Rhodes iiD Invites Faculty Proposals for Data+ Summer Projects

Data+ proposals RFP.

Deadline: November 4, 2019

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

Students join small teams and work alongside other teams in a communal environment. They learn how to marshal, analyze, and visualize data, while gaining broad exposure to the field of data science. In Summer 2019 there were 30 Data+ teams working together in Gross Hall.

Data+ is offered through the Rhodes Information Initiative at Duke (iiD) and is part of the Bass Connections Information, Society & Culture theme. The program runs from mid-May until the end of July. During this time, students are required to contribute to the team full-time and may not take classes or have other employment.

Request for Proposals

We invite proposals for faculty-sponsored Data+ projects in Summer 2020. 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 facilitate community engagement with data and data-driven questions.

Opportunity to submit a joint proposal for a year-long Bass Connections project and a Summer 2020 Data+ project: Interested faculty may propose a Data+ project connected to a year-long Bass Connections project by completing the Bass Connections RFP (to be released on Sept. 3 and due Nov. 4). Please be prepared to articulate how you will connect the Data+ project with the year-long project. Funding decisions will be made by each program individually, so it is possible that your proposal may be accepted for only Data+ or only Bass Connections. Please contact Laura Howes if you have questions or want to discuss how other faculty have connected these experiences in the past.

Data+ Application Format

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+, this title will be used for the project web page and project listings.

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 different 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 five to seven hours per week, and funding is generally available to cover the mentor’s time.

If you have a mentor in mind, please indicate who this is and why s/he is 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, or other 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 toward 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 toward acquiring that data

Data: Most Data+ projects involve analysis of datasets. Some of these are publically available, and some are not. As it is essential that students 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 describe 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, indicated whether it is owned and/or is being provided by an outside party. If so, please describe the intended path toward 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 had a partner from outside 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 to Gross Hall two or three times during the summer to hear updates from the 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 towards student stipends, and also identify a point of contact for this partner.

Deadline and Contact

The deadline for submitting this application is November 4, 2019, 5:00 p.m. Please email your completed application to Ariel Dawn. If you would like help in developing your proposal, please contact Paul Bendich.

Graduate Students Can Propose Data Expeditions for Undergraduate Courses

Data Expeditions.

Deadlines: August 5, 2019 for Fall 2019; October 10, 2019 for Spring 2020

The Rhodes Information Initiative at Duke (iiD) invites graduate students to submit a Fall 2019 or Spring 2020 Data Expeditions proposal.

Rhodes iiD, in partnership with the Social Science Research Institute, will support pairs of graduate students to prepare a data set for use in an undergraduate class and then assist the faculty instructor by supervising the data expedition within the class. Another useful approach is to prepare several data sets for use in illustrating the ideas behind a particular data analysis technique.

Graduate students who participate receive a (tax-free) grant of $1,500 for academic-related travel (such as conferences or workshops), texts, certain hardware (as long as it does not have a hard drive) and software, and more.

Review past Data Expeditions projects.

See details and apply for Fall 2019 undergraduate Data Expeditions.

See details and apply for Spring 2020 undergraduate Data Expeditions.

Doctoral Scholars Preparing to Lead Emerging Field of Energy Data Analytics

Bohao Huang, Qingran Li, Tianyu Wang, Edgar Virguez.

The last decade has ushered in astounding growth in the amount of energy-related data, along with game-changing developments in machine learning and other innovative data science techniques. The result? Unprecedented opportunities to analyze and make better decisions about how we generate, transmit, and consume energy.

At Duke University, a new program is pushing past traditional disciplinary boundaries to develop scholars prepared to seize these opportunities, deftly using data and advanced quantitative methods in pursuit of accessible, affordable, reliable, and clean energy systems.

The Energy Data Analytics PhD Student Fellows program, designed to support a cohort of four doctoral students in 2018-2019 and a second cohort of four in 2019-2020, is funded by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The Fellows Program is an effort of the university’s Energy Data Analytics Lab, which is working to position Duke University as an international leader in the emerging area of energy data analytics. The Lab is a collaboration among three of Duke’s signature interdisciplinary units: Duke University Energy Initiative, Rhodes Information Initiative at Duke, and Social Science Research Institute (SSRI).

Dr. Kyle Bradbury, managing director of the Energy Data Analytics lab, convenes monthly meetings where the fellows share work-in-progress and offer brief talks on specific data analytics tools and skills.

“The massive increase in data from energy system offers potentially transformational opportunities to address some of the most daunting energy challenges our world faces,” observed Dr. Kyle Bradbury, managing director of the Lab. “The fellows program actively engages young scholars in that work, as they propose and tackle projects that bring together energy domain expertise with data science tools and research. They work with faculty from diverse corners of the university—beyond their own degree programs—as they learn to navigate interdisciplinary collaboration over the course of nine months.”

In addition to funding equivalent to one-half of a full fellowship for an academic year, fellows receive conference travel support and data acquisition support up to $2,000, as well as priority access to virtual machines, storage, and other computational resources. The scholarship of the first two cohorts of fellows will be highlighted at a symposium hosted by Duke University in Spring 2020.

A Look at This Year’s Fellows

The inaugural cohort of four fellows in 2018-2019 includes doctoral students in electrical and computer engineering, environmental policy, and computer science. This year’s fellows affirm the value of a multidisciplinary approach to their research, reporting that the program has strengthened dissertation chapters, encouraged them to present their work at conferences, provided computational resources, and driven their engagement with real-world energy problems.

Bohao Huang is a Ph.D. student in electrical and computer engineering at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering. He is part of the Applied Machine Learning Lab at Duke and focuses on the translation of advanced machine learning techniques into practical solutions for challenging real-world problems. Specifically, Huang is developing algorithms to automatically extract useful energy systems information from large volumes of aerial imagery.

Huang reflected on the invigorating, interdisciplinary nature of the fellowship: “Even though the fellows and faculty are all doing research related to the energy field, the fact that we are coming from different departments gives us very unique skill sets. This helps me to expand my scope and rethink my research problems, considering them from different perspectives.”

Qingran Li is a Ph.D. student in the University Program in Environmental Policy (economics track) offered jointly by Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Sanford School of Public Policy. Her research includes using analytical tools to understand behavioral responses to policies and developing interdisciplinary solutions to energy and environmental issues. Li is using smart meter data and behavioral surveys to develop a new algorithm to better identify residential usage patterns and estimate demand more precisely.

With financial support from the fellows program, Li traveled to the Southern Economic Association’s November 2018 meeting to present preliminary findings from her research. She reported that conversations she had with others at the conference—including feedback on her research—have strengthened her sense that the fusion of data science techniques and energy applications will be increasingly crucial to successful work in energy economics.

Tianyu Wang is a PhD student in the department of computer science at Duke. His general research interests are in machine learning and applications of machine learning algorithms. Wang is using a reinforcement learning (“multi-armed bandit”) approach to efficiently design the architecture of neural networks for energy domain problems such as energy demand prediction.

The cohort format, bringing together a wide range of disciplines, skills, and perspectives, has enriched the fellowship experience for Wang. At monthly meetings, fellows alternate in presenting on their areas of expertise, from energy systems and power markets to GitHub and integrating version control tools into the research pipeline. Wang shared, “My fellow students are all very good teachers. I learn a lot from sitting with them in a discussion and they always have inspiring and sharp ideas.”

Edgar Virguez is a student in the doctoral program in environment at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. He is interested in contributing to the understanding of market mechanisms that facilitate the integration of variable energy resources. Virguez is designing quantitative tools that support the process of assessing policy and market approaches, promoting an increased penetration of variable energy resources in the energy matrix.

As Virguez looks towards his future path in academia, he said he “will assign a higher value to programs that recognize the intrinsic value of multidisciplinary education,” which he’s come to believe is “essential to stay at the forefront of innovative training.”

Energy Initiative director Brian Murray welcomed students interested in the fellows program to a recent info session. Another session is scheduled for Feb. 22.

Brian Murray, director of the Duke University Energy Initiative, reflected, “For decades, Duke has advanced an interdisciplinary approach to putting scholarship to use in service of society. This program applies that idea to doctoral training for those exploring important problems in energy.”

He noted that the job market for PhD students is broader than ever, so it makes sense for doctoral study to evolve with those changes: “This kind of cross-training will help equip scholars to make important contributions to addressing energy challenges whether they ultimately land in academia, government, nongovernmental organizations, or the private sector.”

Apply for 2019-2020

Applications for the 2019-2020 cohort of Energy Data Analytics PhD Student Fellows are due March 1, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. PhD students from any degree program at Duke can apply. Interested students are invited to attend an information session on Feb. 22, or to direct questions to Kyle Bradbury, managing director of Duke’s Energy Data Analytics Lab.

Originally posted on the Duke University Energy Initiative website

Photos: Bohao Huang, Qingran Li, Tianyu Wang, Edgar Virguez

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

Doctoral Students Can Go Deeper into the Energy Data Analytics Space

Energy Data Analytics Lab.

Deadline: March 1, 2019

The growth of energy-related data in the last decade has created new opportunities for data-driven exploration of solutions to energy problems. Capitalizing on the opportunities presented by this new wealth of data 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. That’s why the Duke University Energy Initiative has 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. 

Each fellow will conduct a related research project for nine months, working with faculty from multiple disciplines. In addition to funding equivalent to one-half of a full fellowship for an academic year, fellows will receive conference travel support and data acquisition support up to $2,000, as well as priority access to virtual machines, storage, and other computational resources. The scholarship of the first two cohorts of fellows will be highlighted at a symposium at Duke University in Spring 2020.

The program, designed to support a cohort of four fellows in 2018-2019 and a second cohort of four in 2019-2020, 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 (Rhodes iiD), and the Social Science Research Institute (SSRI). The fellows program is funded by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. (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.)

The Energy Initiative is currently accepting applications for the second cohort of Energy Data Analytics Ph.D. Student Fellows (2019-2020).

  • Consider attending an information session on Feb. 1 or Feb. 22, when you will be able to meet the current fellows, hear about the program, and learn more about a specific data science topic or skill.
  • See the call for proposals below, or download a PDF, which provides more detail about the program, benefits, eligibility, and duration.

Call for Proposals

The growth of energy-related data in the last decade has created new opportunities for data-driven explorations of energy problems. Capitalizing on the opportunities presented by this new wealth of data will require scholars with training in both data science and energy application domains.

Recognizing this—and the fact that traditional graduate training is limited in its ability to provide such dual expertise—this PhD fellows program aims to train a cohort of next-generation scholars who, working with faculty from multiple disciplines, will draw on knowledge in energy application areas (e.g., energy technologies, systems, markets, and policies), and data science methods (e.g., statistics, machine learning, and other computational methods, especially as applied to “big data”). This work can span many disciplinary fields (including engineering, operations research, computer science, mathematics, environmental science, economics, public policy, or closely related fields) to leverage burgeoning sources of energy data to affect the evolution of energy systems and the policies that govern them.

Benefits to Successful Applicants

  • Funding equivalent to 50% support for two semesters (for a total of one semester of funding)
  • Conference travel support and data acquisition support up to $2,000
  • Priority access to virtual machines, storage, and other computational resources
  • Participation in an Energy Data Analytics symposium in Spring

Student Eligibility

  • Any Duke doctoral student currently enrolled full time. The student must be working with (or proposing to work with) two faculty members representing interdisciplinary expertise across both an energy application domain and a data science field as defined above.
  • Doctoral student must show evidence of genuine interest in research on important energy data analytics topics that play a role in their larger dissertation objectives.
  • Applicants must be making successful academic progress in their home department.
  • Doctoral students as early as their second year at Duke can apply to be an Energy Data Analytics Fellow during the next academic year. Preference will be given to students who have completed coursework by the beginning of their fellowship term.

Fellowship Duration

Energy Data Analytics Fellows are expected to work on their proposed project for a minimum of one academic year (9 months). Preference will be given to students who incorporate the proposed project into their dissertation research. The fellowship will begin at the start of the fall semester (September 1) and end the following spring (May 31).

Application Deadline

The deadline for application submission is March 1, 2019. The Energy Data Analytics Fellows application can be found at https://energy.duke.edu/energy-data-analytics-phd-student-fellows and should be submitted as a pdf document to Kyle Bradbury (kyle.bradbury@duke.edu) no later than 11:59pm on the day of the deadline.

Questions

Please contact Kyle Bradbury (kyle.bradbury@duke.edu) with any questions about this program.

Support

This fellowship program is made possible through a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (https://sloan.org/). 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.

Duke Honored for Durham Research Partnerships through Bass Connections and Data+ Programs

Laylon Williams, Nicole Schramm-Sapyta, Elijah Bazemore.

Nicole Schramm-Sapyta named Volunteer of the Year at Durham Crisis Intervention Team Awards Banquet; Data+ and Bass Connections in Brain & Society honored as Community Partner Agencies of the Year

Nicole Schramm-Sapyta of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences researches addiction. In the summer of 2016, she began working with a Duke Bass Connections Brain & Society team to learn more about the opiate epidemic in Durham. In Bass Connections teams, students and faculty address real-world problems through research, creativity, and collaboration with external partners.

Interested in the local law-enforcement perspective on drug use, they met with members of the Durham Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). CIT members are police officers and other first responders who have received extensive special training to respond to citizens in crisis, often due to underlying behavioral health issues such as addiction or mental illness. More than 950 first responders in Durham have been CIT-trained since 2007.

“A third of people in our jails have mental health issues. It’s great to have Duke and the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences on board, because we need the research, we need our work to be evidence-based, because people’s lives are at stake.” –Wendy Jacobs, Durham County Board of Commissioners Chair

When Schramm-Sapyta and her students first met with the CIT officers, a one-hour meeting stretched to more than two hours of open, honest discussion. The students asked hard questions and the officers responded with experience, policy information, and honesty. The Bass Connections students were so impressed that they wanted to spread the word. They organized two CIT presentations on campus and three Mental Health First Aid training sessions, the latter completed by more than 100 members of the Duke community.

Schramm-Sapyta and students were encouraged to return and brainstorm with CIT members about ways Duke could support the program. They learned the CIT had lots of data on 9-1-1 calls but no one to analyze it and make it useful to CIT. Schramm-Sapyta connected with Paul Bendich, Associate Professor of Math and Data+ leader, and thus was born the first Data+/CIT project, “Mental Health Interventions by Durham Police.”

Data+, run by Duke’s Rhodes Information Initiative, is a 10-week summer research experience for undergraduates interested in exploring new data-driven approaches to complex challenges.

Schramm-Sapyta described the successful Data+/CIT collaboration on Dec. 7 during her keynote remarks at CIT’s 11th Annual Recognition Banquet, held at the Durham Human Services Complex. Data+ and Bass Connections in Brain & Society were named “Community Partner Agency of the Year,” and Schramm-Sapyta was honored as “Volunteer of the Year.”

CIT honorees.The annual event recognizes “Exemplary and Dedicated Work of Durham County’s CIT First Responders,” according to the program. Sponsors included National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Durham and Alliance Behavioral Healthcare. Teshéa Grant, Public Information Officer for Durham County Emergency Medical Services (EMS), served as Mistress of Ceremonies.

Team members from EMS, the Sheriff’s Department, DPD, Duke University and N.C. Central University Police departments, Durham Emergency Communications, and Durham Technical Community College also were honored.

Local officials attending included City of Durham Mayor Steve Schewel, Durham County Board of Commissioners Chair Wendy Jacobs, and current and former Durham County Sheriffs Clarence Birkhead and Mike Andrews. Len White, Associate Professor of Neurology and DIBS Associate Director for Education, attended as co-leader of the Bass Connections Brain & Society theme, which DIBS manages.

Officials made clear how important it is to understand the links between people with mental health issues, local law enforcement, and incarceration. “A third of people in our jails have mental health issues,” Jacobs said. “It’s great to have Duke and DIBS on board, because we need the research, we need our work to be evidence-based, because people’s lives are at stake.”

“This is a fantastic example of the potential for really deep, enduring partnerships between Duke and local institutions and law enforcement in Durham.” –Ed Balleisen, Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies

Bendich told event attendees he loves to expose students to really hard problems and to professionals who are working on the problems. “Technical excellence is important but more important is whether you’re able to explain your solutions to people on the ‘pointy end’ of these hard problems,” he said. “To do so, you have to craft a story and make it believable, compelling. Projects like this one are beautiful examples.” On a personal note, he added, “I’m a child of two mental health professionals, so this project is especially meaningful to me.”

The Data+ team’s first project was to analyze 9-1-1 calls between 2011 and 2016 and determine if there were any patterns related to CIT-tagged calls—and indeed there were! Behavioral health-related calls typically peak on Wednesdays between 8 a.m. and noon, (“Hump Day is real,” said Schramm-Sapyta), but are sparse on Sunday mornings between 4 and 8 a.m.—information CIT could then use to deploy resources.

Students also looked at various areas of the city regarding the number of CIT calls. “Not surprisingly,” Schramm-Sapyta said, “the poorest areas of our city are the greatest utilizers of CIT services.” That’s good news in that it suggests citizens are familiar with CIT and its services, and the services are going where they are most needed, she pointed out. “It also suggests the need for greater mental health services in these areas, so that crises can be averted.”

In 2017, a second Data+ project looked at whether CIT was helping reduce recidivism, i.e., how often convicted criminals are returning to jail after they have been released. Those identified as having a behavioral health issue are much more likely to return to jail, Schramm-Sapyta noted. This time, data were provided by the Durham County Sheriff’s Office and the Durham County Jail.

“Before CIT existed, recidivism was on the rise in Durham,” Schramm-Sapyta said. “As CIT was first established, and the program began to grow, recidivism leveled off.” In the most recent five years, as CIT and Durham have grown rapidly, and other mental health services at the jail and in the community have increased, recidivism has dropped sharply, she noted.

Ed Balleisen, Duke’s Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies, oversees DIBS and Bass Connections. He emphasized the special nature of the Data+ and Bass Connections projects linked to the Durham community.

“This is a fantastic example of the potential for really deep, enduring partnerships between Duke and local institutions and law enforcement in the city and county of Durham,” he said. “These projects allow pursuit of significant research questions that can inform decision-making and deploy the creativity of Duke’s faculty and students in partnership with local institutions to carry out that research and present it, with an eye toward allowing decision-makers to see their world more clearly and have a better sense of what’s working and what isn’t,” Balleisen added.

Schramm-Sapyta ended her Dec. 7 remarks by thanking the Bass Connections Brain & Society Theme and the Data+ program—and especially the CIT. “I’ve learned Durham is a great place to live, and CIT is a big part of that greatness.”

Originally posted on the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences website

Photos: Laylon Williams of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Durham, Nicole Schramm-Sapyta, Elijah Bazemore of the Durham County Sheriff’s Office Detention Services Division (courtesy of Williams); CIT honorees, including representatives Len White and Paul Bendich, standing at left, and Schramm-Sapyta, seated in center

Check Out the 2019 Data+ Projects and Apply to Join a Team This Summer

Data+ team members.

Deadline: February 25, 2019

Data+ is a ten-week summer research experience for undergraduates and master’s students interested in exploring new data-driven approaches to interdisciplinary challenges. It is suitable for students at all levels and from all majors.

Students join small teams (a maximum of three undergraduates and one master’s student) and work alongside other teams in a communal environment. They learn how to marshal, analyze and visualize data, while gaining broad exposure to the field of data science.

The program runs from late May through late July each year, with the application deadline in February. Participants receive a stipend. Students come from a variety of backgrounds, majors and levels of experience with coding. Through collaboration, they use data analysis to solve problems across disciplines.

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

Apply Now for Summer 2019

Data+ 2019 runs from May 28 through August 3, 2019. We are currently accepting applications via this link. The application deadline is February 25, but we will evaluate applications on a rolling basis, so please get your application in as soon as you can.

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.

Browse the projects below, and come to the Data+ Information Fair on January 17 at 3:00 p.m. to learn more and meet the project leads.

2019 Projects

Code+

At the fair, students will also have the opportunity to talk with the 2019 project leads for the new Code+ program, and learn more about projects for summer 2019. Code+ projects are paid internships that focus on application/product development, while Data+ projects are stipend-based and focus on learning to marshal, analyze, and visualize data from a wide spectrum of sources.

Information Initiative at Duke Named in Honor of Michael and Maureen Rhodes

Michael and Maureen Rhodes.

Duke University’s landmark “big data” initiative has been named in honor of longtime supporters Michael and Maureen Rhodes.

The Rhodes Information Initiative at Duke (iiD), founded in 2013, was officially named by the Duke University Board of Trustees in November 2018 to “express deep appreciation and gratitude to Michael George Rhodes and Maureen C. Rhodes for their generosity,” according to the board resolution.

The Rhodes family has made significant contributions to advance the initiative, which works to increase computational research and expand student engagement in the rapidly growing field of data sciences. Since its launch, more than 5,000 members of the Duke community and 50 partners from industry, government, and nonprofit organizations have engaged with the Rhodes iiD, pursuing interdisciplinary projects ranging from predicting diabetes complications to quantifying gerrymandering to finding parking on a crowded campus.

Rhodes iiD.

“Michael and Maureen Rhodes’s support has been instrumental in establishing Duke as a leader in big data, machine learning, and the quantitative sciences,” said Robert Calderbank, the Charles Sydnor Professor of Computer Science, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and director of the Rhodes iiD. “They saw the promise in this initiative from the beginning, and their early investments have made a tremendous impact not only for the Rhodes iiD but across the university.”

Matched by challenge funds from philanthropists Anne T. and Robert M. Bass through Duke’s Bass Connections program, the Rhodes gifts provide fundamental support for iiD’s signature Data+ program, which is part of the Bass Connections Information, Society & Culture theme. Data+ brings multidisciplinary teams of faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students together each summer to explore and develop data-driven solutions to real-world client challenges.

“Duke’s interdisciplinary strengths give it a strong position from which to take creative approaches to analyzing and applying data to tackle the world’s problems, whether it’s improving health care or developing more sustainable energy systems.” —Michael Rhodes

Winner of a 2016 global Reimagine Education award for “projects that enhance learning and employability and are both innovative and scalable,” Data+ now attracts more than 300 applications for 100 student slots annually. It has also inspired similar programs across campus, including a new foundational data sciences course for Duke Pratt School of Engineering undergraduates and the recently launched +DataScience, an initiative intended to further extend the reach of data science to lift all schools at Duke.

“The Rhodes iiD’s innovative approach to team-based learning and problem-solving through Data+ has been incredibly successful in engaging students across the university, especially women, who are too often underrepresented in the computational sciences,” said Ravi V. Bellamkonda, Vinik Dean of the Pratt School of Engineering. “Michael and Maureen had the foresight to pave the way for the expansion of Duke’s educational programming in data sciences at a time when the field was just taking off, and as a result they have enabled hundreds of students to gain insights and experience that will serve them very well in our increasingly data-driven society.”

The couple has also funded graduate fellowships and professorships in engineering, including the Bell-Rhodes Associate Professor of the Practice in Electrical and Computer Engineering, currently held by Stacy Tantum, who co-teaches the engineering data science course with Data+ director Paul Bendich, associate research professor of mathematics. They also established the Rhodes Family Professorship in Electrical and Computer Engineering, held by Vahid Tarokh—one of the world’s most cited researchers in computer science, who was recruited from Harvard University in 2017 as part of the Duke Quantitative Initiative.

The Rhodes iiD has been critical in fostering a community of thought leaders in data science, according to leaders. Among others, the initiative is home to faculty such as Guillermo Sapiro, collaborating with Geraldine Dawson to develop a groundbreaking iOS app for early autism screening, and Lawrence Carin, working with Geoff Ginsburg and Robert Califf to deliver data-driven approaches to personalized health care. Today, based on the NIPS 2017 publication index, Duke is among the top 10 organizations worldwide—including heavy hitters like Google and Microsoft—in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning research.

“The Rhodes iiD has created a real center of gravity for quantitative sciences across the university,” said Provost Sally Kornbluth. “By seeding our efforts to attract and retain outstanding faculty and graduate students and investing in transformative educational programming, Michael and Maureen Rhodes have helped lay the groundwork for the continued expansion of Duke’s strengths in the sciences and technology.”

Michael Rhodes, a 1987 graduate of the Pratt School of Engineering, said that he and his wife, Maureen, were inspired to contribute to the iiD in part by firsthand knowledge of how data science is changing the world. As an executive in the data-intensive financial services industry, “I believe very strongly that data and information will transform our lives in the 21st century,” said Rhodes, who is the group head of Innovation, Technology, and Shared Services at TD Bank Group and a member of the Pratt School of Engineering Board of Visitors.

“Duke’s interdisciplinary strengths give it a strong position from which to take creative approaches to analyzing and applying data to tackle the world’s problems, whether it’s improving health care or developing more sustainable energy systems,” Rhodes said. “I see our investment in Duke’s information initiative as an investment in people—outstanding faculty, promising students and ultimately the society their work will serve. It’s been incredibly rewarding to see the iiD’s progress and impact toward that end.”

Originally posted on the Rhodes iiD website

Photos at top: 2018 Data+ poster session; Michael and Maureen Rhodes; a 2018 Data+ team shows off its “Energy Infrastructure Map of the World”