New Faculty Collaborations Flourish in a Challenging Year

Images of Duke buildings in a collage.

Last January, ten groups of Duke faculty looked forward to beginning work on their 2020 Intellectual Community Planning Grants (ICPG). The COVID-19 pandemic interfered with their plans, but the groups succeeded in making strides and will continue to pursue their goals this year. Here are brief updates.

Transformative Learning: A Shared Intellectual Interest across the University

Cori Crane (lead), Deb Reisinger (lead), Joan Clifford (lead), Jennifer Ahern-Dodson, Alessandra Dinin, Jennifer Hill, David Malone, Liliana Paredes, Melissa Simmermeyer

Screenshot and collage.
Left: “Shifting Perspectives“ blog series; right: collage from art therapy workshop, “Who am I as a learner?“

This group’s aim was to explore transformative learning in undergraduate education in the members’ disciplines and across units. Members met monthly to discuss selected readings, including Patricia Cranton’s book “Understanding and Promoting Transformative Learning: A Guide to Theory and Practice.” Three meetings were held in person before the pandemic caused the remainder to take place virtually. For two of the meetings, outside speakers were invited to share their scholarship. In February, Dr. Stacey Johnson (Vanderbilt) spoke on perspective transformation among language learners of minoritized communities and gave a keynote at the Duke Language Symposium. In October, Dr. Richard Kiely (Cornell) met with the group twice and gave a public talk.

Inspired by Cranton’s discussion of arts-based activities as stimulus for reflection, members participated in a summer workshop by the Art Therapy Institute of NC. The group also began a blog series, “Shifting Perspectives,” and posted an Introduction, When Teachers Are Learners and Reclaiming and Reframing the Disrupted Year of Learning.

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

Donald H. Taylor (lead), Ebony Boulware, Nadine Barrett, Carolyn Barnes, Rosa Guarda-Gonzalez

Advertisement for Misinformation and Mistrust symposium
The Misinformation and Mistrust symposium took place on October 2, 2020.

ICPG funds supported two virtual symposia to facilitate discourse around the social determinants of health and key issues to bridge with community partners.

A research symposium, A Call to Action: Identifying Next Steps to Address Biomedical, Health Care, and Social Drivers of COVID-19 Disparities, attracted 1,296 attendees and provided a venue for discussion among a mix of faculty from the School of Medicine, Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) and the social sciences. The second symposium, Misinformation and Mistrust: COVID-19 Conversations on Race and Gender Equity, engaged 325 participants.

The group’s symposia planning led to a U54 supplement to an NIH grant that was submitted through a shared vision of a project on adequate COVID testing in key areas of underserved populations.

Human Rights Futures

James Chappel (lead), Kathi Weeks, Robin Kirk, Adam Rosenblatt, Liliana Paredes, Marion Quirici, Jen Ansley, Emily Stewart

Liat Ben-Moshe.
The Human Rights Futures group invited Liat Ben-Moshe to talk about her new book, “Decarcerating Disability: Deinstitutionalization and Prison Abolition.” The online event will take place on February 17.

To begin thinking about the future of the Duke Human Rights Center (DHRC), this group held numerous meetings with graduate students, undergraduates, and faculty members who are interested in this topic. They came up with ideas for house courses and other initiatives that ended up being stalled due to the pandemic, but the discussions helped inform their vision of how to proceed.

As the DHRC deepens its collaboration with the Health Humanities Lab and the Disability and Access Initiative, ICPG funds will support a speaker and two workshops for students about disability, human rights and the university in Spring 2021. The grant also gave members some intellectual space to imagine the parameters of a FOCUS cluster, Envisioning Human Rights, and allowed for Robin Kirk to bring in guest speakers and facilitators to her course on fiction, futurism and human rights.

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

Donna J. Biederman (lead), Rosa Gonzalez-Guarda, Elizabeth Shapiro-Garza, Daniel Richter, Jennifer (Kate) Hoffman, Don Bradley, Donald H. Taylor, Lorraine C. Taylor, Ashanti Brown

Zoom screenshot
Screenshot from one of the group’s virtual meetings

The group was able to hold two planning meetings with administrators from the Durham Housing Authority (DHA) in July and November. Participants agreed that a more strategic approach to research involving DHA would be needed before engaging residents. The pandemic also caused scheduling difficulties with the group’s second community partner, El Centro Hispano. The group’s current plan is to give a presentation at an upcoming LATIN-19 (Latinx Advocacy Team & Interdisciplinary Network for COVID-19) meeting to ask for volunteers to participate and provide community expert feedback on housing and health issues among the Latinx community.

North Carolina Saltwater Intrusion and Sea Level Rise

Justin Wright (lead), Emily Bernhardt, Nathaniel Chaney, Jean-Christophe Domec, Jennifer Swenson, Ryan Emanuel, Marcelo Ardon

The working group following their meeting
Members of the working group following a meeting

The primary goal of this project was to bring together scientists from across the state whose research focuses on the implications of sea level rise and salt water intrusion on natural ecosystems. The group hosted a workshop in February 2020, which was attended by faculty, postdocs, and graduate students from Duke, North Carolina State University, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service. Members presented their findings and approaches, identified key knowledge gaps and explored how bringing together different disciplines could lead to productive new approaches.

For many people, the workshop marked the first time meeting new colleagues and hearing about existing datasets and novel applications. This interaction kick-started several collaborative efforts. To date, the group has submitted one grant proposal and is completing a second proposal. Members continue to use a Google Group for sharing ideas for future proposals and collaborations.

Light-based Methods in Neuroscience and Biology

Eva Naumann (lead), Roarke Horstmeyer, Jenna McHenry, John Pearson, Junjie Yao, Stefano Di Talia, Mike Tadross

Using all optical neural activity monitoring and manipulating in the translucent zebrafish
Using all optical neural activity monitoring and manipulating in the translucent zebrafish

This group aimed to cross-pollinate ideas among neuroscientists, engineers and data scientists. Members took part in an in-person kickoff meeting but had to postpone their plans to host seminars and discussions. Virtual meetings helped forge stronger contacts between the group members, and faculty have already initiated three new collaborations.

Entity Resolution with Applications to Public Policy and Business

Victor Bennett (lead), Rebecca Steorts (lead), David Banks, Ines Black, Sharique Hasan, Jerry Reiter

Diagram.
Diagram from Rebecca Steorts’ webpage on selected research and software

Based on implementation of the novel Entity Resolution algorithm developed by Rebecca Steorts, the group spent time getting the code required to run the process up and running on Duke infrastructure. Master’s student Davis Berlind was able to run the process on some real-world data used to measure automation in the U.S. economy. With advising, he was also able to provide reports comparing the performance of the routine to other routines on these data. To further the collaboration, Victor Bennett took a training course to learn Spark, the multiprocessor parallel processing system on which Steorts’ code was implemented. The performance on the real-world data was less than expected, which was helpful to learn – the group concluded that their collaboration has a lot to contribute by improving the algorithm’s performance on commonly used data in business and public policy research.

Developing a Neuroethics and Theological Studies Network

Patrick Smith (lead), Brett McCarty (lead), Farr Curlin, Warren Kinghorn

Zoom meeting screenshot.
“Linking Social Justice and Brain Injury Through Theology” panelists at the 2020 International Neuroethics Society conference

In lieu of an on-campus gathering, this group began by spending a day on Zoom workshopping a coauthored manifesto and ideas for articles and grants. Patrick Smith has been in dialogue with the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences about a series of public conversations they are developing to catalyze work toward a science of social harmony and everyday morality. Brett McCarty engaged with Deborah Jenson to explore ideas. An unexpected fruit of the group’s efforts has been a growing network of national and international collaboration. The grant allowed the group to bring together international scholars working on questions regarding the intersection of theology and neuroethics, which led to Smith’s participation on a panel, “Linking Social Justice and Brain Injury Through Theology,” at the 2020 International Neuroethics Society Annual Meeting. “The grant allowed my research trajectory to take up important discussions at the intersection of theology, neuroethics, and social justice,” said Smith.

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

Pate Skene (lead), Michael B. Waitzkin, Jeff Ward, Jonathan Wiener, Mark Borsuk, Kate Konschnik, Lori Bennear, Sarah Rispin Sedlak

This group began with a planning meeting for the core group of faculty. With help from a summer research student, Sophie Mouros, the group conducted a survey of centers and courses at other universities that address the intersection of science and technology with regulation, law and policy. Members then conducted phone interviews with leaders of relevant centers and courses. Learning that most of those offerings are narrowly focused, they concluded that educating Duke faculty and students on the range and depth of the federal regulation of science – and on their ability to participate in that process – could position Duke to play a leadership role in this area.

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

Michael Gehm (lead), Jason Amsden, Nabarun Dasgupta, Jeffrey Glass, Joel Greenberg, Rachel Greenberg, Sonia Grego, Andrew Muzyk

The group was able to hold an in-person kickoff meeting and three information-sharing meetings where the members introduced their connections to the theme. Application-area experts from medicine and public health discussed the detection needs in their areas while the engineering experts discussed the capabilities of their detection modalities. Since a core aspect of this project was to transport scientific equipment to Texas in order to acquire baseline opioid signatures with the group’s detection equipment, and since many faculty were overwhelmed with COVID-related activities, all members agreed that activity should be suspended for the duration of the pandemic.

About Intellectual Community Planning Grants

A key goal of the Together Duke academic strategic plan is to invest in faculty as scholars and leaders of the university’s intellectual communities. To foster collaboration around new and emerging areas of interest, Intellectual Community Planning Grants are available to groups of faculty. Learn more, read about the 2019 recipients and see all Together Duke initiatives.

From Marine Medicine to the Economics of Education, Faculty Build New Collaborations

 Intellectual Community Planning Grants.

Eight Duke University faculty groups shared updates on the work supported by their 2019 Intellectual Community Planning Grants (ICPG). Although many groups’ plans were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, they logged a number of accomplishments and intend to further their collaborations.

Big Data and Social Interactions

Jillian Grennan (lead), Chris Bail, Ines Black, Ofer Eldar, Sarah Gaither, Sharique Hasan, Rachel Kranton, David Robinson

Word cloud.

The group held a kick-off event featuring Amir Goldberg of Stanford University. Goldberg’s 90-minute lecture, “Timing Differences: Discursive Diversity and Team Performance,” was attended by about 40 faculty and graduate students from Fuqua and the broader Duke community. This interaction led the group to a new research project in collaboration with a startup firm that uses AI to generate productivity scores for employees in real time. The group began coordinating with the startup to run a randomized control trial where managers are given tips on how to enhance team productivity based on the AI-generated predictions.

Building Duke’s Community of Theoretical Chemists via a Summer Undergraduate Research Program

David Beratan (lead), Hashim Al-Hashimi, Volker Blum, Patrick Charbonneau, Stephen Craig, Bruce Randall Donald, Jianfeng Lu, Michael Rubinstein, Warren S. Warren, Weitao Yang

Students and faculty in 2019.
Selected students and faculty in 2019

This group launched a seven-week summer undergraduate research program for rising seniors studying in the U.S., Canada or Mexico who are interested in theoretical and computational chemistry. Research themes include electronic structure theory, quantum dynamics, polymer theory, theoretical biophysics, statistical mechanics, drug discovery, energy science and biochemistry. The program received support from the Department of Chemistry, the Duke University Energy Initiative and the National Science Foundation.

Exploring STEAM (Science, Arts, and Humanities) at Duke

Misha Angrist (lead), Jory Weintraub (lead), Ariana Eily (project manager), Nicolette Cagle, Aria Chernik, Claudia Gunsch, Jules Odendahl-James, Nimmi Ramanujam, Nina Sherwood, Kearsley Stewart, Victoria Szabo

The STEAM working group brought together members of the Duke community from a broad array of disciplines to explore the current status of STEAM interdisciplinary work around campus. The group met multiple times to define its goals, which included developing and distributing a campus-wide survey, creating a method for compiling STEAM resources and activities, and planning and implementing the first STEAM forum. The survey resulted in over 90 responses from faculty, staff and students of all levels. In completing the STEAM survey, the forum, and the postforum survey, the group laid a foundation for furthering STEAM at Duke.

Health as an Ecosystem: Expanding Our Imaginations of Health

John Moses (lead), Jennifer Lawson (lead), Charles Nunn, Richard Di Giulio, Alice Ammerman, Eliana Perrin, Eric Richardson, Jan Holton, Brett McCarty, Bill Walker, Peter English, Gopal Sreenivasan, Norman Wirzba, Jon Fjeld, Ray Barfield, Warren Kinghorn

Climate Change, Health and Social Justice lecture series.

Members of this group laid a foundation by making new connections across Duke. During a Science & Society dinner, for example, they met with graduate students from the School of Medicine, Science & Society, Environmental Toxicology who expressed interest in continued engagement. The group also benefited from monthly calls with the AAP Chapter Climate Advocates network and reviewed opportunities for future activities. In addition, the group organized a three-part lecture series, Climate Change, Health, and Social Justice, hosted by the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine. The first event, From Planet to Patient, will take place on January 13, 2021 (register here).

Launching a Triangle-Wide Seminar in the Economics of Education

Sarah Komisarow (lead), Charles Clotfelter, Helen Ladd, Marcos Rangel, Beth Gifford

Held at the Sanford School of Public Policy, the inaugural Triangle Economics of Education Workshop featured four presenters from local universities and one presenter from out of state. Sarah Turner of the University of Virginia gave the keynote address on college affordability, tailored to higher education costs in North Carolina. The group received 17 research paper submissions from researchers at 29 institutions, including local universities, government agencies, think tanks and national or international universities. The workshop’s 60 attendees spanned multiple schools, departments and programs at Duke and came from surrounding universities as well.

Marine Medicine: Multidisciplinary Research at the Nexus of the Environment and Human Health

Andrew Read (lead), Richard Di Giulio, Will Eward, Jason Somarelli, Tom Schultz, Meagan Dunphy-Daly

Marine Medicine team members in 2019.

Over monthly meetings, this group created a strategy for long-term funding support of an Oceans and Human Health Initiative. Members also submitted two review papers, one of which has already been published (Schmaltz et al. 2020. Plastic pollution solutions: emerging technologies to prevent and collect marine plastic pollution. Environment International). They hosted a virtual Oceans and Human Health Symposium, which included faculty, outside speakers, postdocs, graduate students and undergraduates. The group succeeded in obtaining funding from the Nicholas School of the Environment, the Seaworld/Busch Gardens Conservation Fund and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions (Catalyst Award).

Parasite-Host Evolution Network Optimization (PHENO) Working Group

James Moody (lead), Charles Nunn, Craig Rawlings, Gregory Gray, Chris Woods, Meira Epplein, James Herrera, Dana Pasquale

Network.

The group met multiple times to discuss potential grant mechanisms that would fit members’ interest in exploring how the potential intersection of social, epidemiological and evolutionary approaches might add to the ways in which we understand the spread of parasite and parasite-like diseases. While they did not submit a proposal based on this focus, the members got to know each other better and were poised to pursue opportunities related to COVID-19. They received two new grants (NSF-RAPID with Moody, Keister, Pasquale; CDC including Pasquale, Moody, Woods among many others) and used data on parasite-human interaction networks as a foundation for COVID-19 simulation work (Nunn, Moody, Pasquale).

Social Studies of Science Working Group

Harris Solomon (lead), Ara Wilson, Gabriel Rosenberg, Nima Bassiri, Cate Reilly, Nicole Barnes, Evan Hepler-Smith, Priscilla Wald, Mark Olson

This group made substantial headway on its aim of collating syllabi for members’ teaching efforts that relate to science and technology studies (STS). This emphasis on teaching proved especially useful to bridge the different levels of seniority in the group. Members now actively share their projected teaching schedules and think together about two other aims of the group: informing students more clearly about related courses in members’ cluster of teaching; and working within the limitations of individual unit constraints and needs to avoid scheduling those courses at the same time, which will better enable access for students.

About Intellectual Community Planning Grants

A key goal of the Together Duke academic strategic plan is to invest in faculty as scholars and leaders of the university’s intellectual communities. To foster collaboration around new and emerging areas of interest, Intellectual Community Planning Grants are available to groups of faculty. Learn more, read about the 2020 recipients and see all Together Duke initiatives.

Ten Groups of Faculty Receive Intellectual Community Planning Grants for 2020

Campus in winter.

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

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

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

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

Bridging team members.

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

Developing a Neuroethics and Theological Studies Network

Developing Neuroethics team members.

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

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

Duke SciReg ICPG members.

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

Entity Resolution with Applications to Public Policy and Business

Entity Resolutions ICPG members.

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

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

Housing ICPG members.

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

Human Rights Futures

Human Rights ICPG members.

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

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

Light-based Methods in Neuroscience and Biology

Light-based ICPG members.

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

North Carolina Saltwater Intrusion and Sea Level Rise

NC Saltwater ICPG members.

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

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

Opioid ICPG members.

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

Transformative Learning: A Shared Intellectual Interest across the University

Transformative Learning ICPG members.

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

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

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

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

Inaugural Duke STEAM Forum Brings Together the Sciences, Arts, and Humanities

STEAM participants.

By the STEAM at Duke Team

If you were in the Ruby on September 18, you caught a glimpse of the beginning of something big.

The inaugural Duke STEAM Forum was designed to give visibility and voice to those who are passionate about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics) at Duke. The forum was put forward by the team behind an Intellectual Community Planning Grant devoted to bringing together the sciences, arts and humanities at Duke, made available through the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies. We lovingly call ourselves the Duke STEAM Team.

By providing space for collaborative brainstorming, highlighting speakers who lead incredible STEAM initiatives, and learning lessons from an expert who brings STEAM into his work and his classroom, the afternoon was full of energetic chatter revealing the value of STEAM, our goals, ideas to foster its growth, and knowledge of where we need to provide support to bring this all to fruition.

The first STEAM forum filled the Ruby lounge with about 50 attendees featuring participants from Duke Gardens, the Nasher, Duke Forest, OIT, the Co-lab, Duke Libraries, and so much more. There was also a mix of undergraduates, graduate and professional students, postdocs, faculty, and staff. This shows just how STEAM@Duke cuts across many dimensions of our learning, our service, and our scholarship at every level.

We kicked off the event with opening remarks from Jory Weintraub, the director of science communication for the Initiative for Science & Society. He made the case for why STEAM is important and why we are poised to make strides with STEAM here at Duke. Then he turned over the reins to Ariana Eily, who facilitated the afternoon sessions. We dove into a brainstorm to get our ideas flowing for what we want to do with STEAM and what we need to do it—all recorded on the wall with sticky notes. This was followed by vignettes of STEAM initiatives taking place at Duke and more dialogue about existing projects, including The Art of a Scientist, The Enviro-Art Gallery, the SLIPPAGE Lab, the Calla Campaign, THE_OPER&, and HEAR at Duke.

In having this collection of STEAM-minded folks in one room for the first time, we wanted to give them as much time to interact and talk to each other as we could. Sharing ideas, resources, questions, and more to put some energy behind STEAM at Duke.

To close, Vice Provost for the Arts Scott Lindroth delivered a wonderful address capturing the spirit of STEAM and its ability to change the world.

In bringing together the arts and the sciences, we learn so much more about the world and human experiences in it. We can paint a more complete, more compelling, and more authentic picture of our world.

The STEAM forum is just the first in a wave of STEAM-centric things coming from the Duke STEAM Team. We are conducting a survey to get a sense of our thoughts on STEAM, gathering a list of STEAM resources, compiling a report on STEAM at Duke which will be out soon, and developing a website to be home to STEAM all across Duke’s campus. Collectively, we’re a team of a postdoc, an MA student, an undergraduate who is working with the CAST program, and faculty from different departments. We look forward to seeing the way STEAM grows at Duke!

Originally posted on the Duke Arts website


  • Read about the 2019 recipients of Intellectual Community Planning Grants.
  • See all current initiatives in the Together Duke academic strategic plan.

Seed Funding Spotlight: Five Current Opportunities for Duke Faculty

Faculty and students.

Duke University faculty members can apply for any of these opportunities with deadlines between October 15 and November 4.

Faculty Fellowships for Collaborative Project Courses

Deadline: October 15, 2019

Duke Learning Innovation, in partnership with Bass Connections, is launching a Faculty Fellows program to support faculty interested in designing (or re-designing) courses that are collaborative and project-based. Participants will receive $5,000 and guidance from pedagogy experts, as well as the opportunity to collaborate on course (re)design with a group of faculty from across campus.

Intellectual Community Planning Grants

Deadline: October 18, 2019

The Provost’s Office is offering support to faculty who are interested in convening a group of colleagues to begin or test a new collaboration around a shared intellectual interest. Project funds ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 will be awarded for use during the 2020 calendar year.

Faculty Teaching/Research Enhancement Grants

Deadline: October 31, 2019

The Provost’s Office is offering support to faculty to acquire skills, knowledge, or experiences outside of or beyond their main discipline or to underwrite a trip to scope out a new direction for research. Funds awarded will most likely fall within the range of $2,000 to $5,000.

Special Call for Proposals Related to Immigration

Deadline: October 28, 2019

Bass Connections is accepting proposals for new projects addressing research related to immigration. Project funding ranges from $5,000 to $25,000. This special call for proposals does not take the place of the normal Bass Connections RFP process; see below.

Bass Connections 2020-2021 Projects

Deadline: November 4, 2019

Bass Connections is accepting proposals for 2020-2021 projects that engage faculty, undergraduates and graduate/professional students in the interdisciplinary exploration of complex societal challenges. Faculty may apply for between $5,000 and $25,000 for a year-long project. When completing a proposal, faculty can take advantage of special opportunities in the following areas:

  • Joint proposal for a year-long Bass Connections project and a Summer 2020 Story+ or Data+ project
  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Energy access
  • Ethics
  • Arts
  • Humanities.

Please see additional funding opportunities for faculty and postdocs and for students. For a more comprehensive search, visit Duke’s research funding database for all open opportunities.

Intellectual Community Planning Grants Offer Support for Faculty Collaborations

ICPG.

 Deadline: October 18, 2019

Overview

The Provost’s Office is once again offering support to Duke faculty who are interested in convening a group of colleagues to begin or test a new collaboration around a shared intellectual interest.

Project funds ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 will be awarded for use during the 2020 calendar year. Recipients can use funds to cover the cost of food, meeting venue, external speakers or other meeting costs, and/or exploratory research (as by an RA) into potential collaborators at Duke, UNC, NC State, NCCU, RTI, etc.

Recipients from grant cycles in previous years represent a broad range of groups and new projects.

Eligibility

  • Any Duke regular rank faculty member, from any discipline, is eligible to propose and form a new collaborative group.
  • Each group should have at least five participating faculty members.
  • Prospective collaborations may be framed around disciplinary, interdisciplinary, or multidisciplinary themes. The search function at scholars.duke.edu is a useful tool to find other faculty who share a particular intellectual interest.
  • Proposals should identify a faculty lead organizer (PI).
  • Collaborative groups that include faculty from the Schools of Medicine and Nursing are welcome to apply, so long as that contingent does not comprise a majority of committed faculty.

Selection Criteria and Review Process

Proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Potential to build collaborations in exciting intellectual areas for relevant department(s), school(s) and/or cross-cutting institute(s), whether around fundamental/applied research, innovative teaching, and/or civic engagement.
  • Demonstration of an organizing group of faculty who have self-aggregated around a shared intellectual interest, and who want to pursue that common interest in a variety of venues, e.g., small monthly dinner meetings, larger quarterly meetings, workshops. Meetings should be designed to facilitate potential collaboration.
  • Extent to which proposals articulate a clear anticipated outcome and also provide a plan to sustain interactions, prepare joint grant applications, and/or create a product such as a class, shared research project, extra- or co-curricular offering, etc.

The review process of submitted proposals will be overseen by the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies and the Executive Vice Provost. All proposals, and discussions thereof, will be kept strictly confidential. The intent is that the collective set of award recipients will reflect the richness of intellectual approaches and modes of inquiry that make Duke a vibrant university.

Proposal Requirements

The Provost‘s Office uses Formstack to submit applications.

You will be asked to provide the following information:

  • a brief (maximum two-page) narrative that articulates (1) the area of shared intellectual interest, (2) the question or problem the group proposes to explore, (3) the proposed faculty group’s unique position and qualifications for engaging in the interest area and/or addressing the question or problem, (4) activities the group plans to conduct during the exploratory period, and (5) anticipated outcome (e.g., sustained interactions, joint grant application, new educational offering, Bass Connections project team proposal, research project);
  • a proposed budget;
  • information on other funding already obtained or requested (if applicants receive news about other funding proposals after the deadline, they should provide updated information to Carolyn Mackman, carolyn.mackman@duke.edu);
  • a listing of the organizing core faculty group with 2-page CVs for each.

To apply, visit dukeinterdisc.formstack.com/forms/icpg_fall2019.

Timeline

RFP released 09/04/2019
RFP deadline for submission 10/18/2019
Grant recipients notified 11/22/2019
Funds made available* (or sooner upon request) 01/06/2020

* Funds to be expended by 12/31/2020

Contact

For any questions regarding your proposal, please contact: Carolyn Mackman – Manager, Strategic Projects – at carolyn.mackman@duke.edu

FAQ

Who can apply?
Any group of Duke faculty members with a regular rank faculty lead organizer (PI).

Our project idea is not very interdisciplinary. Is this ok?

Yes, we are interested in collaborations of all types, including those framed around disciplinary themes.

Is this our only chance at submitting a project proposal?

No, we plan to have RFP requests again in 2020.

Is there an optimal number of faculty for a proposal?

We are expecting to see at least five faculty interested in developing a collaborative group around the shared intellectual interest.

What kinds of items and expenses would ICPG funds be able to cover?

Funds can be used to cover the cost of food, meeting venue, external speakers or other meeting costs, and/or exploratory research (as by an RA) into potential collaborators at Duke, UNC, NC State, NCCU, RTI, etc.

What kinds of deliverables do you expect the ICPG groups to produce?

Examples of successful outcomes for an ICPG group include: sustained and/or expanding interactions in the group, a joint grant application, a new educational offering, a Bass Connections project team proposal, a research project, a major collaborative research grant, etc.

How are the ICPGs different from other proposals, like Bass Connections, and Collaboratories?

ICPGs are aimed at faculty groups in the initial stages of exploration of a topic, to begin or test a new collaboration around a shared intellectual interest. Thus, ICPGs provide a smaller level of initial funding. Bass Connections project teams require participation of students at multiple learner levels and a focus on applied problems; the application process also encourages engagement with partners from outside the university (NGOs, government agencies, corporations, etc.). Collaboratories are a newer opportunity that provides support to groups of faculty working on more established projects that seek to provide tangible solutions to targeted problems in specified thematic areas.

Duke Faculty Advance Shared Interests with Intellectual Community Planning Grants

ICPG 2018 grantees.

Background

Together Duke, the university’s 2017 academic strategic plan, outlines four goals that will bring new distinction to Duke over the next decade. One of these goals is to invest in the Duke faculty as scholars and leaders of the university’s intellectual communities.

Intellectual Community Planning Grants (ICPG) are among the resources available to faculty who are interested in convening a group of colleagues to begin or test a new collaboration around a shared intellectual interest.

ICPG can be used to cover the cost of food, meeting venue, external speakers or other meeting costs, and/or exploratory research (as by an RA) into potential collaborators at Duke and elsewhere. Groups can pursue their common interests in any of a variety of venues, such as during small monthly dinner meetings, larger quarterly meetings, or workshops.

For the 2018 calendar year, a September 2017 request for proposals invited all Duke faculty, from any discipline, to propose and form a new collaborative group around disciplinary, interdisciplinary, or multidisciplinary themes. Groups of at least five participating faculty were eligible to apply.

2018 Grantees

Eight groups received 2018 Intellectual Community Planning Grants. Faculty came from Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Pratt School of Engineering, Divinity School, School of Law, School of Medicine, Nicholas School of the Environment, Sanford School of Public Policy, Franklin Humanities Institute, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Kenan Institute for Ethics, and the Duke Initiative for Science & Society. The average award was $4,738.

GroupKey Activities and AccomplishmentsFaculty Members
The Calla Project: An Art-based Initiative to Change the Narrative of Shame and Invisibility Associated with Cervical CancerTwo art education workshops at Rubenstein Arts Center facilitated by local artists; qualitative studies to understand women’s thoughts, experiences, and associations with their reproductive health; workshop on human-centered design for women’s health technologies at Triangle Global Health Annual Conference; continuation of work through Calla CampaignLead: Nimmi Ramanujam, Pratt–Biomedical Engineering

Wesley Hogan, Franklin Humanities Institute; Megan Huchko, Medicine–Obstetrics & Gynecology; Deborah Jenson, Trinity–Romance Studies; Gita Suneja, Medicine–Radiation Oncology
DEVNet (Duke Extracellular Vesicle Network)Meetings to discuss research directions, understand resources and expertise, and plan activities in pursuit of funding; discussions about partnerships with funding agencies, leading to successful prospectus and full proposal; graduate student attendance at conferences to understand opportunities at the intersections of fields; large group symposium to generate shared research questions and substantive text for NSF proposalLeads: Christine Hendren and Claudia Gunsch, Pratt–Civil & Environmental Engineering

James Andrew Alspaugh and Meta Kuehn, Medicine–Molecular Genetics & Microbiology; Rytas Vilgalys, Trinity–Biology; Mark R. Wiesner, Pratt–Civil & Environmental Engineering
Duke Cancer Institute Prostate Multi-parametric MRI and Targeted Biopsy Working GroupConversations leading to better understanding of each discipline’s strengths and limitations; monthly meetings; pathology report protocol that facilitates correlation between ex vivo whole-mount path reports and in vivo ultrasound and MR imaging data; progress toward building 3-D printed model of each man’s prostate that would allow group to section images (mpMRI and ARFI) in same planes as pathology for improved correlation; conference presentations involving ARFI+MRI data and ARFI prostate data; continuation of work through meetings and projectsLead: Thomas J. Polascik, Medicine–Surgery

Rajan T. Gupta, Medicine–Radiology; Jiaoti Huang, Medicine–Pathology; Kathy Nightingale and Mark L. Palmeri, Pratt–Biomedical Engineering
Duke Center on RiskFour faculty and student gatherings called Risk Watering Holes; two public lectures by external speakers (Granger Morgan of Carnegie Mellon and Jean-Francois Mercure of Cambridge); three discussion events; funding for two graduate students to assist in presenting at American Statistical Association’s Section on Risk Analysis and at Society for Risk Analysis Annual Meeting; further development of series of Bass Connections teams; continuation of work will occur through new university-wide research, teaching, and engagement program with three-year budget from Science & Society InitiativeLead: Mark Borsuk, Pratt–Civil & Environmental Engineering, and Jonathan Wiener, Law

Lori Bennear, Nicholas School; Nita Farahany, Law; Tyler Felgenhauer and Christine Hendren, Pratt–Civil & Environmental Engineering; Michael “Buz” Waitzkin, Science & Society
Environmental and Economic Justice in Rural AmericaConversations on environmental and economic justice in rural America; strengthened collaboration between Duke Human Rights Center at FHI, Nicholas School, and Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise (ACRE); two events with external speakers (Ryan Emmanuel of NC State and Peter Hotez of Baylor, who also took part in two working dinners with faculty and students); trips to campus for Catherine Flowers of ACRELeads: Erika Weinthal and Betsy Albright, Nicholas School

Wesley Hogan, Franklin Humanities Institute; Kay Jowers, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions; Megan Mullin and Liz Shapiro-Garza, Nicholas School; David Schaad, Pratt–Civil & Environmental Engineering; Chris Timmins, Trinity–Economics; Norman Wirzba, Divinity
Governing the Oceans for Nutrition and Food SecurityAdditional co-funding; strategic partnership with Environmental Defense Fund through case studies; strengthened collaboration between faculty at Duke’s Marine Lab and on main campus through a commentary paper on elevating the role of fish in global food policy; major grant application to Belmont ForumCoordinating center: World Food Policy Center, Sanford; Lead: Xavier Basurto, Nicholas School

Lisa Campbell, Grant Murray, and Martin Smith, Nicholas School; Stephen Roady, Law; John Virdin, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
Mindfulness across the DisciplinesSeries of four dinners each semester to discuss work, meet with visiting speakers, read current works; meetings on such topics as the nature of members’ research on mindfulness, how they used mindfulness in the classroom, and the nature of contemplative studies programs at Brown and UVA; expanded number of members; planning for half-day symposium on mindfulness in the academy (September 6)Lead: Richard Jaffe, Trinity–Religious Studies

Denise Comer, Trinity–Thompson Writing Program; Holly Rogers, Counseling & Psychological Services; Moria Smoski and Jeffrey Brantley, Medicine–Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences; Mark Leary, Trinity–Psychology & Neuroscience; Francesca Morfesis, Religious Life; Lesley Rink, Nursing; Thomas Szigethy, Wellness; Rebecca Vidra, Nicholas School
Race, Religion, and Volatile Political MovementsMonthly reading and discussion at lunch seminars; protocol and exemption from Duke IRB to conduct oral history interviews with political and community organizers in Durham and Raleigh; four interviews conducted; talk by Gerald TaylorLeads: Joseph Winters, Trinity–Religious Studies, and Amber Diaz Pearson, Kenan Institute for Ethics

Luke Bretherton, J. Kameron Carter, and Valerie Cooper, Divinity; James Chappel and Adriane Lentz-Smith, Trinity–History

Selected Examples

The Calla Project

Workshop participants.Invasive cervical cancer is the second most common female cancer in developing countries and the seventh in developed countries. Current screening relies on the bivalve speculum, which many women resist because of anxiety, fear, discomfort, pain, embarrassment, and/or vulnerability during the procedure. To address this limitation, Duke’s Center for Global Women’s Health Technologies developed the Callascope, an alternative to the standard speculum.

This faculty group believes that the Callascope can also be instrumental in creating an artistic platform for the cervix. Through the Center for Global Women’s Health Technologies, the group created an art-based initiative to begin the process of changing the narrative of shame and invisibility, educating women on their reproductive anatomy, and empowering them to make informed decisions about their reproductive health.

Using the grant, the group planned two unique art education workshops, free and open to the public, in the Rubenstein Arts Center. Both workshops were facilitated by local artists.

For Endogenous Zones, Saba Taj walked participants through a mindfulness exercise about their inner reproductive anatomy. She then taught everyone the parts of the anatomy while guiding them through a multimedia creative project to express their feelings about this part of the body. For the Playful Vaginas workshop, Meg Stein taught participants about myths or false hygiene methods that have been perpetuated. She then guided everyone through the process of sculpting the outer reproductive anatomy with clay and leftover feminine hygiene products.

Workshop flyer.Both workshops helped participants think about the associations they have regarding their reproductive health, in ways that helped them reflect on and also feel more comfortable discussing this part of their body. One first-year student talked about how uncomfortable the topic of the workshop made her feel at first and how the process of sculpting her outer reproductive anatomy made her feel more comfortable and realize it is not a shameful thing to discuss.

This grant also helped to fund further qualitative studies to understand women’s thoughts, experiences, and associations with their reproductive health, in order to better design art education interventions in the. Additionally, it funded the Calla Project team’s attendance at the Triangle Global Health Annual Conference, where they were able to learn more about women’s health and present another artistic workshop about human-centered design for women’s health technologies.

The group will further this work through the Calla Campaign. The campaign comprises a multimedia art exhibition, educational arts workshops, and a documentary film inspired by the potential that new visualizations of the cervix brings to one’s body’s well-being. Through these self-visualizations, the Calla Campaign is aimed at creating a new space for cisgender women, trans men, and nonbinary people who have been marginalized in the medical context.

DEVNet

Sticky notes on whiteboard.This working group focused on understanding and harnessing the nature and role of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in controlling intercellular communication and effects. DEVNet members met multiple times to discuss research directions, understand respective resources and expertise, and plan activities in pursuit of funding. The group included expertise in nanoscale fate and transport, colloid chemistry, environmental microbiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, soil science, mycology, biogeochemistry, data science, infectious diseases, and integration and implementation science (I2S).

DEVNet also worked to draw in partnerships with funding agencies. This work included discussions between Christine Ogilvie Hendren and NSF program officers in the area of convergence, resulting in an invitation for a prospectus submittal for a RAISE (Research Advanced by Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering) proposal on the topic of interkingdom communication. The team pulled together a successful prospectus, and was invited to submit a full proposal.

Doctoral student Nicholas Rogers selected his dissertation topic as a result of DEVNet activities. With DEVNet and leveraged funds, he attended the 2018 and 2019 International Society of EVs conferences; 10th International Water and Health Seminar, Gordon Research Conference for EVs; and International Conference on the Environmental Effects of Nanoparticles and Nanomaterials.

Rogers.From the funding from my PI, my department, and DEVNet, I was able to attend a variety of conferences in the last year, focusing on topics ranging from EVs to nanomaterials to water/health. In all of these conferences, I was able to discuss DEVNet’s ideas with experts in multiple fields and draw on their experiences. I expanded my network at all of these conferences and was able to ask very specific questions about methods to my colleagues. At the Gordon Research Conference in particular, I connected with a research group from UNC, who have since become my primary collaborator for the isolation and purification of EVs from cell culture media. At all of these meetings, there were no other research groups that were even remotely close to working on topics related to those proposed in DEVNet. This was extremely encouraging to me, to have found a niche of highly interdisciplinary research that has been unexplored yet but also is highly intriguing to multiple different fields of research. These experiences and connections would not have been possible without the funding of the DEVNet community!

—Nicholas Rogers, Ph.D. student in Civil & Environmental Engineering

Duke Center on Risk

Through the Intellectual Community Planning Grant, faculty members confirmed that there is a wide array of risk-related research and teaching already happening at Duke across multiple disciplines and within most schools. At the same time, they were surprised that many people who attended the group’s events did not know each other, leading to many interdisciplinary conversations. There has been a clear demand to continue building collaboration around risk research at Duke.

Risk event.

To that end, members of the group worked with the Science & Society Initiative to create the Duke Center on Risk. Directed by Mark Borsuk and Jonathan Wiener, the new Center has a three-year budget from Science & Society, which funds a half-time program ma­nager, website development, and future campus-wide events and activities. The overarching goal is to enhance synergies among researchers, educators, and practitioners with diverse perspectives on risk while also sparking new initiatives that enhance Duke’s already significant scholarship on this topic.

By coordinating outreach, engagement, and networking with external partners, the Center will expand Duke’s ability to obtain extramural funding in this growing field as well as to inform decision-makers about better ways to address risk. A launch event in Fall 2019 will include a prominent keynote speaker, faculty panel discussion, and student hack-a-thon.

Race, Religion, and Volatile Political Movements

Through monthly reading and discussion, this group began exploring questions including: How has religion/spirituality shaped and informed contemporary movements against racial injustice? How does gender factor into contemporary freedom struggles and our understanding of historic movements? Is there still a space within new movements for adherents of older spiritualities and more traditional patterns of belief? How do historical legacies of segregation in major Christian denominations have lingering social and religious effects, and how might they be addressed?

As an outgrowth of these monthly group lunch seminars, members developed a protocol and received exemption from the Duke IRB to conduct oral history interviews with political and community organizers in Durham and Raleigh. Two research assistants trained in ethnographic interviewing methods conducted oral history interviews with four individuals engaged in community organizing work linked with racial justice issues.

Gerald Taylor.Following up on the stories and concerns shared in the oral history interviews, the group invited Gerald Taylor, former regional director for the Industrial Areas Foundation in the Southeast, to speak on campus about his community organizing work. Held on June 11, this conversation brought together 30 participants, including faculty and students from multiple Duke departments, Religious Life organizations, and the Duke Faculty Union, along with members of local faith communities, schools, and nonprofits.

The faculty reading group plans to resume meeting regularly during the 2019-2020 academic year. The group has been a way for members to begin to bridge methodological differences across disciplines, and it will allow the group to cultivate a research program that builds on the strengths and research interests of all members. Patrick Smith (Divinity School) will join in Fall 2019. The group plans to reach out to other faculty and continue looking for ways to contribute to the Durham community.

Looking Ahead: Overview of 2019 Grantees

Eight faculty groups received Intellectual Community Planning Grants for the 2019 calendar year.

GroupFaculty Lead(s)
Big Data and Social InteractionsJillian Grennan, Fuqua
Building Duke’s Community of Theoretical Chemists via a Summer Undergraduate Research ProgramDavid Beratan, Trinity–Chemistry
Exploring STEAM (Science, Arts, and Humanities) at DukeMisha Angrist, Social Science Research Institute, Initiative for Science & Society; and Jory Weintraub, Science & Society
Health as an Ecosystem: Expanding Our Imaginations of HealthJohn Moses and Jennifer Lawson, Medicine–Pediatrics
Launching a Triangle-Wide Seminar in the Economics of EducationSarah Komisarow, Sanford
Marine Medicine: Multidisciplinary Research at the Nexus of the Environment and Human HealthAndrew Read, Nicholas
Parasite-Host Evolution Network Optimization (PHENO) Working GroupJames Moody, Trinity–Sociology
Social Studies of Science Working GroupHarris Solomon, Trinity–Cultural Anthropology

Learn More

Download this report as a PDF. For more information, please visit the Intellectual Community Planning Grants page on our website or contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies (216 Allen Building, 919-684-1964, interdisciplinary@duke.edu).

Janet Prvu Bettger on Interdisciplinary Collaboration

I have found leading Bass Connections to be professionally transformational for me as an educator”

Veronica Sotelo Munoz, Jackie Xu, Sahil Sandhu, and Janet Prvu Bettger at Duke’s Global Health Showcase.
Veronica Sotelo Munoz, Jackie Xu, Sahil Sandhu, and Janet Prvu Bettger at Duke’s Global Health Showcase

Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery Janet Prvu Bettger is interested in what comes after a life-altering injury or illness, when a patient leaves the hospital and must learn to live with disability. She launched the Global Alliance on Disability and Health Innovation (GANDHI for short) to support innovative approaches that will help vulnerable people around the globe to gain functional independence and reintegrate into their communities after a devastating setback.

Bettger.This interdisciplinary project grew out of a 2015 Intellectual Community Planning Grant, when Bettger and her colleagues realized they “didn’t have the expertise in medicine and nursing alone to ask all of the right questions,” she said. They engaged additional faculty with different perspectives and brought students on board through a multiyear Bass Connections project in 2016.

Recently she reflected on some of the impacts of her involvement in collaborative inquiry at Duke.


A Series of Grants

We designed GANDHI in year 1 to compare strategies and policies in different countries that support patients’ transitioning home from the hospital and promote recovery from injury and illness. Faculty advisors who met in an April 2016 meeting supported by the Intellectual Community Planning Grant identified the need to study adult and pediatric systems of care separately. This led to a graduate student proposal (D-SIGN) to lead research focused on pediatric care.

GANDHI logo.

Faculty advisors also identified related research at Duke. This led to a proposal that was funded by the Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation to support a global showcase of health systems strengthening research.

GANDHI leadership quickly learned that there was very little work in low-income countries. The PIs for GANDHI year 1 [Catherine Staton and Bettger] applied to NIH for a grant to build capacity for transitional care in Tanzania to support recovery after traumatic injury. We were funded with a two-year R21.

We designed GANDHI in year 2 to focus on stroke systems of care in the Asia-Pacific region. Our students’ interest in the potential of digital health technology led to a proposal to the Provost’s office for funding to create a China-based mHealth@Duke conference.

Bettger (third from right) with students and colleagues at the mHealth@Duke conference in China.
Bettger (third from right) with students and colleagues at the mHealth@Duke conference in China

The event quickly grew to be bigger than expected with a three-campus collaboration (Duke in the U.S., China, and Singapore). Duke Kunshan University secured funding from the City of Kunshan and a nonprofit partner AccessHealth to launch an academic, industry, and public partnership for digital health.

group photo from the conference.
Group photo from the the mHealth@Duke conference in China

Expanding Networks

We planned year 1 to give the students exposure to care in different countries. Every week in the fall semester we had a different country partner join our group meeting by video conference to describe hospital-to-home care transitions in their country. We had nine active non-U.S. collaborators who subsequently supported a group manuscript, key informant interviews, and several opportunities for students.

Student opportunities from the GANDHI network included a Bass Connections follow-on project for that summer (Uganda), an independent study in the subsequent year (China), a global health master’s thesis and summer field work (Argentina), and project planning for year 2.

I personally have continued to collaborate with many of these global partners. I am now on the steering committee for clinical trials in China, Argentina, Brazil (and Peru), have funded research with partners in China, Singapore, and Tanzania, and co-led symposia at international conferences with collaborators in the Netherlands, Argentina, and China.

year 1 funding diagram.

We planned year 2 to expose students to stroke care in the U.S. and China. Partnerships for year 2 are depicted below. These supported the symposium, clinical observations, three research studies, and several opportunities for students. Other student outcomes from the year 2 GANDHI network included two DukeEngage awards, two travel scholarships for conference presentations (Sanford policy and undergraduate research), and summer research funding.

Meetings at Duke Kunshan led to subsequent Bass Connections proposals (GANDHI 3.0 and mHealth in Nepal) with new partnerships.

year 2 funding diagram.

A Transformational Experience

I have found leading Bass Connections to be professionally transformational for me as an educator.

First, working with students across schools and programs brought new meaning to interdisciplinary research. Second, I learned the importance of establishing “baseline” with all content and skills, and leveraging unique talents, experiences, and knowledge.

Finally, I am forever committed to engaging undergraduate students in clinical and population health research and having these and other early career trainees understand their value in team-based science.


See the Together Duke academic strategic plan, and learn more about Bass Connections and Intellectual Community Planning Grants.