Duke SSRI Offers Grants for Faculty Research in the Social Sciences

Social Science Research Institute Grant Program for Academic Year 2022.

Deadline: March 1, 2022

The Social Science Research Institute (SSRI) invites grant applications from Duke University faculty to study social science research topics of their choice. The size of the grants will range from $5,000 to $25,000, and SSRI anticipates providing at least $100,000 through this program. The number and size of grants awarded will depend upon the applications received.

This is an open call for research in the social sciences—tell us what research you want to do, how this funding will help you to do that work, and what research product this grant will enable or enhance (paper, chapter, grant proposal, book proposal, etc.). If faculty intend to use this grant to fund preliminary work for a larger grant application, SSRI will help to develop your grant writing plans, including identifying grant opportunities if that is useful to you. It is not a requirement to view this funding as preliminary work for a grant application.

Who is eligible to apply?

Faculty in the social science departments in the college of Arts and Sciences, and social scientists in the Schools of Divinity, Fuqua, Law, Nicholas and Sanford are eligible to apply. Faculty in the Schools of Nursing and Medicine can apply only in conjunction with a faculty member in one of the above departments or schools. Faculty from other Arts and Sciences departments may apply with permission if they are addressing a social science topic; interested faculty should write a short email to ssri_grant_program@duke.edu to get approval to apply.

Dates

*Proposal deadline: March 1, 2022
*Funding notification: April 8, 2022
*Acceptable start dates: May 1, 2022 to September 1, 2022 (grants will run for one year)

Submit proposals to: ssri_grant_program@duke.edu

Submission requirements

Single PDF that contains the following information: (100 word abstract that states research question(s) to be answered; 1-page single space proposal that says how the money will help provide an answer(s); budget requested, with a 1 paragraph justification; note whether this grant is a seed project. Money can be used for any approved Duke Research expenditure, including course buy out and staff funding. SSRI may be able to help link faculty with graduate students at a subsidized rate in addition to this grant program. If this is of interest, please reach out to SSRI Director Don Taylor at don.taylor@duke.edu.

Plug Into Energy Data This Summer as a Ph.D. Student Fellow

Abstract matrix of blue-toned lines, graphs, numbers in background. Logos for Nicholas Institute and Duke University Energy Initiative in overlapping rings. Logo for Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Text: Energy + Data? Are you a Ph.D. student interested in applying data science techniques to energy challenges? Doctoral students at Duke, NC A&T, NC State, UNC-CH, UNCC, and UNCG are invited to apply for the Summer '22 cohort of interdisciplinary Energy Data Analytics Ph.D. Student Fellows. Apply by 12/10/21: bit.ly/edafellows .

Deadline: December 10, 2021

Are you a full-time Ph.D. student interested in energy and data science? The Duke University Energy Data Analytics Ph.D. Student Fellows Program is accepting applications for its Summer 2022 cohort. Fellows will receive financial support to pursue summer research projects applying data science techniques to energy application areas. Cross-disciplinary workshops with faculty and peers will help strengthen fellows’ research, enrich their understanding of energy and data science topics, and boost their scholarly communication skills.

The program is open to doctoral students at Duke University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

About the Fellows Program

The recent growth of energy-related data and evolution of data science techniques have created promising new opportunities for solving energy challenges. Capitalizing on these will require scholars with training in both data science and energy application domains. Yet traditional graduate education is limited in its ability to provide such dual expertise. In 2018, the Duke University Energy Initiative established the Energy Data Analytics Ph.D. Student Fellows program, preparing cohorts of next-generation scholars to deftly wield data in pursuit of accessible, affordable, reliable, and clean energy systems. This program is funded by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Each Ph.D. Student Fellow in the program conducts a related research project, working with faculty from multiple disciplines and receiving financial support for 3 months of summer support and $1,500 in research funds for computation and professional development. The fellows take part in regular mentorship and training workshops to improve their understanding of energy systems and data science tools and practices as well as to enhance their skills at collaborating and communicating across disciplines.

The first three cohorts of fellows have included doctoral students from degree programs in civil and environmental engineering, computer science, earth and ocean sciences, electrical and computer engineering, environmental policy, and parks, recreation, and tourism management. The program welcomes applications from doctoral students at Duke University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

The program is affiliated with the Energy Data Analytics Lab, a collaborative effort of the Duke University Energy Initiative (which houses it), the Rhodes Information Initiative at Duke, and the Social Science Research Institute. (Note: Conclusions reached or positions taken by researchers or other grantees represent the views of the grantees themselves and not those of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation or its trustees, officers, or staff).

Learn More and Apply

Learn more, then submit your application to Trey Gowdy (trey.gowdy@duke.edu) as a PDF by 5:00 p.m. ET on Dec. 10, 2021 and ask your faculty project advisors to submit their nomination letters by the same date.

Questions

Contact Trey Gowdy (trey.gowdy@duke.edu), Program Coordinator for the Energy Data Analytics Lab.

Economics Professor Daniel Yi Xu Leads the Triangle Research Data Center at SSRI

Daniel Yi Xu
Daniel Yi Xu (Professor, Department of Economics, and Director, Triangle Research Data Center)

The Social Science Research Institute (SSRI) recently welcomed Professor Yi (Daniel) Xu to the SSRI team where he oversees the Triangle Research Data Center (TRDC). The TRDC consists of one secure computer laboratory, located at Gross Hall, where researchers can perform statistical analysis on non-public microdata from the Census Bureau’s economic and demographic censuses and surveys.

Can you tell us a little about your background?

I am currently a Professor of Economics at Duke University and also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. This is my tenth academic year at Duke. My research expertise is the analysis of firm and industry performance using large-scale micro-level data. In particular, I contributed to the understanding of the key determinants of firm dynamics and innovation as well as their implication for aggregate economic development and growth. My work is highly empirical and often involves the use of novel data sources from a broad range of countries in addition to the U.S.

Why economics? Why Duke?

I believe Economics is fundamentally a subject about people. I like Economics because it provides a quite systematic framework for us to think about various important social phenomena, such as how we engage in the production process, how individuals interact in the marketplace, and how we organize ourselves into different forms of governance. To that extent, Economics is rigorous but also highly versatile.

Duke is obviously an excellent academic institution on multiple fronts. But for me, the most attractive part is a highly collegial Economics department, where we encourage works that break the boundaries of narrow disciplines and make fundamental contributions to push the frontier.

What interests you about data?

As my work is very much empirical, data is often one of the most important piece of my research. But more generally, I believe high quality data is the necessary condition for any scientific inquiries. On the other hand, the data does not speak for itself. One of the more interesting parts of our work as social science researchers is to interpret the data through the lens of our own narratives.

As an economist, what excites you about interdisciplinary research?

I believe Economics has the potential to be highly interdisciplinary. One of the exciting aspects of Economics is that we model and investigate individual behaviors. (Even firms are no more than just a technology that organize people collectively.) Economics has been evolving in terms of its methodology over the past decades, often borrowing heavily from scientific fields like math, stats, and engineering. But I believe at the core it shares the most fundamental topics with other social science disciplines for queries of technology, people, and our society.

How is the TRDC an important resource for Duke faculty, researchers, and students?

Great question. Part of the reason that I agreed to direct the TRDC is exactly its potential of engaging a broad range of Duke faculty, researchers, and students. The TRDC houses the confidential U.S. Census micro data, which are the building blocks for most of the public social and economic indicators. A potentially less known fact is that TRDC also hosts projects using non-public data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. These all substantially broaden the potential user base and purpose of the projects that can be conducted within the center. While these data all provide exciting research opportunities, they often require a somewhat cumbersome application process. One of our primary task here is to promote the utilization of this unique resource and help our Duke community to smooth out the access process as much as possible.

Our more ambitious long-run goal is to leverage on the unique position of TRDC and provide a platform for our faculty, researchers, and students to exchange ideas and build up collaborative projects. The fact that our data spans across a broad range of subjects like demography, firms, and health also would make these collaborations potentially interdisciplinary by definition.

Originally posted on the Social Science Research Institute website

Open Design+ Course Asks Students, How Might We Use the Pandemic to Transform Learning?

Aria Chernik.

Aria Chernik (Associate Professor of the Practice, Social Science Research Institute) will co-lead Open Design+ in Summer Session II. Open Design+ is a new summer program offered through the Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative and is part of Bass Connections.

This summer, students will work through the open design thinking process to create a prototype in the problem space: In light of COVID-19, how might we transform learning at Duke?

Why is this course a good fit for summer during the pandemic?

Open Design+ teaches students how to ideate, create, test, and iterate impactful solutions to real-world, complex problems. The pandemic, of course, is an example of just this kind of problem. We need to be able to think big and act creatively—and above all with empathy—to find solutions that can propel communities forward. That’s what students will be doing this summer.

Why did you want to teach this course?

This course combines some of my most strongly-held professional and personal interests and passions. It combines student-driven education innovation with the ethics of open source values and design thinking methodologies.

Can you give us an overview of what you’ll be teaching?

Students will use design thinking to develop innovative solutions to complex, real-world problems. This summer, the challenge space is how might we use the experience of COVID-19 to transform learning at Duke?

Working in small, interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students, participants in Open Design+ will gain an understanding of open design, a variation of design thinking that emphasizes the ethical implications of how and what we design.

Students will learn qualitative research skills and conduct extensive interviews with stakeholders in the challenge area, including Duke students, faculty, and administrators to ideate solutions for sustained learning innovation at Duke; they will also learn critical skills and mindsets such as: brainstorming ideas and creating prototypes, testing and iterating solutions, communicating across audiences and media, thinking divergently and convergently, and collaborating and problem-solving in uncertain situations.

How important is collaboration?

Collaboration is absolutely essential. The open design process requires deep and thoughtful collaboration across myriad learning contexts, such as interviewing stakeholders, brainstorming sessions, testing and evaluating prototypes, defining problems, and communicating results. Very little work is done alone. The challenge for us is to create a virtual environment in which the team can collaborate authentically, meaningfully, and frequently, but we are optimistic that we can do this!

What do you hope the students gain from taking this course?

Competencies and mindsets that are critical and applicable across all learning disciplines, careers, and even civic life: listening and creating with empathy, robust collaboration, convergent and divergent thinking, compelling communication across media and audiences, resilience in the face of uncertainty and frustration, creative problem-solving, failing forward, and iterative creation.

Why is social science research so important?

Social science research asks us to reach across disciplines and engage skills ranging from qualitative ethnographic research to quantitative data-driven research. In our increasingly complex world, interdisciplinarity is critical if we are to understand and solve problems that have direct positive social impact.

Originally posted on the Social Science Research Institute website

MIDS Program Invites Proposals for Doctoral Fellowships in 2020-21

MIDS logo.

Deadline: June 1, 2020 (priority), June 15, 2020 (final)

The Duke Master in Interdisciplinary Data Science (MIDS) program is excited to invite proposals from Duke doctoral students interested in deepening their data-related skills, gaining experience working on applied data science teams, and learning to manage projects.

Through an NSF Innovations in Graduate Education (IGE) grant, six Ph.D. students will be selected as IGE Doctoral Fellows to engage with MIDS students throughout the 2020-2021 academic year in collaborating to address a hard data problem that requires both data science skills and specialized field knowledge. IGE Doctoral Fellows propose their own MIDS capstone project that is directly related to their thesis and will help serve its completion.

The main objective of the IGE fellowship is to allow students to work on their thesis in a collaborative, team-based, environment while learning from the various strengths of their teammates and sharing their own expertise. IGE fellows will also learn how to manage their project and teams to ensure success.IGE fellows may also request to join an existing capstone project team that will allow the student to work with an external client working with MIDS. In these cases, fellows must obtain the consent of their advisor as well as demonstrate how the fellowship may contribute to their education and/or career development.

  • IGE Doctoral Fellows must participate throughout 2020-2021 in all MIDS program classwork and activities designed to ensure Capstone Projects succeed, including meetings with stakeholders, meetings on team management, teamwork and leadership workshops, analysis plans, milestone reports, and mid-year reviews.
  • IGE Doctoral Fellows must complete all assignments designed to ensure that students understand the ethical issues related to their project, and have reflected on the larger impact their project may have on society.
  • IGE Doctoral Fellows are invited (but not required) to participate in any other professional development activities provided by the MIDS program (such as job fairs, interview preparation sessions, and seminars with non-academic data science partners).
  • IGE Doctoral Fellows may take any of the MIDS core courses with the incoming MIDS class.

Each IGE Capstone Project receives $3,000 in research/travel funds, will work on a team with a number of MIDS students, and receive guidance from a project director and support from project managers. The costs of the data curation, storage, and processing for each selected project will be covered by MIDS and provided through the MIDS/SSRI established procedures for sensitive data.

Proposed projects must:

  1. Be substantial and take at least 1 academic year
  2. Address an important problem and allow MIDS students to contribute meaningfully to the solution
  3. Have an important deliverable to a partner or stakeholder, including a company, a government agency, an internal Duke organization or a nonprofit, who will be available throughout the year to evaluate the project.
  4. Incorporate domain expertise from at least one Duke researcher.

To apply to become an IGE Fellow who proposes his/her own MIDS capstone project, please prepare a proposal that follows the directions in the RFP. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Ph.D. students will need a letter of recommendation from their advisor; a Ph.D. student’s submission of the proposal form automatically generates a request to their advisor for a letter.

Learn more and see the full RFP.

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).

Graduate Students Can Propose Data Expeditions for Undergraduate Courses

Data Expeditions.

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

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

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

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

Review past Data Expeditions projects.

See details and apply for Fall 2019 undergraduate Data Expeditions.

See details and apply for Spring 2020 undergraduate Data Expeditions.