Rob Clough Unwinds From Work By Critiquing Comics

Data administrator joined Radiation Oncology Department as work-study student

Rob Clough, data administrator for Radiation Oncology, is also an avid Duke basketball fan and a comics critic. Photo by Marsha A. Green.
Rob Clough, data administrator for Radiation Oncology, is also an avid Duke basketball fan and a comics critic. Photo by Marsha A. Green.


Name: Rob CloughPosition: Data Administrator, Radiation OncologyYears at Duke: 21

What I do at Duke is: I work in the Duke Cancer Center in Radiation Oncology, mining data for research on effectiveness and side effects of radiation treatments. People ask me for data, and I figure out how to pull it out of the databases and medical records. We can give patients a lot of radiation to kill cancer cells, but there are side effects to that. Figuring out ahead of time who is more likely to have side effects and who isn't is a big part of the biology of radiation oncology. So someone might study genetic markers that may have influenced outcome of radiation treatment for breast cancer. 

How I got my job at Duke is: I was an undergraduate at Duke in philosophy, and I took a job in this department as a work-study student in 1989. I never left. I became full time in 1990.

What I love about working at Duke is: Being called upon to develop creative solutions to problems. And basketball. I have a website I run with a photographer friend about the Duke women's basketball team: This is our fifth year, and we have a small but devoted readership.

If someone wants to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: Art or music or film. I'm not the sort to talk to someone at random, so they would need to approach me.

My first paid job was: Putting together the Sunday papers at a newsstand in Miami, Florida. 

My dream job is: Making money off my writing. I like to write about sports and about comics. 

When I'm not at work, I like to: Critique comics. It is one of my abiding interests. Most people hear the word comics and think about superheroes. That's not what I do. There is a whole subsection of comics that are literary comics, stories that are told through comics. I write about those. I look at story and art in equal measure and try to figure out if the artist has succeeded in doing what he or she set out to do. I have my own blog [] and I also write for The Comics Journal, which is kind of a publication of note for art comics. I also hang out with my family a lot. My wife and I used to go to a lot of concerts and poetry readings, but now with a 3-year-old we don't do that as much.

The book I have most recently finished is: "Feynman: A New Comic Biography" [written by Jim Ottaviani with art by Leland Myrick]. It is a the great physicist, Richard Feynman.

A memorable moment for me at work was: About a decade ago when we had that giant snowstorm. When I woke up I thought `wow, it is really snowing,' but just went ahead and walked to work. I was only one of two people in the department who showed up. I spent most of the day handling the phones. It was quite a day. 

If I had $5 million I would: Give a lot of it away to friends and family, save a bunch for my daughter and then start my own magazine about comics.

Something most people don't know about me is: I'm half Hispanic. My mother is from Chile.