Award announcement: 2024 Kicks off with 9 Professional Development Grants Awarded

Biomedical Engineering: "BME 790: Inclusive Engineering Leadership"

Mentorship is an essential component of professional engineering roles, from teaching and leading research labs in academia to holding management positions in industry to driving STEM outreach efforts. Effective training in mentorship for engineering professionals must emphasize diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our proposal centers around the continuing development of our Inclusive Engineering Leadership course for graduate students at Duke, breaking mentorship down into four main components: teaching, leadership, community, and counseling. Our pilot course in summer 2023 instructed 7 Biomedical Engineering graduate students and featured 6 guest speakers from the Duke community with expertise in various aspects of inclusive mentorship. Funding will expand guest lectures and panel discussions to include members of the surrounding Durham community, enhance our workshops and class outings to promote community engagement, and provide essential resources that can be referenced during the course and beyond.

Chemistry: "'Synthesizing a Network of Chemists': Graduate Chemistry Council Proposal for Coffee with a Chemist"

With little to no interactions with alumni of the Duke Chemistry Ph.D. program, graduate students tend to feel disconnected and unable to build professional networks that could benefit their future careers. We propose events to increase interactions between current and previous graduate students: informal “Coffee with a Chemist” gatherings.  Through these events, not only will current students benefit from networking and hearing about job opportunities, but we will strengthen relationships between the department and alumni for participation in future events for years to come.

Dance: "Grant Writing for Artists Workshop"

Inside and outside of academia, artists often live project-to-project, dependent upon grant funding for the resources to produce their creative work. To build sustainability into their practice, creators must learn how to communicate effectively with funding organizations. While successful grant application is a crucial survival skill, it is rarely covered in any curriculum. The Dance M.F.A. program proposes a lunch-and-learn event tailored to Duke graduate students in the arts to learn how to prepare impactful applications. This targeted workshop will demystify the process, providing nuts-and-bolts guidance with techniques to effectively present the creative process and embodied research.

Global Health: "Fostering Alumni Connections and Exploring Careers in Global Health"

At the Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI), we understand that early-career exploration and planning efforts can set students up for optimal success after completing their degree. Our students receive individualized attention from dedicated faculty and staff throughout their entire academic journey. Although we provide exceptional student services and resources to our students, we recognize the need to develop more robust discipline-specific programming and support related to alumni engagement and career development. DGHI will provide students with additional opportunities to connect with, and learn from, alumni and professionals working in the field of global health. We plan to develop several programs that will better support graduate students in exploring and pursuing various career pathways; connect graduate students with alumni and professionals working in the field; and enhance DGHI’s alumni engagement and networking efforts. To achieve the objectives outlined above, we will organize two alumni panel events and a large networking event.

Duke Institute for Brain Sciences: "Mentorship Training & Development for Duke University Mentors in Neuroscience"

The Duke Institute for Brain Sciences has sponsored the Entering Mentoring, Duke University Neuroscience Experience (DUNE), and Cognitive Neuroscience Research Internship (CNRI) programs since their inception (2019–2021). These programs—all inspired, created and led by our graduate students and postdoctoral fellows—not only serve the community but also provide professional development opportunities for the neuroscience graduate student body. Participation in these training experiences over their academic journey will provide our graduate students and other trainees with competencies in mentorship, conflict resolution, communication, organization, time management, and leadership. The Duke Institute for Brain Sciences is committed to continuing administering all three programs to provide graduate trainees in neuroscience with multiple didactic and experiential opportunities to develop their mentorship portfolio.

Mathematics: "Mentoring in Math"

The mathematics job market increasingly demands that applicants can take on a variety of mentorship roles, yet Duke math graduate students currently receive little training or practice in mentorship. Broadly, mentorship consists of the formal and informal roles that graduate students take on when they support one another as well as when they advise undergraduates. Through formal training sessions, informal gatherings, and structured mentorship programs, the “Mentoring in Math” program will not only equip math graduate students with the tools they need to be effective mentors, but also provide opportunities to practice mentorship. “Mentoring in Math” fills this gap with thoughtfully timed training sessions scheduled around a combination of new and existing Grant-supported mentorship programs.

Neurobiology: "Neurobiology Career Series"

The graduate students of the Duke Neurobiology Department will continue to host a monthly career seminar series featuring professionals with Ph.D. training in neuroscience/neurobiology who have successfully followed a variety of diverse career paths. The primary goal of this series is to increase awareness among graduate students and postdoctoral scholars of careers available to neuroscientists beyond the academic pipeline. In 2023, the series will feature professionals from a variety of fields including data science, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, science writing, teaching, and others. This series will provide a forum for students to learn about available career paths, hear the specific steps they should be taking to prepare themselves for the job search, and make valuable connections that will help them as they transition to the next stages in their careers.

Nicholas School Ph.D. Programs: "Remote Sensing Courses for Ph.D. Students"

Google Earth Engine is a powerful and increasingly popular tool for remote sensing and spatial analyses in the environmental field. Yet, no classes are offered at the Nicholas School of the Environment to teach this tool. This teaching gap is particularly important for Ph.D. students pursuing advanced research using remote sensing and spatial analyses, who would benefit greatly from instruction in this new and complex tool. Funding will provide a synchronous, remote class in Google Earth Engine taught by a former Google engineer. This course is designed to introduce participants with no prior knowledge to complex applications of Google Earth Engine, such as machine learning and web-based user apps. It will provide a strong foundation in a new tool that will not only enable Ph.D. students to perform higher-quality research while at Duke, but also to bring these cutting-edge skills out to the workforce once they graduate.

University Program in Genetics and Genomics: "Networking and Experiential Learning Opportunities for Genetics & Genomics Students"

This project will empower students to become the next generation of scientific leaders by facilitating both networking events with professionals in industry and panels with alumni to explore experiential learning opportunities. The networking events will feature lunches with industry professionals, where students can learn about cutting-edge industry trends and explore potential career pathways. The alumni panels will provide insight into opportunities for students to enhance their academic journey. Through these events, students will better understand opportunities available to them, strengthen their professional networks, and receive guidance for future career endeavors.