Comments Sought in Regular Review of Director Robert Calderbank

A university committee is seeking comments as part of a regular performance review of the Rhodes Information Initiative at Duke (iiD) director, Robert Calderbank. Regular reviews of initiative directors are to be conducted in the penultimate year of their term by a committee formed by the provost in consultation with the Executive Committee of the Academic Council. Such a committee has been appointed to review Calderbank, who has served in his post since 2013.

Members of the review committee are:

  • David (Dave) Siegel, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy (chair)
  • Andrew Allen, Professor of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics
  • Katherine Brading, Professor of Philosophy
  • Mark Chaves, Anne Firor Scott Distinguished Professor of Sociology
  • Craig Henriquez, Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Jianfeng Lu, Professor of Mathematics
  • Christine Payne, Yoh Family Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
  • Brian Silliman, Rachel Carson Distinguished Professor of Marine Conservation Biology

An important part of the review process is the solicitation and consideration of comments from the university’s many constituencies. Comments on performance and suggestions for the future are important to the committee’s work.

The charge to the committee poses several questions for the review, including Calderbank’s effectiveness in the following areas:

  • ability to provide intellectual and organizational leadership for an initiative intended to equip Duke to play a leading role in data science
  • ability to develop and foster successful interdisciplinary collaborations with leadership from departments, schools and other units across campus that are directly or indirectly engaged (or have the potential to benefit from engagement) with computational and data analytics
  • effectiveness in engaging faculty from multiple schools and departments in the work of iiD – we are interested in learning why some faculty do engage with iiD while others do not
  • effectiveness in mentoring faculty leaders and pivotal senior and research staff who are responsible for directing key and emerging initiatives in iiD
  • demonstrated commitment to diversity, inclusion and excellence through leadership in hiring practices, faculty engagement, the forging of strategic priorities, and the mentoring of staff members
  • administrative competencies regarding effective management of the budget and iiD staff
  • effectiveness in engaging students—both undergraduate and graduate students—in iiD activities and programs
  • overall effectiveness as the leader of a nimble, diverse organization

The committee invites you to share your thoughts by email or letter. Communication should include the nature of your interactions with Director Calderbank so that the committee can understand the context of the comments as fully as possible. The committee will discuss responses, and a summary will be included in the written report to the provost.

The committee would appreciate receiving comments by January 31, 2022.

Ways to respond:

Information collected will be compiled in a report which will be submitted to the provost and the vice provost of interdisciplinary studies at the conclusion of the review. Responses will be kept confidential. While a list of those from whom feedback is received will be part of the record, it will be in an appendix of the report which will not be shared. No comments or observations will be attributed to any individual in any report of the committee.

Plug Into Energy Data This Summer as a Ph.D. Student Fellow

Abstract matrix of blue-toned lines, graphs, numbers in background. Logos for Nicholas Institute and Duke University Energy Initiative in overlapping rings. Logo for Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Text: Energy + Data? Are you a Ph.D. student interested in applying data science techniques to energy challenges? Doctoral students at Duke, NC A&T, NC State, UNC-CH, UNCC, and UNCG are invited to apply for the Summer '22 cohort of interdisciplinary Energy Data Analytics Ph.D. Student Fellows. Apply by 12/10/21: .

Deadline: December 10, 2021

Are you a full-time Ph.D. student interested in energy and data science? The Duke University Energy Data Analytics Ph.D. Student Fellows Program is accepting applications for its Summer 2022 cohort. Fellows will receive financial support to pursue summer research projects applying data science techniques to energy application areas. Cross-disciplinary workshops with faculty and peers will help strengthen fellows’ research, enrich their understanding of energy and data science topics, and boost their scholarly communication skills.

The program is open to doctoral students at Duke University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

About the Fellows Program

The recent growth of energy-related data and evolution of data science techniques have created promising new opportunities for solving energy challenges. Capitalizing on these will require scholars with training in both data science and energy application domains. Yet traditional graduate education is limited in its ability to provide such dual expertise. In 2018, the Duke University Energy Initiative established the Energy Data Analytics Ph.D. Student Fellows program, preparing cohorts of next-generation scholars to deftly wield data in pursuit of accessible, affordable, reliable, and clean energy systems. This program is funded by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Each Ph.D. Student Fellow in the program conducts a related research project, working with faculty from multiple disciplines and receiving financial support for 3 months of summer support and $1,500 in research funds for computation and professional development. The fellows take part in regular mentorship and training workshops to improve their understanding of energy systems and data science tools and practices as well as to enhance their skills at collaborating and communicating across disciplines.

The first three cohorts of fellows have included doctoral students from degree programs in civil and environmental engineering, computer science, earth and ocean sciences, electrical and computer engineering, environmental policy, and parks, recreation, and tourism management. The program welcomes applications from doctoral students at Duke University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

The program is affiliated with the Energy Data Analytics Lab, a collaborative effort of the Duke University Energy Initiative (which houses it), the Rhodes Information Initiative at Duke, and the Social Science Research Institute. (Note: Conclusions reached or positions taken by researchers or other grantees represent the views of the grantees themselves and not those of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation or its trustees, officers, or staff).

Learn More and Apply

Learn more, then submit your application to Trey Gowdy ( as a PDF by 5:00 p.m. ET on Dec. 10, 2021 and ask your faculty project advisors to submit their nomination letters by the same date.


Contact Trey Gowdy (, Program Coordinator for the Energy Data Analytics Lab.

Explore Data+ Projects for Summer 2021 and Apply Now


Deadline: February 26, 2021

Interested in exploring new data-driven approaches to interdisciplinary challenges? Student applications are now open for this summer’s Data+ research program. The application deadline is February 26, but applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis, so students should apply as soon as possible.

Data+ is a full-time ten-week summer research experience for undergraduates and master’s students. Students join small teams and learn how to marshal, analyze and visualize data, while gaining broad exposure to the field of data science. In 2021, the program will run from June 1 through August 6.

Data+ is offered through the Rhodes Information Initiative at Duke and is part of the Bass Connections Information, Society & Culture theme. See details and apply.

2021 Data+ Projects

Check out the virtual Data+ Information Fair on January 29 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. EST. Register here.

New Fellowship in Computational Humanities for Ph.D. Students in English

The Rhodes iiD Doctoral Fellowship in the Computational Humanities is an opportunity for English doctoral students at Duke University to receive training in the methodology and theory of computational and digital literary studies. The fellowship program will introduce students to both research and pedagogical practices using computational methods. Fellows will also gain an understanding of the quickly-developing critical questions and methodologies that drive scholarship in the digital humanities.

Through workshops and mentoring, the fellowship creates a collaborative environment where English PhD students can acquire the necessary skills to translate their teaching and research interests into a digital or computational project. The projects undertaken as part of the fellowship aim to advance and complement the students’ dissertation research and their teaching within the English department. Because of this, the students will be required to design and create projects that reflect their core areas of research. Fellows are encouraged, though not required, to work towards a conference presentation or a publication for their project. At the end of each year of the program, they will share their completed projects on a public-facing website as well as present their work in a public panel.

Structure of Fellowship Program

  • Applications are due at the end of the third year of doctoral studies (see the application information page for details)
  • Fellowship starts at the beginning of the fall semester of the student’s fourth year and ends at the end of the summer following the student’s fifth year:
    • Students are expected to continue work on their digital project during the summers. If the fellow graduates at the end of year 5 of their program, they will be asked to use that summer’s award to complete the project’s website and move towards publication or conference presentation of the project where possible.
    • The first year will focus on designing a project and, if the option is selected, carrying out the project within the student’s English 90S course (see projects page for details).
    • Students in their second year of the fellowship will focus on completing their project, working towards the website, panel, and, if possible, conference presentation and/or publication.
    • If they participate in Data+ in the first summer of the fellowship, the fellows will be expected to mentor new fellows participating in Data+ during the second summer.
    • Students in their second year of the fellowship will be required to provide feedback and mentoring to the students in their first year.

What the Fellowship Gives to Students

  • $5,000 annual stipend for two years distributed as follows: $1,500 fall term; $1,500 spring term; and $2,000 summer term. Award for the second year of the fellowship is depended on satisfactory progress (both in computational/digital project and in degree requirements as determined by dissertation director).
  • Opportunity to seek feedback on work from faculty and other fellows, and the opportunity to mentor new fellows during your second year in the fellowship.
  • Workshops and learning opportunities around digital research, pedagogy, and presentation. During the school year, fellows will participate in a regular workshop (every three weeks) that will guide them through the process of designing a digital project, learning the relevant critical and methodological scholarship, and receive help and feedback on the implementation of their work.
  • Networking opportunities with invited scholars.
  • Where applicable, the Faculty Coordinator, Astrid Giugni, will visit the classroom for each fellow’s pedagogical project to provide support and to generate material for a teaching letter.
  • Feedback and instruction on how to develop their projects towards a conference presentation or a publication.

Application Information

To be eligible for the fellowships, students need to:

  • Be a doctoral student in the English department at Duke University
  • Have completed preliminary exams by the start date of the fellowship
  • Receive a letter from dissertation director testifying to satisfactory progress in the requirements for the degree at the time of application and at review time after the first year of the fellowship

Two fellowships will be awarded each year by the Rhodes Information Initiative at Duke.

Please note: no background in digital or computational methods is necessary. Students of all levels of digital experience (including no experience) are encouraged to apply! The workshops during the first year of the fellowship will guide you in developing a project and learning what skills you will need to develop in order to finish the project.

To apply, please email the Faculty Coordinator, Astrid Giugni, to schedule a preapplication meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to help students navigate the application process.

Faculty Can Propose Interdisciplinary Data+ Projects for Summer 2021


Deadline: November 2, 2020


Data+ is a ten-week summer research experience that welcomes Duke undergraduates interested in exploring new data-driven approaches to interdisciplinary challenges.

Students join small project teams, collaborating alongside other teams in a communal environment. They learn how to marshal, analyze, and visualize data, while gaining broad exposure to the modern world of data science. In Summer 2019 there were 30 such teams, and they all worked together in Gross Hall, sitting in a dedicated workspace provided by the Rhodes Information Initiative at Duke (iiD), the Social Science Research Institute (SSRI), and the Energy Initiative. In Summer 2020, there were 29 teams, and the experience was necessarily virtual. There is clearly a chance that we will be virtual again in Summer 2021, but we will not know this until later in the year.

Each undergraduate participant receives a $5,000 stipend. Each summer, Data+ runs from late May until the first few days of August. As the communal atmosphere is essential for student success, please note that Data+ projects only run during these ten weeks, and that all student participants are required to contribute full-time efforts (no employment, no other classes).

This is a call for proposals for faculty-sponsored Data+ projects in the Summer 2021 edition of Data+. We are especially interested in proposals that involve a partner from outside the academy, or a faculty member from a different discipline. We also encourage proposals that involve previously untested ideas or unanalyzed datasets, and we hope that the Data+ team can make a contribution with important proof-of-principle work that may lead to more substantial faculty work and/or connections in the future. We also welcome proposals that will lead to the undergraduates creating tools that might be used in the classroom or that might facilitate community engagement with data and data-driven questions. Finally, we are particularly excited about projects that foster links between Duke and Durham City/County/School government and/or community groups, as well as between Duke and North Carolina Central University.

How to Apply

To apply, please prepare a document (three pages maximum) that responds to the following prompts, ideally in this order.

Name of Project: Please use a short name that succinctly describes the nature of the project and is not overly technical. If your project is selected for Data+, then this title will be used for the project web page and project listings, and we may ask you to shorten it later for that purpose.

Summary: Please write a project summary, including the basic ideas behind the proposal.

Faculty Leads: Data+ is especially interested in projects that connect faculty from distinct disciplines, as well as projects that enable faculty to branch out in new directions. Please describe the intended faculty leads, and the expected benefits from their participation.

Mentoring: Day-to-day faculty involvement in Data+ is not expected. Instead, each Data+ project has a mentor, usually a graduate student or postdoc, who is on hand to give the student team more focused guidance. The time commitment tends to be 5-7 hours per week, and funding is generally available to cover this person’s time. If you have a mentor in mind, please indicate who this is and why they are well-suited. If you do not, please describe the skills you would like this person to have (we are generally able to find faculty-mentor matches)

Goals: describe the intended goals and products of the project, in the following manner:

  • Describe entirely reachable goals that you fully expect the students to achieve: these could be answers to a question, explorations of a hypothesis, and things of that nature.
  • Describe a tangible product the students will create in the course of their research, which ideally will be of use both to further researchers at the university and to the students as something they can show off to future employers or graduate schools. This could be, for example, a good piece of well- commented software, or a visualization device, or a detailed curation of previously raw data.
  • Describe a more outrageous goal that you would be quite (pleasantly!) surprised to see the students achieve, along with a plan for them to build a potential roadmap towards that goal. For example, this goal might only be reachable if you had data that you currently do not have, and the students might build a speculative roadmap towards acquiring that data.

Data: Most Data+ projects involve analysis of datasets. Some of these are publicly available, and some are not. As it is essential that students actually be able to analyze the needed data for the project, we are very interested in plans to ensure that this will happen. Please address this in the following manner:

  • For each dataset that will be analyzed by the student team, please give a high-level description of the dataset (what’s in it, how was it collected, and for which purpose, how large is it, etc.).
  • For each dataset, indicate whether you anticipate IRB approval will be needed for student access, and if not, why not. If IRB approval will be needed, indicate whether a protocol already exists, and your plan for incorporating the student involvement. If it does not already exist, please describe your plan (including a timeline) for obtaining one.
  • For each dataset, indicate whether it is owned and/or is being provided by an outside party. If so, please describe the intended path towards ensuring that students will be granted the ability to access the dataset (we are often able to assist in crafting Data Use Agreements with outside parties, for example).

Outside Partners: Some of the best Data+ projects have a partner from outside of the university, or at least from outside the traditionally academic parts of the university. This might be someone who is invested in the data or the questions, and to whom the students will in essence “deliver analysis and insight.” Ideally, this partner will be able to come two or three times during the summer to hear updates from your students and provide feedback.

For each such partner, please describe their expected interest in the project, how much they would interact with the team, whether or not they’d be able to contribute funds toward student stipends, and please also identify a point-of-contact for this partner.

Deadline and Contact

The deadline for completing this application is November 2, 2020, 5:00 p.m. Please submit your proposal to Ariel Dawn ( on or before that deadline for consideration.

If you would like help in developing your proposal, please contact Paul Bendich ( or Gregory Herschlag (

Dive into Big Data and Collaborative Research through a Data+ Summer Project

Group of Data+ students.

Deadline: February 27, 2020

Interested in exploring new data-driven approaches to interdisciplinary challenges? Student applications are now open for this summer’s Data+ research program. The application deadline is February 27, but applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis, so students should apply as soon as possible.

Data+ logo.Data+ is a ten-week summer research experience for undergraduates and master’s students. Students join small teams and learn how to marshal, analyze and visualize data, while gaining broad exposure to the field of data science. In 2020 the program will run from May 26 through July 31.

Data+ is offered through the Rhodes Information Initiative at Duke and is part of the Bass Connections Information, Society & Culture theme.

Explore the 2020 Data+ Projects

How Data+ Works

Participants receive a $5,000 stipend for this full-time research experience, out of which they must arrange their own housing and travel. Participants may not accept employment or take classes during the program; this requirement is strictly enforced and nonnegotiable. The program is open to students at all levels and from all majors. Past students have come from a variety of backgrounds, majors and levels of experience with coding. Through collaboration, all students learn to use data analysis to solve problems across disciplines.

Each team is made up of two to three undergraduates (and occasionally one master’s student) and one to two doctoral student mentors, in addition to a client or sponsor. Teams work alongside each other in a communal environment, learning from each other.

How to Apply

Students can apply for project teams using the Data+ Application Portal. Students may apply to up to three project teams, ranked in order of preference, and must submit the following items to complete their application:

  • Cover letter
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Transcript (unofficial copy is fine)
  • One paragraph (per project chosen) about how you can contribute to the project
  • Two references (no actual letters, just names and email addresses)
  • Anything else required in the project description.

Stop by the Data+ Info Fair on January 17 from 3:00 to 4:00 in Gross Hall’s Energy Hub Atrium.

Kyle Bradbury on Improving Global Energy Access through Machine Learning and Collaboration

Kyle Bradbury and Bass Connections team members.
Kyle Bradbury (far left) and members of the 2018-19 Bass Connections project team Energy Data Analytics Lab: Energy Infrastructure Map of the World through Satellite Data (Photo: Energy Initiative)

Kyle Bradbury is managing director of the Energy Data Analytics Lab at the Duke University Energy Initiative. Recently, the Rhodes Information Initiative at Duke (iiD) asked him to explain what he works on and how he involves students through the Data+ and Bass Connections programs. Here are excerpts from their conversation:

Locating Energy Infrastructure Using Satellite Imagery

My research focuses on how we can make energy systems more affordable, accessible, reliable, and clean using machine learning and data analysis tools. The team that I work with, we’re working on questions around understanding where energy infrastructure is using satellite imagery. One of the challenges in this space is called geographic domain adaptation. If I have an algorithm that’s able to find solar panels in California and I train my algorithm there, how am I able to then use that to find solar panels in Africa, Asia, or Europe? Being able to transfer that can really increase the impact of the research that we’re doing, but it leads to a lot of challenging technical issues.

Energy Access

Another research area that I’ve been working on with other members of the team is looking at how we can use data to address some of the challenges in the energy access space. Right now there are close to a billion people around the world that don’t have access to electricity, but we don’t necessarily know which specific communities lack access, and we don’t always know where the grid infrastructure is that could potentially provide access to electricity.

Student Engagement

iiD has been a fantastic resource, especially with their program Data+. Data+ is a ten-week summer program for undergraduates to deeply engage in a data-focused research project. Over the last few years, we’ve engaged numerous undergraduates to help us with our research. They produced datasets and laid the foundation for dozens of research papers that have been able to answer some of these really challenging questions at the intersection of energy systems and machine learning.

This year, Bradbury is leading a Bass Connections project team, A Wider Lens on Energy: Adapting Deep Learning Techniques to Inform Energy Access Decisions, which builds on the work of last summer’s related Data+ project.

Video by the Rhodes Information Initiative at Duke (iiD)

Data+ Students Present Findings at Durham City Hall on Local Eviction Trends

Data+ Durham Evictions member Samantha Miezio presents her team’s findings to the Durham City Council and County Commission. (Photo: Ariel Dawn)

Over the summer of 2019, DataWorks NC sponsored a Duke Data+ project with the Rhodes Information Initiative to examine eviction data in Durham, and identify trends that could guide Durham City and County Government and other stakeholders in deciding which interventions would be most effective for Durham community members facing eviction from their homes.

Undergraduates Ellis Ackerman (Math, NCSU), Rodrigo Araujo (Computer Science, Duke), and Samantha Miezio (Public Policy, Duke) spent ten weeks with project manager Libby McClure building tools to help understand the scope, cause, and effects of evictions in Durham County. Using eviction data recorded by the Durham County Sheriff’s Department and demographic data from the American Community Survey, the team investigated relationships between rent and evictions, created cost-benefit models for eviction diversion efforts, and built interactive visualizations of eviction trends.

On October 8, Miezio and McClure presented their findings at a joint meeting of the Durham City Council and County Commission. Among the team’s findings are that the month of January has more evictions than any other month in the last seven years. Minorities and others at a disadvantage experience a significantly higher rate of evictions than whites do, and that rent increases are followed by an increase in eviction rates about two months later. Over the past 15 years, there has been an average of over 29 evictions filings per day in Durham, resulting in a housing crisis that also strains other support networks in the city.


Eviction has multiple negative consequences that affect the entire community, including increased mental health issues, loss of employment, and displacement of children from their schools. It becomes harder to find another place to rent, since the eviction is on record. Evictions cause strain and added expense for other social services such as homeless shelters, hospital emergency rooms, food banks, and other support networks working with limited resources.

The team is now focusing on possible interventions that would help reduce evictions and divert those at risk to other programs that can help. They are investigating the potential benefits and limitations of policies like Universal Right to Counsel in Durham, which was recently adopted in New York City and Philadelphia.

“Tenants are not guaranteed legal representation in civil court as they are in criminal court,” says Miezio. “If someone is being evicted because they can’t afford rent, it’s probable that they can’t afford a lawyer to represent them. Ninety-five percent of tenants who show up in court don’t have lawyers. Many times, the evictions filed against them are unjust or unlawful. A common theme I heard this summer from meeting with lawyers from Legal Aid is that some tenants get evicted after requesting maintenance in the home if it has serious safety and health concerns. A lawyer could defend the tenant by arguing the defense of retaliatory eviction or even affirmative habitability claims. Lawyers can also help the tenant get more time to relocate in lieu of having an eviction judgment placed on the tenant’s record. Universal right to counsel has the potential to promote a basic human right of legal representation in court and provide a more fair legal process for tenants.”

Pie chart.

The audience was impressed with the work the Data+ team did this summer, although the results have led to more questions that will need to be answered before moving forward on potential policy changes. The team is working with City and County officials to refine their parameters and drill down into the causes behind evictions.

“I’m always grateful to have good data to help guide my policy choices, but of course we have limited resources at the city to gather and analyze data for the many issues we try to address. Having a partnership with Duke’s Data+ program helps give us the information we need to understand what’s happening in our community better and make better decision as policymakers,” said Mayor Pro Tempore and At Large Council Member Jillian Johnson.

In September, the City of Durham, Duke University, the North Carolina Community Development Initiative, Self-Help, and SunTrust jointly announced the launch of the Durham Affordable Housing Loan Fund (DAHLF), which seeks to aid affordable housing developers in addressing the critical shortage of affordable multifamily and single-family housing in the Bull City. Developers for low- to middle-income housing often can’t compete with the larger development firms that have been changing the landscape of downtown Durham. These loans will help to level the playing field, and hopefully allow some residents to stay in place.

By Ariel Dawn; originally posted on the Rhodes iiD website