Send TriCEM Your Evolutionary Medicine Research Proposal

Deadline: October 15, 2021

TriCEM is currently inviting proposals to support research on evolutionary perspectives on human, animal and plant health from graduate students at Duke and NC State.

The Triangle Center for Evolutionary Medicine (TriCEM) is a nonprofit institute exploring the intersection of evolutionary science and medicine. The center is jointly operated by Duke University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Graduate Student Awards are one-year awards for graduate students to pursue research in evolutionary medicine relevant to their graduate research. To be eligible, a student must be actively enrolled at Duke or NC State and have completed one semester of their graduate program by the time the funding commences. We expect the graduate student to lead and author aspects of the proposed research under the mentorship of their advisor. Awards will include additional funds to support an undergraduate research assistant on the project. To use these additional funds, we expect that the graduate student will participate in training on effective mentoring and play an active role in mentoring the undergraduate.

Proposed activities should focus on evolutionary medicine, broadly interpreted to involve research that uses evolutionary and ecological perspectives to understand health and disease in humans, animals, and plants. Previously funded graduate projects are provided at tricem.org/grad-students/, with topics that include: the ecology and evolution of infectious disease; psychiatric and neurodegenerative disease; evolution of antimicrobial resistance; evolutionary perspectives in global health; evolution of aging; autoimmune disease and allergy; evolution and cancer; evolutionary perspectives on emerging plant diseases and food security; One Health and comparative medicine; and the genetic basis of disease.

Funds should be used for direct research expenses; tuition, fees, and stipends are not allowable expenses. Award amounts will vary depending on funding availability, up to $7,500. Additional funding for an undergraduate student will be available to successful awardees. These funds do not need to be accounted for in the Graduate Student Award budget.

Proposals are due on Friday, October 15, 2021 and should follow the below guidelines. New for this year, applicants can also opt to apply for the Steve Meshnick Travel Award; applications for this award are also due by October 15 and full guidelines can be found here.

Before You Apply

Please contact Dr. Meredith Spence Beaulieu if you have any questions about eligibility, proposal requirements, or other questions. Proposals will be evaluated in terms of both the scientific value of the project and the qualifications of the applicant. Note that TriCEM funds do not cover indirect costs or Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs.

Proposal Guidelines

Proposals are short, not to exceed 3 single-spaced (12-pt type) pages, and include a brief budget justification and references. References can be in an abbreviated format (e.g., Science or Nature style). In addition to the 3 page proposal, please include the applicant’s current CV. The proposal and CV should be uploaded in a single PDF. Proposals exceeding 3 pages (not including CV) will be returned without review.

All proposals must also include a single letter of support from the applicant’s faculty advisor/PI. The letter of support will be submitted separately by the faculty advisor, but must also be received by the proposal deadline of October 15, 2021. Faculty letters of support should be emailed to Meredith Spence Beaulieu at meredith.spence.beaulieu@duke.edu in PDF format by the applicant’s advisor/PI.

Proposals should be organized as follows, all within the 3 page limit:

  1. Program Track (please see our key research areas)
  2. Title (80 characters max)
  3. Short Title (25 characters max)
  4. Name and contact information for applicant and their Advisor/PI
  5. Project Summary (250 words max)
  6. Public Summary (250 words max) – This should be written for the public and will be visible on the TriCEM website if funded.
  7. Introduction and Goals – A statement of the outstanding question in evolutionary science being addressed and a concise review of the concept and the literature to place the project in context.
  8. Proposed Activities – This should include a clear statement of specific outline of hypotheses, predictions, and methods (including planned statistical analyses), as well as any data (include citations or urls) and analytical tools that will be required for the project.
  9. Rationale for TriCEM support – Why can this activity be most effectively conducted through TriCEM? Please explicitly address the proposal’s relevance to evolutionary medicine.
  10. Proposed Timetable – Include start date (month and year) and periods for data collection, analysis, and report writing. For successful fall 2021 applicants, the funding period is expected to be January 1, 2022 through January 1, 2023.
  11. Outcomes – Proposals should include a clear statement about the expected outcomes, including anticipated research products.
  12. Budget justification – Proposals must include a brief budget justification with the total amount requested and a simplified breakdown of expenses.
  13. References – Literature cited in the text of the proposal should be included at the end, using the abbreviated reference style of a journal such as Science or Nature. References count toward the page limit, and should be included within the 3 allowable pages.

Proposal Submission

Proposals will be accepted in digital format only as a single PDF file, including CV, with the exception of letters of support submitted as described above. Graphics should be embedded directly into the proposal document. Proposals should be submitted via this form: https://redcap.duke.edu/redcap/surveys/?s=N4DNTJRR89. For submission, please ensure that your document is named in the format “LastName_FirstName.pdf”.

Duke Ph.D. Students Find Unexpected Benefits in an Unusual Summer

Six students share insights from their 2020 Provost’s Summer Fellowships
Amanda Rossillo.
“This experience looks great on a resume and it’s very fulfilling to apply your narrow research topic to something outside of academia,” said Amanda Rossillo, pictured in her lab.

When COVID hit last spring, many graduate students had to give up their summer plans for teaching, field research and internships. The Provost’s Office quickly pledged support, and Vice Provost Ed Balleisen spearheaded the effort to identify virtual opportunities.

Experiential fellowships with eight host organizations and research assistantships with more than 20 Duke units provided summer funding and career development for all 59 Ph.D. students in need. Every student who responded to Duke’s end-of-summer evaluation would recommend this kind of internship experience to other Ph.D. students.

Kim Bourne.
Kim Bourne chose a part-time fellowship, which she said was “a great way to gain experience in an area outside of my dissertation without hindering my progress.”

Kim Bourne (Civil & Environmental Engineering) got off to a strong start with Duke’s Bass Connections program. “It was incredibly helpful that my host gave me a list of goals at the beginning,” said Bourne, who developed resources for remote and in-person learning. “This experience helped me explore an area I am interested in professionally and is a great addition to my resume as I apply for jobs.”

Zach Levine (Cultural Anthropology) worked on syllabus design and modules for Durham Tech instructor Tom Magrinat’s psychology courses. “It’s very divergent from my dissertation,” said Levine, “but over time I’ve seen how helpful it is to think about other means of storytelling. It’s refreshed the importance for me of moving between different types of genre and tone.”

Four ingredients for natural selection.
A slide from a presentation Amanda Rossillo created for a lesson plan on evolution

Amanda Rossillo (Evolutionary Anthropology) benefited from constructive feedback as she worked with the Triangle Center for Evolutionary Medicine to create a lesson plan on evolution for teachers in North Carolina. “Working with Dr. Meredith Beaulieu as my mentor was an amazing experience,” Rossillo said. “Not only did she help me shape the content of my lesson plan, but more importantly, through this experience I became aware of one of my shortcomings, and my mentor helped me realize that and guided me in the right direction to work on improving.”

Khari Johnson.
Khari Johnson

Khari Johnson (Biomedical Engineering) spent his summer with RTI International to assess how misinformation affects people’s receptivity to health initiatives. Looking back, Johnson highlighted the value of collaborative research. “For me, the biggest takeaway was that you can always find [people with] similar passions in the place you least expected it, and building on those collaborations can be very fruitful.”

Also at RTI, Mavzuna Turaeva (Public Policy and Economics) conducted data analysis, coding and researching for the International Education division. “I think the most useful element [of the fellowship] was exposure to nonacademic literature,” Turaeva reflected. “It turns out there is a huge body of research conducted by economists with Ph.D.s who work in nonacademic institutions, and I don’t think we get enough exposure to that literature during our program.”

Brooks Frederickson.
Brooks Frederickson is currently working on a project for Duke Symphony Orchestra using some of the skills he honed over the summer.

Brooks Frederickson (Music Composition) helped Sō Percussion host its first virtual summer institute for college-aged percussionists and composers. Having developed and delivered an online curriculum, Frederickson said the experience “helped me to gain knowledge of tools and procedures that I immediately put into practice as a Tech TA for the Music Department this semester.” Frederickson thanked Duke “for stepping up in a major way to ensure that the graduate students had opportunities this summer. This internship was a huge lifeline for me.”

Deepening a Partnership with Durham Tech

Eight external organizations (American Historical Association, Durham Tech, Modern Language Association, Museum of Durham History, National Humanities Alliance, National Humanities Center, RTI International, Society for Biblical Literature) served as summer fellowship hosts. Three students worked with Durham Tech faculty, extending a partnership between Duke and the community college.

Through a Humanities Unbounded pilot program begun in 2019, Durham Tech faculty and Duke Ph.D. students team up over the summer to develop new pedagogical modules for courses at the community college. In the fall, the Ph.D. students help implement the projects.

In the first cohort, Lisa Blair of Durham Tech worked with Patricia Bass (Art, Art History & Visual Studies) to incorporate more Francophone African literature and culture. Marina DelVecchio partnered with Maggie McDowell (English) to redesign courses on American women’s studies and literature.

The 2020 Durham Tech/Duke pairings were Janel Thompson and Pratistha Bhattarai (Literature), Jason Moldoff and Caoimhe Harlock (English), and Tom Magrinat and Zach Levine (Cultural Anthropology).

By Sarah Dwyer, Duke Interdisciplinary Studies