Duke Names Nine as Bass Teaching Fellows

Program develops mentoring and other initiatives to promote excellence in teaching

Nine Duke University faculty members have been appointed to endowed chairs in the university's Bass Program for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, which recognizes professors with outstanding records in both research and undergraduate teaching.

"If there are doubts that excellent researchers can also be outstanding teachers, this group proves the theory false," said Provost Peter Lange. "The Bass professors demonstrate that strong research skills can energize teaching and mentoring. Duke is proud to have this program and honored to have such fine faculty members to join the Bass Society."

The chairs were created in 1996 when Anne T. and Robert Bass gave $10 million as a matching gift to encourage Duke alumni, parents and friends to fully endow the positions. Candidates are nominated by faculty and evaluated by a faculty committee. Bass Professors hold the chairs for five-year terms and also become lifetime members of the Bass Society of Fellows.

The role of the society is evolving to take better advantage of the Duke scholar-teachers' approaches to academia, said Craig Henriquez, a professor and chair of biomedical engineering and member of the society. Henriquez serves as the inaugural faculty chairperson of the society's executive committee.  Other executive committee members include: Vice Chair Anne Allison in cultural anthropology; Peter Feaver in political science; Emily Klein in earth and ocean sciences; and Kate Scholberg in physics and Thomas Robisheaux in history.

This year, the Bass Society met with Laurie Patton, the dean of arts & sciences, and discussed ways the Bass professors could mentor Duke faculty across and within disciplines.  Another discussion with Steve Nowicki, dean and vice provost for undergraduate education, himself a Bass Fellow,  revolved around innovative teaching and new pedagogies/models for student engagement, such as DukeImmerse, Duke Intense Global and the "flipped" classroom, where students learn traditional lecture material outside of class and engage in team-based activities and active-learning during class.

"I believe this is a great time to engage the Bass Society and its fellows to help lead a rethinking of undergraduate education at Duke," Henriquez said. "We look forward to continuing our discussions as we try to define some clear plans that we can begin to execute in the next academic year."

The newly appointed Bass Fellows are:  

Trinity College of Arts and Sciences

Vincent Conitzer, the Sally Dalton Robinson Professor of Computer Science, studies computational techniques to answer fundamental questions in the emerging area of computational economics. His  research focuses on game theory, multi-agent systems, and optimization.

Esther Gabara, the E. Blake Byrne Associate Professor of Romance Studies, specializes in the relationship between literature and the visual arts in modern and contemporary Latin America.  She has created courses on 20th century Mexico; Mexican feminist thought, art, and literature; Latin American modernism; and US Chicana feminists.

Scott Huettel, the Jerry G. and Patricia Crawford Hubbard Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, has focused his research career on the process of decision-making and neuroeconomics.  He has developed courses such as "The Study of Consciousness" and "Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging," and has also been a regular professor in the FOCUS program for first-year students.

Mark Kruse, the Fuchsberg-Levine Family Associate Professor of Physics, is a leader in the field of high-energy particle physics. He has taken on one of the most pressing problems in elementary particle physics -- the search for the path to understanding the origin of mass.

Paul Manos, Jack Neely Professor of Biology, is a teacher-scholar whose work emphasizes woody plants.  He has received high ratings for a course on "Biological Diversity," which is required for majors, and a lab course on "Plant Communities of North Carolina."


Pratt School of Engineering

Brian Mann, Jeffrey N. Vinik Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, is a leader in the area of dynamic systems.  He specializes in nonlinear dynamics, with particular subspecialties of time delay dynamics and energy harvesting applications. Mann also has contributed to the school's teaching mission, teaching courses such as "Engineering Innovation" and "Dynamics."

Daniel Sorin, the W.H. Gardner Jr. Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has contributed greatly to the field of electrical and computer engineering, specifically in computer architecture and fault-tolerant computing. He has taught the core undergraduate course "Introduction to Computer Architecture," as well as three upper- level courses.

Stefan Zauscher, Sternberg Family Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, is a   leader in the field of colloids and interface science and the emerging field of biointerface science. He has been the lead instructor for the department's introductory course in materials science, which is required for all majors, and he has mentored undergraduate students and visiting students, working on various research projects including industrially funded projects and ongoing research in his lab.   

Sanford School of Public Policy

Judith Kelley, the Kevin D. Gorter Associate Professor of Public Policy, has appointments in both the Sanford School and in the Department of Political Science.  Her work focuses on two main questions: how can international actors and organizations influence governments to promote domestic political reforms, and what roles do international norms and law play in constraining state behavior.

For more information, visit the Bass Society website.