Applications Open for Selected 2018-19 Project Teams

August 6, 2018

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Interested in becoming a member of a 2018-19 Bass Connections project team?

Sixteen project teams, including two new teams, are recruiting student team members. Applications are open and will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Students may apply to up to two teams using the “Apply here” link at the bottom of each team page. The deadline to apply is August 23 at 11:59 p.m.

Please read the project descriptions carefully to learn about the unique student opportunities available on each team. Project teams last for two semesters and include course credit.

Students should note that spots on teams are limited as the majority of positions were filled during Bass Connections’ main application cycle last spring. Students interested in applying for a year-long Bass Connections project team during the main application cycle will be able to explore 2019-20 teams beginning in January 2019.

Project Teams Recruiting New Members

America’s Sacred Spaces
Undergraduate applicants only

The United States possesses singular places where citizens and others can visit to absorb elements of the nation’s depth of pain, triumph, awe, reverence, disappointments and dreams. “Sacred spaces” refers to understanding America by literally standing in places and taking in layers of meaning that plumb the depths of our national character. This project will launch a documentary research initiative to tell stories of 40 essential American places that enhance our understanding of the U.S. Ultimately, the goal is to create a website, app and book that will provide orientations in text, maps and pictures of the country’s most sacred spaces. These tools will provide tangible lessons in civics, history, cultures and geographies, all combining to ground the traveler in our common heritage. 

Coal in America: Chronicling and Analyzing Its Economic and Social History
All students may apply

An historically important energy resource, coal remains important in many parts of the country, but has experienced a severe decline. The advent of inexpensive natural gas has been a significant factor behind coal’s decline, but environmental regulations have likely played a role as well. However, there is surprisingly little research into the causes and consequences of this epochal transition in U.S. energy consumption. This project will address this gap by examining quantitative and qualitative data related to coal production, consumption and employment to better understand the social, economic and political dimensions of coal’s decline.

Consumer EEG, Mental and Emotional States, Privacy and the Brain
All students may apply

Consumer electroencephalogram devices are marketed and sold to consumers for tracking and improving their brain activity through neurofeedback. These devices raise concerns about data gathering and sharing practices because of their unprecedented ability to gather real-time brain activity in everyday contexts such as education, employment, gaming and fitness. This project will explore the privacy implications of such use of brain data, along with consumer attitudes, behavior and judgments about brain data and analytics.

Creative Industries and the Urban Environment
All students may apply; preference for students with statistics experience

Over the past ten years, Durham has witnessed a boom in cultural initiatives including the Durham Performing Arts Center, Golden Belt, 21c Museum Hotel and RUNAWAY clothes. These cultural productions have not only been seen as enriching the city’s image, but have also attracted other creative ventures. Further, Duke has contributed greatly to the cultural development of Durham through such sites as the Nasher Museum of Art and the new Rubenstein Arts Center. This project will examine the relationship between urban development and cultural production in Durham.

DECIPHER: Case Studies in Drinking Water Quality
All students may apply

The technologies, processes and products we develop have impacts on our environment and health. Some impacts are intended; others are not. Policies adopted to regulate the risks of such developments may themselves pose unintended consequences. These complexities pose challenges for private innovation and public oversight, and present opportunities to improve understanding and decision-making. The goal of Decisions on Complex Interdisciplinary Problems of Health and Environmental Risk (DECIPHER) is to improve understanding of risks through the design, research and generation of a comprehensive profile motivated by a specific risk and then to expand the scope to include contexts, decisions and outcomes. This project will focus on decision scenarios related to drinking water quality. 

Documenting Durham's Health History
This team is no longer accepting applications

Enabling Precision Health and Medicine
All students may apply; preference for students with app development and/or programming skills

The sequencing of the human genome heralded a new era in biomedical research. A key result has been the development of genomics-based tools to diagnose, predict disease onset or recurrence, tailor treatment options and assess treatment response. These advancements developed concurrently with electronic medical records, digital technologies and the shift toward patient-centered care. This team will divide into two sub-teams focused on the challenges in developing applications to support healthy living (precision health) and improve patient care (precision medicine). The team is still accepting applications for the precision health sub-team, which is focused on developing the infrastructure for a new campus initiative to promote health awareness and engagement.

How Do Cyberattacks Hurt Me?
Graduate student applicants only; graduate student project manager position available

Data breaches and computer hacks are occurring at an alarming pace, exposing consumers’ financial information to misappropriation. From the perspective of resilience, financial firms, public policy experts and financial regulators need to understand pathways to harm from such breaches in order to design security systems that protect financial information and identify points of intervention that can limit such harms. From the perspective of risk, an understanding of these pathways can be modeled and aspects of the harm can be quantified. This project will discern, explore and model these pathways to harm in order to further discussions regarding optimal design and intervention.

Low-cost Laparoscopic Surgery with Tele-mentoring
Graduate students and advanced (junior or senior) undergraduate applicants only

In the 1980s, the field of surgery advanced with the development of laparoscopy, a technology that allowed surgeons to make small incisions and operate with an intra-abdominal camera and instruments. The benefits of laparoscopic surgery compared to open surgery are extensive; however, laparoscopic surgery is expensive and demands a great amount of infrastructure to maintain the equipment. These costs are prohibitive to low- and middle-income countries, and therefore most surgeries in these countries are performed with the traditional, open approach. This project’s goal is to develop a low-cost, reusable laparoscope with a design that will allow images to be transferred over the internet, enabling surgeons in high- and low-income countries to interact in real-time during surgical cases, thus allowing for “tele-mentoring.” This team will divide into several sub-teams that will work on the development and design of the laparoscope and research the regulatory landscape of medical technology development in Africa. The team is still accepting applications for the technology regulation sub-team.

The Moral Economy of Markets: Consulting and Resisting Relations of Power
All students may apply; graduate student project manager position available

The creation of capitalist markets has been, and continues to be, a transformative process, involving the displacement of peoples from their homelands as well as the disruption of traditional norms, cultures and institutions. Such markets have brought disparate worlds together across geographies, identities and sociocultures, linking ventures of market-driven modernization in intimate ways. This project will explore the experiences of those thrown into various states of vulnerability by the spread of market logic as well as the ways in which individuals and communities resist and organize with and against various manifestations of market logic in their everyday lives. The team will track capitalist markets’ emergence in multiple state and regional contexts, seeking to identify strategies for more equitable development, particularly in the Global South.

Music for Social Change: Research in Practice with Kidznotes and El Sistema USA
All students may apply

Founded in Venezuela in 1975, El Sistema and its worldwide replications create an environment of opportunity through the collective practice of orchestral playing and choral singing as a model for personal, social, academic and musical development. Through a focus on low-income youth, these programs serve a long-term agenda to combat systemic and intergenerational poverty. This movement is present in the U.S. and locally. Kidznotes, an El Sistema-inspired program launched in 2010 in East Durham, serves 500 students annually in grades K-10. This project will focus on facilitating research capacities and building research among El Sistema USA programs, including deepened engagement with local programs.

All students may apply

Open Source Pedagogy, Research + Innovation (OSPRI), a Duke-Red Hat partnership, applies open source principles and methodologies to teaching and learning. This project addresses the gap between how learning occurs outside and inside academic settings—between the participatory, social, crowdsourced, self-directed learning students authentically engage in beyond the classroom, and the industrial-era, hierarchical-driven teaching occurring in many classrooms. In 2018-19, members of the OSPRI Lab will research and share knowledge about open source principles and methodologies within educational contexts; identify a critical education technology product need at Duke and work to develop an open source education technology product; and mentor students in computer science at Durham public schools using a Duke student-developed open source curriculum.

Prevention of Sexual Misconduct on University Campuses
All students may apply

As the events of the past year have revealed, sexual misconduct is disturbingly common in society, including on university campuses. Training programs meant to combat sexual misconduct are commonplace; however, it appears that they fail to make a difference in reducing the problem. Little research has been done to examine these trainings and interventions, leaving us with scant knowledge of which methods may be most effective. This project is part of a larger endeavor to examine these questions and systematically test effective ways of intervening to prevent sexual harassment and assault on college campuses. The team will design experiments and surveys that will empirically examine the role of various system- and individual-level factors in creating a safe campus environment and identify methods that are likely to be effective at reducing the prevalence of sexual misconduct.

Rethinking the Endangered Species Act’s Implementation on Private, Working Lands
Sophomore, junior and senior undergraduate student applicants only

The U.S. Endangered Species Act is one of the world’s most important conservation laws—and one of its most controversial. Because most listed species have much of their habitat on private lands, improving the Act’s performance on working farms, ranches and forests is critical to its success and survival. While much of the public debate around the Act continues to be focused on public lands, the future of most listed species depends at least in part of the conservation of habitat on private working lands where purely regulatory approaches have significant limitations and generate substantial controversy. This project will examine the adoption, success and failures of incentive-based approaches to endangered species conservation on private lands over the last 25 years.

The Cost of Opportunity: Access to Higher Education in Brazil
All students may apply

Since 2001, Brazil has engaged in a vast expansion of its higher education system. Yet, frustration persists due to lingering social and racial inequalities, inefficient administration and concerns about environmental sustainability. Both the potential advantages and obstacles ahead are particularly acute in the Baixada Fluminense, a densely populated region on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro that has one of the highest concentrations of young people in Brazil. This project, which began in 2016 through a partnership with the Multidisciplinary Institute of the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro, has engaged in targeted field research exploring the links between higher education access and social mobility in the region. In 2018-19, the team will examine educational and labor market data to conduct a scientifically grounded assessment of the impacts of higher education policies in Brazil. This assessment will inform ongoing policy discussions over the value of programs designed to expand access to higher education and reduce economic inequalities in the labor market.

Transforming Alzheimer’s Disease Care through Integrating Caregivers
Graduate student applicants only; graduate student project manager position available

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the only one of the top ten diseases without treatment to prevent, cure or slow its progression. As the disease progresses, the loss of critical skills makes navigating day-to-day living impossible without help from others. Family caregivers or “informal caregivers” provide the majority of long-term care for adults with the disease, which can take a heavy toll on caregivers’ health, well-being, employment and finances. This project will explore strategies to improve integration of caregivers in clinical care decision-making, with a particular emphasis on enhancing their role in data collection on Alzheimer’s treatment experiences and outcomes.

Using Machine Learning to Generate Clinical Prediction Rules for Clinical Outcomes in Schizophrenia
Graduate student applicants only; preference for students with programming skills

The worldwide economic burden associated with caring for patients with schizophrenia has doubled in the last 10 years. Patients with schizophrenia are high utilizers of emergency department (ED) services because of relapse, which may be caused by psychoactive substance use, not taking medications as prescribed or ineffective interventions. These patients frequently need inpatient care, but insufficient resources lead to a situation in which patients are often kept in the ED. This project aims to foster effective allocation of resources by assessing relapse risk and applying community supports and priority inpatient beds according to risk.

To Apply

Please click on the project team titles above to read the full project descriptions, and apply through the link at the bottom of each project team page. 

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