Summer 2021: PhD Students Can Create Internships and Apply for GSTEG Funds

Graduate student training enhancement grants.

Deadline: March 22, 2021

Overview

The Office of the Provost seeks applications from PhD students who, with endorsement from their programs, wish to pursue a remote summer internship with an off-campus host that is related to their intellectual trajectory. This Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants (GSTEG) opportunity is limited to PhD students without any funding for Summer 2021. Applications will be accepted via Formstack (https://dukeinterdisc.formstack.com/forms/gsteg_2021).

RFP released 2/5/2021
RFP deadline for submission 3/22/2021 at 5:00 p.m.
Anticipated recipient notification 4/21/2021
Funds made available 6/1/2021
Funds to be expended by 9/30/2021

Rationale

The goal of this grant competition is to expand opportunities for PhD students to augment their core research and training by acquiring additional skills, knowledge, or experiences through an off-campus remote summer internship. We believe such experiences will lead to better preparation/training, whether for academic positions or other career trajectories.

PhD students who do not have any summer funding may submit proposals for virtual/remote internships with a community organization, government agency, NGO, or cultural institution, related to the student’s area of study. Successful applications will demonstrate how the activities associated with the proposed research experience aligns with the student’s fields of study and research interests.

The GSTEG resource page includes information and advice about how to explore research experiences eligible for GSTEG support.

Restrictions and Parameters

  • Grant funds may not be used for travel.
  • All internships must be performed virtually/remotely outside of Duke (i.e., may not involve research, training, or other engagement with a Duke unit).
  • Internships should involve three months of engagement (June – August).
  • Any proposal for a virtual/remote internship must comply with Duke University coronavirus response policies and the residency requirement detailed below.
  • 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 Curricular Practical Training and any other visa-related requirements.
  • Recipients of GSTEG funding cannot receive other Duke summer funding.
  • 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 recipients of GSTEG funding will be required to take the experiential workshop, GS 950, during the Duke Summer Sessions.

Eligibility

  • All current PhD students who do not have summer funding may propose internships.
  • PhD 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 dissertation research. 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 will be overseen by the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies and the Executive Vice Provost.

Scope and Duration

The proposed internship experience will last for three months in the summer and awardees will receive a stipend of $6,500 as well as coverage of summer tuition and the summer health fee.

Proposal Requirements

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 for the internship, 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 PhD 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 PhD student will undertake during engagement with the host (such as other specific research activities or dissertation writing);
  • A proposed budget (maximum one page) for up to $6500 (fringe and required summer health fee will be funded as well), and timeline for use of the funds;
  • A letter or e-mail of support from your primary faculty advisor, sent separately to Amy Feistel, amy.feistel@duke.edu, 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, amy.feistel@duke.edu.

To apply, visit https://dukeinterdisc.formstack.com/forms/gsteg_2021.

Resources

The GSTEG resource page provides:

  • Advice for PhD 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 PhD students; and
  • Links to information about past GSTEG awardees.

Contact

For questions related to the online application and/or other logistical questions, please contact Amy Feistel, amy.feistel@duke.edu.

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, bostrom@duke.edu (any discipline)
  • Rachel Coleman, Associate Director, Duke Career Center, coleman@duke.edu (all areas of knowledge)
  • Maria Wisdom, Director of Graduate Student Advising and Engagement for the Humanities, wisdom@duke.edu (humanities and interpretive social sciences)

FAQ

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 why the timing makes sense for 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 who 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 you will need to discuss any proposal with your faculty advisor, since that individual 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 PhD students.

I’m a PhD 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 Duke PhD students 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, bostrom@duke.edu (PhD and research master’s students in any area of knowledge)
  • Rachel Coleman, Associate Director, Duke Career Center, coleman@duke.edu (all areas of knowledge)
  • Maria Wisdom, Director of Graduate Student Advising and Engagement for the Humanities, wisdom@duke.edu (humanities and interpretive social sciences)
I’ve heard that there are now some preconfigured 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 experiential learning opportunities – preconfigured fellowships, RAships and 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. This year, we are focusing on internships that will have a duration of three months, allowing interns to get to know collaborators, gain exposure to organizational culture, and complete a more substantial piece of work.

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.

Any proposed internship must be virtual/remote and in compliance with Duke University’s coronavirus response policies.

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 PhD 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.

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 Curricular Practical Training provisions or other aspects of adhering to visa-related obligations and limitations.

Doctoral Students Gain New Perspectives on Their Research

Last year, a dozen Duke University doctoral students used Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants (GSTEG) to acquire new skills, knowledge or experiences that will enhance their original research. In these excerpts from their reports, students reflect on what they learned.

Jacqueline Allain, Ph.D. in History

Birthing Imperial Citizens
Summer school participants.
Jacqueline Allain and other members of the Caribbean Philosophical Association Summer School (Photo: Neil Roberts)

I used my GSTEG grant to attend the Caribbean Philosophical Association (CPA) Summer School. During this week-long program, I attended seminars led by important scholars of critical theory who work on issues related to the Caribbean. The CPA is an organization dedicated to promoting Caribbean thought – that is, critical theory produced by and for people from the Caribbean. Participating in the summer school allowed me to meet important professors and graduate students with similar interests to my own. It was an amazing experience.

Jonnathan Singh Alvarado, Ph.D. in Neurobiology

Imaging and Untangling Population Dynamics in the Songbird Basil Ganglia
Group by a lake.
Jonnathan Singh Alvarado and fellow participants in the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories course on advanced neural data analyses

This GSTEG grant allowed me to attend a two-week course on advanced neural data analyses held at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories. As computational and mathematical frameworks for describing behavior and neuronal activity continue to develop, it is critical for all neuroscientists to stay at the forefront of these advances. In my case, the underlying motivation was to gain tools that would allow me to understand how complicated skilled behaviors such as birdsong are orchestrated by large groups of neuronal networks in living, moving songbirds.

Beyond the extremely high-quality lectures and short projects, the networking was invaluable. As a cohort, we spent every evening socializing amongst ourselves and with many professors, discussing each other’s goals and interests. I keep many of these relationships active to this day, a benefit that has been just as important as the technical skills I gained from the experience.

Joanna Chang, Ph.D. in Musicology

Intensive Language Training in Germany and Austria
Statue of Brahms.
Statue of Johannes Brahms

I took 12 weeks of German language courses with the Goethe Institut and Deutsch-Institut. My dissertation focuses on regional influences of the Hamburg-born composer Johannes Brahms. The Brahmsnebel – used in German music criticism during the last quarter of the nineteenth century – depicts the nebulous haze of composers throughout Europe and the Americas who consciously or unconsciously emulated Brahms’s compositional aesthetic in the years before and after his death.

Primary source materials (e.g., music journals, concert reviews, newspaper articles, as well as personal memoirs, letters and diary entries) shed light on how Brahms’s music actively weighed upon composers’ creative consciousness. The training yielded greater fluency in reading comprehension of these primary sources, but also widened my access to research methodologies and analytical tools of the latest German musical scholarship.

Jessica Coleman, Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology

Training for Research to Promote Sexual and Reproductive Health Equity
Coleman at the conference.
Jesssica Coleman at the Global Reproductive and Sexual Health Summer Institute

I spent a week attending the Global Reproductive and Sexual Health Summer Institute at the University of Michigan School of Nursing. I was fortunate to receive specialized education and training regarding my areas of research and clinical focus. Specifically, I learned about methods to examine the impacts of gender-based violence on health and considerations for conducting sexual and reproductive intervention research with historically marginalized populations.

I also visited Dr. Dekel’s lab at Massachusetts General Hospital to learn about novel methodology in studies of traumatic childbirth, including hormonal and neuroimaging measurement.

This targeted, supplementary training has informed the development of my dissertation, in which I will develop and pilot a program to support patients through distressing, genitally invasive gynecologic medical procedures.

Jonathan Henderson, Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology

Producing Mande Music in the Black Atlantic
Musicians and J. Henderson.
Mande musicians; Jonathan Henderson

The Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grant made it possible for me to spend the spring semester in London attending Lucy Durán’s Mande Music seminar course at SOAS University. Durán is central to my research on the work of record producers in mediating Mande music practices for international audiences. She has been a key figure in educating international publics about Mande music through her numerous recording collaborations with musicians from Mali and Gambia.

Attending her seminar allowed me to connect with her informally after class as well, and to set up a series of formal interviews with her. These interviews have provided crucial material for the research I have been writing up since my return from London. I presented a version of this work in progress at the Society for Ethnomusicology. My paper, entitled, “World Music Record Production and the Politics of Invisibility in Toumani Diabaté’s Kaira,” examines Durán’s 1987 production featuring the great Malian kora player Toumani Diabaté.

Siddharth Kawadiya, Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering

Lab Scale Assessment and Analysis of Malodors in Reinvented Toilets
In the lab.
Siddharth Kawadiya in the lab at Firemenich

My research focuses on odor control in reinvented toilets, and I’ve completed extensive research on using odor control “pouches” to remove malodorous compounds generated in toilets. The primary objective of the internship at Firmenich was to learn quantitative methods to determine the concentration of various compounds in the gas phase, using a technique called Solid Phase Extraction, coupled with Gas Chromatography (SPE-GC).

Together with the scientists at Firmenich, I researched the optimum absorbents to capture the malodorous gases, and the solvents to elute out the absorbed gases into a solution that could be injected into a GC for analysis. This led to the development of a protocol that enabled me to determine the efficiency of my pouches in removing malodors, by analyzing the gas phase concentration of various compounds in a bag filled with malodorous air before and after placing the odor pouch in it.

By manipulating the composition of the odor pouches and repeating the analysis detailed above, I was able to determine which compositions were suitable to remove each of the major gases that comprise the malodors found in toilets.

Koffi Nomedji, Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology

The Everyday and the Anthropocene
Scenes of coastal erosion.
Scenes of coastal erosion in West Africa

Coastal erosion is affecting 500,000 people in West Africa every year; however, its effects on coastal communities are not well documented. My research is concerned with the sociocultural impact of this ongoing environmental crisis. The GSTEG allowed me to get an on-site training in landscape and documentary photography. I also organized photography shootings with photographers from Togo and Ghana.

My future project is to create online venues that will help publicize the erosion issue. I am also planning to create a short documentary explaining coastal erosion to the public. The erosion issue has been explained by geographers but it is still hard for a regular person to picture the processes. The idea to use animation technology to show how regional geophysical and manmade processes are producing the erosion in Ghana, Togo and Benin.

Amanda Rossillo, Ph.D. in Evolutionary Anthropology

Assessing Extinct and Modern Human Adaptations to Climatic Variability Using Geometric Morphometric Methods
Scan.
Amanda Rossillo was able to modify a new approach to suit her own project when she returned to Duke.

My dissertation research on human evolution focuses on how the human skeleton has changed over time. The goal of my current project is to investigate the extent and pattern of variation in an extinct human species known as Homo naledi from South Africa.

Before beginning my project, I was familiar with traditional observational and metric methods of osteological analysis. However, an approach known as geometric morphometrics is becoming increasingly common in the field because it facilitates analysis of much more data very rapidly through the use of digital points called landmarks.

I attended a week-long introductory workshop on geometric morphometrics offered through Transmitting Science in Barcelona. This workshop was invaluable because I learned the fundamentals of a new approach and how to modify it to suit my own project when I returned to Duke. I also was able to practice my science communication skills by working with and presenting my results to the other participants, many of whom came from different countries and engaged in different fields of study.

Clay Sanders, Ph.D. in Civil Engineering

Novel Structural and Material Design Methods
Clay Sanders.
Clay Sanders at the Louvre

I utilized my GSTEG for a research trip to ENSTA-Paris Tech to investigate a new computational optimization technique to design structures. I worked with Professor Marc Bonnet.

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 submitted a manuscript to the International Journal of Numerical Methods in Engineering.

Weiyi Tang, Ph.D. in Earth and Ocean Sciences

Characterizing Diazotrophs in the North Atlantic Ocean
Tang.
Weiyi Tang used his GSTEG to pursue research and training projects at the National Oceanography Centre.

Previous GSTEG recipient Weiyi Tang graduated in 2019 is currently a postdoctoral research associate in Princeton University’s Department of Geosciences.

While at Duke, Tang used a Dissertation Research Travel Award from The Graduate School and a GSTEG to support his research travel and training at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, U.K. The research results partly supported by the two awards were published in The ISME Journal (“New insights into the distributions of nitrogen fixation and diazotrophs revealed by high-resolution sensing and sampling methods”), with Tang as first author.

About Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants

Together Duke, the university’s academic strategic plan, includes a goal to provide a transformative educational experience for all students and sets forth increased opportunities for graduate and professional students to prepare for a wide array of career options.

Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants (GSTEG) are intended 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. This internal funding mechanism aims to help students deepen their preparation for academic positions and other career trajectories.

See all current Together Duke initiatives.

What’s Harming Our Wetlands?

Wetlands.
Dead trees are an indicator of wetland degradation

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.

Keqi He was among nine Duke University doctoral students that received Summer 2020 Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants (GSTEG) from the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies. Wenhong Li served as faculty mentor.

Read on to learn more about He’s experience.

Keqi He.
Keqi He

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.

Learn more about Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants (GSTEG) and see other Summer 2020 recipients.

Research Collaboration Strengthens Ph.D. Student’s Work on New Structural Design Technique

Clay Sanders.
Clay Sanders at the Louvre

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.


ENSTA-Paris.
On campus at ENSTA-Paris

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 optimization describes 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.

Sketching.
Sketching in the Luxembourg Palace Gardens

Learn more about Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants (GSTEG), see other 2019-2020 grantees and learn who received grants for Summer 2020.

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.

Duke PhD Students Can Propose Summer 2020 Internships through GSTEG

GSTEG RFP.

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

Overview

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.

The Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants (GSTEG) resource page includes information and advice about how to explore research experiences eligible for GSTEG support.

Restrictions and Parameters

  • 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.

Eligibility

  • 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.

Proposal Requirements

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, feistel@duke.edu, 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, feistel@duke.edu.)

To apply, visit dukeinterdisc.formstack.com/forms/gsteg_2020.

Timeline

Revised RFP released 4/16/2020
Revised RFP deadline for submission 5/1/2020, by 5:00 p.m.
Grant recipients notified 5/10/2020
Funds made available (or sooner upon request) 5/20/2020
Funds to be expended by 9/1/2021

Resources

The GSTEG resource page provides:

  • 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.

Contact

For any questions related to the online application and/or other logistical questions, please contact Amy Feistel, amy.feistel@duke.edu. 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, melissa.bostrom@duke.edu (any discipline, PhD and research master’s students)
  • Heather Nickel, Senior Career Specialist, Office of Biomedical Graduate Education, heather.nickel@duke.edu (biomedical sciences)
  • Maria Wisdom, Director of Graduate Student Advising and Engagement for the Humanities, maria.wisdom@duke.edu (humanities and interpretive social sciences)

FAQ

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, bostrom@duke.edu (PhD and research master’s students in any area of knowledge)
  • Rachel Coleman, Associate Director, Duke Career Center, coleman@duke.edu (all areas of knowledge)
  • Heather Nickel, Senior Career Specialist, Office of Biomedical Graduate Education, nickel@duke.edu (biomedical sciences)
  • Maria Wisdom, Director of Graduate Student Advising and Engagement for the Humanities, wisdom@duke.edu (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.

Any proposed internship must be virtual/remote and in compliance with Duke University’s coronavirus response policies.

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.

From Rome to Rio, These Students Enhanced Their Doctoral Training with GSTEG Funding

Grantees.

Background

Together Duke, the university’s strategic plan, includes a goal to provide a transformative educational experience for all students and sets forth increased opportunities for graduate and professional school students to prepare for a wide array of career options.

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.

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.

StudentProgramUse of GrantFaculty Mentor(s)
Torang Asadi Ph.D. in ReligionHuman computer interaction and user experience research courses at UC-Berkeley, Coursera, and StanfordDavid Morgan
Christina BejjaniPh.D. in Psychology and NeuroscienceComputational Summer School at University of AmsterdamTobias Egner
Morine CebertPh.D. in NursingThree courses at Odum Institute’s Qualitative Research Summer Intensive at UNC-Chapel Hill and online Nurse Certificate Course for Reproductive Endocrinology and InfertilityRosa M. Gonzalez-Guarda and Eleanor Stevenson
Yanyou Chen Ph.D. in EconomicsRailway Operations module of Railway Executive Development Program at Michigan State UniversityChristopher Timmins
Patrick Gray Ph.D. in Marine Science and Conservation Collaboration with Conservation Metrics in Santa Cruz; Marine Technology Glider Camp, Rutgers UniversityDavid W. Johnston
Siddharth KawadiyaPh.D in Civil and Environmental EngineeringInternship at Firmenich in Geneva, Switzerland Marc A. Deshusses
Gray KiddPh.D. in HistoryProfessional training in the production of documentary films in Recife, BrazilJohn D. French
Zachary LevinePh.D. in Cultural AnthropologyPlant medicine course at Jardim Botânico in Rio de Janeiro, BrazilDiane M. Nelson
Adrian Linden-HighPh.D. in Classical StudiesInternational Image Interoperability Framework workshop at University of Victoria, CanadaMary T. Boatwright
Julia NotarPh.D. in BiologySensory ecology course at Lund University, SwedenSönke Johnsen
Christine RyanS.J.D. in LawFieldwork on role of international human rights law in access to abortion in KenyaKatharine T. Bartlett
Hillary Smith Ph.D. in Marine Science and ConservationFisheries and Aquaculture Department fellowship at UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, ItalyXavier Basurto
Weiyi TangPh.D. in Earth and Ocean SciencesCollaboration with Dr. Julie Robidart’s laboratory at National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, UKNicolas Cassar
Phillip TurnerPh.D. in Marine Science and ConservationCollaboration with International Seabed Authority (ISA) in Kingston, JamaicaCindy Lee Van Dover

Types of Grant Activities and Examples of Impact

Hands-on Training

Weiyi Tang, Ph.D. in Earth and Ocean Sciences
Characterizing Diazotrophs in the North Atlantic Ocean with New Skills in Molecular Biology
Tang.
Weiyi Tang presents his research projects at National Oceanography Centre; trained to run gel electrophoresis in the lab; inside the NOCS

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
Gray.
Patrick Gray alongside the rover in Iceland; the full team and the rover they have been using to simulate the Mars 2020 operations; Gray and the drone he has been flying for surveys in Iceland

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.”

This collaboration had begun virtually before we began working physically together through a project using deep learning to identify sea turtles in drone imagery, which was finalized while I was working in Santa Cruz and led to another paper with Methods in Ecology and Evolution titled “A convolutional neural network for detecting sea turtles in drone imagery.” I also wrote a popular science article for the Methods in Ecology and Evolution blog.

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
Gray Kidd.
Flyer for public event; Gray Kidd

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.

Internships

Phillip Turner, Ph.D. in Marine Science and Conservation
The Middle Passage: An Area of Cultural Heritage on the International Seabed?
Phillip Turner.
DOSI intervention; Phillip Turner (center) with Aline Jaeckel and Diva Amon

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
Hillary Smith.
Hillary Smith at 33rd session of Committee on Fisheries in Rome; colorful small-scale fishing craft in Dakar, Senegal; Smith on the rooftop at FAO headquarters

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.

Courses

Torang Asadi, Ph.D. in Religion
Quantum Regimes: Holistic Healthcare among Iranians in Northern California
Torang Asadi.
Torang Asadi

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
Zachary Levine.
Zachary Levine and a view of the Botanical Gardens of Rio de Janeiro

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
Yanyou Chen.
Yanyou Chen and views of his visits to railway yards

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
Bejjani.
Christina Bejjani networking with new colleagues and friends in Amsterdam

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
Linden-High.
The IIIF viewer Mirador displaying manuscripts from different libraries; Adrian Linden-High; image after the IIIF workshop

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!

Learn More

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, interdisciplinary@duke.edu).

Duke Graduate Students Receive Grants to Enhance Their Training beyond Core Disciplines

Photos, top row: Jacqueline Allain, Jonnathan Singh Alvarado, Joella Bitter, Jessica Coleman, Jacqueline Gerson, Jonathan Henderson; bottom row: Brandon Hunter, Koffi Nomedji, Amanda Rossillo, Clay Sanders, Jewel Scott.
Top row: Jacqueline Allain, Jonnathan Singh Alvarado, Joella Bitter, Jessica Coleman, Jacqueline Gerson, Jonathan Henderson; bottom row: Brandon Hunter, Koffi Nomedji, Amanda Rossillo, Clay Sanders, Jewel Scott

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.

Jacqueline Allain, Ph.D. in History

  • Faculty mentor: Laurent Dubois
  • Participate in 2019 Caribbean Philosophical Association Summer School, to inform research examining motherhood and reproduction in post-emancipation Martinique

Jonnathan Singh Alvarado, Ph.D. in Neurobiology

  • Faculty mentor: Richard Mooney
  • 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

Joella Bitter, Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology

  • Faculty mentor: Louise Meintjes
  • Enroll in a 30-hour Digital Audio Certificate program at Harvestworks in New York to hone skills in sound editing, multichannel audio production, and interactive media installations

Jessica Coleman, Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology

  • Faculty mentor: Rebecca Shelby
  • 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

Jacqueline Gerson, Ph.D. in Ecology

  • Faculty mentor: Emily Bernhardt
  • Train at the University of Toronto with leading mercury dendrochronologist Trevor Porter, to learn how to identify and date tree rings and subsequently to analyze them for mercury content

Jonathan Henderson, Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology

  • Faculty mentor: Louise Meintjes
  • Take a course in Mande music at SOAS University of London taught by Lucy Durán, to learn from a foremost scholar and record producer key to the international circulation of Mande music

Brandon Hunter, Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering

  • Faculty mentor: Marc Deshusses
  • 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

Koffi Nomedji, Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology

  • Faculty mentor: Charles Piot
  • Experience on-site training in landscape and documentary photography and organize a photography festival in Togo and Ghana, to supplement research and inform policy discourse on the effects of erosion

Amanda Rossillo, Ph.D. in Evolutionary Anthropology

  • Faculty mentor: Steven Churchill
  • 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

Clay Sanders, Ph.D. in Civil Engineering

  • Faculty mentor: Wilkins Aquino
  • 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

Jewel Scott, Ph.D. in Nursing

  • Faculty mentor: Leigh Ann Simmons
  • 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.