Faculty Magazine Articles




September 26, 2020

Writer:

Andy Read

It was the end of sophomore year in college, and I was looking for an interesting way to spend the summer and earn a little money. I stumbled across an ad for a summer job at the Ontario Science Center in Toronto that sounded fascinating—reconstructing the skeleton of a sixty-foot fin whale that had stranded the previous summer in Nova Scotia. I knew nothing about whales, but the concept of marine biology sounded pretty good to a kid who grew up in the middle of Canada.

September 26, 2020

Writer:

David Malone

A COVID paradox: I haven’t stepped foot on Duke’s campus since March 6. Yet, in the months between the start of remote learning, this past spring, in the face of COVID-19 and the start of the fall semester, I have felt more meaningfully connected to the Duke community than at any other time during my thirty-seven years as a member of its faculty.

September 26, 2020

Writer:

Anthony Galanos

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the over-wrought heart and bids it break.”

Shakespeare, Macbeth, act 4, scene 3

Duke MFA student Ayan Felix

July 21, 2020

Writer:

Scott Huler

AS COURTNEY LIU ’13 walks away from the Ark on a cool and cloudy fall day, she considers the class in which she has just participated. She had been asked to sink into the floor of the Ark, the smooth gray floor on which over the years thousands of the best dancers in the world had moved. To sink even through that floor, into the earth beneath.

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:

Professor Peter Ubel

February 26, 2020

Peter Ubel is the author of Sick to Debt: How Smarter Markets Lead to Better Care. He’s a professor of business, public policy, and medicine.

Is there a just-right model for health care somewhere?

February 26, 2020

Writer:

Barry Yeoman

When a Duke-led research team won a $300 million federal grant to help develop an AIDS vaccine in 2005, the global situation was looking grim.

Didn't read/Too long

November 19, 2019

Writer:

Scott Huler

ANIMALS AND MICROBES

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.

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:

Dan Vermeer

I recently attended a panel discussion with three scholars debating life in the “Anthropocene era,” the idea that humans are now the dominant force in shaping the ecological and even geological fate of our planet. With talk about the destructive consequences of our carbon emissions, the devastation of industrial food systems, and the depletion of our natural resources, the discussion was pretty bleak.

August 12, 2019

Writer:

Stuart Pimm

I stand on a small tributary of the Irrawaddy River. Across it is Myanmar—formerly Burma: I’m about as far west in the Chinese province of Yunnan as I can be. Borders between countries fascinate, for they illuminate different experiments in how we manage our natural world. Across the river, the land is going up in smoke. There’s a dense blue haze. At night, I see dozens of small fires, while overhead a satellite maps them from their thermal infrared radiation.

August 8, 2019

Writer:

Scott Huler

For a guy who spends his time studying climate change, facing down the future of an Earth warming at an astonishing rate, under the management of a population that commonly resists even admitting its problems, Drew Shindell seems surprisingly optimistic.

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.

A graphic of numbers as in computer code

August 7, 2019

I was never supposed to teach a course on utopian and dystopian literature, especially not one in modern and contemporary American lit. I’m a nineteenth-century Americanist specializing in the classics (Hawthorne, Whitman, Melville, Stowe, Alcott)—all the stuff people hate reading in high school and then find mildly more digestible in college.

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.

Professor Abbas Benmanoun

May 17, 2019

How did you respond personally to the instantly notorious case, from earlier this semester, of a Duke faculty member seeming to challenge Chinese students around their speaking Chinese in a social space?

Economist Sandy Darity, teaching

May 16, 2019

Writer:

Lucas Hubbard

The clip lasts just five minutes, but little about it seems right. Sure, Sandy Darity is talking about one of his ideas to combat the racial wealth gap, but absent are his laidback nature, his ubiquitous laugh. It’s July 2018, and Darity’s the guest on Bloomberg’s What’d You Miss? His posture and movement— hunched; fidgety—reflect a man aware of the stage and of the fact that he has brought his ideas, at least briefly, to the center of it.

September 26, 2014

Writer:

Michael Penn

At first the idea seemed pretty half-baked. Come back to Duke for thirty six hours, the pitch went, and let’s see what happens. But when Christopher Scoville ’05 received the invitation in the fall of 2013, he focused less on the nebulous agenda and more on who was driving it.

“When Tony says, ‘I’m starting this new thing,’ you say yes,” says Scoville.

September 25, 2014

On a Friday night two Octobers ago, fans flocked to Cameron Indoor Stadium for the fourth annual Countdown to Craziness. In the locker room, the players suited up for the opening-season bluewhite scrimmage. Meanwhile, Ryan Kelly traveled through a hallway in the stadium’s recesses, towing an ice chest heavy with Gatorade and water. But as he moved to switch hands, he lost hold of the handle. In one swift motion, the chest slipped to the floor, spilling ice and liquid everywhere.

September 25, 2014

Writer:

Bridget Booher

Despite a broken air-conditioner in her classroom and spending ten hours (and counting) on her feet, Laurel Burk ’13, M.A.T. ’14 is feeling pretty good about the first day of school at Durham’s Northern High School.

July 30, 2014

Produced for the Motion Design course taught by Raquel Salvatella de Prada, assistant professor of the practice of art, art history & visual studies, and arts of the moving image.

July 18, 2014

The willow oak has written in it
an ink of time-underlayment.
I say the word emeritus
and the wind-rubbed coppery surface
touches my eyes like a worn rug.
Corded by limbs to a base in soil
it recovers those years of toil
that layered other leaves in another place.
The library’s vellum and coffee still drug
my memory, like Gothic walls and trees above.
There I and my gnarled masters strove,

July 18, 2014

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, at the age of thirty-five, I did not see my life pass before my eyes. I did not have black spots at the edge of my vision. Instead, I thought, “Oh, crap, what do I do now?”

July 18, 2014

Writer:

Annabel Wharton

Why do most of us love our homes? Because, of course, they are saturated with the memories of how we became who we are. Like the family photographs displayed within them, homes tend to archive good times, not bad ones.

July 18, 2014

Writer:

James Tulsky

“I’m going home. That’s it. I don’t want to hear anything else!”

July 18, 2014

Here’s a slice of my personal life that will be familiar to many readers: a home-renovation project that stretched out for almost a year. Now the chaos of all that carpentry equipment has been cleared away. There are snazzy light fixtures, new floors and countertops, energy-efficient windows, built-in shelves, shiny appliances.

April 28, 2014

Is Duke good at risk-taking?

I think we’re pretty good; compared to most of our peers, we’re pretty risk-accepting. Schools like ours have not only an opportunity but almost an obligation to take risks, to experiment in our academic work.

Any university has to manage the power balance between central administration and the various units. How does that balance feel here?

April 28, 2014

THE CATALYST: In 2000, Congress passed legislation to create the Veterans History Project. Housed in the Library of Congress, the ongoing collection includes correspondence, audio narratives, and visual materials from veterans of every American war since World War I. Several years ago, Center for Documentary Studies instructor Michelle Lanier and then-visiting professor Elaine Lawless saw an opportunity to contribute to the project at duke.

Statistics

February 18, 2014

Writer:

Andrew Clark

Box scores in the National Basketball Association look far different than they did thirty years ago—or even ten, for that matter. these days, they’re canvassed in acronyms such as PER (Player efficiency rating) and 3PAr (3-Point Attempt Rate), which look more like robot names than a way to measure a basketball game.

Kevin Schafer/Minden Pictures/Corbis

November 14, 2013

Writer:

Karl Leif Bates

Cloud-draped Marojejy National Park rises like a deep green island on a pastel sea of human disturbance. In each muddy quadrangle of rice paddy around the island’s feet, a single cow is staked out to graze and defecate. This rainforest preserve is a dwindling refuge of Madagascar’s native biodiversity, 80 percent of which exists nowhere else on Earth.

Women sunbathing on a beach

November 12, 2013

We’re all too familiar with the symptoms of prolonged exposure to UV rays. There’s the crimson skin, the itchiness, and of course, that overpowering feeling of lethargy. But what actually makes the skin hurt to the touch? A Duke researcher believes he has an answer for sunburned beachgoers: TRPV4.

November 12, 2013

Mbaye Lo, assistant professor of the practice of Asian & Middle Eastern studies and leader of this past summer’s DukeEngage in Cairo program, reflected during that time about Egypt and the rest of the Middle East. He believes the dreams of the 2011 Arab Spring are still alive, but that Egyptians are in a state of “political exhaustion.”

November 12, 2013

The popular perception of plastic is that it’s not the most resilient material we have at our disposal when it comes to wear and tear.

November 12, 2013

Writer:

Ryan Hoerger

The catalyst: “Wkh dwwdfn zloo frpphqfh dw gdzq.” You might see this as a bunch of gibberish, but a student in Nicholas Gessler’s class would advise you to change each letter into the letter three places before it in the alphabet. The “gibberish” is now a warning: “The attack will commence at dawn.” Gessler, an anthropologist and espionage enthusiast, is helping students examine how an intelligence agency communicates information.

Provost Peter Lange

November 12, 2013

He’s a political scientist, yet when folks seek to describe Peter Lange in his role as provost, the word most often used is “architect.” And so, as he prepares to step down in June 2014 and design the next chapter of his life, Lange is being lauded for the relationships he helped forge, the global bridges he helped champion, and the campus growth he helped spur.

September 17, 2013

It may not sound as appealing as turning water into wine, but turning human waste into clean water, energy, and useful byproducts is arguably as impressive—and can have longer-lasting health benefits. Duke engineers, working with a team from the University of Missouri, are working on a prototype of a self-contained “‘toilet” unit that will have the capacity to handle the daily fecal waste of about 1,200 users at a cost of less than a nickel per person per day.

Photo of person studying with a laptop

September 17, 2013

After a debate described as both passionate and civil, the Arts and Sciences Council declined Duke’s involvement in a pilot project offering for-credit online courses. The 16-14 vote (with two abstentions) reflected concerns expressed in April by council members that the proposal to work with the private, for-profit company 2U had not received a thorough vetting from faculty.

Sosin scrutinizing papyri

September 17, 2013

The ancient and the modern come together in a new appointment at Duke. In July, Joshua D. Sosin Ph.D. ’00, an associate professor of classical studies and history, became the director of the Duke Collaboratory for Classics Computing, a new digital-humanities unit of Duke University Libraries. More impressive: Sosin is the first tenured faculty member at Duke to have a joint appointment in the library and an academic department.

Sketch of a teacher

July 26, 2013

The new class of Duke Alumni Faculty Fellows includes a pioneer in the field of black popular culture, a law school faculty member who has worked on Supreme Court confirmation hearings, a scholar of applied and theoretical ethics, and a biomedical engineer specializing in biomaterials.

Seal of the State of North Carolina

July 25, 2013

In response to North Carolina’s newly conservative legislature, several Duke professors have been participating— and getting arrested—in weekly rallies in Raleigh. Known as Moral Mondays, the rallies have drawn several thousand protesters, including faculty members from other universities as well as students and clergy members, who have assembled each week since late April.

Road Scholars: Hare, Moffitt, Strandberg, and Wallace share their expertise with alumni audiences. (Credits: Christer Berg, Razorfilms, Victor Strandberg, Alana Damron)

May 15, 2013

Although still in its pilot year, the Duke Alumni Association’s Faculty Fellows program already has been well-received. With enthusiastic buy-in from the initial class of fellows to growing demand from regional Duke chapters for continued intellectual engagement with the university, the initiative formalizes an integral component of the DAA’s Forever Learning focus.

May 15, 2013

Writer:

Matthew Shaer

On a Friday in December, Philip J. Cook received an email message alerting him to a mass shooting at a small school in Newtown, Connecticut. The details were startling: The perpetrator, a twenty-year-old later identified as Adam Lanza, had murdered his mother with one of her own handguns, before making his way to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he killed twenty children and six staff members, including the principal and the school psychologist.

May 14, 2013

This was one commencement address not bound to be bobbing in the sea of the forgettable. It would not be especially “fun or breezy or grandly inspirational,” as the speaker (and the cultural phenomenon), David Foster Wallace, told Kenyon College seniors in 2005.

Image of people with thought bubbles

May 14, 2013

True or false: Women are more in touch with their emotions. Immigrants work harder than the native population. Answer: It doesn’t matter, because positive stereotypes like these are more underhanded than their negative counterparts.

Duke Energy Initiative logo

May 14, 2013

The former head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration and current director of the Duke University Energy Initiative, Richard Newell researches and analyzes the economics of energy policy. In a recent Office Hours interview, the Gendell Associate Professor of energy and environmental economics discusses the myth of American energy independence and offers insight into current U.S. energy debates.

Duke Global Health Institute logo

May 14, 2013

Global health has grown from a certificate program in 2006 to a full major, albeit one offered only as part of a double-major program of study. The major offers students a multifaceted approach to global health challenges and is one of the country’s first liberal-arts majors in global health.

May 14, 2013

The catalyst: Assistant professor of chemistry and physics Patrick Charbonneau and visiting chef Justine de Valicourt not only share a history (Charbonneau and de Valicourt first met in their native Québec), but also a passion for cuisine. After a year of brainstorming, they are hitting the kitchen to cook up a freshman seminar class that infuses scientific savvy into tasty payoffs.

February 13, 2013

Writer:

Tim Lucas

For millennia, African lions ruled a seemingly boundless kingdom, a sprawling, unbroken stretch of savannah onethird larger than the continental U.S. But today, 75 percent of that vast savannah is gone, and humans are fast chipping away at what remains. And Stuart Pimm is worried.

February 13, 2013

When the Swiss-based group ensemBle baBel began planning its headline presentation for the 20 Heures de Musiques-Romont music festival this past fall, it first considered performing a work by avant-garde French composer Erik Satie, whose abstract, minimalist works have inspired artists ranging from John Cage and Philip Glass to Coldplay and Lana del Ray.

(All photos: Les Todd)

February 13, 2013

Writer:

Chris Vitiello

Ingrid Daubechies’ eyes dart down at her plate of mixed salad greens. She stabs a hefty chunk of endive hiding beneath an arugula leaf and chews it quickly. The words are coming fast now.

“We don’t get a three-dimensional map,” she says. “We have a much higherdimensional map. More like eighty. But I can only explain it in three dimensions.”

Illustrations by Arlen Schumer

February 13, 2013

One morning last semester, a Duke undergrad peeled off from a busy day on campus to hustle to a basement office in the Sociology- Psychology Building, where scientists were waiting to peer into her brain. Within minutes the slim first-year student, chic in a black-and-white shorts set, was sitting before a computer screen in a narrow, beige room. For more than an hour, her fingers clicked answers to hundreds of questions about her tastes, behaviors, quirks, and feelings.

February 13, 2013

Birds do it. People do it. Now, Duke researchers are convinced that mice, too, can learn how to imitate songs to woo a mate. The surprising conclusion comes from a team of Duke neurobiologists who observed that male mice imitate the ultrasonic squeakings of other males. The researchers identified certain features in a mouse’s brain that are similar to the parts of the brain humans and birds use to learn vocalization, which suggests mice can pick up a tune.

February 13, 2013

As winter recedes, millions of Americans renew their pledges to eat better and exercise more. And hundreds of scientists work to discover the keys to make those efforts more successful. Here’s the latest on what Duke researchers are learning about maintaining a healthy body: