Alumni Magazine Articles




March 4, 2020

Writer:

Robert Bliwise

This issue’s long-planned cover story follows one researcher’s fixation on developing an AIDS vaccine. We could not have planned for what’s become a fresh global fixation, on the coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China. By late January, it had disrupted university-supported travel to China and had rejiggered the academic calendar at Duke Kunshan University.

February 26, 2020

Writer:

David Menconi

Even when published in book form, academic dissertations rarely get much attention. But “The Common Wind: Afro-American Currents in the Age of the Haitian Revolution,” which earned Julius S. Scott Ph.D. ’86 his doctorate, is the rare exception. After its completion in 1987, “The Common Wind” attracted interest from a few publishers. But Scott was not prepared to undertake the revisions that publishers and he himself felt were necessary.

February 26, 2020

We asked Laura Huang B.S.E. ’00, M.S. ’01, an associate professor at Harvard Business School and author of Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage, about why she believes you can flip stereotypes and obstacles in your favor.

On how her research reconsiders hard work:

February 26, 2020

PAUL SIEFKEN ’92 was terrified of the big shoes he would have to fill. Not the size nine, dusty blue sneakers that Mister Rogers always put on as he sang “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” Something even bigger than that—Fred Rogers’ legacy. It was 2012, and Siefken, director of children’s programming at PBS, had just received a job offer from Fred Rogers Productions to head its production for a time and go on to be its next president and CEO.

February 26, 2020

Writer:

Scott Huler

The Carpenter Reading Room on the third floor of Bostock Library is an “absolute silence area” during even slow times of the semester. An overloud cough can generate a stare, an unmuted phone chime, defenestration—for at least the phone.

November 19, 2019

Writer:

Scott Huler

ANIMALS AND MICROBES

Image of Central Campus construction, 1973

November 19, 2019

In May, students moved out of their Central Campus apartments for the last time. The buildings are now being razed, and the future of Central Campus is uncertain. Over its nearly forty-five-year lifespan as part of our university, the Central Campus apartments remained the same, but the vision for what they could be changed as the years passed.

images of various book covers

November 19, 2019

We asked Jason DeParle ’82, a New York Times reporter and author of A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves: One Family and Migration in the 21st Century, about what he learned about global migration from following a family for thirty years.

Image of the 2019 MacArthur Fellowship winners

November 19, 2019

Jenny Tung ’03, Ph.D. ’10, associate professor of evolutionary anthropology, is among the recipients of a 2019 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (popularly known as the “genius grant”). Her research involves understanding how social and environmental adversity affects health and survival over the lifespan of an individual.

You were hooked on this field from your time in a freshman seminar, right? And that projected you into graduate school.

Picture of Peaches the cat, relaxing on Duke University campus

November 19, 2019

She usually sits on top of her house, or she runs around in the grass,” says Jonas Meksem. On an early fall day, the junior stopped by to visit Peaches the Calico Cat on his way to Pitchfork’s, a campus eatery. Meksem peeked inside her cat home.

No Peaches.

“I try to make visiting Peaches a part of my daily walk,” says Meksem. “It’s great because she’s everyone’s pet, and everyone gets to take care of her.”

Image of the Brodhead Center

November 19, 2019

A century ago, in the fall of 1919, America’s colleges and universities were on the cusp of their first great expansion. Prior to the First World War, fewer than 50,000 bachelor’s degrees and 1,000 doctorates were awarded annually in the U.S.; by 1930, those numbers would more than double. In 1919, the first postdoctoral fellowships in the sciences were established by the National Research Council with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation; these new programs would revolutionize research.

A headshot of NCMA director and Duke alumnae Valerie Hillings

November 19, 2019

Writer:

Scott Huler

When her phone rang last fall, France Family Professor of art, art history, and visual studies Kristine Stiles recognized the voice on the other end of the line. “Do you know who you’re talking to?” the voice asked.

“Of course,” she said. “Valerie.” Valerie Hillings ’93: student, research assistant, protégé, then friend and ultimately colleague, curator at the Guggenheim. A voice Stiles would never mistake.

An image of Duke alumnus Frank Konhaus and his wife, Ellen Cassilly

November 19, 2019

Writer:

Scott Huler

Early evening. A crowd of fifty or so mills around two levels of galleries and assembly space: a modernist house filled with visitors, the living room lined with folding chairs, the kitchen island covered with wine bottles, pimento cheese dip, ham biscuits, and fruit. Framed photographs cover every wall, and people leaf through books and read gallery guides left in easy reach on shelves and windowsills.

Image of children building a house of cardboard while monkeys place in box

November 13, 2019

Gummy bears. They reveal a sweet reality. Watch the video: A couple of three-year-olds are noisily negotiating a challenge cleverly arranged for them. They pull together on some ropes, thereby unsealing a big-box container and unleashing a flood of the candy treats. It doesn’t take much prodding by either partner to arrive at an equitable distribution; if one points out she’s gummy-deprived, the other will quickly correct the gummy imbalance.

August 12, 2019

Robert J. Lefkowitz, James B. Duke Professor of medicine and recipient of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

What aspect of your current life would have most surprised your college-age self? That I became a scientist.

What’s the best thing college students can do to prepare for careers that may not even now exist? Get as rounded an education as possible. And make sure you are well-versed in computer science, whatever [your] major.

August 12, 2019

Writer:

Andrew Rosen

When I walk across Duke’s majestic campus, I’m sometimes lulled into thinking campus-based universities, beloved for centuries, might continue forever. Duke’s beauty and dynamism make it hard to imagine that the campus model of higher education is heading into long-term decline, to the point where a generation from now it will be the exception, not the rule.

August 12, 2019

It has been a great spring and summer in beautiful and historic Beaufort, North Carolina, my hometown. Hundreds of visitors daily have come to explore the glorious coastal ecosystem, just as they have every summer. Yet the normality is just surface. Beaufort is still recovering from Hurricane Florence, which struck the area just under a year ago. 

August 12, 2019

Writer:

Andrew McCabe

You might think that someone who spent twenty-one years conducting and overseeing FBI investigations would be inclined to look at the world retrospectively. A lifetime of trying to figure out what happened, after it happened, might have you constantly looking backward. An organized-crime figure is discovered dead—who did it, and why? Somebody set off explosives at the Boston Marathon—how did they do it, and where did they go?

But I know the past is only part of the story.

August 8, 2019

Writer:

Nick Martin

A couple of weeks after I graduated, my editor at the independent blog company I had interned for over my junior-year summer called to offer me a full-time gig. This was about a month after a has-been professional wrestler nearly sued the entire company out of existence.

August 8, 2019

Writer:

Drew Korschun

Watashi wa watashi-tachi mo mata kõei aru Nihonjin de-aru koto wo akumade shinjite-iru mono de-arimasu.

“I am, and all of us are, glorious Japanese, and I will believe that until the end.”

August 8, 2019

Writer:

Laura Knott

Eleven years after I graduated from Duke, I completed a degree at MIT, where focusing on the future is so normal that few people at the institute question it. I was steeped in techno-futurism, in the belief that it’s often best to leave the past behind. But I’m a gardener. I dig. And I think about how living soil is made, and how plants have evolved to sustain themselves—and how, for millennia, growing food has been a political act.

August 8, 2019

Writer:

Lucas Hubbard

I started writing seriously seven years ago, and sometime in the intervening period, I became a procrastinator. Missing a deadline is a terrible, deep pit: At first, it’s to be avoided at all costs, and then, once experienced, it’s something never to be relived. And yet, I catch myself following the same patterns, flirting with the same disasters.

August 8, 2019

I am the little girl at the end of a dirt road seldom traveled on. The curious mind who watched her grandmother weave rugs for eight hours straight, never tiring. The young soul who never understood the land she walked on was crying for help.

August 7, 2019

Writer:

Rana DiOrio

I was two months away from getting married to the father of my girls when the tech bubble burst, and I was laid off. I had a bull-market contract in a bear market, so my firm chose to pay my golden parachute and take the loss. I was utterly devastated. My solar plexus crumpled as if into a tight ball of aluminum foil. Despite the sizable amount of money in my bank account and imminence of the wedding of my dreams, all I could focus on was the loss. My reaction surprised me.

August 7, 2019

Writer:

Robb Chavis

 

The future doesn’t exist.

Don’t worry. I’m not trying to scare you. This isn’t some dystopian rant about how nothing matters. It’s the opposite. When I realized my future was just an idea I manufactured in my head, it helped me take bigger swings in my life. And I’m hoping my story will help you do the same.

August 7, 2019

When I approached the Army ROTC offices in the basement of the West Duke Building in 2002, my sophomore year, I had one purpose in mind—finding a way to stay in college. 9-11 was a fresh memory, but the prospect of war seemed distant and unlikely. I wanted to secure my future, and a degree from Duke was a major part of my plan. I needed a scholarship, and the Army seemed like my best bet.

A graphic of digits in computer code

August 7, 2019

Writer:

Jane Terlesky

I recently walked around the Duke campus with my eighteen-year-old daughter, her many possible futures spread out before her, each one, for this flash of a moment, an equal contender in the competition for her attention.

Moon Landing

July 16, 2019

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Tonight, take a moment to gaze toward the heavens and salute the moon. After all, it was fifty years ago this month that Apollo 11 launched from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center and Neil Armstrong took his “small step.”

And, on the team it took to pull off such a historic feat were three Duke alumnae. Parrish Nelson Hirasaki ’67, Julie Isherwood ’68, and Lindsay Robinson ’67 all worked on the Apollo program. And by their telling, they had the time of their lives doing it.

May 17, 2019

There are parties and then there are parties—the kind of gathering that gets talked about with giggles and winks in a hungover haze. Apparently, in September 2008, there was a party at the Lofts at Lakeview on Erwin Road that neither Beth (formerly DeFrancesco) Hatef J.D. ’10 nor David Hatef M.B.A. ’09 attended.

May 17, 2019

With the preponderance of available data has come a preponderance of concern about how the information is used and who possesses it. Kristian Lum M.S. ’08, Ph.D. ’10 counts herself among those concerned. And as lead statistician at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, she’s in a position to help elucidate data use.

“A lot of my work touches on the ways in which data and machine learning may not work in the way you’d like or hoped,” she says.

May 17, 2019

Writer:

Lucas Hubbard

WE ASKED

Jane Sherron De Hart ’58, A.M. ’61, Ph.D. ’67, professor emerita of history at the University of California-Santa Barbara and author of Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life (Knopf), about what she learned about Justice Ginsburg from decades of research and countless interviews with her. De Hart received the graduate school’s 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award.

May 17, 2019

Writer:

Lucas Hubbard

Ryan Bergamini discusses “community” to a degree that the combination of his face and the word has become a meme. On East Campus, he’s the senior making signs that encourage the first-years in the dorm where he’s a resident assistant to become TROUTs (Trinity Residents Organizing a Unified Trinity, with the slogan stating that “TROUTs swim together”).

May 17, 2019

Writer:

Scott Huler

Outfitted in someone else’s camouflage protective vests and helmets, preparing to walk the perimeter fence of a concrete motor-pool containment of the Third Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, a half-dozen Duke students give considerable thought to what might happen on their circuit. They’re on a simulation exercise helping the Special Forces figure out how to best get medical care and information to units as they fight, far from support.

May 16, 2019

Writer:

Anne Saker

Almost every advertisement for razors ever created captures the same moment. Towel around his neck, a man with morning stubble confronts his bathroom mirror. He is about to execute the manly act of shaving. But first, he locks eyes with his image.

May 14, 2019

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“I don’t understand why we don’t understand grief,” says Kimberly Holmes Wiggins ’02.

It’s a frustration both immediate and ongoing for Wiggins. On April 16, 2016, her husband, Rasheed Wiggins ’99, M.B.A. ’10, was killed in a still unsolved hit-and-run crash in Orlando, Florida. That was the beginning of a new title for her—widow. The label, she says, was hard to accept, hard to even verbalize.

February 9, 2018

During the search for his first internship, sophomore Kevin Ma hit a dead end. He had started off by going to career fairs, but came home only with swag. He stalked LinkedIn and job sites. He finally found his way to the Duke Alumni Association’s website—and there his career course shifted.

Ma logged into the new DAA alumni directory and began searching for alumni in his area. He messaged several dozen—and much to his surprise, nearly everyone messaged him back.

February 7, 2018

Writer:

Scott Huler

Steve Schewel ’73, PH.D. ’82 used to carry in his wallet a picture of Terry Sanford holding a bullhorn, addressing a crowd of students who in 1970 had staged a sit-in on the traffic circle. In the wake of the Kent State shootings two days before, Schewel, then a freshman, had joined the crowd that stopped traffic to protest the war and the shootings.