New Grants Support Graduate Students to Pursue Training Outside Their Disciplines


Nineteen graduate students from five schools at Duke have received grants to enhance or expand their training beyond their core disciplines.

This new 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. These Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants are intended to deepen preparation for academic positions and other career trajectories.

Here are this year’s grant recipients:

Selcan Aydin, Ph.D. in Biology, Arts & Sciences

Attend the Quantitative Biology Summer School’s Computational Synthetic Biology Track at the University of California, San Diego, to obtain the skills needed for the modeling and data analysis challenges of research on the effects of genetic variation on signaling dynamics

Faculty mentor: Nicolas Buchler

Nathan Bullock, Ph.D. in Art, Art History and Visual Studies, Arts & Sciences

Spend a semester at the Yale School of Architecture to gain the practical and technical know-how of a professional program, work with practicing architects in their studios and inform application of architectural theory to dissertation research on contemporary Singapore

Faculty mentor: Annabel Wharton

Christopher Catanese, Ph.D. in English, Arts & Sciences

Intern at the North Carolina Museum of Art to contribute to the exhibition “History and Mystery: British Old Masters, 1550-1850,” which will provide experience within two departments of a major public arts organization and inform research on 18th– and early 19th-century British poetry

Faculty mentor: Robert Mitchell

Jung E. Choi, Ph.D. in Art, Art History and Visual Studies, Arts & Sciences

Develop a local art festival, “Like Project 2016,” at SlowSlowQuickQuick alternative space in Seoul, South Korea, that will nurture community self-help in deprived urban neighborhoods and inform dissertation on the intersection of art, technology and space

Faculty mentor: Mark Hansen

Adela Deanova, Ph.D. in Philosophy, Arts & Sciences

Complete online courses in data analysis and digital marketing to contribute to Google Analytics data analysis and design of social media and user experience strategy for Project Vox, a digital initiative that recovers the lost voices of women philosophers in the early modern era, and to inform dissertation on Robert Boyle, John Locke and their women philosopher critics

Faculty mentor: Andrew Janiak

Zoie Diana, Master of Environmental Management, Nicholas School of the Environment

Probe for chitin in decorator worm (Diopatra cuprea) tube and underwater adhesive at the Okeanos Research Laboratory at Clemson University, to further understanding of conserved molecular mechanisms in invertebrate bioadhesive and structure and inform thesis on “Learning to Glue Underwater: Inspiration from the Decorator Worm”

Faculty mentor: Dan Rittschof

Daanish Faruqi, Ph.D. in History, Arts & Sciences

Do volunteer work with the Syrian refugee community in Amman, Jordan, through relief foundations operated by Syrian Sufi spiritual networks that are the basis of dissertation research, which will augment the dissertation’s purely discursive value through an experiential engagement with the human dimensions of the Syrian civil war and refugee crisis that are central to the research questions being posed, and that largely motivated selecting Syria as a research site

Faculty mentor: Engseng Ho

Brenna R. Forester, Ph.D. in Environment, Nicholas School of the Environment, Environmental Sciences and Policy Division, University Program in Ecology

Participate in Tutorial on Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics and Investigative Workshop in Next Generation Genetic Monitoring at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis in Knoxville, to inform dissertation research in the emerging field of landscape genomics

Faculty mentor: Dean Urban

Joelle Hathaway, Th.D., Divinity School

Take photography course at Durham Tech and conduct field work in England 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 dissertation about Christian practices of engagement with architecture and built environments

Faculty mentor: Jeremy Begbie

Alisha Hines, Ph.D. Candidate in History and African and African American Studies, Arts & Sciences

Attend History of Capitalism Summer Bootcamp at Cornell University to receive instruction in technical content areas such as statistics and accounting in addition to an introduction to economic theory, in order to apply quantitative methods and techniques to study of slavery and freedom in the middle Mississippi River Valley

Faculty mentor: Thavolia Glymph

Zhiqin Huang, Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Pratt School of Engineering

Spend time at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to leverage cutting-edge facilities and other resources that will inform dissertation research on novel nanostructures to develop extremely low-energy and ultrafast plasmonic switches

Faculty mentor: David R. Smith

Travis Knoll, Ph.D. in History, Arts & Sciences

Intern at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia to focus on issues ranging from Brazil’s internal political scene to the key role Brazil’s foreign policy plays in the region and beyond, to inform research on the intersection of politics and religion, strengthen Duke’s ties to the Centro de Formação, Treinamento e Aperfeiçoamento and gain skills needed to explore a career in government

Faculty mentor: John French

Stephanie Gehring Ladd, Ph.D. in Religion, Arts & Sciences

Take printmaking course at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and spend time in a Durham printmaking studio to gain insight into the process of intaglio printmaking, which will enhance observational powers in writing about prints and inform dissertation on attention to suffering in the work of Simone Weil and Käthe Kollwitz

Faculty mentor: Paul J. Griffiths

Fateme Yousefi Lalimi, Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Nicholas School of the Environment, Earth and Ocean Sciences Division

Visit Dr. Andrea D’Alpaos’s lab at the University of Padova to inform work on modeling large-scale estuarine eco-geomorphodynamics and conduct field work in the Venice Lagoon, which will contribute to dissertation on coastal wetlands and their resilience to anthropogenic and environmental perturbations

Faculty mentor: Marco Marani

Tess Leuthner, Ph.D. in Environment, Nicholas School of the Environment, Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health Program

Participate in Environmental Genomics Training Workshop at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory to facilitate research and professional goals of understanding and applying skills in toxicogenomics as a tool for environmental protection and management

Faculty mentor: Rich Di Giulio

Mark River, Ph.D. in Environment, Nicholas School of the Environment, Environmental Sciences and Policy Division, University Program in Ecology

Obtain hands-on training on a state-of-the-art transmission electron microscope at NanoEarth, Virginia Tech, to inform research on nano-characterization work as part of dissertation on how phosphorus is transported by particles in stormwater

Faculty mentor: Curtis J. Richardson

Danica Schaffer-Smith, Ph.D. in Environment, Nicholas School of the Environment, Environmental Sciences and Policy Division

Participate in Environmental Data Analytics Workshop offered by the National Center for Atmospheric Research and National Ecological Observatory Network to learn about using their resources in current and future research and build technical expertise relevant to dissertation on “Spatiotemporal Variability of Inland Waterbodies along the Pacific Flyway Using 30+ Years of Landsat”

Faculty mentor: Jennifer Swenson

Elizabeth Schrack, Ph.D. in Marine Science and Conservation, Nicholas School of the Environment

Work closely with staff at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and The Nature Conservancy as well as coral reef managers and restoration workshops around the world to conduct a needs assessment to assess the research question, What information do coral reef managers need regarding coral restoration methods prior to starting restoration projects and in what forms will this information be most accessible and useful?, which will enrich research in coral reef ecology and provide training in social science methods

Faculty mentor: Brian Silliman

Banafsheh Sharif-Askary, M.D., School of Medicine

Facilitate expansion and evaluation of H.A.R.T. Program (Health, Advocacy and Readiness for Teens), which aims to equip teens with tools related to nutrition, fitness and healthcare navigation in order to facilitate a successful transition to a healthy adulthood, with community partners Healthy Lifestyles Clinic and Bull City Fit; will hone teaching skills and increase understanding of Durham community health needs

Faculty mentor: Sarah Armstrong

Proposals were reviewed by an ad hoc committee convened by the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies with representation from faculty, deans, institute directors and graduate students.

From left, first row: Nathan Bullock, Christopher Catanese, Jung Choi, Adela Deanova, Zoie Diana; second row: Daanish Faruqi, Brenna Forester, Zhiqin Huang, Travis Knoll, Stephanie Gehring Ladd; third row: Fateme Yousefi Lalimi, Mark River, Danica Schaffer-Smith, Elizabeth Schrack, Banafsheh Sharif-Askary. Not pictured: Selcan Aydin, Joelle Hathaway, Alisha Hines, Tess Leuthner

Ed Balleisen on Catalyzing Collaborative Interdisciplinary Research


Ed Balleisen, Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke, has been a part of the Tobin Project since 2006, chairing the Economic Regulation Working Group through two major conferences and coediting Government and Markets: Toward a New Theory of Regulation.

Founded in 2005, the Tobin Project is an independent, nonprofit research organization motivated by the belief that rigorous scholarship on major, real-world problems can make a profound difference. Its mission is to mobilize, motivate and support a community of scholars across the social sciences and allied fields seeking to deepen our understanding of significant challenges facing the nation over the long term.

Balleisen’s participation in Tobin’s Government & Markets initiative led to the Rethinking Regulation program at Duke’s Kenan Institute for Ethics. Rethinking Regulation brings together an interdisciplinary regional network of scholars for collaborative research projects that investigate the effectiveness and public-interestedness of regulation. A forthcoming edited volume studies regulatory responses to major crises.

In its annual update, the Tobin Project featured the Government & Markets work and interviewed Balleisen about how he got started with organizing interdisciplinary scholarship at Duke. Read the articles on pages 6 and 7 of the Tobin Project Update.

Bass Connections Follow-on Student Research Funding


Deadline: April 15, 2016


Bass Connections brings together faculty and students—from all levels and schools—in interdisciplinary research teams. Faculty, graduate and professional students, undergraduates and post-docs 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. To augment efforts the themes are already undertaking to build out curricular pathways, Bass Connections has a total of up to $20,000 centrally to support students 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 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. The themes that the awarded 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.


All students participating on Bass Connections project teams in the current academic year (2015-2016) may propose research experiences.


Proposals should be submitted to Hallie Knuffman in Bass Connections by Friday, April 15 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
  • 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 May 2016 and funds will be awarded as appropriate to the timing of the research.


Please contact us at or (919) 684-5379.

Duke University TeachX Initiative Pilot Week March 21-25, 2016

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Calling all Duke faculty—TeachX registration is now open!

From March 21-25, we are piloting a new week-long opportunity, TeachX, for Duke faculty members to visit selected classes offered by their colleagues across the university. Many Duke faculty from all schools and several institutes and initiatives have chosen to open up their classroom to Duke faculty colleagues during this week. TeachX will allow you to see what their colleagues are up to, to learn about pedagogical practices in other schools, and to observe and interact with students whom you wouldn’t typically meet.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You can browse the online catalog of over 115 undergraduate, graduate and professional courses – from seminars, to hybrid-flipped case studies, to Bass Connections teams, to large lecture classes.
  2. Then please register via the online registration portal for the class(es) you would like to visit. Registration is important, so that your hosting colleague knows who and how many visitors to expect, and in some cases to send material in advance. Some classes also have limited space or need special security access.

Questions can be directed to

The above is a visual representation of the Duke University faculty, based on 2005 graduate faculty connected by shared students. Permission to share this image in connection with TeachX has been granted by Jim Moody, professor of sociology here at Duke. Moody has published extensively in the field of social networks, methods, and social theory; and his data visualizations are both informative and strikingly beautiful.

Thirteen Groups of Duke Faculty Receive Intellectual Community Planning Grants

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Provost Sally Kornbluth and Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies Ed Balleisen are pleased to announce thirteen awards for Intellectual Community Planning Grants to support groups of faculty who want to pursue the development of a new or nascent collaboration.

In Duke’s rich culture of collaboration, many scholars are already working together on a broad range of projects—and new ideas are constantly bubbling up. These small awards, ranging from $3,500 to $5,000, will assist awardees in building collaborations in exciting intellectual areas.

It is envisioned that these awards will spark new areas of inquiry and bring together new collaborative groups. “The outcome is important,” said Kornbluth. “It’s not just about getting together for coffee, but about discovering or creating something together and moving it forward.” Recognizing that the availability of established lines of grant funding varies greatly by discipline, Kornbluth said that valued outcomes include “a course, a shared research project, an extra- or co-curricular offering or quite simply a plan for sustained interactions.”

“Our intent was for the collective set of recipients to reflect the richness of intellectual approaches and modes of inquiry that make Duke such a vibrant university,” said Balleisen. “We were pleased to be able to support proposals that incorporate faculty from fifteen departments and programs in Arts & Sciences, eight schools, and three university-wide institutes and initiatives.

The second round of proposals for this funding opportunity will be due on February 8 for use during the 2015-16 academic year. Details will be circulated to faculty in early January.

Intellectual Community Planning Grant Awards

Women in Quantitative Sciences

Computer Science: Susan Rodger
Mathematics: Emily Braley, Sarah Schott, Lillian Pierce
Statistical Science: Mine Cetinkarya-Rundel, Merlise Clyde, Katherine Heller

Building a Triangle African Humanities Seminar

Cultural Anthropology & Music: Louise Meintjes
History: Janet Ewald, Bruce Hall
Global Health: Kearsley (Karrie) Stewart
International Comparative Studies: Catherine Mathers

Physical Biology of Organisms

Biology: Sheila Patek, Steven Vogel
Evolutionary Anthropology: Daniel Schmitt, Christine Wall
Mechanical Engineering: Adrian Bejan
Orthopaedic Surgery: Andrea Taylor
In collaboration with faculty from NCCU, NC State and UNC Chapel Hill

Religious Faith, Environmental Concern, and Public Policy

Divinity: David Toole, Norman Wirzba
Law: Jedediah Purdy, Jonathan Wiener
Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions: Jonas Monast, Brian Murray, Tim Profeta

Environmental Justice

Economics: Chris Timmins
Kenan Institute for Ethics: Suzanne Katzenstein
Law: Matthew Adler
Nicholas School of the Environment: Elizabeth Albright, Dalia Patino-Echevarri, Deborah Gallagher, Megan Mullin, Elizabeth Shapiro-Garza, Erika Weinthal

Ultrasound Technologies

Biomedical Engineering: Kathy Nightingale, Mark Palmeri, Gregg Trahey
In collaboration with faculty from UNC Chapel Hill and NC State

The Lives of Religious Books

Asian & Middle Eastern Studies: Ellen McLarney
Classical Studies: Clare Woods
Divinity: Maria Doerfler, Jennie Grillo
Religious Studies: Marc Brettler, Laura Lieber
Romance Studies: Martin Eisner

Philanthropy in Comparative Contexts: Learning and Giving

Economics: Crauford Goodwin
History: Sumathi Ramaswamy
Kenan Institute for Ethics: Suzanne Katzenstein
Law: Guy Charles, Maggie Lemos
Sanford School of Public Policy: Kristin Goss

Hybrid Organizations: Institutions of Power between the Public and the Private

Fuqua School of Business: Aaron Chatterji
History: Phil Stern
Kenan Institute for Ethics: Suzanne Katzenstein
Law: Rachel Brewster, Barak Richman
Nicholas School of the Environment: Erika Weinthal
Political Science: Tim Büthe
Romance Studies: Elvira Vilches
Sanford School of Public Policy: Tana Johnson

Counting Justice: The Social Matter of Statistics

Cultural Anthropology: Diane Nelson
Mathematics: Paul Bendich
Statistical Science: Sayan Mukherjee
Women’s Studies: Gabriel Rosenberg, Ara Wilson

Human Rights Archive Acquisition

Cultural Anthropology: Robin Kirk, Rebecca Stein
Library: Danette Pachtner, Patrick Stawski
Nicholas School of the Environment: Erika Weinthal

Open-Source Platform for Advancing the Capabilities and Applications of 3D Printing at Duke

Chemistry: Benjamin Wiley
Electrical & Computer Engineering: Steven Cummer, Michael Gehm, Jeff Glass
Radiology: Joseph Lo

Many thanks to the Dean of Humanities and to the Vice Provosts of Academic Affairs, Arts and Library for participating in the review of the proposals.