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).

Thirteen Faculty Seek Out New Skills and Experiences to Enhance Teaching and Research

FTREG grantees.
Top row: Angrist, Bennett, Furtado, Guevara, Hartemink; middle: Maren, Mestyan, Miles, Shapiro-Garza, Starn; bottom: Stein, Weinthal, Vadde

Thirteen Duke University faculty members have been awarded Faculty Teaching/Research Enhancement Grants (FTREG) to acquire skills, knowledge, or experiences outside or beyond their main disciplines in 2020-2021.

A key goal of Together Duke is to invest in faculty as scholars and leaders of the university’s intellectual communities. Now in its second year, FTREG is intended to enhance faculty members’ capacity to carry out original research and provide transformative learning experiences for students.

Plain People, Modern Medicine: Gene Therapy Trials in Amish and Mennonite Patients in Lancaster, PA

Misha Angrist, Social Science Research Institute; Initiative for Science & Society

Angrist will spend time in Lancaster observing and chronicling the experiences of Anabaptist patients participating in gene therapy trials to treat their rare genetic diseases. Building on previous trips to Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, this experience will inform a proposal for a book that will shed light on a new biomedical, social, and cultural phenomenon and prompt caregivers, researchers, policymakers, and patients to think about healthcare in new ways. This research will also enhance Angrist’s Focus course (Patient Activism and Advocacy) as well as his science writing course (Science and the Media) and the course he coteaches for NIH-funded trainees (Responsible Conduct of Research).

Distributed Computational Techniques for Machine Learning

Victor Bennett, Fuqua School of Business

Bennett will pursue a two-course sequence on tools—Scala and Spark—related to machine learning in distributed computing environments offered by Databricks in McLean, VA. His current project about the future of work requires matching three million establishments to 22 million shipments of automation technology, which would take years of computing on the Fuqua server. Knowledge of parallelization techniques will allow him to make use of code that would get the match down to within a day, and will enhance his ability to serve as a resource for doctoral students and faculty at Fuqua and across the university.

Mapping the Amazonian Moving Image: Territoriality, Media, and the Senses

Gustavo Furtado, Romance Studies, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Furtado’s research project explores the ways in which visual and audiovisual media participate in efforts by competing sociocultural groups to appropriate the Amazon region symbolically and materially. In order to finish gathering materials, he will visit museums, cultural institutions, and film collections in three Amazonian cities: Iquitos, Belém, and Manaus. This research will contribute to a book-length monograph and enhance his undergraduate course, “Perspectives on the Amazon.”

Training in Biomarker Analysis to Enhance Integrative Research on Evolution of Aging

Elaine Guevara, Evolutionary Anthropology, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Under the expert guidance of Virginia Kraus and Janet Huebner, Guevara plans to train in biomarker analysis at the Biomarkers Shared Resource Core in the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute. This training will assist her in developing a more integrative research program with methodological, analytical, and theoretical approaches drawn from evolutionary biology and basic aging research. Mastering new methods will help her train students in this area and foster interdisciplinary interactions among the Duke Lemur Center, Arts & Sciences, and the Molecular Physiology Institute.

Visiting Rhodes House to Learn About Character, Service, and Leadership Program

Alexander Hartemink, Computer Science and Biology, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Hartemink will undertake a trip to Rhodes House at Oxford University in order to learn more about its Character, Service, and Leadership Program. He intends to visit during a three-day retreat for scholars-in-residence, and engage in conversations with program staff the following day. This experience will strengthen his first-year seminar, “The Examined Life,” by providing new and/or better methods for allowing students to reflect on their values, build a meaningful life, and be prepared to lead in the world. It will also enhance his contribution to the Office of University Scholars and Fellows, where he serves as faculty director, as well as his capacity to mentor and advise all his students.

A Cultural, Social, and Political History of Barbed Wire

Mesha Maren, English, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Maren will undertake fieldwork to scope out a new direction that will take her research, writing, and teaching deeper into the field of creative nonfiction writing. To inform a monograph that is part personal essay and part cultural, social, and political history, she will travel to several World War I battlefields where barbed wire first played a significant role. Maren will conduct research in the museums, memorials, archives, and guided tours at battlefields in Italy and France as well as museums in Rome, Florence, and Paris.

The Power of Land Survey: A History of British Surveying in Occupied Egypt, 1890s-1950s

Adam Mestyan, History, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

During a trip to London, Mestyan will conduct preliminary research for a book on the history of land survey in the early 20th-century British Empire. Marking a new research direction, this project will help him understand the British use of land survey, the mechanisms of metropolitan and imperial land survey, and the history of imperial British surveyors in occupied Egypt. This research will also enhance his course, “Engineering the Global Middle East,” and contribute to the development of a new course on land and law in modern Islam.

On Guard for Peace and Socialism: The Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991

Simon Miles, Sanford School of Public Policy

To jump-start the archival research process for a book, Miles will travel to Kyiv to consult the KGB’s in-house journal containing articles by intelligence community leaders and analyses of major issues, and to Prague to work in four key repositories. His grant will also support initial archival research carried out by a research assistant in Moscow. A broader archival scope is likely to amplify the book’s impact on the field, burnishing Duke’s standing as a top destination to study these questions. It will also inform his teaching of courses such as “American Grand Strategy” and “The Global Cold War.”

Global Environmental Justice: Scholarship, Teaching, and Practice

Elizabeth Shapiro-Garza, Nicholas School of the Environment

To support the incorporation of environmental justice concepts and case studies into her teaching and enhance her scholarship on how these issues are impacting communities in North Carolina, Shapiro-Garza will participate in a workshop, “Bridging Research, Policy and Activism for Environmental Justice in Times of Crises,” at the University of Freiburg. She will also serve as a scholar-in-residence at the University of Barcelona’s Institut de Ciéncia i Tecnologia Ambientals, a center for research on global environmental justice issues and the social movements addressing them. These experiences will deepen her understanding of global environmental justice issues, strategies to address them, and the methods to analyze their dynamics and outcomes.

Understanding Peru’s Moche Civilization

Orin Starn, Cultural Anthropology and History, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

At its height around 700 A.D., the Moche’s achievements included adobe pyramids as large as those in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings and highly advanced irrigation systems to water their desert lands. During a trip to Peru, Starn will join local excavation teams at new sites in the Chiclayo and Trujillo areas. Learning more about the process of archaeological research and deepening his knowledge of Moche culture will enhance his teaching by incorporating more material on indigenous civilizations. It will also serve as the basis for a book about the quest to understand the Moche.

Jerusalem: Human Rights in a Contested City

Rebecca Stein, Cultural Anthropology, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences; Erika Weinthal, Nicholas School of the Environment

Stein and Weinthal will take a joint trip to Jerusalem establish partnerships with Israeli nongovernmental organizations and human rights groups that will benefit future teaching on the Israel/Palestine conflict. The Shufat refugee camp will provide the basis for on-site learning modules in the course, which will include an examination of the ways that Palestinian refugees residing in the camp navigate access to services. This experience will also benefit the professors’ scholarship by providing an opportunity to consider refugee issues within the broader context of environmental issues, rights, and mobility.

We the Platform: Contemporary Literature in the Sharing Economy

Aarthi Vadde, English, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

To enhance her research and writing on the ways in which social media platforms configure contemporary literary and popular culture, Vadde plans to gain knowledge of how programmers and artists think about data, network architecture, and human-computer interaction. Pursuing training in information science and media archaeology, she will incorporate new knowledge and tools into a research program that links the history and future of the web to the sociology of literature. Increased computational literacy will strengthen her sociotechnical approach to analyzing literary works and readerships and inform a new course that connects humanistic criticism with responsible computing.

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).

Inaugural Duke STEAM Forum Brings Together the Sciences, Arts, and Humanities

STEAM participants.

By the STEAM at Duke Team

If you were in the Ruby on September 18, you caught a glimpse of the beginning of something big.

The inaugural Duke STEAM Forum was designed to give visibility and voice to those who are passionate about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics) at Duke. The forum was put forward by the team behind an Intellectual Community Planning Grant devoted to bringing together the sciences, arts and humanities at Duke, made available through the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies. We lovingly call ourselves the Duke STEAM Team.

By providing space for collaborative brainstorming, highlighting speakers who lead incredible STEAM initiatives, and learning lessons from an expert who brings STEAM into his work and his classroom, the afternoon was full of energetic chatter revealing the value of STEAM, our goals, ideas to foster its growth, and knowledge of where we need to provide support to bring this all to fruition.

The first STEAM forum filled the Ruby lounge with about 50 attendees featuring participants from Duke Gardens, the Nasher, Duke Forest, OIT, the Co-lab, Duke Libraries, and so much more. There was also a mix of undergraduates, graduate and professional students, postdocs, faculty, and staff. This shows just how STEAM@Duke cuts across many dimensions of our learning, our service, and our scholarship at every level.

We kicked off the event with opening remarks from Jory Weintraub, the director of science communication for the Initiative for Science & Society. He made the case for why STEAM is important and why we are poised to make strides with STEAM here at Duke. Then he turned over the reins to Ariana Eily, who facilitated the afternoon sessions. We dove into a brainstorm to get our ideas flowing for what we want to do with STEAM and what we need to do it—all recorded on the wall with sticky notes. This was followed by vignettes of STEAM initiatives taking place at Duke and more dialogue about existing projects, including The Art of a Scientist, The Enviro-Art Gallery, the SLIPPAGE Lab, the Calla Campaign, THE_OPER&, and HEAR at Duke.

In having this collection of STEAM-minded folks in one room for the first time, we wanted to give them as much time to interact and talk to each other as we could. Sharing ideas, resources, questions, and more to put some energy behind STEAM at Duke.

To close, Vice Provost for the Arts Scott Lindroth delivered a wonderful address capturing the spirit of STEAM and its ability to change the world.

In bringing together the arts and the sciences, we learn so much more about the world and human experiences in it. We can paint a more complete, more compelling, and more authentic picture of our world.

The STEAM forum is just the first in a wave of STEAM-centric things coming from the Duke STEAM Team. We are conducting a survey to get a sense of our thoughts on STEAM, gathering a list of STEAM resources, compiling a report on STEAM at Duke which will be out soon, and developing a website to be home to STEAM all across Duke’s campus. Collectively, we’re a team of a postdoc, an MA student, an undergraduate who is working with the CAST program, and faculty from different departments. We look forward to seeing the way STEAM grows at Duke!

Originally posted on the Duke Arts website

  • Read about the 2019 recipients of Intellectual Community Planning Grants.
  • See all current initiatives in the Together Duke academic strategic plan.

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

For Rhodes Scholars, Duke’s Interdisciplinary Institutes and Initiatives Played Vital Role

Kadakia, Kantor, Wang.

On November 17, Duke University seniors Kushal Kadakia, Ariel Kantor, and Claire Wang were selected for prestigious 2019 Rhodes Scholarships. These three students and the 29 other recipients were chosen from among 880 applicants from colleges and universities across the United States.

Clearly, they are stellar young scholars and individuals. What else do they have in common? Throughout their undergraduate education, they have deeply engaged with the intellectual communities of Duke’s university-wide interdisciplinary institutes and initiatives.

Kushal Kadakia

Committed to pursuing research and policy to make healthcare more accessible, Kadakia is majoring in Public Policy and Biology, with a minor in Global Health administered by the Duke Global Health Institute.

Kadakia.A Truman Scholar and Faculty Scholar, he has served as chair of the Honor Council, vice president of Student Government, and a voting member of the Board of Trustees.

As a first-year student, Kadakia took part in the FOCUS Genetics and Genomics cluster and got involved with Duke’s Bass Connections program, in which faculty and students collaborate on interdisciplinary research into complex societal challenges. Kadakia’s first Bass Connections project team, Innovation & Technology Policy Lab, led to a follow-on grant. He won the Duke Libraries Holsti Prize for his related paper, “Rethinking R&D: Partnerships as Drivers for Global Health Innovation.”

As a member of the Bass Connections North Carolina Medicaid Reform Advisory Team, he provided recommendations to state legislators. “Collectively, Bass Connections has been the centerpiece of my Duke experience – providing a common thread to weave together my scientific training and my policy interests into an impact-oriented research experience that is now the foundation for my future career,” he said.

Taking this work further, Kadakia served as an intern on the policy team of North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to work on Medicaid transformation, and he collaborated with Professor of Law Barak Richman and three other undergraduates to develop county-level case studies detailing the challenges in North Carolina healthcare. The group submitted its findings to the Department of Health and Human Services as the state seeks to improve rural access to healthcare and other Medicaid reform.

“I am still humbled, and a bit incredulous, at how much policy knowledge and intellectual authority Kushal exhibits – and how much respect he commands – before even completing his bachelor’s degree,” Richman said.

Kadakia was selected for the Huang Fellows Program at the Duke Initiative for Science & Society, in which students learn how to integrate ethics, policy, and social implications into their scientific research.

He served as a 2018 summer intern at the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, working on projects studying the translation of international health innovations to the U.S. context. He has also been a research assistant for various Duke-Margolis projects, including Accountable Care Policy Gaps and Implications of Global Experiences with Accountable Care.

For his Public Policy honors thesis, Kadakia is exploring how an accountable care healthcare framework could repurpose international innovations to improve the U.S. healthcare system.

Rhodes Scholarships cover all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford. Kadakia will work toward the M.Phil. in Evidence-based Social Intervention and Policy as part of his preparation for a career in medicine and public service.

Ariel Kantor

Kantor created an interdisciplinary major through Program II around biotechnology, policy and bioengineering.

Kantor.He was a 2016 GCB Summer Scholar at the Duke Center for Genomic and Computational Biology (GCB). Mentored by Charles Gersbach, he pursued a research project to develop and characterize Cas9-fusion systems and examine their ability to control gene expression. He has continued working with Gersbach to develop new applications for CRISPR to facilitate epigenome editing.

Kantor has also worked with Susanne Haga, faculty member at GCB and the Duke Center for Applied Genomics and Precision Medicine. His senior thesis examines developing technology-based therapies for orphan diseases. His work with Haga resulted in a publication analyzing the number and types of pharmacogenetic tests offered by clinical testing laboratories in the U.S.

Concerned about human rights and violence prevention, Kantor worked with the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute on programming to facilitate dialogue around religion, violence, and human rights.

He will pursue a doctorate in Molecular Biology at Oxford in preparation for a career in gene engineering and translational medicine.

Claire Wang

The recipient of Truman and Udall scholarships, Wang is majoring in Environmental Science and Policy and minoring in Economics and Asian & Middle Eastern Studies.

Wang.Active in the university’s vibrant culture of engaged scholarship in energy and the environment, Wang is currently taking a course on the transformation of the U.S. electric power sector, taught by Brian Murray, Director of the Duke University Energy InitiativeKate Konschnik, Director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy SolutionsJim Rogers, former CEO and chair of Duke Energy, and Norman Bay, former chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

“It would be an understatement to say that Claire is dedicated to environmental concerns,” said Timothy Johnson, associate professor at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and faculty network member of the Energy Initiative. She “is approaching issues at the intersection of energy and the environment out of a larger concern for social well-being.”

Wang played a leadership role in the Duke Climate Coalition, one of the energy-related student organizations that comprise the Energy Initiative’s Student Advisory Committee. She has also been involved with student campaigns such as Duke Seize the Grid and Duke Renewable Energy Action.

At Oxford, Wang will pursue master’s degrees in Environmental Change and Management as well as Global Governance and Diplomacy, toward a career in environmental advocacy.

Read related articles on the Duke Today and Duke Chronicle websites.

Image at top: Kadakia at an event for legislators in Raleigh organized by the Bass Connections NC Medicaid Reform Advisory Team, courtesy of Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy; Kantor as a GCB summer intern, courtesy of Duke Center for Genomics and Computational Biology; Wang, courtesy of Nicholas School of the Environment. Photos below courtesy of Duke Today.

November 21, 2018

First-Year Students Find a Gateway to Interdisciplinary Research and Education

Kenan Ethics FOCUS cluster in front of the Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC (photo courtesy of Christian Ferney)

During three decades of success as one of the signature undergraduate initiatives at Duke, the FOCUS program of first-year seminars has continued to struggle with one big challenge: How to enroll more students from the Pratt School of Engineering, which had been part of FOCUS at its beginning but had taken a five-year hiatus.

Pratt’s return to FOCUS this year harkens back to the program’s original vision: go interdisciplinary.

This year FOCUS is presenting three clusters developed in conjunction with the university’s interdisciplinary institutes and initiatives. Two are from the Initiative for Science & Society and the Kenan Institute for Ethics. A third cluster called Global Energy, offered for the first time this year, was the brainchild of Pratt Dean Ravi Bellamkonda and has been organized with support from the interdisciplinary Duke University Energy Initiative. About half of the 30 students enrolled in the energy cluster are Pratt first-year students, the largest enrollment of Pratt students in FOCUS in recent years.

students in the interdisciplinary discussion FOCUS course listen to a speaker during their weekly dinner session (photo by Susie Post-Rust)

Each FOCUS cluster offers a combination of three to four classes linked by a theme. The students meet in seminars but also hold weekly dinners with faculty members. All students in a cluster live in the same residential hall.

An interdisciplinary approach for a FOCUS cluster is not new; in fact, since the beginning, most clusters involve faculty members from different disciplines. Instructors from both the Brain Sciences and Global Health institutes have been involved in past clusters. In past years, Brain Sciences faculty have led clusters on Cognitive Neuroscience and Exploring the Mind.

“The FOCUS program has always been interdisciplinary,” said FOCUS director Edna Andrews, Nancy and Jeffrey Marcus Professor.  “It’s just that we are becoming even more interdisciplinary.”

University officials say the involvement of interdisciplinary units helps the program fulfill its mission of starting new students off within “a vibrant and engaging intellectual ecosystem,” said Arlie Petters, dean of academic affairs for Trinity College. It also provides one model for how interdisciplinary units can collaborate with the traditional schools and departments on classroom initiatives.

“Students’ first exposure to a discipline impacts their desire to explore the field further,” Petters said. “Through FOCUS, our undergraduate students are able to experience an academic field through a living-learning-community model that fosters a sense of family and belonging. This is a fundamental early step in creating ties between students and the disciplinary and interdisciplinary opportunities offered by academic units.”

Faculty in both the Pratt School and the Energy Initiative are excited to be part of a program that this year received more than 500 applications for the 15 clusters.  Many admitted students say FOCUS is one of the factors they consider in choosing Duke.

“The problem has been simple and pragmatic, one that everyone acknowledged: It’s been hard for Pratt students to fit FOCUS classes into their first semester,” said Nico Hotz, director of the energy cluster and a Pratt School faculty member affiliated with the Energy Initiative.

Cognitive Neuroscience and the Law students talk with Dean Milton Blackmon during a welcome lunch in Fall 2017. The cluster is an example of how FOCUS clusters traditionally incorporate interdisciplinary study (photo by Susie Post-Rust).

“The dean’s office looked into this and came up with idea of energy,” Hotz said. “As soon as the dean asked me to look into this, I thought of my many contacts with the Energy Initiative. I thought this would be something that would interest students and faculty would want to teach.”

“Everyone at the Energy Initiative recognized that this was a great fit,” said Brian Murray, the initiative’s director and a Nicholas School faculty member. “It can be challenging to engage students before they reach their junior and senior years when they have more electives. The opportunity to begin connecting with students as soon as they arrive on campus is extremely attractive. We hope this experience will extend beyond freshman year, as interested students take advantage of a robust slate of curricular and cocurricular energy opportunities throughout their time at Duke.”

The hope is some of the students will continue on and graduate with certificates in the program. The Kenan Institute has attracted students through its FOCUS cluster successfully for several years; like the energy cluster, Science & Society is offering a cluster on Science and the Public for the first time.

The interdisciplinary units’ academic approach also fits the FOCUS mission to have first-year students doing original research in a seminar setting, said Misha Angrist, the director of the Science and the Public cluster for Science & Society.

We ask first years to think at a high level about important societal problems and not just memorize stuff or absorb facts in an arbitrary way. It’s very much rooted in what’s going on in the world. —Misha Angrist

“The coolest thing about FOCUS is that we’re throwing big questions at students right off,” Angrist said. “I like to quote Princeton biologist David Botstein who has compared the traditional science curriculum to hazing: for three years students stand in cold water while they take foundational courses before they finally get to apply it to interesting questions. FOCUS pushes against that. We ask first years to think at a high level about important societal problems and not just memorize stuff or absorb facts in an arbitrary way. It’s very much rooted in what’s going on in the world.”

That “inverted” approach – which has long been a mark of the FOCUS program – is making its way into more traditional classes as well. Hotz said one reason why creation of the energy cluster was so seamless for the initiative and for the Pratt School is that it fits Pratt Dean Bellamkonda’s effort to remake the first-year educational experience.  The wider changes include creation of the Engineering 101 course that gets students working on large-real world design and engineering questions.

“In the first semester, they get to take very specific and deep dive into a topic they are interested in,” Hotz said. “They don’t have to wait for their junior year.”

With the university’s academic strategic plan pledging stronger support both for FOCUS and for interdisciplinary academic offerings, the future may hold an even stronger connection between the two.

“When I came to Duke 15 years ago, the word ‘interdisciplinary’ was new to my ear,” Angrist said. “But now I feel like it’s at the core of so much of what happens on campus.”

By Geoffrey Mock; originally posted on Duke Today

Images: Kenan Ethics FOCUS cluster in front of the Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC (photo courtesy of Christian Ferney); students in the interdisciplinary discussion FOCUS course listen to a speaker during their weekly dinner session (photo by Susie Post-Rust); Cognitive Neuroscience and the Law students talk with Dean Milton Blackmon during a welcome lunch in Fall 2017. The cluster is an example of how FOCUS clusters traditionally incorporate interdisciplinary study (photo by Susie Post-Rust).

Duke Science & Society Presents Leadership Awards to Two Graduate Students

Deniz Ariturk, Cameron Fox

The Duke Initiative for Science & Society announced the 2018 recipients of the Science & Society Leadership Award. Deniz Ariturk and Cameron Fox are incoming students in Duke’s Master of Arts in Bioethics & Science Policy program, which is heading into its fifth year.

Deniz Ariturk

Deniz studied cognitive neuroscience at Washington University. While volunteering in multiple community engagement programs, she shared life alongside incarcerated women and low-income immigrant children while organizing campus-wide events centered around body image and eating disorders.

Deniz quickly recognized the potential for her research in moral psychology to inform policy and alleviate the systemic inequalities effecting these groups, but became frustrated at an inability to connect what she was doing in the lab to a practical application in the world.

In her statement of purpose, Deniz explains, “The discrepancy between the clarity of the conclusions that I reached in my polished university classrooms and laboratories, and the suffering felt by people only miles from campus, prompted me to question the broader impacts I wanted my research to have.”

Unsatisfied with having such an isolated effect, Deniz sought out the Duke Master of Arts in Bioethics & Science policy in order to further explore the unique methods, needs, and limitations of professionals working at each step of law and policy creation. She would like to eventually design research that benefits not merely other researchers, but policy and law makers as well.

Cameron Fox

Cameron studied neuroscience and philosophy at Vanderbilt. While there he served as an intermediary between undergraduates and faculty as a member of the neuroscience executive board, and in 2016 he helped establish the Association of Neuroscience & Law.

As an ardent communicator, his passion to connect disparate audiences is rousing. Where in debate one might seek satisfaction in winning an audience to their point, Cameron finds fulfillment in the “resonance” and resulting “feedback loop” he cultivates in effective dialogue. The feedback loop, he explains, is only possible by first learning how to carefully listen to others in earnest.

While debates are important, he goes on to differentiate his approach: “I’ve always enjoyed eclectic explanations, discovering associates between far-flung disciplines. There’s the initial eureka moment that occurs in my mind, and then there’s the pleasure of watching someone else’s face light up when what I’m saying clicks.”

Uncertain of confining his gregarious nature to pure benchwork and unwilling to abandon his empirical mind for the amorphous discussions in the humanities, he found a path at Duke that allows him to straddle the space between.

“I want to help bring disciplines together and take science to those outside of academia,” he states in an essay, “and show them how important and compelling it can be, and I have found no better path to this goal than Duke’s MA in Bioethics and Science Policy.”

Cameron looks forward to taking advantage of the many resources and programs available in the Duke Initiative for Science & Society, where he can further hone skills that will enable him to bring real change to the world. More specifically, Cameron will deepen his understanding of the ethical, legal, and scientific issues underlying the use of brain scans in the courtroom – a growing trend in criminal defense strategies with uncertain and potentially overstated application.

Excerpted from Announcing the 2018 Science & Society Leadership Award Recipients on the Duke Initiative for Science & Society website

Meet the 2017 Huang Fellows

Huang Fellows

The Huang Fellows Program at the Duke Initiative for Science & Society trains students to understand science in the context of service to society. Through their participation, Huang Fellows learn how to integrate ethics, policy and social implications into their scientific research. The program fosters a community of accomplished undergraduate scholars trained in the sciences and grounded in the liberal arts, well prepared to serve as leaders in the sciences and the biomedical professions.

The 2017 summer schedule runs from May 30 through August 4. The program is supported by a grant to Science & Society from Dr. Andrew Huang.

Elise Cai

Elise CaiI am an undergraduate student originally from Plano, Texas, planning to major in biology. In high school, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to conduct research in traditional scientific laboratories. However, as someone whose love for science stems from both its academic side and its ability to benefit society, I believe it is just as important to understand the ethics, policy, and social implications behind my research, as it is to understand the technical science of my research. To this end, I am more than excited to have the opportunity to explore scientific research and its potential societal impacts through the Huang Fellows Program.

Yannet Daniel

Yannett DanielI am a current freshman from Cary, NC. Although I am on the pre-med track, I came to Duke with a variety of interests including global health and health policy. At Duke, I have had the opportunity to explore some of my interests as a research assistant at the Brain Imaging and Analysis Center. Through subject screenings and consenting, I have been introduced to the significance of ethics in scientific research. Additionally, my East African culture has always been of importance to me and I recognize the way cultural competency plays a role in practicing medicine. I cannot wait to take advantage of the interdisciplinary aspect of the Huang Fellows Program and better understand the way medicine and culture interact—the way scientific research and society can equally impact and shape each other.

Yutao Gong

Yutao GongI am Yutao Gong, born on a small island called Chongming on the Yangtze River in Shanghai, China. Probably because of the intimate exposure to nature (more specifically, the Yangtze River, the river called “mother river of China”) when I was a kid, I have always been very concerned about environment issues, including pollution and environmental health. I firmly believe that science only achieves its full purpose by being applied to real life, solving real world problems and improving people’s life. I am determined to dig deeper in the field of environmental science and hope to apply what I learn and discover to real life and to make this world a better place to live in.

Victoria Grant

V. GrantI am a first-year undergraduate student with an academic interest in biology and environmental science. Those who know me best might say my passion for animals is one of my most defining characteristics. I have always had a desire to help animals and for the past three years, I have been exploring different careers by volunteering at the Phoenix Zoo. After completing my education, I hope to work in the animal conservation field, concentrating on genetics. In today’s world where science is often refuted, I strongly believe in the importance of the use of science and its implications on society. I want to further pursue my interest in science and the policies that effect the scientific community by obtaining the Science and Society certificate. I hope through my studies I will be able to protect endangered species, while enlightening the world of the importance of science.

Katelyn Hefter

K. HefterI am a Pratt student who is pursuing a double major in biomedical engineering and neuroscience. On campus, I’m involved in a variety of activities, ranging from playing the trumpet in the wind symphony and marching and pep band, to participating in the FEMMES (Females Excelling More in Math, Engineering, and Science) Capstone, where I helped a group of 4th and 5th grade girls explore different fields in science and engineering. My job with the Kenan Institute for Ethics as a member of Team Kenan has helped me to further explore the convergence of science, technology, and ethics, and my participation in the Neuroscience and Law FOCUS cluster has piqued my interest in the role of neuroscience in the courtroom and the ethics of how we treat those with different brain structures. As a Huang Fellow, I hope to explore the intersection of engineering and ethics in artificial intelligence and neural prosthetics. I also hope to combat stigma and stereotypes against neurodiversity.

Richard Huang

R. HuangI am a first-year undergraduate from Boston, Massachusetts pursuing an interdepartmental major combining neuroscience and computer science. Participating in the What If? Focus cluster spurred my interest in the computational sciences. Currently, I am part of a team investigating the effects of anesthesia on postoperative cognition and possible links to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Here, I’ve learned that research is as much of an art as it is a science. It’s a paradox of straddling two inevitably disparate sides, the ethics and the science, to reach a shared objective of improving the future. As a Huang Fellow, I hope to become more exposed to the intersection between ethics and science and better navigate their relationship.

Jamie Karl

J. KarlI am a first-year student from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina attending the Trinity School of Arts and Sciences. I am looking to major in biology or evolutionary anthropology with a minor in English. As a Huang Fellow, I want to study the significance of narratives in medicine. Every patient that comes into a doctor’s office tells a story of his/her symptoms, and a physician’s job is to help her/his patient reach the best possible ending for his/her story. I plan to use this program’s focus on the intersection of humanities and science to solidify my science knowledge while increasing my appreciation for people’s stories in hopes of attending medical school and becoming a physician.

Ralph Lawton

Ralph LawtonI’m originally from Avondale, PA, and at Duke I’m planning to study Economics on a pre-medical track. I’m really interested in the intersections of health and economics, and am planning to become a physician. I believe that a firm grounding in the social sciences will help me to best serve society. On campus, I’m in the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program, I work in an economics research lab, and just joined Duke EMS, and off campus I spend a lot of my time shooting archery. I’m joining this program to round out my efforts to get a fundamental understanding of how I can best contribute in the service of society.

Claudia La Rose

C. LaroseI am a first-year student from Waconia, Minnesota, studying Global Health and Biology. I am interested in pursuing a career in medicine to work towards making accessible healthcare a global reality. I participated in the Ethics Focus Cluster during the fall, which introduced me to the Kenan Institute of Ethics. I am now a member of Team Kenan, a student run group on campus that strives to promote discussion about deeper, thought-provoking issues. Together, my interests in the sciences and in ethics have led me to the Huang Fellows. The program’s emphasis on using science to serve society parallel my own values, and I am excited to begin a research project that could positively impact society.

Olivia Lee

O. LeeI am a pre-medical student from Oakland, California interested in global health, neuroscience, psychology, and biology. I am absolutely fascinated by every aspect of the human body, and I have always been passionate about every part of the human experience from art to literature to science. I am excited to become a part of Huang Fellows because I can make a difference in the world through the intersection of policy and science. I believe that every member of the world’s community should have access to accurate information about their bodies. I am currently working in Dr. Douglas Wiliamson’s Translational Neuroscience Lab, which studies PTSD and the development of depression.

Tyler Lian

Tyler LianI am a pre-health student from Old Lyme, Connecticut, interested in studying math, computer science, and their applications in biology and medicine. In particular, it is exciting to see mathematics play a larger role in the field of medicine unlike ever before. Already, math has become “biology’s next microscope,” so to speak, as advanced mathematical models and learning algorithms give scientists greater access to what they cannot physically see. As a prospective doctor and researcher, I want to inquire into this more human side of mathematics, that serves people and patients, and the ethics and policy entangled within.

Sachit Menon

Sachit MenonI graduated from the Texas Academy of Math and Science in Denton, Texas, attending the University of North Texas for my final two years of high school. For years, I’ve been fascinated by the way new technologies are revolutionizing seemingly-unrelated areas of basic science. I was named a Goldwater Scholar in 2016 for my research in nanotechnology and neuroscience. Recently, I’ve become interested in translating my background in basic science to science policy; as a Huang Fellow, I hope to expand on this interest.

Valedie Oray

V. OrayFrom conducting studies in cognitive neuroscience research at the Lustig lab at the University of Michigan during my senior year of high school in Bloomfield Hills to currently studying developmental neurobiology under the direction of Dr. Debra Silver, I have been continuously drawn to learning about the mechanisms of the human brain and understanding its functions. My additional interests in understanding and arguing underlying ethical reasoning behind health and research policy has prompted me to pursue a double major in Biology under a Neurobiology concentration and Public Policy. The intersection of the humanities and the sciences is what led me to become a Huang Fellow as I hope to better expand my interests in these fields and promote a multidisciplinary attitude towards political endeavors. Outside of my academic interests, I am heavily involved in the music department at Duke University, participating in Duke’s Opera Workshop and privately studying voice under the direction of Dr. Susan Dunn. I plan to pursue an MD/MPP after graduating from Duke University and fulfill my aspirations of becoming a physician. However, I hope to be involved in health policy development or research ethics as a part of my profession.

Reagan Portelance

R. PortelanceI am from Mooresville, North Carolina, and I am currently pursuing a major in Biomedical Engineering. I was originally drawn to the more mechanical side of BME by an interest in the development and design of prosthetics. During my first semester at Duke, I began working in a lab that utilized molecular and metabolic engineering, and this experience has widened my interest to include other fields of BME that take place on the microscopic level. I would like to continue to explore other aspects of Biomedical Engineering, so I am very excited and honored to be a Huang Fellow!

Liam Pulsifer

L. PulsiferI come from a large, diverse family: one filled with lawyers, writers, engineers, and thinkers of many different stripes. It’s their example that inspires me to ponder questions of the natural world and its relationship with humanity. My recent interests include computer science, social science, and philosophy, and I’m especially drawn to the use of data analysis in the visualization and clarification of scientific research. I believe it’s ever more important, as we enter an increasingly globalized, connected society, to have clear, concise, and compelling ways to not only pursue scientific progress, but also to communicate that progress to the public.

Brian Rhee

B. RheeThe adventure of committing oneself to an unanswered question, enduring through a sequence of trial and error, to achieve even the smallest victory in the laboratory: this is what draws me to science research. As an undergraduate who is interested in biology and chemistry, I am thrilled to join the Huang Fellows Program in order to explore a dimension of research that was often neglected in my past—the ethical implications of my research and the process at which my substantial results would be translated into policy changes that would affect the current treatment of Alzheimer’s patients or affect today’s usage of fossil fuels. Making the most of the Huang Fellows Program’s focus on the societal impact of research, I plan to continue providing a service for society through the sciences and through a future career in medicine.

Kunal Shroff

K. ShroffCurrently, I am a pre-medical Trinity student planning to major in neuroscience and chemistry with a concentration in biochemistry. I was drawn to the Huang Fellows Program because their goal of integrating science into society resonated with my own beliefs of how science should shape and be shaped by the general public. In addition to the Huang Fellows program, I am an executive board member of Synapse and an active member of the Science Days club. Both of these clubs work to spread scientific ideas into the Durham community. Ultimately, I hope to enter the medical profession and help spread scientific ideas and understanding to societies across the world. I believe that the Huang Fellows program will provide me with a solid foundation of fundamental skills to help speak to the general public about scientific principles and ideas.

Jake Wong

J. WongI am a first-year undergraduate from Atlanta, Georgia planning to study Global Health and Chemistry. During first semester, I saw organic chemistry as its own fascinating language. Yet while I enjoy learning how biological functions work on a basic level, I also hope to understand how knowledge is applied on a larger scale ― how policies are guided by scientific evidence, how drugs are distributed fairly, and how health services are provided to populations. Through the Huang Fellows program, I hope to build my scientific knowledge while discussing its implications with peers and mentors, and to better understand the relationship between scientists and lawmakers. After graduating, I plan to attend medical school to pursue a career in either clinical medicine or public health.