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Graduate School Awards First Professional Development Grants


Professional Development Grant winners

Nine Duke graduate departments and programs have received the inaugural Professional Development Grant from The Graduate School.

The grant awards up to $2,000 to help graduate students and departments provide discipline-specific professional development programming and resources for exploring both academic and nonacademic career options. Such programming complements the offerings from The Graduate School, which focus on topics that are applicable across disciplines.

“We received so many strong proposals that we actually awarded more grants than we had anticipated,” says Melissa Bostrom, the school’s assistant dean for graduate student professional development. “It’s very encouraging to see such an enthusiastic response from our students and faculty.”

The recipients and their proposed programming:

  • African and African American Studies: Two one-time seminars emphasizing interdisciplinary teaching and research in the humanities and social sciences, with topics such as teaching across disciplines, marketability of interdisciplinary work, methodology, and the role of interdisciplinarity in the modern university
  • Biology: A new series of career development workshops covering a wide range of topics, such as time management, science communication, job application, work/life balance, and women in science
  • Computational Biology & Bioinformatics: A monthly speaker series with a focus on career options for graduate students training in quantitative biology areas
  • Duke Global Health Institute: A workshop series, networking events, and efforts to develop the DGHI alumni network
  • Immunology and Pharmacology and Cancer Biology (joint award because of the similarity in their proposals): Working collaboratively to invite alumni working in a variety of science careers to provide professional advice and perspective to current doctoral students and to facilitate networking
  • Nursing: A series of seminars featuring national leaders in nursing, as well as nurses in nonacademic careers and early academic positions
  • Sociology: A three-part lunch series featuring a panel of social scientists in a range of careers from academic areas where women are traditionally underrepresented
  • University Program in Genetics and Genomics: Inviting UPGG alumni to lead panels on various career paths during the program’s annual retreat

More information about the winning proposals

The Professional Development Grant, launched in fall 2014, grew out of recommendations by a task force formed in 2010 to guide The Graduate School in establishing comprehensive career and professional development services for graduate students. Faculty support was an important factor in the creation of the grant, says Jacqueline Looney, senior associate dean for graduate programs at the school.

“As is often the case with our professional development efforts, it was vital that our faculty recognized the need for the grant and how it can benefit our students and threw their support behind it,” she says. “It’s very satisfying to receive so many excellent proposals in the first year, because they confirm that this was an area of need for our students and programs.”