Duke Names Five Professors Bass Teaching Fellows

Program recognizes faculty excellence in research and teaching

Five Duke professors with outstanding research and undergraduate teaching skills have been selected to join the ranks of the Bass Teaching Fellows.

"These professors represent the very best of what a master scholar-teacher should be," said Steve Nowicki, dean and vice provost for undergraduate education. "From the very beginning, the goal of the Bass program was to encourage our best research practitioners to apply their intellect to enhance the educational experience of our undergraduate students. With the addition of our new fellows, we are continuing to build on that legacy."

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 endow the positions. Candidates are nominated by faculty and evaluated by a faculty committee. Bass professors hold the chairs for five-year terms and then become lifetime members of the Bass Society of Fellows, which now numbers 68.

The role of the society continues to evolve to take fuller advantage of the fellows’ approaches to academia, said Craig Henriquez, professor and chair of biomedical engineering, a member of the society and faculty chair of the society’s executive committee. Other executive committee members include Vice Chair Anne Allison, cultural anthropology; Peter Feaver, political science; Emily Klein, earth and ocean sciences; Kate Scholberg, physics; and Tom Robisheaux, history.

This year, the Bass Society held a series of “Bass Conversations” over lunch on such topics as the fellows’ experiences with “flipped classrooms,” the changing nature of the classroom and best practices in mentoring young faculty.

"These lunch conversations are an opportunity to build a community," Henriquez said, noting that the faculty in the society drive this process.

The newly appointed Bass Fellows are:

William Donahue, the Bishop-MacDermott Family Professor of Germanic Languages and Literature, who specializes in modernism and Holocaust literature., German literature and culture in North America. He has created new undergraduate courses such as “Jewish Berlin, Berlin Theater” and “Berlin Since the War” for the Duke-in-Berlin Program.

Maurizio Forte, the new William and Sue Gross Professor of Classical Studies, an Italian-trained archeologist-scholar who focuses on digital archaeology and digital heritage. His evolving and rapidly changing field straddles culture-history archaeologies, computer science, engineering and visual studies. Hallmarks of his teaching involve students working in teams and interacting with 3D models with a digital technology system he designed to make vivid recreations of ancient sites.

Lisa Keister, the Gilhuly Family Professor of Sociology, who concentrates on two cross disciplinary areas in economic sociology: the study of wealth inequality and the study of complex organizations, particularly in China. Her teaching philosophy involves including the research process in class curriculum.

Anita Layton, the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Associate Professor of Mathematics, who applies mathematics to biological systems, specifically the mathematical modeling of renal physiology. Students rate her highly for clarity and enthusiasm both in class and as a thesis adviser.

Pei Zhong, the Anderson-Rupp Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, who studies the emerging field of therapeutic ultrasound, which involves engineering, biology and clinical medicine. This fundamental research focuses on understanding the stress response of biological cells and tissues induced by ultrasound exposure. He teaches the core fluids mechanics course for undergraduates.

For more information, visit the Bass Society website