltwater ICPG members.

Predicting the impacts of sea level rise and the accompanying saltwater intrusion on freshwater coastal wetlands is a complex challenge. While the formation of “ghost forests”—the rapid death of trees due to salt stress—is gaining attention, our understanding remains fragmented. This group will convene a one-day workshop to develop an overarching research framework, with the goals of then pooling resources, sharing data, and submitting joint grant proposals.

Opioid Detection Technologies and Their Application to Addressing Various Aspects of the Opioid Crisis

Opioid ICPG members.

How can novel detection technologies be brought to bear on the opioid crisis? Members of this group will explore that question by undertaking two parallel activity streams: monthly collaboration meetings to share information; and acquisition of initial compound signatures on two fundamental detection technologies (X-ray diffraction and mass spectrometry). These faculty will pursue increased cross-disciplinary understanding of the opioid crisis and its detection needs; a baseline signature library of relevant compounds to support future analysis and design; and one or more joint proposals on topics related to detection and the opioid crisis.

Transformative Learning: A Shared Intellectual Interest across the University

Transformative Learning ICPG members.

This group’s primary goal is to identify transformative learning moments among Duke students. Members will meet monthly to develop a shared knowledge of transformative learning practices and assessment. They will host a dinner with Dr. Stacey Johnson of Vanderbilt University, a renowned expert in transformative learning in language education, convene two campus-wide discussions, and invite a nationally recognized speaker to give a public talk. The group will create a shared toolkit of assessment tools for transformative learning and develop conference proposals and a publication to showcase this work.

  • Co-lead: Cori Crane, Germanic Studies, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Co-lead: Deb Reisinger, Romance Studies, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Co-lead: Joan Clifford, Romance Studies, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Jennifer Ahern-Dodson, Thompson Writing Program, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Alessandra Dinin, Office of Assessment, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Jennifer Hill, Office of Assessment, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • David Malone, Program in Education, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Liliana Paredes, Romance Studies, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Melissa Simmermeyer, Romance Studies, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Read about the 2019 recipients of Intellectual Community Planning Grants and view the 2018 summary report.

See all initiatives in the Together Duke academic strategic plan, including the current RFP for Collaboratories for Research on Immigration or on Science, Technology & Ethics (deadline: January 24, 2020; to learn more, attend an information session on Thursday, January 9, from 3:00 to 4:00 in the Karl E. Zener Auditorium, 130 Sociology-Psychology).

Thirteen Faculty Seek Out New Skills and Experiences to Enhance Teaching and Research

FTREG grantees.
Top row: Angrist, Bennett, Furtado, Guevara, Hartemink; middle: Maren, Mestyan, Miles, Shapiro-Garza, Starn; bottom: Stein, Weinthal, Vadde

Thirteen Duke University faculty members have been awarded Faculty Teaching/Research Enhancement Grants (FTREG) to acquire skills, knowledge, or experiences outside or beyond their main disciplines in 2020-2021.

A key goal of Together Duke is to invest in faculty as scholars and leaders of the university’s intellectual communities. Now in its second year, FTREG is intended to enhance faculty members’ capacity to carry out original research and provide transformative learning experiences for students.

Plain People, Modern Medicine: Gene Therapy Trials in Amish and Mennonite Patients in Lancaster, PA

Misha Angrist, Social Science Research Institute; Initiative for Science & Society

Angrist will spend time in Lancaster observing and chronicling the experiences of Anabaptist patients participating in gene therapy trials to treat their rare genetic diseases. Building on previous trips to Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, this experience will inform a proposal for a book that will shed light on a new biomedical, social, and cultural phenomenon and prompt caregivers, researchers, policymakers, and patients to think about healthcare in new ways. This research will also enhance Angrist’s Focus course (Patient Activism and Advocacy) as well as his science writing course (Science and the Media) and the course he coteaches for NIH-funded trainees (Responsible Conduct of Research).

Distributed Computational Techniques for Machine Learning

Victor Bennett, Fuqua School of Business

Bennett will pursue a two-course sequence on tools—Scala and Spark—related to machine learning in distributed computing environments offered by Databricks in McLean, VA. His current project about the future of work requires matching three million establishments to 22 million shipments of automation technology, which would take years of computing on the Fuqua server. Knowledge of parallelization techniques will allow him to make use of code that would get the match down to within a day, and will enhance his ability to serve as a resource for doctoral students and faculty at Fuqua and across the university.

Mapping the Amazonian Moving Image: Territoriality, Media, and the Senses

Gustavo Furtado, Romance Studies, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Furtado’s research project explores the ways in which visual and audiovisual media participate in efforts by competing sociocultural groups to appropriate the Amazon region symbolically and materially. In order to finish gathering materials, he will visit museums, cultural institutions, and film collections in three Amazonian cities: Iquitos, Belém, and Manaus. This research will contribute to a book-length monograph and enhance his undergraduate course, “Perspectives on the Amazon.”

Training in Biomarker Analysis to Enhance Integrative Research on Evolution of Aging

Elaine Guevara, Evolutionary Anthropology, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Under the expert guidance of Virginia Kraus and Janet Huebner, Guevara plans to train in biomarker analysis at the Biomarkers Shared Resource Core in the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute. This training will assist her in developing a more integrative research program with methodological, analytical, and theoretical approaches drawn from evolutionary biology and basic aging research. Mastering new methods will help her train students in this area and foster interdisciplinary interactions among the Duke Lemur Center, Arts & Sciences, and the Molecular Physiology Institute.

Visiting Rhodes House to Learn About Character, Service, and Leadership Program

Alexander Hartemink, Computer Science and Biology, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Hartemink will undertake a trip to Rhodes House at Oxford University in order to learn more about its Character, Service, and Leadership Program. He intends to visit during a three-day retreat for scholars-in-residence, and engage in conversations with program staff the following day. This experience will strengthen his first-year seminar, “The Examined Life,” by providing new and/or better methods for allowing students to reflect on their values, build a meaningful life, and be prepared to lead in the world. It will also enhance his contribution to the Office of University Scholars and Fellows, where he serves as faculty director, as well as his capacity to mentor and advise all his students.

A Cultural, Social, and Political History of Barbed Wire

Mesha Maren, English, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Maren will undertake fieldwork to scope out a new direction that will take her research, writing, and teaching deeper into the field of creative nonfiction writing. To inform a monograph that is part personal essay and part cultural, social, and political history, she will travel to several World War I battlefields where barbed wire first played a significant role. Maren will conduct research in the museums, memorials, archives, and guided tours at battlefields in Italy and France as well as museums in Rome, Florence, and Paris.

The Power of Land Survey: A History of British Surveying in Occupied Egypt, 1890s-1950s

Adam Mestyan, History, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

During a trip to London, Mestyan will conduct preliminary research for a book on the history of land survey in the early 20th-century British Empire. Marking a new research direction, this project will help him understand the British use of land survey, the mechanisms of metropolitan and imperial land survey, and the history of imperial British surveyors in occupied Egypt. This research will also enhance his course, “Engineering the Global Middle East,” and contribute to the development of a new course on land and law in modern Islam.

On Guard for Peace and Socialism: The Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991

Simon Miles, Sanford School of Public Policy

To jump-start the archival research process for a book, Miles will travel to Kyiv to consult the KGB’s in-house journal containing articles by intelligence community leaders and analyses of major issues, and to Prague to work in four key repositories. His grant will also support initial archival research carried out by a research assistant in Moscow. A broader archival scope is likely to amplify the book’s impact on the field, burnishing Duke’s standing as a top destination to study these questions. It will also inform his teaching of courses such as “American Grand Strategy” and “The Global Cold War.”

Global Environmental Justice: Scholarship, Teaching, and Practice

Elizabeth Shapiro-Garza, Nicholas School of the Environment

To support the incorporation of environmental justice concepts and case studies into her teaching and enhance her scholarship on how these issues are impacting communities in North Carolina, Shapiro-Garza will participate in a workshop, “Bridging Research, Policy and Activism for Environmental Justice in Times of Crises,” at the University of Freiburg. She will also serve as a scholar-in-residence at the University of Barcelona’s Institut de Ciéncia i Tecnologia Ambientals, a center for research on global environmental justice issues and the social movements addressing them. These experiences will deepen her understanding of global environmental justice issues, strategies to address them, and the methods to analyze their dynamics and outcomes.

Understanding Peru’s Moche Civilization

Orin Starn, Cultural Anthropology and History, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

At its height around 700 A.D., the Moche’s achievements included adobe pyramids as large as those in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings and highly advanced irrigation systems to water their desert lands. During a trip to Peru, Starn will join local excavation teams at new sites in the Chiclayo and Trujillo areas. Learning more about the process of archaeological research and deepening his knowledge of Moche culture will enhance his teaching by incorporating more material on indigenous civilizations. It will also serve as the basis for a book about the quest to understand the Moche.

Jerusalem: Human Rights in a Contested City

Rebecca Stein, Cultural Anthropology, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences; Erika Weinthal, Nicholas School of the Environment

Stein and Weinthal will take a joint trip to Jerusalem establish partnerships with Israeli nongovernmental organizations and human rights groups that will benefit future teaching on the Israel/Palestine conflict. The Shufat refugee camp will provide the basis for on-site learning modules in the course, which will include an examination of the ways that Palestinian refugees residing in the camp navigate access to services. This experience will also benefit the professors’ scholarship by providing an opportunity to consider refugee issues within the broader context of environmental issues, rights, and mobility.

We the Platform: Contemporary Literature in the Sharing Economy

Aarthi Vadde, English, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

To enhance her research and writing on the ways in which social media platforms configure contemporary literary and popular culture, Vadde plans to gain knowledge of how programmers and artists think about data, network architecture, and human-computer interaction. Pursuing training in information science and media archaeology, she will incorporate new knowledge and tools into a research program that links the history and future of the web to the sociology of literature. Increased computational literacy will strengthen her sociotechnical approach to analyzing literary works and readerships and inform a new course that connects humanistic criticism with responsible computing.


See all initiatives in the Together Duke academic strategic plan, including the current RFP for Collaboratories for Research on Immigration or on Science, Technology & Ethics (deadline: January 24, 2020).

Start or Advance an Innovative Project through the Energy Research Seed Fund

Energy Research Seed Fund.

Deadline: February 14, 2020

Since 2014, the Duke University Energy Initiative’s Energy Research Seed Fund has kickstarted new interdisciplinary research teams to launch innovative projects—sparking collaboration among scholars from the basic sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and other disciplines. The fund helps Duke researchers obtain important preliminary results they can use to secure external funding or otherwise expand future scholarly collaboration.

Thanks to generous support from the Office of the Provost, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, and the Pratt School of Engineering, we are pleased to invite proposals from Duke faculty to any of the following grant categories:

  • Stage-One Grants will provide up to $45,000 for Duke faculty embarking on new interdisciplinary projects. At least two members of the proposed research team must represent different disciplines, schools, or departments. The performance period for Stage-One Grants is 12 months.
  • Stage-Two Grants will provide up to $35,000 to carry projects currently supported by the Energy Research Seed Fund into their next research phase. Applications for Stage- Two grants should indicate successful completion of work conducted under the current grant and outline how additional funding will help make the team’s research more compelling to external funders.
  • Proposal Development Grants will provide up to $25,000 for past Energy Research Seed Fund grantees to develop proposals for external funding. Applicants for these grants should provide a one-page proposal indicating how the funds will be used (acceptable uses include travel to meet with potential sponsors, support for Ph.D. student assistants, etc.), and how those uses will improve the likelihood of external funding.

Proposals are due Friday, February 14, 2020 (see submission details below).

The Seed Fund program is open to proposals on energy-inspired research topics from researchers across a full spectrum of disciplines. This year, we particularly welcome proposals in the following areas:

  • Energy humanities
  • Energy data analytics and big data, especially projects that build on results from previous/existing Data+ teams or that are well-positioned to develop data that can be analyzed in a future Data+ project
  • Energy materials, advanced alternative fuels, and renewables
  • Energy markets, regulatory tools, and standards
  • Grid reliability and resilience
  • Energy access and inequality

Requirements

Eligible Applicants

The Principal Investigator must be a regular-rank faculty member at Duke University, but other investigators on the proposing team can be Duke faculty, staff, or students. Likewise, the proposed team may include external collaborators, but funding may only be used to cover the logistics (travel, etc.) of the collaboration.

Budgets

The budget for an Energy Research Seed Fund research team (or working group) can include supplies, salary support for research assistants, students, and technicians, and other justifiable research expenses. Faculty salary, tuition remission, and indirect costs are not allowable expenses. Travel expenses are allowable only if essential to conducting the proposed research activities and cannot include travel to scientific conferences. All proposal budgets must be submitted using this template provided or they will not be considered.

Application Content (Stage-One Grants and Stage-Two Grants)

Cover Page. Must include the following information:

  • Proposal title
  • Name, title, departmental affiliation, address, e-mail address, and telephone number of all proposed investigators
  • Designation of a Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigators

Abstract (250 words maximum)

Research plan (3 page maximum – single spaced, 12 point font, 1” margins all the way around) Must include the following information:

  • Statement of research objectives and their significance
  • Work already completed related to the proposal, and any relevant preliminary results (Stage-Two Grant proposals should indicate how the project’s second year will build on results of research supported by the prior Stage-One Grant)
  • Description of the research team (working group) and research setting
  • Proposed methods and plans for data analysis
  • Potential for sustained collaboration beyond the project term (Stage-Two Grant proposals should discuss the likelihood of external funding)

Appendix materials (1 page maximum each– single spaced, 12 point font, 1” margins all the way around) Must include the following information:

  • Research schedule and milestones
  • Collaborative nature of the project
  • Relevance to mission of the Duke University Energy Initiative (energy.duke.edu/about)
  • Budget and justification (1 page maximum)
  • Curriculum vitae OR NSF/NIH biosketch including current grant support limited to 4 pages for each investigator
Application Content (Proposal Development Grants)

A one-page proposal describing the project and indicating how the funds will be used to increase the likelihood of external funding.

Submission Format and Deadline

Please combine all required elements into a single PDF document and submit via email—with ERSF Submission in the subject line—by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, February 14, 2019 to: Will Niver, Duke University Energy Initiative via email at will.niver@duke.edu.

Review Criteria and Selection Process

Proposals will be reviewed by an ad hoc review committee consisting of faculty with a broad range of expertise in energy-related fields. The reviewing committee’s goal is to identify the proposals that best meet the objectives of the Energy Initiative’s Energy Research Seed Fund: interdisciplinary collaborative research projects that will address crucial questions related to energy. The review process will consider: (1) the significance and potential impact of the research program; (2) the degree of innovation; (3) the scope of the interdisciplinary collaboration and relevance for the goals of the proposed research; (4) feasibility of the research project: (5) likelihood of development into a sustained collaboration; and (6) (for Stage-Two and Proposal Development Grants) likelihood of obtaining external funding. Final selections will be made by the Energy Initiative Director in consultation with the faculty review committee and other stakeholders, with the goal of applying the fund (approximately $200,000 for this round of awards) toward a diverse group of projects with a strong likelihood of success.

Awards will be announced in April 2020.

Reporting Requirements

Recipients will be expected to report on the project’s status and any related outputs (journal articles, conference presentations, external grants, etc.) at the end of the performance period.

Inquiries

Please direct questions to Will Niver, Research Analyst, Duke University Energy Initiative via email at will.niver@duke.edu.

See further information: energy.duke.edu/research/resources/seed-fund

Duke Incubation Fund Awards Support Seven Promising Innovations

Congratulations to the 2019-20 Duke Incubation Fund Awardees.

The winners of the Fall 2019 Duke Incubation Fund awards have been announced, representing promising innovation happening across the University. Seven projects will receive funds totaling $129,000.

The Incubation Fund, run by Duke’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative (I&E), supports early-stage ideas from Duke’s innovation ecosystem with the potential to go to market. Whereas many resources exist at Duke to support research and commercialization, the Incubation Fund is among the only opportunities for innovations still in the ideation stage. The Fund is made possible by a gift from I&E advisory board member Jeffrey Citron and his wife, Suzanne.

One goal of the Fund is to foster innovation in all corners of Duke. While previous awards have supported faculty, staff, and students representing schools and departments ranging from the Nicholas School, to the School of Nursing, all the way to the Dance Program, this year’s awardees represent the Department of Pathology, the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, the Department of Radiology, the Department of Chemistry, and the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Incubation Fund Awardees for 2019-2020

Soman Abraham | Pathology Faculty

Mast cells are responsible for a wide range of inflammatory disorders, from mild skin rash to life-threatening anaphylactic shock. This team is exploring a novel mast cell inhibitor molecule to treat non-clonal mast cell activation syndrome (nc-MCAS), for which there are currently no FDA-approved treatments. In addition to potentially preventing nc-MCAS-related anaphylaxis and symptoms, this molecule could lead to the development of therapeutics to treat other mast cell-mediated diseases.

Mattia Bonsignori | Duke Human Vaccine Institute Faculty

Using an antibody type from a Zika-infected pregnant woman who bore a healthy infant—an antibody type that doesn’t cross the placenta or cross-react with the Dengue virus like other antibodies capable of neutralizing the Zika virus—this team seeks to generate critical data needed for preclinical studies that would pave the way for clinical vaccine trials.

Charles Kim | Interventional Radiology Faculty and Division Chief

Ultrasound probes were designed for diagnostic use and are thus limited when it comes to their use in needle guidance; this project seeks to develop a dedicated interventional ultrasound probe that utilizes a novel approach to image acquisition and processing, thereby optimizing needle guidance.

Maciej Mazurowski | Radiology Faculty

Using software based on an algorithm developed and tested by Duke scientists and clinicians, this team will work to create a clinical-use software prototype to evaluate knee radiographs in order to grade the severity of knee osteoarthritis. 

Samira Musah | Biomedical Engineering Faculty

Through the design and engineering of a novel microfluidic device that mimics the tissue structure and filtration system of a human kidney, Fixoria Biomimetics seeks to develop a vascularized 3D in vitro kidney model that can be used to discover novel therapeutics for human kidney disease.

Jesus del Carmen Valdiviezo Mora | Chemistry Graduate Student

Evolutionary Microfluidics looks to use AI algorithms to design, manufacture, and patent microfluidic devices that act as efficient analyzers and microreactors of biological samples, eventually commercializing these devices within the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries to reduce the time needed for research and development.

Zohair Zia | Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Student

Neptune Access makes modifications to an IV port so it can be used to obtain blood samples, reducing the need for numerous blood draws through repeated venipuncture, especially for those patients who may require multiple attempts for each successful blood sample.

Tapping into Resources and Guidance

Many of these projects have already benefited from the support of innovation- and entrepreneurship-related resources across Duke. Zohair Zia’s work on an adapted IV port won the Duke Institute for Health Innovation’s annual Innovation Jam supporting pragmatic health innovations with the potential for immediate application or possible commercialization. Soman Abraham’s new venture focused on mast cell inhibitor therapy is receiving coaching and business strategy support from a mentor-in-residence and an MBA student through the New Ventures Program run by the Office of Licensing & Ventures.

These resources, as well as the early-stage support provided by the Incubation Fund, can prove decisive in whether progress continues on a project. Charles Kim, who received an award for an interventional ultrasound probe, said, “This will provide funding for the materials and expertise needed for the crucial step of formal prototype development, without which further progress would not be possible.”

Tracking Success

Now that the Fund, which was established in 2017, is entering its fourth funding cycle, “We’re starting to be able to track the success of previous awardees, which is exciting,” says Dr. Sharlini Sankaran, Director of Translational Programs at Duke I&E.

Duke spin-out inSomaBio has gone on to receive funding from the Duke Angel Network, whereas others are in various stages of obtaining follow-on funding from investor groups or local and federal entrepreneurial funding programs.

Michael Kliën, an Associate Professor of the Practice of Dance, received an Incubation Fund award last year for his work on the Hydrean, a unique physical meditation device that encourages embodiment and teaches a systematic practice of mindfulness. The Hydrean was featured at this year’s Invented at Duke celebration—and undergraduate students in the I&E Certificate, intrigued by Kliën’s product, decided to do a business development project for their capstone class focused on getting the Hydrean adopted into mainstream media.

“The Incubation Fund fills a critical funding need for early-stage projects that need a lift to get off the ground, whether that be prototype building, early-stage market research, or obtaining critical equipment and supplies,” said Sankaran. “In keeping with Duke I&E’s mission of being a catalyst and an enabler for innovation at Duke, we’re happy to provide support to these promising projects so they can ultimately benefit society at large.”

Originally posted on the Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship website

Nicholas Institute Welcomes Inaugural Cohort of Duke Environmental Impacts Fellows

Group of fellows.

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions announced the selection of 19 doctoral students from Arts & Sciences, Nicholas School of the Environment, Pratt School of Engineering, and Sanford School of Public Policy as the inaugural Duke Environmental Impacts Fellows. These students have diverse backgrounds and come from a wide range of doctoral programs, but they share a common passion for protecting, managing and improving our environment.

The Duke Environmental Impacts Fellow Program (EIF) is a new, professional development opportunity for Duke Ph.D. students keen on making a high impact in their careers. This pilot program aims to fill a gap in traditional Ph.D. training by providing an opportunity for students to consider the full variety of potential career paths they might follow, including nonacademic or nontraditional academic positions. The program offers trainings focused on leadership, teaching, communication, and engagement to enhance students’ critical thinking and leadership skills. At the completion of the program, participants will have a broadened view of their career options, and be prepared to be thought-leaders inside and outside the academy.

The program has been funded by and developed in cooperation with faculty from Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, Sanford School of Public Policy, Pratt School of Engineering, Divinity School, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, and Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. The Office of the Provost contributed funding.

2020 Fellows

Hussain Alshammasi, Nicholas School of the Environment

Axel Berky, Nicholas School of the Environment

Alice Carter, University Program in Ecology

Travis Dauwalter, Public Policy & Economics

Kimberley Drouin, Earth & Ocean Sciences

Jacqueline Gerson, University Program in Ecology

Kathleen Horvath, Electrical Engineering

Brandon Hunter, Civil & Environmental Engineering

Faye Koenigsmark, Environmental Engineering

Anna Lewis, Civil & Environmental Engineering

Reshma Nargund, Nicholas School of the Environment

Anna Nordseth, University Program in Ecology

Ekta Patel, Environmental Policy

Erika Smull, Nicholas School of the Environment

Margaret Swift, Nicholas School of the Environment

Emily Ury, University Program in Ecology

Michael Valerino, Environmental Engineering

Paige Varner, Civil & Environmental Engineering

Dana Wright, Marine Science & Conservation