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Summer Research Snapshots 2018


Summer Research Snapshots 2018

For summer 2018, The Graduate School provided 457 summer research fellowships to its Ph.D. students, totaling more than $4.2 million in support. These included 277 guaranteed fellowships to first- and second-year students and 180 competitive awards to students in their third year or beyond. Here's a look at the work those fellowships supported, in the words of the recipients.

Click the links below to jump to the roundup for a specific Ph.D. program.


Art, Art History and Visual Studies

Kaylee Alexander


Photo: Designs for a family chapel showing cross sections of the burial vault below, from N. Gateuil, “Recueil de marbrerie et monuments funéraires,” vol. 3 (Dourdan: Leroux-Thézard, 1881). Collection of the Bibliothèque Forney, Paris.

This year I spent June through August in Paris conducting research for my dissertation project, which examines the complete production chain of funerary monuments in 19th-century Paris, given the regulatory environment of the cemetery after 1804.

Working primarily in the Archives de Paris and the Archives nationales, I was able to consult original sources for my research such as detailed records of 19th-century burials in Paris, original architectural drawings for various tomb structures, and hundreds of maps showing of the transformation of Parisian cemeteries over the course of the 19th century. During this trip I was also able to access the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris and the Bibliothèque Forney, which housed a collection of 19th-century illustrated volumes with sample tomb designs. In addition to this archival work, I also began work on a mapping project that will ultimately be used to investigate the network of funerary marble workers in Paris over the course of the nineteenth century.

Photo: Designs for a family chapel showing cross sections of the burial vault below, from N. Gateuil, “Recueil de marbrerie et monuments funéraires,” vol. 3 (Dourdan: Leroux-Thézard, 1881). Collection of the Bibliothèque Forney, Paris.

Ivana Bago


Photo: The final draft of my dissertation.

I spent the summer finishing and revising the final draft of my dissertation, “Post-Yugoslav Generation: Art, History and Theory of the Yugoslav Twentieth Century.” Thanks to the support of The Graduate School, I was able to focus on accomplishing this task during the summer, and I will be defending my dissertation in November 2018.

Photo: The final draft of my dissertation.

Nathan Bullock

This summer I joined a writing group organized by Versatile Humanists at Duke and the Writing Studio. I met with three other Ph.D. candidates to work on writing my dissertation and made an excellent amount of progress. I also attended the Association for Asian Performance conference in Boston and received the Emerging Scholars Award.

Nicole Y. Gaglia

This past summer I conducted focused dissertation research in Germany for the first chapter of my dissertation, “Spectacular Health: Japan at the 1911 International Hygiene Exhibition,” where I investigate Japanese government participation in the 1911 International Hygiene Exhibition (IHE) held in Dresden.

I initially came across materials related to the IHE in 2016 while in Tokyo on another Graduate School Summer Research Fellowship. A copy of the exhibition catalog for the Japanese pavilion at the IHE led me to the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Dresden (DHMD), a museum established by IHE organizer Karl August Linger in 1912 as a site for public health education and repository for exhibition materials. The museum maintains a collection of exhibited objects, publications, and ephemera from the 1911 IHE, including material commissioned by the Japanese government for the event.

It was imperative that I travel to Dresden to view these objects in person. In June, I left to visit the 1911 archives, which are divided between the DHMD and Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden. I set up meetings with curators and librarians at both locations, and was able to view the collections to learn more about the role of the IHE in international discussions on public health and the impact of the Japanese pavilion at the exhibition. I returned to Durham with the missing pieces needed to flesh out my chapter, which I am working on completing.

Nikos Gkiokas


Photo: Colossal kouros figure from the Heraion at Samos, ca. 580 B.C.E. Archeological Museum, Vathi, Samos, Greece.

During the summer of 2018 I conducted field, museum and library research in Greece. My dissertation examines the presence and meaning of kouroi—male nude standing statues—within the religious milieu of ancient Greek sanctuaries.

In June and July I undertook bibliographic research in the libraries of the German Archaeological Institute and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Also, I visited archaeological museums and sites in Athens, on Samos, Naxos, Astypalaia and Ikaria. Additionally, during July I attended the Marble Sculpture Workshop of sculptor Nikos Georgiou at Athens on several occasions. This artist has specialized knowledge in rendering marble and bronze representational forms. Also, he exercises a traditional method of sculpting. In the same month, I attended the Byzantine painting workshops of the artist Babis Pylarinos in Athens.

Photo: Colossal kouros figure from the Heraion at Samos, ca. 580 B.C.E. Archeological Museum, Vathi, Samos, Greece.

Katherine McCusker

During the summer of 2018, I traveled to Italy for both archival and field research. I spent two weeks at the end of May in Rome accessing sources necessary for my dissertation. Following this, I spent two months at the Etruscan-Roman site of Vulci (Viterbo, Italy) as the GIS manager and remote sensing coordinator for the Vulci 3000 Project. My dissertation focuses on the urban morphology of Vulci between the 5th century B.C. and the 1st century A.D. Therefore, this ongoing excavation in the urban center of this ancient city offers a unique perspective into the development of the site. Additionally, the digital data collected as part of this excavation and the surveys which it supports provide crucial data sets for my dissertation project. This summer fieldwork was particularly important due to the new ground penetrating radar (GPR) data collected in partnership with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology.

Jessica Orzulak


Photo: Students and professors participate in ceremonial corn blessing and planting during the Utah Nahuatl Language and Culture Intensive.

During the summer of 2018 I studied the Nahuatl language through the Utah Nahuatl Language and Culture Program at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City in partnership with IDIEZ (Instituto de Docencia e Investigación Etnológica de Zacatecas, Mexico). The intensive program developed students’ reading, writing, and oral comprehension. We studied both classical forms, reading primary colonial documents, as well as a modern dialect in use in Zacatecas today from native speakers. In addition to direct language study the courses engaged with questions of linguistic and epistemological structure, contemporary culture, and the relationship of the language to the Mexican state.

I traveled to Peru, where I visited museums and galleries exhibiting contemporary Peruvian art and Inca ruins in and around the Sacred Valley and Cuzco. During my time there I also did research on a photography and artist’s book collective based near Cuzco, where I met with a number of the artists.

Finally, I spent time working on my dissertation research and reading lists for my prelim exams.

Photo: Students and professors participate in ceremonial corn blessing and planting during the Utah Nahuatl Language and Culture Intensive.



Hsueh-Ling Chen

Thank you for supporting me during this summer. During this summer, I have made huge progress in my thesis project. First, I have finished the manuscript for my first project and have submitted to the Neuron journal. Now I am revising my manuscript and doing additional experiments. I plan to resend to Neuron for second review in October. Also, because of the fellowship, I am able to have enough time to do the experiments for my second project at the same time. This fellowship helps me a lot to finish my two projects and hopefully to graduate on time next year. Thank you so much.

Amanda Cox

This summer I continued investigating a more precise role for gap junctions (innexins in invertebrates) in tissue integrity using the Drosophila dorsal closure as a model system. I screened three innexin subunits that I have verified are present in the epithelial tissues during closure. When a single subunit is genetically manipulated (i.e. completely removed via CRISPR techniques or mutated) in our system dorsal closure proceeds normally with morphological defects occurring at a very low penetrance. However, when more than one subunit’s function is inhibited, in this case using a pan-innexin pharmacological inhibitor, the epithelial tissues halt their dynamic movements and cell junctions tear apart. This summer I have made progress on creating genetic double- and triple-innexin subunit mutants as well.

Qichen Duan

I stayed in Durham and worked in the laboratory for my research for the whole summer. At the beginning of the summer, I completed my rotation in Dr. Pelin C Volkan’s lab at the Department of Biology, and I finally decided to join her lab to do my thesis project. My rotation project gave me very interesting and promising results suggesting many potential future directions and I had to get started on these.

My adviser encouraged me to present my work at an academic conference at the beginning of the fall 2018 semester. In order to make it work, I had to continue on my rotation project and collect some new data allowing me to present a relatively coherent scientific story as a poster in that conference. Thus I spent most of the summer working on these experiments and preparing for the conference.

I also got a chance to attend a local meeting held here at Duke, Annual Triangle Fly Conference, where I met and communicated with the scientist from Triangle institutions doing biological research using Drosophila as the model system.

One notable thing is that our lab hosted several undergraduate and high school interns during this summer. It was enjoyable working with them and I was glad that I could help them a bit. Overall, it was a productive and interesting summer!

Jacob Harrison

During summer 2018, I traveled to Hawaii and Florida to collect mantis shrimp specimens for my research at Duke. My research focuses on the prey capture strategy of spearing mantis shrimp. Specifically I work on the morphology of the raptorial appendage and how shape of the spear relates to the mechanics of puncture in biological organisms.

This summer I was able to collect mantis shrimp specimens and record their prey capture behavior in the lab. I then measured the kinematics of their strike and sharpness of the dactyl to see how size of the mantis shrimp relates to the morphology of the raptorial appendage, and the kinematics of their feeding strike. I will soon be able to begin puncture tests with the mantis shrimp dactyls to see how size relates to the puncture mechanics of mantis shrimp.

Karn Imwattana


Photo: Sphagnum moss collecting trip in northeastern US peatlands.

I have been on several field trip collecting Sphagnum moss. The areas include southeastern US (Georgia west to Louisiana), northeastern US (New Hampshire and Maine), and southeast Asia (Thailand). After getting the samples, I studied morphological characters under microscope, and identify the species. The morphological data will be used in future taxonomic revision of some Sphagnum groups. The samples will also be sequenced for genomic information. In this summer I got all the plant material I need from eastern US, which I will use later in my dissertation.

Photo: Sphagnum moss collecting trip in northeastern US peatlands.

Anna Kudla


Photo: Thin section of 5th Instar, pronotal tissue folded.

This summer, I spent some time in Costa Rica developing field-work skills and conducted a small pilot experiment to see if there were particular plant characteristics that a female insect was choosing over others. It is very important for a mother to choose wisely as she and her nymphs (insect babies) remain on the same plant until the offspring become adults. I returned to the lab and began working on different way to better examine the tissue of the insects I am investigating. Specifically I am working on a sectioning technique to better visualize the cells that make up a particular tissue.

Photo: Thin section of 5th Instar, pronotal tissue folded.





Alex loomis 


Photo:   Makapu'u, on the island of Oahu, is one of my primary field sites. Here, Schiedea globosa grows at the crest of the sea cliffs high above the ocean.

Thanks to the Duke Graduate School’s Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to spend the entirety of the summer conducting field work in Hawaii for my dissertation research. I returned to field populations I began studying last year and conducted censuses to measure growth, survival, and reproduction of plants over the last year. I additionally worked in many more populations to expand the scope of my research. I compared the performance of plants to their local environments and quantified the impact of interactions with alien species and climate. The work I did this summer while funded by the summer research fellowship allowed me to continue to conduct detailed field research—it is essential to my research to continue to measure the same individual plants in the field over several years. I continued collaborations with experienced staff from the Hawaii Plant Extinction Prevention Program (, the State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (, and other local agencies. I also participated in planting reintroductions of species in my study genus that are critically endangered, conservation efforts that I will be following through time, another aspect of my research. 

Photo: Makapu'u, on the island of Oahu, is one of my primary field sites. Here, Schiedea globosa grows at the crest of the sea cliffs high above the ocean.

Ian Medeiros

In June, I continued microscopy work for my taxonomic study of the lichen genus Graphis in South Africa. I also completed and submitted a manuscript to the journal Bothalia: African Biodiversity and Conservation. This paper uses archival sources to determine the original collection locality of about a dozen lichen species described from South Africa in 1868 and never observed since then. (Next summer I will be traveling to South Africa to visit this site in person and visiting Ireland to examine the original specimens.) I published one paper in June.

In July, the Lutzoni Lab traveled to Puerto Rico for the International Mycological Congress/Mycological Society of America meeting. I presented a poster about my ongoing work on the distribution and diversity of the lichen genus Peltigera and its Nostoc symbionts in Alberta, Canada. I also met up with an existing collaborator to move some stalled manuscripts forward, established a new collaboration with a lichenologist in Sweden, and met many current Ph.D. students doing similar kinds of research.

A good chunk of August was spent cleaning and organizing the lab. I spent the beginning of the month working on phylogenetic analyses for a manuscript I am writing with a collaborator at Michigan State. We are describing two new lichen genera endemic to South Africa. Most memorably, I went on a 95-mile canoeing trip in northern Maine with another Duke biology grad student—just vacation, no work.

Bryan Piatkowski

Funding from the Duke Graduate School allowed me to make significant progress toward the part of my dissertation that involves resolving evolutionary relationships between closely related plant species. Recent work has demonstrated that one globally distributed species of peatmoss, Sphagnum magellanicum, is actually a complex of at least three species that are differentiated genetically, morphologically, and ecologically. Preliminary data suggest the presence of an undescribed species, new to science, that occurs throughout the southeastern United States.

The Summer Research Fellowship allowed me to travel throughout the southeastern United States to collect additional specimens of this putative undescribed species and to begin gathering data. Full-genome sequences are being generated for these samples and other samples from various geographic regions to reconstruct the evolutionary history of this species complex. Morphological data are being collected to determine which characteristics can reliably distinguish species. Furthermore, these specimens are now part of an experiment designed to quantify variation in traits that drive the creation and maintenance of ecological gradients along which species sort.

Karla Sosa

This summer I focused on finding missing species. How can we know a species is missing? There are certain patterns that we see in nature about how a new species gets formed. One of these is that there is usually a traditional structure to the genome from which species with different structures arise. More specifically, plants usually have two copies of their genomes (diploids) and from these arise new species with more than two copies (polyploids). For several fern species—the group that I work on—we have found only polyploids. Where are the diploids that gave rise to them? That is the question I seek to answer.

For this, I contacted Australian and New Zealander museums and asked for several hundred (currently 477!) of their preserved ferns to be sent on loan to Duke, and I have been measuring telling features on them (features that serve as a proxy) to try and locate these missing species. The missing diploids have not been found yet, but there is hope they may be hiding in one of the many specimens.


Computational Media, Arts & Cultures

Evan Donahue

Using the Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to dedicate my summer to computationally analyzing a collection of 20,000 documents from the history of the field of computational linguistics. My dissertation, “Android Linguistics,” focuses on the evolution of how researchers in artificial intelligence (AI) conceptualize their field and envision where it is heading.

Using the documents I collected, I was able to isolate a number of scientific dead ends in the form of research topics that arose briefly but do not seem to have gained wider interest beyond their immediate progenitors. I am interested in trying to understand why these topics appealed less to mainstream researchers than the topics that did get taken up for further research. Ultimately, I would like to better understand why the field of AI developed into its current form and where it is likely to go in the future.


Computer Science

Daniel Fu

I used my time in summer 2018 to further pursue my own projects, complete departmental requirements, and begin pursuing new projects in preparation for my thesis work.

Prior to summer, I had one large ongoing project pertaining to the automated design of DNA origami nanostructures, which will automate design of two differing structural motifs. Over summer 2018, I continued to develop the code base for this project, and all software work pertaining to the first structural motif is now nearly complete, whereupon I may begin experimental characterization.

At the beginning of summer, I also defended for a departmental milestone presentation on this project (which is part one of a major three-part project). I also mentored a volunteering high school student in coding and research using this project as context.

I began developing a new project within our group to create hybrid DNA nanostructures with other biomaterials and completed a literature review as well as a preliminary design of experiments.

Our group is undergoing a transitional phase, with several senior students graduating. I was made responsible for the transition of two ongoing projects handed off from a graduating student and completed the lab technique training necessary to receive the projects.

I have diversified my own project portfolio by seeking collaborations with a group working in peptide nanoscience at UNC and initiated discussion and started experiments what that group.

Jiyao Hu

This summer I worked with Dr. Xiaowei Yang in the Department of Computer Science. Our project is to help cable television companies troubleshoot and locate the failures in the cable network. Currently, when an issue happened, the customers will call the cable company to report the problem. Then the maintenance staffs will go to the customer’s house to fix this issue. This approach will cost much money and time. By regularly tracking the performance of all the modems in customers’ home and the link status, we would like to build a system that finds the issues before customer detects them, as well as find the location where this issue takes place in order to save the staff’s time.

Tiancheng Liu

I submitted two papers (with collaborators) to IEEE HPEC, both of which were nominated for best student paper finalist.

The first paper, “Damping effect on PageRank distribution,” models, differentials and analyzes a broad class of network activities and propagation patterns with a novel PageRank damping model family. It also provides an efficient solution to estimate PageRank vectors and their response to damping factor changes.

The second paper, “Sparse Dual of the Density Peaks Algorithm for Cluster Analysis of High-dimensional Data,” provides a novel solution for clustering high-dimensional data surpassing the state-of-art algorithm in accuracy, robustness, efficiency, and ease-of-use.

In addition, I also presented my other work (with collaborators from the Duke University School of Medicine) at the 60th annual meeting of AAPM in Nashville, Tennessee, during the summer.

Sneha Mitra

I worked on my research initiation project (RIP) over the summer. It is a second-year milestone for the Ph.D. program in my department. The Duke Graduate School Summer Research Fellowship allowed me to stay here and work on my research. Most of my summer was spent working. I finally presented my work in August.

Tianqi Song

In the summer, I worked on my research projects with Professor John Reif from the Department of Computer Science. My research is at the interface of computer science and DNA nanotechnology. I mainly focus on developing new architectures for DNA-based molecular systems that perform computing or implement chemical reaction networks. I am also working on using my DNA devices for medical applications such as cancer detection and therapies.

Ming Yang

In May 2018, I completed the first milestone of my research initiation project (RIP)—a project proposal and public presentation to the committee. The topic of the project proposal is “Polymerase-based localized DNA Circuits.” Since the computing speed of the previous research on DNA circuits is a significant limitation. I proposed a system to investigate the polymerase-based localized DNA reaction which combines the advantages of localized DNA hybridization reaction and the use of strand-displacing DNA polymerases.

In the next three months, I started to experimentally confirm whether polymerase-based localized DNA reactions on a DNA track are faster than simple DNA strand displacement reactions. I got training in DNA purification, DNA sequence design, cell culture, and so on.

Yuxi Yang

Thanks to the Summer Research Fellowship, this summer I spent two months doing my research initiation project, which is a network measurement project. This project was inspired to solve the breakdown of the Duke campus network. We managed to develop a tool to detect the network condition by sending out network packets and measure the packet loss rate with Python.

We first tested our tool on the Duke campus network and drew a topology of our network, and we achieved some interesting result. Then, we transplanted our tool on PlanetLab nodes and completed a distributed experiment. This was the first time I did research on network packets. In that process, I acquired a lot of knowledge on TCP and IP protocols and learned how to read and summarize literatures. I am really grateful for the great support the Summer Research Fellowship offered me. Thanks again.


Cultural Anthropology

Can Evren

I traveled to Turkey and continued my research on sports and nationalism by working in various libraries and archives there. I worked in Bogazici University Library, the Ataturk Library, and the Beyazit Library in Istanbul as well as the National Library in Ankara.



William Cioffi


Photo: A black-capped petrel (Pterodroma hasitata) in the gulf stream.

Thanks to the support of The Graduate School I was able to spend a significant time in the field this summer. With colleagues, I traveled offshore Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, looking for short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) as well as Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris). While the latter might be quite abundant off the coast of North Carolina, they can be very cryptic, spending very little time at the surface in between deep foraging dives that can last over an hour. Photographs can be used to identify individual animals in both of these species and we can use these to track individual life histories. In addition, we were employing several types of biologging instruments to record movement patterns, dive behavior, and vocalizations of these animals.

Back on land, as part of another project, I was also able to spend some time in the laboratory. I worked with some undergraduate students to prepare cetacean samples from several different species for stable isotope analysis. This type of analysis can be used to infer information about migration and foraging by looking at the atomic composition of different tissues in the body.

Photo: A black-capped petrel (Pterodroma hasitata) in the gulf stream.

Sarah Loftus


Photo: Experimental algae cultures in an incubator at the Duke Marine Lab.

This summer I conducted lab experiments with marine algae. My experiments applied the agricultural practice of crop rotation to algae “crops,” which grow in seawater instead of soil. I tested the effects of the leftover water from one algae species (after the algae were “harvested”) on the subsequent growth of other algae species. This practice of reusing the cultivation water makes algae production less expensive, which can improve the economic viability of algal biofuels and other algae products. Algae growth results from these experiments, combined with data collected on bacteria and dissolved organic compounds, will help determine potential mechanisms behind algae growth responses in recycled water and whether crop rotation is a viable strategy for cost-effective algae cultivation.

Photo: Experimental algae cultures in an incubator at the Duke Marine Lab.

Jeanne Shearer

During summer 2018, I performed the analysis and write-up of a manuscript on the diving behavior of Cuvier’s beaked whales off the coast of North Carolina. This manuscript was just submitted for consideration in Royal Society Open Science. This involved an analysis of dive depths, durations, and surface intervals for different dive types and provides new information about a little-studied, deep-diving species of marine mammal.

Jillian Wisse


Photo: Ph.D. students Jillian Wisse and Joe Fader conducting fieldwork this summer. Cameras are a field essential, as individual whales can be identified by unique markings on their bodies and dorsal fins.

Thanks to this fellowship, I had the flexibility to travel for opportunities to further my dissertation. As part of an ongoing project with the US Navy, our research team conducted experiments to assess the impacts of sonar on Cuvier’s beaked whales and short-finned pilot whales. In addition to measuring behavioral responses to sonar, we collected a number of tissue samples to assess the stress response in pilot whales. I then spent a few weeks in Charleston, South Carolina, at the Hollings Marine Lab, where I worked with a collaborator to develop a novel method for hormone analysis of these tissue samples.

Photo: Ph.D. students Jillian Wisse and Joe Fader conducting fieldwork this summer. Cameras are a field essential, as individual whales can be identified by unique markings on their bodies and dorsal fins.



Craig Fratrik

I explored extensions of my prospectus paper, which I completed in May. Based on advice from Professor Attila Ambrus, I looked at relevant papers from micro theory and used their approach to build a comparable setup in my model. Additionally, I talked with an external economist, Scott Sumner, about potential research avenues for future projects.

Chelsea Garber

This summer I continued my dissertation research on the Community Reinvestment Act and small business lending. I investigated several identification strategies to analyze the effect of fair lending regulations on lending patterns at the county level. Preliminary results suggest that the CRA may have the unintended consequence of reducing lending to certain poor communities. The topic was particularly relevant this summer as the Office of Comptroller of the Currency announced proposed reforms to the decades-old law. I look forward to following these reform efforts closely and researching the mechanism design for implementing the law in the coming year.

Aram Grigoryan

I spent most summer working on my second-year (field) paper. Additionally, I made attempts to start new research projects. For that purpose I studied the relevant literature that was suggested by my adviser. I also participated in an economics conference in American University of Armenia in June.

Amanda Grittner

This summer, I worked on three projects—my job-market paper, my paper on refugee immigration in Germany, and a paper I co-authored with my adviser on intra-household decision-making in East vs. West Germany. In my job-market paper, I use German panel data to investigate how family structure and cohabitation affects women’s labor market outcomes. The paper on refugee migration studies the integration of students with a refugee background in elementary schools in Germany and how this integration affects education outcomes of native students. I started this project last year and used this summer to revise it for publication.

Together with my adviser, I also made progress on our joint research project on work, power, and well-being of families in Germany. In this project, we use a new intra-household model to understand household’s decision making on household members’ time use and household spending. We exploit historical difference in East versus West German household to estimate this model.

Overall, it was a very productive summer. The Graduate School’s support enabled me to fully focus on my research. I am grateful for this continued support.

Yuxuan He

I took computation method courses in R, Stata, and Matlab over the summer, which really help in my research.

Leonardo Salim Saker Chaves

During the summer I used the time to develop the required tools to accomplish my thesis and which may be useful for my future after graduating. First, I learned a new software language called SAS. This software is useful to handle large amount of data. After learning this new language, I proceeded to generate an algorithm able to get information on stock trades at high frequency. This work enabled me to go deeper into the relation between volume and volatility that is already well understood at the market level but not on the cross section of stocks.

Taishi Sassano

I went to Japan to attend several seminars, such as the Economic Theory Workshop at Hitotsubashi University and the Decision Theory Workshop. It will help me come up with research questions for dissertation research.

After I got back to Durham, in July, I took two programming courses (Stata and R). As an assignment, we replicated an empirical work using the numerical method we learned. This was officially the first time I replicated a result of academic paper, so I learned a lot. In August, I basically stayed in Durham and read papers related to my research interest (I have a reading list given by a professor).

Chuhang Yin

I conducted data analysis for two papers and drafted one joint paper. I also did a lot of preparation work for analysis using the Scottish Census and drafted my job-market paper.



Rachel Gevlin


Photo: The summer’s reading for (from left) May, June, July, and August.

Thanks to the Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to devote the entire summer to researching my second chapter, which looks at adultery in the novels of Jane Austen. I spent the summer with my sister and her wife, who had their first child in July. So, while reading about English literature’s most famous maiden aunt, I occasionally gave the new moms a break and held my first nephew. This fellowship made it possible for me to complete the research for this chapter by the end of the summer, allowing me to start writing in September. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to stay on schedule in time to finish my project by next year, nor would I have been able to work solely from home in the company of my family, which—this summer more than any other—meant a great deal to me.

Photo: The summer’s reading for (from left) May, June, July, and August.

Joanna Murdoch


Photo: Singing monks including a mini-monk, found in Cambridge University Library.

The Graduate School’s summer funding allowed me to get a jump start on my dissertation research on 15th-century English penitential poetry. It was fantastic to concentrate on working up a big annotated bibliography without having to worry about scheduling conflicts with a temporary job. A major highlight was going to the UK for a week of concentrated archival work with some relevant manuscripts. I went thinking I was approaching the project one way, and I left with a totally different view on my project. Thanks for supporting my research!

Photo: Singing monks including a mini-monk, found in Cambridge University Library.

Keeran Murphy

In the summer of 2018, I had three distinct projects on which I was working. One of these was a paper presentation for the “‘What If?’: Reading Worlds of Possibility” conference at the University of Sydney in Australia. While the paper that I presented built upon the work that I had done during my first year, I dedicated a good deal of time to further developing the ideas for the paper and also refining them in order to present something of the appropriate length.

My second summer project was language-study. One of my research areas is modern Korean literature, and while I have a strong foundation in the language, it is important that I continue to improve my skills, especially my reading ability, so that I am able to work with primary texts and criticism in the original language. This study involved a rigorous daily schedule that I maintained throughout the summer, including daily news readings each morning as well as grammar drills, vocabulary memorization, and direct engagement with literary texts.

My third project was to read both primary texts and criticism in English that are important to my areas of research but which I had not been able to read during the busy fall and spring semesters. In addition to a successful conference presentation, I was able to make significant progress in both my language study and my reading.



Sean Lonnquist

Over the summer of 2018, as part of my dissertation research, I traveled to northeastern and southwestern Pennsylvania to interview people whose communities have been affected by hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). Given the highly controversial nature of fracking and horizontal drilling, I hoped to gather opinions on the riskiness of these activities, and its impacts on human health, the environment, and local economies. I also wanted to understand people’s opinions on the regulations governing shale gas development, and on the legal system as a means for seeking compensation in the event of injury.

Many of the people I interviewed live in rural areas and have been directly affected by shale gas development activities. During the interviews, I asked them to describe their experiences, which often included negative health impacts, air and water contamination, economic difficulties, and frustrations with the state government and the legal system.

Although I am only beginning to analyze the interview data, some unexpected findings have already begun to emerge.

Amelia Meier


Photo: Extracting forest elephant DNA at the Institute for Research in Tropical Ecology, Gabon.

African forest elephants are an understudied species that is rapidly going extinct due to rampant poaching. My research focuses on forest elephant social groups and movement to inform anti-poaching strategy. This summer I completed my fieldwork and continued genotyping forest elephant DNA in Gabon.

In May, the field work took me to southern Ivindo National Park to track a GPS-collared elephant named Marijo. During the expedition I recorded information on habitat use and resource availability and collected dung samples for genetic analysis.

For the remainder of the summer I worked at the Institute for Research in Tropical Ecology in Libreville, Gabon. In their lab, I extracted DNA from elephant gut cells found on the surface of the dung and genotyped the DNA (using Realtime PCR with KASP single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) probes) to determine the unique identity of the elephants that the dung belonged to. With these unique identities I will be able to reconstruct each GPS-collared elephant’s social groups. My experience this summer enabled me to collaborate with an international community of researchers, increase the technical capacity of a local laboratory, and collect data that will be modeled to improve estimates of forest elephant populations.

Photo: Extracting forest elephant DNA at the Institute for Research in Tropical Ecology, Gabon.


Environmental Policy

Robert Harris


Photo: Duke students and faculty at the World Congress of Environmental and Resource Economists in Gothenburg, Sweden (June 2018).

I spent most of my summer working on two papers: “Siting Solar PV Capacity to Maximize Environmental Benefits” with Steve Sexton and Justin Kirkpatrick, and “Using Carbon Taxes to Meet an Emissions Target” with Billy Pizer.

I presented the second paper at the World Congress of Environmental and Resource Economists in Gothenburg, Sweden. Additionally I made several advancements on this paper for Billy and I to present at a recent conference at the University of Maryland. I also used the summer to attend the Colorado Technology Primer for Economists and Social Scientists at the Colorado School of Mines and the Environmental and Energy Economics Workshop at UC Berkeley.

Photo: Duke students and faculty at the World Congress of Environmental and Resource Economists in Gothenburg, Sweden (June 2018).


Evolutionary Anthropology

Ethan Fulwood

I spent much of the summer processing scans of the teeth of lemurs to make them ready for analysis. I also spent some time scanning new teeth. Finally, I visited the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Smithsoninian, and Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History to select new specimens to borrow to bring back to Duke for scanning.

Wen Zhou


Photo: Wen Zhou (right) and two research interns, Gianna and Feruth, after a day of hard work in Zoo Atlanta.

During summer 2018, I collected data in Zoo Atlanta for my dissertation research “The evolution and development of dehumanization”. In two months, I conducted a research project that included two studies with 300 children from ages 7 to 12. The children were recruited from Zoo Atlanta’s Safari Day Camp. For the children, my research activity is seen as one of many activity options for them to participate in.

My research project focused on the influences of humanization of bonobos or wolves on children’s perception of people who are very different from themselves. Generally, people have a tendency to dehumanize those who are different and see them as “lower-level” animals rather than humans, which paves the way to exclude the different people from moral considerations. Previous research also evidenced this phenomenon among children. By investigating children in Zoo Atlanta, I aimed to investigate a possible way of eliminating this tendency, that is, humanizing the animals which are generally thought as very different from humans and teaching children the similarities between animals and themselves. The behavioral data I collected in Zoo Atlanta showed mixed results, which suggested that this intervention cannot make children view the outgroup as more human-like. However, children who learned the similarities between humans and animals will support egalitarianism more and would be more willing to share with outgroup members.

Photo: Wen Zhou (right) and two research interns, Gianna and Feruth, after a day of hard work in Zoo Atlanta.


German Studies (Carolina-Duke German Program)

Martin Dawson

During this summer I continued to work on my dissertation, completing the first chapter and conducting exploratory research for the following chapters. With this summer fellowship I was able to prolong my stay in Tübingen, Germany, where I was afforded access to the libraries of the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart, and the Deutsches Literaturarchiv in Marbach.

The region of Baden-Württemberg plays a crucial role in my first chapter, as the author I concentrate on in this chapter, Eduard Mörike, spent his entire life there. This fellowship allowed me to travel within the region to explore the various areas present in Mörike’s literary, biographic, and theoretical texts, thus allowing me to engage with these texts on a deeper level.

In addition to the benefits of these archives and international libraries, I was able to further my professional connections in this area, laying the groundwork for later scholarly collaboration and participation in international conferences. I look forward to returning to this region over the course of my studies, especially now with the confidence and familiarity I was able to develop over the summer with the help of this summer fellowship.

Emma Goehler

I worked on reading for my prelim exams and spent part of the summer in the Czech Republic studying Czech for my research at Masaryk University in Brno.

Lea Greenberg


Photo: Some northern German scenery, on an outing to Travemünde with Duke-in-Berlin students.

In the spring of 2018, I completed my preliminary exams and began moving forward to research and draft the dissertation. Due to the tragic passing of my adviser, Dr. Jonathan Hess, in April, this summer has also been a heavy transition for my work and academic community.

During the first half of my summer, I taught third-semester German for the Duke-in-Berlin program. This was a valuable pedagogical experience, as I had the opportunity to develop my own teaching materials and use the city as a classroom. At this time, I was also able to prepare my stay in Berlin during the 2018-19 academic year, when I will be based at the Freie Universität.

In the second half of the summer, I was able to devote my time to planning and researching the first chapter of my dissertation. This will put me in a good position to complete the chapter in the fall of 2018. In addition, I prepared a conference paper for an upcoming Yiddish Studies conference in Düsseldorf. I also worked on a translation from Yiddish to English of Isaiah Trunk’s Chelm story with Dr. Ruth von Bernuth. I am very grateful to The Graduate School’s financial support for granting me the flexibility to research and engage with additional projects in the summer.

Photo: Some northern German scenery, on an outing to Travemünde with Duke-in-Berlin students.

Joshua Shelly

From mid-May to late June, I chaperoned the Duke in Berlin undergraduate summer study abroad program under the direction of Susanne Freytag.  As part of the program, I taught German 101 and helped students as they made their way around Berlin. In addition to the teaching skills gained while working abroad, I spent time reading in preparation for my preliminary exams, tentatively scheduled for spring of this upcoming year.

After returning from Berlin, I went to Middlebury Language Schools in Vermont where I studied Modern Hebrew for seven weeks. My increased ability in Modern Hebrew gained from the language schools will help me access Hebrew-language texts as I prepare for my preliminary exams and begin to conduct research for my dissertation. My tentative dissertation topic will address German Jewish literature that imagines Jewish spaces, actual and imaginary. I am particularly interested in the way that German Jewish authors writing in the early part of the twentieth century used literature to imagine what Israel/Palestine might look like in the future as a Jewish state.

Leonie Wilms

During summer 2018, I worked on two central requirements of my Ph.D. program. By the end of our second year, every student has to pass an hour-long review, based on a scholarly paper written beforehand. The paper expands and reworks a paper written during the first two years of study and should be of article length. In my paper, I am planning to examine the notion of crisis in Bertolt Brecht’s “Die heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe.” In this context, I spent my summer doing research on Bertolt Brecht, the play, and some theoretical concept of relevance for my paper. The goal was to deepen and expand my knowledge on this era of German literature, especially drama and theater, as well as to develop a focus with regards to my future research.

Secondly, I dedicated part of my summer to fulfill my foreign language requirements. To this end, I took a class in French for Reading Knowledge offered at Duke. As I take a great interest in 20th century French literary theory and philosophy, the course provided me with some relevant skills to approach these texts in their original language.



Mohammed Ali

I attended “Matters of the Flesh,” a talk by C. Riley Snorton at the University of California, Irvine. I had the pleasure of meeting Professor Snorton and buying a copy of their book of the same name.

I focused on honing my writing skills through daily practice. I drafted application materials for the Critical Language Scholarship and PD Soros Fellowship for New Americans. I conducted secondary source research on Pakistan for my CLS proposal. I read more deeply into poststructuralist theory, especially writings by Jacques Derrida. I compiled a reading list on theories of the state and began writing the annotated bibliography. Finally, I studied French on my own in preparation for my foreign language exam.

Meggan Cashwell

I spent the summer of 2018 researching and writing my dissertation while curating a local exhibit. My dissertation explores the community aspects of violence in New York City during the Early Republic period. I use assault and battery and other offenses pertaining to violent conflict to uncover the ways that people interacted and approached each other. My research specifically looks at the working classes in New York, a group commonly perceived as inherently violent and dangerous. I show how these laborers used acts of violence and the subsequent adjudication of violent conflict to establish order in their personal lives and in their communities.

With funding from the Summer Research Fellowship I continued exploring criminal records from New York City, which are held by the New York City Municipal Archives in Manhattan. Given the cost of airfare and lodging, funding is imperative to my research. I used the criminal cases I located over the summer to think quantitatively about my work—drawing on additional court records to study change over time and map the areas of New York where violence occurred most often. Funding from the Summer Research Fellowship freed me from other service obligations, allowing me to finish my research, write two chapter drafts, and turn in a complete draft of my dissertation at the beginning of the fall semester. I am very grateful to the various donors who make my work possible.

Roman Gilmintinov

In my dissertation research, I study Soviet planned economy in the 1960-80s. This research requires in-depth examination of abundant archival materials kept in Russian state archives and libraries. This summer, my work was focused on inquiry of available archival and printed materials in Russia. I explored numerous collections in St.Petersburg, Novosibirsk, and Moscow. The work I have done this summer helped me to choose one particular line for my research and also to specify my trajectory through my Ph.D. program. I decided to focus on planning in Soviet coal industry specifically and its environmental consequences. Following this decision, I joined the “Coal in America” Bass Connections team collaborating with young scholars work on similar issues in the US coal industry.

Anderson Hagler


Photo: National Archive in Mexico City.

This summer I went to Mexico City to conduct archival research. This was my first time in the capital. The city was bustling with people, as might be expected in such a big place! I was not prepared for all the commotion, but it was an exciting experience. The national archive has been converted from a prison. Imagine looking at microfilm in a dark prison cell! It was surreal to say the least. Now that I am back in the U.S., I can reflect upon this valuable research opportunity with a sense of achievement.

Photo: National Archive in Mexico City.



Zhao Ni

This summer I conducted an mHealth study in a major university-affiliated hospital located in southern China. In the study, I used mobile apps to help 230 patients with coronary heart disease to better manage their health behaviors. Also, I went to Nepal for another research project titled “Developing a Mobile Phone-based Community Health Program for Hypertension Control in Nepal”.


Marine Science and Conservation

Vivienne Foroughirad


Photo: Social network of female bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay, Western Australia.

During my summer fellowship I completed analysis for my dissertation on sociogenetic structure in bottlenose dolphins in Western Australia, in which I have used the latest DNA sequencing techniques to reconstruct pedigrees and calculate relatedness between individuals in the population in order to measure reproductive success over multiple generations. I have also used this data to investigate kin recognition and drivers of social variability in this species, using advanced spatially explicit null models to disentangle the complicated fission-fusion social structure. Having this summer fellowship allowed me to devote more time to optimizing these model and to set them up as an R package (SocGen, now available on Github). Undergraduate students were then able to use this package as part of a lab exercise during the summer Marine Mammals course unit on genomics.

Photo: Social network of female bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay, Western Australia.



Chen An

I submitted a paper to arXiv and visited the Hausdorff Center for Mathematics. In June, I attended the Connecticut Number Theory 2018 Conference at the University of Connecticut. I also attended four summer schools: the CMI-LMS Research School: New Trends in Analytic Number Theory 2018 (University of Exeter, UK); the Hausdorff Summer School: L-functions, Open Problems and Current Methods (Hausdorff Center for Mathematics, University of Bonn, Germany); Summer School: Zeta Functions, Polyzeta Functions, Arithmetical Series: Applications to Motives and Number Theory ZETAS2018 (Chambéry, Univ. Savoie Mont Blanc, France); and the Connecticut Summer School in Number Theory (University of Connecticut).

Dongao Yao

I went to Beijing International Center for Mathematical Research and Technion IIT to work on projects related to determinantal point process on the sphere. I also went to Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Michigan,Ann Arbor and Northwestern university to attend summer schools in probability. For the rest of the summer I stayed at Duke to think about problems in contact process.

Yu Cao

During the summer, mostly I was conducting research on the Duke campus. I was mostly working on the mathematical aspect of dissipative quantum dynamics and preparing for a preprint, co-worked with Jianfeng Lu and Yulong Lu. The preprint has just appeared on arXiv and is titled “Gradient flow structure and exponential decay of the sandwiched Rényi divergence for primitive Lindblad equations with GNS-detailed balance.”

Also, on June 19-21, I attended a Ki-Net conference (Mathematical and Numerical Aspects of Quantum Dynamics) at University of Maryland and gave a poster presentation about Lindblad equation there.

Xiangying Huang

During May to July I was a graduate project manager of the DOmath program organized by the math department. In the program, I work with four undergraduates and the faculty members on the topic of contact process, i.e., the SIS epidemic model. Through the course of two months, we investigated a lot of interesting aspects of contact process, trying to understand its behavior on evolving graphs and Galton-Watson trees. It has been a busy program filled with dense discussions and thinking, and it was also a pleasant experience.

Chao Shen

I spent two weeks in Taiwan visiting the math department at the National Taiwan University. At the same time, I visited the Taiwan Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Taiwan Rong Zong Hospital—in particular their operation rooms and sleeping labs—to see how medical data get collected.

I also spent two weeks attending a summer school in MSRI.

Yiyue Zhang

I was working on a volume comparison problem in geometry during summer. I proved some special cases. Hence, I spent most of time reading papers, trying ideas, discussing with my adviser. I also attended a summer school in geometric analysis in Connecticut.

Dena Zhu

I attended a workshop at Queen’s University, Canada; an MSRI summer school at Berkeley, California; and a summer school at UNC Greensboro. I also visited home in China.



Maximiliano Amici

I spent almost all the summertime in the Music Building at Duke, preparing for my upcoming preliminary exams. It has been an intellectually nurturing and exciting experience. The fellowship allowed me to fully concentrate on my work.

Jon Churchill

During the summer, I began to formulate a dissertation topic in preparation for my preliminary exam this spring. After much consideration and a thorough study of the field made possible by the summer funding, I decided to examine nonlinear elements in the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams. Vaughan Williams is often considered the patriarch of modern English music, and this dissertation will provide a necessary look into some of the most enigmatic aspects of his compositional style, namely his use of nonlinear gesture. In addition to illuminating the roots of 20th century English compositional practice, it also suggests links to the more cosmopolitan European modernists, specifically Stravinsky, who is often discounted as one of Vaughan Williams--and therefore England’s--compositional influences.

When not developing a dissertation, I continued to familiarize myself with the field of neuromusicology with the hopes of developing or refining treatments for PTSD and/or dementia in the coming years.

Liz Crisenbery

With the support of a Summer Research Fellowship, I conducted research for my dissertation at the Library of Congress. I was able to locate a rare musical score for Ennio Porrino’s opera Gli Orazi through the Library of Congress’ Music Division, view different editions of libretti, and discover decades of correspondence between Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge and several prominent Italian opera composers. While at the Library of Congress, I also digitized newspaper articles including promotion and reviews of the four Italian operas which my dissertation focuses on. In addition to this archival work, I also attended the Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria. As a first time attendee, I participated in the [Foundations] Music Encoding Fundamentals and their Applications course, which showed me the potential of musical notation specific tools such as the Music Encoding Initiative.

Meredith Graham


Photo: Gate to the BBC Radio Berkshire, location of the BBC Written Archives’ Centre, Reading, England.

During the summer of 2018, I took a research trip to Reading, England, to visit the BBC Written Archives’ Centre. Currently, this archive does not scan or copy documents for patrons, so visiting the archives was imperative. In my week at the archives, I examined materials from Ralph Vaughan Williams, Herbert Howells, Grace Williams, and Elizabeth Maconchy, all British composers who lived during the 20th century. It was especially useful for me to look at the papers collected from the two women composers because many of their scores and letters held outside of the Written Archives’ Centre are still in private collection. Thanks to the summer funding, I added a new discussion of broadcasting to my dissertation, including how these composers interacted with the BBC Radio and how the BBC employed women in their regular programming.

Photo: Gate to the BBC Radio Berkshire, location of the BBC Written Archives’ Centre, Reading, England.

Eren Gumrukcuoglu


Photo: Before the premiere of my new piece for flute, piano and electronics, “Lattice Scattering,” at the Teatro Degli Illuminati.

Thanks to the Summer Research Fellowship, I had the luxury to commit all my time to composing music. While working mostly on my dissertation piece for clarinet, percussion, piano, string quartet and electronics, I was also able to afford to accept an invitation from a contemporary music festival in Citta di Castello, Italy. During the Third International ilSuono Contemporary Music Week, I gave presentations on my recent compositional output and had a new work for flute, piano and electronics premiered by Ensemble Suono Giallo.

Photo: Before the premiere of my new piece for flute, piano and electronics, “Lattice Scattering,” at the Teatro Degli Illuminati.

Jonathan Henderson

This summer I conducted interviews with key subjects for my dissertation in London. I made great connections with the record producers who I plan to study in relation to their work producing Mande music from Mali and Senegal. It was very important to have the summer funding to support my research trip.

Also, prior to my trip to London I released an album that I produced for my band, Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba. The album received many positive reviews and we celebrated its release with a Duke Performances-sponsored Music in the Gardens show in late June.

Jeremy Sexton

I took a summer course in German (preparing for an exam required for my degree program) and began the process of studying for my upcoming qualifying exams.

Cole Swanson

During the 2018 summer, I began studies in French in preparation for my second and final language exam for the Ph.D. in musicology. With the help of The Graduate School and the Department of Music, I took the Language for Reading Purposes course at no cost of my own. This course was enormously beneficial as both an introduction to a new language and as preparation for the exam. I also pursued my own research interests during the summer, including film music and sound, philosophical approaches to visual media, and the role of music in activism. Finally, I volunteered as a performer at the SECU House in Chapel Hill, a long-term residence for UNC Health patients and their families.



Jiepin Cao

I did a research practicum with Dr. Melissa Batchelor-Murphy, took a course on health disparities, applied for the pilot grant from the School of Nursing and am now working to revise the pilot study, evaluated the potential study sites for the pilot study, and worked on my systematic review for my dissertation.

Yufen Lin

I participated in a project called “Couple Communication in Cancer Patients” from Dr. Laura Porter, and I conducted my pilot study at Duke Cancer Institute. I took the Summer Doctoral Academy class “Negotiation” at the Fuqua School of Business. And I prepared for two manuscripts.

Lisa Mansfield


Photo: Lisa Mansfield presents student poster at Sigma Theta Tau’s 29th International Nursing Research Congress in Melbourne, Australia.

During the summer of 2018, I attended an international nursing research conference in Australia, where I presented a student poster. I also prepared for and completed my preliminary exam for entrance into PhD candidacy. Lastly, I began my integrative literature review and continue work on my ongoing pilot study entitled, Factors Associated with HPV Vaccine Completion in a Pediatric Clinic.

Photo: Lisa Mansfield presents student poster at Sigma Theta Tau’s 29th International Nursing Research Congress in Melbourne, Australia.

Heeyeon Son

I spent my summer to conduct the study that I proposed, titled “Parent-Child communication in Pediatric palliative, Korea”. I submitted IRB application to Duke Health and Severance Hospital (my site). I also regularly met my mentor professor to check my progress. I conducted 20 interviews with adolescents with cancer and their parents. I learned a lot about what I am planning to do, and it was great time to practice what I learned from last year at Duke. Above all, I was able to solidify what I am going to do and why I need to do this. I also submitted my integrative literature review to Pediatric Nursing (Journal). It is under review, so I am waiting the decision.

Yesol Yang

This summer I had a poster presentation at CCPS Annual Poster Fair and completed a secondary analysis of data obtained from one of my adviser’s research projects. I prepared a paper for publication and submitted one systematic review manuscript to Nursing & Health Sciences. In addition, I conducted a pilot study at Duke Raleigh clinic to test the feasibility of patient recruitment strategies. I spent a majority of my time preparing for two dissertation grant proposals. I also took my preliminary examination in the end of summer.



Lauren Bunch

I spent my 2018 summer conducting research on my dissertation project, in which I develop a novel account of authenticity and in turn use that account to explore and shed light on some areas of clinical medicine that are currently fraught with ethical questions (use of pharmaceutical “enhancements,” end-of-life care and decision-making for people with Alzheimer’s disease).

Lok Chan

I devoted my summer to the researching and writing my dissertation. Thanks to the summer fellowship, I was able to fully focus. I have completed my dissertation and successfully defended it in September.

Bryce Gessell

This summer, I was able to complete a revise-and-resubmit to submit back to the British Journal for the History of Philosophy. I also revised a paper on the philosophy of neuroscience and had it accepted at a conference to take place in October. I revised a couple of other papers which are part of my dissertation, and I began to gather materials and created documents for a future go at the job market, whenever that will occur.

Thank you to Duke for the summer funding.


Political Science

Fatih Serkant Adiguzel

I designed a survey experiment to be conducted in Turkey during summer as part of my prelim paper. After getting relevant permissions, I collected data from the pilot survey and also published the online version of the survey to get additional data and to test the hypotheses before running the field survey. I continued to work in a research project led by Professor Timur Kuran during the summer and expanded the data set with new cases. Lastly, for a joint work with another colleague, we started collecting historical data from archives.

Robert Allred

I spent the summer reading and collecting data for my preliminary paper, which I hope to incorporate into my dissertation. The subject I researched is congressional oversight of the intelligence community. The first half of the summer was spent reviewing the extant literature. The second half was mainly devoted to coding cases of congressional intelligence hearings for use in an empirical study of what drives the patterns of meetings. I have also gained access to a large database of intelligence committee member public statements and election results that I plan to incorporate into my work.

I also attended a two-week workshop at Cornell that covered various aspects of assessing military operations and strategy. This was helpful as defense policy is heavily influenced by the intelligence community and what information it can provide.

Chong Chen

In summer 2018, I mainly worked on my research projects. With the generous support by the Summer Research Fellowship from The Graduate School, I was able to revise and resubmit two of my papers while also writing my dissertation. The two papers now have both been accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals, including one in the most influential journal of my field, International Organization.

In addition to work on the revisions of my papers, I spent one-and-a-half months at Tsinghua University in Beijing as a visiting scholar. The Summer Research Fellowship enabled me to cover the high living costs in Beijing and to make connections in China. With that, I am very grateful for the support from The Graduate School. 

Haohan Chen

I spent the summer working on my dissertation project. My dissertation project examines how citizens in authoritarian regimes express their political preferences on the social media. In the summer, I continued developing my theoretical argument built on theories of political psychology regarding the dynamics of deliberation in an anonymous social network. I also analyzed a large dataset of user activity I collected previously. I learned multiple algorithms of natural language processing and machine learning by taking a few Coursera courses and applied the new tools I learned to my empirical analysis. By the end of the summer, I was about to extract information from politically sensitive contents of the social media posts in my dataset using named entity recognition and sentiment analysis.

Eric Cheng

During this summer, I wrote one dissertation and revised/submitted two articles to journals. One of the articles has since received a revise-and-submit. In addition, I prepared job-market materials.

Margaret Foster

With financial support from The Graduate School, I spent much of this summer presenting my work and building my professional network. I began the summer by presenting a piece of my dissertation work at the Society for Institutional and Organizational Economics annual meeting in Montreal, Canada.

The following month, in July, I attended a selective summer program on “organizations and their effectiveness” at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. There I was one of three graduate students, among a class of 15 junior scholars across the disciplines of economics, management, political science, and sociology. Led by an eminent economist and sociologist, the workshop participants undertook a deep-dive into the organizational behavior literature in order to fruitful points of contact between the interdisciplinary literature on organizational behavior and economics and our research agendas.

In August, I returned to Durham and continued to work on my dissertation and related projects. This work culminated in an invitation to present a novel dataset on jihadi use of the Telegram social networking site at a Pre-conference in Computational Social Science, held in Boston, Massachusetts, on the day before the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association.

Brett Gall

I worked on research papers, drafted dissertation prospectus, and collaborated with other researchers.

Ida Hjermitslev

I spent the majority of my summer on my dissertation research. I collected data for a survey experiment in Denmark and analyzed it. I traveled to the Annual Meeting for the European Political Science Association in Vienna, Austria, and delivered a presentation of my paper, “Coalition-based Inferences about Opposition Parties”. I had a very productive meeting with a member of my dissertation committee who is based in Aarhus, Denmark. I planned and conducted some collaborative work with a graduate student for UNC. Finally, I spent time reviewing my paper about the electoral cost of coalition participation, which was accepted for publication in Party Politics at the end of the summer break.

Gabriella Levy

I spent my summer mostly improving my math skills. I took Probability during the first summer session and Linear Algebra during the second summer session. These classes will help me with my quantitative work. I also spent a lot of time in an International Relations classic books reading group that met every Friday to discuss a different book.

Zeren Li

I conducted interviews with five owners of private firms, finished two drafts, and presented them at 2018 APSA annual conference.

Katelyn Mehling

I developed the research design for my preliminary procedure paper, which develops a new concept, that of social movement identity. I probe the presence of social movement identity in the general population through the use of an exploratory survey. Additionally, this preliminary project, through the use of a survey experiment, tests the willingness of respondents with social movement identities to persist in various tasks relating to traditional forms of political participation by priming that identity. I test this social movement identity treatment against a prime for the effects of partisan identity as well as a control condition.

Also during summer 2018, I developed a second research design, replicating and extending the analysis of “Investigating the President” by D. Kriner and E. Schickler, through the ongoing presidency of Donald Trump. The motivation of this project is to compare how the House Oversight Committee is handling its responsibilities in the era of Trump, under conditions of unified government, relative to the oversight powers exercised by the committee under previous administrations. Should control of the House be ceded to the Democrats on November 6, I will be able to compare oversight of Trump under conditions of both unified and divided government.

Hannah Ridge

During the summer, I focused primarily on drafting my dissertation proposal. I also converted my preliminary examination paper into a journal article and submitted it. It is currently under review. I also drafted and submitted a research note to a journal.

Diego Romero

I spend my summer in Guatemala collecting data for my prelim project. I conducted a survey of 1,070 participants in 65 “populated places” located in 56 municipalities of 16 of the 22 departments of Guatemala. The target population of this survey was Guatemalan male and female heads of a nuclear family older than 20 years old. The sample was stratified by distance to a top-10 urban area in order to ensure enough geographical variation. In my prelim paper, entitled “Unpacking Bribery: Petty Corruption and Social Networks,” I argue that the more mediated a relationship is between a public official and a citizen, the harder it is for the former to be punished for grievances caused on the latter. If, on the other hand, the aggrieved citizen happens to be more central or have a higher social status within the network, her capacity to coordinate the network’s punitive response will be greater, thereby preventing extractive bribery, and encouraging favor exchanges that may also take the form of bribery.

I will be defending this paper on the first week of December 2018.

Bailey Sanders

This summer I conducted three survey experiments exploring constituent reactions to partisan “defections” by their representatives. Two of these experiments focused on respondents’ reactions to fictional state legislators who voted against their party on education or energy issues, and were run through Amazon Mechanical Turk.

The third survey took advantage of the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh and asked respondents how they would feel if particular Senators were to vote against or for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination. Republican respondents were asked to consider the potential defection of Senators Collins and Alexander; Democratic respondents were asked to consider the potential defection of Senators Heitkamp and Manchin. I manipulated the potential reasons for a legislator’s defection: the legislator’s stance on abortion, the legislator’s moderate ideology, and the legislator’s desire to be re-elected. I am currently analyzing the results.

I also worked on revisions to a co-authored paper in which we emailed over 7,000 state legislators to determine if female legislators were more likely to respond to constituent requests (they are), and analyzed survey results from the American National Election Study from 1972 to 2016 as part of a co-authored book project seeking to place the 2016 election into historical context.

Kaitlyn Webster

This summer was busy and productive for me. I spent a lot of time on research, both solo and co-authored projects. For example, my co-authors (Chong Chen and Kyle Beardsley, also at Duke) and I significantly revised our article, “Conflict, Peace, and the Evolution of Women’s Empowerment.” We recently received word that those efforts paid off: The article has been accepted for publication at the journal International Organization. I made enough progress on another article (co-authored with Jordan Roberts) to re-submit to Conflict Management and Peace Science.

I was similarly able to use the summer to make substantial progress on my dissertation. In the first half of the summer, I worked to revise part of my dissertation and submit it to the Journal of Politics, where it is currently under review. I also presented part of my dissertation at the Peace Science Society International Conference in Verona, Italy. Presenting at this conference was part of winning the Stuart A. Bremer Award for best graduate student paper at last year’s Peace Science Society meeting.

Lastly, I am on the job market this year, so I spent a lot of time this summer preparing my job-market materials. I also used the time to prepare for my APSA presentation, especially given the job market this year.

Pei-Yu Wei

I did research pertaining to alliance politics with Professor Emerson Niou, and I started working on a research paper on the application of Latent Class Models and Item Response Theory to political science research questions with Professor David Siegel. Lastly, in terms of research, I also continued working on my project on international arbitration and intra-dyadic relations as part of the requirements for the scholarship/grant I was awarded by the Taiwanese government toward the end of the summer (in August).

Moreover, outside of research activities, I took STAT230 for the first semester of the summer, both to fulfill my course requirements and to improve my knowledge of quantitative methods for future research.

Tusi Wen

During the summer of 2018, I worked on the empirical chapters of my dissertation chapters and a paper that I presented at the 2018 APSA Annual Meeting.


Psychology and Neuroscience

Samuel Brotkin

Over the course of the summer, I worked on my empirical project, a milestone for the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program. I spent time conducting a literature review on my project examining protective factors of parents with a child living with a chronic illness. Moreover, I have had the opportunity to begin running analyses for the project, which resulted in the submission of an abstract for a poster presentation at the Society of Pediatric Psychology Annual Conference. The fellowship also allowed me to focus on advancing Dr. Melanie Bonner’s studies for publication. The fellowship allowed me to continue my pursuit towards my degree.

Emily Cherenack


Photo: My dissertation study team in Tanzania (from left): Neema, Emily (Duke Ph.D. student), Mage, Jessica (Duke Ph.D. student).

This summer, I traveled to Moshi, Tanzania, to begin data collection for my dissertation, which focuses on the types of stressors experienced by adolescent girls related to puberty and menstruation, how girls cope with stress, and the impact of stress and coping on mental health and reproductive health. While living in Moshi, I formed a local research team, conducted an extensive training on research methods, and oversaw the beginning of data collection in the field. Having time to work on my dissertation in Tanzania was essential for me to complete my research aims.

Photo: My dissertation study team in Tanzania (from left): Neema, Emily (Duke Ph.D. student), Mage, Jessica (Duke Ph.D. student).




Jessica Coleman


Photo: Field of sunflowers near Moshi, Tanzania.

This summer I worked on my empirical paper requirement for the clinical psychology doctoral program, which investigates the impact of sexual abuse on mental health among women living with HIV in Cape Town, South Africa. I submitted a poster abstract to the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies annual convention based on my findings, which was accepted for presentation. Additionally, four manuscripts that I co-authored were accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals this summer.

I also traveled to Moshi, Tanzania, with Emily Cherenack from Dr. Kathy Sikkema’s team to assist with study start-up for her dissertation. While I was in Tanzania, I also worked to develop research questions for my major area paper and dissertation and met with researchers and staff at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre. In addition, I took courses in the Duke Summer Doctoral Academy and participated in the Duke Population Health Sciences Summer Institute. Lastly, I provided psychotherapy as a trainee in the Duke Psychology Clinic. I appreciate the support from the Duke Graduate School’s Summer Research Fellowship, which facilitated my research endeavors.

Photo: Field of sunflowers near Moshi, Tanzania.

Shannon Dailey

The Summer Research Fellowship from The Graduate School allowed me to advance my research program this summer. With this funding, I was able to set up a new research paradigm for my lab, write and submit a manuscript for publication, and participate in events to give advice to young students interested in pursuing research careers.

My primary focus this summer was on running experiments. I set up a new experimental paradigm in my lab that will allow us to run new behavioral experiments with infants and young children. This project included contacting faculty and lab managers at other institutions, purchasing and setting up technical equipment, creating stimuli, and writing documentation. Other projects included running research studies for my lab, coordinating a study at an off-site location, and writing manuscripts for publication.

In addition to my work on research studies, I attended a number of workshops this summer, including a weeklong Spring Training in Experimental Psycholinguistics at the University of Alberta. I also participated in NCSSM’s “Lunch with a Researcher” event and a graduate student panel for my department’s Vertical Integration program.

Ryan Hughes


Photo: Anatomical staining of different cellular populations in the ventral tegmental area of the brain.

During the summer of 2018, I made several important advances in my research project, which included conducting electrophysiological, optogenetic, and anatomical tracing studies.

Photo: Anatomical staining of different cellular populations in the ventral tegmental area of the brain.

Namsoo Kim

Recently, neuroscientists use in vivo endoscopic imaging technique in which neural activity is monitored through a microlens implanted into a brain region. This technique is extremely difficult and requires many practices in order to get data. During the summer, I practiced this technique to master it. Every week, I implanted a microlens into a brain region and monitor neural activity. Based on the image data I had, I corrected many variables and practice it again to optimize image resolution and data quality. At the beginning of the summer, many of my attempts failed to produce data, but now I can get high-quality data from this endoscopic imaging technique and successfully monitor neural activity in vivo. The fellowship really helped me to focus on practicing this difficult technique through the summer and finally I understand it. Thanks for the Summer Research Fellowship.

Leon Li

Thank you very much for the generous support for this summer. This summer, I worked closely with an undergraduate student who is starting a senior thesis. I was a mentor for her as part of the Psychology and Neuroscience Department’s vertical integration program, which gives grants to undergraduates for summer research. We undertook two projects on children’s moral development. We piloted with many children and refined the script. We also submitted a poster submission to the conference of the Society for Research in Child Development. The undergraduate student is second author on that submission.

Kibby McMahon

I spent most of the summer preparing my dissertation project. Specifically, I recruited student research assistants, researched measures, refined the design, and collected other materials. I also spent the summer writing and submitting 6 manuscript, that are all under review in peer-reviewed journals.

Aaron Reuben

This summer I examined the long-term consequences of early-life lead exposure in a population-representative group of 579 middle-aged New Zealanders who had been lead-tested in childhood.

Working under the guidance of Dr. Temi Moffitt and Dr. Avshalom Capsi, I had previously shown that greater childhood blood-lead levels predicted cognitive decline and downward social mobility by mid-life in our sample. This summer I examined the long-term psychiatric consequences of such exposure—and found that childhood blood-lead levels also predict psychopathology symptoms across adulthood and, additionally, differences in adult personality styles.

We are the first to have shown such widespread, long-term consequences of lead exposure. Importantly, when baby boomers were born, high lead exposures were the norm, not the exception. These findings therefore have large public-health relevance.

A manuscript presenting our study and findings was submitted for publication to JAMA-Pyschiatry at the end of the summer. The journal has now suggested that they will be interested in considering a revised manuscript, which we are preparing now.

Stephanie Santistevan-Swett

It feels positive when information is easy to process. But what if that information is inherently negative? Does easy processing make that negative information feel better, or worse? These are the questions I address in my dissertation. Using negative materials such as insults, disease names, and research risks, we have conducted a variety of experiments to explore how easy processing affects judgments. The short answer: The picture is more complicated than we thought! Thanks to the generous support of the Duke Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to spend the summer conducting my final experiments and writing my dissertation.

Stephanie Schuette

I spent the summer of 2018 performing preliminary data analysis and preparing the manuscript for my second year project, which will contribute to my master’s degree. My project examines the relationship between interoceptive awareness (internal awareness of bodily signals), emotion awareness, and emotion regulation coping strategies. The Summer Research Fellowship allowed me to spend time conducting an extensive review of the literature on this topic, which has proved invaluable for understanding the scope of my study and how best to interpret my results. Since this time I have had two poster presentations accepted to conferences this fall, at which I will share the work I’ve done with the broader contemplative science community.

Wouter Wolf

From late April to June, I collected data for my study with chimpanzees at the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Uganda. In July, I presented a poster at the International Congress of Infant Studies in Philadelphia and gave a talk at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society in Amsterdam. The rest of the summer we finished up data collection for our child studies. Once we had all the data, I spent the rest of the summer preparing my major area paper, designing a new study for next semester and write up two papers that are currently up for (re)submission.

Brenda Yang

Summer 2018, I made progress on several research projects that were very close to getting to a publishable form. I submitted my first sole first-author paper, “Testing as a Learning Tool,” which applies principles of cognitive psychology to educators and students in pharmacy schools. I also successfully submitted and published a paper in the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition and submitted a revision to another paper in the journal Political Behavior.

I also collected new data on one of the projects I’m most excited about, which is a collaboration with a (recently graduated) undergraduate student. We collected several new rounds of data, including hundreds of subjects via an online platform and about 100 on-campus participants. To support these studies, we applied and received two research grants through the IBRC this summer as well. My summer fellowship allowed me the flexibility to apply best research practices to this project, which included making our data cleaning and analysis transparent and reproducible and revamping our file management to be consistent and understandable by others—“dull” but essential new practices I was excited to implement. We plan on publishing this research in several empirical papers, the first draft of which we were able to complete by the end of the summer


Public Policy

Laura Bellows

During summer 2018, I worked on several projects related to my interest in immigration enforcement policies and student achievement and attended a new weeklong workshop on research methods for studying migration sponsored by the Russell Sage Foundation at UC Berkeley. As a former fourth-grade teacher, I have longstanding interests in educational disparities between different groups of students. I am interested in how the rapid increase in immigration enforcement during the last decade has impacted educational outcomes, particularly for students of Hispanic immigrant parents.

This summer, I particularly made progress on my first paper, “Immigration Enforcement and Student Achievement: the Negative Spillover of Secure Communities.” I use the staggered activation of Secure Communities across counties between 2008 and 2013 to measure its impact on average achievement for Hispanic students, as well as non-Hispanic black and white students. My results suggest that the implementation of Secure Communities decreased average achievement for Hispanic students in English Language Arts (ELA), although not in math. I also find that Secure Communities negatively affected the performance of non-Hispanic black students in ELA. This paper has been invited for submission to the AERA Open special topic issue, “Research Using the Stanford Education Data Archive.”

Maria Carnovale

This summer I have been preparing the application material for the job market in the fall. I have been writing my job market paper, cover letter, as well as research, teaching and diversity statement. I have worked on my own website following the advice received from Dr. Hugh Crumley in the Graduate School workshops. I have also presented at the IGLP conference at the Harvard Law School.

Emily Pakhtigian


Photo: This is a picture from my presentation of preliminary hydro-economic modeling results to stakeholders in Kathmandu, Nepal.

This summer I spent time doing fieldwork, attending a conference, writing a handbook chapter and other papers, and working on data acquisition, funding applications, and literature reviews for my dissertation chapters.

I spent two weeks in June in Kathmandu and Dhangadhi, Nepal, meeting with governmental and local stakeholders regarding a hydro-economic modeling project in Western Nepal. I presented preliminary results and discussed extensions of the work with these stakeholders. At the end of June, I spent one week in Gothenburg, Sweden, attending the World Congress of Environmental and Resource Economists. I had the opportunity to present one of my papers at this conference and received helpful feedback. This was also a valuable networking opportunity, as environmental economists from around the world were in attendance.

When I was not in the field or at the conference, I worked on several papers including a handbook chapter that will be published in October. I also spent time working on my dissertation. Specifically, I submitted several grant applications for dissertation fieldwork; worked on data acquisition, cleaning, and preliminary analysis; and wrote preliminary parts of two of my dissertation chapters.

Photo: This is a picture from my presentation of preliminary hydro-economic modeling results to stakeholders in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Nivedhitha Subramanian

The main focus of my dissertation is an experiment that I am conducting in Lahore, Pakistan, to study the barriers that young educated women face when making labor supply decisions. This summer, I made significant progress on the project by accomplishing three main undertakings.

First, I designed the baseline survey, including vignettes to measure willingness-to-pay for gender-related workplace attributes, that participants take before the experiment begins. Second, I spent a month in Lahore. During this visit I deployed the baseline survey. It was crucial to deploy the survey starting at the tail end of the summer and the beginning of the fall, when students are starting their final year of study and beginning to prepare for the job market. Through the visit, I was also able to gain direct experience with women working in Lahore, as I witnessed the enthusiasm with which coworkers approached their careers and the dearth of women in public spaces compared to men. Third, I conducted a successful focus group with educated women who are actively searching for jobs and learned from them the role that their families make in their labor supply decisions.

I am grateful for the significant progress which the Summer Fellowship allowed me to make on my dissertation, which has accelerated the pace at which I am able to implement my experiment during the academic year.


Religious Studies

Adam Booth


Photo: Adam Booth (right) performs the Eucharist at a symposium in Berkeley, California, in August 2018.

My main academic work for the summer was preparing for my preliminary exams, which will allow me to take them a semester ahead of schedule, making timely completion of my dissertation more feasible. In addition, I participated in a symposium on the dual vocations of teaching and scholarship in the life of the priest-professor, presenting a paper titled “St. Paul the Father/Mother/Orphan as a model for the Priest scholar-teacher.”

Photo: Adam Booth (right) performs the Eucharist at a symposium in Berkeley, California, in August 2018.

Brad Boswell

I spent my summer wrapping up translation work on my dissertation’s focal text, “Against Julian” by the fifth-century bishop Cyril of Alexandria. I began that translation at a Byzantine Greek program in Athens, Greece, in the summer of 2017 through the support of a Summer Research Fellowship. In July of 2018 another Summer Research Fellowship enabled me to travel to Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC, for a “pre-doctoral residency” to work with the same professors of Byzantine Greek who helped get my translation underway the previous summer.

Cody David

I learned French for reading purposes and took the French exam. I also read a lot of Biblical Hebrew (two-thirds of the book of Isaiah and a portion of the Psalms), in order to work toward passing my Hebrew exam, which is a requirement of my program.

Emily Dubie

This past summer, I conducted 13 interviews for my dissertation research, designed a course for undergraduate students, and worked on an essay for publication. The interviews were with Christian social workers in the Durham area to supplement interviews I had already conducted earlier in the year. I asked them about how they related their religion and their work, especially in their ethical decision-making. I heard a lot about burnout and compassion fatigue, as well as spiritual practices. During the summer, I also worked on transcribing and coding these interviews.

In addition, I tightened up a syllabus of a class that I will teach this coming spring, called “Activism & Christianity in Modern America.” Finally, I spent a fair amount of time preparing an essay for submission to an academic journal. 

Jeffrey Nicolaisen


Photo: Bao-an Confucian Temple in Taipei.

With the support of the Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to focus exclusively on writing two dissertation chapters during the summer. In the first chapter, I develop a concept of “first religions” and “second religions.” The word for and concept of religion did not infiltrate Chinese society until debates, idol smashing, and confiscation of temples at the beginning of the 20th century. The “first religions” were monotheistic religions, and the “second religions” were Asian teachings, including Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. The process of remolding the teachings of China into “religions” involved a reconfiguration of society culminated in a 1929 law on the supervision of temples, which put Daoist and Buddhist temples at risk of confiscation by the government.

In the second chapter, I provide a detailed analysis of the law on religion in contemporary Taiwan, the heir to the laws of the Republic of China. A 2004 high court decision declared the 1929 law on the supervision of temples unconstitutional for discriminating against Buddhism and Daoism. A new law on religious organizations to replace the old law is in the process of being drafted, so the concept of religions is still in the process of being invented today.

Photo: Bao-an Confucian Temple in Taipei.

Zexi Sun

During summer 2018 my main goal was to prepare for the language exam and to pursue publication for one of my papers. I first took the summer class on French offered by The Graduate School, which helped me—a total beginner in French—to get prepared for the incoming exam. Thanks to the opportunity of concentrated study I was able to pass the exam a few weeks after finishing the class. Similarly, this focused time of study also saw the completion of several writing projects. One paper, which is on the Chinese theologian T. C. Chao, was accepted for publication by a major academic journal for the coming year. In sum, with the support of Summer Research Fellowship I was able to concentrate on fulfilling my goal for the summer, for which I am deeply grateful.

Nathan Tilley

I spent the summer living in Washington, DC, developing my skills in reading Syriac, an important language for the study of early Christianity. Knowledge of Syriac is crucial to my research because a number of understudied texts transmitting Greek philosophy into Arabic underwent Syriac translations or exist in the context of commentaries. Moreover, knowing Syriac helps me to engage with the increasingly interdisciplinary and multi-lingual world of late antiquity beyond the tradition bounds of Greek and Latin. The Catholic University of America’s Institute for Christian Oriental Research provides opportunities to study target languages in the early Christian east such as Syriac.

Along with translating and analyzing texts in Syriac, we took advantage of the Institute’s exemplary collection of manuscripts to look at physical Syriac manuscripts and learn to read the various scripts. The summer fellowship allowed me not only to take a course in the language, but also to spend time getting to know the various language librarians (Coptic, Syriac, Georgian, Armenian, Ethiopic, etc.). The connections to their faculty and library are invaluable, and the technical skills gained by experience with their manuscripts offered me opportunities that can only be found in a few places in the United States.

Erin Zoutendam

This past summer, I attended a course for reading theological German at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. Along with about 20 other students, I read excerpts from several German theologians and heard lectures on German scholarship in biblical studies and theology. I was also able to travel to several church history sites in Germany, including several of the Lutherstädte (Luther cities). Back at home, I worked on a paper that I will be giving at a conference this fall and revised a term paper to submit for publication.


Romance Studies

Pietro Bianchi


Photo: The archive of the “Cineteca Nazionale” in Rome.

I spent the summer doing research in film archives between Rome and Paris. My dissertation, titled “The Restlessness of the Imaginary: psychoanalysis and genre cinema in Italy and France in the 40s and 50s,” is focused on popular genres of Italian and French cinema before and after the Second World War.

In particular I worked at the “Cineteca Nazionale” in Rome searching for films of the Italian Colonial years (1936-1941) for a chapter of the dissertation and for a class on “Italian Colonial Cinema” that I’m currently teaching in the Department of Romance Studies. Most of these films are not available in digital copies and they have rarely been screened in movie theaters in recent decades (almost never outside of Italy). The “Cineteca Nazionale,” the biggest film archive in Italy, aims at preserving what in most cases are the only copies left of these incredibly interesting films.

During the summer I managed to see fiction and documentary films from a very delicate and under-known period of Italian history. Italy—which lost all of its colonies during the Second World War—is rarely remembered as a colonial power, even though the brutality and violence of its occupation of Ethiopia, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia was not second to anyone. These films are extremely important documents of an Italian colonial past that is all the more urgent to remember.

Photo: The archive of the “Cineteca Nazionale” in Rome.

Cristina Carnemolla

This fellowship gave me the opportunity to present at two international conferences this summer. The first one was the INCS 2018 Supernumerary Conference “Measure and Excess,” which was held in Rome on June 13-15. The second one, “Mediterranean Europe(s). Images and Ideas of Europe from the Mediterranean Shores,” took place in Naples (July 4-6). Both conferences gave me the opportunity to get to know scholars in my research field, specifically 19th Century literature and Mediterranean Studies.

In addition to preparing my talks for these conferences, I spent the rest of my summer studying and reading for my preliminary exams.

Achille Castaldo

I spent the summer mostly in Bologna, working on the last chapter of my dissertation while also interning at the State Archive through the Versatile Humanists at Duke program. I also did some follow-up research for my previous chapters’ revisions. In the final part of the summer I started working on my job-market applications and on future research plans.

Camille Chanod

During the 2018 summer, I pursued my readings in preparation for the portfolio examination and the dissertation prospectus I aim to take at the end of my second year (spring 2019). My research focuses on the discrepancy between sound and image in French and Italian movies, and more generally on the images’ interval as a sensitive experience of history and memory. This summer, I traveled to France and Italy. There, I was able to work on some resources at La Cinémathèque française to examine the materials of filmmakers such as Jean Eustache or Chris Marker.

Kathleen Maxymuk

Thanks to the 2018 Duke Graduate School Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to significantly advance on the preliminary stages of my dissertation. The scholarship first afforded me the time to prepare well for my time abroad. I began with intensive research of the materials available to me at Duke in late spring and early summer. In July and August, I traveled to Paris, where I was able to begin on-site archival research at the Cinémathèque française. The Duke Summer Fellowship helped me to fund this travel, as well as purchases of research materials such as books and DVDs.

Anna Tybinko

During the summer of 2018 I used my research funds to travel to Madrid, Spain. Through a series of interviews, I was able to establish an affiliation with the Romance Studies Department of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid for this fall semester. I also set up the possibility of affiliating with a mentor in CSIC, The Spanish National Research Council—one of Spain’s most prestigious institutions and a hub for immigration research which is the topic of my dissertation. This is my “fellowship year” to conduct research prior to the write-up phase. However, without these affiliations, access to important archives—and the necessary student visa to stay long-term—it would have been nearly impossible. Thank you!

This fall, I will continue to gather data on African immigration to Madrid, including volunteer work with NGOs that enter the CIEs (immigration detention centers) to monitor conditions and report human rights infractions. This is crucial perspective for my work on the bordered city.



Nick Bloom

I designed and began recruitment for a study exploring patient decisions about where to receive treatment. After designing the study and obtaining IRB approval, I spent dozens of hours in the Duke Cancer Center, recruiting patients in collaboration with Duke oncologists. I also presented an existing paper at the American Sociological Association’s annual conference and continued work on my dissertation, which uses large-scale Medicare claims data to explore patient decisions about treatment.

Josh Bruce

The 2018 Summer Research Fellowship enabled me to spend the summer focused on two important goals. First, I worked with co-authors to revise and resubmit a manuscript, which was ultimately accepted for publication and was circulated in the National Bureau of Economic Research working paper series. Second, I prepared my job application portfolio and attended the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management (AOM), where I presented a paper from my dissertation research. An abridged version of the paper was selected for publication in the AOM Best Paper proceedings.

Molly Copeland

This summer, with support from the Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to make significant progress on several research projects. I completed a new study examining long-term mental health correlates of adolescents’ social networks, which I presented at the International Network for Social Network Analysis conference in June. I revised the first two chapters of my dissertation that examine how adolescents’ social positions among peers relate to depression and self-harm. I also presented the second chapter at the Annual Sociological Association meeting in August, and now both papers are again ready for journal submission. I submitted another paper, co-authored with a fellow sociology grad student, to a top networks journal, and completed analyses and first drafts for a new project examining teen friendships and suicidal thoughts in the Middle East. I’m excited to send this summer’s work out into the world for review, and thankful for the opportunity provided by the fellowship.

Joshua Doyle

During the first part of the summer 2018 I revised and resubmitted my master’s thesis paper to Social Science Research. The paper was published in the middle of the summer. I then analyzed the data for my first dissertation study where I investigate the relationship between perceptions of trustworthiness and cooperative behaviors. I collected this data using an experimental game on amazon mechanical turk. I then collected the data using the same method for my second study which I am analyzing now. Based on the first two study I designed the third study for my dissertation, which I am now running in the IBRC labs at Erwin Mill. This study is funded using an IBRC research grant.

The Summer Research Fellowship also gave me the time to attend the Diverse Intelligences Summer Research Institute as a graduate fellow at the University of St. Andrews, where I developed a project to study attitudes toward automation with another fellow from the University of Washington. At the end of the summer I attended to the American Sociological Association annual meeting in Philadelphia. I would have not been nearly productive without the summer fellowship. Thank you.

Christina Kamis

During this past summer I worked on preparing my second-year paper for publication. My second-year paper studies the impact of having a parent with mental health problems during one’s childhood on one’s mental health trajectories in adulthood. In this study I find that while having any parent with mental health problems in childhood is detrimental to one’s adult mental health, being exposed to more severe cases of parental depression/anxiety or longer exposure to this stressor is particularly problematic.

In addition to my own work, I spent some of this summer starting a co-authored paper with another graduate student that examines the parallel growth processes of spousal depression and alcohol use. Having summer funding this past summer was such a privilege, and allowed me to devote my time to furthering these important projects!

Allison Stolte

With the Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to focus on my preliminary exams. The exams required the exploration of two literatures to get a deeper understanding of those literatures and begin to develop research questions and culminated in two papers. The fellowship also allowed me to work on the Chinese Immigrants in the Raleigh Durham Area research study. I gained experience managing a survey using various modes (web, in-person, and telephone). I am excited to continue work on this project through this academic year.

Zimife Umeh

During this summer, I conducted 25 semi-structured interviews for my dissertation research. I followed this with initial coding and analysis of the data gathered during the interviews. I also attended a one-week training program for qualitative research methods in Chapel Hill.


Statistical Science

Alexander Mang

This summer, I researched dynamical systems with Professor Sayan Mukherjee. I met with co-collaborators, and most essentially, read many papers on dynamical systems. Otherwise, I also was a project manager for a Data+ team, and I helped the team members produce good work and ultimately both get internships over at Duke Office of Information Technology.

Jiurui Tang

I did research about record linkage with Professor Jerome Reiter. I first went through some of the literatures in this field, and then implemented a record-linkage model in one of the recently published papers myself. After fully understanding that model, we started to build a hierarchical model for record linkage problems. We tried to overlay a simple regression model on top of the linkage model using simulated data set, hoping that the information contained in the regression model could help us get better record linkage results.