Spring 2023

Duke Garden Spring Bridge Photograph by Scotty Alston - Fine Art America

The Mentoring and Communication Series is co-sponsored by the Graduate School and the Office of Postdoctoral Services.

Mon Jan 30, 1-2:30 pm

WHAT: Developing Your Personal Leadership Brand
REGISTER: https://duke.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_a9wXQTBSwMBlcyy

Before you can effectively communicate your value to others, you can start by reflecting and writing about who you want to be and how you want to live your life. If you start out on a journey without a destination or a map, don’t be surprised if you end up in places you didn’t want to be. In this workshop, you will learn how to determine your destination and create your map by defining your purpose, values and principles through development of a Leadership Brand. This will help you stay consistent on “on-brand” as you make choices and decisions throughout your life, personally as well as professionally.

Besides providing you with a “life compass,” this will differentiate you from others and allow you to present yourself in a consistent manner to everyone with whom you interact and lead. A Leadership Brand, which functions like a personal mission statement, helps you decide where and how to invest your talents. Learn why you need a Leadership Brand and what it can do for you.

Speaker: Duke alumnus George Grody (class of 1981) spent 26 years at Procter & Gamble in Sales, Marketing, and General Management across the globe. As Director for Global Strategic Alliances, he worked with other companies and governments on co-technology and co-marketing deals. He’s been teaching in the Duke Markets & Management Studies Program since 2008.

Thurs Feb 9, 10-11:30 am

WHAT: Managing Your Research Career Using an Individual Development Plan (IDP)
REGISTER: Registration closed – session is full.

For better or for worse, your experiences and the training you receive as postdoctoral researchers and graduate students can greatly shape the rest of your career. However, there are strategies and resources that can increase your chances of getting what you came for. During this program, participants will learn how to develop clear and specific goals and objectives, along with a plan for executing them.

Topics include:

  • The importance of setting goals and developing an IDP.
  • Introduction to the SMART goals model.
  • Resources for crafting and executing your IDP.
  • Strategies for establishing expectations and effectively communicating research and career goals with your mentor/PI.

Speaker: Dara Wilson-Grant is the Associate Director at the UNC-Chapel Hill Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor. With over fifteen years experience providing career management education and counseling, Dara’s mission is to help individuals develop a framework for choosing a meaningful and rewarding career path, plus develop the skills necessary for a lifetime of career success.

NOTE: This seminar provides Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) credit. Note that you will not receive credit if you arrive for this event late or leave early. Questions? Email grad-rcr@duke.edu

Weds Feb 15, 3-4:30 pm

WHAT: Making a Successful Introduction: The Elevator Pitch
WHERE: Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Room 249

The elevator pitch can serve as your introduction in networking opportunities. How can you make it as effective as possible? In this workshop, communication expert Joy Javits, President of In the Public Eye, will help you draft, edit, and practice your elevator pitch. You’ll receive feedback on how to sharpen your pitch and establish your professional image in this limited-enrollment workshop. Pizza will be provided; please bring your own beverage to enjoy.

Discover Your Strengths: A CliftonStrengths Workshop

Thur Feb 16, 7-8 pm, Tues Feb 28, 7-8 pm, or Wed Mar 8, 11 am-12 pm. Please choose only ONE session.

What are your natural, innate talents and why should you focus on the things that you do best?  Knowledge about your strengths can play an important role in both personal and professional life.  If you can leverage your strengths on a daily basis, you can add transformational value to your organizations and colleagues. Participants will complete the Clifton StrengthsFinder® assessment in advance for this interactive session, led by Gallup Certified Strengths Coach La Tondra Murray, PhD.

During this workshop, participants will learn:

  • Why a strengths-based approach can yield positive results for you and your teams
  • What your top 5 signature themes of talent are and how they look in action
  • How to create a personal action plan to “name, claim and aim” your strengths

This workshop will repeat at three different times. Register for ONE of the following sessions:

Session 1
When: Thur Feb 16, 7-8 pm
Register for Session 1: https://duke.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3KqLdyeug6I7UHA

Session 2
When: Tues Feb 28, 7-8 pm
Register for Session 2: https://duke.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0e9egGky04ps1cq

Session 3
When: Weds Mar 8, 11 am-12 pm
Register for Session 3: https://duke.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0CA1ZFA87zjZXng

Kas Sempere - Author at Research to ActionResearch Communication Series: The Art of Research Communication

Tues Feb 21, Tues Feb 28, and Tues Mar 7, 11 am – 12 pm

Sure, your research on fill-in-the-blank is fascinating and important, but in order to help the public understand why it matters (and why they should support it!), you need to be able to communicate what you do in ways that are clear and engaging.  In this 3-part series, noted Research Communication expert Jory Weintraub, PhD, will teach you how to communicate your research effectively, no matter what field you are in.

The workshops will be participatory and include interactive exercises to provide opportunities to practice your research communication skills, so please have your audio and video enabled. For maximum benefit, participants are encouraged to attend all events in the series.

Session 1:  Research Communication Fundamentals
When: Tues Feb 21, 11 am – 12 pm
Register for Session 1: https://duke.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0dhnXleAMjZ3MFM

This activity-based session will introduce the fundamentals of research communication, including concepts such as:

  • Your message: What is it, why does it matter, and how do you craft it?
  • Your audience: Why is it so important to “know your audience”, and how do you frame your message for your them?
  • Avoiding jargon and other essential skills for engaging your audience and communicating clearly


Session 2:  Communicating your Research through Storytelling
When: Tues Feb 28, 11 am – 12 pm
Register for Session 2https://duke.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3qo2UV7acvT0ENE

Research demonstrates that people learn new information more effectively, understand it better and remember it longer when it is delivered in the form of a story.  In this session, we’ll dig more deeply into this and discuss the elements of great storytelling.  You will then be introduced to a fun and simple method for telling the story of your research in three sentences, and get the opportunity to try it yourself (and receive facilitatory and peer feedback).


Session 3:  Engaging the Public in your Research through Outreach
When: Tues Mar 7, 11 am – 12 pm
Register for Session 3:  https://duke.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bOfxOvQB4OxXjXE

Once you’ve learned the fundamentals of research communication and how to tell the story of your work, it’s time to apply these skills by engaging the public through outreach.  This session will introduce and explore strategies for doing this, and participants will develop their own outreach plan.


Speaker: Jory Weintraub, PhD, is the Director of Science Engagement at North Carolina State University.  From 2015-2022 he was the Science Communication Director with the Duke Initiative for Science & Society, and taught undergraduate and graduate courses in science communication at Duke.  He received a PhD in Immunology, did a postdoc in STEM education, and has spent the last 25 years doing, teaching and coaching science communication and science outreach.

Weds Feb 22, 1-2:30 pm

WHAT: Making A Successful First Impression (and How to Handle Mistakes If You Make Them)
WHERE: The Graduate School, 2127 Campus Dr, Rm 102
REGISTER: https://duke.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_4ZzVPHgNUwlgRBs

Do you have an upcoming conference presentation, challenging conversation, or other situation for which you’d like advice? In this workshop, communication expert Joy Javits, President of In the Public Eye, will help you build the skills you need to make a good impression. Learn to express yourself with clarity and conviction. Practice being engaging and engaged, curious, open, and persuasive. We will dedicate our interactive time together to these goals. You’ll receive feedback on how to sharpen and establish your professional image. Pizza will be provided; please bring your own beverage to enjoy.

Thurs Mar 9, 3-5 pm

WHAT: Bias, Microaggression & Imposter Phenomenon
REGISTER: https://duke.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5dmMqAajdPq5x7E

In this workshop, we will discuss unconscious bias, its relationship to microaggression and how the two contribute to development of imposter phenomenon (sometimes called imposter syndrome). We will also discuss strategies to combat imposter phenomenon and support individuals who manifest it, as well as our responsibility to cultivate a workplace culture that reduces the incidence of imposter phenomenon.

Speaker: Suzanne Barbour, PhD, Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Provost for Graduate Education

Weds Mar 22, 1-2:30 pm

WHAT: Improving Your Presentation Presence
WHERE: The Graduate School, 2127 Campus Dr, Rm 102
REGISTER: https://duke.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2rRkBKtlUsFtnWC

Enhance your public speaking skills with coaching from Joy Javits, President of In the Public Eye. This workshop gives you tools, not rules, and an education, not a critique. Please bring a 2-minute presentation and your questions to this limited-enrollment workshop. Pizza will be provided; please bring your own beverage to enjoy.

Thurs July 20, 12-1:30 pm

WHAT: Communicating Your Strengths: A CliftonStrengths Workshop
WHERE:  Conference Room 102, The Graduate School (2127 Campus Drive)

How do you describe your five greatest strengths? How can you leverage this information to communicate your capabilities to colleagues and potential employers? Using the CliftonStrengths assessment, this workshop will help you explore a new way to talk about your skills. We will investigate strategies for communicating your strengths to others, the challenges that your strengths might pose for you, and ways you can use information about your strengths to thrive in a team setting. The online CliftonStrengths assessment is offered to all registered participants in this limited-enrollment workshop. Our facilitator is Melissa Bostrom, PhD, Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Professional Development.

Curious about the value of this workshop? Lucy Chikwetu, PhD student in Electrical & Computer Engineering, reflected on what she learned from a past workshop: “That experience gave me the language that I needed to articulate my strengths and identify how they’ve helped me succeed.”

Seats for this in-person workshop are very limited. All registrants must agree to complete the online assessment by Tues July 18  and to attend the 90-minute workshop on Thurs July 20. Registrants who complete the assessment but do not attend the workshop may be asked to reimburse The Graduate School for the cost of the assessment.

Wednesdays from July 12 – Aug 16, 1- 2:30 pm

WHAT: Building a Culture of Allyship: A 6-week Virtual Summer DEIB Training Program
APPLYhttps://gradschool.duke.edu/allyship/   Application deadline: Fri June 16, 5 pm. Due to a limited capacity of up to 25 participants, priority enrollment will be offered to Duke Graduate School students and postdocs.

Building a culture of allyship is a central focus of our cultural moment. But what does allyship really look like? How can we feel more confident and be more effective when challenging racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of discrimination? This six-week virtual summer program, facilitated by Duke alumni Lesley Curtis, PhD’11 (Romance Studies) and Cord J. Whitaker, PhD’09 (English), offers you a way to increase your awareness and build your confidence when fostering equitable culture change.

As a participant in this program, you will learn to harness your talents as researchers, literary analysts, writers, and cultural theorists in order to rewrite old narratives and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. Lesley and Cord are humanists, facilitators, educators, and consultants. Through the consulting firm Sagely, they have developed a trauma-informed approach to DEIB based on the close relationship between narrative and neuroscience. Using case studies, self-reflection practices, and interviews with leading DEI professionals, this program meets you where you are, helping you:

  • Develop a fuller understanding of your roles in your organizations
  • Shape your agency within diversity and inclusion efforts
  • Integrate inclusive techniques in your teaching, learning, and research

Our relationships to narratives—the ones we tell ourselves and the ones we tell the world—are essential to allyship. This program helps you write the stories that will facilitate fulfilling careers—and lives.


Lesley Curtis (she/her) is the owner and founder of Sagely. She holds a doctorate in Romance Studies from Duke University, where she focused on storytelling and social justice movements in the Francophone Caribbean. She is particularly interested in helping clients heal from the impact of intergenerational trauma by rewriting their stories of what’s possible in honor of past lessons learned. Her clients include people in the fields of education, community development, nonprofit management, cybersecurity, technology, and many more. Lesley has a unique perspective on DEIB work because she combines her humanities expertise with her study of psychology and meditation. She relies on the close relationship between narrative and neuroscience to help clients effect change and she is writing a book on the topic titled Healing Allyship. Her belief in the power of interdisciplinary collaboration led her to found the Fireseed Collective, a group of DEI professionals who offer a neuro-narrative approach to change.

Cord J. Whitaker (he/him) is a scholar and professor of the history of race. He has a doctorate in English from Duke University. He has published on race in numerous scholarly publications and he and his work have appeared in such venues as NPR, The New York Times, Slate, and the History Channel. Through his writing, teaching, and peer-to-peer mentorship, he has advanced the study of race in fields where it was long thought irrelevant, including his primary field of medieval studies. He is an associate professor of English at Wellesley College, the author of Black Metaphors: How Modern Racism Emerged from Medieval Race-Thinking, and Chair of Wellesley’s Presidential Commission on Ethnicity, Race, and Equity. Cord’s work in the history of race engages modern politics, too. He is currently at work on a scholarly book about Black Americans’ uses of the European Middle Ages to agitate for racial equity in the modern US and a trade book on the intersections of fascism and racism and how Black Americans’ sophisticated antiracist strategies can be taken up by those resisting the global rise of fascism. In addition to two decades of experience in the classroom, he also brings knowledge gained from his work in university administration. Cord has a special passion for helping leaders of color bring their full experience to their work in a way that benefits all.

Only applicants who agree to attend all program sessions can be considered. Required session dates (all virtual):

  • Weds July 12, 1-2:30 pm
  • Weds July 19, 1-2:30 pm
  • Weds July 26, 1-2:30 pm
  • Weds Aug 2, 1-2:30 pm
  • Weds Aug 9, 1-2:30 pm
  • Weds Aug 16, 1-2:30 pm

Before you begin the application survey, prepare a brief answer to the question, “Why does building a culture of allyship matter to you?” (up to 250 words).