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.

Christine Ogilvie Hendren on Interdisciplinary Collaboration

“One of the main things that makes our project work well is the sustained, diverse faculty engagement”

Christine Hendren.

Christine Ogilvie Hendren is Assistant Research Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering as well as Executive Director and Research Scientist at the Center for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEINT). Since 2017, she has led a Bass Connections project team, DECIPHER, whose members work to understand and evaluate complex public health and environmental risk scenarios. Moving from the story of fluorinated chemicals to case studies in drinking water quality, the team has assessed decision-making from the perspectives of scientists and engineers, healthcare providers, legal and regulatory agencies and members of the public, as well as economic and cultural stakeholders across fields and interests. Next year will bring a focus on the risks and benefits of geoengineering the climate.

Hendren is involved in other interdisciplinary collaborations across campus. She received two Intellectual Community Planning Grants in 2018—one to lead the Duke Extracellular Vesicle Network, (DEVNet) and another to take part in the Duke Project on Risk and Resilience. She is also providing assistance to the first cohort of Collaboratory grantees on best practices in collaborative research.

Below are excerpts from Hendren’s remarks at a Bass Connections orientation for new team leaders.


Creating a Team

Our idea for DECIPHER (which stands for Decisions on Complex Interdisciplinary Problems of Health and Environmental Risk) was to explore a topic – risk – that is typically only learned about from one perspective. Even if you think you’re being interdisciplinary about risk, you’re often only considering engineering and policy, and you might not be looking at the problem through other lenses that really should inform risk-based decision making, including key insights from the humanities.

Bass Connections DECIPHER team.In the first year (2017-2018), our case study was the story of refrigerants (CFCs), ozone depletion and climate change. When creating the team, we decided that we needed perspectives from technology, we needed policy makers and stakeholders, we needed to question what it even means to say something with certainty, and we needed to have people holistically look at a problem and dissect it without the benefit of hindsight. We needed people to be able to grasp the larger issues to describe the “why” behind problems, with the idea that an understanding of how previous decisions proliferated risks we would have liked to avoid can provide insight for better current and future decisions.

At first, we thought we were going to create kind of an analog to Harvard Business case studies and our approach would be holistic environmental decision case studies. We thought we could break these case studies down and then teach others how to teach them. Instead, our final product ended up being a very detailed infographic and more of a meta understanding of how to bring people to the point where they could have an appreciation for these other lenses. For us, success meant all the students knowing the nuts and bolts of how a decision happened, understanding there were a lot of human factors and learning what had to go into the decision-making process.

Promoting Diverse Faculty Engagement and Academic Humility

One of the main things that makes our particular project work well is the sustained, diverse faculty engagement. In our case, it’s a recurring project with mostly the same faculty, but it’s all new students each time.

For us, the repeated engagement of different faculty members has been really important to success, and it’s what our students reflect on the most. I see the appreciation in the students for the fact that an undergraduate elsewhere may not ever have a relationship with a professor, outside of receiving information in class.

What multiple people have told me is that they found it interesting that we have people from different fields like law and engineering and decision science, and all around, the students can hear professors saying things like, “Oh, I don’t know!” or calling each other out and saying, “That’s actually incorrect, you need the backstory.”

For all of us in academia, it’s very common and comfortable to do that, but it was a real learning moment about academic humility and how to work together to create an environment for the students where they could point this out. This trading of relevant expertise and vulnerable questioning between trusted colleagues is such an important part of knowledge co-creation, but it struck me that it appeared novel to some of our students and made me really think about why that is. My advice is that anything you can do to disrupt those normal power dynamics of the classroom will be helpful, whether that be going to dinner together, going to a house of a person on the team or just being openly humble about what you know and what you don’t know and how you’re creating.

For the second year (2018-2019), we structured the project’s outputs to maximize those types of experiences a little bit more. We let the students break up into subgroups and each got to create its own narrative of a drinking water case. We ran the first part of the year as a boot camp where we had different experts from all different kinds of fields come in and teach the students different skills and lessons, such as how to use statistical analysis, how to understand and track the history of water treatment technologies and how to conduct a documentary-style interview.

Encouraging Student Reflections and Comfort with Uncertainty

We learned over time that these types of engagement experiences work best if you require the students to write a reflection, even if it’s just a paragraph saying “What did I get out of this? How do I think it’ll go towards the eventual output?”

I wish I had known beforehand how important it would be to continually remind the students, particularly if you have an undergraduate heavy team, that this is not a course; it’s a research project. Students might ask us, “Is this what you wanted?” In this case though, that shouldn’t be the question. The question we have to ask [the student] is, “What do you want to do?” The feeling of not being sure you’re doing it right is the feeling of research. That feeling of uncertainty should be a teacher to the students that encourages them to ask for help or use their resources. We had said at the beginning that this is not a class, but a joint research project. Then we said it again later, but I wish we would have explicitly said it every single week and explained the implications.

The Importance of a Good Project Manager

Kathleen Burns.The other piece of advice I have is to find a project manager. We couldn’t have done any of this without our excellent project manager [Kathleen Burns, Ph.D. student in English], who has actually been with us both years and makes all of this possible. And, working on this team has really helped her formulate her dissertation topic, so it has advanced her academically, too. We elevated her to be a co-instructor now, because she really is doing the work at that level, contributing to the knowledge development, the pedagogy and serving as a touchstone for the student projects with a much higher degree of availability than the individual faculty leaders might be able to provide. I highly recommend investing a lot of your budget in a good project manager; it has made a fantastic difference.


Join this Bass Connections project team on April 16 for Coal Ash, Lead, and Aging Infrastructure: Stories of North Carolina Drinking Water at Motorco Music Hall in downtown Durham.

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

Faculty to Pursue Collaborations through 2019 Intellectual Community Planning Grants

ICPG 2019.

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) are available to groups of faculty.

These grants cover the cost of food, meeting venues, external speakers or other meeting costs, and exploratory research into potential collaborators at Duke and elsewhere. The offices of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies and the Executive Vice Provost oversee this seed grant program.

For the 2019 calendar year, eight groups received Intellectual Community Planning Grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.

Big Data and Social Interactions

Big Data and Social Interactions faculty members.

This group will facilitate interactions among faculty who want to learn how technological advancements and big data can improve our understanding of the ways in which social norms and interactions affect individuals’ and firms’ behavior. The primary goal is to produce sustained interactions and research papers capable of being published in leading scholarly journals. A kick-off event will include a visiting speaker. Subsequent meetings will invite faculty to provide overviews of recent research and discuss new ideas; review colleagues’ early-stage research ideas; and share early work with a guest speaker who is a pioneer in the field.

  • Lead: Jillian Grennan, Fuqua School of Business
  • Chris Bail, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Sanford School of Public Policy
  • Ines Black, Fuqua School of Business, Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative
  • Ofer Eldar, Law School, Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative
  • Sarah Gaither, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Sharique Hasan, Fuqua School of Business, Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative
  • Rachel Kranton, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • David Robinson, Fuqua School of Business, Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative

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

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

An emerging community of theoretical chemists at Duke is spread across schools and departments. This group has begun to organize a Summer Undergraduate Research Program in Theoretical Chemistry, which will help strengthen the pool of graduate student applicants from North America. The Intellectual Community Planning Grant will enable the participation of more faculty (those who could not fully fund a student on their own) and support team-building excursions. All faculty will present multiple seminars and mentor the summer undergraduate researchers.

  • Lead: David Beratan, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, School of Medicine, Duke University Energy Initiative
  • Hashim Al-Hashimi, School of Medicine
  • Volker Blum, Pratt School of Engineering, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Duke University Energy Initiative
  • Patrick Charbonneau, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Stephen Craig, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Duke University Energy Initiative
  • Bruce Randall Donald, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, School of Medicine, Pratt School of Engineering, Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, Duke Center for Genomic and Computational Biology
  • Jianfeng Lu, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Michael Rubinstein, Pratt School of Engineering, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Warren S. Warren, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, School of Medicine
  • Weitao Yang, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Duke University Energy Initiative

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

Exploring STEAM at Duke members.

A working group of Duke faculty, staff, administrators, and students will explore overlapping and complementary interests in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, arts, and humanities (broadly referred to as STEAM), and promote more robust interdisciplinary research, coursework, and public engagement in this space, both within and beyond Duke. The group will organize a half-day forum to catalog and describe innovative STEAM activities occurring at Duke and spark new collaborations among faculty, students, staff, and administrators.

  • Lead: Misha Angrist, Social Science Research Institute, Duke Initiative for Science & Society, Sanford School of Public Policy
  • Co-lead: Jory Weintraub, Duke Initiative for Science & Society
  • Project manager: Ariana Eily, Duke Initiative for Science & Society
  • Nicolette Cagle, Nicholas School of the Environment
  • Aria Chernik, Social Science Research Institute, Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative
  • Claudia Gunsch, Pratt School of Engineering, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University Energy Initiative
  • Jules Odendahl-James, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Nimmi Ramanujam, Pratt School of Engineering, School of Medicine, Duke Global Health Institute, Duke Initiative for Science & Society, Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative
  • Nina Sherwood, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, School of Medicine, Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, Duke Initiative for Science & Society
  • Kearsley Stewart, Duke Global Health Institute, Duke Initiative for Science & Society
  • Victoria Szabo, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative

Health as an Ecosystem: Expanding Our Imaginations of Health

Health as an Ecosystem faculty members.

In ecology, an ecosystem is a community of living organisms and their interactions with the abiotic environment. Dynamic and complex, they may flourish in settings of balance, diversity, and responsive resilience, or they may flounder in contexts of deficit and disruption. This group will apply the ecosystem concept to health and explore new perspectives on health systems, population health, well-being, and disease. During monthly meetings, members will consider a range of questions and engage in activities whose focus will encompass capstone projects, seminars, and future grant proposals.

  • Lead: John Moses, School of Medicine, Duke Initiative for Science & Society
  • Co-lead: Jennifer Lawson, School of Medicine, Duke Initiative for Science & Society
  • Charles Nunn, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Richard Di Giulio, Nicholas School of the Environment, Pratt School of Engineering
  • Alice Ammerman, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
  • Eliana Perrin, School of Medicine
  • Eric Richardson, Pratt School of Engineering
  • Jan Holton, Divinity School
  • Brett McCarty, Divinity School
  • Bill Walker, Pratt School of Engineering, Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative
  • Peter English, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Gopal Sreenivasan, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, School of Medicine, Duke Initiative for Science & Society
  • Norman Wirzba, Divinity School, Nicholas School of the Environment
  • Jon Fjeld, Fuqua School of Business, Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative
  • Ray Barfield, School of Medicine, Divinity School, School of Nursing, Duke Initiative for Science & Society
  • Warren Kinghorn, School of Medicine, Divinity School, Duke Initiative for Science & Society

Launching a Triangle-Wide Seminar in the Economics of Education

Launching a Triangle-Wide Seminar in the Economics of Education faculty members.

Currently, there is no regular forum for economists from the Triangle to discuss new empirical work on the economics of education. This group will change that by organizing a one-day workshop. Hosted by the Center for Child and Family Policy, the event will include invited presenters, discussants, and a keynote speaker. It will also serve as a means to explore the possibility of launching a year-long seminar series in 2019-2020 on the economics of education.

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

Marine Medicine faculty members.

Marine medicine is focused on research that cuts across disciplines, including cross-species comparative analyses of cancer protective mechanisms, understanding the risk of disease from exposure to environmental toxins, and discovery of new drugs from marine compounds. This working group will convene monthly and invite guest speakers to provide critical feedback on papers and proposals. Members will also host an annual symposium with a keynote speaker and a networking event to establish collaborations between faculty across the School of Medicine and the Nicholas School of the Environment, and create a long-term strategy for sustained interactions.

Parasite-Host Evolution Network Optimization (PHENO) Working Group

Parasite-Host Evolution Network Optimization (PHENO) Working Group faculty members.

Better methods are needed to identify new pathogens or known animal pathogens with the potential to infect humans and cause disease. Given that pathogens transmit through chains of contact, network-based approaches that represent these epidemiological pathways offer great promise. Through regular meetings, this group of faculty and postdocs will investigate the application of network approaches to a wide range of disease systems and aim to develop new and fundable research projects.

  • Lead: James Moody, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Social Science Research Institute
  • Charles Nunn, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Craig Rawlings, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Gregory Gray, School of Medicine, Duke Global Health Institute
  • Chris Woods, School of Medicine, Duke Global Health Institute
  • Meira Epplein, School of Medicine
  • James Herrera, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Dana Pasquale, Duke Network Analysis Center

Social Studies of Science Working Group

Social Studies of Science Working Group faculty members.

The social study of science, often referred to as science and technology studies, is an interdisciplinary field whose scholars explore topics ranging from the ethical implications of data hacking and the politics of nuclear power to questions of personhood emerging from neuroscience. This group will bring together faculty who are interested in the rapid scale-up of research in the biomedical sciences, data and computational sciences, and environmental sciences as well as the increasing overlap of science and technology studies, medical humanities, and environmental humanities. Members aim to build a network of Duke and Triangle faculty and foster linked research endeavors.

  • Lead: Harris Solomon, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Duke Global Health Institute, Duke Initiative for Science & Society
  • Nicole Barnes, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Duke Global Health Institute
  • Nima Bassiri, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Paul Bendich, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Rhodes Information Initiative at Duke
  • Mark Olson, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Duke Initiative for Science & Society, Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative
  • Cate Reilly, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Gabriel Rosenberg, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
  • Priscilla Wald, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Duke Initiative for Science & Society
  • Ara Wilson, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Duke Initiative for Science & Society

Jonathan Wiener on Interdisciplinary Collaboration

“These projects have been crucial to my engagement with colleagues and students across the university”

Bass Connections team members with Jonathan Wiener.
Photo by Beth Mann: Jonathan Wiener (right) and Christine Hendren (lower right) with Bass Connections students in front of their poster, The Saga of CFCs, Ozone Depletion, and Climate Change

“I came to Duke 25 years ago in order to be part of the multidisciplinary community here,” says Jonathan B. Wiener. “Duke was poised to launch a series of cross-cutting initiatives, and it was my good fortune to be part of creating some of them.”

Jonathan B. Wiener.Wiener is the William R. and Thomas L. Perkins Professor of Law at Duke Law School, Professor of Environmental Policy at the Nicholas School of the Environment, and Professor of Public Policy at the Sanford School of Public Policy. He has been involved in numerous research collaborations involving faculty and students from across the university, including Rethinking Regulation at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the new Center on Risk at the Science & Society Initiative, a Collaboratory on Geoengineering, and six Bass Connections projects.

Recently he reflected on some of the impacts of his involvement in collaborative inquiry at Duke. The following are excerpts from our conversation.


Expanding Networks

These collaborative projects have been crucial to my engagement with colleagues and also with students across the university. [Bass Connections has] enabled me to work with teams to investigate complex topics like protecting the Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer and climate, how to assess and manage emerging technologies such as automated vehicles, and how to protect drinking water. [They] also enabled us to bring in speakers from outside Duke to enrich our conversations – for example, environmental diplomat Ambassador Jennifer Haverkamp, and former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.

Bass Connections projects are also useful for connecting with students from different schools with different skills. For me, it was a good opportunity to connect with undergraduate students in particular, because most of my teaching is in the Law School, Sanford School, and Nicholas School. Duke’s undergraduates are so impressive, smart, and energetic. Bass Connections invites them to see how research projects are developed and to participate in a research team.

I’m currently working with several people on the governance of geoengineering, including Mark Borsuk, Christine Hendren, and Tyler Felgenhauer in the Pratt School of Engineering, Billy Pizer in the Sanford School, Drew Shindell in the Nicholas School, and Khara Grieger at RTI. Geoengineering is a strategy to prevent climate change, but it poses its own risks, so there is a key need for governance to avoid unwise or harmful deployment of geoengineering. We have written one paper that we’ve submitted to a journal, and we are going to apply for external funding for further research. For the Society for Risk Analysis annual conference, we organized and held a set of sessions on the governance of geoengineering [see part 1 and part 2] that featured speakers from Duke and other universities. We are also planning a Bass Connections project team on geoengineering for 2019-20.

Photo by Ben Shepard: Participants in the Center on Risk “head to head” discussion of AI: Risks and Responses: Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (Philosophy), Vincent Conitzer (Computer Science), and Jonathan Wiener (Law School and Center on Risk).
Photo by Ben Shepard: Center on Risk discussion on AI risks and responses: Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (Philosophy), Vincent Conitzer (Computer Science), Jonathan Wiener

We’re starting a new Duke Center on Risk, to be launched in the Science & Society Initiative, which grows out of a Provost’s Office planning grant. In 2018, we held a series of Risk Watering Holes, where more than 25 faculty gave short talks as a way for people to learn about different topics and methodologies. We also asked each speaker to touch on what types of colleagues he or she would like to collaborate with to better address risk. In Fall 2018, we started to hold more in-depth ‘head to head’ talks: so far we’ve held one on risks to Duke’s campus, and one on AI risks and responses. We have also sponsored external speakers and supported some students to go to the Society for Risk Analysis conference. Also, we have begun conversations with a group of undergraduates who want to create a student organization about emerging risks.

Publications from a Team of Researchers

Policy Shock book cover.Bass Connections projects can be very fruitful as funding for a team of researchers. I think it’s most fruitful when students help to design the research and produce a team project report.

Together with Ed Balleisen from the History Department, Lori Bennear from the Nicholas School and Energy Initiative, and Kim Krawiec from the Law School, we recently published a book, Policy Shock, that included a chapter coauthored by student contributors from the Regulatory Disaster Scene Investigation project of Bass Connections. An external grant enabled us to have a series of authors’ workshops with multiple chapter authors. We were able to bring in other colleagues at and outside Duke to broaden our set of case studies – on oil spills, nuclear power accidents, and financial crashes – so we could generate more comparative insights and lessons.

A graduate student in the Law School, Daniel Ribeiro, and I published a paper called “Environmental Regulation Going Retro” as an outgrowth of another Bass Connections project, Reviewing Retrospective Regulatory Review. This paper drew on Daniel’s dissertation research and my earlier work on the same topic.

One of last year’s Bass Connections projects was about adaptive regulation applied to the emerging technology of automated vehicles. Associated with that project, Lori Bennear of the Nicholas School and I are undertaking our own research and writing on the different options for adaptive regulation. We received a grant from the Provost’s Office, and we are writing a paper about how regulations can be designed to be adaptive as we learn more about changing technology, science, and society.

Photo by Braden Welborn: Jonathan Wiener (far left), Lori Bennear (fifth from right), and students on the Bass Connections team on adaptive regulation of emerging technologies host former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx (center).
Photo by Braden Welborn: Jonathan Wiener (far left), Lori Bennear (fifth from right), and students on the Bass Connections team on adaptive regulation of emerging technologies host former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx (center).

Approach to Teaching

I think one challenge has been in orienting everyone, students and faculty, to seeing the Bass Connections projects as collaborative team projects, rather than as conventional courses where faculty teach the students. There is a tendency by everyone to revert to the familiar default model of a professor conveying information to the students, whereas I think Bass Connections projects work best where everyone is a member of the team investigating something interesting, and at the beginning we don’t yet know exactly how we want to proceed.

Another aspect of Bass Connections is that these are team projects with multiple professors, and we faculty have to be able to share the time with each other and to collaborate on designing what the project will cover and what materials we’ll ask people to read. It’s very helpful to have a point person to coordinate that. This person can be a faculty member, a graduate student project manager, or both.

New Collaborative Efforts

Center on Risk logo.We are now launching a new Duke Center on Risk, based in the Science and Society Initiative. This is something I’ve wanted to do for many years, since I was president of the Society for Risk Analysis in 2008. Now is a great time to do this at Duke because it builds on the work that Mark Borsuk, Lori Bennear, I and others have been doing on rethinking regulation, on risk and resilience, and on specific applications and concepts like geoengineering, AI, extreme catastrophic risks, and risk-risk tradeoffs. We are grateful to the Provost for the planning grant and to Nita Farahany and the Science & Society Initiative for giving our center a supportive home.

In addition, we have started planning an event to be held at Duke in November 2020 on the EPA at 50. We have convened a collaborative group to brainstorm how we should organize this, including from the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, the Energy Initiative, Rethinking Regulation, our Center on Risk, and faculty from a number of different schools. We may try to do a Bass Connections and/or a Story+ project to engage students in helping to assess the history of the EPA. This EPA at 50 event will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the U.S. EPA in 1970, and it will build on similar events we have held at Duke on EPA at 20, 30, and 40. We’re seeing Duke’s schools, institutes, initiatives, and Bass Connections as all fitting into this collective effort.


See all current initiatives in the Together Duke academic strategic plan, and learn more about these seed funding opportunities:

  • Research Collaboratories (see RFP for projects in Energy and Water Resources; Race, Religion, and Citizenship; and Population Health, due February 15)

Mark Borsuk on Interdisciplinary Collaboration

“These opportunities have enriched my first two years at Duke tremendously”

Mark Borsuk with collaborators.

Mark Borsuk was quick to embrace opportunities to pursue collaborative research and teaching with his new colleagues after joining the faculty of the Pratt School of Engineering in 2016.

Borsuk.The Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering teamed up with faculty from the Law School, Sanford School of Public Policy, Nicholas School of the Environment, and Pratt to explore shared interests in risk analysis, decision-making, and climate change.

He received an Intellectual Community Planning Grant (ICPG) for the Duke Project on Risk and Resilience with Jonathan Wiener, Christine Hendren, Tyler Felgenhauer, Nita Farahany, Buz Waitzkin, and Lori Bennear, and a Research Collaboratory grant on the Decisions, Risks, and Governance of Geoengineering with Wiener, Felgenhauer, Billy Pizer, and Drew Shindell.

Borsuk is also involved in a Bass Connections project, Decisions on Complex Interdisciplinary Problems of Health and Environmental Risk (DECIPHER). Now in its second year and focusing on drinking water quality, the project is currently led by Hendren, Borsuk, Wiener, Ryan Calder, Richard Di Giulio, Priscilla Wald, and graduate student Kathleen Burns. DECIPHER will continue next year with a focus on the risks and benefits of climate geoengineering.

Recently he reflected on some of the impacts of his involvement with these groups. Below are excerpts from his remarks.


External Grant Proposals

The Duke Project on Risk and Resilience ICPG, along with Catalyst funding from the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, led to an NSF Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems (INFEWS) proposal submitted in September 2018.

The Risk ICPG also contributed to an NSF Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI) Year-Long Program Proposal on “Games and Decisions in Risk and Reliability,” which was selected for funding and will start in August 2019.

The Geoengineering Collaboratory is leading to an NSF Decision, Risk, and Management Sciences proposal, which will be submitted in January.

Extending Networks

The Geoengineering Collaboratory led directly to a day-long session at the Society for Risk Analysis Annual Meeting in December 2018. The Duke team proposed, organized, and participated in this session [see part 1 and part 2], which included a number of leading researchers in geoengineering, thus greatly extending the Duke team’s professional network.

Posters on the team’s preliminary geoengineering work were also presented at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Annual Meeting in December 2018, further extending the team’s reach.

The Risk ICPG supported a series of campus-wide events. These included several Risk Watering Holes and Head-to-Head Discussions on issues of risk analysis and policy from diverse perspectives. The events generated a lot of participation, including more than 30 faculty speakers and many more attending faculty, staff, and students.

Publications

The Geoengineering Collaboratory has already led to one submitted manuscript and two more in preparation. Two publications are in preparation as a result of the ICPG and Catalyst funding.

Engagement with Students

“The Bass Connections project has opened my eyes to the potential of fully inquiry-based, student-initiated teaching, learning, and research,” Borsuk states. “I have been impressed with students’ ability and ambition in structuring their own experience and drawing on the resources available to them, including faculty mentors, university resources, and community organizations. In addition to being an incredible experience itself, it has also informed the way I teach my more ‘conventional’ classes by identifying new ways to engage students in their own education.”

DECIPHER team poster.

Borsuk goes on to say, “The Risk ICPG has expanded the interdisciplinary scope of approaches and examples that I have incorporated into the classes I teach, including CEE 201: Uncertainty, Design, and Optimization; EGR 305: Engineering Systems Optimization and Economics; and CEE 690: Risk and Resilience in Engineering.”

To support student networks, the Risk ICPG provided funding support to two students to attend professional meetings and present their risk-related work. The group has also been coordinating with an undergraduate student group interested in organizing a “Risk Hack-a-Thon” in addition to other student activities.

Duke student and postdoc attendance at the Society for Risk Analysis and AGU annual meetings was paid in part from the Geoengineering Collaboratory.

Borsuk concludes, “I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that these seed programs have provided. They have enriched my first two years at Duke tremendously!”


See all current initiatives in the Together Duke academic strategic plan, and learn more about these seed funding opportunities:

  • Research Collaboratories (see RFP for projects in Energy and Water Resources; Race, Religion, and Citizenship; and Population Health, due February 15)

Photos at top: Borsuk (far left) with colleagues at the Society for Risk Analysis annual meeting; Hendren (bottom row at right) and Wiener (far right) with students at the Bass Connections Showcase

Christopher Bail on Interdisciplinary Collaboration

“My network has expanded dramatically, and I have been able to pursue new avenues of research”

Christopher Bail and a student.

At a moment when issues related to race, religion, and citizenship are sharply dividing Americans, Christopher A. Bail’s research on political polarization and social media feels especially timely.

Bail is the Douglas and Ellen Lowey Associate Professor of Sociology and Public Policy and the director of the Polarization Lab at Duke. The lab brings together scholars from the social sciences, statistics, and computer science to develop new technology to bridge partisan divides.

A key component of the Together Duke academic strategic plan is to provide faculty with new avenues of support for research and to extend collaborative efforts. In April 2018, Bail and five colleagues received a Research Collaboratory grant for the Polarization Lab.

Members of the Polarization Lab at Duke (Bail, Alexander Volfovsky, Katherine Heller, Sunshine Hillygus, James Moody, Guillermo Sapiro).“My network has expanded dramatically, and I have certainly been able to pursue new avenues of research as a result of the Provost’s [seed funding] initiatives,” he said. “In particular, my collaborations with Sunshine Hillygus, Alex Volfovsky, and Guillermo Sapiro have influenced my research trajectory considerably.”

Over the past year, Bail received grants from the National Science Foundation and the Russell Sage Foundation related to his work as director of the Polarization Lab. And in December, Bail and his colleagues learned that they will receive a grant from Facebook’s Foundational Research program to help support the lab.

“The Polarization Lab is a one-of-a-kind entity that has not only raised considerable extramural funding and conducted top-notch research, but it has also allowed me to dramatically expand my work toward the broader public,” he reflected. “Twenty-four major media outlets have covered our research thus far, and our article ranks #10 in public interest among all articles published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the same age.”

To expand the lab’s outreach, Bail arranged visits to Facebook and Twitter as well as a number of nonprofit organizations. He and his colleagues have also forged new ties to government. Bail serves on the Advisory Council to the National Science Foundation’s Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate.

On campus, Bail incorporated the research agenda of the Polarization Lab into numerous lectures in the Data Scraping and Text Analysis course he teaches in Duke’s Master in Interdisciplinary Data Science (MIDS) program. An open-source version of his MIDS class on social media data and text analysis is available. Bail is contemplating creating a course on political polarization and social media for undergraduates. Currently, four undergraduates are participating in Polarization Lab research.

Bail at the Summer Institute for Computational Social Science held at Duke in June 2018.Bail has taken advantage of other strategic funding opportunities. In 2017, he and several colleagues received an Intellectual Community Planning Grant for their project, Forum for Innovative Collaborations in the Empirical Study of the Social Sciences (FICESS). “The FICESS group is closely tied to my ongoing research helping to build the field of computational social science,” Bail said.

He noted that the FICESS group enriched his approach to hosting the second annual Summer Institute in Computational Social Science (SICSS) at Duke in June 2018. He cofounded this series of free training events, held concurrently at multiple universities, to introduce junior scholars to the field. Bail received related grants from the Sloan Foundation and the Russell Sage Foundation.

“We have open-sourced the entire curriculum for the Summer Institutes in Computational Social Science,” Bail said, “including video of all lectures, code, slides, and teaching materials.” In 2019, SICSS will run in 10 different locations, including Capetown, South Africa and Istanbul, Turkey.

Bail has also been involved in Duke’s Bass Connections program as a team member of SSNAP: Scientific Social Network Analysis Project and a recipient of course development funds for SOCIOL 347: Managing Networks.


See all current initiatives in the Together Duke academic strategic plan, and learn more about these seed funding opportunities:

  • Research Collaboratories (see RFP for projects in Energy and Water Resources; Race, Religion, and Citizenship; and Population Health, due February 15)

Images from top: Courtesy of Christopher Bail; members of the Polarization Lab at Duke (Bail, Alexander Volfovsky, Katherine Heller, Sunshine Hillygus, James Moody, Guillermo Sapiro); Bail at the Summer Institute for Computational Social Science held at Duke in June 2018