Bass Connections and Graduate Students

grad students

Bass Connections bridges the classroom and the real world, giving students a chance to roll up their sleeves and tackle complex societal challenges alongside faculty from across Duke. Working in interdisciplinary research teams, students at all levels collaborate with faculty, postdocs and outside experts on cutting-edge research that spans subjects and borders.

In addition to joining a team, graduate/professional students, postdoctoral scholars and trainees/fellows can also propose projects with at least one faculty team leader

For graduate and professional students in particular, benefits of participating in a Bass Connections project team include:

  • Enhancing dissertation or master’s thesis research
  • Co-authoring publications
  • Deepening relationships with key faculty
  • Gaining project management experience and opportunities for funding
  • Accessing professional development resources
  • Honing career-enhancing skills to stand out on the job market
  • Networking with colleagues in diverse fields
  • Getting experience mentoring others, particularly undergraduates 

Graduate students play pivotal roles within Bass Connections projects. Because the teams include faculty and undergraduates, often most familiar with a lecturer-learner model, graduate students often become facilitators who serve as project managers and additional mentors for undergraduate students.

Bass Connections also offers semester-long courses as well as summer programs such as Data+ and Story+ in which graduate students serve as mentors.

Graduate and professional students seeking leadership roles are also encouraged to join the Bass Connections Student Advisory Council.

Browse stories from Ph.D., M.D. and master's students on their Bass Connections experience, and check out how Bass Connections has helped doctoral students enhance their dissertation research.

Here’s what graduate students are saying about Bass Connections

It’s a rewarding experience. With dedication, these teams turn into large projects that continue. This is also a good experience for graduate students before going into the workplace as it teaches you how to work within a team, which is not always a skill graduate students are good at after spending years focusing on their own research.

Participation on the team has enriched my own research project. I have been able to share and discuss with the team the results from my dissertation research; to produce and compare new analyses; and to learn from the different perspectives and backgrounds of my team members.

My participation on our project team was an integral part of my dissertation work, which may not have been funded without the critical support of Bass Connections.

I have the chance to hone the skills required to manage and coordinate a group of researchers. In addition to contributing to a joint and synergistic academic project, I am confident that I am forming long-lasting academic partnerships for my professional career.

For PhD students, I encourage them to look at it as an opportunity to expand the scope of their research experience, forge new collaborations (i.e., network!) and attain more publications, all of which will be very good for their career.

Bass Connections is an ideal forum for interdisciplinary collaboration, skill building, knowledge acquisition, professional growth and developing innovative solutions—I highly encourage any graduate student to participate.

I gained valuable experience in mentoring the undergraduate members of our project team, which I believe contributed greatly to my achievement of the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring. And my involvement is leading to two first-author publications.

Bass Connections was a really good way to participate in a larger research project that gave me more data to work with. The project influenced my master’s thesis, which in turn affected the type of job I’m qualified for.