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Alumna to Receive Cook Society Award

January 21, 2016

Courtnea Rainey, a recent Ph.D. graduate in psychology and neuroscience, has been selected for a Samuel DuBois Cook Society Award.

The society was founded in 1997 in honor of the first African American faculty member hired and tenured at Duke and his service to the university, to the cause of African American advancement, and to the betterment of relations between persons of all backgrounds.

Courtnea Rainey (center) leads a group discussion in The Graduate
School's mentoring workshop during the 2015 orientation week.

Rainey will be recognized February 16 at the Washington Duke Inn. She was nominated by Graduate School assistant deans J. Alan Kendrick and Melissa Bostrom for her efforts to improve access to education for underserved and underrepresented groups, particularly in the sciences. Her contributions in this area include

  • formally mentoring five high school and undergraduate students from underrepresented groups in science research through collaborations with the North Carolina School of Science and Math, the Howard Hughes Research Fellows Program at Duke, and the Duke University Summer Research Opportunity Program;
  • serving as a science coach to five students through the Building Opportunities and Overtures in Science and Technology program at Duke;
  • participating in significant outreach activities through Duke’s Brain Awareness Week, including organizing 30 annual classroom visits to Durham Public Schools and the Wake County Juvenile Detention Center, as well as leading classroom visits as a volunteer instructor;
  • coordinating the Scholars Connect Program at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, which provides paid, yearlong biomedical research experiences for local underrepresented STEM undergraduates; and
  • assisting with recruitments efforts for STEM Ph.D. programs at The Graduate School and the Duke School of Medicine.

Rainey, who graduated in December, is a cognitive neuroscience scholar who studied in the lab of Alison Adcock at Duke. Her research investigates how motivation at the time of learning affects retrieval of that information at a later time. She is interested in ways to increase motivation for learning that do not require the continued use of extrinsic rewards such as money or praise.