Summer 2020

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ISSUE 106, NO. 2









Class of 2020


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Summer 2020 | Vol. 106 | No. 2

Spring 2020 | Vol. 106 | No. 1

“Those of us who are not subject to the daily oppression of racism must engage deeply, and with humility, with humanity, and with honesty. We must commit to doing so in a sustained way and not only in response to a moment of national crisis. We live with overwhelming evidence of systematic differences in life chances. They are there to be seen. And yet too often those of us not burdened by racism choose not to see, or we choose to explain away those disparities rather than move to correct them. Here at Duke, we aspire to be agents of progress in advancing racial equity and justice; but it would be more than fair to say that we have often not fully embraced that mission. Our history makes that clear. We have accomplished so much in which we take pride, and yet we have often been slow to do the right things, the hard things, the transformative things. We must take transformative action now toward eliminating the systems of racism and inequality that have shaped the lived experiences of too many members of the Duke community. That starts with a personal transformation, and I’m prepared to do that work. It must end in institutional transformation, and that is the hard work before all of us.”—PRESIDENT VINCENT E. PRICE FEATURES:





Let's dance A new M.F.A. program explores the choreography of everyday life. By Scott Huler

Projects to fight the pandemic, a graphic account of modeling, going virtual quickly

Chris Hildreth

Working for better outcomes





Researchers at the Marine Lab are using social science and community outreach to help the area help itself. By Corbie Hill

For Nobel Prize-winner Bill Kaelin ’79, M.D. ’83, “solving puzzles” has paid off.






Keva Creative

M.F.A. graduate Fati Abubakar’s image of the African diaspora

With a charge Student projects move from theoretical to actual at the Power Plant Galley. By Janine Latus

Phyllis Dooney


FULLFRAME MUSIC AMID MASKS: Pianist and artist-inresidence William Dawson helps brighten the atmosphere in the Duke Children’s Health Center. Photo by Jared Lazarus




rotests sparked by police actions. Anxiety over (invented) outside agitators. “Lawand-order” leaders drawn into competing crises. Media accounts—Newsweek, in one case—offering assessments that to be Black in America is to assume “that America is after all a racist society.”

Such was the fraught state of the nation in 1967. With racially charged flare-ups in more than 150 cities, some of them violent, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed an eleven-person commission. It would be headed by Illinois Governor Otto Kerner, seen as a moderate Democrat. The idea was to make sense of the unraveling: What happened? Why did it happen? What can be done to prevent it from happening again and again? And here we are, in a landscape much changed but achingly familiar: It keeps happening. From a fifty-year perspective, John Koskinen ’61 looked back on that work in a Russell Sage Foundation monograph, “Measuring the Distance: The Legacy of the Kerner Report.” (His coauthor was Rick Loessberg, director of planning and development for Dallas County, Texas.) Koskinen’s perspective was hardly disinterested: Just three years out of law school, toggling between Los Angeles and Washington, where he was looking for a staff position on Capitol Hill, he would join the commission as special assistant to the deputy executive director. For him, it became, in a sense, a postgraduate course on the scope of a national crisis. -KERNER COMMISSION A former Law Review editor, he would play a role in editing the report; he would also help inform the commissioners of the raw reality of racism in the U.S. Part of his role was supporting their visits to riot-torn cities. It’s one thing, he told me in a late-June phone conversation, to be listening to testimony in formal settings—quite another to be on the ground and engaging with individual stories of long-standing grievances. When the retrospective came out three years ago, Koskinen had his own title as commissioner—of the In-

“What white Americans have never fully understood—but what the Negro can never forget— is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.”


ternal Revenue Service. The Kerner Commission stint would always be a backdrop, a pivot point and a reference point, in a long career. Later, Koskinen would head the Washington lobbying office for New York City—whose mayor, John Lindsay, was vice chair of the commission; look after the interests of a majority African-American city as deputy mayor and city administrator of the District of Columbia; help improve operations of the federal government as deputy director for management of the White House Office of Management and Budget; coordinate preparations at the federal level and throughout the country for the transition to the year 2000; and, in the midst of the economic meltdown of 2008, chair Freddie Mac (the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation). Beyond his public-service roles, he would take on organizational-turnaround roles: Alongside Victor Palmieri, the Kerner Commission’s deputy director, he would build a company that eventually brought new life into failing entities like the Penn Central Railroad, the Teamsters Pension Fund, and the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company. When the commission released its findings, in February 1968, Johnson—celebrated (or satirized) for appointing a record-breaking twenty presidential commissions—canceled the White House ceremony. He avoided public comments on the work of the commission, and he even refused to sign the customary letters recognizing the commissioners for their service. Koskinen and I talked a couple of weeks after he had joined his first-ever protest, in the form of a rush-hour show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The organizers were churches along 16th Street, which stretches from Silver Springs, Maryland, through D.C. to the White House, and to the newly named Black Lives Matter Plaza. In a similarly troubled time, with L.B.J. in the White House, something else mattered a lot: the president’s sinking political fortunes. He was convinced that urban rioting could not have been spontaneous, and that a firm law-and-order response would be well-received. A commission made up largely of establishment-types—“no flamethrowers,” in Koskinen’s phrase—would, he expected, affirm a “Great Society” agenda topped by landmark civil-rights legislation. Rather than affirmation, Johnson was presented with an indictment of America’s racist legacy. A chapter on the history of racism in America was unsparing, portraying as it did a society that was not great for everyone. It was based on the work of African-American historian

PAST AND PRESENT: During the simmering summer of 1967, protesters confront federal troops in Newark.

/AFP via Getty Images

lanta; earlier this summer, after a video emerged of another fatal police shooting of an African American, his most recent successor resigned. In a finding that echoes across the decades, the report didn’t hold back on police brutality: “Almost invariably the incident that ignites disorder arises from police action.” With a renewed national focus on Black lives, Koskinen sees a sad irony and a lost opportunity: “A lot of what we’re now talking about, like the impulse to send in troops against the protesters, was the wrong thing to do then, and it remains the wrong thing to do. The report called out the need to recruit a diverse police force, to train them better, to have the police focus on community

John Hope Franklin, who would finish off his career of teaching and scholarship at Duke. As the report put it: “What white Americans have never fully understood—but what the Negro can never forget—is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.” From that unvarnished history, the report looked to a hopeful future, with a set of suggested initiatives: expanding training opportunities for the unemployed, extending early-childhood education, adding millions of low-income housing units, providing more social services through neighborhood centers, offering tax incentives for investment in impoverished areas, and on and on. But Johnson felt too beleaguered to be building up the Great Society: From the right, he was facing a backlash against the Fair Housing Act and other social-welfare programs; from the left, he was grappling with growing resistance to the Vietnam War. That hopeful future, then, was put on hold. Koskinen told me it was important for the report to be fact-based, especially in light of past commissions that were quick to blame racial unrest on “riffraff” rather than on underlying conditions. (A prior commission, looking at the Watts riots in 1965, had cited the “extreme and emotional nature” of complaints from Black citizens.) “We felt we needed to ground the findings in the larger context, in the history of racial discrimination. So who were the people in the streets, where did their anger and frustration come from, what was the reality like for them?” Among the commissioners was the police chief of At-

“Almost invariably the incident that ignites disorder arises from police action.”-KERNER COMMISSION relations, and to have a transparent and accountable system for police mistakes. It’s amazing how little has been done since then. You shouldn’t be tear-gassing protesters, and militarizing the police is a terrible mistake.” Discrimination—not radicals, riffraff, or a conspiracy— had been responsible for the rioting, the report said. And it carried an enduringly sober warning, based on such indicators as housing, life expectancy, income, and educational attainment: America was moving toward “two societies, one white, one black—separate and unequal.” That warning, as described in “Measuring the Distance,” focused the nation’s attention on race and the conditions of Black communities as no other government report had ever done. Newspaper headlines declared “White Racism Blamed in Riots,” television networks devoted special coverage to the report, and the public rushed to read it. By the end of its first month, more people had bought copies of it than had bought copies of the Warren Commission report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy during the equivalent period; within three months, 1.6 million copies of the Kerner Report had been sold. continued on page 6

DUKE MAGAZINE SUMMER 2020 | Vol. 106 | No. 2 | EDITOR: Robert J. Bliwise A.M. ’88 MANAGING EDITOR: Adrienne Johnson Martin SENIOR WRITER: Scott Huler STAFF WRITER: Corbie Hill CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Christina Holder M.Div. ’13 STAFF ASSISTANT: Delecia Hatcher PUBLISHER: Sterly L. Wilder ’83, associate vice president, Alumni Affairs ART DIRECTOR: Lacey Chylack, phase5creative, inc. PRINTER: Progress Printing OFFICERS, DUKE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION: Mychal Harrison ’01, president, Sterly L. Wilder ’83, secretary-treasurer DUKE MAGAZINE Box 90572, Durham, N.C. 27708 PHONE: (919) 684-5114 FAX: (919) 681-1659 E-MAIL: ADDRESS CHANGES: Alumni Records, Box 90581, Durham, N.C. 27708 or • © 2020 Duke University, Published five times a year by the Duke Alumni Association.




... continued from page 5

“Measuring the Distance” argues that the Kerner Commission had a lasting impact—though Koskinen says he

home ownership rate for Blacks is basically unchanged. Economic indicators are one measure of how racism remains embedded in the American story. Other indicators are more disturbing, Koskinen and his coauthor acknowledged in their retrospective. Among them is the felt need to have “the talk” with Black children about the consequences of police interactions. More than five decades later, they wrote, the commission’s report maintains “the power when a questionable police shooting occurs to quickly remind us that not as much progress has been made as thought (or hoped).”—Robert J. Bliwise, editor

“A lot of what we’re now talking about, like the impulse to send in troops against the protesters, was the wrong thing to do then, and it remains the wrong thing to do.” wishes the impact had been greater. Its influence can be seen in public policies that have helped in closing the life-expectancy gap between Blacks and Whites, promoting a Black middle class, and bringing down the poverty rate for Black families. Still, Black median income is only about 60 percent that of Whites, and the




Letters&Comments giving

Call to action I am a proud alumnus and the son of very middle-class North Carolinians, who was fortunate enough to be the recipient of a Braxton Craven scholarship. I graduated debt-free because of the largess of a family I never knew. I am eternally grateful to those who came before me and established this scholarship program. My experiences as an undergraduate helped to shape my mind and my spirit, my goals and my values—priceless parts of my life. In 2020, with a medical pandemic and a racial pandemic tearing at the fiber of our nation, I have come to wonder if Duke University can and should be more than the Cameron Crazies. Duke is a leader in academics, in health care, in business, and in the world. Yet, without programs like the Braxton Craven, young men and women who will be the shapers of tomorrow simply cannot afford to accept admission to our university. At least not without taking on spectacular debt (which collectively now exceeds $1 trillion for students of all colleges and universities in the U.S.). We may offer an education and a culture of immeasurable value, but few can afford it. So, as I look back and cherish the gift given to me by the Braxton Craven 6




scholarship program, I feel powerfully called (to use a One good Methodist word) to Big Step “pay it forward.” I do not have the wealth or assets of the Duke family or the Braxton Craven family, but I do understand the power of the collective: the power of the community acting as a family. Imagine, if you will, what would happen if Duke alumni everywhere committed to future generations in the form of an endowed guarantee that all Duke students (undergraduate and graduate) would graduate debt-free. Other schools are already making this a reality—Duke needs to lead instead of follow. I know it will be a massive, longterm capital campaign. Yet I also know that this pledge to “academic excellence and social justice,” presented to Duke’s vastly successful alumni base, can become a reality. After all, the Cameron Crazies have been called nuts for years. What better way to evolve that group See more stories of gratitude at:

An AIDS vaccine isn’t in hand. But lessons learned from fifteen years of probing by a global team led by Barton Haynes makes it seem possible.

Through gifts to the Annual Fund, planned giving and other contributions, the outrageously ambitious at Duke are forging an ever better world. What will you make possible?

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than for us to move beyond crazy fans of basketball and sports to crazy fans of the future leaders of our community, our state, our nation, and our world? What better way than for Duke to become known as “the leader in debtfree higher education for all students”? Terry Wilson Steele ’92 Charlotte, North Carolina Off to a great start I’m catching up on reading periodicals and loved this article. I wish my engineering education at Cornell had started with First-Year Design [“Head first and hands on,” Winter 2019]. Brilliant concept to engage students when they’re starting the difficult journey to master the theory of all the diverse, fascinating, challenging subjects in the engineering field. A great one-page article and vivid photo. Jason Tanner WEMBA ’02 Cary, North Carolina

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In 1919, eleven Black janitors asked for a pay increase. Find out what happened in Retro, page 56


During Living While Black, a six-and-a-half-hour special online event, and in other media, Black faculty scholars offered context on how we arrived at this moment of protest and reflection.

“You know, this feels… almost like that moment of Juneteenth, that something has changed, something has shifted in the “The limited steps culture…. It’s like this we’ve made on the way alignment of stars, if to taking care of the you will, that we could broader populace, if we have never imagined. think about something So many Americans like Lyndon Johnson’s were feeling in traumatic Great Society, have states because been radically redone. They of the COVID were under attack from the dynamic, in moment the Congress of the which they 1960s passed them. They have were raising been rolled back in ways small general and large since then. When questions people are out on the street in their and in pain, that pain is own lives, about being hungry. It’s about being disproportionately affected by COVID. That pain is about all of the slow violence we’ve seen erupt into too frequent manifestations of immediate death.”




“The starting point [of economic disparities] is the regardless of race, failure to provide the formerly about whether or not enslaved with the forty-acre they had full citizenship land grants that they were in this country. Because so many folks promised. At the same time, were at home dealing substantial allocations of with COVID and the land were being made to pandemic, it meant White Americans. And then that they spent much subsequently, over the course more time watching of the next eighty years or so, television. So, literally, there was a series of White everyone got massacres that took place to see George across the United States, Floyd’s killing in ways that where Black communities they might that had begun to develop not have some degree of prosperity and been able to independence were literally check in on destroyed. And then, in the before.” twentieth century, there was a —MARK ANTHONY NEAL, JAMES B. DUKE PROFESSOR sustained pattern of discrimination AND CHAIR, AFRICAN & in access to home ownership on AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDIES the part of Blacks, starting with the existence of restrictive covenants, following through with redlining and the accompanying predatory-lending practices that were associated with obtaining home mortgages. So, we have a set of public policies that lie at the heart of the creation of this gaping wealth gap.” —WILLIAM “SANDY” DARITY, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC POLICY, AFRICAN & AFRICANAMERICAN STUDIES, AND ECONOMICS; DIRECTOR, SAMUEL DUBOIS COOK CENTER ON SOCIAL EQUITY




Then came COVID-19. The shortage of N95 masks that complicated early response in the United States gave Duke a straightforward problem: to decontaminate and reuse face masks that until then had been treated as single-use throwaway items. Antony Schwartz is biological safety officer for Duke University and Duke Health. When it became evident that personal protective equipment shortThe COVID-19 Engineering Response Team tackles ages were going to be serious, he knew that VHP was projects the pandemic throws its way. working at Duke and looked up research on using it for masks. He found a paper by the Battelle Memoriuke has one surprising place to look for al Institute, an applied-science nonprofit, which had its quick response to the COVID-19 in 2016 successfully tested using VHP to treat N95 pandemic: the Ebola outbreak of masks, though nobody had tried it in the real world. 2014-15. It seemed like a good time. Matthew Stiegel, assistant vice presThey did. They outfitted a room with racks for the ident for occupational and environmental safety for masks, used a special biological indicator (a small Duke University and Duke Health, says that during steel disk that contains a million or so spores that are the 2014-15 outbreak Duke was a designated tranmuch smaller and harder to neutralize than the corosition center that might have had to hold an Ebola navirus), and found that the process fully decontaminated the masks, wherever they were in the room. patient in the United States. “We had to prepare just They applied for and received an Emergency Use in case we got someone at Duke and we’d have to Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Adminhold them for forty-eight hours,” Stiegel recalls. That istration, and they can now decontaminate masks up meant a lot of work figuring out how to completely to ten times. The process seems to work many times decontaminate not just a patient room but also an more (after thirty cycles the straps start to fail), but ambulance. Basically, steaming the environments ten is the limit the FDA authorized. with vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP) did the Workers often use masks for only a moment at a trick. Duke had also learned how to similarly decontaminate rooms in the Regional Biocontainment Lab time. Instead of discarding them after a single use, of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. That meant they put their own mask in a labeled paper bag and they were ready. reuse it during their shift. At the end of the shift they place it in a collection bin. Merely reusing masks is making a difference, and the decontamination multiplies that. They’ve published papers on the technique and procedure they’ve developed and spoken with caregivers all over the world, helping them do the same. It’s not just masks, though. There is at least another dozen or so projects undertaken at Duke to solve the problems COVID-19 has flung its way. Eric Richardson, associate professor of the practice in biomedical engineering, points to the interdisciplinary Design Health program of the Pratt School that brings together people from the schools of business, engineering, and nursing to solve problems in health-care technology. In response to the current crisis, that program transmogrified into the COVID-19 Engineering Response Team, with the help of the Office of Information Technology and other GIVE IT A TRY: Professor Eric Richardson, left, tests a

A pipeline for problem-solving


powered, air-purifying respirator device. 10

Photos courtesy

“Early on there were a lot of people yelling at us to design ventilators or sew masks. There was a lot of reactionary thinking.”

interdisciplinary partners as different constituencies came forward with needs for medical equipment. It took a moment to find their way. “You don’t just jump in and solve the problem,” Richardson says. “You have to understand the problem first. Early on there were a lot of people yelling at us to design ventilators or sew masks. There was a lot of reactionary thinking. What the team did well was sit back and understand what the anticipated needs are.” They slowed down, prioritized needs, and developed a sustainable long-term approach: “basically a pipeline to continue to handle projects and requests as we go.” The first project involved surgical needs for PPE for surgeons dealing with COVID-positive patients: full Dustin Hoffman-in-Contagion-style suits, which control air flow. The hospital did have hoods surgeons wear during joint replacement surgery, and orthopedic surgeon Melissa Erickson brought them to Richardson and asked whether his group could find a way to make something work. With help from the 3D printers in the Innovation Co-Lab (the creativity incubator that connects the Duke community with programming help and technology resources), they

HEADS UP: Melissa could. “We were able to take that Erickson, a surgeon, dons idea from concept to clinical implementation in a couple of weeks,” a PAPR device featuring a 3D-printed part rapidly Richardson says. “Whereas that usually takes a couple of years.” designed, tested, and produced by the Duke A team of around forty people, COVID-19 Engineering mostly students, has been working all Response Team. summer on various projects. Around a dozen are now in the pipeline, including 3D-printable face masks; some 70,000 have been printed out, and the design has been downloaded by more than a hundred other organizations. A simple pressure-negative chamber for COVID patients nears approval, and many other projects are moving along. Now the team has a website, where people can submit requests or ideas and volunteer. Richardson is glad the team has been able to accomplish so much so quickly, but “we’re aware of what hasn’t been done. It could always be done faster or better, so we’re aware of that.” Regardless, the team was built for the long haul, which is a good thing. “The beginning was a sprint, but now we’ve hunkered down into a marathon.” —Scott Huler





Brief mentions of things going on among Duke researchers, scholars, and other enterprises



A synthetic molecule that makes cocaine feel less good to mice also may represent a NEW CLASS OF DRUGS that could address cravings and dampen the drug’s results more specifically and with fewer side effects than current medications. ➔ FISH CAN CARRY MERCURY from gold-mining operations hundreds of kilometers, elevating mercury levels in children far downstream from Peruvian Amazonian mining operations. ➔ There are lots of places in the brain to turn pain on, but mice have an area in their amygdalae that counterintuitively TURNS PAIN OFF. The amygdala is considered the home of negative emotions, so scientists hope the area will give insight into how the brain manages pain, explaining things like the placebo effect.

PEOPLE All those studies showing how MRIs of your BRAINWAVES can tell all your secrets? Um, maybe not so much. ➔ You can introduce a genetic “barcode” to a collected DNA SAMPLE to guarantee that a sample taken in the field, transported to a lab, and processed for genetic identification (a process called “DNA fingerprinting”) is genuine. ➔ Biomedical engineers are developing a massive fluid-dynamics simulator that can MODEL BLOOD FLOW through the full human arterial system at subcellular resolution. ➔ The Black middle class turns out to be very hard to find. ➔ Speaking of which, as bad as the RACIAL WEALTH GAP is generally, it’s worse for families with children.

MISCELLANY The coal ash from a Kentucky power plant released in a 2008 spill had a content of URANIUM and its deadly breakdown products three times higher than public reports had shown. ➔ When hexagonal iron sulfide (found naturally on Earth but more commonly in meteors) exists at high temperatures it becomes both a magnet and an insulator. If scientists can learn to control that strange behavior with electricity, they may be able to use the intrinsic spin of electrons to store and manipulate data: This is called spin electronics, or SPINTRONICS. Stay tuned. ➔ SHIPPING DATA OVER LIGHT WAVES, using amplitude, wavelength, and polarization yields lots of paths for data communication but still doesn’t provide enough bandwidth to prevent information bottlenecks. Spin angular momentum and orbital angular momentum, properties of light waves both spinning on axes like a rotating planet and traveling along orbital paths like orbiting planets,



lead to “Vortex Microlaser” communication, in which nanoscale lasers will produce laser light on which information can be transmitted in the relationship between orbital and spin angular momentum. Quantum theory gets involved, too, but if we tried to explain it we would cry. ➔ Reusing low-saline OILFIELD WATER that’s been mixed with surface water to irrigate farms in California’s Kern County does not pose major health risks, it turns out.

DUKE Rising senior Rohin Maganti was among the 396 undergraduates from around the country awarded a BARRY M. GOLDWATER SCHOLARSHIP, a federally endowed award supporting careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. Maganti is Duke’s eighty-fifth Goldwater Scholar. ➔ The John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute has announced two new interdisciplinary humanities labs: the AMAZON HUMANITIES LAB, which will focus on the amazing heterogeneity of the Amazon region, and the MANUSCRIPT MIGRATION LAB, treating the manuscripts held by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as artifacts and considering legal, cultural, and ethical questions they raise. ➔ Nearly all the world’s governments have tried in one way or another to address the problems of PLASTICS IN THE ENVIRONMENT, often focusing on plastic bags. It’s not clear how well that’s working. An analysis by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions gathers all those policies and research into their effectiveness into a searchable database. ➔ To help companies address the need to understand and work with their data, the Pratt School of Engineering is launching an online GRADUATE CERTIFICATE in AI Foundations for Product Innovation (AIPI). ➔ Duke will receive a $20 million gift from the GRAINGER FAMILY DESCENDANTS FUND, “on the recommendation of an anonymous 1979 Duke graduate who serves as an adviser to the fund.” The gift will support research and education to find solutions to planetary environmental issues. ➔ John Brown, director of the Duke University Jazz Program and professor of the practice of music, has been named VICE PROVOST FOR THE ARTS, succeeding the retiring Scott Lindroth, who will return to teaching full time. ➔ At the NASHER MUSEUM, retiring director Sarah Schroth is succeeded by Trevor Schoonmaker, deputy director of curatorial affairs and Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Curator of contemporary art. ➔ Gregory J. Victory, formerly director of the Career Center at Tufts University, has been named Fannie Mitchell Executive Director of the DUKE CAREER CENTER and assistant vice president of STUDENT AFFAIRS. ➔ DUKE PERFORMANCES has a new director in Bobby Ascher, formerly director of programming at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven, Conn. ➔ JOHN BLACKSHEAR, after serving as associate vice provost of undergraduate education and dean of academic affairs for Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, has now become dean of students and associate vice president of student affairs. n

Go to for links to further details and original papers.

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Mark McClellan is the founding director of the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy and former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. What does the fall season look like with the coronavirus?

I’m cautiously optimistic. That said, we need to prepare for a potential additional wave. That’s been the feature of previous pandemics, and there also are a lot of reasons to think there could be a bigger surge in cases in the fall, with the return to school, with changes in the weather, and with outbreaks that are still very active in other parts of the world. We are reopening in the U.S., and we’re definitely seeing outbreaks associated with reopening.

Is it likely that the virus might have been around for a long time without conspicuously infecting humans? The virus probably was around in the animal community for some time. Genetic testing and studies of animal populations in China, where we think the virus arose, will help address that question. We also are getting very good at doing genetic tests of the different viral variants that are present in different places around the world, which can help us understand how the virus actually spreads. In the western U.S., it looks

antibody levels over time. And then what you’d really like to know is not just what the antibody levels are, but is there any evidence that those individuals either get reinfected or could potentially transmit the virus again? That means doing that other kind of test, the diagnostic test for whether you’ve got an active viral infection, on those same individuals over time. If it’s like other coronaviruses, at least for people who had a significant infection and mounted a significant response, the response should be present for a while,

The public-health impact and the economic impact of COVID-19 is way bigger than any infectious disease that we’ve seen in a long time. How does this novel coronavirus differ from SARS and MERS, two earlier pathogens?

They are very different. I was FDA commissioner during the SARS outbreak. We did see significant outbreaks in places like Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan; as a result of that experience, they built much stronger public-health surveillance systems to prevent future outbreaks. The SARS outbreak was contained essentially because it did not spread so easily. While the cases of SARS and MERS tended to be more severe, the number of cases and the transmissibility makes COVID-19 much more challenging to manage.


like the spread from China was initially important. In the eastern U.S., it spread from Europe with slightly different genetic variants. I don’t think that’s a reason to worry, by the way, that the virus is mutating so that it won’t respond to that potentially effective vaccine or other treatments.

Will we ever know whether people are protected from the coronavirus after having been infected by it?

I hope so. What you need to do is identify a whole population of people who have been exposed to the virus and have recovered and measure their antibody levels—that’s the serology test—and then track those

maybe not years, but at least long enough to get through this vaccine season. It does look like, from other coronaviruses, that some of that immunity should persist for a while.

Why is it that some people cope easily with the disease and may not ever know they have it, while others develop severe inflammation, lung damage, and so forth? This is still a relatively new and not-well-understood virus. It does appear that one of the factors in the intensity of the response is not the virus itself but the body’s immune reaction to the virus. It looks like blood type matters, that men apparently do worse than women, and


Courtesy Mark McClellan

that immune response is an important factor.

Are you at all concerned that the race to develop the vaccine, or a whole bunch of vaccines, might be proceeding too quickly, at the risk of insufficiently ensuring safety or effectiveness?

The typical process for a vaccine is a long and uncertain and linear process. There’s preclinical development, then clinical testing, and after that, review and manufacturing. It all can take many years. The public-health impact and the economic impact of COVID-19 is way bigger than any infectious disease that we’ve seen in a long time. That means there are a whole lot more resources being devoted to developing vaccines. Second, on the biomedical side, we’ve got a wider array of platforms that potentially could produce effective vaccines than ever before. For example, vaccine platforms that are based on viruses that we know don’t cause adverse health consequences for people but that cause individuals to

mount an immune response. So what’s happening is that long linear process is becoming a parallel process, with clinical testing and manufacturing going on at the same time for lots of vaccine candidates. We still need to do the large clinical trials with lots of people, because these are vaccines that are going to be given to millions if not billions of relatively healthy individuals. We need to make sure that there aren’t important safety side effects, as, unfortunately, has happened in a number of vaccines that ultimately didn’t make it to market. And we need to make sure that the vaccines really are effective. They may not be fully effective, but at least as good as a flu shot. That takes significant clinical testing, too. There also is a lot of investment in manufacturing hundreds of millions or billions of doses before we even know whether these vaccines work or not. We may end up having to throw those away. But the main goal is to make sure there is no delay between finishing the clinical tests—which for

some of these vaccines will be done by later this year—and then having a significant supply of vaccines available for use.

Has the coronavirus revealed health disparities, exacerbated health disparities, or both?

We already knew we had big health disparities in this country, and the COVID-19 crisis is exacerbating them. And it’s because of reasons that we ought to be able to address, like people working in jobs where they have a high risk of exposure. It’s because of differences in access to early diagnosis, testing, and treatment that could potentially help prevent spreads and at least support people if they have very serious cases. For lower-income individuals, for Blacks, for Native Americans, we’re seeing very big disparities, both in the rate of cases and in the outcomes when cases occur. This is a big challenge for the country to respond to the pandemic, but my hope is that our response will get at these underlying health disparities. —Robert J. Bliwise









rity officer and director of identity management. The challenge was keeping staff engaged, focused, and productive, not because there wasn’t enough work, but because there was too much. Another challenge, Vizas adds, was not burning people

ogy infrastructure and a classroom dynamic that does not disadvantage the students who are distant from the students who are in person,” he says. “When everyone was away, including me, we were all in the same boat.” “You also have to



out, even as IT professionals worked eighteen-hour days. The Zoom license was scaled up, and Vizas’ team tested this soon-to-be ubiquitous tool’s capacity, throwing meetings with 1,500 participants and seeing what happened. On the health side, OIT created thousands of accounts for new iPads commissioned for telehealth and virtual visits between family members and COVID-19 patients. Yet the focus, Biever recalls, was not on bringing up services, but more on training the Duke community to use them. “We had folks who it’s not their ‘day

look for some of the cooler aspects of it,” says Levine. Students could be anywhere in the world, he says, getting more excited as he continues. Group assignments could be organized by time zone, he says. Projects could have twenty-four-hour development cycles, he says. “Would we take it over normal? I wouldn’t,” Levine says. “But are there interesting opportunities that we would not otherwise have had or come up with? I think that’s also true.” “We’re from IT,” Biever chimes in. “We’re here to help.”—Corbie Hill

Expansion of Duke's capacity for remote audio and video connections

1k to >10k

Accounts allocated by OIT to help with telehealth and remote visits with hospital patients

Changes made to call centers, with most of the changes being COVID-related menu options


OIT employees


Non-OIT employees distributed across campus (not including DUHS, SoM, SoN)


Participants in monthly IT leadership meetings



“Everything was a critical priority.”

t was March 2020, COVID-19 was in North Carolina, and the medical center was pivoting to meet the pandemic head-on while the rest of the Duke community was headed home for the foreseeable future. The university’s Internet could no longer go out, plain and simple, or even slow down. If even one of the main campus’s thenthree Internet links went down, Duke would struggle to carry normal traffic. New circuits and hardware were installed, and then both the university and health system’s Internet traffic were switched to the new, stronger connections—and all without interrupting anyone’s access. The Office of Information Technology already had plans in place for an improved, redundant network; it was supposed to take six months. Duke IT knocked it out in two weeks. “Even if it were only



a brief glitch or a small thing, it’s a bigger thing in a time like this, says OIT director of academic and media technologies Evan Levine. “It instilled a lot of ‘we can make this work’ in faculty and students.” Still, it almost flattened the organization, says Jen Vizas, OIT’s director of projects, services adoption, communications, and engagement. Roles and hierarchy went out the window as IT professionals from across the university pitched in and pulled in the same direction. “People were more readily reaching out to one another and not necessarily worrying about title or going up the chain,” says Vizas. “It was all hands on deck, and all of the IT groups really rose to the challenge.” During the undergraduate spring break, the administration issued the university’s work-from-home order. IT consultant Judy Heath, who had guided Duke Kunshan University through its pandemic-driven pivot to digital, knew from experience what to prioritize. For efficiency’s sake, IT leadership set an official internal communications tool and buckled in. And then it hit. “Everything was a critical priority,” says Richard Biever, OIT’s chief information secu-

job’ to tell somebody how to use [Microsoft] Teams make videos on how to do it,” he says. To that end, three sites went up very quickly: Keep Working, Keep Learning, and Keep Teaching. Spring break was extended to two weeks, during which time course sections were shifted online and Duke’s faculty members received crash courses in remote learning. And then it was done. Spring break ended, Duke continued, and the IT workload normalized. Yet a second storm is on the horizon, and a far more complex one: the fall semester. “I would sort of classify what a lot of my groups are doing as planning to plan,” says Levine. “We don’t know what’s going to happen, but we know what the likely scenarios are. We will do x, y, and z if it’s this.” As of press time, the university is taking a sort of triple-hybrid approach, with classes offered in-person, virtually, and as mixed digital and traditional offerings. This is more challenging to achieve than simply shifting from in-person to virtual, says John Board ’82, associate chief information officer and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, who considers the problem from a faculty standpoint as well. “That’s very daunting, to come up with technol-


tutorial videos made for remote learning, teaching, and working technologies


Telehealth devices set up to allow patientto-doctor visits as well as family-topatient calls


Remote devices created using Jabber (Softphone, iPhone, and iPad configurations), enabling staff to work remotely


Devices working remotely on Duke's enterprise system over a 24-hour period


Network capacity (Redundant to prevent outages and bottlenecks)

100 GB x 2

Number of class sections moved online, post-Spring Break


Mid-March to end of June



Webinars January through mid-March




LET'SDANCE DANCE A new M.F.A. program explores the choreography of everyday life. BY SCOTT HULER PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS HILDRETH 20


S COURTNEY LIU ’13 walks away from the Ark on a cool and cloudy fall day, she considers the class in which she has just participated. She had been asked to sink into the floor of the Ark, the smooth gray floor on which over the years thousands of the best dancers in the world had moved. To sink even through that floor, into the earth beneath. She had been asked to stack her vertebrae one on another, to attune her skin to changes in temperature, and then to perceive warmth and light as if it exerted gravity, and to move toward it. She had done snail eyes, in which she was to ask her

senses to coalesce, to turn away from the light, and then to reach, stretching out like snail eyes, toward the darkness, after which she was to connect with it. With a few other graduate students, teachers, and visitors—Liu is part of the first cohort of graduate students in the brandnew Duke M.F.A. in dance—she had moved in the Ark: twirled, hopped, crept, rolled, writhed, and bent, gracefully. Liu is, after all, a classically trained ballet dancer. She has danced professionally as a member of the company of Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. She has toured Europe in Swan Lake. She has danced with the Rockettes. She had enjoyed the class, Liu says as she thoughtfully

PHYSICALITY: M.F.A. director Michael Klien, left and above, directs his work, “Parliament.”



PROJECT BIO Working as a professional dancer on Broadway and touring, M.F.A. student COURTNEY LIU began asking questions about dance and body image as she saw her colleagues strive to attain an ideal body type deemed necessary in professional ballet. “I began interviewing my colleagues about their experiences, and their responses, combined with a lack of proactive solutions in the literature for ballet instructors, inspired me to return to Duke. My research examines these narratives to better understand why ballet dancers exhibit higher levels of eating disorders, disordered eating, and negative body image than nondancers.�


walks behind the buildings that line the specific, and in fact it’s the type of quesEast Campus quad. “But I’m not sure tion Liu herself has raised in her own that it’s dance.” practice. But the questions the program Given that M.F.A. director Michael asks are more foundational. Klien’s deKlien, associate professor of the practice mand in the exercise—that Liu and the of dance, who teaches the class, talks less other dancers find their own movements, about kicks and pirouettes than about en- express themselves through motion, emcoding reality, perhaps that’s a fair point. body their emotions—differed strongly The title of the M.F.A. in which Liu is enrolled is, after all, “The Master of Fine Arts in Dance: Embodied Interdisciplinary Prax“There are so many is,” which does not instantly radiate, say, the boot-scoot boogie. expectations about what Klien and the M.F.A. fit into a the body has to look like. movement in dance called soFor example, the pointed cial choreography; the program’s website expresses its principles foot is so important. when it says the degree is “dedI’ve never had anybody icated to embodied knowledge and practice-led movement distelling me why the pointed courses,” and “endorses dance as a foot is better than the politically, socially, and spiritually nonpointed foot.” transformative force in society.” Okay, so that’s dance? Then what’s the electric slide? Which is to ask, what is dance, anyway? How does it move from place to place? from Liu’s background. “You do what What is its job? you’re told,” is how she describes her life These are far from rhetorical questions. as a professional dancer. “You’re a paintThey’re at the foundation of not just the brush of the choreographer.” You’re folnew M.F.A. but also of dance itself, and lowing directions, which underscores the the students engage them willingly. Liu’s importance of the technical skill of the wondering about whether Klien’s exer- dancer but raises the same issues about cise was dance or not was not passing dance that Klien raises. “Even if teachers judgment—she wasn’t looking scornfully don’t want it to be this way,” Liu says, at the exercises she had participated in, traditional “dance class ends up being a wasn’t dismissing them. She was think- lot less creative than dancing at a weding aloud. She has danced at some of the ding.” She enjoyed the creative challenge highest levels of her profession, and the of Klien’s exercise, but it still felt like “the approach the M.F.A. takes is challenging skill part was missing.” her assumptions. “There are so many expectations about what the body has to look like,” Klien had said of traditional dance culture during the class they just n the sparkling sunlight of the lobby finished. For example, “the pointed foot of the Rubenstein Arts Center, Klien is so important” in ballet, modern dance, folds his six-and-a-half-foot frame and almost all dance disciplines. Then he into one of the somewhat comfortpaused: “I’ve never had anybody telling me why the pointed foot is better than able chairs and settles down to talk about what dance has as its job and how the the nonpointed foot.” Good point, though that’s only a tiny new program at Duke is perfectly placed


to examine that. Skill is important, but dance is a lot more than technical skill. “Dance is a social technology,” Klien says. “That is the core principle of dance.” Dance is physicality—dance is motion, whether choreographed or not. Klien, from Austria, notes that when he moved to the United States he needed to consider even a new way of standing. In Europe, people tend to stand statically, on two feet; in the United States, he observes, people are more likely to stand primarily on one leg or another, to cock their hips, shifting weight, moving around. That’s dance. The way we arrange ourselves in a group is dance; the way we do or do not invade one another’s kinosphere— the space your body takes up, the length of your reach—is dance. As he says, dance encodes reality. “For example, how we think about gender, about production, about the relation of the individual to the collective.” All of these are encoded in our gaits, in our postures, in our ways of moving. It’s not even encoded, he says: “It’s literally merging,” changing constantly. It’s foundational human expression and movement, going back to fundamental behaviors like animal movement and birdsong, but we’ve lost track of it. Every aspect of our existence is affected by our physicality. We’re animals, embodied beings who exist in physical space, but “we’ve developed this very profound blind spot,” Klien says, “that pretends we’re not.” His practice of dance, his decades of choreography, express those relationships through movement. “My work is to strip back the initial social agreements that are very ancient,” he says, addressing everything from how far apart we stand to “the way we sit on normative furniture heights.” Academia and modern life treat us as if our bodies “just carry the head from one meeting to the next.” As the title of the M.F.A. program states, he’s against that notion of disemDUKE MAGAZINE SUMMER 2020


bodied intellect. Embodiment, full experience of the body and all its complicated relations, is the core of his practice. Klien arrives at Duke in the middle of a life full of study and practice, having received his degrees in dance in England and Scotland and choreographed for companies all over the world, commonly developing improvisational pieces with dancers. “I’m very interested in the thinking body and what the body can think to, this notion of what a body can do. Not in theory or on paper, but what a body can really do.” Klien’s work with the students runs the gamut from pure moveby-move choreography to less organized, more organic movements like those in Liu’s class, always challenging perceptions. If your body expresses your reality, what does that tell you? A culture that spends our time in automobiles and behind desks, sitting passively or staring at screens even as we walk, we demonstrate our culture with our gaits, with our posture. “Every era moves differently,” he says; if we could see how our grandparents moved it would look odd to us, as ours would to coming generations. He sees our current moment as a mess: Neoliberal capitalism has begun collapsing, the climate is in crisis, we’re all at each other’s throats. But that raises a dance question: “How should we move? In response to everything going to pot? What are the strategies we should take?” He sees movement as part of the solution. “If we start moving differently, everything else will give.” He’s not alone. Lecturing fellow of cultural anthropology Katya Weselowski shares the sentiment. “One of the things when I teach medical anthropology, we really begin with the body,” she says. She quotes French sociologist Marcel Mauss as claiming in “Techniques of the Body” that he “could tell a Frenchman by the way he walks down the street.” As a dorm mom to aspiring dancers, she felt the same way: “I used to be able to see from 24

a distance if someone was a ballet student.” A certain erectness of carriage, a placement of foot or leg, and it was obvious who was who. “The way they would walk” gave them away, she says. Her own research has focused on capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian combination of dance, game, and combat vital to the culture in Brazilian favelas. She became interested in the dance as ritual and symbolic behavior and then became interested in the

“This program is asking important questions, like how do we want artists to respond to the world? And what can that really mean for the future: of the dance, and the dancer being responsible for the world?”

body itself. “The body is not just a biological entity; it’s a cultural entity,” she says. “And the way we move is culturally learned.” That works both ways, according to Sarah Wilbur, assistant professor of the practice in dance. A dance performer and a researcher into topics ranging from the relationship funding has to performance and the way dance is perceived, she says that being in dance “is a gateway to larger discussions about the body’s motions and interactions.” The body, as it moves through space, not only represents our culture; it creates it. “We are making the world every day when we go out and move through it,” she says. “Your movement makes the world.” An example she gives is the pose American World Cup soccer player Megan Rapinoe struck after her goal against

France in the 2019 quarterfinals. Rapinoe stood, opened her arms wide, and blithely smiled, in a gesture that was instantly memed—and copied on the streets. “There’s a new gesture where women are opening their arms and standing,” Wilbur says. “It doesn’t take long for gestures to become viral.” And going back to Klien’s point, a woman who stands like that is going to be a different woman from one who walks or stands in culturally standard ways for women. Klien also points out the image of the dancer atop the bronze bull statue created by AdBusters for the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. That dancer is not just making a cultural statement— she’s making culture. “Dance,” Klien says, “encodes a lot of our reality into movement relations.” Our bodies are not only cultural entities that make the world through movements: They encode reality. This gives dance a greater context. Dance isn’t just the conga line at a wedding, what those people do on Dancing With the Stars, a thin woman in a black leotard doing “A Dance to Spring” in a Jules Feiffer cartoon. It’s how you stand when you talk to your boss, it’s your eleven-year-old playing Fortnite, learning the game’s avatars’ dance moves (“emotes,” they’re called within the game), and dancing them himself in the living room. And then seeing, say, the Floss at the next wedding, or performed by a running back as part of a touchdown celebration. Dance moves through the culture, creates the culture, is the culture. The first cohort of M.F.A. students brings with it an openness to this understanding. Eight students, all women, most women of color, come from a variety of backgrounds—and all, like Liu, are looking at more than just performance choreography. Ayan Felix says her understanding of dance has been expanded even in her first term. As a practicing

PROJECT BIO When AYAN FELIX lived in Houston, she practiced dance in traditional ways, in concert and commercial dance. Considering the context of larger human motion, movement, and relation to the world has widened her scope, and she’s looking into the way Durham’s streets and transit affect the communities they intersect. Her research for her M.F.A. “focuses on how travel, home, and community are defined alongside each other, particularly in the Southern Black femme community. I have grown to appreciate the human aspect of transit and how mobility of people, cultures, and cities constantly redefines home. Importantly, I believe performance serves as an indispensable platform to introduce a theory of change.”



PROJECT BIO Practicing psychiatrist SUSAN WEBB has danced throughout her life; through her M.F.A. she is connecting these two lifelong pursuits—two branches of her life’s work. “Building on my clinical observations of the mind-body connection, my work explores new movement paradigms.” Her goal is evolving “a movement method that will be broadly relevant to a spectrum of physical and mental disturbances, and one which will be accessible to all as an essential lifestyle tool for the maintenance of health and wellness.”


Background image, illustration by Santiago Ramón y Cajal

dancer in Houston, she was constrained interviewing dancers about body image to “two avenues: concert dance, or com- in ballet, and what a dancer was supposed mercialized dance.” Even dance programs to look like. Then she attended her fifth that address public issues usually lim- Duke reunion and was inspired to think it themselves “to community service or about research of her own. some kind of children’s program.” “I was on tour, and I didn’t have these At Duke, instead, “this program is asking important questions, like how do we want artists to respond to the world? And what can that really mean for the future: of the dance, and “Choreography is ducks on the dancer being responsible for a duck pond. Choreography the world?” As an undergradis the cafeteria lady, and uate, she studied science, and “especially coming from a neuhow she stands. It’s the roscience background, I like to constellation of movement, think my creative process is still fairly within the get-a-hypotheof stillness, of inanimate sis, test-the-hypothesis scientific objects, of movement.” method.” She came to the program with an interest in physical spaces for African-American creative people to comfortably come together, a type of space she’d intellectual outlets,” she recalls, so she found in Houston. In Durham she’s got started. First she volunteered with found herself thinking about the legacy refugees, but once she found some space of highways like Highway 147 on the in her schedule, she started interviewing Black community and how difficult it is fellow dancers. “In the year after my refor people without cars to move around. union, I’ve done thirty interviews with “I’m really thinking about how we trans- professional dancers,” she says. When she port bodies to places of comfort,” she saw the Duke M.F.A. announced, it felt says, and she expects her research to ad- like time to head back to Duke. “It is redress that issue. ally the only interdisciplinary M.F.A. [in Courtney Liu is having a similar expe- dance] in the country,” she says. rience. A psychology major as a Duke undergraduate, she danced here and even developed a program for Durham children who had been exposed to domestic vioxactly, says Scott Lindroth, then lence to use dance as a way to process their Duke vice provost for the arts (now emotions. “Especially with something returned to the music department): like violence,” she said, “dance seems like The new M.F.A. perfectly expresses an interesting counter to that in that it’s physical: It allows us to get a physicality how Duke’s interdisciplinary reputain a different way.” She loves the M.F.A. tion no longer applies just to more reprogram’s focus on that embodiment, on search-oriented fields. “You think about “potentially showing people a different bigger questions,” he says. When arts way of moving in the world generally. were their own “self-enclosed entity, they That’s what dance does: It explores these “tended to keep us isolated.” But that inthings.” While working as a touring danc- terdisciplinary approach “does affect how er, she came to ponder questions about the arts are positioned in a research unidancer’s bodies and began independently versity,” he says. “How is it legible or not


to someone who is not in the field?” And Lindroth sees the M.F.A., with its focus on praxis—that is, application of understanding—rather than simple practice, as “a way of differentiating what we do with dance versus what other schools do.” Klien talks about academia treating people as though their bodies are merely transportation units for their brains. The focus on embodiment turns the body itself into “a tool to understand the social contract, to understand individual freedom and how we form these relations and how those relations change.” Events during 2019 demonstrated that focus. They included “The Dancing Species: Human Bodily Movement and the Fate of the Earth,” for example, in which dancer and scholar Kimerer LaMothe addressed the way humans use dance to create relationships, among themselves and with nature. Israeli dancer and scientist Asaf Bachrach came, too, and at a presentation in the Ark called “Improvising Science: Research as Practice,” he explained that he thinks of dance “as a research protocol; thinking of dance as a tool rather than as an object, which is not a trivial distinction.” He spoke about using science to study the way dancers improvise but also using improvisation as a model for understanding and doing science: dancing through science, you might say. An Ark full of undergraduate students, mostly science majors taking a dance course, listened raptly. Barbara Dickinson, professor emerita of dance and for eighteen years director of the Duke dance program, finds the new direction of the program “interesting and also mind-bending.” When Klien was hired in 2017, he still had performances scheduled in Europe, so he visited and used Skype as she cotaught with him a course called “Dancing States of Mind: The self—social and political practice of dance.” “Just trying to twist my head around DUKE MAGAZINE SUMMER 2020


understanding that way of movement” was a challenge, she says, but “I found it also incredibly inspiring and interesting.” She’s quick to point out that Duke dancers, M.F.A. or otherwise, don’t have to follow Klien’s lead. All styles of dance are taught, and dancers pursue any direction their interests and research lead them. But research is fundamental: “We want people who are trying to make a difference in the world and have already thought of projects as part of their application.” Says Lindroth, “It’s a signature M.F.A. that kind of stands for what Duke’s trying to do.” Half the credits come from dance, and half from virtually anywhere else in the university, taking Duke’s interdisciplinary approach as foundational. Yes, dance, but applied to what else? Klien echoes that thought: “This whole thing should stew,” he says. “It’s a research university. There must be a good reason for it to be here.”


good example of the combination of Duke’s multidisciplinary approach and the practice of embodiment championed by Klien takes place right back in the Ark, as Susan Webb, a practicing psychiatrist and a student in the M.F.A. program, leads a group of premedical students in the Reimagining Medicine program, which encourages students heading toward health fields to think about suffering, healing, and the body in ways often overlooked in traditional medical training. For a workshop called “The Everyday Choreography of the Healer,” Webb greets the students at the door, giving them a history of the Ark, “a hallowed hall where many great acts of embodiment have occurred.” She invites them (sans shoes; Ark rules) to enter “silently, as a meditative act.” Lest they fall into their habits of using their bodies as little more than transportation units for their brains, she says, “I invite you to enter as a mammal.” She en28

courages them to wander the space, and they do. They run, walk, open doors, try the window shade cords. One student stops halfway up the stairs, moving his feet along the ridges of a stair tread. Eventually they gather on cushions around a carpet, and she explains that their class will be “an experiment in choreography, not in the traditional sense.” She walks them through an exercise not dissimilar from Klien’s practice of sensory focus, urging them to release their gaze, “so you’re scanning the absolute gaze of the dancer…also the absolute gaze of the animal in the world.” She asks them what choreography is, then explains that it’s not just a series of movements distilled to a pattern. The students sitting in a circle, Webb standing beside the circle, is choreography. “Choreography is ducks on a duck pond. Choreography is the cafeteria lady, and how she stands. It’s the constellation of movement, of stillness, of inanimate objects, of movement.” She has them get up, and she leads them

“Dance is a social technology.”

through a series of movements, asking them to move, then to read pieces of writing they’ve brought, then to run, and then to meditate. What she has planned to be a one-after-another series turns into a mixed, somewhat cacophonous mix of overlapping reading, running, and hula-hooping. “This is an example,” she tells them afterwards, “of cocreative reality.” They’ve learned to be responsive to one another, to create a reality that works for them in the moment and place they are in. After they’ve left the Ark, she explains. “I chose not to use the word ‘dance.’ I specifically did not invite them here to dance, yet no one could argue there was no dancing happening.” She’s thrilled

with how the exercise went and how it fits into her own practice. Several decades older than most of her cohort, Webb danced throughout her life but never made it her exclusive focus. Then as she sought to find an alternative in her practice to what she perceived as the talkiness and stasis of psychoanalysis and the seeming sterility of psychopharmacology, she returned to dance, “to find a way to get people off psychotropic medicine and into their bodies.” She became, she says, “an embodied psychiatrist,” then stops, delighted. “I’ve never called myself that before this minute, but it’s accurate.” Her e-mail signature reads, “If you just set people in motion, they’ll heal themselves.” Move-

sphere that represents that person. “That person is not in your head,” he says. “You have an embodied interaction with that person. Our cognition, according to Lakoff, has a shape. “Let’s unfold that kinetic sculpture.” They are to use their motions to express whether that shape is hard or soft, square, round, spiky, anything. Is the shape large or small, static or dynamic, approachable or repellent? He guides them through perception of the surface and the inside of the shape. “I refer to that as a choreographic cell,” he says. “And you let them have their own life. It might be a fluffy ball of love but might turn into a spiky square—without you having control.” The understanding comes through the embodiment of that relationship. “When I started” the choreography for the exercise, decades ago, Klien says, “this was a real rational construction.” Now it’s far more experiential. “You are your pattern,” he says. “It makes the universe more beautiful. Eventually, everybody’s on the dance floor with you.” Webb responds almost immediately: “Because everybody already is.” Every circle is a dance; every stride is a dance. Every pattern, every relationship is a dance, and dance is a way to understand. A visitor nods, and notes that they’re on the same path: trying to figure out what dance is. Courtney Crumpler, an M.F.A. student who spent six previous years in Brazil dancing as a street performer, not uncommonly on stilts, laughs. “When you figure it out,” she asks, “will you tell us?” n

GO: In “Parliament,” a piece by Michael Klien, the director of the new M.F.A. in dance, participants—who are mostly non-dancers—are given directions to move and interact in silence. A parliament is a place where people go to work out their relations, and Klien’s choreography and teaching focus on people in relation. Later, as COVID-19 became central, he wondered how this piece would be repositioned ‘in light of the current de-touching.’ A piece exploring the foundations of how people relate to one another can be “more pressing now, but it could be contextualized as the way back from where we are now, a tool to find a ‘new normal' on the other side of the curve.”

ment is already in use in healing (for Parkinson’s patients, for example), “and I’m interested in cultivating a movement method for health.” She also expects her research to engage the kind of movement she was teaching the premeds. “The doctor-patient relationship, the vulnerability of the healer, the other side of the equation. I’m interested in using art as a way into that.” And as a result of her time in the program, she already feels changed in her practice. “He is presenting choreography in the most open, metaphysical kind of way,” she says of Klien. “Opening our minds to everything is choreography.” An assignment to look for patterns everywhere got her to focus on a group of geese she regularly sees. “That’s essentially choreography. There’s more dancing, there’s more patterns, there’s more choreography. I’m aware of any given life as choreography.”


he Ark, another midday class. A group of M.F.A. students (including Liu and Webb), Klien, and an observer all stretch, move, prepare for class. As they warm up, Klien discusses a methodology he wants them to practice, and he refers to his reading decades previously Philosophy in the Flesh, a book by linguist and cognitive scientist George Lakoff. “Our cognition is principally embodied,” Klien says. “Even linguistic” understanding is based on “an unconscious metaphorical system.” He notes how when we say something is hard to do, a dancer can embody that sense of something being hard: physically weighty, or durable, or immovable. “My notion,” he tells them, “was can that be reverse engineered?” Can they make the dance create the experience? He has them think of a person they know, and through their movement create a conceptual shape in their kino-



outcomes W O R K I N G



Researchers at the Marine Lab are using social science and community outreach to help the area help itself. BY CORBIE HILL




emorial Day 2020 and Carteret County was as mobbed by tourists as Liz DeMattia has ever seen it. It was the eleventh week of North Carolina’s COVID-19 quarantine, and while the official line out of Raleigh was of measured, phased reopening, on Carteret County’s Crystal Coast, tourists brought a sense of “We don’t need to wear masks! We’re at the beach! We’re on vacation,” DeMattia says. The population swelled to twice or even thrice its usual, the influx of mask-less tourists elevating infection risk, sure, but that was not their only impact. “All the visitors came and actually cleaned out all of our grocery stores. There was no meat for two weeks,” says DeMattia, Duke University Marine Lab (DUML) ecologist and community science facilitator. “On the flip side, that’s the economy.” It’s a familiar duality in a low, flat, remote region of vast distances, stark inequality, persistent trauma, and elusive solutions. And the history of Carteret County, like much of economically disadvantaged coastal North Carolina, is a history of disaster. Some of these dominate headlines nationwide—disasters with names like Florence or Isabel or Hazel—while others are slow-burning, invisible disasters like generational poverty, hunger, racial inequity, fishery depletion, epidemic opioid abuse, and socioeconomic division. And now, in early 2020, the viral pandemic we all know the name of has sown fear, uncertainty, and isolation in a region still recovering from the destructive hurricanes of 2018 and 2019. Yet Carteret has what its neighboring counties don’t: DUML. A little campus on a little island across a narrow channel from Beaufort, its cabin-like dorms and AFTERMATH: A dining hall evocative of a summer camp, DUML is best known for its damaged and marine science, its drone program, its state-of-the-art research vessel. abandoned sailboat Yet there’s social science and community outreach here, too, and two near Beaufort, postinitiatives co-led by DUML experts aim to strengthen community hurricanes Florence cohesion, emergency response, and social supports in this repeatedly and Dorian traumatized region.




“All the visitors came and actually cleaned out all of our grocery stores. There was no meat for two weeks.” In short, Carteret County has the benefit of a small but capable team of Duke social and community scientists. They live and work in the community. They listen to the community. They build bridges that didn’t exist before. “In our work we’ll hear about storms, we’ll hear about food insecurity, we’ll hear about the opioid crisis, we’ll hear about racism. We’ll hear about all these specific things, but we keep the focus on, ‘What are the underlying forces that give rise to all these problems?’ ” says cultural anthropologist and author Barbara Garrity-Blake, who teaches marine fisheries policy at DUML. “Once 32

we recognize what they are, how can we work together to help shift the system for better outcomes?” Garrity-Blake co-leads a collaborative of school administrators, nonprofit leaders, EMS, firefighters, and other Carteret community figures, funded by a grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. This collaborative follows a systems approach, says Garrity-Blake, and aims to build communication networks and regional resilience by considering the entirety of Carteret, looking for leverage points and ways to make the county operate more efficiently. The overarching goal is to give locals the environment to exchange ideas and


improve how Carteret operates. And INEQUALITY: Damage lingers in communities like at the end of its three-year lifespan, Merrimon; churches are the changes set in motion by the helping to provide food. collaborative should continue under their own power. The coronavirus crisis has accelerated the work, Garrity-Blake says, jump-starting spinoff collaboratives that would not have existed otherwise. To be clear, she says, the collaborative’s premise is not to rush out and address specific problems, but rather to bring people together, strengthen relationships, and build trust so locals are better positioned to support one another. Duke’s involvement here is not to dictate, but to facilitate. The collaborative “started meeting with these teams on Zoom, like everyone else on the planet,” says Garrity-Blake. “And it quickly turned to...‘I’d like to make

masks. Do you know anybody who needs masks?’ One of the teams really got involved in connecting those that sewed masks with those that need masks, and the chief of the Beaufort Fire Department was instrumental in making those connections. Another team concerned themselves with food.” Soon the faith community—and churches are community hubs in this rural region—was coordinating with the food community. As Beaufort mayor Rett Newton, a DUML-based Ph.D. student who focuses on water quality and the health of waterways, points out, people in Carteret are running out of food—no hyperbole—during the coronavirus crisis. Accordingly, members of the collaborative are creating a food pantry in the predominately African-American rural community of North River, says DeMattia. “The other thing that the collaborative is working on is connecting the different food sources and trying to get information about where food help is available,” DeMattia continues. “One of the disconnects is families have the schools, but our elderly don’t, and they’re afraid to go out.” The collaborative funded by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation is making the connections, while DeMattia, DUML social scientist Lisa Campbell, and Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center executive director Karen Amspacher are providing the numbers through a SeaGrant Community Collaborative Research Grant. DUKE MAGAZINE SUMMER 2020


Historically, there have been plenty of anecdotal claims for what these remote coastal communities want, but precious little data. In her seventeen years at DUML, Campbell has worked to close that gap. In her career as a whole, she’s been no stranger to community research, but Carteret is different. Trust is hard-won—especially in Down East (a string of sparsely populated, culturally distinct fishing villages in rural eastern Carteret County) and doubly especially for outsiders—and missteps can set relationships back years or even ruin them. Working and living in

multaneously, and all during the coronavirus crisis. Three named tropical storms formed well before the official start of 2020’s hurricane season, possible portents of severe weather to come. “There needs to be more communication before a storm and coordination,” DeMattia says, moving through slides she, Campbell, and Amspacher presented to the Z. Smith Reynolds collaborative. It’s preliminary data, but patterns emerge of coincidental successes, of missed opportunities. After a hurricane, per their research, supplies arrive quickly but

“The weaknesses in our community; the uneven impact, which we’re seeing nationally with the pandemic; lowerincome people of color that are disproportionately affected— all of this really rises to the surface in times like this.” eastern North Carolina’s extreme edge can be up-close, personal, and intense. “People hold you accountable, and they hold you accountable every day,” Campbell says. Amspacher is an essential community partner with local roots that go back centuries and with a clear-eyed understanding of the multipronged threats to her ancestral region: climate change; an aging population; worsening storms. Through the SeaGrant project, Amspacher, DeMattia, and Campbell tracked the paths information takes and the resources available to locals before, during, and after disasters. “Our sample size isn’t huge on this, but we did go through numerous communities in our attempt to not have a monolithic sample,” says DeMattia, whose research included Down East, a rural community of color, and the town of Beaufort. Like the Z. Smith Reynolds collaborative, the community collaborative research grant was secured after Hurricane Florence struck Carteret County in 2018— a disaster exacerbated, community leaders and DUML staff uniformly agree, by scattershot and inconsistent relief efforts. Yet with each disaster compounded by the next (Florence was followed in 2019 by Hurricane Dorian, which struck Down East, and then COVID-19 in early 2020), the efforts of both the Z. Smith Reynolds and SeaGrant-funded projects remain relevant even as new catastrophes present themselves. And those who live barely above sea level know the next storm is coming. Recovery from prior hurricanes and preparation for ones to come must happen si34

aren’t distributed evenly. Connections to outside communities help funnel supplies into an area, and people tend to look to social media for updates, but not the community centers providing tangible assistance. “Fire stations and churches were not seen as sources for information, yet they were the places where people were congregating and getting supplies,” DeMattia says. Relevant, appropriate information is critical in a crisis, which, as DeMattia observes, is as true in a pandemic as a hurricane. Carteret is a rural, red county, and with quarantine compliance an increasingly politicized topic, its residents hear conflicting

HARM’S WAY: Above, in Dorian’s wake, a sunken fishing yacht in Marshallberg; opposite page, roof damage on Cedar Island; and the stormdamaged and decaying motel at the Cedar Island ferry landing

messages on the necessity of face masks in preventing the spread of COVID-19. “I don’t think anyone knows what the right answers are,” DeMattia says. “You can see confusion, and you can see people trying to do the right things, and you can also understand why people want to be at the beach.” Beyond that, and perhaps most critically, the majority of COVID-19 information and recommendations are geared toward urban areas, says DeMattia—not the scattered, geographically isolated pockets of population that make up rural Carteret. And in those areas are COVID-vulnerable populations. Down East is aging, Garrity-Blake says, and many Down Easters have underlying health conditions as well. Blocks from multi-million-dollar waterfront homes in Beau-

fort and in the rural communities of Merrimon and North River, one finds poverty and still-evident hurricane damage in historically Black communities. “These situations really lay bare the vulnerabilities and the problems of the socioeconomic divide,” Garrity-Blake says. “The weaknesses in our community; the uneven impact, which we’re seeing nationally with the pandemic; lower-income people of color that are disproportionately affected—all of this really rises to the surface in times like this.” Resilience is needed, sure, but even that’s a problematic claim. Beaufort mayor Newton all but bristles at its use in an interview question: It strikes him as a buzzword. Everyone uses the term, but nobody has defined what it means, he says, and how do you allocate resources toward that? Besides, says DeMattia, DUML is not teaching anyone in the area to be resilient. Carteret County’s communities have held on, stubbornly surviving on low, storm-wracked, isolated ribbons of land for hundreds of years. Whatever resilience is, that’s probably it. Duke is part of that community, sure, but a recent one, with the Marine Lab’s first buildings dating to 1938. Its role, as DeMattia, Garrity-Blake, and their colleagues describe it, is to be a good neighbor. “I never think of anything as, ‘We’re teaching other people,’ ” says DeMattia. “I think of it as, ‘We learn together.’ ” n DUKE MAGAZINE SUMMER 2020



By Janine Latus

aitlin Margaret Kelly M.F.A. ’14 studies a photo of a back-to-the-lander teaching a younger woman how to aim a rifle, then slides it along the floor toward the center of a wall. Placed there, though, the gun appears to threaten the boy in the photo next to it, standing in his patch of poison ivy. She moves it again, but here it targets a decaying church, its steeple slumping into its sanctuary. The photos are part of the exhibit Southbound, each composed and cropped by the artists, selected by a curator, and now hers to arrange in the industrial space of Duke’s Power Plant Gallery. The violence in the gun changes depending on what’s to its right, which presents a problem. Kelly slides it again, standing and staring, her feet in striped socks on the cold concrete floor. She’ll put on shoes when she works with power tools, but for now she is mostly thinking, trying to create an experience. It will be different for each visitor who walks through the exhibit, depending on who they are and how they’ve lived, whether they first turn right or left, look only at what’s in front of them or what’s across the way on the opposite wall. She can shape it, but she can’t control it. The artists who composed the images can’t control it, either. All Kelly can do is place the photographs consciously, leading Photography by Phyllis Dooney


With a charge Student projects move from theoretical to actual at the


HEAD POSITION: Power Plant Gallery director Caitlin Kelly at work in her office

the eye from the red flames of a prairie fire to the red barrette dangling from a little girl’s hair, or from the artificiality of an amusement park Matterhorn to that of a group of Civil War reenactors. She walks away. Returns. Moves the art again. She’s thinking about the conversations within each photo, but also the ones between them. That’s why the plain-dressed women are a problem. Where to aim the gun? Kelly is the director of the Power Plant Gallery, the brainchild of Tom Rankin, director of Duke’s Master of Fine Arts program in Experimental and Documentary Arts (and former director of the Center for Documentary Studies), who craved a space where students could move from the theoretical to the practical. “We make documentary art for a broad audience, not just a campus audience,” he says. “So how could we have a space that is an experiment for students, where instead of their art just going into a folder and being evaluated for a grade, it also goes up on the wall and is seen by other people?” James Robinson ’20 was chosen to present a solo show as a sophomore. His photos of people dealing with climate change along the Mekong Delta had begun as a book, in which he could control the viewer’s experience. In the gallery it was different. “Your work is suddenly spatial, so they’re not just looking at the art but walking through it, and sometimes not experiencing it the way you think they would,” he says. “It’s a really vulnerable experience, but really powerful.” The gallery opened in 2013 in a blank space next to the Full Frame Theater in Durham’s American Tobacco Campus. On one side is the Lucky Strike water tower, on the other side, the power plant’s soaring smokestack. The floors are slick concrete, the walls are brick, the windows are tall. It’s a place where visiting artists hold community talks but also sit down one-on-one with art students, poring over their work; where graduate gallery assistants learn the business side of art; where M.F.A. students and select undergrads figure out how to manifest the feelings and images and experiences in their minds into art that they can share with the world. “Instead of writing up what would you do if you had a gallery; here, you have a gallery,” Rankin says. “You’ve got lights,

you’ve got walls, go do it. It moves things from the theoretical to the actual, and that is something we need to do more of in teaching.” The gallery also hosts the MFAEDA Lab, where artists can test ideas, so a student whose vision is to install a multi-projector project can see how it will look when it’s fully up and running, Kelly says. Or if they want to learn how to map a projector to a specific size or how to use motion detectors in a three-dimensional environment, or to experiment with sizing and sequencing of photographs, they can use the space, usually under Kelly’s guidance, tapping into her technical expertise as they bring what’s in their head into being. “In many ways, this mimics a lab as many at Duke might relate to one,” Kelly says. “A student has an idea of how something will work, comes in to test it, and adjusts based on real feedback.” There’s no audience, no need to sell anything. It’s just an opportunity to create, free from expectations. “Failure is encouraged,” she says. “No one goes from idea to Picasso without the work in between, and the lab offers that space and support we often forget artists need.” Kelly works with professionals, too. Last year she curated a

“No one goes from idea to Picasso without the work in between, and the lab offers that space and support we often forget artists need.”


gave me a reason to be curious about things. Having a camera in my hands gave me permission to explore.” She went on to Boston University, where she graduated with a degree in journalism and an emphasis in photojournalism. From there she moved to California State University at Fullerton, trading the bluntness of New England for California’s more circuitous conversational style. She got married; worked freelance and then, as a staff photographer for The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California; began running in earnest; got divorced. She grew tired of living in a southern California shoebox, so she stashed her stuff in her sister’s basement and show honoring Allan Gurganus, a lifelong BLANK CANVAS: Far took off for Argentina, planning to stay for a year. Slowly, left, the right lighting artist and New York Times-best-selling auafter listening and practicing and listening and practicing, thor whose archives reside at Duke. With for a new show; above, she became proficient in the language. She freelanced, the American Tobacco him she waded through a trove of paintcouch-surfing and backpacking her way around South ings, drawings, and sketches, winnowing campus location; right, America for five years before returning to the States and and arranging in an attempt to honor sev- Kelly helps put up the art coming to Duke for her master of fine arts in experimental enty years of work on her walls. and documentary arts, all the time running, eventually in Gurganus had made piles of drawmarathons. In all, she has competed in five. ings—of women here, animals there, images from Japan over Kelly was the first graduate assistant under the original director, Teka Selman. When Selman left, Kelly pitched the idea there—thinking to order by theme. that as a photojournalist she could do a lot with very little. “Caitlin came in and, with great good will and a lot of energy and cheer, began to put animals beside people and next to “I told them that I would drive around with stuff like foil Japan,” he says, “mixing things up in a way that I was unable and duct tape in my car,” she says, “because you’d end up photographing a portrait in someone’s house and the lighting’s to see because I was too close to the material.” bad, so you’d tape tinfoil to people’s walls to bounce the light They took the selections to the gallery, and she began her and make it interesting. It’s this idea of having a full box of process of moving them around, over and over, deciding there stuff you can pull from, and nobody has to know it’s tinfoil was too much black-and-white here, which led them to dig and duct tape.” through his work for a watercolor of a geisha. Then she painted the walls the colors from the drawings. At the gallery, she pulls from both a mental toolbox and a “It lit up the space in such an amazing way,” he says. “It dirty orange one. began to look like it was something other than just a show of “Three-quarters of my job is trouble-shooting things into capable drawings on a wall in frames.” existence,” she says. Kelly has always been an artist herself. In junior high in her Last summer she invited in Renzo Ortega, a Peruvian immigrant and studio artist. But instead of giving over her blank hometown of Nashau, New Hampshire, she stalked the halls, white walls to his bold, colorful paintings, she pushed him to taller than the other kids, Pentax K1000 in hand, shooting create, and for four weeks he worked within the space, dragblack-and-white photos for the school yearbook. ging in lengths of fencing, splashing the walls with red paint, “It wasn’t so much that I was falling in love with art but that bending wire mesh into a human form that he wrapped in it was a means to move around,” she says. “You can’t take a trash bags and suspended off the ground, a reminder of the picture sitting still, you have to move, and that was something burial rituals of immigrants working their way through CenI was pretty interested in, moving around and exploring. It DUKE MAGAZINE SUMMER 2020


brought Middle Eastern food. Ortega made a causa, a Peruvian dish for traveling soldiers. “It’s not that you’re going to see, oh, the artist, oh, the art!” he says. “No, we are sitting at the same table, and you bring food, and I bring food, and we talk.” The potluck was one of the many ways Kelly uses the gallery as a forum for important conversations. She’s worked with Margaret Lou Brown, director of programs at Duke’s Forum for Scholars and Publics, on conversations about leaving war zones, about climate justice and anti-nuclear war activism, incarceration and the future of Black freedom. Together they’ve brought in students from the Durham School of the Arts, or sent artists out to talk to them. They’ve held panels that include community activists, not with the art as a background but rather with the art as a catalyst. Kelly’s mind moves on what her musician husband calls eight tracks. She begins a sentence in one and switches to another, looping effortlessly back. She is thinking about the arrangement of the art but also how to pull in classes from Duke and speakers from UNC and activists from the community. She is thinking about the weight ratings on a spool of wire and a clamp and a crimp so that the artist who wants to hang a bed and a chair and re-create a childhood memory won’t hurt a patron. She’s doing math constantly, on her solar-powered calculator and again on her phone and again in pencil on top of a work bench speckled with splashes of coffee and smudged with a touch of orange, of turquoise, of pink. The numbers are added and multiplied and long-form divided, old-school style. “There’s a lot of math involved, much to my dismay sometimes, but it’s more about thinking through the details,” she says. “You can’t go from idea in your head to finished product without a tral America but also of the disposability of people killed ON THE JOB: myriad of steps along the way, which involves thinkDirector Kelly; ing about the minutiae of how something happens during what he calls the terrorist time in Peru. right, Kelly or how something could possibly fail.” He built topography on the floor to represent the working with Kelly walks through the gallery in her socks, Darien forest, the no-man’s land immigrants must cross an artist her hair purple, a tattoo of a maple tree splashing between Colombia and Peru. “I didn’t cross the border, up her back, its leaves trailing down her arm. She but I feel empathy because I am an immigrant and I have speaks in paragraphs and then says she has a hard time being family members and friends who have been through that,” he articulate. She runs marathons, because they’re hard and besays. “I do this in solidarity.” cause running is a moving meditation. He built a cage and performed from inside it, making noise, “One of the reasons I can’t sit still is that thinking on all reading, pretending to swim, doing his best to make people my different tracks creates a certain amount of vibration, so I uncomfortable, to make them think. One woman cried. In the need to move around,” she says. “Running is one way I get to midst of it all he hosted a potluck, with guests contributing a think while physically pounding pavement. dish from a history of immigration and displacement. A family from Argentina brought empanadas. A woman from Israel “If you’re running 26.2 miles, you break down the mechan40

ics of your body to the most essential thing that you can do. The simplest movement. Inhale, exhale. Left, right, repeat. That’s the entirety of a race. It doesn’t have to be a winning vision, it’s just left, right, repeat.” She employs the same mindset when an artist comes in with an idea for something complex. In 2018, artist Erin Johnson created the installation The Way Things Could Happen, which would once again get people to consider what it would be like to survive a nuclear attack. Johnson had seen the 1983 made-for-TV movie The Day After, set in the town of Lawrence, Kansas. The film was so affecting that it is credited with influencing President Ronald Reagan in his interactions with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

really urgent and timely conversations,” Johnson says. “It’s such a cool thing for students to see, the kinds of conversations their art can inspire.” Kelly intends to create more of these conversations. Her image of PPG 2.0, as she calls it, is to spend the next five years looking at the gallery as an educational space, not just as an exhibition space. She says her preparation for fall around COVID precautions is going handin-hand with a review of the gallery’s programming to support equity and anti-racist movements in the documentary arts at Duke and in Durham. “I am prioritizing smallgroup interactions with artists, that can allow students and the public an opportunity to be more personal with their art experience.” She’s also looking to create more

“Three-quarters of my job is trouble-shooting things into existence.” For The Way Things Could Happen, Johnson returned to Lawrence and interviewed some of the 5,000 locals who had served as extras in the film, asking them to continue to act as if they had survived the blast. “We’d go back to a field or a grocery store or wherever their scene had been shot, and then I would ask them to simply describe in as much detail as possible what they remember,” Johnson says. “What then transpires is a kind of harrowing account of this war scene that never happened, but a lot of young people who have seen my film are asking, what war are they talking about?” At Power Plant Gallery she was hoping to make the film multichannel, playing different scenes on different screens simultaneously. While other galleries have said it was beyond their capabilities, Kelly made it happen. She moved walls, lowered the lights, learned how to program three video tracks to run in synch. “She made it shadowy and dark, so it felt like you were entering into a shadowy smaller space,” Johnson says, “Not necessarily a bunker, but it felt like there was a kind of confined, waiting, darkness-looking kind of space.” Johnson, whose studio is in Brooklyn but who is also a visiting assistant professor of digital media at Bowdoin College in Maine, gave an artist’s talk at a reception. She met with art students and gave critiques, but the most memorable part to her was the public symposium with local activists and leaders. “It was one of the best points of my art career so far, to see how the work could become a lens through which a lot of different people could use this work as a touchstone for these

publications, such as zines, that provide another angle from which to engage. “I am super excited to consider Instagram as a tool beyond social media promotion, but an actual exhibition space,” Kelly says. It’s also a way to get more students involved, she says. Kelly just took on a new role, that of Curator of the Archive of Documentary Arts at the Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, so she's giving more opportunity to students by hiring one as senior gallery assistant/gallery manager. “So as hard as this year has been, for any number of reasons, it has allowed me to step back from the gallery’s previous routine and ask a few simple, but important questions, such as ‘what if?, ‘why?’, and ‘how?’… and as always, ‘for whom?” It is morning, and Kelly feeds her cats, and squeezes coffee through her French press. She needs those moments of silence to prepare her brain for the day. Already she is thinking. About the current exhibition and the next. About how other museums create movement and conversations. About art and its illumination of issues of the day. This is her dream job. It changes. It’s never boring. She can move, take off her shoes, Google something obscure, help a fellow artist get launched. “When I got the job at the gallery, I was essentially handed the keys to the car and told not to wreck it,” she says. “It was like, ‘Go do something, and let’s see.’ I work really well in that kind of setting, where you give me something to do and then leave me alone to do it.” n

Latus lives in the Triangle, where she spends her non-writing time in the woods with her dog. DUKE MAGAZINE SUMMER 2020


ForeverDukeNEWSMAKERS Former Duke swimmer Teri Conklin ’82 was named among the Forbes 2020 Top Women Wealth Advisors. She has made her career with UBS in Chicago.

Meible Chi ’20 received the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Carolina Region Arthur Ashe Jr. Leadership & Sportsmanship Award.

Tara K. Hart, B.S.N. ’15, M.S.N. ’19 was selected to join the Nursing Board of the American Health Council.

CNN interviewed Harold Dorrell Briscoe Jr. Ph.D. ’17 about faith in a time of racial crisis and about his new book, There’s a Storm Comin’: How the American Church Can Lead Through Times of Racial Crisis.

Katherine Morrison ’10 was promoted to vice president of creative development at Skydance Television.

Ashlyn Sanders A.M. ’15, founder of medical technology start-up NeuroVice, drew investment support from former NBA star Charles Barkley. The company works to create solutions for patients affected by seizures. 42


Susan Henking ’77 was named the interim president of Salem Academy and College in Winston-Salem.

Lafayette Crump ’95, J.D. ’98 was appointed Milwaukee’s next commissioner of city development.

Katherine Becker ’17 was the recipient of the Hillary Rodham Clinton Award for Peace and Reconciliation to study global security and borders at Queens University Belfast.

Fifteen Duke alumni have been selected as FULBRIGHT SCHOLARS: Elise Cai ’20; Jasmine Alexander-Greene ’20; Natasha Derezinski-Choo ’19; Maram Elnagheeb ’20; Allison Geary ’20; Tiarra Hughes ’20; Ralph Lawton ’20; Tina Liang ’17; Jessica Marlow ’20; James Rees ’19; Max St. George ’19; Sahil Sandhu ’20; Michael Shu ’20; Andrew Tsai ’20; and Austin Zhang ’20.

7Have news to share about your

achievements and milestones? Submit a class note and read your classmates’ latest news by logging into All photos courtesy the individual unless noted

An act of kindness

Reviving a beloved TV show to give a message for our times


eople who watched A Parks and Recreation Special, the one-off reunion show about the TV series’ characters coping with the COVID-19 lockdown (it ran in early May), knew they were seeing something remarkable. Sure, the laughs were there: The characters spent the half-hour special addressing their situation in the surreal and witty way that defined the show. But more, as they interacted in one of the videochats that during the pandemic have become omnipresent, they almost constantly reminded each other: Take care of one another. Take care of yourselves.

“It gave a moment for everyone to feel like they’re in this together.” Trying not to get COVID-19 is important, but also, as several characters said to one another, remember to look after your mental and emotional health. According to Retta ’92 (born Marietta Sangai Sirleaf), who starred as Donna on the show and the special, that message landed. The nationwide moment of comfort and kindness provoked more than just donations (the fundraising effort for food bank organization raised $3 million in only the first days after the broadcast; the cast and crew provided matching donations). “It was the comments and the DMs I got on social media” that got to her, Retta says. “Where every person was telling me they were crying, and they were so grateful.” People sent screen grabs showing the donations they’d made, pictures of their families watching the show. “It gave a moment for everyone to feel like they’re in this together.” The special made a virtue of every corona-associated necessity. The characters spoke on a Zoom-like communications

app called Gryzzl, and the entire conceit of the show was a check-in phone tree among what Retta called “the giant family that Leslie [played by Amy Poehler] cultivated in that city hall with her parks department.” That meant glimpses into their personal lives: Leslie in her office, Ron Swanson in a backwoods cabin, Tom Haverford with a virtual background of his missed trip to Bali. Retta’s background was actually her own fever-dream of a closet, featuring internally illuminated shelves of colorful, meticulously organized pairs of shoes. She looked so good in that closet, by the way, because she didn’t have to try to find a place to put a table lamp so that she didn’t look like a silhouette. Like the rest of us on video calls, “I had to be my own cameraman, gaffer, lighting electrician,” she says. The production team did send the cast “an entire mobile setup,” with lighting, microphones, a special iPhone, and even a setup video. “But I’m on my phone constantly, so I know my way around the iPhone.” That connection among the actors is genuine, by the way, and Retta says it starts with series creator Michael Schurr. “Mike is very altruistic,” she says, “and he’s a sharer.” When NBC asked whether he’d like to produce a show, “he sent us a text, and he was like, ‘We’re all going through this, and this sucks, and it’s hard for people, and we know people love the show, so....’ ” He didn’t have a script yet, but he asked. “So of course everybody was like, yeah!” Schurr has said he heard back from the entire cast within forty-five minutes. Retta doesn’t describe her online work experience as much different from yours. “Once I started doing it, we were shooting, we did the remote table read. I was shooting.” She was doing her job, though she did notice how quickly the connection among the actors returned. But she says, the real thrill for her came from the response, which started even before the special was released. “A woman sent me a video of her two daughters, they were probably eight and six, and the father had shown them the video of Amy [Poehler] saying we were doing a special, and they started screaming, like so excited.” Since Parks streams on Netflix, it’s gained a whole new fan base: “This set of fans I never knew we would have, which are elementary-school kids. “And everybody is basically clinging to Netflix during this quarantine and trying to get some form of respite from feeling like the world is so heavy.” Parks shows the kind of community we all need right now. “It’s getting real ugly out there,” Retta says. “So I think we need a nice dose of what it looks like to be kind to one another.”—Scott Huler DUKE MAGAZINE SUMMER 2020


ForeverDuke The beauty of a network

With the DAA’s help, alumni are helping students find opportunities during these tough times.


amantha Lowe was supposed to be spending her summer at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. But when the rising sophomore learned that her internship would be canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she logged onto Ask a Blue Devil to ask for help. The Duke Alumni Association platform matches Duke community users who need help with those who can provide advice, internships, and mentors. Lowe sent a message asking whether there was anyone who knew of remote internships related to conservation biology.

is producing music in their home studios these days,” Gromada told Asamoe honestly. “But here in New York, ASSISTS: Clockwise from left, Brown, I have connections to studios Graham, and Gromada that might be able to help. I’ll poke around and see who I can find to refer you to.” Seeing alumni jump at the opportunity to help students isn’t surprising, says Susan Gordon, senior director of career and professional development at DAA. Alumni are “rising to the occasion with the energy and creativity we associate with Duke,” because they themselves have been the recipients of help from the worldwide alumni network, and they want to pay it forward. And Gordon says she keeps seeing it happen. She recently helped organize an initiative that mobilized alumni to help students with more concrete summer opportunities—everything from a paid summer internship to a project that could be completed in a month or two—and the response was overwhelming. Nearly 1,000 alumni e-mailed saying they could help. And, out of the more than 400 students who requested help, nearly all of them were granted an internship or mentorship. “As a result, we’ve been able to match students with everything from a research project on coastal management in West Africa, to building a start-up, to a mentorship with an intelligence officer,” Gordon says. Back in her Bethesda, Maryland, home, Lowe says she’s felt a lot of energy working remotely on projects with Wiesner Brown, who is sheltering in Pasco County, Florida, on the state’s west coast. She’s putting her intended minor in environmental science and policy to work—developing a sustainability plan for the county and researching ways to make the environmental footprint of one of the county’s new parks low-impact. “I wasn’t expecting there to be any available remote internships related to my interests,” Lowe says. “But getting an opportunity from a fellow Blue Devil has made me feel very connected and supported by my Duke community.” —Christina Holder

“I had just about given up hope on having a summer internship.” Nearly 1,000 miles away, Terry-René Wiesner Brown M.E.M. ’95, a natural-resources manager in a Florida parks and recreation department, replied. She offered Lowe an opportunity to work remotely with her over the summer. “I had just about given up hope on having a summer internship,” Lowe says. “When I got a response, I was thrilled.” Lowe’s scenario has been replicated tenfold over the last few months, as more students have tried Duke’s network. What they’re learning is that they can make some strong connections. That certainly was the case for Edem Asamoe, a rising junior majoring in neuroscience who also has a “deep-rooted passion for music…freestyling, instrumentation, music production, and attempts at audio engineering.” He sent a message about how to find a mentor in a studio manager or audio engineer who could help him explore his musical interests. Asamoe got several responses, including one from George Graham ’72, the director of artistry and repertoire for a fifty-year-old jazz label specializing in classic jazz in northern Pennsylvania, and another from John Gromada ’86, an award-winning Broadway composer and sound designer in New York. They both offered to help Asamoe. “It’s getting harder and harder for my friends who have studios to make a living at it, because everyone

Photos courtesy of individual pictured 44

This issue, I’m lending this space to the new DAA president, Mychal Harrison ’01, who has a special message for all alumni. —Sterly Wilder ’83, associate vice president, alumni affairs

In 1957

, Martin Luther King Jr. famously spoke the words “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Never have those words carried more meaning to me. The senseless killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks serve as a reminder that there is much work to be done in our quest for equality and social justice. Albeit a daunting time, I am encouraged by the response of many Americans and others around the world who have come together to reject the status quo and stand up to the bigotry, racism, and injustice that permeate our society. That “love” that Martin Luther King Jr. references is beginning to drive out darkness and hate while ushering in the light for which many have yearned. As someone who was told by his parents that I could be anything I wanted to be, never once did I imagine being the president of the best alumni association at one of the most transformative times in modern history. Albeit daunting, I am inspired and motivated by the challenges of leading our alumni community through these difficult times. Doing so will not be easy and will require the help and talents of many as we confront our university’s past, to appreciate the present, and to acknowledge the work that is yet to be done. As President Price and his administration take action to create an environment where all members of the Duke community feel welcomed and valued, the DAA board is excited for the opportunity to partner with the administration and execute programming that demonstrates Duke’s commitment to eliminating systems of racism and inequality. During the coming year, members of the board will be instrumental in facilitating discussions that leverage the scholarly research and expertise of Duke’s Black faculty on the topics of race and equality, organizing in-person (COVID-19 permitting) and virtual activities and events throughout the various regions, and working closely with current students and affinity groups to enrich their Duke experience. Additionally, I will be encouraging each member of our board to step out of his/her comfort zone and engage in conversation with current students and alumni that may be difficult. If we are to grow as a community, we must acknowledge and appreciate the experiences of others and be intentional with our actions that bring about change. For words without action ring hollow. I know our best days lie before us, and I ask each of our more than 180,000 alumni to join us in these efforts. Collectively, we have an opportunity to write our own history and leave a legacy for generations to come. To quote Maya Angelou, “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike,” and it is my hope that our Forever Duke spirit allows us to join hands and take the next step on this incredible journey. n

I will be encouraging each member of our board to step out of his/ her comfort zone and engage in conversation with current students and alumni that may be difficult.

Courtesy Duke University



A MAN OF GOOD INTENTION For Bill Kaelin—Duke’s first undergraduate alumnus to win a NOBEL—"solving puzzles" has paid off.




Not a crossword, not a Sudoku. You won’t find Kaelin playing Words With Friends, and Board Game Night was never a staple in the Kaelin household. A puzzle demands concentration. It demands focus; it requires you to pay attention to one thing at a time. And William Kaelin Jr. ’79, M.D. ’83 and Duke trustee likes to do one thing at a time. In a multitasking world, where you’re checking your e-mail while doing your work, scanning social media while talking to your spouse, making dinner and listening to the radio and entertaining the pets and looking at your kids’ homework, Bill Kaelin chooses what he’s going to do. Then he does what he’s doing, that one thing, with all his awareness. Bill Kaelin pays attention. It’s more even than attention. It’s a kind of intention: a fierce focus on what he’s dealing with, a powerful presence in the task or conversation at hand, the choice to not be anywhere else. If Kaelin is talking to you, he’s talking to you. If he’s writing a paper, he’s writing a paper. If he’s checking in on the research his postdocs are running in his lab, he’s doing that. If you’re looking for the source, the spring from which Kaelin’s 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or

Medicine emerged, the fierceness of that concentration may be a place to start. Kaelin, Sidney Farber Professor of medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and an investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, capped a lifetime of awards by winning the Nobel for work he’s done over a long career as a physician-scientist. The work is all related to the method by which cells perceive how much oxygen their environment contains and then respond to that perception. Given that oxygen is fundamental to virtually all life and all cells, so, too, is understanding how cells become aware of oxygen. “Scientists often toss around the phrase ‘a textbook discovery,’ ” says Nobel Prize committee member Randall Johnson, professor of molecular physiology and pathology at the University of Cambridge. “This is essentially a textbook discovery…. This is something basic biology students will be learning about when they study, at age twelve or thirteen or younger, and learn the fundamental ways cells work.” Kaelin has advanced understanding of a basic life process. He got there by taking small steps, by doing one thing at a time. By, as he likes to say, solving puzzles.

OVER ACHIEVER: A professor once described Kaelin as ‘a bright young man whose future lies outside the laboratory.’

David Binder/Contact Press Images





“THE PUZZLE THAT BROUGHT ME TO STOCKHOLM,” Kaelin says, “was ‘What is the function of

the VHL gene, and why do losses of the VHL gene cause these particular tumors that have these curious clinical features?’ ” That’s a mouthful, but in essence Kaelin helped figure out how a particular gene turns on and off the ability of tumors to create new blood vessels and otherwise behave like cells that want to increase their access to oxygen. He can explain it better, but before he does that, take a look around. Despite the wall of awards, medals, and diplomas (the Nobel is still in a little box that he will open up to show, if you ask), Kaelin’s office will not make you think of science. It will not make you think of medicine, either. It’s just an office, with 48

a big corner desk and a monitor. Shelves full of binders and reference books, pictures on the walls, file cabinets. He could be a middle manager. In fact, in some ways he is. He works with postdocs in his lab to design and run experiments. “Unfortunately, I stopped doing experiments at the bench many years ago,” he says. He now leads the fifteen or so postdocs in his lab, thinking through experiments, helping them solve problems. This was itself one of those one-thing-at-a-time conscious decisions. To effectively inhabit his role as principal investigator of his lab and thus as mentor to his postdocs, he needed to focus. “I found that when I was doing experiments at the bench, I didn’t necessarily want to be distracted,” he says.

Nobelstiftelsen/The Nobel Foundation

and greater understanding of the human genome. In the lab of David Livingston, Charles A. Dana Chair in human cancer genetics at DFCI, Kaelin worked on understanding a gene that, when lost or altered, causes a childhood eye tumor called retinoblastoma (RB). Genes contain instructions for making proteins, and Kaelin identified the minimal fragment of the RB protein that allowed it to suppress tumor growth. He then identified proteins that bound to this fragment, including E2F, critical for cancer cell proliferation. That protein fit into a region of RB that seemed to function as a pocket. “They’re now called pocket proteins,” Livingston says, “thanks to Bill Kaelin.” Kaelin remained at DFCI and started his own lab, and he chose as his focus von Hippel-Lindau disease, a genetic disease that causes tumors as a result of trouble in a tumor-suppressing gene called VHL. Kaelin noticed that VHL-related tumors seemed to have a large amount of new blood vessels: The tumors seemed to create blood vessels and stimulate red blood cell production, much like tissues do when they’re starved of oxygen. Kaelin suspected that meant VHL was somehow involved in cells’ fundamental method for sensing oxygen. “I think I made a nonobvious conclusion that VHL gene had to play a critical role in oxygen sensing,” Kaelin says. “Therefore, if you could understand the biochemical functions of the VHL protein, that would be a good way to understand how cells adapt to changes in oxygen.” His lab did experiments with kidney cancer cells that proved that the VHL protein was required for oxygen sensing. Other researchers had identified a protein called HIF (hypoxia-inducible factor) known to regulate certain genes involved in hypoxia. Kaelin’s lab showed that if oxygen is present VHL binds diDavid Binder/Contact Press Images rectly to HIF and destroys it, preventing the new blood vessels and other responses “And I realized that was not fair to my to lack of oxygen. trainees, who were entrusting their trainAs he explains, Kaelin picks up a little WORK HARD, PLAY HARD: Above, ing to me.” So, he stepped away from the blue model of the VHL protein, with the Kaelin at rest near Boston’s Charles bench itself and fully into his role as lead HIF region marked in yellow. He goes River; right, accepting his Nobel Prize scientist. into detail about mapping the region of “I can say I get almost as much satisHIF recognized by the VHL protein, faction seeing someone else do the experiment if I had a role getting down to a small region of HIF called a peptide, and in guiding them.” even down within this peptide to specific amino acids (the From a tiny group of chairs in his office, Kaelin speaks rapbuilding blocks used to make proteins), including one paridly, sometimes looking off into the distance. Not thinking of ticular amino acid in the peptide called proline. A chemical something else: thinking of exactly what to say. That intensity flag appears on this particular HIF proline when oxygen is increases when he explains the science behind his award. Startpresent. This chemical flag includes an oxygen atom and can’t ing as a postdoctoral fellow, Kaelin profited from the greater be made when oxygen is too low. “Now we knew in chemical DUKE MAGAZINE SUMMER 2020


ForeverDukePROFILE detail what the oxygen-sensing mechanism was. We did some further corroborating experiments, but that was basically the eureka moment.” He describes this model as “surprisingly simple and surprisingly elegant.” Elsewhere he has used a metaphor. Among the 20,000 or so genes for making proteins in your genome, several hundred are devoted to helping you respond to low-oxygen environments. He posits those several hundred genes as an orchestra, and HIF is the conductor, telling them to play when oxygen is low. When oxygen is present, HIF has the lit-

almost palpable. That focus—that intensity—did not come to him, he says, perhaps until medical school. Always smart, always interested in school, he liked math and science better than the humanities. “I liked things that were objectifiable. I liked things where you got the right answer or the wrong answer.” He was intrigued by nature and as a child had the usual chemistry sets and microscopes (he donated his childhood microscope to the Nobel museum, along with his doctor bag), but he describes himself as an indifferent student, even at Duke. “I’m sure I was the kind of student most professors sort of hated. It was a game to me: I just wanted to see if I could get the highest grade and parlay that into admission into medical school.” He cites one of his best memories as being a member of “a fairly infamous frat, Beta Phi Zeta, affectionally or otherwise known as the Bozos.” People expect someone as intellectually powerful as he to have been a student aesthete, a New Yorker magazine’s Eustace Tilley of a college student. But “I was more of the study hard, play hard mindset,” he says. “I wasn’t going to be

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

“I NEVER WANTED sipping tea and reading Virginia Woolf in my spare time. I needed some down time.” He describes the Bozos, suspended in 1982 and ultimately disbanded, as a place where he could be utterly relaxed; his brother, Michael Kaelin ’81, J.D. ’84, describes it as beFOREVER DUKE: Kaelin was admitted to Duke tle flag described, and VHL ing like home, like a family. With the Bozos and MIT. His father, a Duke alumnus, said, “If destroys HIF, but when oxhe was the hard-partying friend. you go to MIT, you’ll pay your tuition, and if you ygen is missing there’s no Before his senior year, Kaelin took an go to Duke, I’ll pay your tuition.” chemical flag, and HIF is left independent study in a Duke lab, with alone, raises its baton, and a professor who promised him that the the low-oxygen orchestra plays its tune. When there’s trouble previous seven students who had worked on the research had in the VHL gene, the orchestra plays even when oxygen is presall got into medical school. “I thought I had the golden tickent, and you get those vessel-filled tumors. More important, by et,” Kaelin says. The research turned out to be complex, the understanding that flag and where it fits, we now understand mentorship lacking, and the study itself, a visiting professor how cells sense oxygen in the most foundational way. eventually told Kaelin, misguided. The result was a C-minus, which Kaelin likens to “a wooden stake driven through your heart” if medical school is your goal. ONCE HE’S COMMUNICATED this startlingly underAn assessment came, too: “He actually wrote: ‘Mr. Kaelin standable lesson in biochemistry, Kaelin sits back in appears to be a bright young man whose future lies outside his chair. His attention in explaining this work has been the laboratory.’ So that was my introduction to laboratory sci50

ence.” The bright young man ended up graduating summa cum laude—and staying at Duke for medical school. FOR THE SCIENTIST IN KAELIN, things improved there. For his third-year research project, he latched onto Randy Jirtle, then-assistant professor of radiation oncology. Instead of choosing a full professor with the power to help him in his career, Kaelin chose a project and a professor that interested him. Jirtle was working on tumor blood flow, and that intrigued Kaelin. The therapeutic aspect of Jirtle’s work addressed chemotherapy: Tumors with low blood flow aren’t reached well by chemotherapy drugs, and they’re also resistant to radiation. Jirtle was looking for ways to increase flow to tumors, making therapy more helpful. This was the beginning of Kaelin’s interest in tumors and blood flow, and in the way cells respond to the oxygen in their environment. What Jirtle remembers about Kaelin is his creativity. They were working with the standard drugs of the day to affect blood flow, until one day Kaelin, noticing that his grandfather had been put on different drugs to alter blood flow, suggested they experiment with those. The new drugs worked well, and Kaelin and Jirtle published two papers as a result. “And he was

they’d back off. The other thing is differential diagnoses: lists of different diseases that can cause a particular symptom. “It turns out there are a lot of causes of excess red blood cell production,” including Von Hippel-Lindau disease, which again popped up. Lots of angiogenesis and lots of red blood cells both indicated connection with oxygen. “So again, just how my clinical training as well as my training with Randy set the stage. It was just fortunate.” As a resident at Johns Hopkins, he loved the challenge of explaining what was causing a set of symptoms. But “there are a lot of puzzles that are interesting the first or second time you see them, but not as interesting the fiftieth time.” He noticed that even more when he came to DFCI as a fellow to learn about cancer as a physician-scientist. At a place so specialized, most of the diagnoses were done long before patients arrived. “And that’s the puzzle I used to like to solve.” Fortunately, at the same time, revolutionary advances in molecular biology were revolutionizing the study of human disease. It was time for a decision. “I never wanted people to say, ‘He’s a good scientist for a physician,’ ” he says. “There were enough scientists who were B’s that if I were just going to be a B scientist, I should try to be an A clinician.” Things had gone well for him in Livingston’s lab; Livingston recalls Kaelin

PEOPLE TO SAY, ‘HE’S A GOOD SCIENTIST FOR A PHYSICIAN.’ ” the one who came up with the idea,” Jirtle says. “I had not heard of these compounds at that time.” Along with that whatever-works thinking, Kaelin was “unbelievably hard-working,” Jirtle says. “He just never stopped.” But what Jirtle remembers above all is Kaelin’s choosing Jirtle to work with based not on what Jirtle could do for Kaelin’s career but on shared interest in the science. “Bill seemed to pick projects he wanted to work on because he was truly interested,” he says. “And I think that’s the only way you can truly succeed in science, is to work on a project that you love.” KAELIN AGREES. “Even by the time I was a resident,” he says, “I knew there was something special about these VHL-associated tumors.” He became chief resident at Johns Hopkins medical center, which meant he had a gaggle of residents to keep in line, he says, “and there are two ways that chief residents establish they are the alpha dog.” One is keeping available knowledge of rare diseases. “So if someone steps out of line on rounds you start asking questions about Von Hippel-Lindau disease,” and

facing one of the RB1 gene questions, which “he managed to crack open with a precision that I hadn’t seen quite so ably practiced before,” Livingston says. “I said to myself, ‘This fellow is on a track to success that is pretty powerful.’ ” Kaelin chose science. He no longer even has a license to see patients. LIVINGSTON AND KAELIN ARE FRIENDS as well as colleagues now, and Livingston brings up a central challenge that Kaelin faced not long ago. Kaelin met his wife, Carolyn, at Johns Hopkins. She was a breast cancer surgeon at DFCI until she herself got breast cancer in 2003. She recovered, but died in 2015 of an unrelated cancer. He mentions her in most interviews, talking about their lifelong partnership and suggesting that wherever she is, she’s happy for him now. “I watched him come to work every day,” Livingston says, “do the most he possibly could physically to help his wife. I watched him keep track of his work here, the same as he always had, and he was the bulwark of that family.” The personal tragedy did not affect his work; neither did he take his work home. Kaelin’s daughter, Kathryn, now studying for her Ph.D. in



criminology at the University of Oxford, remembers that separation. “It was pretty remarkable,” she says. “The sense that he was so present for us. There was actually an amazing way in which his professional demeanor and sensibilities didn’t much filter into the house.” Certainly that intensity was always on display: “I think my friends from childhood would have described him as intimidating,” she says, laughing. But when the workday was done, when he was home being a dad, he was a dad. Both Kath-

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute


know that you’re the first person who actually understands how something works is actually a wonderful feeling.” A feeling he wishes he could share with young scientists. He fights in his writing and speaking for the importance of doing basic science rather than science with an expected end result. In preparing young scientists for that uncertainty, scientists, he fears, stress too much the rarity of success. “It doesn’t happen every day, it doesn’t even happen every year, but when it happens

“THE SATISFACTION OF SOLVING A REALLY INTERESTING PUZZLE, OR SERIES OF PUZZLES, ALONG THE WAY—IT SEEMED TO ME THAT WAS THE PRIZE.” SCIENTIST: In the lab ryn and her brother are pursuing at the Dana-Farber advanced degrees in the liberal arts, Cancer Institute so Kaelin was out of his league, but he made them music playlists and shared movies. They traveled to ski, to the beach, to Long Island to visit family, “dragnetting for little critters, body surfing,” she says. “My dad becomes very alive in those moments, getting away from it all in childhood wonder.” That closeness brought honest conversation. “My daughter asked me an interesting question, which was, would I have been disappointed if I never won the Nobel Prize,” Kaelin says. “And I think the answer was, after having made this discovery…a little. But I was perfectly content before having won the prize, and I hope I’ll be able, now that I’ve won the prize, to get back to my work.” He fears getting swept up in celebrity. He says the wall of diplomas and medals in his office is more for recruiting purposes than anything else—it impresses postdocs considering DFCI—and he says, and means, just what you’d expect. “The satisfaction of solving a really interesting puzzle, or series of puzzles, along the way—it seemed to me that was the prize. To occasionally understand something that’s never been understood before, and it’s right there before you and to


it’s just a wonderful, wonderful feeling.” He did some good experiments of which he’s proud, and he knows he’s made a contribution, but as for which contribution wins a prize? “After that,” he says, “it becomes a bit of a beauty contest.” “Because the fact of the matter is, this is why it’s helpful to be a physician-scientist.” Pure research is great, and that’s what he practices. But the road to his research came through the clinic, and he’s always hopeful that his research will lead to clinical methods and treatments that will save lives. Therapies for kidney cancer based on his discoveries are already making their way through testing. That’s wonderful, but it’s nothing like an endpoint. “If we had cured kidney cancer, and people didn’t have to worry about it anymore, that would be a prize.” When the waiting rooms at Dana-Farber are empty, he says, “then we’ll have a big celebration and give ourselves a medal. But we’re not quite there yet.” He’s just not focused on prizes. “There’s just too much work to do.” He saw how easy it would be to be swept into the celebrity of being a Nobelist, but so far—as his brother says, he answers his e-mails and visits his old elementary school—he’s managed to treat life after the prize the way he treats everything. He looks at the challenge, he thinks it through, and he focuses. One thing at a time. n


INSTAGRAM: @_therenee

Sydney Allen

Whitney Robinson ’08, top step right, began The Renée, a “lab” for Black women navigating pregnancy, after her own experiences of suffering a miscarriage at twenty-three weeks and son Elijah spending 102 days in a NICU after his birth. Using the skill developed through her background as a computer science major and a former UX designer, Robinson gathers small groups across the country to do what The Renée, meaning “reborn,” implies: create their own empowered experience as they become mothers. Through a series of design-thinking exercises, she helps them share personal stories to identify pain points in their pregnancy journey, define a common problem, and create solutions to address the problem during and following childbirth. Her hope is to see real improvement that leads to closing the gaps in maternal health-care disparities. Currently, Black mothers die in the U.S. from childbirth complications three to four more times the rate of White mothers. “Let’s not wait around until the ‘powers that be’ figure us out,” Robinson says. “We have a wealth of experiences within ourselves to realize change.” n



ne day, a male peer pulled aside and complained to her about how little he was making. “I was stunned to learn that not only was he making exactly what I was making at the time, but he had been hired at 50 percent more,” says Hasson. “That’s 5-0—50 percent more than me—when I was at his level.” Hasson felt she’d accomplished enough to get more money coming her way. After graduating with a triple-major in electrical engineering, computer science, and economics, she went into investment banking. Seven years later, she wanted to get back in the tech game, which meant starting from scratch. Within two years,

what I would get paid if I left and went to another company. I gave them that number, and they just laughed in my face. And they gave me a number that was less than 70 percent of what I knew market value to be.” She walked away from that job and after investing “thousands and thousands of dollars” in books, magazine articles, and female salary-negotiation coaches, eventually tripled her salary. But she wanted to help other women in the workplace do the same. That’s when she came up with Develop[Her], a career-development platform that inspires women to own their careers and negotiate the salaries they deserve. “I advise women to ground themselves in data, not only knowing exactly how advise women to ground themselves in data, much they’re worth but knowing their not only knowing exactly how much they’re number,” she says. She launched The Develop[HER] Show worth but knowing their number.” podcast, where she talked with other women in the tech industry. Eventually, Hasson had worked her way into becoming a top-paid she rolled out Become a NegotiatHER, an online training program. Since starting Develop[Her], she’s heard woman in tech, working remotely for a Silicon Valley from women who have gotten $55,000 to $80,000 more payment company. She has won several hackathons (as in a single negotiation, she says. in hacking marathons, in which computer programmers Dallas/Fort Worth resident and Android mobile proand others in software development collaborate on software projects), including the SXSW Hackathon, two grammer Stacy Devino is one of those women. “In terms years in a row. She also went overseas to be one of the of where I was and what I wanted…I would maybe get hundred Americans who attended the U.K. G8 Innoabout 10 to 15K, tops, at the time,” says Devino, who vation and Decide Now Act summits with the United ended up getting a gig complete with a $65,000 increase. Nations technology council. “But I knew I was worth so much more than that, and Yet when it came to receiving her fair share, Hasson I just didn’t know how to go out and get it. And that’s had a feeling she wasn’t getting enough. And that converreally what this program gave me: the forethought to sation with her colleague confirmed it. “I had suspected know where I was in my market, where there could be that I was underpaid,” she says. “But every time I would extra room, am I truly there, what makes me a premium bring up getting paid more in performance reviews where over people, how do I convince people of that, how do I they told me I was doing great work—keep doing what justify that.” I’m doing—they would tell me that I just wasn’t there Companies from Google to Dell have called on Hasson to train women to advance. Men have sought her yet, and they never defined there.” services, too. “If I don’t know something, I’m really good Hasson remembers the exact moment when, after at figuring it out and learning it and mastering it,” she talking to her male colleague, she let the firm know her says. That’s something that Duke really challenged me to value. “I was literally sitting across the executive in charge do when I was an undergrad. They didn’t hold my hand of all compensation, and he asked me, ‘Well, how much and teach me very specific things and how to regurgitate do you think you’re worth?’ And I knew exactly what I information. They taught me how to learn.” was worth. I knew what my market data was. I knew Lauren Hasson ’04


—Craig D. Lindsey



ears before COVID-19 turned the educational world topsy-turvy, Douglas Michelman ’82 was concerned about the “homework gap.” Michelman had joined Sprint as the chief communications officer in 2014, and because his portfolio included corporate responsibility, the CEO asked him to reimagine how Sprint could create social impact in a relevant way. They ultimately settled on addressing the divide between those students with Internet service and those who live in homes without reliable service. They called it the 1 Million Project. “We announced the initiative in October 2016 and launched our first pilot three months later,” Michelman says. Eventually, Michelman decided to leave behind his corporate communications work and focus full time on the project, which eventually became a standalone foundation. While Sprint absorbed much of the costs, the foundation needed to raise $5 to $10 million a year. Over three years, the 1 Million Project raised about $20 million. When the 2020-21 school year kicks off, it will have helped connect almost 600,000 students in more than 250 school districts in thirty-six states. “When we launched, we had to recruit school districts to join us. Many were a little suspicious. The concept of ‘free’ seemed too good to be true,” Michelman says. “But in our first year, we were able to recruit about 150 districts, including Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, and New York. North Carolina has been one of our strongest participants, and I love that we added Durham Public Schools to our program a couple of years ago.” If you detect notes of passion in Michelman’s words, you’re reading them correctly. He admits to getting “hooked” on the project, making his other communications responsibilities seem relatively insignificant. “There were two elements that made the work exciting. The first was the building of the initiative and figuring out how to identify the students in need, how to reach them, and how to deliver free connectivity to them. This was entrepreneurial work for our small team. The second element was my early experiences with students and teachers in schools across the country. As we were launching, I would visit high schools in different parts of the country and spend time with students and teachers. Listening to them talk about their lives and their challenges and,

If society sees education as key to addressing issues of equity, then we must ensure all students have the opportunity to learn, study, discover, explore their passions, and achieve in school. for many, their desire to achieve became incredibly inspiring.” Of course, much has changed in the last few months. Now, the issue of Internet access is a central issue in education, in the media, and in homes. “But the fact is, before COVID-19, there were about 10 million K-12 students without access to the Internet at home who were trying to learn and achieve,” says Michelman. “That number has not increased. The impact on kids’ ability to reach their full potential has not increased. The only thing that has changed is attention to the issue.” And Michelman sees that attention as critical. If society sees education as key to addressing issues of equity, he says, then we must ensure all students have the opportunity to learn, study, discover, explore their passions, and achieve in school. These days that requires, among other tools, access to the Internet. “In a country where anywhere from 10 to 15 million students are cut off from the internet when they leave school each day, reaching 1 million students should just be a first step. We—individuals, business, government, and nonprofits—should ensure that every student has equitable access to fundamental connectivity.” Besides the needs made even more apparent by the pandemic, there have been business changes. In April, T-Mobile officially acquired Sprint, and has made an even bigger commitment—$10 million—to closing the gap. So, the 1 Million Project foundation is winding down. Michelman is looking for his next opportunity, but he’s proud of the work he and his team did. “As far as I can tell, we were the first philanthropic initiative to focus on the homework gap and did our work when very few people were focused on this issue. I like to think we were pioneers in this small, but important niche area.” —Adrienne Johnson Martin




A more complicated love

It’s important to embrace the entire institutional history of Duke. | BY VALERIE GILLISPIE

am writing two weeks after the murder of George Floyd, as protests against white supremacy take place across the country. Many Americans are reckoning with the impact of racism, especially as it relates to American history. I, too, am reckoning with the past, especially here at Duke. There are hard truths to accept in a place where many people feel warmly embraced—a place that many of us love. As university archivist, I also love Duke University. It is undeniable that Duke is a place of extraordinary scholarship and research, as well as beauty and wonder. And it is undeniable that Duke has parts of its past that are disturbing and ugly. How do we reckon with these two truths? The University Archives provides only glimpses into the past, but those glimpses can educate us on where we went wrong, and how we can go right.


While we became a university only in 1924, we began our life as an educational institution in 1838. Our records are scant about who worked at the school beyond faculty, but we have information from the 1850s that Braxton Craven, president of the institution, owned enslaved people. He also sought to purchase two children, according to an affidavit in the State Archives, but chose not to—the price was higher than he wanted to pay. I have spent a great deal of time looking into the financial ledgers and account books of antebellum Trinity. It appears that the school itself “rented” enslaved labor at times, a heartbreaking discovery. Although Trinity did not engage in slavery on the scale of many other universities, we cannot deny that the school participated in the practice. After the Civil War, Trinity managed to survive and even-

Photography Duke University Archives

ForeverDukeRETRO tually to grow. It remained segregated, but continued to hire Black workers. The experiences of these workers seem to be lost to time, present only through names in financial ledgers. Their interactions with students are unknown. Later evidence in the Chanticleer and The Chronicle suggests that at the very least, Black workers were not taken seriously by the White students. For example, the 1921 yearbook featured photos of a Committee on Sanitation and an Officers McSweeney Club, which consisted of Black janitors and Black cooks, respectively. The workers were listed by their first names only or, in one case, simply as “The Bell Boy.” Women workers are not mentioned at all. We do have one extraordinary document from Black workers’ point of view. It is dated September 22, 1919, and is addressed to President William Preston Few. Painstakingly typed, the letter is signed by eleven janitors and is a plea for an increase in wages. They conclude, “We hope that you will not forget us.” In doing further research,

photos like these certainly give us a glimpse of the story. There is no doubt that the integration of Duke’s student body in the early 1960s was a paradigm shift. Duke desegregated slowly, first the graduate and professional schools in 1961, then the undergraduate schools in 1963. They incorporated the first five Black undergraduates into the student body with no fanfare in September 1963. A number of our earliest Black students have remarked on how Black staff members quietly encouraged them, invited them to their homes, took them to church, and helped them navigate an environment that often cast them as “the other.” These students relied on the staff for much more than cleaning and cooking. In 1966, the arrival of Duke’s first Black faculty member, Samuel Dubois Cook, was another remarkable moment. Finally, an African American occupied a position of great esteem. There is no question, though, that for the vast majority of Black employees at Duke, their day-to-day lives had not changed with the desegregation of the university. The call for better treatment The actual experiences of these employees are of Black workers, demanded difficult to uncover in the archives, but photos like during the Silent Vigil of 1968 these certainly give us a glimpse of the story. and the Allen Building Takeover of 1969, remained a key issue. It remains an issue today. Does confronting these issues negate or diminish Duke’s we found another letter from the DIVISION: Opposite, Black employees successes? I don’t think so. To confront our real history of janitors, written seven months later, at a 1946 holiday slavery, white supremacy, and discrimination is to recognize again asking for a response. No response has yet been discovered. party; above in the the complexity of our institution. Perhaps with this inforsame room, White mation we can become something better, more honest, and As the university grew, more staff employees more powerfully transformative. Our history is not somewere required to keep up the immaculate grounds, work in the newthing to overcome or to get over—this institutional history ly opened hospital, and serve a growing student population. is alive in our bodies, our experiences, and our buildings. We Many of these staff were Black. The West Campus Union, need to expand what we mean by the Duke community, past designed by the Horace Trumbauer firm’s Black architect, and present, and lift up voices not heard before. Julian Abele, in 1928, built the divisions of race into the As university archivist, I seek to tell the stories of Duke University, and some of the stories are painful. We can explore our building itself. The floorplan for the basement identifies separate dining rooms for the “white help” and “colored help,” past and learn about difficult parts of our history, and still love as well as separate men’s and women’s toilets for each group. Duke and all the good that it does. But it’s a more complicated love, one that acknowledges past harm, and celebrates the In photographs of a holiday party for staff from 1946, you good we can and will do. This is not an easy task, but for the can’t help but notice the room is completely divided by race. sake of all future Duke community members, we must reckon There is a photo of grim-faced Black employees, and then with our history to build a better Duke. n another of grim-faced White employees. They’re in the same room, but totally separate. Again, the actual experiences of Gillispie is the university archivist. these employees are difficult to uncover in the archives, but



ForeverDuke In Memoriam 1940s

Frances Pressing Ogan ’41 of Rocky River, Ohio, on April 29, 2020. Mary F. Goldsmith Struble ’43 of Newton, N.J., on April 29, 2020. Warren A. Nordin ’45 of Rochester, N.Y., on April 4, 2020. Grover D. Poole ’43, M.D. ’45 of Jonesboro, Ark., on April 27, 2020. Joanne Bouton Dunwoody ’47 of King City, Calif., on March 1, 2020. Albert W. Bainbridge ’48 of Suffolk, Va., on March 20, 2020. Theodore R. Safford ’48 of Fruitland Park, Fla., on April 10, 2020. Helene Cahn Weinstein ’48 of Eden, N.C., on March 1, 2020. Margaret Penfield Andrian ’49 of Glastonbury, Conn., on April 25, 2020. Estelle Greenwald Kestenbaum ’49 of New York, on April 9, 2020. Robert D. Loomis ’49 of Sag Harbor, N.Y., on April 19, 2020. Jane M. Leitch Perrow ’49 of Richmond, Va., on March 9, 2020. Julius H. Purvis Jr. ’49 of Belhaven, N.C., on April 18, 2020. Edith E. Tynes Quarles ’49 of Birmingham, Ala., on May 7, 2020. Mary R. Robinson ’49 of Durham, on March 30, 2020. James P. Royal M.Div. ’49 of Clarkton, N.C., on March 25, 2020. Beverly Markham Small ’49 of Elizabeth City, N.C., on March 7, 2020. Rita Shoaf Speas ’49 of Oak Ridge, Tenn., on March 21, 2020.

Dean McCandless M.D. ’50 of La Quinta, Calif., on March 17, 2020. Milton B. Rice ’50 of Dyersburg, Tenn., on March 31, 2020. Mary Ann Menefee Byerly R.N. ’51, ’53 of Pensacola, Fla., on March 30, 2020. Evelyn Simpson Irwin M.Ed. ’51 of Greenwood, S.C., on March 12, 2020. Joanne Unangst Davis van Roden ’51 of Wyomissing, Pa., on April 21, 2020. Joyce McLean Coble ’52 of Athens, Ga., on April 4, 2020. Louise Conrad Hutchinson M.R.E. ’52 of Winston-Salem, on March 12, 2020. Richard L. Latimer Sr. ’52 of Washington, D.C., on April 3, 2020. John J. McGuire ’52 of Renton, Wash., on March 10, 2020. David E. Miller ’52, M.D. ’56, H ’61, H ’63 of Durham, on April 15, 2020. Samuel R. Shumaker III ’52 of Washington, D.C., on April 24, 2020. Barbara A. Cline Taylor ’52 of Washington, D.C., on March 19, 2020. John A. Carnahan ’53, J.D. ’55 of Columbus, Ohio, on March 5, 2020. Barbara Lindsay Geyer ’53 of Findlay, Ohio, on April 11, 2020. John N. Hodgin ’53 of Moorestown, N.J., on April 2, 2020. Donald H. Rutter ’53 of Venice, Fla., on April 15, 2020. Robert W. Black Jr. ’54 of Manteo, N.C., on May 1, 2020. Mary Alice Hurst Campbell ’54 of Sarasota, Fla., on April 14, 2020. John H. Coffey B.Div. ’54 of Dalesville, Va., on March 7, 2020. Margaret Yancey Dudley ’54 of Elkin, N.C., on April 4, 2020. Richard L. Singletary ’54 of Thomasville, Ga., on April 17, 2020. Sallie Winegeart Starrett ’54 of North Canton, Ohio, on March 15, 2020. Lawrence M. Blum M.D. ’55 of Bridgeport, Conn., on May 2, 2020.


James S. Byrd ’50, LL.B. ’52 of Orlando, Fla., on March 31, 2020. Albert P. Cline Jr. ’50 of Canton, N.C., on April 24, 2020. Roy J. Grogan Sr. LL.B. ’50 of Weatherford, Texas, on March 30, 2020.




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MORE DUKE MEMORIES ONLINE Find links to full obituaries for Duke alumni at Roddy N. Shingleton ’55 of Stantonsburg, N.C., on April 28, 2020. Elizabeth Getaz Whitener ’55 of Davidson, N.C., on March 12, 2020. Peter Hutchin M.D. ’56 of La Jolla, Calif., on April 18, 2020. Clyde T. McCants A.M. ’56 of Winnsboro, S.C., on April 10, 2020. Elmus Wicker Ph.D. ’56 of Bloomington, Ind., on April 18, 2020. Betty Bryan Ellis ’57 of Goldsboro, N.C., on March 2, 2020. Edward L. Roberson ’57, M.A.T. ’65 of Athens, Ga., on March 4, 2020. Elmer D. Yost Jr. ’57 of Greensboro, N.C., on April 14, 2020. Quentin G. Kraft A.M. ’58, Ph.D. ’63 of Columbus, Ohio, on March 24, 2020. Michael S. Bender ’59 of Charlotte, on April 3, 2020. Thomas P. Graham ’59, M.D. ’63, H ’69 of Nashville, Tenn., on March 18, 2020. John G. Noakes ’59 of New Canaan, Conn., on March 23, 2020.


Eugene T. Long III B.Div. ’60 of Columbia, S.C., on March 13, 2020. Millard V. Sales Ed.D. ’60 of Jonesboro, Ark., on April 21, 2020. Nereus Clarkson English III ’61 of Southmont, N.C., on March 5, 2020. William B. Kremer H ’61, H ’65, H ’66 of Lakeville, Conn., on April 19, 2020. John D. Spangler Ph.D. ’61 of Manhattan, Kan., on March 30, 2020. Susan Johnston Banks ’62 of Carlisle, Pa., on April 13, 2020. Robert B. Condit ’62 of Vienna, Va., on April 13, 2020. James K. Engstrom ’62 of Travelers Rest, S.C., on May 3, 2020. John G. Lile LL.B. ’62 of Little Rock, Ark., on March 30, 2020. Diana Harrison Roberts M.R.E. ’62 of Decatur, Ga., on March 23, 2020. Harold M. Robinson Jr. ’62 of Morganton, N.C., on March 15, 2020. Carey E. Sloan III ’62 of Bolivar, Ohio, on March 10, 2020. Lois A. Brockhoff Ph.D. ’63 of Grass Valley, Calif., on April 7, 2020. Harvey D. Carter Jr. LL.B. ’63 of South Burlington, Vt., on March 21, 2020. Edward W. Snyder ’63 of Charlton, N.Y., on April 7, 2020. Joe R. Stafford ’63 of Greensboro, N.C., on May 3, 2020. Thomas R. Giblin H ’65 of Charlotte, on April 8, 2020. J. Michael Curtis ’66 of St. Petersburg, Fla., on April 20, 2020. Marshall M. Wilson M.Ed. ’66, Ed.D. ’68 of Alamonte Springs, Fla., on March 19, 2020. Joseph A. Fink LL.B. ’67 of North Palm Beach, Fla., on May 1, 2020. Byron D. McLees M.D. ’67, H ’72 of Edenton, N.C., on March 14, 2020. Lester E. Schickling M.A.T. ’67 of Hendersonville, Tenn., on March 12, 2020. Frank F. Hanna ’68 of Wilmington, N.C., on April 16, 2020. Steven E.C. Hobbs ’69 of Orleans, Mass., on April 6, 2020. Benton B. Levie M.D. ’69 of Memphis, Tenn., on April 27, 2020. Lee Price Seckinger ’69 of Allentown, Pa., on April 26, 2020.

Richard A. Kroll M.Div. ’72 of Williamsport, Md., on April 21, 2020. Karen L. Laughlin ’72 of Tallahassee, Fla., on May 4, 2020. Harold D. Miller Jr. M.Div. ’72 of Winston-Salem, on May 2, 2020. Walter G. Wolfe H ’72 of Hillsborough, N.C., on April 13, 2020. Rudolph C. Schweizer ’73, Ph.D. ’78 of Allentown, Pa., on March 18, 2020. Richard A. Hammarsten M.B.A. ’74 of Oklahoma City, on April 8, 2020. Robert G. Piotrowski M.S. ’74 of Biltmore Lake, N.C., on April 9, 2020. Frank J. Dana III J.D. ’75 of Greenville, S.C., on April 8, 2020. Mark N. Feinglos H ’75, H ’78 of Durham, on March 14, 2020. William W. Traynham Jr. ’76 of Danville, Va., on April 29, 2020. Lawrence W. Staples Jr. M.Div. ’78 of Lenoir, N.C., on March 9, 2020.


Michael W. Arthur ’82 of Seattle, on March 17, 2020. Thomas A. Schroeter ’82, HS ’93 of Bradenton, Fla., of April 17, 2020. George H. Mason M.F. ’83 of Farmington, Conn., on April 13, 2020. Malathi Veeraraghavan M.S. ’85, Ph.D. ’88 of Charlottesville, Va., on May 11, 2020. Michael S. Friedman J.D. ’86 of Denver, on May 5, 2020. Howard S. Kiser M.Div. ’86 of Concord, N.C., on March 6, 2020. Stephanie Telesetsky Young ’86, M.D. ’90, H ’91, H ’95 of Shepherdstown, W.Va., on March 14, 2020.

The Iron Dukes is known for building champions in athletic competition, in the classroom, and in the community. To continue our trajectory of excellence, we must continue to provide the necessary support for the future successes of our su


Woodhall Stopford H ’70, H ’71 of Hillsborough, N.C., on March 23, 2020. R. Peter Lalor B.S.E. ’71, M.S. ’73 of Onancock, Va., on March 7, 2020. James R. Poindexter M.D. ’71 of Harrisonburg, Va., on May 1, 2020. David O. Sewell Ph.D. ’71 of Arlington, Va., on April 3, 2020. Paul E. Von Nessen ’71 of Atlanta, on April 7, 2020. George R. Wood ’71 of Woolwine, Va., on March 16, 2020. Susan Boren-Dorman A.M. ’72 of Arlington, Va., on March 24, 2020. John C. Collins ’72 of Wilmington, N.C., on April 5, 2020. Anne Johnson East ’72 of St. Louis, on April 13, 2020. William B. Hill M.Div. ’72 of Havre de Grace, Md., on March 28, 2020. James S. Huston Jr. Ph.D. ’72 of Newton, Mass., on March 25, 2020.

world class student-athletes. Now is the time to make investments that will build champions. @theirondukes The Iron Dukes The Iron Dukes theirondukes Daniel Jones ´20, Football, Redshirt Sophomore

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The Iron Dukes Office, 367 Scott Family Athletics Performance Center, Box 90542, Durham, NC 27708-0542 (919) 613-7575



New to the Collection Hugo McCloud, push pull (detail), 2019. Plastic merchandise bags on wood panel, 55 x 85 inches (139.7 x 215.9 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Gift of Nancy A. Nasher (J.D.’79, P’18, P’22) and David J. Haemisegger (P’18, P’22), 2020.3.1. © Hugo McCloud. Image courtesy of the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York. Derek Fordjour, Signing Day (detail), 2019. Acrylic, charcoal, oil pastel, and foil on newspaper mounted on canvas; 74 1⁄2 × 50 1⁄2 inches (189.23 × 128.27 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Gift of Blake Byrne, A.B.’57. © Derek Fordjour. Courtesy of Night Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion.

ForeverDuke Robert M. Butler Ph.D. ’87 of Asheville, N.C., on April 15, 2020. Michelle Bayens Futral ’87 of Atlanta, on March 16, 2020. Elizabeth S. Obloy ’87 of Houston, on May 6, 2020. Carol L. Smith ’87 of Cleveland, Ohio, on May 6, 2020. Sima Fishman M.B.A. ’89 of Arlington, Va., on April 18, 2020. James R. Herlong M.D. ’89, H ’96 of Rock Hill, S.C., on March 25, 2020. Robert S. Kadis A.M. ’89 of Raleigh, on April 6, 2020.


Robert S. Feldman ’90, M.B.A. ’97 of Sudbury, Mass., on March 23, 2020. Cornelia Spencer Love Ph.D. ’90 of Durham, on March 15, 2020. Darrell D. Drennan ’91 of Friendship, Md., on March 24, 2020. Angelina M. McIntire ’98 of Falls Church, Va., on May 9, 2020. Pakpoom Vallisuta M.B.A. ’98 of Bangkok, Thailand, on March 30, 2020. Rhea K. Hale M.E.M. ’99 of Richmond, Va., on April 27, 2020.


Timothy B. Berlew M.Div. ’07 of Okeechobee, Fla., on April 30, 2020.


Greyson E. Spector ’20 of Cary, N.C., on March 26, 2020. Raj Mehta ’22 of Morrisville, N.C., on March 27, 2020. Alexa N. Cucopulos Ph.D. ’24 of Franklin Lakes, N.J., on April 25, 2020.


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Good Question An Exploration in Ethics


hy are questions of social justice so important to the work of bioethics?

Often when one thinks about bioethics, they assume the medical application of bioethics – big questions around emerging technologies in healthcare. While these medical and technological advances are important, they often fail to acknowledge or highlight questions of social justice or human well-being. I was born into a robust, African American, religious, musical, and intellectual tradition. My uncle, Nelson H. Smith, Jr., was a civil rights leader in Birmingham, Alabama, a pastor for 53 years who worked closely with Martin Luther King, Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth, and many others in the city. I was also influenced by my aunt, Ernestine Motley, who was the first African American to graduate from a formerly segregated college in Alabama after Brown v. Board of Education –Springhill College, a little Jesuit school in Mobile, AL. While I didn’t realize it early on, growing up amid the recent history of these experiences has shaped me personally and professionally. As a lifelong reader and learner himself, my uncle would always remind me that while my academic work was great –– “Just don’t forget about the people.” Throughout my career, I have come to realize that yes, there is theoretical work that has to be undertaken, but not in a manner that is completely detached from the lived experience of human beings. To this end, there are certain questions that captivate my mind in my work, particularly around the social justice implications of bioethics. My research in health and healthcare disparities, for example, examines the distinctions affecting people based on race and socioeconomic status. It is sobering when we think about the alarming statistics around the claim that a significant indicator of health outcomes is based on zip codes. Among these outcomes are increased incidents of infant mortality, insufficient reproductive healthcare, higher rates of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, and even the way people die. As I started wrestling with these issues, it became increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to talk about what it means to value life at the end of life for those who are living and dying on the margins without asking the question, “What does it mean to value life before the end of life?” Questions of social justice are also critical in the world of biomedical ethics. The fact that bioethics brings together so many

disciplines makes answering ethical questions both exhilarating and challenging at the same time. In the age of being able to manipulate our own genetic structure – creating physical and psychological changes in our own bodies and in shaping the next generation through emerging biomedical technologies – we must remain engaged in fundamental, philosophical, and theological questions around what it means to be human and what kind of people we aim to be. With new medical and technological advances comes a temptation to select particular human traits and undermine social justice. Are these benign, morally-neutral choices, or are we seeking to avoid those characteristics in others that we deem inferior or flawed? With the latter, we are making troubling statements about people who are living with those kinds of characteristics we choose against, particularly when racialized.


on’t forget about the people.

Social justice is also important to the work of bioethics when considering factors of environmental ethics. Through my experiences as an advocate for affordable housing, I know firsthand it is hard to separate health and health outcomes from the larger environment or biosphere in the places where people live and interact. Waste and pollutants are often placed in areas where people are already politically disenfranchised and disempowered. In a class discussion about Flint, Michigan, a student from a wealthy city in Michigan raised her hand and noted of her community, “In 48 hours the wheels would have been moving to fix the problem!” Climate change also disproportionately affects areas with significant populations of underrepresented minorities and economically disenfranchised. These communities are less likely to receive adequate protection to prevent disasters and also less likely to receive immediate response when emergencies occur. Understanding the impact the environment can have on health and health outcomes puts environmental ethics squarely in this conversation. The future of bioethics must lean into conversations where theology, philosophy, political science, sociology and ethics can help us think about disparities in health and human well-being. Race and class, and other social determinants of health should not be just as an afterthought, but as an emphasis of our work. I think we need a concept of human flourishing that makes clear the implications of health disparities and that can help us identify what makes a health inequality an injustice. In the words of N.H. Smith, Jr., “Don’t forget about the people.” The words of my uncle continue to guide me.

Patrick T. Smith

Senior Fellow, Kenan Institute for Ethics Associate Research Professor of Theological Ethics and Bioethics, Duke Divinity School Associate Faculty, Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities, and the History of Medicine Good Question: An Exploration in Ethics is a series presented by the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. 919-660-3033 DUKE MAGAZINE SUMMER 2020




rom the minute I arrived in the United States from Nigeria as an international student, my instinct was to look for an African community—a restaurant, a mosque, an association. And in the African diasporic community, I found happiness, a sense of belonging. However, as a photojournalist, I wondered why so many of us Africans leave home. What was the pull to the United States or to Europe? I was aware of the many turbulent times we have faced in our different African countries, but I always wondered what would happen if we stayed in Africa. Could we build the continent of our dreams?

Fati Abubakar M.F.A. '20

boat, fleeing. Yet contrary to the standard migration story fed to the American audience, there is an eclectic array of migrants. Many flee conflicts; others arrive with a suitcase of certificates and degrees. Often unaddressed were the fierce people who brave treacherous unknown territories to explore the unfamiliar. There were never the stories of resilience or the many contributions of migrants to the American societies they inhabited—the doctors, the nurses, the scientists. Migration is complex and will always remain so, compounded by many unending issues. Dealing with themes of loneliness, financial instability, racism, mockery, depression, and success,

Much of what we see are Africans on a boat, fleeing. I decided to document why people leave. The project evolved to posed portraits, while documenting everyday lives of Africans. “An African in America” took on a life of its own as I traveled for engagements and met more people. Where do Africans congregate? What do they do for fun? How are they coping in a foreign, often alienating country? How do they find each other? I went to churches, parties, mosques, markets, dorm rooms, hair salons, fashion shows, restaurants, and many homes. I was very much aware of the problematic storytelling of African migration. Much of what we see are Africans on a


I experienced fluctuating feelings of hurt and dismay; other days, I was in awe of the bravery of the people I met. In the end, this project has taught me that Africans will always be on the move. Migration will be an eternal phenomenon. But of paramount importance is this: Wherever you happen to migrate to, being happy with the choice is all that matters. This project has also made me more resolute, as an aid worker with experiences of working with internally displaced persons in Nigeria, in my unwavering need to ensure that we are forever working to improve the lives of everyone who arrives in any country for whatever reason. Empathy is the only way. n


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Class of 2020


This isn’t an ending; it’s the start of the next part of your Duke journey. We’ll be with you through more highs and lows, as you shape careers and build lives. Because we’re family. Always.





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