Four Faculty Newly Appointed to Endowed Bass Connections Professorships

July 13, 2022

Faculty headshots.
New faculty chairs (L to R): Tyson Brown, Jay Pearson, Amy Schmid, Gavin Yamey

We are pleased to announce the appointment of four Duke faculty members to endowed professorships affiliated with Bass Connections: Tyson Brown (Sociology), Jay Pearson (Public Policy), Amy Schmid (Biology) and Gavin Yamey (Global Health).  

Bass Connections professorships recognize faculty whose scholarship and teaching align with the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of the program, while also recognizing the wider engagement and contributions of Duke schools to this university-wide effort. Faculty are appointed to these chairs in coordination with the leadership of their department and school. Individuals receiving Bass Connections professorships hold them for an initial term of up to seven years, with the possibility of renewal.

Through the generosity of donors and the Bass Connections Challenge Fund, Bass Connections has partnered with Duke schools to create 13 faculty professorships, many of which align with one of the program’s thematic areas. These chairs are distinct from the Bass Society of Fellows program, but both programs carry the namesake of their founding donors Anne T. and Robert Bass. 

Currently, Bass Connections professors are also held by Lori Bennear, Juli Plant Grainger Associate Professor of Energy and Economics Policy; Elika Bergelson, Crandall Family Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience; Staci Bilbo, Haley Family Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience; Amanda Randles, Alfred Winborne and Victoria Stover Mordecai Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering; Steve Sexton, Mark and Lynne Florian Associate Professor of Public Policy; Stacy Tantum, Bell-Rhodes Associate Professor of the Practice of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Vahid Tarokh, Rhodes Family Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

New faculty chairs include:

Tyson Brown, W.L.F. Associate Professor of Sociology

Brown serves as the theme leader for the new Race & Society theme of Bass Connections, which will support seven project teams in its inaugural year. His research explores the causes of ethnoracial inequalities in health and wealth. Brown is the director of the Center on Health & Society and founded Duke’s Writing and ReseArch Productivity (WRAP) Group, which aims to promote excellence in scholarship and support Black faculty by creating writing time and a space that enhances faculty inclusion.

Jay Pearson, H.M. Foundation Associate Professor of Public Policy

Pearson’s research, teaching and advocacy address how policy-sponsored, structurally rooted social inequality influence health inequities. Pearson is a faculty research scholar in the Duke Population Research Center and the Duke Global Health Institute and has co-led a Bass Connections project that examined the Guatemalan deportation crisis from the perspective of both recent deportees and North Carolina’s Guatemalan community.

Amy Schmid, David M. Goodner Associate Professor of Biology

Schmid’s research focuses on how cells make decisions in response to environmental cues, such as how microbial cells respond to extreme stress. She uses a combination of quantitative and experimental biology approaches in her work, including computational modeling, functional genomics and molecular microbiology. Schmid’s lab also develops microbiology and bioinformatics workshops for various communities (K-12, teachers, researchers). Schmid is a member of the Duke Energy Initiative faculty network and the Duke Initiative for Science & Society. She has led two Data+ projects and has been a collaborator on Bass Connections projects. 

Gavin Yamey, Hymowitz Professor of the Practice of Global Health

Yamey works to develop innovative finance and health care delivery policies to improve global health. He is the director of the Center for Policy Impact at the Duke Global Health Institute and currently serves as a commissioner on The Lancet-SIGHT Commission on peaceful societies through health and gender equality. Yamey co-leads a Bass Connections project that is building a resource to track the global evolution of policy around universal health coverage. He is dedicated to employing innovative, project-based learning practices in the classroom and was a member of the inaugural cohort of the Collaborative Project Courses Faculty Fellows Program

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