Bass Connections Projects That May Interest Law Students
January 29, 2018
The 2018-19 Bass Connections project teams offer opportunities for graduate/professional and undergraduate students from all disciplines. For Duke Law School students as well as undergraduates interested in law, we’ve compiled a list of projects that may be particularly relevant. Applications are due on February 16 at 5:00 p.m.
Project Teams Led by Duke Law Faculty
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. (Contact Jonathan Wiener with questions)
Distinct approaches to ethics scholarship, ethics education and the regulation of ethics have evolved independently in a number of institutions designed to harness competition for social benefits, such as in markets, law, democratic politics, sports and scientific research. They all identify a range of overlapping ethical problems that inevitably arise in competitive domains, but they do it in different ways, with different concepts and principles, and they use different models for promoting compliance with rules and norms of fair play. This project’s aim is to tunnel between these professional silos and start to identify the most promising ways they might learn from one another. (Contact Doriane Coleman with questions)
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. (Contact Nita Farahany with questions)
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. (Contact Jedediah Purdy with questions)
Access to electricity and other forms of modern energy is crucial to development. Yet about 1.1 billion people lack access to electricity, and another billion have unreliable access. While a number of public and private actors have entered the market, a substantial investment gap remains. Understanding the barriers to investment is essential for addressing the needs of the households, communities and enterprises that lack access to modern energy sources. This project aims to understand the energy access problem and potential solutions from the perspective of people who are dealing with it firsthand. (Contact John Simpkins with questions)
Coastal habitats such as oyster reefs, salt marshes, seagrass and mangroves are essential for resilient communities but under threat from sea-level rise and anthropogenic disturbance. Our traditional reaction to encroaching seas is to modify the shoreline through the use of hardened structures. Only recently have we begun considering adopting the more natural living shoreline, which involves intertidal vegetation plantings sometimes coupled with oyster reefs as breakwaters. One of the largest hurdles is the dearth of knowledge of living shorelines’ resilience and the services restored shorelines provide. This project will work with governmental and nongovernmental organizations to create tools for coastline conservation practices. (Contact Stephen Roady with questions)
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. (Contact Lee Reiners with questions)
Project Teams Whose Leaders Seek Law Students
Cervical cancer is highly preventable through the screening, diagnosis and treatment of cervical precursor lesions. Colposcopy with biopsy is the gold standard for diagnosis; however, colposcopes are expensive, and require referral to specialized facilities with a trained colposcopist. To address this limitation, Duke researchers developed the Pocket Colposcope, which is significantly less expensive and lighter than commercial colposcopes. This project seeks to understand the best practices for creating a training program for community-level providers and to develop a training manual based on feedback from community health providers working with La Liga Contra el Cancer in Peru. The team’s goal is to demonstrate that the Pocket Colposcope is an economically viable solution in the community health setting.
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.
In the 1980s, the field of surgery advanced with the development of laparoscopy, a technology that allowed surgeons to make two to four 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.”
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.
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 Bass project will examine the adoption, success and failures of incentive-based approaches to endangered species conservation on private lands over the last 25 years.
Gerrymandering has been increasingly used to undermine the Democratic process. Although there remains no standard to detect partisan gerrymandering, researchers and policy makers have begun to develop potentially justiciable techniques. This project will test the hypothesis that bipartisan or nonpartisan redistricting committees will not gerrymander. By comparing districting plans across states with and without nonpartisan redistricting committees and analyzing the effectiveness of current tests used to detect gerrymandering, the team will create tests and tools that contribute to the public understanding of the extent and impact of gerrymandering.