Summer Research Snapshots 2019
Summer is a crucial time for Ph.D. students to advance their academic and research pursuits, whether collecting samples or exploring archives, learning another language or preparing for preliminary exams, uncovering potential research topics or putting the final touches on their dissertations. Each year, The Graduate School awards hundreds of Summer Research Fellowships—made possible by gifts from alumni and supporters—that provide important funding that allows Ph.D. students to focus on making progress toward their degrees during the summer months. Here is a look at some of the student endeavors supported by those fellowships in summer 2019.
During the summer of 2019, I traveled to Paris to continue working on the archival research for my dissertation. My research focuses on the developing market for funerary monuments following the Napoleonic burial reforms of 1804. Considering the role and reputation of marbriers (stonecutters) as the primary producers of these monuments, this project is concerned with everyday commemorative practices in 19th-century Paris. This summer, I had the opportunity to consult the private archives of the Sté. Le Roy Bouillon, a funerary monuments company that has been family owned and operated since the 1830. These archives offered valuable insight into the daily business operations of funerary stonecutters from the middle of the 19th century to the present day.
Photo: Page from the logbooks of the Sté. Le Roy Bouillon (April 1895).
This summer I devoted my time to accomplishing two academic tasks. First, I carried out bibliographic and on-site research related to my thesis “The Art of Reuse: Kouroi Fragments in the Context of Ancient Greek Sanctuaries.” Second, I participated in the study of Roman portrait statuary from the Athenian Agora.
Initially, at the beginning of summer 2019, I conducted fieldwork in the Athenian Agora (Greece) as a member of a new archaeological project. This project is led by Professor Sheila Dillon and its aim is to study and publish the Roman-era portrait statuary found in the Athenian Agora. This summer I worked on portraits of youths. Also, I visited for the first time the sanctuary of Apollo on the island of Despotiko (Greece). The study of an assemblage of around 60 fragments of kouroi (archaic marble statues) from this sanctuary is a basic component of my dissertation. Since none of the sculpture remains on the site, I went to the archaeological museum of Paros to see some fragments that are on display there.
After Paros I visited the ancient marble quarries of Naxos. This is an important site for those who study archaic sculpture, since many statues were made with material originating from Naxos. Among the most important archaeological spots in the quarry are the two gigantic kouroi that still lie abandoned in situ a short distance from each other.
Finally, I undertook bibliographic research in the library of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.
Photo: Unfinished marble statue of a young, naked man of supernatural size (height: 5.5m). Date: 570 BCE. Ancient quarries of Naxos, Greece
From July 1 to August 22, I attended the Intensive Chinese language program at the Mandarin Training Center at the National Taiwan Normal University in Taiwan. My comparative study of Taiwan, Korea, and Japan requires the reading knowledge of Chinese traditional characters as well as the methodology of oral history. Therefore I found it useful to have the immersive language training. In addition, I took the Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language - Huayu (TOCFL), which tests knowledge of the Chinese traditional characters.
My summer research fellowship helped me make significant headway in the analysis of the Anglophone Chinese writer Lin Yutang (1895-1976) and his works of cultural criticism. Lin was an especially influential voice of Sino-Western inter-cultural understanding on both sides of the Pacific. I worked closely with his book My Country and My People (1935) as a part of my research into the complex and ideological process of negotiating the concept of traditional Chinese culture as a modern expression of humanism. The support of this scholarship accelerated my process of connecting Lin’s texts with the art of emigre Chinese artists who sought recognition and audiences in the Western art world.
Photo: The cover of Lin’s My Country and My People (1935)
During this summer, I spent most of my time on campus working on my research project. At the same time, I was truly honored to participate in the Biological Sciences Undergraduate Research Fellow program to mentor a Duke undergraduate student for her summer research project in our lab. It was her first laboratory experience and there was a lot of fun training her, discussing science, and doing experiments with her together. Our lab also hosted two international visiting undergraduate students from Turkey this summer. I was a mentor of one of these two. The lab was a bit crowded but we were glad that our science and training philosophy got disseminated and would possibly inspire more future researchers.
For the lab work, I organized my collections/specimens and revived my fungal culture that were left unattended during the semester. I also conducted DNA extraction for sample I need for my dissertation. For traveling, I visited my former lab in Academia Sinica, Taiwan. I went to annual meeting of Mycological Society of America to present my current work. For field work, I spent 10 days with a postdoctoral researcher and our Slovakian collaborator collecting across Wisconsin and Michigan to re-collect specimens from their type locality.
Photo: Walking in Wisconsin forest to collect fungi
I spent my summer working in the lab here at Duke and gathering preliminary results for my dissertation. I also began writing my preliminary document to prepare for my exam, coming up in December. I am gathering data on population level variation in a local insect species, Entylia carinata. They are part of an incredibly diverse family of insects called membracids, and the Entylia carinata species has been my study system to better understand how these diverse structures evolve.
I spent part of the summer trying to set up an experiment to see how nutrients of host plants impacts the development and shape of pronotal forms. The experiment is still being developed as the host plants proved to be particularly difficult to grow in manipulated soils. Currently, I am working with the Duke Greenhouse to try and grow host plants to use in this experiment. I spent another part of the summer doing geometric morphometrics on Entylia carinata, quantify their shape. I presented the findings of these measurements in a poster at the Pan-American Society for Evolutionary Developmental Biology conference in Miami. I am hoping to present the results of my host plant experiment at The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in January. None of this would have been possible without assistance from the Duke Graduate School, as this funding was used to support my stay in Durham. Many thanks!
Photo: One of one hundred animals used for geometric morphometric analysis
I spent the entirety of the summer conducting field work in Hawaii for my dissertation research. I returned to field populations I began studying in 2017 and conducted censuses to measure growth, survival, and reproduction of plants over the last two years. I also planted reintroductions of species in my study genus (Schiedea) that are critically endangered, conservation efforts that I will be following through time as part of my research. These plantings established three populations of over 200 mature plants in a species that has fewer than 15 plants surviving in the wild. I compared the performance of wild and reintroduced plants to their local environments and quantified the impact of interactions with alien species and climate.
I was also able to visit remote field sites at night to collect and identified previously unknown moth pollinators of rare Schiedea species. The work I did this summer while funded by the Summer Research Fellowship allowed me to continue to conduct detailed field research in wild and reintroduced populations—it is essential to my research have extensive time to measure the same individual plants in the field over several years.
Photo: One of the hundreds of Schiedea adamantis planted as part of my summer research. These plantings are critical in conservation efforts, as there are only 14 wild Schiedea adamantis left in the world.
In May and June, I traveled to South Africa and Namibia to conduct research on lichens (fungi living in an obligate symbiosis with algae or cyanobacteria) and endophytic fungi (fungi living inside asymptomatic plant tissue). While the main project was to sample endophytic fungi from a diversity of hosts and ecoregions to better understand the global diversity of these species, I was also there to continue some of my previous work on South African lichens. I collected many samples of the genus Graphis for one of my dissertation projects, a revision of that genus for South Africa.
I also had the chance to visit the site where around a dozen lichen species described in the 1860s were originally collected. Although the exact collection locality was not specified in the original paper describing these species, I was able to determine the most likely site with archival research. Upon revisiting the site, we found many of the same species reported in the original paper. Now that we are confident in the search area, additional surveys can be conducted to look for all of the species described in that 1868 paper, many of which have not been recorded from anywhere else in the world not seen in South Africa since their description. Toward that goal, I visited the herbarium at the Irish National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, in July in order to examine the original specimens from that 1868 paper.
Photo: Ian Medeiros, on the happiest day of his life, posing with Welwitschia mirabilis. Photo courtesy Reinaldo Vargas Castillo.
Carlos Pardo De la Hoz
My summer work funded by the Duke Graduate School revolved around two research projects. The goal of the first one was to develop a computational tool to measure specialization in species interactions using phylogenetic information. I presented preliminary results of this project at the 43rd New Phytologist Symposium in Zurich, Switzerland. By the end of the summer, I had finalized a first draft of a manuscript describing the approach and I am now in the final stage of preparation for submission to the journal Current Biology. The goal of the second one is to understand the drivers of associations in mutualistic interactions using an extensive samplig of cyanolichens from the Canadian province of Alberta. During the summer, I standardized a protocol to obtain amplicon sequences from hundreds of specimens using next generation sequencing technologies. This procedure will be central to the data gathering for my several of my dissertation projects.
My project aims to discern whether differences in genome copy number and/or reproductive mode may allow certain species of Australasian ferns (Cheilanthes) greater flexibility, and permit successful long-distance dispersal. However, the need for a better resolved phylogenetic tree for Cheilanthes is still central to the project, as it will allow us to assess parentage as well as ascertain relative age of different lineages and whether some lead longer evolutionary lives. The funding provided by The Graduate School was essential in completing this goal, as it allowed me to visit the NMNH to work alongside Drs. Kathryn Picard and Eric Schuettpelz to design the sequence capture baits necessary for this aim. Research is ongoing, with data collection still happening.
I am very grateful to The Graduate School for supporting me over the summer, during which time I was able to present my research at an international conference and further work on my dissertation research. Throughout the summer, I spent most of my time in the Duke Greenhouse, growing every species in a genus from the evening primrose family, Clarkia, in order to produce a phylogeny for the genus.
Clarkia is a small genus (with 42 species) that is endemic mostly to western North America, and many of the species serve as a model ecological and genetic system. The genus is in dire need of an accurate species-level phylogeny, and my work over the summer has gotten me one step closer to that goal.
In June, I was also able to present my work at the joint society conference Evolution, hosted in Providence Rhode Island. The meeting was an incredible experience to get feedback on my work and to learn about what other exciting research is currently underway in my field. My summer was very productive, in both extending the scope of my research and in the development of my career, and for that I am thankful that I was supported by The Graduate School’s Summer Research Fellowship.
Photo: In the greenhouse with various species of Clarkia
I spent the first part of the summer inspecting inscriptions dating to the Roman imperial period (27 BCE to 284 CE) at a series of Roman military sites and relevant archaeological depots in Austria and Britain. My dissertation focuses on the lives of slaves and ex-slaves of Roman soldiers. Funerary epitaphs are our richest source of information on these enslaved individuals. I combined my work in various depots with visits to the archaeological sites that had produced such epitaphs, such as the legionary fortress Carnuntum (Austria) and the installations along Hadrian’s Wall (Britain). Meetings with several archaeologists working at these sites were particularly illuminating. Equipped with new data and a deeper contextual understanding of the slave inscriptions, I was able to complete during the latter half of the summer my dataset of inscriptions for the third chapter of my dissertation.
Photo: Along Hadrian’s Wall (Britain)
During the summer I worked on the manuscript of my second paper “Predict and Match: Prophet Inequalities with uncertain Supply.” In this paper, we study a problem in online decision making and optimal control. Our work is ready and under submission now. In addition, I presented my first paper “The Segmentation-Thickness Tradeoff in Online Marketplaces“ in ACM Sigmetrics conference in Phoenix at the end of June. We published a two-page abstract in the Sigmetrics conference and the full version of the paper is also published and available online in POMACS journal.
This summer, I explored a network project about security and privacy of internet-of-things (IoT) devices. Nowadays, IoT devices are attractive to hackers and most of them are easy to hack. Unlike traditional personal computers and cell phones, IoT devices lack computing power and proper security controls which might be due to its design principle. I monitored the network traffic to discover anomalies and malfunctions of IoT devices.
This summer, I continued working on my Research Initiation Project about Polymerase-based localized DNA Circuits. I conducted experiments exploring how fast polymerases speed up DNA chain reactions. In the meantime, I also conducted simulation experiments to simulate Polymerase-based DNA chain reactions.
This summer, I put my efforts to enhance my contacts for the upcoming long-term fieldwork, and to educate myself on public discussions of disaster-induced low-dose radiation exposure. Thanks to the fellowship from Duke Graduate School, I was able to work with two organizations—one advocating for the environment and the other children’s health—at a deeper level as a project member. Specifically, I helped plan a series of interviews for a project that aims to publicize ongoing effects of the TEPCO Fukushima nuclear disaster toward the 2020 Olympics, and arranging socializing events for the families who are living amidst chronic exposure to low-dose radiation.
Above all, these pursuits provided me with opportunities to closely examine “normal life“—the core concept of my research project. The contacts and findings made throughout this summer led me to look anew at the tension between the discursive (life as talked about) and the performative (life as lived). I am grateful to be able to conduct this research, and will continue my study with careful attention to what it means and takes to live, or make life livable, amidst chronic exposure, for child-rearing, middle-class, unprotected families in Fukushima Prefecture.
I spent the summer living in Israel/Palestine, taking three months of intensive Hebrew language courses in at a private language academy in Tel Aviv and another month carrying out my own research on the production and use of Israeli surveillance technologies in the region. I was thankful to have support from The Graduate School to spend a sustained amount of time honing in on my language training. My Hebrew progressed enormously, which will only augment my research in the region throughout the remainder of my time in the Ph.D. program. I was also grateful to have an additional month to carry out some of my own research. I was able to narrow broader interests into a coherent research design. I look forward to returning to the field next summer to continue with language training and research.
This summer, I utilized the Summer Research Fellowship awarded by the Duke Graduate School to conduct two months of follow-up research for my dissertation research in northern Uganda. My work focuses on the trajectories of young people in a post-conflict space, and this summer was used to follow up on a number of individuals I have been working with over the years. Part of my work is with current and formerly incarcerated youth, and the follow-up is especially important for this group. As these young men and women are released back home to their communities their lives profoundly change, and being on the ground as frequently as possible is an essential part of this research. With the help of the fellowship, I spent my summer traveling throughout the region to rural homesteads and prisons to reconnect, interview, and spend extended time with the individuals and communities I have built relationships with during my previous dissertation research period (2017-2018).
This summer I was able to spend a significant time in the field thanks to the Summer Research Fellowship. I traveled to Isla Guadalupe off the coast of Baja California to participate in a field effort studying Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris). This species is the focus of my dissertation here in North Carolina and so I was excited to observe a different population and learn from the researchers working there. The plan is to complete the exchange and have some of the folks working at Guadalupe come to North Carolina in the near future to observe the population here as well.
When I returned from the West Coast, I also participated in a field effort here in North Carolina, off the coast of Cape Hatteras. We were looking for short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) as well as Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris). We used a couple of different types of blogging instruments to collect data on diving, movement, and acoustics.
Photo: A white-tailed tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus) flew past while we were scanning for whales in July.
This summer I used my summer research funding for field training and developing analysis methods for my dissertation. I spent two weeks in Sarasota, Florida, as part of the Sarasota Dolphin Research Project, tagging and tracking animals. Working with the tagging team as a small group on a much larger project was very rewarding and a great way to learn about how these large field projects function successfully. In addition to receiving practical training on tag programming, deployment, and tracking in the field, I was able to watch how the leadership team handled the logistics of a 100-plus-person field project and learn from some of the leaders in the field.
Later in the summer I spent most of my time working on writing the code for the analysis of my own dissertation data in preparation for this winter’s field season. I am working on analyzing the data from our pilot project last year and making sure the data streams we collected are the most efficient for analysis. This work will prepare me to collect the bulk of my dissertation data this winter.
First I went back China after my qualification exam. Then I went to Madrid to work on a project with my advisers at CEMFI. After that I came back to Duke and started my summer courses.
This summer I’ve been scrambling to finish my job-market paper. At the beginning of summer, I changed track slightly to write about municipal debt and regulatory changes after Dodd-Frank instead of medical device taxes. I attended the Brookings Eighth Annual Municipal Finance Conference, where I got some really good feedback on my idea and developed confidence that my topic will be a workable job market paper.
I worked on my job-market paper that investigates the effect of local immigration enforcement on domestic violence victims’ help-seeking. This involved modifying my data analysis, collecting information from agencies that work with domestic violence victims and revising the draft of my paper. I also presented my work at the Institute for Labor Economics Summer School. There, I met other Ph.D. students from across Europe and the U.S. who do research in labor economics. It was a great opportunity to get feedback and to exchange ideas.
This past summer, I worked on my dissertation research and a joint research project. I prepared and submitted my field/prospectus paper for publication. This paper studies how algorithms use variables to maximize predictive power at the cost of group equity. I also collected and began to analyze data for another project on the effects of predictive policing.
In July, I had the opportunity to attend the Summer School on Socioeconomic Inequality in Bergen, Norway. There, I attended lectures and also presented a research poster. Thanks to funding from the Duke Graduate School, I was able to focus on my research and have a very productive summer.
Eun-Seok (Ian) Lee
I studied programming courses such as Python and STATA, and also studied for qualifying exams for the economics Ph.D. program. I passed all three exams of microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics. In addition to this, I also read and researched several papers to find my specific field in macroeconomics. The scholarship helped me study my major without any concern concerning living.
Thank you so much for your help.
I prepared myself for the marketing job market and finished my job-market paper. I attended job interviews in Chicago and did a flyout to Melbourne, Australia. I am expecting to get an offer soon and use my early efforts to finish up my dissertation for graduation in May.
I spent most of my summer in Durham. Thanks to the fellowship I could support my staying in town, which in turn allowed me to have frequent interactions with my adviser and get started on the paper that I have to write by December. It was an important part of my formation, as many people stayed around during the summer and, without all the requirements of the semester, it was possible for me to share my ideas and research progress more easily.
Thanks to the fellowship I was also able to briefly visit home in Italy and “recharge my batteries“ before the beginning of the semester. Visiting family and friends is extremely important for me to keep a balance between Ph.D. student work and personal life, thus helping me to stay healthy throughout the coming semester!
During the summer of 2019 I presented my two papers at two different conferences. One paper that I am working on with a fellow student Alessandro Villa is almost complete and we submitted it to a journal. I also worked extensively on my job-market paper, where I wrote the first draft and submitted it to multiple conferences.
During summer 2019, I attended an international summer school in Cardiff, Wales, got started on my dissertation research and writing, and presented my work-in-progress at the 27th annual conference of the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism. The Summer Research Fellowship was an invaluable resource, and thanks to it, I am on schedule for completing my first chapter and hopefully getting started on my second chapter by the end of this academic year.
Photo: The “Raymond Williams and Romanticism” roundtable that I attended at NASSR.
The fellowship I received this past summer from The Graduate School made it possible for me to research and write a draft of the final chapter of my dissertation, “The Space in Between: Middle Passage Movement and Black Women’s Writing.” This project examines critical and creative renderings of the Middle Passage by black women writers from Tobago, Barbados, and the United States to show how their works develop a more expansive language to describe the Middle Passage by illuminating the movements that emerge in the wake of this forced migration. The chapter I drafted with The Graduate School’s support, “Crawling | Crawlspaces: Afterlives of Slavery,” posits crawling as a critical praxis in Toni Morrison’s novel, Beloved, that connects the infant ghost to a wider network of 19th- and 20th-century black women and children who relied on this type of movement to inch closer toward the possibility of freedom.
I was fortunate to be able to participate in The School of Criticism and Theory in June and July. It is a six-week program hosted by Cornell University that brings together graduate students and professors with a shared interest in theory. Attendees of the school stay in Ithaca and attend a series of classes, symposia, and lectures offered by scholars of various humanistic backgrounds and home institutions.
Attending the event exposed me to some of the latest trends in the field of theory, which I was able to discuss with like-minded colleagues from universities all over the world. I was also glad to have the chance to enjoy the scenic beauty of Ithaca and Cornell University.
Photo: Beautiful Beebe Lake, Cornell University
I completed a chapter of my dissertation, and then distilled that 25,000-word chapter into a 10,000-word article, which I submitted to a top journal in my field.
I researched, wrote, and submitted to my adviser a first dissertation chapter. I have recently workshopped that chapter with her, and scheduled my first chapter meeting for November. I also revised and resubmitted an article to a top journal in my field (Iter Academic Press at the University of Toronto) and had it accepted for publication in 2020. This article will likely become the second chapter in my dissertation, keeping me on track to graduate within five years from my start date.
Thanks to funding from Duke Graduate School, I was able to focus primarily on my dissertation research this summer. I pushed my first chapter into a submittable manuscript throughout the course of the semester. I also carried out field work in South Carolina, where part of my dissertation takes place. This involved ongoing monitoring of dataloggers and sensors and field repairs. I am managing a Bass Connections project this fall, and this required some planning over the summer in terms of student recruitment, technical training and literature review.
I spent the summer writing my dissertation.
This summer, I worked in Shanghai for a research collaboration that looks at people’s averting behaviors to local air pollution. The project aims at studying the behavioral responses to pollution by analyzing residential electricity consumption data and mobile tracking records of outdoor activities. I was able to finish the main analytical part of the project and to engage in writing a manuscript for the findings. I presented some of the findings in Camp Resources, an environmental economics conference, in early August.
I first finished the Micro qualifier in early June. In early August, I learned a new program language, Python, by taking the class offered by Duke. In mid-August, I attended the Berkeley/Sloan Summer School in Environmental and Energy Economics.
I used part of the funding to cover my travel expense for the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists 2019 Summer Conference. This two-day conference was held at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, on May 30 and 31. It was a good opportunity for me to discuss and communicate with other environmental economists on the cutting-edge research. I presented my working paper about “Knowledge Spillover and the CDM: Evidence from China” at the conference.
I dedicated my summer to research as well as preparation for my preliminary exams, which I will be taking in March 2020. The preliminary examination is a milestone in our Ph.D. program. It entails designing two reading lists with approximately 70 items: a field list and a research list. The field list is supposed to cover a broader literary field, movement, or epoch, whereas the research lists is meant to focus on a more specific topic that will serve as the basis of the dissertation project.
Over the course of the summer, I decided that both of my lists will focus on modern and contemporary drama and theater. While the field list centers on questions of performativity and the text, the research list examines explosive emotions (such as rage, fear, or love) in German-language texts of the 20th and 21st century. Choosing these topics and developing research questions as well as selecting relevant texts and reading them formed the central activity of my summer research.
At the end of May, I was able to attend the annual workshop of the International Society for Nietzsche Studies, which took place at Brown University. There I presented an essay on Nietzsche’s concept of taste and its role in his value theory more broadly. The workshop was a great opportunity to meet with some of the leading Nietzsche scholars and share my work. The essay will be published in a forthcoming issue of Inquiry along with the other essays from the workshop.
I was also able to spend the summer revising my MA paper on the Romantic physicist, Johann Wilhelm Ritter, in which I examine his literary writings along with his scientific practice in order to consider his place in the history of objectivity as a scientific ideal. I submitted the revised article to a journal and am happy to say that it has been accepted and will be published in a forthcoming issue of The Germanic Review.
The remainder of the summer was spent preparing for my qualifying examinations, which I will take this academic year.
During the summer I started doing research for my dissertation prospectus and drafting my prospectus, revised an article to be published in a journal in my field, and worked as a program assistant for the Duke in Berlin summer program.
Thanks to the generous support of the Duke Graduate School, I was able to devote my summer to research and writing of my dissertation. I worked primarily at the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin to complete a draft of my second chapter on the Yiddish-German theatre of the late 18th century. I also was able to participate in the Leo Baeck Summer University at the Selma Stern Center for Jewish Studies, a two-week seminar that was an invaluable opportunity to meet fellow graduate students and senior scholars in the field from both Germany and the States.
Thanks to the generous funding of the Duke Graduate School, I was able to complete research and establish a draft introduction to the second section of my dissertation on 19th-century dramatic satire. The overall project looks to satiric dramas as a forum for hidden debate about public life when this was impossible elsewhere due to censorship. In my summer research, I was able to trace and narrate a history of the relationship between theater censors and their censored targets in the 1820s, ’30s, and ’40s as akin to a guerrilla war, wherein the interactions between authors and police was colored by conspiratorial activity and reference to a “war” of ideas fought out with the “weapon” of jokes. I was able to combine the political writings of radical authors with the musings of such conservative thinkers as the famed Prussian general Neidhart von Gneisenau and the protocols of the German Confederation and their censoring agents to offer a holistic picture of the period and genre in question. With this research completed, I am now finished with one of the final major revisions I had to undertake before finishing the project as a whole.
I spent the summer in Berlin, Germany conducting research for my dissertation. While conducting research in the Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Unter den Linden, I also actively participated in a dissertation colloquium at the Universität Potsdam, where I presented my research. My presentation at the colloquium was an early draft of the paper that I will present at the German Studies Association Conference in Portland on October 3-6, and the comments from my German colleagues were very helpful in furthering my research and helping me to consider the impact of my literary analysis in new ways.
During summer 2019, I was abroad in Tübingen, Germany. At the start of the German summer semester, I participated in Professor Dr. Robert’s and Dr. Droese’s research-oriented “Blockseminar” or short-format course on Cotta’s “Morgenblatt,” a 19th-century periodical which had its roots in Tübingen. In May, we spent a day learning how to research at the German Literature Archive in Marbach and presented our findings in a mini-conference. Throughout the semester I attended Prof. Dr. Robert’s graduate seminar, which culminated in a daytrip to the University of Heidelberg to meet the German department there. We also met frequently outside of class for dinners and outings with colleagues, which meant that I got to experience and understand aspects of German academic culture that extend beyond the classroom.
The network of scholars I met via this seminar is extensive, including a fellow exchange student from Ireland—a welcome expansion to my academic world! In addition, I was part of a creative writing course in German offered by Dr. Dagmar Leupold. By reading and critiquing my and the other students’ work, I was able to engage with the German language in a non-academic way, learning how to express myself more adeptly (a skill that will certainly transfer to academic writing). In addition, I completed the edits to my chapter on Karoline von Günderrode, which will be published in a forthcoming volume on women poets in early 19th-century Germany.
Photo: Rainbow of Reclam Books at the German Literature Archive in Marbach
I spent my summer preparing for the writing proficiency review that will be conducted at the end of my second year. My chosen topic is in a field that I lack experience in and required substantial background reading to effectively grasp the historical and current theoretical threads of discussion. I was able to dedicate time to the reading of primary and secondary texts that have shaped my understanding of the period and the literature. My focus for the work is on the Middle High German texts “Iwein” and “Erec” and deals primarily with the literary and moral implications of forgetting in an oral society.
I began summer 2019 in Berlin, where I worked with the Duke in Berlin summer exchange program as a program assistant. Following six weeks in Berlin, I returned to the United States, where I continued to read in preparation for my first dissertation chapter. My reading consisted largely of early Zionist and proto-Zionist literature from the mid- to late-19th century. At the end of the summer, I researched and drafted part of an article I will be publishing together with Lea Greenberg of the Carolina-Duke German Program and Professor Ruth von Bernuth in a forthcoming, peer-edited volume in honor of Jonathan M. Hess.
My dissertation utilizes the lens of prostitution to examine the intersection of race, class, gender, and sexuality in 19th- and 20th-century Charleston, South Carolina. I am interested in the way that the selling of sex in Charleston not only impacted human interactions, but also led to the construction of legal codes, societal norms, and even the city itself via the regulation of space through personal property and businesses.
This summer I traveled to Washington DC to conduct archival research at the National Archives. The National Archives holds thousands of courts-martial cases from the Civil War, including over 1,300 tried in Charleston. I spent a week traversing some of these cases to glean insight into the kind of behavior that led to military discipline for soldiers and sailors in and around Charleston, and widened my net to include cases tried outside the city. This allowed me to contextualize the social landscape of Charleston during the chaos of the aftermath of the Civil War, and to place crimes tried there within a broader understanding of courts-martial cases in the United States at large.
My favorite find was a court-martial case brought against a Union officer who attended a boxing match in Charleston, visibly drunk and in uniform, in the company of three well-known prostitutes. Testimony in this case revealed that the Union army kept tabs on local prostitutes in a joint effort with city officials to regulate sexual activity.
Photo: The research room at the National Archives
This summer, I conducted research to support a paper I am writing about Myra Bradwell. In July, I reviewed Myra Bradwell’s correspondence housed at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. In August, I explored the archive at the Frances Willard House, which houses records of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Movement. I also visited the University of Chicago’s Special Collections Research Center where I studied the Ida B. Wells papers. I also started a summer writing group on Duke’s campus where a group of graduate students met two times a week to work on accomplishing our goals for the summer.
During the summer of 2019, I went to Istanbul on a research trip. My prospective dissertation examines the role and activities of the Communist Party of Turkey within the Cold War. While in Istanbul I conducted research in the Presidential Archives and the Social History Research Foundation of Turkey Archives. In total, I was able to acquire around 3,000 pages of state and communist party documents. I was additionally able to find printed sourcebooks and secondary literature that is difficult to find in the United States. While there are many more archives in Istanbul and Ankara, this research trip provided the opportunity to begin collecting materials for my project.
I rented an apartment with a colleague in Kadıköy on the Anatolian side of the city. While there, I realized that there was a language school down the road. I took advantage of this and was able to take a few weeks of Turkish classes. As Turkish is my primary research language, living in the city and taking classes was incredibly helpful. While language learning never truly ends, I feel much more comfortable with Turkish. Hopefully, I will continue my language training and research in Turkey again next summer.
Photo: State Archive Building in Istanbul
I was able to conduct archival research for my dissertation project both in the U.S. and Mexico. I visited the special collections of the Sophia Smith Library at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. There, I found fascinating documents and audio recordings about the history of birth control in 20th century Mexico. Once in Mexico, I visited Mexico City’s archives, finding interesting materials about family planning and the development of demography in the country from the 1960s to the 1970s.
Photo: Access to the Special Collections at the Smith College
This summer I went to Castries, St. Lucia, to do some exploratory archival research in preparation for my dissertation. I visited the Central Library, the National Archives Authority of St. Lucia, and the Government Information Services in search of 18th- and 19th-century primary source material relating to slavery and resistance on the island. Unfortunately, the Folk Research Centre, which housed the material I was looking for, burned down last year and the non-digitized copies of what I needed were in London. I was able to do quite a bit of networking with local historians, who were able to give me additional source material. They also helped point me in the direction of small collections of 18th- and 19th-century Eastern Caribbean materials that I could look for before going to London.
This summer I stayed in Durham to prepare for my third-year exams. I also traveled to Port-at-Prince, Haiti, to conduct research and interviews with Haitian radio show hosts. I would visit their stations, ask questions about the history of their program, and figure out how their work impacted the fall of a dictatorship in Haiti. I was there for three weeks.
With support from The Graduate School’s Summer Research Fellowship, I spent most of my summer writing. I worked on chapters on the American Friends Service Committee’s and the Maryknoll Sisters’ relief missions to Korea in the 1950s. I developed those chapters into papers which I presented at the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and Society of Historians of War Conferences. I also conducted a small research trip at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia.
I spent the summer researching for the two research seminars I am taking during my second year. I traveled to two cities and read through primary sources that I would not have had access to if I had not been there in person. Also, during one of these trips, I was able to stumble upon a topic that may become my dissertation topic.
This summer, I spent four weeks at archives in England: the Parker Library, the Bodleian Library, the British Library, and the Lambeth Palace Library. At these archives, I studied over 20 manuscripts essential to my dissertation. Most of the manuscripts were Anglo-Norman chronicles, historical narratives written in the 12th and 13th centuries. Examining the physical manuscripts gave me a much more informed sense of the genre of chronicles, particularly the way these texts were written collaboratively and then used by primarily monastic communities. I was also able to analyze decorative elements that added to my analysis of documentary culture.
Outside of this research trip, I spent time reading edited versions of some of these chronicles. I also read court records from Anglo-Norman England, particularly the pleas of the crown. A key goal of my dissertation is to put narrative sources in conversation with legal sources. My research this summer laid the foundation for me to do that, and to analyze the cultural intersection between emotions and law in 12th- and 13th-century England.
With the help of this fellowship, I spent two months of the summer in South Korea completing a 200-hour Korean language intensive at Seoul National University. Between classes and living in downtown Seoul, I improved my daily communication skills, formal presentation skills, and reading comprehension, which will help me continue my research on Korean literature.
Additionally, I had the opportunity to travel to Gwangju, South Korea, to conduct some of my own research on the 1980 Gwangju People’s Uprising. I visited several memorial sites in the city and the May 18th National Cemetery. I also visited the 5.18 Democratic Archive, which functions as a museum and an archive and is inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World project. Because my research on traumatic memory concerns its institutionalization and spatialization, physically visiting the public memorial sites and city was integral to my understanding of this event. I hope to incorporate what I learned from this visit into a paper I am writing about memory relating to Gwangju in public spaces versus in literary representation.
Photo: The 5.18 Democratic Archive allows visitors to send postcards, and displays meaningful postcards left behind with no addressee under the heading, “Letters that could not be sent.” One such postcard reads: “I am sorry. I did not know. I am sorry. I will remember.”
Being financially supported by The Graduate School Summer Research Fellowship enabled me to accomplish writing this summer that I would not have been able to do otherwise. From end of semester in May to early June, I spent most of my time preparing a conference presentation that won a “best graduate student paper prize” through The Irigaray Circle, a feminist philosophy organization which meets annually. I delivered the paper as the Karen Burke Memorial Lecture at George Washington University during the “Diverse Lineages of Existentialism II” Conference.
After the conference, I spent the remainder of June finishing revisions for an article submission to philoSOPHIA, a journal of transcontinental feminism on philosophical alliances between American Pragmatism and feminisms of sexual difference. In July, I turned back to my dissertation and spent the month recrafting my second chapter, incorporating feedback from two committee members, with whom I was able to meet.
I began reading and researching for my third and fourth chapters in August and ended the summer with a complete draft of my third chapter. I am returning this fall to Duke poised for submitting an article to Hypatia: A Journal in Feminist Philosophy on the question of the relationship between racial and sexual difference, in addition to striving for finishing a rough draft of the full dissertation by the end of the semester.
Increasing attention is being placed on quantifying cumulative, sub-lethal impacts on cetacean populations, including increased energy expenditure from swimming faster to avoid boats. To understand dolphin movements during boat approaches, we rely on digital archival DTAGs, which are temporarily attached to the dolphin’s back by suction cups. Working with the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program in Florida, we deployed DTAGs on eight dolphins, and tracked the locations of the tagged dolphins and any boats that approached the animals. We will recreate the boat and animals’ tracks, as well as combine behavioral and habitat parameters, to determine how the dolphins’ response (measured via DTAGs) changes with the type of vessel approach.
To get from activity to energy expenditure, we need activity-energetics calibration experiments. Our team spent two weeks at Dolphin Quest, an accredited zoological facility in Hawaii, where we worked with dolphins that voluntarily wore DTAGs, swam set laps underwater at a range of different swimming speeds, and breathed into a respirometer that measures energy expenditure. Together, these studies will help us estimate the proportion of a dolphin’s daily energy budget that is used to avoid vessels, and ultimately, whether vessel approaches may prevent dolphins from meeting their daily energetic needs.
Photo: Swim trial experiments at Dolphin Quest enable estimation of energetic costs of boat disturbance in wild populations
Thanks to this fellowship I was able to spend the summer of 2019 preparing for nine months of fieldwork and data collection in southern Tanzania. This included translating interview protocol and other research documents into Kiswahili, revising data collection techniques, and organizing all field logistics for my dissertation research.
The pursuit of human wellbeing is one of the primary goals for society and sustainable development. As governments across the world plan to increase the size and number of protected areas to halt biodiversity loss, they have also committed to cutting poverty in half by 2030 under the Sustainable Development Goals. While the importance and complexity of the relationships between the environment and human wellbeing is widely recognized, the relationship between the two remains poorly understood.
My research is examining how small-scale fisher’s wellbeing, with a particular focus on relational values and place identity, is affected by the implementation of Marine Protected Areas (MPA). I’m working to better understand how MPAs transform one’s relationship with the marine environment, with specific livelihood resources, and across human communities in Tanzania.
Photo: Mnazi Bay Ruvuma Estuary Marine Park, Mtwara Rural, Tanzania. A group of young boys heard their livestock across marine park beaches.
Kevin (KC) Bierlich
Thanks to support from the Duke Graduate School’s Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to finish and submit for publication an open-source photogrammetry software that another graduate student and I have been working on. The software, MorphoMetriX, was originally designed to measure whales from images collected with a drone (for my dissertation), but can be applied to other animals/objects. The software is available at https://github.com/wingtorres/morphometrix.
I then used MorphoMetriX this summer to make over 3,350 different measurements of 45 individual Antarctic and dwarf minke whales for a morphometric comparison between these two understudied species. This work will help establish a baseline to help better monitor these populations in the rapidly changing Antarctic ecosystem. I also used MorphoMetriX to measure the body condition of blue whales off the California coast in a collaborative project with Stanford University where we are testing the hypothesis that the leader of a pair is in worse body condition compared to the one trailing in the pair.
Additionally, I was able to design an experiment and finish data collection for one of my dissertation chapters quantifying the error and accuracy of making photogrammetric measurements using different drones and sensors.
Photo: Measuring an Antarctic minke whale using MorphoMetriX, the open-source photogrammetry software I co-created.
This summer, I primarily focused on completing the editing and proofs on my first chapter, which was just published in Aquatic Conservation, and the data analysis for my second chapter. I also began writing my second chapter and it is about half complete, along with presenting the results at a conference on participatory mapping in Finland (see slides). The research was really well received, which was encouraging, and I am making progress putting together the final publication. Besides this, I published a short popular science piece and wrote a grant proposal for the Smith Conservation Fellowship.
I used the Summer Research Fellowship to finish writing my dissertation. I successfully defended my Ph.D. on July 16, so it was a very successful summer.
Results from our previous work indicate that drag on right whale is comparable to its irregular outline. Accordingly, in this study, we aimed to investigate the changes in drag on right whales with diverse body forms and estimate their kinematic costs. To obtain measurements of drag over right whales under various body conditions, we undertook computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations on several static right whale models reflecting different body fitness (e.g., normal condition, emaciation due to entanglement or low prey availability, and pregnancy, etc.) and measured multiple fluid dynamics parameters such as boundary layer thicknesses and types, drag, drag coefficients, and other forces on the animals. The construction of right whale models with diverse body shapes and all CFD simulations were completed during summer 2019.
Photo: Particle pathlines showing flow velocities around left pectoral flipper of the 3-D North Atlantic right whale model. Warmer color indicates higher flow velocity.
During summer 2019, I helped organize Summer Workshop in Mathematics targeting high school junior students for two weeks. I also focused on post-preliminary research for the rest of the summer and went on some family trips.
From May 13 to 17, I went to the NSF-CBMS Conference: Mathematical Molecular Bioscience and Biophysics, where I gave a poster presentation, attended lectures, and got to know some interesting ideas and directions of research in mathematical biophysics.
From May 20 to July 12, I served as a graduate project manager of the DOmath program organized by the Duke math department. In the project, two faculty members, two undergraduates, and I worked on the dynamics of floating plates on thin films. We investigated the effect of simple floating objects on thin film flows by modeling the systems, doing the analysis, and making numerical simulations. Specially, we examined how the presence of the object changes the speed of the flow, and how pairs of objects interact via the flow under different situations. We began the project with daily meetings to explain the background and bring undergraduates to the door of the real project. After the first two weeks, we meet twice or three times a week to discuss how to revise and solve our models. It was a great experience—I shared my knowledge and learned much from the project as well.
I passed my oral qualifying exam by reviewing several textbooks and references. I also started my research with my thesis adviser by first doing literature reviews.
I completed a manuscript for my research project extracting information from biomedical time series. I visited the Fields Institute at the University of Toronto for a conference called “Systems Modeling in the Pharmaceutical Industry.” I also completed a research project which aims to detect heart contractions in electrocardiograms. The manuscript is under preparation. I began a project which aims to classify heart contractions as physiologically normal or abnormal. Finally, I made further progress on my thesis.
This summer I mainly worked on and tried to wrap up a long research paper joined with my adviser that was initiated a year ago. I also spent time reading papers relate to Optimal transport and Wasserstain barycenters to get myself prepared for my next research project.
I spent one week in New England participating a Mathematics Workshop ‘Stochastic Spatial Models’. Most of my summer is then filled with this project and two other ones (one with my adviser at Duke and another one with my collaborator in Peking University).
During the summer, I kept working on solving eigenvalue problem through neural network, and the fellowship was used to cover my basic need of living such as rent and dinning. The fellowship is important to me because I do not have other source of income. I should thank The Graduate School for providing me the fellowship.
I had discussion with my mentor every week. We made great progress during the summer. Firstly, the numerical example worked because we adjusted the sampling method to make it more efficient. We also successfully proved that our algorithm guarantees that the results is a good approximation of the true eigenvalue and eigenfunction. Now, we are moving to non-linear eigenvalue problem, which is more challenging.
After my preliminary exam, this summer I started several projects, some of which are short-term and some are long-term. I have written a proposal for an archival research in Basel, Switzerland. The trip will take place in winter between the semesters, and this archival research will be a source in my dissertation.
I also started to write my dissertation this summer. Since the research is an interdisciplinary one, I consulted resources in the fields of literature, linguistics and anthropology, in addition to musical analyses and resources in musicology. By the end of the summer I had the first version of one-and-a-half chapter. Also, a conference abstract was written related to the chapter. The paper was just read in a joint-university student conference “The South Central Graduate Music Consortium” in September held at Music Department of Duke University. The abstract and the paper will be further revised for future international conference. In addition to my Ph.D. dissertation, I also took some time to tidy up an article based on my master’s thesis, seeking an opportunity to publish or read in a conference.
In the summer of 2019, I composed the opening chapter of my dissertation entitled “Rupture as Rhetoric in the Symphonies of Ralph Vaughan Williams.” I am undertaking the first sustained inquiry of the composer’s symphonies in terms of rhetoric and various disruptions in harmonic, rhythmic, and thematic registers. Due to my Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to reframe one of Vaughan Williams’s most popular symphonies and illuminate previously undiscussed approaches to formal construction, thematic presentation, and symphonic tradition writ large. I was able to research and compose new prose for the entire summer without need for outside employment, and, in addition to my chapter, have a variety of excised material suitable for forthcoming journal articles or conference presentations.
Furthermore, I readied an older project focusing on mathematical groundings of Danish modernist compositions for conference presentations in the coming year. My varied research interests contributed to a number of external grant applications, which I also began this past summer. With the aid of Duke’s Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to further my own academic pursuits and position myself for greater achievements in the coming years.
With support from the Summer Research Fellowship, I continued my ethnographic research into Mande musicians living here in North Carolina, interviewing key subjects about their perspectives on the history Mande music and experience as griots living in North Carolina. I researched changes in US tax code and visa policies that are making prospects of US tours for West African artists ever more unlikely. I also continued my own work as an artist, working alongside longtime collaborator Diali Cissokho to write and record new music, as well as composing new music for Paperhand Puppet Intervention’s 20th annual summer show.
Photo: Performing on stage with Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba
The Summer Research Fellowship allowed me to take a French reading class in order to become more proficient at reading French sources for a translation exam. After the exam, the ability to read French sources will help me in my studies about early jazz. In addition to taking this class, I was able to finish liner notes for an album I recorded in May. The album focuses on collegiate bands in the 1920s; I could set aside hours to collaborate with my co-writer in order to edit the prose we had already written. I also worked on a conference paper that I will hopefully give in the spring. With the time I had left, I could read a variety of books in my field and explore future research topics.
This summer, I attended three music festivals, including Nief-Norf Summer Festival (Knoxville, Tennessee), After-MAF 2019 (Roanoke, Virginia), and Weekend of Chamber Music (Jeffersonville, New York). Attending music festivals is very helpful for young composers to build their career. At music festivals, one has the opportunity to further polish one’s musicianship, network, and have one’s music be heard by a larger group of audience. Aside from attending festivals, I also started my research for the upcoming qualifying exam, and I wrote four pieces of music in the summer as well. I am very grateful to receive the Summer Research Fellowship, and I would not be able to fully concentrate on career-related events without this valuable financial support.
Photo: Performance of my piece “It’s Faraway” at the Nief-Norf Summer Festival.
Over the summer I executed a concert tour with one of my longtime performance partners, Alissa Roca. We performed in Durham, Fort Myers, Baltimore, and Dallas to a total audience of over 400 people across the performances. While we were ultimately able to recoup our travel expenses, the Summer Research Fellowship was instrumental in allowing me to pursue this venture. (Listen to samples from one of the Dallas performances)
Additionally I had multiple compositions premiered including at the International Clarinet Association Conference in Nashville, the International Double Reed Society Conference in Tampa, and at the International Horn Symposium in Belgium. These premieres have led to a further commission for soprano, clarinet and piano to be premiered at Emporia State University, as well as an oboe and wind ensemble concerto to be premiered at Florida International University, so I began work on these projects over the summer.
I also attended the Weekend of Chamber Music Festival as a Chamber Music Immersion Fellow. At this festival I engaged in various professional development opportunities from working with renowned chamber musicians to discussing how to build a successful festival with the directors of the festival to taking lessons with Anna Weesner and Harold Meltzer.
Finally I spent a significant amount of time preparing for my German language exam to fulfill a requirement of my Ph.D. program.
Photo: Poster used for marketing of my concert tour.
Summer 2019 was a very productive time for me. I had the opportunity to focus on my composition while traveling around the world, resulting in composition of four brand new pieces. I traveled around 31,000 miles driving and flying to 25 cities in 8 countries and had 17 concerts in total, including 7 world premieres of my music by a number of world-renowned ensembles and orchestras. I also participated in four international music festivals, including ReMusik (Russia), Synthetis (Poland), TCMF (Iran), and Ostrava Days (Czech Republic).
During the trip I took to my home Tehran in Iran, I was invited to teach three workshops in new music, contemporary notation, and 21st-century music phenomenology. I was also interviewed by a few music journals in Iran, including The Music Report and Art and Experience.
My music was released on three albums during the summer, two of which were various artists collections released by such renowned record labels as Parma Recordings, YMG Records, and Petrichor Records. I think the best advantage of my busy summer full of traveling, intense composing, performing, and teaching was to meet so many wonderful and inspiring musicians and artists from around the world.
Photo: August 31 world premiere of my brand new piece “Aposynthesy” for chamber orchestra in the Ostrava Days New Music Festival, written for the Ostravska Banda and conducted by Lilianna Krych at the Janacek Concervatory in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
The majority of my summer was spent preparing for the musicology track’s qualifying exams, which were conducted August 21-29. In my preparation, I read the entire Oxford History of Western Music (Taruskin) to review the relevant canon of major works, the development of musical style from ca. 1000 to the present, and the evolution of historical thought surrounding music. I also explored other sources (including books, chapters, and articles) by other authors to gain more specific knowledge regarding key figures, genres, and concepts.
I also performed in the pit orchestra for the Justice Theater Project’s run of the musical “Caroline, or Change” by Tesori and Kushner. In addition to performing the entirety of the run, I served as the assistant to the conductor and a vocal coach for the cast.
With the help of the Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to finish near-final drafts of three different papers, which I expect to be able to submit to journals before the end of spring semester 2020. It will be a huge help for me professionally and was very important in being able to advance toward my degree.
And of course, I played a lot of Smash Ultimate.
I prepared for my prelim and wrote a chapter that could potentially be included in my dissertation, which is about the Stoics’ and the Zhuangists’ views about the role of emotion in a good life. I also revised a paper entitled “flow and wonder in the Zhuangists’ ideal of wandering,” which is accepted by the History of Philosophy Quarterly in its next issue. Moreover, I attended the European Society for Chinese Philosophy conference, which was held in Ghent, Belgium, and presented a paper on Zhuangzi.
The Summer Research Fellowship allowed me the time to focus on my reading and writing on end-of-life issues. In particular, I worked on issues related to aging and how we approach death and dying. I spent much of the summer acquainting myself with work done in psychology on gerontology and our attitudes toward death. I am working to develop our philosophical understanding of these issues and would like to develop an account of what “successful aging” and a “good death” looks like.
I spent the summer working on my preliminary exam for the political science department. I worked on developing the ideas for my paper and spend time reading and writing.
I took a German language class in Munich, finished up one course from the spring semester, studied for qualifying exams, and prepared for my preliminary exam paper.
During summer 2019, I worked primarily on my third-year paper, which is a key milestone to pass in order to advance to Ph.D. candidacy. I am writing my third-year paper on the impact of direct military intervention in civil war on the onset of negotiations. The majority of my summer was spent reviewing prior literature, then collecting data and organizing it for analysis in the paper.
I also worked on a co-authored project on the impact of diplomatic support on the use of terrorism in civil wars. As the graduate fellow for Duke’s program in American Grand Strategy, I also participated in a scouting trip to prepare for the staff ride in spring of 2020, where we will take undergraduate and graduate students overseas to study in-depth an American battlefield experience. We traced, and will take the students to trace, the Italian campaign of World War II, beginning with the landings on Palermo and Anzio, through the battle of Montecassino and through the fall of Rome.
I was also able to attend a conference at Syracuse University’s Minnowbrook Center that brought together junior and senior scholars working on international politics with a foreign policy focus. This was an excellent opportunity to connect with other scholars and graduate students who are interested in foreign policy and keeping political science research relevant to policy.
Over the summer, I spent most of my time working on my preliminary paper. Additionally, I participated in the Syracuse Institute for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research for two weeks and worked on two other co-authored research projects.
I spent this past summer working diligently on my dissertation. Specifically, I developed a series of spatial models that help us better understand how coalitions form on the Supreme Court. These new models provide insight into the administrative powers of the chief justice. My work suggests that overtime chief justices adopt more ideologically moderate positions in order to better establish themselves in a bargaining position for control over coalitions on the Court.
I did research that culminated in my dissertation, which I defended at the end of August.
Santiago Mateo Villamizar Chaparro
During this summer I focused mainly on research and improving my method skills. I worked on a paper for most of the summer on measures of democracy with other students from the political science department. Moreover, I was able to take one summer course on Python programming and attend two workshops. The first workshop was on causal inference methods held by Duke Law and Northwestern. The second was the Summer Institute of Computational Social Sciences, which had a partner site at RTI International, one of the partner institutions for this year’s institute.
Photo: Summer Institute of Computational Social Sciences-RTI 2019
I took a Summer II term class on linear algebra and differential equations. Then I participated in the Northwester-Duke Causal Inference Workshop (both the main workshop and the advanced workshop). I also proceeded on my research project on Chinese social security.
Photo: Scatter plot
With the Summer Research Fellowship from The Graduate School, I was able to advance my dissertation research. I discussed new experiments to run with my adviser, revised and resubmitted two manuscripts for publication (which involved running new experiments online), emailed researchers about their papers related to my work (for a meta-analysis), wrote a grant for external funding, and recruited more collaborators with regard to research within the classroom for the fall semester. I continued to work on a manuscript related to this classroom research. Additionally, I mentored an undergraduate student with her senior thesis through the Summer Neuroscience Program, and I attended Elon’s “Teaching and Learning” conference, both of which improved my skills as a mentor.
I worked in the Psychology and Neuroscience Vertical Integration Program (VIP) with a Duke undergraduate student. In the program, I mentored the student by helping her conceptualize a study on self-regulatory skills and adolescents, pre-register the analysis, request the secondary data, apply for IRB approval, analyze the data, prepare a poster and a presentation. Throughout the first 10 weeks of summer, I also taught her how to analyze data using a new software (R). This student presented her poster at the VIP poster session and I will later present our work at a regional conference in October. This project sparked another study that we’re analyzing this fall.
During the second half of the summer I worked on my major area paper, which is a meta-analysis of self-control and health behaviors. I trained and supervised an undergraduate student from UNC on how to code the study and am currently using the materials I developed during the summer to train and supervise seven Duke undergraduates coding the same studies this fall (more coders for reliability).
Finally, I was able to submit a poster for a national conference on another research topic our lab has been investigating on self-control and coping with infertility. The Summer Research Fellowship allowed me to have an incredibly productive summer, and to advance my work beyond what I ever could during a full semester of classes and TA’ing.
Photo: Fernanda (P&N graduate student) and Zakiyah (P&N undergraduate student) working during the Vertical Integration Program.
With funding from The Graduate School, I was able to travel to Tanzania to complete data collection for my dissertation, which is focused on stress and coping among adolescent girls as they transition through puberty. I presented research findings to community members in Tanzania, including local NGOs and healthcare providers, to provide information on mental health promotion and obtain local expert feedback on my dissertation findings. Upon returning from Tanzania, I completed analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data, and I presented my findings at the American Psychological Association Convention. Overall, I am grateful for the opportunity to complete my dissertation so I can begin disseminating the findings and complete my dissertation defense in a timely manner.
This summer, I traveled to Rochester, New York, to conduct a research study. This study is part of an ongoing longitudinal project on child language development. While in Rochester, I ran in-lab visits with 4½- to 5-year-old children using several standardized assessments of children’s language and cognitive skills. I also collected daylong audio recordings of the children’s language environments and language productions.
In addition to my Rochester trip, I conducted research in my lab at Duke: running in-lab visits, cleaning data, preparing a manuscript for publication, and other research tasks. I also spent time this summer mentoring an undergraduate summer research project through the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience’s Vertical Integration Program.
Thanks to the generous support of the Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to work on my research on children’s moral development this summer. I had two major accomplishments this summer. For one, I finished writing up my first-year project into a manuscript. This was a study on children’s moral development that I had conducted with my adviser, Dr. Michael Tomasello, as well as an undergraduate honors thesis student, Bari Britvan. This summer, we submitted our manuscript to the journal Cognition. We have not heard back from them yet. My second major accomplishment was writing up my major area paper (i.e., master’s thesis), which I will defend next week.
Over the summer of 2019, I worked toward developing the plan for my dissertation project and writing my master’s thesis. The focus of these projects is to examine psychological coping strategies used by women undergoing fertility treatment, in order to inform intervention development. During the summer, I established a relationship with the Duke Fertility Center, where I will conduct a portion of my dissertation study. I also began writing a conceptual review of short vs. long term coping, which I aim to submit for publication.
S. Aryana Yousefzadeh
During the summer of 2019 I studied the role of glutamatergic neurotransmission in the striatum in encoding temporal information. Based on our pilot studies during last year, we had hypothesized that modulators that affect glutamate levels in the striatum have bidirectional effects in our estimation of time. Our results showed that there is an internal clock in our brain, and one can manipulate clock speed by facilitating or blocking glutamatergic neurotransmission in the dorsolateral striatum. I will be presenting a poster based on what I did during the summer along with our earlier results at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in October 2019. Also, this summer I trained two undergraduate students in the lab who helped me with this project. Lastly, I wrote a review manuscript with my adviser (along with other colleagues from other universities) that is under review in the Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience.
Through The Graduate School’s 2019 Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to have an especially productive summer. In May, I attended and presented at the European Association of Palliative Care World Congress in Berlin, Germany and made valuable professional connections with international palliative care researchers. I also attended a ResDAC course in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for training in using Medicare claims for research that is necessary for my dissertation.
For the remainder of the summer, I focused on advancing my research agenda on place of death in the U.S. Specifically, coauthors and I revised a manuscript entitled “Trends in Place of Death for Individuals with Cerebrovascular Disease in the United States,” which was published online in August. We submitted two additional manuscripts that have since been accepted and are forthcoming from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society later this year.
Much of the analyses and manuscript writing for these papers occurred between May and August of 2019. Without The Graduate School’s generous support, I would not have been able to devote the time necessary to produce these high-impact publications which should enhance my CV for post-Ph.D. endeavors.
The Summer Research Fellowship allowed me to develop several new projects and collaborations related to criminal justice policy in the US. First, I continued to develop a project evaluating the impact of justice reinvestment (JR) legislation on state prison populations. I analyzed how prison rates and racial disparities in prison admissions varied in states with and without JR, and among states with different JR policy targets (e.g., reducing probation revocations, altering sentencing policy, etc.). I also gained IRB approval to use restricted probation data for a more in-depth analysis and submitted a data request to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Second, I prepared to conduct formative research with local courts on the pretrial experiences of criminal defendants. I worked with Duke Law researchers and the Orange County Criminal Justice Resource Center to develop a qualitative study on court appearance that will begin toward the end of fall 2019. I also worked with Duke Law and the Durham County DA’s Office to submit a grant proposal for a felony jail diversion program. Although the proposal was not funded, this team continues to meet and I will collaborate with them on multiple research projects in Durham County this year.
Third, I worked with a fellow Ph.D. student to develop a Bass Connections proposal focused on exploring the need for standardized data on local jails in North Carolina. Bass Connections funding would support a vertically integrated research team in 2020-2021.
Claire Le Barbenchon
I worked on a few projects this summer to advance my research and academic goals:
1) I presented my working paper called “Exploring the Mental Health of Migrant Networks: A Case Study of Chinese Migrants in Tanzania” at the IMISCOE conference. This is the largest conference focused on migration, and this year it took place in Malmo, Sweden. This paper is co-authored with Allison Stolte, Giovanna Merli, and Ashton Verdery.
2) I spent one week at the National Institute for Demographic Studies in Paris, France, working on a project run by my adviser, Giovanna Merli, which is surveying Chinese migrants in the Paris area. I helped them prepare some documents for fieldwork as I have experience implementing the method they are using to sample the migrants.
3) I began to make connections with the population center in Costa Rica where I am planning on doing my field research on migration to Costa Rica next year.
Photo: IMISCOE Conference in Malmo, Sweden
This summer I worked on three papers exploring how social context shapes child and adolescent development. Summer funding made it possible for me to dedicate my summer to data analysis, manuscript writing, and meetings with my co-authors.
In Paper 1 (my first first-authored manuscript!), I used a panel dataset from Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone to examine the individual and contextual factors that shape young adolescents’ endorsement of restrictive gender norms. Paper 2 is an experimental impact evaluation of an early childhood intervention implemented at scale in Nicaragua. Finally, in Paper 3, I am working with colleagues at the Center for Child and Family Policy to examine trajectories of early literacy skills development among a cohort of North Carolina students.
The common thread linking these diverse projects together is an interest in how socioeconomic inequality intersects with children’s and adolescents’ social-emotional and cognitive development. Going forward, these research projects will help me hone in on dissertation topics as I begin my second year of the doctoral program in public policy and psychology.
This summer I used my funding to conduct pre-dissertation research across several sites in India. My dissertation explores how upward social mobility occurs in rapidly developing India. Prior work has found that upward mobility from the bottom to the top of the social hierarchy has remained low. Today’s young adults occupy much the same roles as their parents, even as skyscrapers have grown in the place of crops and smartphones have become ubiquitous.
Nevertheless, some individuals grow up in poverty and still succeed. These “rags-to-riches” stories may be over-represented in media and self-help books, but they are underrepresented in scholarly examinations of social mobility.
My study examines upward mobility in India through the life experiences of upwardly mobile young adults and the practices of an emerging group of organizations dedicated to creating more upward mobility. Findings from this study can broaden our theoretical understanding of how upward mobility occurs, improve our toolkit for measuring social mobility in developing contexts, and inform policy for the near term.
This summer, I trialed three data collection approaches: 1) questionnaires administered to engineering university students on their social background and pathways to college, 2) interviews with engineering college students from low and high social origins on their pathways to college, and 3) participant observation at six NGO’s trying to connect disadvantaged young people to careers.
Photo: Two boys walking into a public middle school in Bangalore, where United Efforts, an NGO, leads career guidance and mentoring sessions
This summer, I spent my time presenting work at conferences, working on several ongoing research projects, and preparing for fieldwork. In May, I attended the Sustainable Energy Transitions Initiative workshop to present work my coauthors and I had completed for the Inter-American Development Bank on energy transitions in Haiti and Honduras. In August, I attended the Camp Resources workshop where I presented my job-market paper, “Where there’s fire, there’s smoke: The causal impact of Indonesia’s forest fire emissions on behavior and health”.
I also worked on several research projects over the summer and prepared for fieldwork in India. I submitted a manuscript with a coauthor in June and made significant progress on several other projects including my job market paper and another dissertation chapter examining social influences and sanitation behaviors in rural India. I finalized a household survey and experimental games instruments for a project funded by the International Growth Centre and corresponded regularly with our field team in India to make preparations for implementing the work. I am grateful for the support of The Graduate School Summer Research Fellowship, which allowed me to make such progress on my research and fieldwork this summer.
Photo: Emily Pakhtigian presents work examining behavioral and health consequences of ambient air pollution exposure in Indonesia.
This summer I worked on my job-market paper. In this article I examine the impact of restricting alcohol availability on maternal well-being and newborn’s health. Specifically, I analyze the staggered adoption of laws in Brazil that restrict the hours of operation of bars and restaurants and compare birth outcomes between siblings. My results show that reducing alcohol trading hours reduces fetal deaths—mostly among less healthy male fetuses. I also provide evidence that reduced alcohol consumption, community and domestic violence, and family disruption are likely mechanisms behind the changes in newborns’ health.
I presented this paper in two conferences this summer: the Canadian Economic Association meeting and the Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management International Conference.
Finally, I have also worked on my own website and prepared my CV, cover letter, and other materials to apply for jobs during the academic year.
As well as writing a chapter of my dissertation, I traveled to give two talks. One of these was on food symbolism in an ancient Jewish novel called Joseph and Aseneth. This was presented at the International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. I also attended a Symposium of Holy Cross priests in advanced studies in Berkeley, California. There, I presented on the importance of engaging so-called “Introductory Questions” in your field for yourself, and not just picking a position based on its popularity.
Photo: After celebrating Mass at St. Peter’s, early one morning before the conference (I’m second from the right).
I’m very grateful to have been able to spend much of my summer making progress on dissertation writing and research. I also spent a week at a conversational ancient Greek seminar at the University of Kentucky. My dissertation work has included translating a long pre-modern Greek text, but until this summer, my Greek language training has been only passive (for reading only). Through the conversational Greek seminar I’ve begun acquiring active knowledge of the language which enables more thorough understanding. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without support from a Summer Research Fellowship.
My summer was spent studying for my comprehensive exams! I made good progress, and plan on finishing them at the beginning of November.
During the summer, I finished writing and revising the first two chapters of my dissertation and made substantial progress on a third chapter. I also drafted an article-length piece based on the second chapter, entitled “Christian Love, Helping Relations, and Power: the Ambiguities of Social Work.” I presented this at the annual meeting of the Fellowship for Protestant Ethicists in South Bend, Indiana. I also wrote two proposals which were accepted. The first will be a presentation at the Political Theology Network gathering in New York City in October, and the second will be a presentation at the Society of Christian Ethics meeting in Washington, D.C. in January. Finally, I revised and submitted an article to New Blackfriars, entitled “Caregiving, Self-Care, and Contemplation: Resources from Thomas Aquinas.”
I am grateful to The Graduate School for the summer funding which allowed me to make such progress!
The generous support of The Graduate School enabled me to make significant progress on the completion of my dissertation, titled “The Gun in U.S. American Life: An Ethnographic Theological Ethics.” Over the summer, I was able to author two chapters and outline a third. Further, given that I am carrying out my fieldwork locally, I was able to continue making field site visits during the summer as opportunities presented themselves. I also proposed and had accepted a guest editorship of a special issue of the Journal of Moral Theology, titled “The Gun in U.S. American Life.” The issue will include contributions by myself and several leading theological ethicists, and will offer a broad range of Christian theological perspectives on guns and gun violence in the United States. Lastly, I prepared and delivered a paper at the first annual Firearms Law Workshop at the Duke Center for Firearms Law this past August. I am grateful for the time afforded by this grant to make this progress.
During the summer of 2019, I was able to begin my transition from a primary focus on ethnographic fieldwork and data collection to a primary focus on writing my dissertation. The most significant step in that process entailed about two months of compiling and organizing my data in NVivo and then beginning to code and otherwise analyze it for the writing phase. I was also able to participate and workshop an early draft of a dissertation chapter in the Fellowship of Protestant Ethics conference at Notre Dame University.
Erin Risch Zoutendam
In June, I spent a month in the Netherlands on a research fellowship. I studied English Puritan interpretations of the Song of Songs, a project that culminated in a presentation and discussion for the Theologische Universiteit in Kampen. After that, I returned to Strasbourg, France, where I worked on my languages, reading in French, German, and Latin. The highlight of my time in Strasbourg was a private tour of the seminary library and its medieval manuscripts at the beautiful Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg. In July, I participated in a seminar on the works of René Girard with other doctoral students at a Premonstratensian abbey outside Avignon. After that, I returned to Strasbourg (by way of Athens) to continue working on my languages. The summer fellowship helped fund my travel and allowed me considerable freedom in planning my summer.
Photo: Saint-Michel de Frigolet Abbey in Avignon, France
During the summer of 2019 I was able to return to China for family as well as research purposes, attend an academic conference on World Christianity, and prepare papers for publication. In addition to having a long-missed and fast-paced family visit, I also did some interview in a coastal city in China on the history of Chinese churches and thereby acquired some fascinating historical materials which I hope to use in devising my dissertation.
Upon my return I participated in the Yale-Edinburgh conference and presented my paper on the first independent churches in early 20th century China. This opportunity of concentrated study then saw the completion of two writing projects. The paper I just presented received further revision and has been turned in to Church History to be considered for publication, while another one that I submitted earlier this year entered into the second round of review. 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.
Photo: The 2019 Yale-Edinburgh Conference on World Christianity
I spent one month in Sicily, where I did research at the “Casa Museo Giovanni Verga,” located in Catania. This institute preserves books and manuscripts that belonged to the Sicilian writer, Giovanni Verga. Having the chance to look at them gave me the possibility to study the relation between the author’s realist style in relation to photography. Indeed, it is known that before planning a new novel or short story, Verga, who worked and wrote in the North of Italy, spent some months in Sicily taking photos of peasants, miners, and fishermen, which he would use back in Milan to inform his writing in a realist way. Through my research, I discovered how this particular technique, which is not unique to Verga but was spread among realist writers, permeated his narrative about the South of Italy, creating a peculiar way to look. On the one hand, it participated to a certain extent in the kind of writings about the South, written by Germans, Brits and Frenchmen, during their Grand Tour in Italy. They wrote in a romantic way describing the landscape and people as primitive. This kind of narrative was the only one circulating in North Italy about the South, before Verga started to write about it after the Unification process. On the other hand, he took these foreign narratives and elaborated a new way to describe Sicily that overcame romantic writing. Thanks to the Fellowship I had the possibility to research there.
The 2019 Duke Graduate School Summer Research Fellowship gave me the chance to significantly advance the process of researching and writing my dissertation’s preliminary drafts. I had the opportunity to read carefully my theoretical bibliography and research into collections, such as the Archives of Latin American Writers and Intellectuals in the Firestone Library at Princeton University, in which I examined a number of correspondence and papers from Latin American writers, such as the Julio Cortázar’s papers held by the library’s Manuscripts Division and which I dive in my second chapter. I also had the opportunity to devote myself to an extended conversation with the Brazilian poet Augusto de Campos (b. 1931), the founder of the concrete poetry movement based in the city of São Paulo, which informs the first chapter of my dissertation. Since the 1960s, de Campos has been making sound recordings of his visual poems, and I was mapping and carefully listening to this archive. His take on the sonic element in contemporary poetry has a major role in the argument I’m developing in my first chapter, and this conversation with de Campos helped me clarify a number of details about voice recordings he made since the early 1960s.
I participated in the Authoritative Texts and Their Reception seminar on “Orality and Textuality” in Tromso, Norway. This opportunity allowed me to share a chapter of my dissertation with other scholars and receive feedback in addition to attention lectures on how we study texts.
I also participated in the “How Can Humanities Save the Planet” seminar at the Venice International’s University. I was able to learn more about the environmental humanities and how to incorporate this emerging field into my research and teaching practices.
I presented a paper on dance in the novels of Georg Sand at the George Sand Association annual conference in Switzerland. This conference paper was taken from a chapter of my dissertation.
I also wrote two book reviews that will be published in academic journals this winter, and I wrote a chapter that will appear in a textbook on contemporary France.
Finally, I continued to work on my dissertation this summer and completed my third chapter.
Photo: During the George Sand Association conference, the participants attended a concert at the Fribourg Cathedral where Sand hear Litz play.
I attended the Summer Institute in Computational Social Science, which gave me some great connections to people in my research area and introduced me to some really helpful methods. I also worked on my program’s summer assignment, which is a pair of lit reviews that were very helpful in introducing me to subfields I hadn’t yet had the time to get familiar with.
I revised my first two dissertation chapters and submitted them for review. I presented them at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting in New York City. I prepared my application materials and job talk for the academic job market.
During summer 2019, I completed my first-year exams for the sociology program, which are two thorough literature reviews that are intended to prepare us to write our master’s thesis during our second year. I also conducted independent research on the health services offered by religious congregations, which I presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Sociology of Religion in New York City in August.
Over the summer, I advanced research on two chapters of my dissertation. I downloaded and began cleaning data from the Health and Retirement Study. Cleaning the data took quite some time. After cleaning, it was converted from a wide to a long data format. Since then, I have been working on various modeling techniques to identify the best statistical approach from my dissertation research. In addition to this work, I also created and working syllabi for future classes, attended the American Sociological Association’s Annual Meeting in New York City, where I presented research from my dissertation.
The Graduate School Summer Research Fellowship enabled me to focus exclusively on writing up the research I had previously conducted for my dissertation and to prepare for my defense over the summer.
Specifically, I had conducted online experiments in which I investigated the mechanism underlying the backfire effect. This effect describes the phenomenon that, under specific circumstances, presenting individuals with information that contradicts their beliefs does not lead them to correct these beliefs but conversely to endorse them more strongly, i.e. to backfire.
While this phenomenon has received broad attention in popular media, it has recently come under scrutiny in scholarly publications since studies designed to induce the effect failed at doing so. A potential explanation for this failure is that the supposed mechanism of backfire effects is poorly understood and has, so far, not been tapped directly. Theoretically, backfire effects result from conscious engagement with the countervailing information and the development of counterarguments to the information. In my experiments, I prompted participants to engage with countervailing information in writing. This prompt resulted in counterarguing among participants most committed to their beliefs and resulted in stronger endorsement of these beliefs among these participants.
I am very grateful to The Graduate School and the generous donors who allowed me to focus my summer on findings these results and writing them up.
This summer I was an invited participant in a workshop using a unique dataset to help me answer questions about racism/sexism in publishing in sociology. As this dataset is still being put together, I was able to offer sample research questions and argue for the inclusion of certain other forms data into this dataset to address how publishing in sociology is biased (or not) against minority perspectives on various topics. As a result of this workshop, I am able to use this data for my dissertation work, which is focused on academic networks in higher education. With this data I am able to begin the process of understanding how racialized/gendered academic networks lead to racialized/gendered knowledge production and legitimization.
The 2019 summer funding provided me the opportunity to develop my research. First, it allowed me to work on a team research project that I had started during the school year but could not fund me during the summer. During my summer work, I was able to use publicly available data outside of our project to compare the demographics of the representative zip-code-level data with the demographics of our study sample. Not only did this work give me experience working with a new dataset, but I was also able to create choropleth maps that displayed our sample proportion-to-size by zip code in the Raleigh-Durham area. We hope to use these maps (along with other analysis I completed this summer) in a paper to be submitted to a journal this fall.
This summer I also worked on a research project with a fellow Ph.D. student. I gained vital experience coming up with a research question, finding the datasets needed, cleaning and analyzing data, etc. independent of an adviser. This is work that I will eventually have to do on my own, and gaining experience after my second year has prepared me well for not only my dissertation work, but also for my future career as a researcher. We hope to publish this paper sometime this year, as we wrap up our work this fall/winter. Having the opportunity to work on this paper over the summer provided the momentum we needed to get the project off the ground and continue developing our research.
This summer, I interviewed additional participants for my dissertation study. I also attended and presented at the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting. Finally, I continued writing chapters of my dissertation.
I was able to revise two manuscripts—one related to my dissertation, and another coauthored with a fellow Duke Ph.D.—so that they are now forthcoming publications at top journals in my field. I also analyzed and presented findings from another part of my dissertation at the American Sociological Association’s annual conference in New York. Finally, I supervised the inaugural summer of the Bass Connections program I co-lead with a mechanical engineering professor and math professor. In this program, we train undergraduate STEM majors to lead math workshops for local Durham middle school girls. As part of the summer portion of the program, we also visited labs and clinics of female STEM practitioners on campus. It was a blast to see how much the middle schoolers (and undergrads) enjoyed this experience!
Photo: Durham middle schoolers and undergrads participating in our Bass Connections program, Problem-Based Learning to Improve Girls’ Math Identity, tour the Duke hospital with neurosurgeon Dr. Jiji Abdelgadir
First, I joined an academic conference, the 4th Eastern Asia Meeting on Bayesian Statistics (EAC-ISBA) held in Japan, and gave a talk on my research. Although my talk was mainly based on my master’s thesis that I wrote when I was a member of my previous university, this is strongly related to my current work at Duke, so having a discussion with the audience was beneficial to develop my research. Because most of the researchers there were professional on Bayesian statistics, on which many of faculties at Duke are working, discussing and exchanging information with the participants was quite important for my future research.
Second, I developed my research with Professor Li Ma in the Department of Statistical Science. The objective of this research is to develop computational algorithms to analyze high-dimensional data, which is mainly motivated by biological research. I needed to check literature but some of them were not available in the Duke library. However, thanks to the fellowship, I could purchase them and enhance my idea.
This summer was a productive one for me, thanks to the Summer Research Fellowship that I received.
My biggest success was that I wrapped up a project and wrote the corresponding chapter of my dissertation. I also started a new project and have made good headway on it. My research has to do with building new statistical models for analyzing large but rare events. These models can have broad application, e.g. predicting flood heights, storm wind speeds, stock losses, or other extreme events.
Traditional extreme value analysis throws away the common events and analyzes the rare extremes separately, so that information from the rare events “get a voice” and doesn’t get drowned out by the frequently occurring common events. I’m attempting to create models that retain both the common and the rare events, modeling them simultaneously while still letting each have a voice.
In addition to working on my dissertation, I attended a conference on Risk Analysis for Extremes in the Earth System at Lawrence Berkeley Lab. There I got to meet many people interested in extreme value analysis.
I also completed revisions for an invited-submission chapter of the Elsevier book Flexible Bayesian Regression Modeling, which is forthcoming. Our chapter is titled “A vignette on model-based quantile regression: analysing excess zero response.” I made a poster with some of this book material and presented it at the Joint Statistical Meetings in Denver, Colorado.
Thanks for making all of this possible!
My research focus this summer was mainly on doing hierarchical modelling on data sets that lie in a general metric space. Hierarchical data is data that can be stratified into different groups where the observations within a group are similar and there exist some similarities of observations between different groups too. One of the goals of hierarchical modelling is to share information across groups. This is especially important when some groups have only a few observations. The data that I worked with only was assumed to lie in a metric space, meaning that much of the structure of usual numeric data is lost. All that can be assumed about data in a metric space is that it is possible to compute the “distance” between two different data objects. Even with only distances to work with it is possible to define some notion of a “mean,” a collection of data points. Using this more abstract notion of a mean, my work then focused on estimating and exploring how the means of observations within a group may be related to the means of observations from other groups.