Ten Groups of Faculty Receive Intellectual Community Planning Grants for 2020

Campus in winter.

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

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

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

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

Bridging team members.

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

Developing a Neuroethics and Theological Studies Network

Developing Neuroethics team members.

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

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

Duke SciReg ICPG members.

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

Entity Resolution with Applications to Public Policy and Business

Entity Resolutions ICPG members.

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

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

Housing ICPG members.

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

Human Rights Futures

Human Rights ICPG members.

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

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

Light-based Methods in Neuroscience and Biology

Light-based ICPG members.

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

North Carolina Saltwater Intrusion and Sea Level Rise

NC Saltwater ICPG members.

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

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

Opioid ICPG members.

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

Transformative Learning: A Shared Intellectual Interest across the University

Transformative Learning ICPG members.

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

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

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

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

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)

Duke’s Newest Faculty Members Are Joining a Robust Interdisciplinary Community

Nine new faculty at Duke

“New faculty are the lifeblood of a robust and dynamic academic community,” says Duke Provost Sally Kornbluth. “As described in our academic strategic plan, our overarching imperative for the next decade is to grow, connect, and empower communities to enhance the creation, delivery, and translation of knowledge. These new faculty will play a valuable role in accomplishing these goals in our core missions of research, teaching, and service.”

Nine new faculty members told the Office of University Communications what motivates them in their scholarship and why Duke is the right place for this work. Duke’s strengths in interdisciplinary scholarship and collaborative inquiry stood out to many of them.

Below, we excerpt brief comments. See the full article, and meet other new faculty highlighted in Duke Today’s new faculty series.

Alberto Bartesaghi

Associate Professor of Computer Science, Biochemistry, and Electrical & Computer Engineering

BartesaghiThe field has changed completely from 13 years ago to today. Now there are many more possibilities. I thought coming to a university environment like Duke would allow me to tap into all the different disciplines.

Here you can talk to people in the math department, the School of Medicine, biochemistry, engineering… pharmacology is on this floor. There is a wider variety of things I need, but especially math, and computer science and engineering. They have a big role to play here.

Brandon Garrett

L. Neil Williams Professor of Law, School of Law

GarrettOne reason that I am so excited to be part of the Duke community is that my work has become more and more interdisciplinary and focused on public policy over the years. Researchers at Duke collaborate so well across the entire university – it is such an innovative place with people dedicated to making a difference in the world through their research.

In my criminal justice research, I increasingly work with psychologists in my work on eyewitness memory and risk assessment, statisticians in my work on forensic science, and governance and finance scholars in my work on corporate crime.

David Gill

Assistant Professor of Marine Conservation, Duke Marine Lab, Nicholas School of the Environment

GillDrawing on tools, theories and approaches from multiple disciplines, I seek to answer questions like: how does marine management affect fish populations and the wellbeing of communities? What are the economic gains from conserving coral reefs and what are the potential losses from inaction?

The Duke Marine Lab has a strong focus on interdisciplinary research and teaching on marine conservation and human-natural systems, and these closely tie into my academic interests.

Po-Chun Hsu

Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

HsuMy research looks to tailor the heat transfer properties of wearable devices. From applications in spacesuits to firefighters to everyday clothing, engineering the properties of materials can keep people—or delicate machinery—at the right temperature. We do this by engineering the nanoscale structures of fibers to interact with light or infrared radiation—better known as heat—in a specific way. This requires a wide range of expertise including material scientists, mechanical engineers and physicists.

I came to Duke because it’s a special place where there’s a variety of very talented people in the fields of heat transfer, polymer physics and biomedical applications. It’s the perfect environment to find collaborators and to find inspiration to further my research.

Sally Nuamah

Assistant Professor, Sanford School of Public Policy

NuamahGrowing up in Chicago and attending public schools, I felt like policies were always happening to me, and I did not quite understand why. I made a decision to learn about how the policy process works so that maybe one day I could work to make it better.

On my first visit to Sanford, I was given about 20 to 30 minutes to talk to nearly one dozen faculty members. I went over the time for each person I met with.  I just found each person’s work so important, interesting, and relevant. I knew that these were colleagues that want to do work that matters to them, that want to do work that’s important. They care about the community that they’re directly involved in. That’s the kind of community I want to be a part of.

Adam Rosenblatt

Associate Professor of the Practice, International Comparative Studies

RosenblattAs a professor, I have the power to help shape student experiences. So it’s good to ask: What kinds of doors to I want to open for them? For decades now people have talked about theory versus practice. That’s boring and it’s wrong. We sometimes do a disservice when we present students with a binary — the classroom versus community engagement. I’m more interested in how you make sure both spaces are influenced by each other. How can the classroom and the community work in conversation?

I’ve always taught in interdisciplinary programs, but Duke is a bigger sandbox than I’ve been able to play in before. My students here have a tremendous array of interests, in terms of regions and disciplines.

Marc Ryser

Assistant Professor, Population Health Sciences and Mathematics

RyserBecause it is hard to predict which tumors will turn out lethal, most patients are treated quite aggressively. The big question is: which of these patients are treated for a good reason, because they would eventually get lethal cancer, and how many of these are basically over-treated, for something that would never become symptomatic cancer?

For me Duke is attractive because it provides an ideal environment for my interdisciplinary research at the interface of medicine and the quantitative sciences. There are so many world experts in both areas of research, and there is a lot of data being generated — a very exciting place to be! By developing mathematical and statistical modeling techniques that integrate diverse data sources I hope to foster new bridges between the School of Medicine and Arts & Sciences.

Caroline Stinson

Professor of the Practice of Music and cellist in the Ciompi Quartet

StinsonI’m looking forward to being in an academic community. It struck me during my interviews, when other professors of musicology and music theory wanted to talk to me about projects I’d been involved in, they were excited to talk about the music I was playing – and that’s just within the music department. It’s totally new for me to think about how my work can not only collaborate with other areas in the university but be influenced by, and to influence, people in other areas. And Duke gives me the space to think about the projects that have been in the back of my mind for at least five years, and to dive even deeper into string quartets and collaboration in my work with the Ciompi.

Ismail White

Associate Professor, Political Science

WhiteMy research focuses on African-American political behavior. I try to answer why so many black Americans are so partisan, why so many are Democrats, over 90 percent — that’s an extraordinary amount of support.

The answer to that question seems obvious, you know, it must have something to do with race. I discovered a lot is race-based, but I explain that it’s also sociological, historical and even psychological. I seek to unify the explanation.

One of the reasons I came to Duke is because of the large African-American community in North Carolina. Certainly North Carolina has its share of racial politics, and very interesting racial politics. I look forward to working in the community and getting to know the political environment here.

Photos by University Communications

Four Duke Students Selected as Global Health Doctoral Scholars

DGHI Doctoral Scholars

Four Duke doctoral students have been selected to join the Global Health Doctoral Scholars program at the Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI), bringing the current cohort total to 13 scholars.

Through the DGHI Doctoral Scholars program, Duke PhD candidates from various disciplines conduct in-depth research on a topic that intersects their primary discipline and global health. This year’s new scholars include two international students—one from Ghana and the other from Ireland—and span disciplines of biomedical engineering, law, ecology and statistics. The latter three disciplines are new to the scholars community.

Each scholar is mentored by a DGHI faculty member. The faculty member collaborates with the scholar on planning and conducting global health research and provides dissertation mentorship and career development to help the scholar prepare for a career in global health. This year, three new faculty mentors are joining the program: DGHI professors Elizabeth Turner, Amy Herring and Megan Huchko.

“We enthusiastically welcome our new DGHI doctoral scholars who were chosen through a highly competitive selection process with applications from seven academic departments,” said Kathleen Sikkema, director of doctoral studies at DGHI. “We’re excited to integrate new disciplinary perspectives of statistical science, ecology and law into our program.”

Meet the new scholars:

Mercy Asiedu

Fourth-year PhD student, biomedical engineering, Pratt School of Engineering
  • Undergraduate degree: BS, biomedical engineering and business, University of Rochester
  • Global health area of interest: Development of medical devices and automated algorithms for cervical cancer screening in low-resource settings
  • Doctoral scholar research: Conduct clinical studies and in-depth interviews for portable, low-cost and speculum-free cervical cancer screening in Lima, Peru and Accra, Ghana
  • DGHI mentor: Nimmi Ramanujam, professor, biomedical engineering and global health

“Cervical cancer disproportionately affects women in low- and middle- income countries,” said Asiedu. “My research focuses on developing technology to help reduce this disparity. Being a global health doctoral scholar provides a great opportunity for me to immerse myself in and learn more from these settings. It also allows me to engage with people in different countries for input, thus enabling the human centered design process.”

Jackie Gerson

Second-year PhD candidate, ecology, University Program in Ecology
  • Undergraduate degree: BA, biochemistry, Colgate University
  • Master’s degree: MS, environmental engineering science, Syracuse University
  • Global health area of interest: Increasing understanding of how the movement of contaminants through the environment leads to human exposure to these contaminants
  • Doctoral scholar research: Investigate patterns in transport and transformation of mercury from artisanal gold mining that lead to human mercury exposure in the Peruvian Amazon
  • DGHI mentor: William Pan, assistant professor, global environmental health

“The Doctoral Scholars program allows me to examine the interaction between environmental and human health in the face of the largest global source of mercury—artisanal gold mining. Being a part of this program provides me with the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the link between these two areas through in-depth fieldwork,” said Gerson.

Kelly Moran

Second-year PhD student, statistical science, Department of Statistical Science
  • Undergraduate degree: BS, mathematical sciences, concentration in biology and minor in music, Clemson University
  • Global health area of interest: Development of statistical methods for learning about some underlying true health state from multiple imperfect measurements of that state
  • Doctoral scholar research: Develop the statistical methodology necessary to integrate heterogeneous post-mortem test results, pathologist/physician gestalt (including pathologist/physician confidence in their determined cause of death) and verbal autopsies to learn about both individual-level cause of death and population-level etiologic fractions
  • DGHI mentor: Elizabeth Turner, assistant professor, biostatistics and bioinformatics and global health, and Amy Herring, professor of statistical science and global health

“I think the Doctoral Scholars program will be a great way to stay grounded and focus on the usability and usefulness of any statistical methodologies I develop. I’m also looking forward to advancing my communication skills as a statistician within the global health community,” said Moran.

Christine Ryan

Third-year SJD candidate, Duke Law School
  • Undergraduate degree: LLB, University College Cork, Ireland
  • Master’s degree: LLM, University College London, UK
  • Global health area of interest: Abortion rights, human rights and reproductive health
  • Doctoral scholar research: Examine the role of international human rights law in access to abortion in Kenya and collaborate with advocacy organizations, policymakers, health care workers and grassroots organizations to examine whether international human rights law has helped advance abortion rights in Kenya or if it has been operationalized as a tool of counter-mobilization. Also, assess the relevance of international human rights law in tackling on-the-ground obstacles to implementing court judgments and national abortion laws.
  • DGHI mentor: Megan Huchko, associate professor, obstetrics & gynecology and global health

“My goal is to use my foundation in international human rights law, gender and advocacy to conduct a high-quality research and advocacy project for abortion rights in Kenya. I am determined to expand my methodology and to effectively engage and work with all key stakeholders in this complex field,” said Ryan.

Learn more about the Global Health Doctoral Scholars program.

Originally posted on the Duke Global Health Institute website

Photo: Mercy Asiedu, Jackie Gerson, Kelly Moran, Christine Ryan

Fourteen Duke Graduate Students Receive Training Enhancement Grants

GSTEG recipients

Fourteen Duke University students received Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants (GSTEG) for 2018-2019 from the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies. Stretching beyond their core disciplinary training, these doctoral students will spend up to one semester acquiring skills, knowledge, or experiences that will enhance the approach to their original research.

Hands-on Training

Patrick Gray

Patrick GrayPh.D. in Marine Science and Conservation, Nicholas School of the Environment
Faculty mentor: David W. Johnston

Attend Rutgers University Marine Technology Glider Camp to gain experience using oceanographic gliders and intern with a team experienced in applying artificial intelligence data analysis techniques to ecology, to better design and answer novel questions about the ecology of marine mammals

Gray Kidd

Gray KiddPh.D. in History, Arts & Sciences
Faculty mentor: John D. French

Engage in six weeks of professional training in the production of documentary films in Recife, Brazil, in order to produce a companion piece to dissertation, reach underrepresented publics in field research, and build skills as a public humanist

Christine Ryan

Christine RyanS.J.D. in Law, School of Law
Faculty mentor: Katharine T. Bartlett

Conduct fieldwork to examine the role of international human rights law in access to abortion in Kenya; collaborate with advocacy organizations, policymakers, healthcare workers, and grassroots organizations; assess relevance of international human rights law in tackling obstacles to implementing court judgments and national abortion laws

Weiyi Tang

Weiyi TangPh.D. in Earth and Ocean Sciences, Nicholas School of the Environment
Faculty mentor: Nicolas Cassar

Collaborate with Dr. Julie Robidart’s laboratory at National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, UK, to acquire training on how to identify types of diazotrophs in North Atlantic Ocean and explore how the microbial community influences N2 fixation rates, to support research on marine N2 fixation


Siddharth Kawadiya

Siddharth KawadiyaPh.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering, Pratt School of Engineering
Faculty mentor: Marc A. Deshusses

Intern at Firmenich in Geneva to learn analytical methods of headspace analysis of reinvented toilets (which are off the grid; without any connections to water, sewer, or electricity), and incorporate the methods into the lab-scale testing of odor elimination capacity of odor-removing pouches

Hillary Smith

Hillary SmithPh.D. in Marine Science and Conservation, Nicholas School of the Environment
Faculty mentor: Xavier Basurto

Spend two months as a fellow of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome to learn more about the organization’s role in small-scale fisheries policy, to support dissertation on implementation of FAO’s first global policy instrument for the small-scale fishing sector

Phillip Turner

Phillip TurnerPh.D. in Marine Science and Conservation, Nicholas School of the Environment
Faculty mentor: Cindy Lee Van Dover

Develop informational materials in collaboration with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and take part in the 24th Session of the ISA Council in Kingston, Jamaica, in July 2018, to introduce the seabed beneath the Middle Passage as a potential cultural heritage site


Torang Asadi

Torang AsadiPh.D. in Religion, Arts & Sciences
Faculty mentor: David Morgan

Enroll in human computer interaction and user experience research courses at UC-Berkeley, Coursera, and Stanford in Summer 2018 to learn methods for studying ways in which humans and machines are intertwined in constituting humanity, to support research on healthcare among Iranians in northern California

Christina Bejjani

Christina BejjaniPh.D. in Psychology and Neuroscience, Arts & Sciences
Faculty mentor: Tobias Egner

Attend one of two Computational Summer Schools to acquire computational analytic skills, learn how to incorporate novel and innovative themes within human neuroscience research, and network with leading researchers and fellow attendees

Morine Cebert

Morine CebertPh.D. in Nursing, School of Nursing
Faculty mentors: Rosa M. Gonzalez-Guarda and Eleanor Stevenson

Attend three courses at Odum Institute’s Qualitative Research Summer Intensive at UNC-Chapel Hill in July 2018 and complete online Nurse Certificate Course for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, to support research on reproductive endocrinology care among African-American women

Yanyou Chen

Yanyou ChenPh.D. in Economics, Arts & Sciences
Faculty mentor: Christopher Timmins

Take part in week-long Railway Operations module of Railway Executive Development Program at Michigan State University, to learn about such topics as how a rail network is formed and operated, how locomotive and car leasing works, and how carpooling and fleet management is conducted

Zachary Levine

Zach LevinePh.D. in Cultural Anthropology, Arts & Sciences
Faculty mentor: Diane M. Nelson

Enroll in plant medicine course at the Jardim Botânico of Rio de Janeiro in Spring 2018 to develop a more rigorous understanding of science-based fundamentals of plant healing, in support of research on Brazil’s state-sanctioned use of ayahuasca

Adrian Linden-High

Adrian Linden-HighPh.D. in Classical Studies, Arts & Sciences
Faculty mentor: Mary T. Boatwright

Attend International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) workshop at University of Victoria, Canada, in June 2018, to build skills in using ultra-high-resolution photographic reproductions of cultural heritage objects

Julia Notar

Julia NotarPh.D. in Biology, Arts & Sciences
Faculty mentor: Sönke Johnsen

Take part in two-week Sensory Ecology Course at Lund University, Sweden, in October 2018, to learn about multiple topics in the field of sensory ecology and support dissertation research on visual ecology


This internal funding mechanism from the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies encourages doctoral and master’s students to step away from their core research and training to acquire skills, knowledge, or co-curricular experiences that will give them new perspectives on their research agendas. Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants are intended to deepen preparation for academic positions and other career trajectories.

A January 2018 RFP invited all current Duke graduate students (including master’s, professional, and Ph.D. students) to propose graduate training enhancement activities lasting up to one semester. Proposals were reviewed by a panel of faculty and graduate students from across the university.

See previous recipients (2017-2018 and 2016-2017) and review the 2016-2017 summary report.

Photo, first row: Torang Asadi, Christina Bejjani, Morine Cebert, Yanyou Chen; second row: Patrick Gray, Siddharth Kawadiya, Gray Kidd, Zachary Levine; third row: Adrian Linden-High, Julia Notar, Christine Ryan, Hillary Smith; fourth row: Weiyi Tang, Phillip Turner

Seven Groups of Faculty Receive Intellectual Community Planning Grants

In Duke’s rich culture of collaboration, many scholars are working together on a broad range of projects, and new ideas are constantly bubbling up. To provide seed funding for some emerging areas of collaboration, Provost Sally Kornbluth and Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies Ed Balleisen are pleased to announce seven awards for Intellectual Community Planning Grants.

These small awards, ranging from $3,500 to $5,000, will support the following groups of faculty as they pursue the development of a new or existing collaboration.

Cover-ups & Exposés

Kenan Institute for Ethics: Geoffrey Harpham, Suzanne Katzenstein (co-PI), Wayne Norman
Law: Samuel Buell, Kim Krawiec
Trinity/Philosophy: Wayne Norman, David Wong
Trinity/Political Science: Ruth Grant (co-PI), Jack Knight
Trinity/Thompson Writing Program: Matt Whitt
In collaboration with faculty from UNC Chapel Hill

Disease- & Tissue-specific Collaborative Groups for Advancement of Regenerative Biology & Medicine

Medicine/Cell Biology: Kenneth Poss (PI)
Medicine/Orthopedic Surgery: Benjamin Alman
Pratt/Biomedical Engineering: Nenad Bursac
Trinity/Biology: David Sherwood
Sanford School of Public Policy: Jennifer Owen

A Forum for Innovative Collaborations in the Empirical Study of the Social Sciences

Trinity/Political Science: Laia Balcells, David Siegel (PI), Daniel Stegmueller
Trinity/Sociology: Chris Bail, James Moody, Stephen Vaisey
Trinity/Statistical Science: David Banks, Katherine Heller

Fostering Collaborations at Duke to Address Global Cancer Disparities

Duke Global Health Institute: Gavin Yamey, Krishna Udayakumar
Pratt/Biomedical Engineering: Nimmi Ramanujam
Medicine/Obstetrics & Gynecology: Megan Huchko (PI)
Medicine/Radiation Oncology: Gita Suneja

Planetary Health

Duke Global Health Institute: Randy Kramer
Medicine/Infectious Disease: Gregory Gray
Nicholas School/Environmental Sciences & Policy: William Pan (PI), Subhrendu Pattanayak
Trinity/Evolutionary Anthropology: Brian Hare
Pratt/Civil & Environmental Engineering: Marc Deshusses
Sanford School of Public Policy: Marc Jeuland

In Transit: The Arts of Migration

Nasher Museum of Art: Molly Boarati, Sarah Schroth, Marianne Wardle
Trinity/Art, Art History & Visual Studies: Pedro Lasch
Trinity/Music: Michael Kris
Trinity/Romance Studies: Roberto Dainotto, Alan José (PI), Helen Solterer, Elvira Vilches

Triangle Seminar on the Histories of Muslim Societies & Communities

Trinity/History: Bruce Hall (PI), Adam Mestyan
Trinity/Economics: Timur Kuran
Trinity/Religious Studies: Mona Hassan
Trinity/Slavic & Eurasian Studies: Mustafa Tuna

Learn about last year’s recipients of Intellectual Community Planning Grants.

Kenan Institute for Ethics Receives Luce Foundation Grant for Four-Year Project


The Henry Luce Foundation has awarded Duke’s Kenan Institute for Ethics a four-year grant of $550,000 to support a multidisciplinary exploration of humanity’s place in an Anthropocene world. The project will be led by Norman Wirzba, professor of theology, ecology and agrarian studies at Duke Divinity School and a senior fellow at the Kenan Institute, and Jedediah Purdy, Robinson O. Everett Professor of Law at Duke Law School.

The “Rethinking Humanity’s Place in an Anthropocene World” project will seek to transform and redirect academic disciplines so they can better prepare communities to meet the health, sustainability and justice challenges of the Anthropocene, the current geological age in which human activity has been the dominant influence on Earth’s geology and ecosystems. Questions of theology and law are intended to provide a dual, orienting focus while drawing in perspectives from a wide range of other disciplines.

“The theological perspective is intended to give the project a lens through which we can assess questions of meaning, value, and purpose in our institutions and policies,” said Wirzba. “Ultimately, our goal is to rethink the work we’re doing in academic disciplines so that we’re not simply recapitulating the modes of thought that have created the crises we now face.”

The project will include an intensive multidisciplinary working group in which scholars will engage the topic through conversation, monographs and essays; a university-wide graduate seminar taught by Wirzba and Purdy on the project’s themes; public lectures and panel discussions; and research projects for graduate students.

The Henry Luce Foundation was established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc., and seeks to bring important ideas to the center of American life, strengthen international understanding, and foster innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious, and art communities.

Originally posted on the Duke Divinity School website

Duke to Convene Year-long Sawyer Seminar on Corporate Rights and International Law


Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant to support interdisciplinary scholarship on the nature of the global corporation

From politics to popular culture, the corporation is one of the most critical institutions of the modern era. It’s also one of the most controversial. Do corporations have rights? Are corporations people, societies or even governments? What are their civic, social, ethical and political responsibilities?

Supported by a grant of $175,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Duke University will convene a year-long Sawyer Seminar to wrestle with these complex issues about the global corporation.

“Corporate Rights and International Law: Past, Present, and Future,” will be organized by Rachel Brewster, Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Center for International and Comparative Law, and Philip J. Stern, Sally Dalton Robinson Associate Professor of History.

The seminar will bring together an interdisciplinary community of scholars to explore how international, commercial and political rights have shaped corporate power, and consider how corporations should govern, and be governed, in our ever-globalizing world.

Hosted by the Franklin Humanities Institute and the Center for International and Comparative Law, the seminar will galvanize a robust community at Duke and in the wider Research Triangle area of North Carolina. A roundtable in Spring 2017 will convene core faculty for discussion, and the heart of the seminar will take place throughout the 2017-2018 academic year through an ambitious program of meetings and keynote addresses. It will conclude with a day-long roundtable on the intersection of corporate history and the history of human rights, and the effect of both on structuring corporate responsibility and accountability.

Sawyer Seminar awards include support for a postdoctoral fellow and for the dissertation research of two graduate students. Duke will advertise these opportunities in the coming months.

“This seminar exemplifies the capacity of Duke faculty members to imagine compelling humanistic explorations across the divides of disciplines, societies and eras,” said Edward Balleisen, Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies. “Rachel’s and Phil’s collaboration will spark important dialogues about the pivotal roles of the corporation in the early modern and modern worlds, as well as the salience of the deeper past for contemporary policy-making.”

Duke is the recipient of previous Sawyer Seminar grants, most recently in 2010, which have each made a lasting contribution to the university.

Further information on the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation can be found at mellon.org.

Pen and ink cartoon by Albert Reid depicting American financier J.P. Morgan grasping the Earth in his arms, ca. 1895-1905.

Originally posted on Duke Today