Wetlands play an important role in keeping water clean, absorbing pollutants, and reducing floods. Keqi He, a Ph.D. student in Earth and Ocean Sciences, set out to learn what factors are contributing to their degradation in the southeast United States.
As a remote intern for the Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, part of the USDA Forest Service, He studied remote sensing data on North Carolina’s Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.
Under the guidance of Ge Sun and Steve McNulty at USDA and my advisor Wenhong Li at Duke, I analyzed the Landsat NDVI data during the period of January 1995 to December 2014. I identified the locations and times of the wetland degradation over the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina.
To further validate my findings, I requested the Forest Inventory and Analysis spatial data, [which is] “ground truth” data only available at the USFS in summer. My research further investigated possible causes of the wetland degradation.
We found that most wetland degradation occurred along the coastline around 2015-2016, and saltwater intrusion likely plays an important role in the wetland degradation that happened in the Alligator River.
Currently, I am working on summarizing all the results we got and writing a paper for publication, which will hopefully be able to provide useful information for climate mitigation research on wetlands over the Southeast US, a key goal of the USFS.
Besides the research guidance from Drs. Sun and McNulty, I also got the chance to attend seminars held by USFS and virtually meet with brilliant scientists in a similar field. This not only broadened my horizons, it enabled me to interact with people and no longer feel lonely and bored when I spent the whole day at home alone.
Overall, this grant greatly expands my research abilities on processing satellite data and facilitated my dissertation work. It served as an invaluable experience in my graduate study and research career.
Remember the pre-pandemic days when travel was possible? As he pursued dissertation research for a Ph.D. in Civil & Environmental Engineering, Clay Sanders went to Paris last year to study a new method of solving “topology optimization” problems in structural designs.
Working with the POEMS (Wave Propagation Mathematical Analysis, and Simulation) team at ENSTA Paris Tech, Sanders researched design optimizations that would determine the best structural design option prior to construction.
This opportunity provided Sanders with a significant component of his dissertation work and allowed him to explore other interests in art, architecture, and structural design. He was among 11 Duke students who received 2019-2020 Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants (GSTEG) from the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies. His faculty mentor was Wilkins Aquino.
A summary of his GSTEG experience is excerpted below.
I utilized my GSTEG for a research trip in June 2019 to ENSTA Paris Tech to investigate a new computational optimization technique to design structures. I worked with Professor Marc Bonnet, a researcher at ENSTA-Paris Tech, a small engineering university in Palaiseau, France, outside Paris. Professor Bonnet is a leader of the POEMS research group, which specializes in numerical methods to simulate wave propagation and solve physics-based optimization problems.
Topology optimizationdescribes a class of structural design problems that seek to determine the optimal shape or form a structure so that they exhibit superior performance with respect to a performance metric. A common example would seek the optimal shape of a bridge, under a maximum weight constraint, to have maximum stiffness.
Our new approach, known as the “adaptive eigenspace basis method”, borrowed from computational techniques used to solve medium imaging problems for ultrasound or geological imaging applications. We showed that our new method could equivalently represent designs usually parameterized by thousands or millions of design variables with only a few dozen variables, enabling significant computational efficiency improvements.
Following the GSTEG trip, we refined the method and recently submitted a manuscript on the work to the International Journal of Numerical Methods in Engineering.
Beyond the research work conducted, I was able to explore Paris’s sites, and tastes, throughout my trip. ENSTA-Paris was only a short train ride outside of Paris, so I was able travel into the city each evening to explore the city. Other highlights of my trip included viewing Monet’s Water Lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie, roaming the sculpture gardens at the Musée Rodin, sketching in the Luxembourg Palace gardens, visits to the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre, and stops in as many Parisian pâtisseries as I could find.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
IMPORTANT UPDATE 4/16/20: In compliance with the Duke COVID-19 response regarding travel and other restrictions, we are reopening the Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grant (GSTEG) application process with a revised RFP. The new deadline is May 1, 2020, at 5:00 p.m.
Deadline: May 1, 2020
The goal of this grant competition is to expand the opportunities for graduate students to augment their core research and training by acquiring additional skills, knowledge, or experiences that are not available at Duke and that will enhance their capacity to carry out original research. We believe such experiences will lead to better preparation/training, whether for academic positions or other career trajectories. In light of constraints imposed by the global COVID-19 pandemic, for Summer 2020, we will only be able to consider proposals from doctoral students without any or with only partial summer funding for remote internships with a community organization, government agency, NGO, or cultural institution, related to the student’s area of study.
In this revised RFP, we continue to have a preference for applications that demonstrate how the activities associated with the proposed research experience aligns with their fields of study and research interests; but in light of the circumstances associated with the pandemic, this criteria will have less importance in our evaluations this year.
Grant funds may not be used for travel, nor for internships by masters or professional students.
Virtual/remote summer internships will typically involve three months of engagement, unless students already have partial funding, in which case they should propose internships of shorter duration that close any funding gap.
International students who reside in North Carolina or an approved US jurisdiction detailed below and who wish to apply for a summer internship should consult as soon as possible with Duke Visa Services for assistance with filing applications for Optional Practice Training and any other visa-related requirements.
Recipients of GSTEG funding for a summer internship cannot receive other Duke Summer funding, unless the combined funding does not exceed our baseline for three months ($2650 / month plus fringe and required summer fee).
Internship hosts must either be based in North Carolina or one of the other US jurisdictions available for Duke employment — the District of Columbia, California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
All current doctoral students who do not have full summer funding may propose internships.
All internships must be performed virtually/remotely outside of Duke (i.e., may not involve research, training, or other engagement with a Duke unit).
Doctoral students with partial funding may apply for shorter term internships sufficient to provide full summer funding.
Doctoral student applicants must be resident this summer in North Carolina, the District of Columbia, or one of nine other states available for Duke employment: California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
Previous GSTEG awardees may not apply.
Selection Criteria and Review Process
Proposals should specify the type of internship being sought, describe the nature of activities, and explain how the experience will contribute to the student’s intellectual trajectory and impact their dissertation research or capstone project. Successful past applications have made a compelling case for how the proposed experience would amplify the student’s intellectual agenda beyond the standard offerings within their program and opportunities otherwise available at Duke. The review process of submitted proposals will be overseen by the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies and the Executive Vice Provost.
Scope and Duration
The proposed internship experience may last for up to three months in the summer and awardees will receive a standard per-month stipend, capped at $2650 per month.
The Provost’s Office uses Formstack to submit applications. You will be asked to provide the following information:
An updated CV (maximum two pages)
A brief narrative (maximum three pages) that articulates the proposed activities, how the experience will contribute to amplifying research training, and how it fits with overall academic, research, and professional plans, and that also explains why the internship lends itself to a remote/virtual arrangement
A letter from the prospective host that offers details about the anticipated project or projects, identifies the person within the organization to whom the doctoral student would report, describes the nature of engagement with organizational staff members, and specifies how the organization envisages a remote/virtual work experience
A brief plan (maximum one page) for any complementary training/research activities that a doctoral student will undertake during the course of the engagement with the host (such as other specific research activities or dissertation writing)
A proposed budget (maximum one page) for up to $2,650 per month (including fringe and required summer fees), and timeline for use of the funds
A letter or e-mail of support from your primary faculty advisor, sent separately to Amy Feistel, email@example.com, indicating how the proposed activities will enhance your intellectual trajectory
For international students applying for a summer internship, a description (maximum one page) of how the proposed activities align with visa requirements
A listing of all already awarded summer funding, along with concurrent proposals for summer funding (if applicants receive news about other funding proposals after the submission deadline, they should provide updated information to Amy Feistel, firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Advice for doctoral students who wish to explore an individualized/custom summer internship
A link to further advice from the Duke Career Center about arranging a remote internship
Information about tax implications of internships occurring outside of North Carolina
Information about visa implications of internships undertaken by international doctoral students
Links to information about past GSTEG awardees.
For any questions related to the online application and/or other logistical questions, please contact Amy Feistel, email@example.com. For questions about whether to pursue a GSTEG application, or to talk through specific ideas for a proposal, such as identifying a potential summer internship host and developing a proposed plan of summer internship activities, the following individuals can provide guidance:
Melissa Bostrom, Assistant Dean, Graduate Student Professional Development, Duke Graduate School, firstname.lastname@example.org (any discipline, PhD and research master’s students)
Heather Nickel, Senior Career Specialist, Office of Biomedical Graduate Education, email@example.com (biomedical sciences)
Maria Wisdom, Director of Graduate Student Advising and Engagement for the Humanities, firstname.lastname@example.org (humanities and interpretive social sciences)
What are the key elements of a strong GSTEG application?
The key is to articulate how the proposed experience will enhance your training in a substantial way and that the timing makes sense in light of where you are in your program.
Who is available to discuss whether a GSTEG proposal makes sense for me this year, given the range of options for seeking summer funding?
As with so many questions that confront graduate students, it’s a good idea to get input from multiple sources, though the mentors and sounding boards that make sense for individuals will vary. Your professors, your program’s DGS, key staff members with expertise about professional development, and peers can all be helpful; and of course you will need to discuss any proposal with your faculty advisor, since she/he will need to write a letter of endorsement on your behalf.
I’m a master’s student and would like to apply for a grant to fund a research internship.
We’re sorry – grants to support internships are only available for doctoral students.
I’m a doctoral student who is intrigued by the possibility of developing a proposal for a summer internship, but don’t have a good sense of how to get started. Who might be able to help me think about possible internships linked to my course of study and research interests, and guide me in reaching out to potential hosts and conceptualizing a proposal?
Several doctoral students around Duke have had internships. The GSTEG resource page includes links to reflections from these students, as well as some more general tips. In addition, there are several individuals who can help you think through this process, including:
Melissa Bostrom, Assistant Dean, Graduate Student Professional Development, Duke Graduate School, email@example.com (PhD and research master’s students in any area of knowledge)
Rachel Coleman, Associate Director, Duke Career Center, firstname.lastname@example.org (all areas of knowledge)
Heather Nickel, Senior Career Specialist, Office of Biomedical Graduate Education, email@example.com (biomedical sciences)
Maria Wisdom, Director of Graduate Student Advising and Engagement for the Humanities, firstname.lastname@example.org (humanities and interpretive social sciences)
I’ve heard that there are now some pre-configured internship opportunities with organizations that have previously partnered with Duke. Where can I find out about those opportunities?
We will soon be posting a set of summer RAships and pre-configured internships, mostly with units around Duke, but also with some external organizations. That webpage will provide details about application processes. These opportunities do not fall under GSTEG, and will have a different application mechanism.
How long should internships be?
The appropriate amount of time for an internship can vary, depending on the nature of the research project(s) that you would be undertaking with your host organization and constraints related to your course of study and obligations within your program. We are willing to consider proposals for shorter-term internships of only one month; but in many cases a duration of two or three months is necessary for interns to get to know collaborators, gain exposure to organizational culture, and complete a more substantial piece of work. (As a reminder, GSTEG internships may last up to three months). In light of the imperative of providing summer funding for our doctoral students this year, we strongly encourage you to tailor the length of your internship and the nature of your project to your need for funding.
How should I think about the organization where I might pursue an internship?
As you consider different hosts for a potential internship, the most important consideration in putting together a GSTEG application is how that experience will enhance your intellectual development. Ideally, you want to find a host that will offer you the opportunity to engage with research projects that both provide value to the organization and will be relevant for your course of study. It’s also crucial that the host provides you with a clear supervisor and a plan for engagement with staff, so that you have a window on organizational culture and decision-making.
What are the tax implications of doing a remote internship?
Applicants for a GSTEG-supported remote internship should give careful thought to tax implications and other logistical challenges. Employment taxation follows the location of the individual taxed. Thus if you receive GSTEG funding for a remote internship and remain in North Carolina this summer, you will be subject to North Carolina taxation regardless of the location of your employer. By contrast, if you are currently residing outside North Carolina but still in the United States, you will be subject to taxation in that jurisdiction.
One issue to keep in mind: we can only fund remote internships for doctoral students who during the term of the internship reside in North Carolina or in a US jurisdiction available for Duke employment outside of North Carolina. These jurisdictions are: the District of Columbia, California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. For links to each state/district and the most current employee withholding forms, consult this list.
Applicants who currently reside outside of North Carolina but within the US should note that even within these jurisdictions, there may be tax implications for income earned out-of-state, including separate withholding forms. Applicants should also consult their tax advisor with any questions.
Why do international students who want to pursue an internship need to reach out to Duke Visa Services?
International students need to remain in compliance with the terms of their student visas. Duke Visa Services can assist those students with fulfilling any additional requirements related to Optional Practical Training provisions or other aspects of adhering to visa-related obligations and limitations.
A January 2018 RFP invited all current Duke graduate students to propose training enhancement activities lasting up to one semester during the 2018-2019 academic year. Proposals were reviewed by a panel of faculty and graduate students from across the university.
2018-2019 GSTEG Recipients
Fourteen students received grants for use in 2018-2019. Their graduate programs are housed in Arts & Sciences (7 students), Nicholas School of the Environment (4), Law (1), Nursing (1), and Pratt School of Engineering (1). Thirteen are Ph.D. students; one is pursuing her S.J.D. The average award was $3,254.
Use of Grant
Ph.D. in Religion
Human computer interaction and user experience research courses at UC-Berkeley, Coursera, and Stanford
Characterizing Diazotrophs in the North Atlantic Ocean with New Skills in Molecular Biology
My dissertation work explores marine nitrogen fixation, which is a key process controlling marine productivity, through statistical modeling, high-resolution observations and molecular level characterization. With the support from the Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grant (GSTEG), I had the opportunity to visit Dr. Julie Robidart’s laboratory to work on the molecular level characterization in National Oceanography Centre in Southampton (NOCS, UK) from March to June 2018.
During my visit to Dr. Robidart’s lab, I was trained to identify the types of diazotrophs in the North Atlantic Ocean and explore how the microbial community influences nitrogen fixation. Specifically, I learned how to use quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and reverse-transcription qPCR (RT-qPCR) to quantify the dominant diazotrophs species and their gene expression patterns. These results have been included in one chapter of my Ph.D. dissertation and in two scientific manuscripts in preparation.
Overall, this wonderful training experience has broadened my research scope in two ways. It moved my science forward in a way that would not be achievable at Duke, and it taught me skills that are invaluable to my graduate study and research career.
Patrick Gray, Ph.D. in Marine Science and Conservation
Combining Hands-On Marine Robotics Experience with Deep Learning Expertise
This grant facilitated a substantial amount of progress early in my Ph.D. and made an incredibly productive internship and rare fieldwork opportunity possible, both of which have guided me toward the midpoint of my Ph.D. This funding allowed me to further explore two of my core research interests: 1) incorporating artificial intelligence into environmental analysis; and 2) bridging ocean and planetary science.
As the first component of this grant, I spent two productive weeks with Conservation Metrics in Santa Cruz. This group focuses on using deep learning methods for analyzing large environmental datasets, and it was a place for me to immerse myself in intense software development alongside a brilliant and highly collaborative group of researchers in a similar field. This led to both the publication of a conference paper, “Convolutional Neural Networks for Detecting Great Whales from Orbit in Multispectral Satellite Imagery,” and a published journal paper in Methods in Ecology and Evolution titled “Drones and convolutional neural networks facilitate automated and accurate cetaceanspecies identification and photogrammetry.”
The second phase of this project, initially planned to fund an oceanographic glider workshop at Rutgers University, was changed because that workshop didn’t have sufficient attendance. My updated second phase was to join a Texas A&M-led team on a NASA Planetary Science and Technology for Analog Research (PSTAR) project to conduct coordinated drone and rover exploration over a Martian analog environment in Iceland. The objective of this work was to simulate the science operations of the Mars 2020 Rover, which will have a small drone for scouting out science targets. As a part of this fieldwork, I flew multispectral and topographic drone surveys, collecting data about our study sites, and simulating this new Martian aerial exploration vehicle that will guide the rover toward scientifically interesting areas and better assess the safety of the environment.
Gray Kidd, Ph.D. in History
Retreat from the Big House: Intellectuals and the Politics of ‘Culture’ in Recife, 1958-1987
In November and December 2018, I used my Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grant to produce a filmic component to my dissertation research. Guided by mentors at the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation (Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Fundaj) in Recife, I developed a 20-minute long companion piece that drew on the institute’s remarkable collection of photographs, artworks, museum objects, films, and music. Fundaj personnel generously allowed me to use their materials for this ambitious undertaking, with the understanding that I would donate a copy when my book project is published.
I used this “footstool companion,” which I call a “history in images” project, to stimulate responses from subjects during my oral history interviews. In spite of the intensifying political crisis in Brazil, I was able to show my film to seven subjects, who collectively offered nearly 13 hours of testimony. Most were intrigued by this novel form of storytelling.
Fundaj and I also organized a public event around this audiovisual project. We invited a wide range of locals, including university professors, teachers, graduate students, activists, and artists. Those who attended were generous in their feedback and raised a number of excellent points about my film. In fact, they pointed me in the direction of television archives that house period advertisements and the like. Four members of the institute’s oral history research team were in attendance and cleverly observed that they were learning as much about a foreign Brazilianist’s take as I was about native Brazilians’ understanding of the past. I am still thinking about this fascinating dialogue and how probing it further might lend itself to a coauthored article (myself and a Brazilian colleague).
Since returning from the field, I now understand that my “history in images” project is an important artefact of Brazil’s far-reaching sociopolitical crisis. My interviews offer a critique of the current impasse vis-à-vis reflections on the 1960s through 1980s. More specifically, this project shows how various kinds of historical actors see themselves in relation to 21 years of dictatorship and how to understand our arrival at the present crossroads. Again, I am interested in revisiting this research project from the vantage point of self-reflexivity to highlight the dialogic relationship between researcher, subjects, and politics.
Phillip Turner, Ph.D. in Marine Science and Conservation
The Middle Passage: An Area of Cultural Heritage on the International Seabed?
With the GSTEG award, I attended the 25th Session of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in Kingston, Jamaica (February 25 – March 1, 2019). The ISA is an authority within the United Nations, which governs all deep-sea mining related activities on the international seabed. I was a member of the delegation for the Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI), which is a collection of deep-sea scientists, legal experts, economists, and other stakeholders that engage in deep-sea environmental management topics. Along with Dr. Diva Amon and Dr. Aline Jaeckel, I drafted four interventions outlining DOSI’s position on different aspects of the draft regulations for deep-sea mining. We addressed the need for regional environmental management plans, clear exploitation standards and guidelines, and the importance of implementing the precautionary approach when considering environmental impacts. By drafting the interventions, I gained valuable experience in science communication. I was exposed to the language and form required to communicate science in a formal intergovernmental meeting, and gained practice discussing scientific concepts with State Party members from a variety of backgrounds.
During my time at the ISA, I was able to network with various deep-sea stakeholders and discuss the Middle Passage commemoration project. In this project, we ask the ISA to consider ways to commemorate the ~1.8 million enslaved Africans who died during slaving voyages across the Atlantic and came to rest on the Atlantic seabed. In Kingston, I discussed the project with representatives from Global Ocean Trust, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, Pew Charitable Trust, the ISA’s Legal and Technical Commission, and the Federated States of Micronesia. The project was positively received, and it will hopefully be discussed in more detail at subsequent ISA sessions, once the manuscript has been published.
Hillary Smith, Ph.D. in Marine Science and Conservation
Small-Scale Fisheries Governance Internship at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization
During my time as a fellow in the Fisheries and Aquaculture division of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, Italy, I was able to participate in global and regional policy fisheries processes that are relevant to my dissertation research. As an FAO fellow, I was able to participate in the practical side of policymaking and gained a better understanding of the policy implementation process – an experience that is difficult to get as a student within the typical confines of a Ph.D. program.
At FAO, I attended the 33rd session of the UN Committee on Fisheries (COFI), the highest-level global fisheries meeting where UN member states set policy priorities and make public commitments to fulfill treaties and implement new initiatives. In addition to the opportunity to observe this global process, I worked alongside FAO staff to formally document the plenary session discussions and keep a record of member states’ commitments for the UN report. I also helped with the organization and running of side events during the meeting around key issues, including the future status and sustainability of small-scale fisheries.
After this global meeting concluded, I worked with FAO staff to help plan and implement a regional fisheries body meeting for Central and West African countries that share a maritime border. I traveled to Senegal on mission with FAO and helped facilitate the five-day workshop with participants from over 23 countries from across the sector to discuss regional and national priorities for a sustainable fishing sector in the region.
The workshop focused on how to implement the “Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries” – the first global UN policy tool specifically designed for small-scale fisheries. Part of my dissertation research focuses on how this policy tool is interpreted and implemented in practice, so witnessing the discussions and decision-making process around this policy tool firsthand was highly relevant to my research. At the workshop, I gave formal presentations and helped facilitate breakout working group discussion. I coauthored the final FAO report from the regional workshop, which allowed me to practice and develop skills around writing policy reports.
Overall, my experience as a fellow at FAO enhanced my knowledge of global and regional fisheries policy processes relevant to my research and also gave me exposure to the applied side of fisheries research and policy. The relationships I cultivated while at FAO continue to open doors for my research, and hopefully, in my future career trajectory.
Torang Asadi, Ph.D. in Religion
Quantum Regimes: Holistic Healthcare among Iranians in Northern California
I received the GSTEG award for training in human-computer interaction (HCI) courses, since my dissertation project (Quantum Regimes: The Bodily Technologies of Holistic Healthcare) looks specifically at human-technology assemblages.
With the grant, I was able to travel to California for a few workshops and seminars in HCI and to register for courses with the Nielsen Norman Group. I took courses such as “The Human Mind and Usability,” “User Experience Research,” and “Design Thinking,” and I obtained the NN/g UX Certificate after passing the corresponding exams.
These activities were important for three main reasons. Primarily, this additional training allowed me to employ new and innovative research methodologies that greatly improved my project and gave me a new perspective with which to read my data. I was able to think more granularly about how technological design and use are intertwined with certain epistemologies, and even how the designers of our technologies are indirectly shaping ideas about health and the human body. The grant made me a much better social scientist.
Second, the training allowed me to rethink my pedagogy. I was better able to work with students from STEM and other technical fields, teach research methodology to my students, and help them translate their humanistic and social scientific skills into industry-specific traits that would open more doors for them. I believe this – the ability to teach a diverse body of students and train students in the humanities and social sciences for careers beyond academia – is going to make me a better candidate on the academic job market.
Third, the additional training and the UX certificate I obtained in the process have opened “alt-ac” doors for me. Through this training, I realized that my skills as a scholar of religion are extremely applicable, in fact highly desired, in the tech and design industries. Enhancing my social scientific research training with user experience research methodology recently enabled me to land a full-time job with Lenovo as a User Experience Researcher while I wait out the academic job market.
The generous dissertation fellowships, writing grants, and research grants we receive are a crucial part of how we survive and flourish as graduate students in the humanities. However, it was this small grant that single-handedly opened multiple professional doors for me and substantially shaped my career.
Zachary Levine, Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology
Intensive Phytotherapy Course at Rio de Janeiro’s Botanical Garden
For six weekends I participated in a phytotherapy course at the stunning Botanical Gardens of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The course united pharmacists, nurses, herbalists, physical therapists, and me – an anthropologist studying plant medicine in the context of state incarceration. In my research, I study a prisoner healing NGO in Porto Velho, capital of the Brazilian-Amazônian state of Rondônia. At the NGO, a range of mind-body therapies – reiki, yoga, and ayurvedic massage, to name just a few – were supplemented a few years ago by an entheogen known as ayahuasca. During the program, select state inmates were taken six hours outside of the prison to a center of the ayahuasca religion, Barquinha.
During the course, which took place from April to June 2018, I gained a deeper understanding of the ways that plants enter into medicinal contexts. I learned about the parts of plants that are used for therapeutic ends, and the many ways that these plant parts interact with different human systems (respiratory, circulatory, metabolic, etc.). I gained a deeper understanding of how plant medicines are classified and regulated and what governing bodies determine the norms and rules of their circulation. One of the major takeaways from the course was just how murky the line is dividing “folk” from “biomedical” uses of plant medicines. Nomenclatures may change, but patterns for using plant allies toward the healing of human bodies express a remarkable resilience across time.
One of the most notable experiences at the Jardim Botânico was a guided tour of the medicinal plants garden, which helped tie together the visual and sensory experience of being with plants, on the one hand, and the classificatory knowledge of plants and their human uses, on the other.
Overall, the experience in the medicinal plants garden and in the course more broadly was to remind me emphatically of something I already knew theoretically – that most plants are often lost in a realm of indistinction for many of us who grow up outside of contexts where plant life is given more devotion and where its agency is central to human relations. Yet when one dives into these studies, one quickly realizes that a familiarity with plants has always run very deep in us; we have spent all our lives in their presence and care.
Yanyou Chen, Ph.D. in Economics
Railway Executive Development Program: Third Module – Railway Operations
The module of railway operations held by Michigan State University is a five-day program in Chicago that covers the essentials of railway operations, both freight and passenger. The module combines classroom presentation of concepts with discussions led by rail industry subject matter experts, and with site visits to see the railroad in action.
Chicago is the capital of U.S. freight transportation. During our five-day program, we had discussions with industry experts from various fields, and we had site visits to learn the fundamentals of railway operations. For example, we visited the Chicago Area Consolidation Hub of UPS and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Willow Springs Intermodal Ramp. The manager of UPS explained to us how the shipping price is negotiated between UPS and BNSF, and the yardmaster of BNSF demonstrated to us how shipments are picked up from UPS, loaded to trains, and sent out to their destinations.
We also visited the headquarters of TTX, where TTX Company is a provider of railcars and related freight car management services to the North American rail industry. The manager there explained to us how locomotive leasing and financing is conducted in this industry, and why financing cost is an important component of railroad operational expenses. What’s more, I was offered the opportunity to speak with marketing director of Canadian National Railroad, where he explained to me what the practice of pricing is in this industry, and what factors affect the pricing decisions of railroad companies.
My dissertation studies cost efficiency and network complementarity following railroad mergers. To accurately quantify the magnitude of cost efficiency after mergers, I need to estimate railroad demand and capture the pricing decision of railroad companies in my economic model. By visiting the UPS consolidation hub and understanding how they negotiate shipping price with railroad companies, I learned which factors (including size of consumers, distance to the nearest intermodal terminal, etc.) are important and need to be incorporated into my model to accurately capture the demand of freight transportation.
Furthermore, by visiting the TTX headquarters and talking to managers in different departments, I now understand how financing cost, market power, and competition affect the pricing decision. This is a very precious opportunity for me to observe how people actually do business and conduct operations in the industry, and to talk to industry experts in various fields including marketing, financing, and yard operations to understand what factors are important and need to be captured in an economic model.
This experience provided me with the necessary knowledge to understand this industry and enabled me to construct a reasonable economic model in quantifying the merger effects in American railroad industry.
Christina Bejjani, Ph.D. in Psychology and Neuroscience
Computational Summer School
As a part of my Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grant (GSTEG), I attended the Model-based Neuroscience Summer School at the University of Amsterdam. My goals were to develop computational skills that I can integrate into my graduate research, good coding practices that make large-scale data analysis reproducible, and relationships with leading researchers and my peers within cognitive neuroscience and the field of neuroscience at large. These goals were largely fulfilled by the program.
The summer school focused on providing participants with knowledge and hands-on experience in cognitive modeling across a wide variety of methodologies (evidence accumulation models like the drift diffusion model and linear ballistic accumulator and cognitive neuroscience analytic models) via lectures and practicals. These dynamic choice models typically allow us to understand how people make decisions and what factors they take into account during that process, and cognitive neuroscience models typically allow us to understand the neural mechanisms underlying cognition.
Early on in the program, I presented a poster on one of my current research projects and received feedback from one of the program organizers on how I could apply cognitive modeling techniques to enhance the data analysis for this project. After first introducing the basic principles of and approaches within model-based neuroscience and the particular cognitive models we would go over, the instructors then walked us through the particular scripts that we used to analyze datasets that they had provided. We learned how to estimate model fit for these evidence-accumulation models and how to sample data from different task participants. We applied coding skills in R within these practical sessions and now have scripts that we can use throughout the rest of our research careers. Finally, we moved onto cognitive neuroscience methods such as EEG and fMRI and how to adopt certain coding frameworks and practices within our analyses pipelines.
Having returned to Duke, I applied for a research grant that would allow me to apply the techniques I learned at this summer school to a new research project. I further plan to mentor an undergraduate on using these cognitive models so that we can uncover more about how people make decisions.
As for the networking component, the program was sufficiently small that I got to know several of my peers, and the poster session ensured that I got to talk with at least one expert on how to apply modeling to my research. Moreover, the program organizer suggested a small hangout on the last day as a program, allowing the attendees to chat with the lecturers in a less formal setting. I hope to continue discussing model-based perspectives with the organizers and my peers at future academic conferences, and I hope that the coding skills I learned will generalize to any career path I may take.
Adrian Linden-High, Ph.D. in Classical Studies
Unleashing the Power of Ultra High-Resolution Images in the Humanities
The five-day workshop I attended at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute in Victoria, Canada, was both intensive and rewarding. It focused on a new standard for displaying, sharing, and annotating ultra high-resolution images online called the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF). The team of four instructors for the workshop included some of the leading developers of IIIF, such as Drew Winget and Jack Reed (both Stanford). They put together a superb blend of theory and practice. I left with a firm understanding of how IIIF works, what its goals are, and who would want to use it. I returned to Durham with a host of new ideas about how to use IIIF for my own research and teaching.
The major stakeholders currently pushing IIIF forward are libraries and museums interested in improving online accessibility of their holdings – mostly artwork, old maps, and manuscripts at this stage. While such institutions have been making their treasures available online for some time now, the diversity of infrastructures and the comparatively low quality used to deliver the images have hampered their effective use for research and teaching. IIIF is a big step forward since it allows users to compare and annotate side-by- side in a viewer images brought in from any institution using the new standard (see attached image). The resolution is practically unlimited thanks to a tiling technology similar to what is used for zooming in Google Maps.
The possibilities this opens for classicists are ground-breaking. For example, we can now reunite virtually on a canvas contiguous fragments of papyri and manuscripts that through the twists of history ended up in different collections. What is more, the extraordinary image resolution paired with an impressive array of annotation tools allows researchers to collaboratively study fragments of texts where a speck of ink might make a difference. Using annotations, we can now point to such specks and faint traces and discuss them with fellow specialists in other locations.
Though less heralded at this early stage in its development, IIIF promises to be beneficial for pedagogy as well. In fact, the course inspired me to build for the intermediate Latin class I taught in the fall of 2018 several IIIF-driven exercises using old maps and medieval manuscripts (see examples). Today’s students crave interactive learning experiences, and with IIIF I learned a great way to provide them.
With its roughly 70 workshops and 1,000 participants, the Digital Humanities Summer Institute offers a smorgasbord-like experience to anyone interested in digital tools in the humanities. It hardly needs saying that this event offered countless networking opportunities. My favorite were the “Mystery Lunches” that allowed you to connect with people beyond your own workshop. I am very grateful for this instructive and motivating experience the GSTEG made possible!
Download this report as a PDF. For more information, please visit the GSTEG page on our website or contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies (216 Allen Building, 919-684-1964, email@example.com).
The following Duke University doctoral students have received Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants (GSTEG) for 2019-2020 from the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies. Stretching beyond their core disciplinary training, these students will spend up to one semester acquiring skills, knowledge, or experiences that will enhance the approach to their original research.
Attend two-week computational neuroscience methods course at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, to learn how to analyze high-dimensional neural and behavioral datasets and relate these empirical observations to fundamental concepts in computational and theoretical neuroscience
Attend Global Reproductive and Sexual Health Summer Institute at University of Michigan School of Nursing, for training in studying gender-based violence and conducting women’s health intervention research; receive training from Sharon Dekel at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School on novel methodology and hormonal and neuroimaging measurement in studies of traumatic childbirth, to inform dissertation and future intervention projects
Intern with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Justice in Washington, D.C., to better understand the roles that engineers and scientific researchers can play to combat economic, legal, political and social issues around environmental injustice
Participate in a five-day workshop on introductory geometric morphometric methods offered through Transmitting Science in Barcelona, to learn how to analyze skeletal variation between extinct and modern humans in 3D space
Undertake a two-week research visit with the POEMS (Wave Propagation, Mathematical Analysis, and Simulation) team in the Applied Mathematics Department at the École Nationale Supérieure de Techniques Avancées in Paris, to analyze a new numerical method for optimizing structural design to control vibration behavior
Attend the Summer Genetics Institute at the National Institutes of Health to learn about molecular genetics methods for biobehavioral research
About Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants (GSTEG)
This internal funding mechanism encourages doctoral and master’s students to step away from their core research and training to acquire skills, knowledge, or co-curricular experiences that will give them new perspectives on their research agendas. Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants are intended to deepen preparation for academic positions and other career trajectories.
A January 2019 RFP invited all current Duke graduate students (including master’s, professional, and Ph.D. students) to propose graduate training enhancement activities lasting up to one semester. Proposals were reviewed by an ad hoc committee convened by the Executive Vice Provost and the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies.
The goal of this grant competition is to expand the opportunities for graduate students to “step away” from their core research and training, so as to acquire additional skills, knowledge, or experiences outside/beyond their discipline that are not available at Duke and that will enhance their capacity to carry out original research. We believe such experiences will lead to better preparation/training, whether for academic positions or other career trajectories. Supported activities include: an internship related to field of research; cognate training workshop; or field work opportunity that includes specific training.) NOTE: Grant funds may not be used for attendance at conferences, nor for internships by master’s students. We also encourage potential applicants to consult the 2019 Summer Doctoral Academy offerings to see if those short-courses can address their needs.
Proposals require endorsement from the student’s primary faculty mentor, as well as a clear explanation of how the experience will contribute to broadening the student’s training and how it may potentially impact their dissertation research or capstone project. Successful past applications have made a compelling case for how the proposed experience would amplify the student’s intellectual agenda, beyond the standard offerings within their program.
All current graduate students (post-undergraduate, including master’s, professional, and PhD students) in any program at Duke University may propose graduate training enhancement activities. All internships, work, and services proposed must be performed outside of Duke (i.e., may not be work for Duke). Note: previous awardees may not apply.
Proposals will be accepted from January 14 through February 25, 2019 at 5:00 p.m.
The Provost‘s Office uses MyResearchProposal online application software to submit applications.
You will be asked to upload the following documents:
An updated curriculum vitae (no more than 2 pages).
A brief narrative that articulates the proposed activities, how the experience will contribute to broadening research training, and how it fits with overall academic, research, and professional plans, and that also explains why the experience is not available at Duke (no more than 3 pages).
A budget plan (up to $5,000), and timeline for use of the funds.
A letter or e-mail from your primary faculty mentor, sent separately to Carolyn Mackman, in support of the proposed activities.
A listing of all other concurrent proposals for funding to support the proposed activities (we will ask awardees to update us when any additional funding for the proposed activities is awarded/received).
Applicant instructions for applying via the MyResearchProposal software is available – Please review this document.
Enter Access Code ‘PROVOST’ then select the Provost- Graduate Student Enhancement Grant GSTEG Application Spring 2019 opportunity and follow the instructions.
Letters of recommendation can be sent as PDFs to firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters should be saved using the following format: Applicant Last Name_G-STEG_Letter writer last name (e.g., a letter for Joey Young, written by Dr. A. Smith would be named: Young_G-STEG_Smith).
For any questions concerning MyResearchProposal passwords or system issues, please contact Lesia O’Hara or Anita Grissom at email@example.com.
RFP deadline for submission
Project winner(s) notified
Funds made available*
*Funds must be expended between 4.1.19 and 6.30.20.
Proposals will be reviewed by an ad hoc committee convened by the Executive Vice Provost and the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies, to include representation from faculty, deans, institute directors, and graduate students, representing all divisions of knowledge. Decisions will be announced by March 2019 and funds will be awarded as appropriate to the timing of the activities. Awardees will be expected to provide updates on their activities during the year and an eventual reflection on the impact of those activities on dissertation work.
Duke’s Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants (GSTEG) program supports doctoral and master’s students to stretch beyond their core disciplinary training and deepen preparation for academic positions and other career trajectories. Through this internal funding mechanism, students are encouraged to propose an experience that would enhance or expand their training (e.g., an internship, training workshop, or hands-on learning opportunity not available within their program or at Duke).
Proposals require endorsement from the student’s primary faculty mentor, and a clear explanation of how the experience will broaden the applicant’s intellectual perspective and potentially impact his or her dissertation research or capstone project. The proposed experience may last for up to one full semester; most take place during the summer. All current graduate students (including master’s, professional, and Ph.D. students) in any program at Duke University are eligible to apply. All internships, work, and services proposed must be performed outside of Duke (i.e., may not be work for Duke).
This grant program began in 2016-2017; for information about the first cohort, please see the 2016-2017 GSTEG report.
For the 2017-2018 academic year, a January 2017 RFP invited all current Duke graduate students to propose training enhancement activities lasting up to one semester. We received 58 proposals, which were reviewed by an ad hoc committee convened by the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies with representation from faculty, institute directors, and graduate students, representing all divisions of knowledge.
Among the applicants, there were 47 Ph.D. students, 9 master’s students, 1 M.D. student, and 1 Th.D. student. Together they represented Arts & Sciences (29 students), Nicholas School of the Environment (10), Sanford School of Public Policy (4), and School of Nursing (4) as well as the Divinity School, School of Medicine, and Pratt School of Engineering (1 each); the remaining 8 applicants came from various interdisciplinary graduate programs.
2017-2018 GSTEG Recipients
Eighteen students received 2017-2018 GSTEG grants. The majority (15) were Ph.D. students, with 2 master’s students and 1 Th.D. student. They came from Arts & Sciences (7), Nicholas (5), and Divinity, Medicine, Nursing, Pratt, and Sanford (1 each); 1 student was in the Global Health master’s program based in the Duke Global Health Institute. The average award was $2,225.
Proposed Use of GSTEG
ARTS & SCIENCES
Sarah (Sally) Bornbusch
Ph.D. in Evolutionary Anthropology
Work at North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ Genomics & Microbiology Research Lab to learn how to assess antibiotic resistance in bacterial microbiomes of nonhuman primates, to inform dissertation on relationship between primate gut microbiomes and host health
Take part in Udacity Machine Learning Program to develop skills needed to produce a web-based application for logic education and, through practice, a deeper understanding of philosophical differences between Bayesian and Frequentist statistical methods, which will inform dissertation on learning and testing through lenses of philosophy and statistics
Volunteer with Femme International to implement reproductive health intervention for adolescent girls in Tanzania, and receive training from Dr. Adam Carrico at University of Miami on how to use biological measures in research with women, which will further ability to conduct research on reproductive and sexual health among adolescent girls in Tanzania
Attend course at University of Utah on stable isotope biogeochemistry and ecology, which will support dissertation proposal to use baleen from fin whales to reconstruct individual life histories and assess changes in foraging ecology, reproduction and stress
Attend course at Sotheby’s Art Institute on finance and art markets to deepen understanding of the art market industry, including financial aspects behind valuing and appraising art, to prepare for career as specialized art consultant or investment analyst
Conduct coding-intensive research at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, drawing on its database of millions of deep-sea animal sightings, to inform research on vision and bioluminescence in deep-sea cephalopods
Learn a novel analysis technique (liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry for blubber analysis) at National Institute of Standards and Technology, to support a preliminary analysis using remote blubber biopsy samples from pilot whales
Attend Qualitative Research Methods Intensive Seminar at University of North Carolina’s Odum Institute for training in qualitative data collection and interpretation, to be applied to a pilot study examining patterns of connection among five church-related educational institutions in Pacific Northwest
Attend course on radiation emergency medicine at Oak Ridge Associated Universities to learn practical aspects of handling contaminated patients in a hospital setting, which will improve ability to communicate effectively with medical professionals in emergency situations
Train at Institute for Research in Tropical Ecology in Gabon to learn genetic analysis methods necessary to identify individual forest elephants, which will inform dissertation on elephant tracking in Gabon
Ph.D. in Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health
Purchase software licenses for cheminformatic programs Schrodinger and Py Mol, which are required for a UNC course on research in pharmaceutical sciences, which will inform dissertation on chemical pollutant structure/occurrence and biological effects
Ph.D. in Earth and Ocean Sciences [later decided to graduate with M.S. degree]
Take course at Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences on modern observational oceanography with a focus on carbon and nutrient sampling, to support research employing oceanographic data, satellite remote sensing data and models to examine linkage of large-scale ocean circulation and ocean productivity
Train at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in use of silicon-32, a radioisotope serving as a novel dating tool for environmental processes, which will support dissertation research on legacy sediment
Attend course at University College London on applying principles of behavior change in behavioral research interventions, which will help in characterizing social interaction and support among individuals with type-2 diabetes who engage with one another in a computer-mediated environment
Allison Vorderstrasse (formerly of the School of Nursing)
PRATT SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING
Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering
Intern with Danish Hydraulic Institute in Singapore to incorporate antibiotic resistance genes and pathogens into a global ballast water movement model, which will support dissertation research and potentially inform policy and regulatory decisions under debate by the United Nations
Gain hands-on experience interning with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development conducting research related to the theory and practice of effective regulatory governance in the financial sector
Take part in residential immersive Swahili course at The Training Centre for Development Cooperation in Eastern and Southern Africa in Tanzania, to support research project on hypertension in emergency department of Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center
Sally Bornbusch spent a summer with the Genomics & Microbiology Research Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences learning how to assess antibiotic resistance in bacterial microbiomes of non-human primates such as lemurs. This experience will inform her dissertation on the relationship between primate gut microbiomes and host health.
I learned laboratory skills (e.g., qPCR) necessary to assess the presence of 86 known antibiotic resistance genes in the gut and armpit microbiomes of multiple lemur species. I was also able to spend a portion of the summer collecting lemur microbiome samples both from lemurs at the Duke Lemur Center and, with the help of collaborators, from wild lemurs in Madagascar. With my newly acquired analysis skills, I will be able to characterize antibiotic resistance in these invaluable samples, a novel research project that greatly enhances my dissertation research.
Sally Bornbusch, Ph.D. in Evolutionary Anthropology
Amelia Meier researches forest elephants in Gabon. She set out to learn how to conduct genetic analysis to help identify individual elephants, which will inform her dissertation.
I was able to receive one-on-one training in genetic analysis at the Institute for Research in Tropical Ecology in Gabon. Over 14 days I worked directly with the scientist who developed the Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) panel necessary to identify individual elephants from their dung.
After learning the theory behind SNP genotyping, I was trained on how to use and interpret results from DNA sequencing equipment such as a Real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine. These skills are critical to my dissertation.
How can marine protected areas be used to reduce habitat degradation and biodiversity loss? Seth Sykora-Bodie took part in the Hawaiian Islands Cetacean and Ecosystem Assessment Survey to inform his dissertation on Antarctic resource management and conservation.
I applied for GSTEG to participate in a large-scale marine mammal survey being conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fishery Service to gain experience in collecting the data that underlies federal conservation and management decisions. I learned more about survey design and methods, marine mammals acoustics, and even seabird identification. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life and significantly improved my understanding of the data, and how it is collected, that underpins much of the work of my dissertation.
Seth Sykora-Bodie, Ph.D. in Marine Science and Conservation
Kate Thomas conducted research at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, drawing on its database of millions of deep-sea animal sightings, to inform her work on vision and bioluminescence in deep-sea cephalopods. She will be a postdoctoral fellow at the Natural History Museum in London.
I spent two months using physical oceanographic data collected at sea to model light levels in the deep ocean and test how these correlate to patterns of animal distributions.
This project expanded the scope of my scientific training and how I think about my future research goals. In addition, it has turned into an ongoing collaboration across three institutions and a long-term effort to understand the variability of midwater light fields and their effects on deep-sea communities.
Anna Wade attended the University of Utah’s two-week IsoCamp, which trains Ph.D. students and postdocs how to use stable isotopes to model environmental and ecological processes, to enhance her dissertation research on lead (Pb) in southeastern forest soils.
[I learned] how to use a ThermoElectron isotope ratio mass spectrometer, how to collect and prepare environmental samples, and how to use isotope-mixing models to interpret the results. Because of this training experience, I’ll have a much better grasp of how to use stable isotopes of Pb to delineate between natural and contaminant sources of lead. The tools and connections will provide solid groundwork for my isotopic research.
Jillian Wisse studies a species of pilot whale that dives especially deep. To learn more about how they relate to their environment, she sought specialized training at the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Marine Laboratory in Charleston.
I worked with a leading endocrine researcher to learn hormone extraction and tandem mass spectrometry. With her guidance, I developed a novel analysis method, which will allow scientists to conduct more efficient and comprehensive hormone analyses of these tissue samples, aiding efforts to understand the behavior and physiology of these difficult-to-access animals.
To enhance her dissertation on mental and reproductive health among adolescent girls in Tanzania, Emily Cherenack volunteered with a nonprofit and received specialized training on biological markers.
For half the summer, I worked with Dr. Adam Carrico at the University of Miami to learn how to use biological markers in research with HIV-positive women. For the other half, I lived in Moshi, Tanzania, and worked with the NGO Femme International. I learned how to conduct research on menstruation with adolescent girls in schools and saw how to implement education interventions with girls.
GSTEG was essential for me to gain these experiences and work with experts and in the field to develop an interdisciplinary dissertation that merges the fields of clinical psychology and reproductive health.
Mercy DeMenno completed a three-month research residency at the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, where she worked with the Directorate for Public Governance in the Regulatory Policy Division.
I undertook a wonderful experiential learning and collaborative research experience in 2017, which enabled me to contribute to the theory and practice of effective regulatory governance.
The Regulatory Policy Division’s portfolio covers a range of regulatory governance issues, and the Division has developed key competencies in several areas germane to my dissertation research—including stakeholder participation in rulemaking, regulatory impact assessment, and international regulatory co-operation—making it an ideal place to work at the intersection of the theory and practice of effective regulatory governance as a doctoral student. The GSTEG experience contributed to my envisaged academic and professional trajectory by improving my research, leadership, and communication skills; enhancing the quality and impact of my dissertation; and embedding me in a network of critical importance to my post-degree job search.
Ships fill and empty their ballast tanks as needed for stability. Whenever ballast water is taken on or discharged, aquatic plants and animals go along for the ride, which increases the risk of introducing invasive species. William Gerhard spent a month in Singapore for an internship with the Danish Hydraulic Institute (DHI), where he learned how to incorporate antibiotic resistance genes and pathogens into a global ballast water movement model.
This company specializes in creating modeling software for hydrologic systems. In addition, DHI operates the only tropical ballast water testing facility in the world. My dissertation focuses on the microbial community of ballast water in large ships, so their expertise in ballast water and modeling proved especially informative to my ongoing work. The unique opportunity afforded by GSTEG allowed me to explore a potential future career path while also expanding comfort zones within my dissertation research.
William Gerhard, Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering
Dustin Benac wanted to enhance his training in theology and organizational theory by integrating qualitative data collection and interpretation into his research. A summer course at UNC’s Odum Institute for Research in Social Science proved timely, and he went on to apply this new knowledge to a study examining patterns of connection among five church-related educational institutions in the Pacific Northwest.
The impact extends well beyond this single course. I have since worked with colleagues from across the university to consider approaches to visually depict the preliminary findings from my qualitative research. I will present a paper at the Pacific Northwest American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting and have a book review coming out in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies.
The opportunity to receive supplemental training has deepened my knowledge, vastly expanded my network, and equipped me to engage and support a wider range of research from across the university. While the specific methods training and research experiences will certainly inform the scope and content of my dissertation, I anticipate the range of relationships and experiences that have followed will have the most significant impact on my development as a scholar.
Lok Chan is writing a dissertation on learning and testing through the lenses of philosophy and statistics. To develop the skills he needed to produce a web-based application for logic education, he enrolled in Udacity’s Machine Learning Nanodegree Program.
What I learned has had a tremendous impact on both my interest as a researcher and as an educator. This program provides practice-oriented training in various machine learning techniques, such as supervised learning, reinforcement learning, and convolutional neural networks. Using these techniques, I have made substantial improvement to the logic education application I have previously developed.
Initially, my application could only generate logic problems in a purely random manner. With machine learning techniques, however, I have devised a model in which a student’s response could be used as a basis for generating a problem that addresses her particular strengths and weaknesses.
What can a fin whale’s feeding apparatus tell us about that animal? William Cioffi took a summer course on stable isotope ecology to support his dissertation on using baleen from fin whales to reconstruct individual life histories and assess changes in foraging ecology, reproduction, and stress.
Baleen whales are named for the keratin plates that comprise their feeding apparatus. These plates grow continuously throughout an animal’s life. By repeatedly sampling for stable isotope analysis along the growth axis of an individual plate, a time series can be generated that provides information about foraging and migratory behavior that might have been occurring when that part of the plate was growing. These data provide a window into the past for populations that may no longer exist, but for which baleen plates have been archived in museums or other collections.
Most exciting about this course was the opportunity to discuss ideas and challenges with other students and instructors who had all spent a great deal of time thinking about these issues. The participants included those studying vertebrates, geology, botany, and even forensic science.
Sophie Galson has been collaborating on a research project on hypertension in the emergency department of Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center in Moshi, Tanzania. To build her language skills and strengthen her contribution to this ongoing work, she enrolled in a residential immersive Swahili course at The Training Centre for Development Cooperation in Eastern and Southern Africa (TCDC).
I have greatly enjoyed learning the language and culture, and the weekly tutoring sessions have helped greatly to accelerate this progress. The TCDC course was a perfect capstone experience and I was able to start at an intermediate level due to the tutoring.
This grant has also had effects beyond myself. Our team has been motivated by my experience to slowly start to incorporate more Swahili into our weekly meetings. I am thrilled to be staying at Duke and will be starting this summer as an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery, Division of Emergency Medicine!
To inform her work on social interaction among individuals with type-2 diabetes who engage with one another in a computer-mediated environment, Allison Lewinski took part in a week-long course at the University College London Centre for Behaviour Change.
This course expanded my knowledge about all the components to consider when designing behavior change interventions! I obtained insight into what behaviors to select and target in an intervention and what factors to consider when developing an intervention. I interacted with individuals from a variety of backgrounds who were also interested in developing interventions focused on changing behaviors. Overall, this course better prepared me for the postdoctoral position I recently started in health services research at the Durham Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
In preparation for a career as a specialized art consultant or investment analyst, Stephanie Manning took a summer course at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London to deepen her understanding of the art market industry.
This experience has forever changed the way I view art. I have always considered the intrinsic value when viewing art, and now I push deeper into my thoughts on the financial value of the work to consider how much others would be willing to pay for it, and the value I place on the emotional response I gather from the work.
Through this experience, I was able to better understand the valuation and appraisal of art and the cultural heritage of Sotheby’s art auctions. Being able to personally interact with gallery curators and to visit some of the most prestigious and historic museums in London allowed me to experience how art professionals interact with the art they showcase and preserve, and how intertwined and complex the cultural and financial values are in the art of appraisal.
Bria Moore enriched her training by attending a course on radiation emergency medicine at Oak Ridge Associated Universities. Learning about the practical aspects of handling contaminated patients in a hospital setting will improve her ability to communicate effectively with medical professionals in emergency situations.
This experience was invaluable. The opportunity to work hand in hand with experienced emergency medicine physicians, nurse practitioners, and general physicians in an emergency room setup was amazing. As one of only two physicists in the room, I enjoyed the chance to determine my niche in patient care for radiological events.
I left Oak Ridge with a new confidence in my abilities to meld well in an emergency room, and a broad network of friends and colleagues in a variety of medical fields that I hope will be valuable resources later in my career.
Ryan Peabody sought to learn more about modern observational oceanography to support his research on the linkage between large-scale ocean circulation and ocean productivity. A hands-on course at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences provided a vital supplement to his graduate training.
I had the opportunity to learn about the capabilities of modern ocean observing platforms and to gain practical experience working with them in the field.
It was a great chance to meet other oceanographers and oceanography students, and learn more about the field methods being developed in the field.
Kirsten Overdahl’s work explores the occurrences and biological effects of emerging environmental contaminants in indoor environments. To further her dissertation research, she sought to purchase software to implement machine learning-based molecular modeling to predict chemical behaviors.
I spent Fall 2017 in the Molecular Modeling Lab in the Eshelman School of Pharmacy at UNC-Chapel Hill three times per week, training on the modeling techniques that we have since begun to implement in our laboratory. We spent Spring 2018 exploring how we could successfully implement public-domain programs; while we can do many things with these programs, we elected to purchase Schrodinger’s Materials Science Suite. This program will allow us to generate all possible 3-dimensional conformers of the 2-dimensional molecular structures we are able to identify in our search for emerging environmental contaminants.
Kirsten Overdahl, Ph.D. in Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health
A January 2018 RFP invited all current Duke graduate students (including master’s, professional, and Ph.D. students) to propose graduate training enhancement activities lasting up to one semester. We received 36 proposals for the third GSTEG cohort. Proposals were reviewed by a panel of faculty and graduate students from across the university.
Fourteen students received GSTEG grants for use in 2018-2019. Their graduate programs are housed in Arts & Sciences (7 students), Nicholas School of the Environment (4), School of Law (1), School of Nursing (1), and Pratt School of Engineering (1). Thirteen are Ph.D. students; one student is pursuing her S.J.D. The average award was $3,254. Recipients will report on their activities by June 30, 2019.
Proposed Use of GSTEG
ARTS & SCIENCES
Ph.D. in Religion
Enroll in human computer interaction and user experience research courses at UC-Berkeley, Coursera, and Stanford in Summer 2018 to learn methods for studying ways in which humans and machines are intertwined in constituting humanity, to support research on healthcare among Iranians in northern California
Attend one of two Computational Summer Schools to acquire computational analytic skills, learn how to incorporate novel and innovative themes within human neuroscience research, and network with leading researchers and fellow attendees
Take part in week-long Railway Operations module of Railway Executive Development Program at Michigan State University, to learn about such topics as how a rail network is formed and operated, how locomotive and car leasing works, and how carpooling and fleet management is conducted
Engage in six weeks of professional training in the production of documentary films in Recife, Brazil, in order to produce a companion piece to dissertation, reach underrepresented publics in field research, and build skills as a public humanist
Enroll in plant medicine course at the Jardim Botânico of Rio de Janeiro in Spring 2018 to develop a more rigorous understanding of science-based fundamentals of plant healing, in support of research on Brazil’s state-sanctioned use of ayahuasca
Attend International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) workshop at University of Victoria, Canada, in June 2018, to build skills in using ultra-high-resolution photographic reproductions of cultural heritage objects
Take part in two-week Sensory Ecology Course at Lund University, Sweden, in October 2018, to learn about multiple topics in the field of sensory ecology and support dissertation research on visual ecology
Conduct fieldwork to examine the role of international human rights law in access to abortion in Kenya; collaborate with advocacy organizations, policymakers, healthcare workers, and grassroots organizations; assess relevance of international human rights law in tackling obstacles to implementing court judgments and national abortion laws
Attend Rutgers University Marine Technology Glider Camp to gain experience using oceanographic gliders and intern with a team experienced in applying artificial intelligence data analysis techniques to ecology, to better design and answer novel questions about the ecology of marine mammals
Spend two months as a fellow of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome to learn more about the organization’s role in small-scale fisheries policy, to support dissertation on implementation of FAO’s first global policy instrument for the small-scale fishing sector
Collaborate with Dr. Julie Robidart’s laboratory at National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, UK, to acquire training on how to identify types of diazotrophs in North Atlantic Ocean and explore how the microbial community influences N2 fixation rates, to support research on marine N2 fixation
Develop informational materials in collaboration with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and take part in the 24th Session of the ISA Council in Kingston, Jamaica, in July 2018, to introduce the seabed beneath the Middle Passage as a potential cultural heritage site
Attend three courses at Odum Institute’s Qualitative Research Summer Intensive at UNC-Chapel Hill in July 2018 and complete online Nurse Certificate Course for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, to support research on reproductive endocrinology care among African-American women
Intern at Firmenich in Geneva to learn analytical methods of headspace analysis of reinvented toilets (which are off the grid; without any connections to water, sewer, or electricity), and incorporate the methods into the lab-scale testing of odor elimination capacity of odor-removing pouches
The next RFP will be released in early 2019. All current Duke graduate students may propose graduate training enhancement activities lasting up to one semester, for use during the 2019-2020 academic year. If you have any questions, please contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies (216 Allen Building, 919-684-1964, firstname.lastname@example.org).