New Grants Support Graduate Students to Pursue Training Outside Their Disciplines

From left, first row: Nathan Bullock, Christopher Catanese, Jung Choi, Adela Deanova, Zoie Diana; second row: Daanish Faruqi, Brenna Forester, Zhiqin Huang, Travis Knoll, Stephanie Gehring Ladd; third row: Fateme Yousefi Lalimi, Mark River, Danica Schaffer-Smith, Elizabeth Schrack, Banafsheh Sharif-Askary. Not pictured: Selcan Aydin, Joelle Hathaway, Alisha Hines, Tess Leuthner

Nineteen graduate students from five schools at Duke have received grants to enhance or expand their training beyond their core disciplines.

This new internal funding mechanism from the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies encourages graduate students to step away from their core research and training to acquire additional skills, knowledge or co-curricular experiences that will give them new perspectives on their research agendas. These Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants are intended to deepen preparation for academic positions and other career trajectories.

Here are this year’s grant recipients:

Selcan Aydin, Ph.D. in Biology, Graduate School

Attend the Quantitative Biology Summer School’s Computational Synthetic Biology Track at the University of California, San Diego, to obtain the skills needed for the modeling and data analysis challenges of research on the effects of genetic variation on signaling dynamics

Faculty mentor: Nicolas Buchler

Nathan Bullock, Ph.D. in Art, Art History and Visual Studies, Graduate School

Spend a semester at the Yale School of Architecture to gain the practical and technical know-how of a professional program, work with practicing architects in their studios and inform application of architectural theory to dissertation research on contemporary Singapore

Faculty mentor: Annabel Wharton

Christopher Catanese, Ph.D. in English, Graduate School

Intern at the North Carolina Museum of Art to contribute to the exhibition “History and Mystery: British Old Masters, 1550-1850,” which will provide experience within two departments of a major public arts organization and inform research on 18th- and early 19th-century British poetry

Faculty mentor: Robert Mitchell

Jung E. Choi, Ph.D. in Art, Art History and Visual Studies, Graduate School

Develop a local art festival, “Like Project 2016,” at SlowSlowQuickQuick alternative space in Seoul, South Korea, that will nurture community self-help in deprived urban neighborhoods and inform dissertation on the intersection of art, technology and space

Faculty mentor: Mark Hansen

Adela Deanova, Ph.D. in Philosophy, Graduate School

Complete online courses in data analysis and digital marketing to contribute to Google Analytics data analysis and design of social media and user experience strategy for Project Vox, a digital initiative that recovers the lost voices of women philosophers in the early modern era, and to inform dissertation on Robert Boyle, John Locke and their women philosopher critics

Faculty mentor: Andrew Janiak

Zoie Diana, Master of Environmental Management, Nicholas School of the Environment

Probe for chitin in decorator worm (Diopatra cuprea) tube and underwater adhesive at the Okeanos Research Laboratory at Clemson University, to further understanding of conserved molecular mechanisms in invertebrate bioadhesive and structure and inform thesis on “Learning to Glue Underwater: Inspiration from the Decorator Worm”

Faculty mentor: Dan Rittschof

Daanish Faruqi, Ph.D. in History, Graduate School

Do volunteer work with the Syrian refugee community in Amman, Jordan, through relief foundations operated by Syrian Sufi spiritual networks that are the basis of dissertation research, which will augment the dissertation’s purely discursive value through an experiential engagement with the human dimensions of the Syrian civil war and refugee crisis that are central to the research questions being posed, and that largely motivated selecting Syria as a research site

Faculty mentor: Engseng Ho

Brenna R. Forester, Ph.D. in Environment, Nicholas School of the Environment, Environmental Sciences and Policy Division, University Program in Ecology

Participate in Tutorial on Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics and Investigative Workshop in Next Generation Genetic Monitoring at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis in Knoxville, to inform dissertation research in the emerging field of landscape genomics

Faculty mentor: Dean Urban

Joelle Hathaway, Th.D., Divinity School

Take photography course at Durham Tech and conduct field work in England to compile a portfolio of high-resolution images of religious art and architecture and conduct interviews about contemporary art in Anglican cathedrals, which will inform dissertation about Christian practices of engagement with architecture and built environments

Faculty mentor: Jeremy Begbie

Alisha Hines, Ph.D. Candidate in History and African and African American Studies, Graduate School

Attend History of Capitalism Summer Bootcamp at Cornell University to receive instruction in technical content areas such as statistics and accounting in addition to an introduction to economic theory, in order to apply quantitative methods and techniques to study of slavery and freedom in the middle Mississippi River Valley

Faculty mentor: Thavolia Glymph

Zhiqin Huang, Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Pratt School of Engineering

Spend time at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to leverage cutting-edge facilities and other resources that will inform dissertation research on novel nanostructures to develop extremely low-energy and ultrafast plasmonic switches

Faculty mentor: David R. Smith

Travis Knoll, Ph.D. in History, Graduate School

Intern at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia to focus on issues ranging from Brazil’s internal political scene to the key role Brazil’s foreign policy plays in the region and beyond, to inform research on the intersection of politics and religion, strengthen Duke’s ties to the Centro de Formação, Treinamento e Aperfeiçoamento and gain skills needed to explore a career in government

Faculty mentor: John French

Stephanie Gehring Ladd, Ph.D. in Religion, Graduate School

Take printmaking course at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and spend time in a Durham printmaking studio to gain insight into the process of intaglio printmaking, which will enhance observational powers in writing about prints and inform dissertation on attention to suffering in the work of Simone Weil and Käthe Kollwitz

Faculty mentor: Paul J. Griffiths

Fateme Yousefi Lalimi, Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Nicholas School of the Environment, Earth and Ocean Sciences Division

Visit Dr. Andrea D’Alpaos’s lab at the University of Padova to inform work on modeling large-scale estuarine eco-geomorphodynamics and conduct field work in the Venice Lagoon, which will contribute to dissertation on coastal wetlands and their resilience to anthropogenic and environmental perturbations

Faculty mentor: Marco Marani

Tess Leuthner, Ph.D. in Environment, Nicholas School of the Environment, Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health Program

Participate in Environmental Genomics Training Workshop at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory to facilitate research and professional goals of understanding and applying skills in toxicogenomics as a tool for environmental protection and management

Faculty mentor: Rich Di Giulio

Mark River, Ph.D. in Environment, Nicholas School of the Environment, Environmental Sciences and Policy Division, University Program in Ecology

Obtain hands-on training on a state-of-the-art transmission electron microscope at NanoEarth, Virginia Tech, to inform research on nano-characterization work as part of dissertation on how phosphorus is transported by particles in stormwater

Faculty mentor: Curtis J. Richardson

Danica Schaffer-Smith, Ph.D. in Environment, Nicholas School of the Environment, Environmental Sciences and Policy Division

Participate in Environmental Data Analytics Workshop offered by the National Center for Atmospheric Research and National Ecological Observatory Network to learn about using their resources in current and future research and build technical expertise relevant to dissertation on “Spatiotemporal Variability of Inland Waterbodies along the Pacific Flyway Using 30+ Years of Landsat”

Faculty mentor: Jennifer Swenson

Elizabeth Schrack, Ph.D. in Marine Science and Conservation, Nicholas School of the Environment

Work closely with staff at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and The Nature Conservancy as well as coral reef managers and restoration workshops around the world to conduct a needs assessment to assess the research question, What information do coral reef managers need regarding coral restoration methods prior to starting restoration projects and in what forms will this information be most accessible and useful?, which will enrich research in coral reef ecology and provide training in social science methods

Faculty mentor: Brian Silliman

Banafsheh Sharif-Askary, M.D., School of Medicine

Facilitate expansion and evaluation of H.A.R.T. Program (Health, Advocacy and Readiness for Teens), which aims to equip teens with tools related to nutrition, fitness and healthcare navigation in order to facilitate a successful transition to a healthy adulthood, with community partners Healthy Lifestyles Clinic and Bull City Fit; will hone teaching skills and increase understanding of Durham community health needs

Faculty mentor: Sarah Armstrong

Proposals were reviewed by an ad hoc committee convened by the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies with representation from faculty, deans, institute directors and graduate students.