These Ph.D. Graduates Leveraged Bass Connections and Other Interdisciplinary Opportunities

May 7, 2021

Ph.D. students.

On May 8, The Graduate School will hold a virtual ceremony to recognize Duke’s 2020-2021 Ph.D. graduates. Among them are numerous students who took advantage of the Bass Connections program to strengthen their dissertation research, coauthor publications and hone career-enhancing skills. Many individuals also engaged in other interdisciplinary opportunities across campus (see a related article, Making the Most of Duke on the Road to the Ph.D.).

Congratulations to all of this year’s graduates!

Kaylee Alexander.Kaylee Alexander, Ph.D. in Art, Art History & Visual Studies

Dissertation: In Perpetuity: Funerary Monuments, Consumerism and Social Reform in Paris (1804–1924)

Yanyou Chen.Yanyou Chen, Ph.D. in Economics

Dissertation: Essays in Industrial Organization and Environmental Economics

Tom Cinq-Mars.Tom Cinq-Mars, Ph.D. in History

Dissertation: In Search of “Friendship”: Energy Policy, Trade and Varieties of Socialism in the Soviet Bloc, 1872-1984
  • Bass Connections: Tom Cinq-Mars joined the History and Future of Ocean Energy team and taught Bass Connections courses including Energy and Society.
  • More cool stuff: With a Bass Instructional Fellowship, he integrated the Bass Connections model of collaborative, interdisciplinary research into an undergraduate course, Extractive Economies. As an Energy Doctoral Student Fellow with the Duke University Energy Initiative, he worked on papers such as “Lessons from the World’s Longest Oil Pipeline Network.” And he received a Provost Experiential Fellowship for a summer with RTI International, where he documented the use of off-grid energy products in Sub-Saharan Africa; worked with researchers to identify the impacts of off-grid energy on education, health and agriculture outcomes; and served as head author of a journal article.

Aaron Colston.Aaron Colston, Ph.D. in History

Dissertation: The World’s Problem’s Are Your Own: Septima Clark, Elza Freire and Grassroots Freedom Education in the American Decade of Development (1960-1970)

Donahue.Evan Donahue, Ph.D. in Computational Media, Arts & Cultures

Dissertation: Android Linguistics: How Machines Do Things with Words

Friis-Healy.Elsa Friis-Healy, Ph.D. in Psychology & Neuroscience

Dissertation: Development and Evaluation of a Web Application to Support Remote Clinical Supervision of Lay Counselors in Kenya
  • Bass Connections: Elsa Friis-Healy took part in the Global Mental Health team for two years and served on the Student Advisory Council. She traveled to East Africa multiple times to conduct fieldwork and, in partnership with her team, developed a mobile application to support the training and supervision of lay counselors in Kenya. Later, she was part of a team that received a seed grant from the Bass Connections ABC Thrive initiative for a project on optimizing predictive models to improve child neurodevelopment. She is currently the Multi-Health Systems/Conner’s Fellow in Digital Health in Duke’s Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences.

Gerson.Jackie Gerson, Ph.D. in Ecology

Dissertation: Geochemical, Biological, and Landscape Controls on Mercury Fate, Transport and Impact in Natural Ecosystems

Graham.Meredith Graham, Ph.D. in Music 

Dissertation: Multi-Text Anthology in the Choral Music of Ralph Vaughan Williams, Herbert Howells, Grace Williams and Elizabeth Maconchy, 1919–1979

Hansen.Kathleen Hansen, Ph.D. in Environmental Policy

Dissertation: The Politics of Local Service Provision in the United States

Huang.Bohao Huang, Ph.D. in Electrical & Computer Engineering

Dissertation: Using Synthetic Satellite Imagery from Virtual Worlds to Train Deep Learning Models for Object Recognition

Hunter.Brandon Hunter, Ph.D. in Civil & Environmental Engineering

Dissertation: Sanitation Justice: Community-Inspired Academic Research Conducted Under Different Theories of Change

Kidd.Gray Kidd, Ph.D. in History

Dissertation: Surrendering to the Streets in Mid-Century Recife: The Living Legacies of Slavery in Black and White

Juskus.Ryan Juskus, Ph.D. in Religion    

Dissertation: The Ecopolitics of Truth and Sacrifice: An Ethnographic and Theological Study of Citizen Science, Environmental Justice, and Christian Witness in Coal’s Sacrifice Zones

Li.Qingran Li, Ph.D. in Environmental Policy

Dissertation: Three Essays in Environmental Economics and Policy

Ontiveros.Hannah Ontiveros, Ph.D. in History

Dissertation: Caring for Korea: Engendering War and Aid in the American Century
  • Bass Connections: Ontiveros served as project manager for America’s Sacred Spaces (read her reflection) and graduate mentor on a Story+ summer project on the builders of Duke Chapel.
  • More cool stuff: Through a Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grant, Ontiveros took on two research projects for CWS Durham. “CWS was a great fit,” she said. “The organization’s emergency relief efforts crop up a lot in my dissertation; CWS Durham operates locally and works in grievously under-served communities; and the organization’s focus on refugee resettlement and advocacy addresses a timely problem with roots in the historical period that I study.” (Read more about her experience.)

Rains.Emily Rains, Ph.D. in Public Policy

Dissertation: Negotiating Informality: Essays on Policy Needs and Political Problem-Solving in Indian Slums

Jun Shepard.Jun Shepard, Ph.D. in Earth & Ocean Sciences    

Dissertation: Global Energy Systems and International Trade

Ury.Emily Ury, Ph.D. in Ecology

Dissertation: Ecosystem Consequences of Sea Level Rise and Salinization in North Carolina’s Coastal Wetlands

Virguez.Edgar Virgüez, Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences & Policy

Dissertation: An Interdisciplinary Evaluation of the Decarbonization of the Electric Power Sector: Integrating Geospatial Analysis, Operations Research, and Energy Economics to Assess Rapid and Cost-efficient Strategies for the Energy Transition

Wade.Anna Wade, Ph.D. in Environment

Dissertation: Land-Use Legacy Dynamics in Decades- and Centuries-old Soils

Walker.Gabrielle Harris Walker, Ph.D. in Nursing

Dissertation: Parenting After Stroke

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