Doctoral Student in Religion Delves into Printmaking for Insights on Suffering

Stephanie Gehring Ladd and one of her prints

Stephanie Gehring Ladd, a doctoral student in Religion at Duke’s Graduate School, received a grant to take a printmaking course at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and to spend time in a Durham printmaking studio. Her aim was to gain insight into the process of intaglio printmaking in order to enhance her observational powers in writing about prints and inform her dissertation on attention to suffering in the work of Simone Weil and Käthe Kollwitz.

Ladd was among 19 graduate students from five schools at Duke who received Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants in 2016 for training beyond their core disciplines. Her faculty mentor was Paul J. Griffiths. She shared this update.

I took a printmaking course at UNC this fall, and Professor Brian Garner was fantastic to work with. He let me custom-tailor a course within his Introduction to Intaglio, so that I was able to focus on the intaglio printmaking techniques most used by the artist I am studying, Käthe Kollwitz. She mainly did copper etching, with a shading technique called aquatint, and I produced one small print (it’s a long process!) using copperplate etching and aquatint.

I learned an enormous amount about how her work was done—the main striking thing about etching is that it is a process that goes backwards, compared to drawing. In a drawing, you put down your lightest lines first, and then darken as you want to in the places where you’d prefer it to be darker. But in intaglio, once a piece of the plate is “open” (i.e., the protective ground is removed so that it can be etched, either by scratching or scraping or by washing off the ground), it is difficult to cover it back up in a precise way. This means that the first lines one puts in end up being the ones that get etched over and over in each round; therefore, they are the darkest. So instead of the first lines ending up being the lightest lines, the first ones are the darkest.

While intaglio prints can look a great deal like pen and ink drawings, they require enormously more planning in order to execute. The “fresh from the artist’s pen” look that they can have is, therefore, quite deceptive. It’s been a great gift having the GSTEG grant.

This internal funding mechanism from the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies encourages graduate students to step away from their core research and training to acquire additional 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.

Read about other 2016-2017 recipients’ experiences:

Image: Copper intaglio print by Stephanie Gehring Ladd; Stephanie with her baby

Laura Howes to Serve as Director of Bass Connections and Rubenstein Fellows Academy

Laura Howes

Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies Ed Balleisen announced that Laura Howes will begin a new role as Director of Bass Connections and the Rubenstein Fellows Academy, effective May 1, 2017.

Howes has been part of the Bass Connections team for the past three years as Associate Director of Strategy and Operations in the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies. She led the program evaluation effort, managed financial modeling for the program and developed resources for the project teams.

Before coming to Duke, Howes was Director of Finance and Development at the James B. Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy. Prior to that, she served as Senior Program Manager at the Partnership for Public Service, where she designed and managed leadership development and cultural change initiatives for federal agencies. She has a BA in public policy analysis and political science from UNC Chapel Hill and an MBA from the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland.

Balleisen notes, “We are confident that Laura will thrive in this role. She will help Bass Connections build on the great platform that has been constructed over the first four years of the program.”

Bass Connections’ previous Director, Hallie Knuffman, began a new role as Chief of Staff to Provost Sally Kornbluth on April 1. Howes served as Interim Director during the month of April.

Th.D. Candidate Gains New Skills to Understand Christian Engagement with Architecture

Joelle A. Hathaway, Doctor of Theology candidate at Duke’s Divinity School, received a grant to take a photography course at Durham Tech and conduct fieldwork in England. Her aim was to compile a portfolio of high-resolution images of religious art and architecture and conduct interviews about contemporary art in Anglican cathedrals, which will inform her dissertation about Christian practices of engagement with architecture and built environments.

Hathaway was among 19 graduate students from five schools at Duke who received Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants last spring for training beyond their core disciplines. Her faculty mentor was Jeremy Begbie. She shared this update.

I took my trip to visit Anglican cathedrals with modern art in October. It was immensely helpful; in addition to photo-documenting the cathedrals’ art and architecture, I was able to conduct interviews at four of the cathedrals: Chichester, Winchester, Salisbury and Canterbury. These interviews were with cathedral canons, visual arts advisors and curators, and a theologian in residence who focuses on art in cathedrals. Many of these persons gave me personalized tours of the cathedrals’ art acquisitions, and I was able to ask questions regarding the involvement and reactions of the cathedral congregation, tourists and local communities in response to these acquisitions.

I presented a paper last month at the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion (SECSOR) based on the interviews and research I did at Salisbury Cathedral. I have two other paper proposals submitted for other academic conferences, also on cathedrals from my trip. I feel like I could spend the next decade researching and unraveling the different threads I uncovered through this experience! I also have a much better sense of my weaknesses—this trip improved my photography skills but I have since learned that I also need to develop new skills in photo editing, which is necessary to correct distortions due to the extreme angles from which one photographs architecture.

This opportunity has strengthened my research and provided new avenues for further exploration.

This internal funding mechanism from the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies encourages graduate students to step away from their core research and training to acquire additional 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.

Interdisciplinary Research Teams to Present Results at Bass Connections Showcase

Join the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies and the Bass Connections Student Advisory Council for a special year-end showcase event and reception on Thursday, April 20, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Come learn more about Bass Connections and find out what these research teams of faculty, grad students, undergrads and community partners have accomplished this year.


Reception and poster session begin


Students from five project teams will present lightning talks:


Bass Connections leaders will recognize this year’s student award recipients:


Reception and poster session continue


Free parking is available in the Blue Zone accessed from the Towerview Road traffic circle. Please contact us if you require other parking arrangements.


Duke Center for Genomic and Computational Biology (GCB), Duke Council on Race and Ethnicity (DCORE), Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI), Duke Initiative for Science & Society, Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative, Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS), Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, Energy Initiative, Franklin Humanities Institute (FHI), Information Initiative at Duke (iiD), Kenan Institute for Ethics, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Social Science Research Institute (SSRI)


Former Duke University Provost’s Legacy Thrives Harmoniously in Langford Lectures

Provost Sally Kornbluth and John Supko at the Langford luncheon on February 21, 2017

Since 2000 when Thomas A. Langford, former Duke University Provost, Dean and Divinity School faculty member passed away, Duke has continued to remember his legacy through the Thomas Langford Lectureship awards.

Each year, several new or newly promoted Duke faculty are chosen to receive the award, based on the appeal of their research to an interdisciplinary audience and their embodiment of Langford’s dedication to teaching, research and service. The goals of the Langford program—to support and honor intellectual life at Duke, and to offer a platform for faculty to engage in interdisciplinary exchange—remain vibrantly alive with this year’s slate of awardees.

Last Tuesday, Langford honoree John Supko shared his work with colleagues and friends who gathered at the Doris Duke Center to hear Supko’s lecture, interspersed with selections from his compositions. Supko recently received tenure with his promotion to Associate Professor in the Music Department, and was chosen by the Duke Appointments, Promotions and Tenure committee as one of three awardees this year.

Supko’s music engages with the process of discovery through novel computational strategies. He works in a relatively unexplored field of generative music produced by algorithms that suggest unexpected combinations of sounds, rhythms and harmonies. The resulting pieces are by turns mysterious, serene, frightening and poetic.

On this spring-like day, sounds created by Supko and his occasional collaborators filled the high wooden-beamed room of the Doris Duke Center. Supko’s music has been described as spell-bindingly beautiful, hypnotic and eerie, and he offered selections that proved each of those descriptions and that ranged from ethereal to jarring.

Bill Seaman, Professor of Art, Art History & Visual Studies, with John Supko

Last semester Erich Jarvis, a former Duke neurobiologist now at The Rockefeller University, delivered his Langford lecture “Dissecting the Molecular Mechanisms for Vocal Learning and Spoken Language: A Personal Journey” at a luncheon in his honor. This year’s third honoree is Tsitsi Jaji, who joined Duke’s faculty in 2015 as Associate Professor of English and African & African American Studies. Jaji will give her Langford lecture “Unsettling Scores: Black Revisions of the American Frontier Myth” in April.

Music is one thread that connects all three of this year’s awardees. Jarvis is known as a top researcher in the songbird field, and Jaji’s work bridges music and literature. The Langford Lectureship program continues to celebrate interdisciplinary scholarship in its fullest capacities, in tribute to Thomas Langford.

Erich Jarvis with Provost Sally Kornbluth, at Jarvis’ Langford luncheon on September 19, 2016

Story+ Offers Training in Bringing Academic Research to Life

Deadline: March 3, 2017

How do we tell compelling stories about complex historical, cultural and social realities? What goes into creating great stories that stay with the audience, and even change minds?

Story+ is a new six-week summer research experience for undergraduate and graduate students interested in bringing academic research to life through dynamic storytelling.

Undergraduates will work in small teams with graduate student mentors, in a collaborative and creative research environment. Each project will have a client. Students will learn to conduct qualitative, humanities-based research (e.g., archival research, narrative analysis, visual analysis, ethnography) and to communicate their research through effective storytelling techniques.

Final projects may take the form of writing, websites, exhibits, short films or other genres, depending on the project’s goals.

Story+ is offered through the Franklin Humanities Institute and Bass Connections, in partnership with Versatile Humanists at Duke.

Story+ Project Teams for Summer 2017

Participation Details

Story+ will take place during Summer Term 1 (May 17-June 28). Undergraduate participants will receive a stipend of $3,000, out of which they must arrange their own housing and travel (residence halls are open for the summer term). This is a full-time program: undergraduate participants may not accept employment or take classes during the program.

Each project team will be led by at least one graduate student mentor, who will receive $2,500 in research funds. The weekly time commitment for graduate student mentors is approximately 12-15 hours.

Project teams will work in collaborative work space at the Franklin Humanities Institute, as well as at offsite locations to collect data. Students will also participate in regular learning lunches related to effective storytelling techniques.


Story+ is open to:

  • All undergraduates, except graduating seniors
  • All graduate students, with preference given to doctoral students in the humanities and interpretive social sciences.

How to Apply

Students may apply to one or more of the five projects. The application consists of two short essays, a resume, a writing sample, an unofficial transcript and contact information for two references. Graduate students interested in a mentoring role on a Story+ team should follow the same application process.


The deadline for priority consideration of applications is Friday, March 3, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. Applicants will be notified by the end of March.

Graduate Students Can Apply for Training Enhancement Grants

Deadline: March 29, 2017

[Please take note, the 2018 RFP is located here.]


Through this internal funding mechanism, graduate students are encouraged to propose an experience outside of or beyond their core disciplinary training that would enhance or expand their disciplinary training (e.g., an internship, training workshop, or field work opportunity). The goal of this grant competition is to expand the opportunities for graduate students to “step away” from their core research and training, so as to acquire additional skills, knowledge or experiences that will enhance the approach to their original research. We believe such experiences will lead to better preparation/training, whether for academic positions or other career trajectories.

Proposals require endorsement from the student’s primary faculty mentor, and a clear explanation of how the experience will contribute to broadening the student’s training, and how it may potentially impact their dissertation research or capstone project. Successful past applications have made a compelling case for how the proposed experience would offer a cognate experience to amplify the student’s intellectual agenda, beyond the standard offerings within their program.

The proposed experience may last for up to one full semester. Funds awarded will be capped at $5,000. For reference, see previous awardees and proposed experiences.


All current graduate students (post-undergraduate, including master’s, professional and Ph.D. students) in any program at Duke University may propose graduate training enhancement activities. All internships, work and services proposed must be performed outside of Duke (i.e., may not be work for Duke). Funding requests to attend conferences, and in the case of master’s students to provide funding for internship experiences, will not be prioritized for these grants.


Proposals will be accepted from February 15 through March 29, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. and should be submitted to Amber Martinez ( in the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies. Proposals should include:

  • Updated curriculum vitae (no more than 2 pages)
  • A brief narrative that articulates the proposed activities, how the experience will contribute to broadening the student’s training and how it fits with the student’s overall academic, research and professional plans (no more than 3 pages)
  • A budget plan (up to $5,000) and timeline for use of the funds
  • A letter or e-mail from the student’s primary faculty mentor in support of the proposed activities
  • A listing of all other concurrent proposals for funding to support the proposed activities (we will ask awardees to update us when any additional funding for the proposed activities is awarded/received).

Review and Selection

Proposals will be reviewed by an ad hoc committee convened by the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies, to include representation from faculty, deans, institute directors and graduate students, representing all divisions of knowledge.

Decisions will be announced by mid-April 2017 and funds will be awarded as appropriate to the timing of the activities. Awardees will be expected to provide updates on their activities during the year.

Bass Connections Offers Follow-on Student Research Funding

Deadline: March 10, 2017


Bass Connections brings together faculty and students—from all levels and schools—in interdisciplinary research teams. Faculty, graduate and professional students, undergraduates and postdocs apply their skills and perspectives to generate creative solutions to complex problems in five theme areas. In addition to more than 40 project teams each year, Bass Connections offers curricular pathways in each theme, to complement a student’s major or program of study. As part of our support for these curricular pathways, Bass Connections provides limited funds to support students who wish to continue some aspect of their team’s work through a follow-on research project.

Follow-on research funds are available to undergraduate and graduate students who have completed (or are completing) a Bass Connections project team and propose to continue some aspect of the team’s work through a faculty-mentored research experience. We anticipate awarding funds to at least three projects, with a preference for group projects or group theses.

Funds may support travel, equipment or other needs associated with the research proposal, and may be used over the course of the upcoming academic year (2017-2018).

The themes that the successful proposals fall under will organize and provide collective experiences for the individual students, as well as others who are doing theme-relevant work outside of the project teams.

See a list of previous awardees and projects.


All students who are currently participating on Bass Connections project teams or have previously participated on Bass Connections project teams may propose research experiences.


Proposals should be submitted to Hallie Knuffman in Bass Connections by Friday, March 10 at 5:00 p.m. and should include:

  • A brief narrative that articulates the goals of the research, how it connects to the Bass Connections project team experience and how it fits with the student’s overall academic and professional plan (no more than 3 pages)
  • A budget plan (up to $3,000) and timeline for use of the funds
  • A listing of all other sources and amounts of support for the research project, both confirmed and anticipated/applied for (if applicable)
  • A letter or e-mail from the faculty mentor and, if a different person, the Bass Connections team leader in support of the research proposal.

Review and Selection

Proposals will be reviewed by the Bass Connections theme leaders and the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies. Decisions will be announced by early April 2017 and funds will be awarded as appropriate to the timing of the research. Awardees will be expected to provide a written update of their progress during the year (could be a blog post or written document or other format), by no later than April 2018.