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Bass Society Honors Six Faculty for Research and Teaching

New Bass Fellows, clockwise from top left: Lillian Pierce; Qiu Wang, Wilkins Aquino; Mark Goodacre; Nicolas Carnes; and Aaron Franklin.
New Bass Fellows, clockwise from top left: Lillian Pierce; Qiu Wang, Wilkins Aquino; Mark Goodacre; Nicholas Carnes; and Aaron Franklin.

Six Duke professors have been selected as members of Duke’s Bass Society of Fellows in recognition of their excellence in both research and undergraduate teaching.

“This is one of Duke’s highest honors, recognizing top faculty who combine outstanding research with a special commitment to undergraduate education,” said Steve Nowicki, dean and vice provost for undergraduate education. 

“Bass faculty are nominated by their fellow professors, and then reviewed by a committee assigned to document their reputations as both internationally recognized scholars and stellar undergraduate teachers.”

The 2018 Bass Professors honored Tuesday at a dinner at the University Club include:

Mark Goodacre, the Frances Hill Fox Professor of Religious Studies, is a scholar of the New Testament and Christian origins. Goodacre’s four books, websites and podcasts are popular with academics, clergy and students, as well as the general public. He has been involved with several television shows including most recently CNN's "Finding Jesus." Long acclaimed at Duke for his teaching excellence, Goodacre repeatedly is ranked among the top 5 percent of Duke faculty by student evaluations.

Lillian Pierce, the Nicholas J. and Theresa M. Leonardy Associate Professor of Mathematics, is one of the leading mathematicians in the world working on the interface of number theory and analysis.  She makes important contributions to both pure number theory and harmonic analysis, which are regarded as increasingly important in theoretical developments in mathematics. Students praise her for her great knowledge and ability to share her knowledge, as well as her availability and desire for students to succeed. 

Qiu Wang, the Robert R. and Katherine B. Penn Associate Professor of Chemistry, is an organic chemist whose long-term goal is to establish chemical platforms to advance the understanding and treatment of human disease. She won a 2016 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award, a national honor given to a small cohort of the country’s most promising early career faculty. She has taught large lecture courses, including organic chemistry. Students have praised her high standards, her empathy, her well-organized lectures, her use of real-life examples and her dedication to mentoring. 

Wilkins Aquino, the Anderson-Rupp Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has established himself internationally as an innovator in the areas of finite element methods, computational inverse problems and their applications in engineering and biomedicine. He specializes in computational mechanics and has been a leader in developing a computational mechanics core curricula for Duke undergraduate and graduate students. In teaching, he strives to create a balance between theoretical rigor and the application of problem-solving skills to real life scenarios.

Nicholas Carnes, the Creed C. Black Associate Professor of Public Policy and Political Science, is a prolific scholar whose research focuses on how the nation’s political process combats, reinforces, or reproduces economic inequalities. The author of two books argues that legislators who had working-class jobs tended to vote significantly more progressively on economic issues.  In his teaching, he wants students to understand how the nation’s political process works, to understand governance and appreciate civic life.  Carnes was one of the early adopters of the flipped classroom at Duke, and he has become recognized around the university for his classroom skills.

Aaron Franklin, the James L. and Elizabeth M. Vincent Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is most widely known for his research on low-dimensional nano-electronics, with specific emphasis on transistors that may eventually replace or supplement silicon technology. He integrates chemistry, physics, applied physics, electrical engineering and materials science. Franklin has a track record of commitment to student learning, both in the lab and in the classroom, where he uses a project-based approach to demonstrate the applicability of course materials.

In 1996, Anne T. and Robert Bass offered $10 million as an incentive to Duke alumni, parents and friends to endow chairs as part of the Bass Challenge for Excellence in Undergraduate Education.  The individual donor names each chair, and the Basses match those donor funds. These Bass chairs then recognize outstanding scholar-teachers who are strengthening undergraduate education at Duke.

Bass professors normally hold the chairs for five-year terms and then become lifetime members of the Bass Society of Fellows, which now numbers 92.

For more information, visit the Bass Society website.