Twelve Students Receive Grants to Take Their Bass Connections Research Further

April 17, 2017

Bass Connections grantees

Two Duke graduate students, three undergraduates and two groups of undergrads will pursue faculty-mentored research projects this summer and next year with grant funding from Bass Connections.

These projects, which build on work begun in year-long Bass Connections teams, explore a diverse range of topics including Medicaid, bias, Appalachian music, rehabilitation services, anemia, slums and marine mammals.

Through the Bass Connections Follow-on Student Research Awards, Bass Connections provides support for students who wish to continue an aspect of their team’s work. Funds may support travel, equipment or other needs associated with the research proposal, and may be used over the upcoming academic year.

The award recipients will be recognized at the Bass Connections Showcase on Thursday, April 20 (4:00-6:00 p.m. in Scharf Hall).

Anuhita Basavaraju

Anuhita Basavaraju ’18 is a Program II major focusing on “Nature, Nurture and the Self.” Her follow-on project will involve an investigation of storytelling and bias. As a member of the Bass Connections project team Art, Vision and the Brain, she organized an exhibition at the Nasher Museum of Art called Making Faces at the Intersection of Art and Neuroscience, produced an exhibition catalogue and led gallery talks. Her faculty mentor is Elizabeth Johnson.

Few resources are dedicated to understanding refugee experiences upon successfully seeking asylum. The overall goal of the proposed study is to establish whether storytelling results in a decrease in implicit and explicit bias markers against Middle Eastern refugee populations in Copenhagen, Denmark. Cognitive sciences have revealed that there is a neuropsychological basis for out-group vs. in-group bias, but little has been done to understand how such mechanisms can be altered.

Kira Battle

A student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, Kira Battle is a member of the Bass Connections project team Global Alliance on Disability and Health Innovation (GANDHI). Her follow-on project is to establish a baseline understanding of the rehabilitation services provided at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala, Uganda. Her mentors are Michael Haglund and Janet Prvu Bettger.

Long-term hospitalization contributes to a decline in function and an increase in disability. The World Health Organization recently recognized the provision of rehabilitation care as a key component of health care lacking in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Our team’s review of the literature identified only 23 studies conducted in LMICs on rehabilitation in acute care. Understanding the availability and accessibility of rehabilitation services across the care continuum is an important part of health systems strengthening efforts aimed to improve healthcare quality and patient outcomes.

Adriana Lapuerta

Adriana Lapuerta ’20 will take on a research project entitled “From Britain to Southern Appalachia: The Hicks Family, Music and Religion.” This year she participated in the Bass Connections project team NC Jukebox. Her mentors are Victoria Szabo and Meghan O’Neil. “I have been doing in-depth research on one Appalachian family who recorded songs with Brown in the 1930s,” she said. “I am working towards producing a micro-history of religion in the mountains, using my research on the Hicks family as a case study for traditions and practices specific to Western North Carolina.” She plans to produce an interactive blog and multimedia exhibit that will augment the NC Jukebox team’s ongoing research and public scholarship.

I plan to major in Computer Science and minor in Music, a decision which has been directly influenced by my work with NC Jukebox. Before this year, I had little idea of how my interests in music, history and technology could be combined to form an educational pathway. Through Bass Connections, I have discovered how my interests can be combined to open an archive, create community, and produce compelling scholarship.

Luiza Perez

A Sociology and Global Health major, Luiza Perez ’19 is following the pre-med track. Her project team, Environmental Epidemiology in Latin America, developed a study on the efficacy of different insecticide-treated bed nets in repelling anopheles and the occupational risk factors associated with leishmaniasis in the Peruvian Amazon. Her follow-on research project calls for looking at differential gene expression in migrants and non-migrants of Madre de Diós, Peru. Her mentor is William Pan. Read an update.

Multiple sociological studies have shown the healthy migrant effect, where migrants usually have a health advantage over the local population. However, that advantage erodes over time and generations. Given that people born and raised in Madre de Diós should have greater long-term exposure to mercury (especially through diet), one would expect mercury to have caused greater damage to their genome compared to those that have moved to the area recently, making them more prone to chemically-induced anemia. I will sequence the whole genome of two individuals selected from data collected from William Pan’s Lab Hunt baseline study.

Jeremy Spater

Pursing a PhD in Political Science, Jeremy Spater will conduct fieldwork in Bangalore, India, to extend the objectives of the Bass Connections project Studying the Real ‘Slums’ in Bangalore, Patna and Jaipur, and contribute to his dissertation project, “Residential Segregation and Public Goods Preferences in Urban Slums.” His mentor is Anirudh Krishna. Read an update.

This fieldwork will involve two primary components. First, I will conduct extensive qualitative interviews with urban slum-dwellers. Second, I will join local enumeration teams to conduct a large-sample survey of urban slum-dwellers in the same areas in which I am conducting qualitative interviews. Together, these two components will extend the objectives of the Bass Connections project while also forming an essential part of my dissertation research.

Aakash Jain, Kushal Kadakia, Jackie Lin, Shivani Shah

Four undergraduate members of the Bass Connections NC Medicaid Reform Advisory Team will take their work further through a project called Reforming North Carolina Medicaid. This year their team studied the challenges facing the state’s current Medicaid program and provided recommendations for state-level policy action. Aakash Jain ’18 is a Biology and Economics major; Kushal Kadakia ’19 and Shivani Shah ’18 are Biology and Public Policy majors; Jackie Lin ’18 is a Biology major. Their mentors are Barak Richman and Allison Rice.

We propose to take a “hot-spotter strategy” to health policy, identifying the NC counties with the (1) highest health expenditures and (2) greatest Medicaid burden and conducting an interview series with local officials, providers, and patients to understand the challenges of current payment and delivery structures. Interview trends will be supplemented with a macro-level analysis of the current Medicaid program and synthesized in a thoughtful policy document for publication in the NC Medical Journal and presentation to state policymakers.

Ashley Blawas, Brandon Dalla Rosa, Sam Kelly

Ashley Blawas ’18 (Biomedical Engineering), Brandon Dalla Rosa ’19 (Electrical & Computer Engineering) and Sam Kelly ’18 (Mechanical Engineering) will produce a digital acoustic recording tag that reliably and accurately records and stores data using triboelectric power. This will improve on the research methods employed by their Bass Connections project History and Future of Ocean Energy. Their mentor is Douglas Nowacek. Read an update.

Digital acoustic recording tags (DTAGs) are an unparalleled tool for recording acoustic signals and making behavioral measurements of diving marine mammals. The electronics of the tag are powered by a lithium battery. Triboelectric power would allow the tags to be deployed over longer periods of time because it eliminates the need for recharging. The data collected by DTAGs enable researchers to learn about diving behavior of tagged animals in the presence and absence of anthropogenic noise, and an elimination of the dependence on a battery allows for more robust data collection.

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First row: Anuhita Basavaraju, Adriana Lapuerta, Kira Battle, Luiza Perez, Jeremy Spater, Aakash Jain. Second row: Kushal Kadakia, Jackie Lin, Shivani Shah, Ashley Blawas, Brandon Dalla Rosa, Sam Kelly