Summer 2021

Page 1








Nature inspires invention. PAGE 12

Virtual memories An end to the year that was…

Courtesy Vardhman Kumar


How does late-life vision loss impact the aging brain and cognition? That link is exactly what Whitson and her team are focused on understanding. Partnered with an enlightened group of scientists spanning disciplines across the university and health system, Whitson’s work could lead to the early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

A link between vision loss and Alzheimer’s? That’s visionary thinking. DR. HEATHER WHITSON Director of the Duke Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development

Learn how at


Summer 2021 | Vol. 107 | No. 1

Spring 2020 | Vol. 106 | No. 1

Good chemistry Meet the Duke Ph.D.s on a mission to make science more accessible.


By Barry Yeoman, Illustration by Ana Jaren





Admissions numbers; dragonflies; John Brown’s music

40 Courtesy April Preyar


Criminal-defense lawyer April Preyar '96 has a game she'd like you to play with your teen.


The centennials

In our continuing series about members of the Class of 2024, we look at how Colin Kaeo made it through the accelerated spring semester. By Corbie Hill


Getting it done Implementation science focuses on ensuring that the benefits of studies reach the real world. By Scott Huler


Mining the complications


WORKINPROGRESS A Bass Connections team creates an installation about sea-level rise.

In their prize-winning books, two scholars challenge the familiar American story. By Robert J. Bliwise Creative Commons


FULLFRAME PROPER SPACING: The Class of 2021 and some of their supporters gathered for an in-person commencement in Wallace Wade Stadium. Photo by Bill Snead




his past winter, Duke University Press, which publishes the journal American Speech, carried a (virtual) meeting of the American Dialect Society. The meeting culminated in the consensus choice of the word of the year. “COVID” was the winner. But there was a lot of deliberation around other possibilities—notably, “unprecedented.” So, how appropriate that graduation in May included elements without precedent. It was, of course, familiar. Not totally familiar, though: As ever, the processional music was provided by the Wind Symphony, but now, the notes came prerecorded. This was the endpoint to an academic year that had proceeded tentatively, with lots of uncertainties (including a late-spring undergraduate “lockdown” when positivity rates started soaring); lots of limits on ordinary campus life (among them, the thoroughly off-limits Duke Chapel and Duke Gardens); and all kinds of gestures that acknowledged a pandemic (many courses remaining largely online, as an obvious example). Shortly before the big day, Duke recorded the lowest number of positive COVID-19 cases since the previous August. Just four people—one student and three faculty or staff members—made up those cases, for an overall positivity rate of 0.02 percent. Still, the university was being careful about controlling the crowd size. The ceremony, in Wallace Wade Stadium, would be open only to graduating undergraduate students, along with just two guests per student. The graduation speaker was John Legend, singer, songwriter, actor, producer, and philanthropist. (Sure enough, he didn’t let the occasion slip without offering a snippet of a song from his oeuvre.) Legend started by striking a theme very much of the moment: “You know, this is the first time I’ve been in front of a live audience, hearing live applause, since last February, fourteen months ago. For a needy performer, this is a very big deal.” A very big deal for the whole Wallace Wade multitude, for whom pandemic-time get-togethers had largely taken the shape of little squares on a computer screen. Legend went on to acknowledge that the graduates had all “lost a whole year of those little moments

“All you band members and a capella singers and dancers and improv aficionados. I feel your pain. You’ve lost something you can’t get back.”

that make college so special—the in-between moments,” from random intersections in commons rooms to spontaneous lunch dates. “I keep thinking about your senior performances. Losing those would have been tragic for me. All you band members and a capella singers —John Legend and dancers and improv aficionados. I feel your pain. You’ve lost something you can’t get back. I won’t sugarcoat that. It sucks.” True enough, but Legend also said that in a pandemic year, individual productivity seemed less consequential than the bolstering of the collective. “Campus community,” in his view, Jared Lazarus became an expression with new meaning: “Simply keep each other safe. Keep each other alive. Care for one another.” He built on that idea of community-mindedness by reflecting on his own campaign against “our country’s mass-incarceration complex.” And he urged the graduates to never stop listening and learning, the first step for any change-maker; to apply their energy to issues at the local level, where social action might have the greatest impact; and to let love be their driving impulse—an impulse best expressed by investing in the success of others. Overall, it was a call to connect—with other people, with worthy causes, with human needs. Maybe not an unprecedented graduation message. But one with special meaning, at the close of an academic year when connecting seemed so challenging and so precious. —Robert J Bliwise, editor

DUKE MAGAZINE SUMMER 2021 | Vol. 107 | No. 1 | 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, senior associate vice president, engagement and development 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 © 2021 Duke University, Published five times a year by the Duke Alumni Association. 4




NEW SERIES: Meet the Centennials p.24 DUKE MAGAZINE • SPRING 2021




INSIDE: Making the biggest game of the year feel that way—without an audience. PAGE 18

Your comments about our SPRING 2021 ISSUE show you read widely and carefully—and we appreciate that! We got several responses to the piece reporting on the presentation that looked back at the Greensboro Massacre. Theresa Donahue ’78 didn’t know Duke students were involved. She wrote that she went to a march in Greensboro the following weekend. “I remember wondering if [the police] were there to protect us or shoot us.” David C. Kingsley M.A.T. ’68, Ph.D. ’72

worked in the area where the rally was held and shared his perspective. “The protesters had foolishly challenged the Klan to show up. Taking up this challenge, armed Klan members did show up a short while after the rally started.” Steve Dryden ’75 took issue with the content, deeming that it “sets a new low in the rewriting of history to suit ideological goals.” This was no moral moment: “The provocative march was in fact a moment of political lunacy, led by mostly white, privileged university students living in a private dreamworld of revolutionary fantasies that had very little to do with progressive politics.” Jennifer Williams ’74 worked as a

nurse in Duke’s segregated public wards and disputes the description of it she read. “My experience is that all care workers and most teams of rounding physicians and students treated the patients with dignity, respect, kindness, and cleanliness.” Reagan Lunn

Praise came in for our cover story “The Pure Truth.” Ben Clark ’76 offered

Secrets of the Bovine How a Duke researcher cracked the code of a quirky tradition

and Pamela Gill ’67

took issue with a quote in “Man’s Inhumanity to Man,” which seemed to attribute most awful events to men. Men, Midney says, are expected by society to engage in conflict, often by force. “It is inherent from our societal structure and even this government program, so why is this such a surprise…”

“I remember wondering if [the police] were there to protect us or shoot us.” kudos to writer Barry Yeoman and illustrator Antonello Silverini, calling the piece “an interesting, well-written (and illustrated) analysis of bovine spectacle.” Clyde Long ’77 called it the “best and yet most upsetting piece I’ve ever read in Duke Magazine.” Kevin Edwards M.B.A. ’87 called the subject “fascinating”: “Thank you for continuing to challenge our conventional thinking.” Both Thomas Midney ’89

And finally, Lewis T. Fitch B.S.E.E. ’54 enjoyed “The Gloves Were On,” the Retro piece celebrating Duke’s boxing team. The piece reminded him that boxing was a required part of the physical-education curriculum in 1950. “I left with an appreciation of the sport (when it is one) and enough appreciation of what is going on in the ring to realize that the crowd is usually cheering for the wrong things.” n


Here’s two of your 50-words-or-less commencement speeches. Duke taught me not what to think but how to think, an invaluable communications career skill. I found diverse, lifelong friends. Keep nurturing your mind and friendships. Promote racial equality. Read and practice emotional intelligence. And put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water. — Rusty Wright ’71

Watch your ego: the cause of all your problems, your greatest triumphs and most delicious feelings. Constant awareness of your thinking, your speech and actions, how others are responding, will make you realize that kindness and love are the most precious things you can bestow on yourself and the world.— Ron Nelson ’52

Jared Lazarus

See more on pages 6-7

2021: Student speaker Meghana Sai Iragavarapu

If you have comments, drop us a note at P.O. Box 90572, Durham, N.C. 27708 or Please limit letters to 300 words and include your full name, address, and class year or Duke affiliation.



Today is not the last day but the start of a whole new Blue Devil journey.

—Naseebullah Esmaty LL.M. ’20

It’s okay to not know what you want to do yet. Take time after college to find out who you really are! —Jasmine Boatner ’13

Fail. It’s hard for Duke people to hear, but fail…. Failing does not make you a failure. Failing makes you the person who continues the lifelong pursuit of knowledge and mastery that you started at Duke. Go forth and fail!

—Page Murray ’85

Do what you love, and everything else will fall into place.

—Carl Chiou ’98

Look for Duke everywhere. In all the corners of the world. In friends. In ideas. In yourself. You’ll always be at home.

—Valentine Rae Esposito ’14, M.H.S. ’19, M.D. ’19

Keep in contact with people you met during your time at Duke… friends, professors, advisers.

—Alex Torres ’20

Never forget who helped you get to where you are today. Friends, family, faculty—be grateful for everyone who invested in you and give back where you can. —Kevin Liu M.B.A. ’18

Stay tightly connected to your Duke friends!

—Valerie Rind ’83

Take chances early, and embrace the unexpected adventures that await!

—Anne Dowling ’92

Duke alumni are everywhere, and we are ready to support you any way that we can. All you have to do is ask!

—Rebecca Feinglos Planchard ’11

Remember all those you met, even if that experience was mere minutes. Cherish it all. —David Greenleaf ’74


Photos by Duke Communications staff

The education I received helped me to succeed in medical school and beyond, but more important were the wonderful friendships that I made during my time at Duke. My friends to this day are like family. —Vikas Patel ’96, M.D. ’00




Open yourself up to being uncomfortable, and you will be able to learn even more about your values, passions, and curiosities. —Yaa Amissah-Aidoo ’20

FOREVER DUKE: This page, above, capturing friends; singer/ activist John Legend heads for the stage with presidential accompaniment; facing page, joining the procession for the socially distant ceremony



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



Slow-growing MICROBES IN PEAT BOGS in the lazy South break down organic matter much more slowly than their northern relatives, making them much better carbon sinks and more effective in preventing the release of greenhouse gases than their counterparts further north. ➔ WARMING SEAS driving fish deeper to find cooler water may diminish the capacity of some fish to compete for mates by demonstrating bright coloration. Deeper water means less sunlight, which means less color vision by any fish you’re trying to impress. ➔ BABY MANTIS SHRIMP don’t have to grow into their wicked jabs; they can deliver the famously lethal blows from their lock-and-spring elbows even in their larval state. So, if you’re looking for a baby gift for a mantis shrimp, think boxing gloves. ➔ Activation of a certain neural signaling pathway can turn mice into “SUPERLEARNERS,” but it turns out some neural cells use that pathway all the time. Those cells release acetylcholine, a chemical linked to attention and learning. Boosting it helps treat dementia, so learning to work with them may offer improvements in therapy for dementia. ➔ Are you a female baboon who suffers from HIGH LEVELS OF STRESS? You have a greater risk of dying than your less-stressed sisters. We know this because we looked for stress hormones in your poop (one more thing to worry about). Take some you-time, female baboons.

PEOPLE A chance finding in a basic study indicates that women, who have only half as many severe COVID infections as men, may be better at fighting off COVID-19 because of a SPECIFIC KIND OF IMMUNE CELL. In a comparison of mucosa and blood from healthy men and women and from COVID patients, healthy women turned out to have more mucosal-associated invariant T cells, or MAIT cells. Those cells migrate to the lungs when COVID strikes, and, again, women have many more. ➔ If you’re exposed to more TRAFFIC-RELATED AIR POLLUTION as a child and adolescent, you’re more likely to suffer from mental illness at age eighteen.



MISCELLANY A MACHINE-LEARNING ALGORITHM can listen to symphonies and distinguish between different conductors and orchestras. Given all Beethoven’s symphonies conducted by a variety of leaders, the artificial intelligence was able to compare and distinguish, even noting how some modern interpretations are more like traditional, Beethoven-era interpretations of the music. The machines never got confused and clapped between movements. ➔ ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE can combine satellite images and weather data to identify air-pollution hotspots accurate to the city-block level. This could enable better pollution management, better mitigation strategies, and more equitable treatment plans for those affected.

DUKE Eighteen Duke Ph.D. students received AWARDS from the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP) for 2021. ➔ Junior Carlee Goldberg was among sixty-two students selected nationally as 2021 TRUMAN SCHOLARS, memorials to President Harry S. Truman. Students from every state are selected based on their leadership potential, high academic achievement, and commitment to careers in public service and advocacy. ➔ Junior Joy Reeves and sophomore Quinn Smith are recipients of the UDALL SCHOLARSHIP, which recognizes students who have demonstrated a commitment to careers in the environment or Native American tribal public policy. ➔ Business professor AARON “RONNIE” CHATTERJI has been appointed chief economist of the United States Department of Commerce, acting as the principal economic adviser to the secretary of commerce. ➔ New York Times columnist Frank Bruni and STEPHEN BUCKLEY ’89, lead story editor for Global Press Journal and former editor of the St. Petersburg Times, are the new Patterson professors at the Sanford School’s DeWitt Wallace Center. ➔ On April 20—that’s 4/20—DukeCreate and DuWell sponsored an online course in cooking chocolate-chip cookies. That event took place, once again, on 4/20. Well played, DukeCreate and DuWell. ➔ Niisoja Torto ’20 has been awarded the KNIGHT-HENNESSY SCHOLARSHIP, which provides full funding of graduate work at Stanford. ➔ As part of Duke’s anti-racism efforts, the Office of the Provost and the graduate school are funding ten SUMMER RESEARCH FELLOWSHIPS for Research on Racism and Systemic Inequalities for this summer.

Go to for links to further details and original papers.

* Didn't Read?/Too Long? Well, we did, and now we're all smarter. istock





This version of paradise

For lovers of Duke Gardens, the reopening meant finding their peace.

he gates to the Sarah P. Duke Gardens had once more swung open, and assistant professor of pathology Will Jeck was among the first ones through. He visited the first morning he was allowed and sat on a bench overlooking the Terraces, soaking in the beauty and serenity and reflecting on a year that had him performing not just his normal work as a pathologist, but also autopsies on COVID patients. “Visiting was really rejuvenating for me,” he says. “It


was a turning of the corner, and I’m looking forward to being able to bring my family.” The magnolia trees he climbed as a child are still there. The Terrace Gardens still rise from a fishpond swirling with koi. Waterlilies spread their plate-like leaves, some as small as saucers, some seemingly big enough to support a human. Dragonflies flit among their blooms. En masse, the terraces provide a cacophony of color, but it is all carefully curated, from the spikiness of deep pink bromeliads to the light-green softness of sweet-potato


vines, to the deep-red coleuses, their petals edged in green. One level up, the dark-purple leaves of fountain grass rustle. Each view is a curiosity of color, texture, and size, wondrous in the particular, spectacular in the collective. As the state carefully reopened from its pandemic slumber, the gardens welcomed visitors in phases. Phase One gave access for Duke students, faculty, and staff. June would bring in the public, with a limited capacity. Charlotte Beever came to the gardens in the first wave, after a “strange, stressful year” spent managing ever-shifting schedules in child and family psychiatry for Duke Behavioral Medicine. “It’s an oasis, this peaceful spot, and a lovely thing to share with the people around you,” she says. “It was so special to see things grow and blossom. There is something about a garden that is inherently hopeful.” Lois Pradka, a registered nurse who came out of retirement after forty-three years at Duke to give COVID vaccinations, comes to the gardens for inspiration and ideas for her own yard. There were so few people on her visit that she spent two and a half hours just strolling, settling onto benches, not feeling like she should move along to accommodate other visitors. “It was meditative,” she says, “a wonderful opportunity to be in the gardens at my own pace

“There is something about a garden that is inherently hopeful.” and be able to linger as long as I wanted.” Omid Safi, a professor of Islamic studies, surprised his students with a gathering at the gardens after fourteen weeks of only seeing each other on screen. Safi and his wife got married in the White Garden, and the whole space is special to him, so he incorporated the visit into a seminar on the prophet Mohammed. “We talked about meaning and symbolism of a garden in the Islamic tradition,” he says. “Even our word ‘paradise’ actually comes from a Persian word meaning ‘an enclosed garden,’ which is the way it has been imagined in Muslim traditions.” This version of paradise is a place of bounty and beauty, and butterflies that lift like blooms in flight. One of the themes in Safi’s Islamic studies course is to find space or people or practices that replenish your soul, regardless of your religious tradition. For Safi, the

gardens have always provided that, so much so that he’d often take the “long cut” through the gardens between his office and West Campus. “One of the teachings from the legacy of the prophet is that when you go to a place like the gardens, you’re not going into nature, you yourself are nature, and going into a garden reminds you of that,” he says. “It’s not just that we’re separated from the gardens, it’s that we’re cut off or have forgotten that garden-like state of the soul, that knowledge that what is beyond you and inside you echo each other. “Going to the gardens is recalibrating your heart and reminding yourself who and what you are.” LANDSCAPE: Above, graduates took advantage of the greenery; left, being back in the gardens is cause for a group selfie.

—Janine Latus




In the wings Some day, a soft robot shaped like a dragonfly could help with environmental concerns.


ant to feel like you’re at the best kids’ birthday party in the world, with a kiddie pool, the latest in mood-ring technology, and remote-control dragonflies that sometimes go crazy and start spinning around? Or would you rather do cutting-edge scientific research, combining hydrogels, balloon actuators, and independent robotic environmental response to temperature, pH, and pollution? Ha ha, false dichotomy: You can do both, if you’re fortunate enough to work in the lab of Shyni Varghese, professor of biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering and materials science, and orthopaedic surgery. It starts, really, with the kiddie pool. “They got me in trouble,” Varghese says, laughing, of Ph.D. student Vardhman Kumar and postdoc Un Kyung Ko, who were designing a floating robot and realized they needed a testing facility bigger than any of the containers in Varghese’s lab. “Duke immediately asked

“She just sent an e-mail from the airport waiting lounge,” Kumar recalls. “‘Hey, I want to meet you as soon as I get back, I have this cool idea.’ That’s all that was in the e-mail. And so, she comes straight back from the airport, and she was like, ‘I want us to think and see if we can make a soft robot that can have sensors.’ ” From the beginning it was a side project: The lab is busy with materials science and other funded research, but Kumar loved the idea. “I do a lot of photography of dragonflies,” he says, “which is one of the reasons it came about to do a dragonfly.” The notion was multifaceted. Using the kind of materials the lab created (including those self-healing hydrogels, which form a strong bond at a certain pH and then release the bond if pH changes), Varghese wanted to create a robot that could independently interact with the environment and gather information. The group settled on a soft robot because soft robots can do more than your hard-corner metal guys. “They are squishy,” Kumar says. “So they can get through spaces that hard robots cannot.” They can squeeze their way into tight places. Moreover, “because they are lightweight, they can float much easier.” DraBot is a couple of inches long, with an inch-and-a-half wingspan, and its two sets of wings are key. Because the robot is soft, it has no electronics, but it’s designed with tiny air channels in the front wings, pointing backwards. The tubes empty directly to the back wings, so the air can’t produce propulsion. When separate microchannels direct air into balloon actuators, the back wings lift, the original channels propel it, and DraBot moves forward. One wing pair is painted with that self-healing hydrogel, which bonds when the pH drops in an acidic environment. Then wings on that side bond. And DraBot, with propulsion from only one wing’s channels, goes in a circle, indicating it’s encountered acid. If the pH rises back to

“ ‘Hey, I want to meet you as soon as I get back, I have this cool idea.’ ” me, ‘Why are you buying a pool for the lab?’ ” Because once you’ve designed a soft robot shaped like a dragonfly—DraBot, they call it—it’s going to need to skim across water and attend to its business, and no sink or tank gives it the space for that. DraBot is a soft robot; made of silicone, it looks like a simple drawing of a dragonfly—long, thin body; double pair of wings near the front. The dragonfly came about because Varghese, whose lab creates things like self-healing hydrogels that build or lose chemical bonds in response to changes in environmental pH, took a notion before she got on an airplane.


normal, the wings separate again and DraBot can go smoothly forward. Thermochromatic pigment on the wings makes them change color at high temperatures, and white microporous sponges attached to the wings repel water but absorb oil, becoming brown when they do. Thus DraBot, in its environment, responds to pH, temperature, and pollution and signals its findings. “It can find applications in places such as where freshwater acidification is a concern,” Kumar says, from acid rain or mining discharges. “If we can have environmental probes like this hovering around in the area, they can report back as soon as they find leakage.” Swarms of them could eventually not just

Photography by XXX

detect but even clean oil or chemical spills. The study that produced DraBot is a proof-of-principle study, of course: It’s connected to its controllers by long thin air tubes. To be useful in the environment, soft robots like DraBot will need to be independent, raising the issue of power. “With soft robots,” Kumar notes, “people are trying chemical reactions, or incorporating living cells that generate energy,” so scientists have got a way to go. With hard robots, power is as simple as strapping on a battery pack. On the other hand, a hard robot would just sink in a kiddie pool. —Scott Huler, Photography by Vardhman Kumar




Broken Records! Up. That’s the short description of the

admissions story for the Class of 2025. Check out these numbers.

49,555 Applications received for undergraduate admissions for the 2021-22 academic year




Percent of applicants not submitting standardized exam scores

increase from the prior year


Percent of the entering class who were admitted a year ago, but decided to take a gap year


Duke will continue its test-optional policy for the coming year and will reassess when the next admissions year is complete.


“This was, by far, the largest oneyear increase in the university’s history. ...”

841 Students admitted during Early Decision process


Students offered a spot in April



Record-low admission rate for Regular Decision applicants to the Class of 2025


Places to be filled during the Regular Decision process

“... In disruptive years like this, the percentage of students accepting our offer of admission is more difficult to predict.” —Christoph Guttentag, dean, Undergraduate Admissions



Pratt applicant increase


Trinity applicant increase


+10,000 More prospective students submitted applications compared to last year

Students accepting admission to Duke after taking a gap year or admission through Early Decision

International applicant increase


900➜1800 Applications to join DKU’s fourth undergraduate class, compared to last year

Countries represented





JOHN BROWN was named vice provost for the arts last summer. A native North Carolinian, Brown came to the university in 2001 as an adjunct faculty member in the music department and went on to head Duke’s jazz program, along with his own jazz groups. “It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year, and what a year it has been,” he says.

is singing, taking on some of the phrasing, the interpretation, that makes him sound like Nat King Cole— it blows your mind. I also told Legend about James Brown recording a big-band album called Soul on Top. He didn’t believe it; he said, there’s no way! So just before the graduation ceremony, he got out his iPhone and pulled it up so he could hear it.

You were the faculty sponsor for John Legend over Graduation Weekend. What was it like engaging with him?

My musical tastes were diverse from a very young age; I put myself in places to experience many different kinds of music, to feed that love. My perpetual journey is to find moments of peace, joy, and solace, and the arts is always the place I go. Of course,

He’s a sincere, genuine, gracious person who, you can tell, really cares about what he’s doing. I was inspired


being around him. I told him about a few recordings that I like to lay on people. A lot of people don’t know that, for a long time, jazz pianist Oscar Peterson played with Nat King Cole. He produced a record called With Respect to Nat, and Peterson

Talk about your path as a jazz performer.


music is the place I go to most. My mother played piano in our church choir, and my grandmother sang in that choir. So, I was dragged all the time to choir rehearsal. I would sit in our living room when I was three, four years old, and just listen to records. I tried both piano and viola, but then when I was nine, I began studying the bass. When I was thirteen, I began playing with the Fayetteville [North Carolina] Symphony Orchestra. As a highschool student, I started doing jazz gigs, including Pope Air Force Base and Fort Bragg. When I was in college at UNC-Greensboro, I was in [drummer] Elvin Jones’ band and also the North Carolina Symphony. I fit in, I felt like I belonged, and I enjoyed playing the bass. There was my stint in law school, but then

derley and John Coltrane, [jazz pianist] Shirley Horn, the Count Basie Big Band. One of my favorite records of all time is Sinatra at the Sands, where he’s singing with the Basie band. I turn a lot to Mahler’s “Adagietto” from his Fifth Symphony. You don’t find anyone who sings with more soul than Ray Charles, and he’s a creative chameleon, too—all the jazz stuff, contemporary R&B, country-western.

How did the Jazz Ensemble fare during the pandemic? Performing live wasn’t on the table. But we figured out how to gather under a tent, at a distance and with our masks. So, we maintained a healthy rehearsal routine. You could tell the students needed it. And since we weren’t taking the time

Zoom day has ended, what do you do? You read a book, you watch a film, you listen to music. You enjoy something that an artist has left for you to enjoy. Artists have gotten us through this period. But as we look to life post-pandemic, we also want to be in that creative space where we can connect with ourselves and with other human beings.

After a year on the job, how would you characterize your vision for the arts at Duke? I want the arts to be situated so that no person can pass through Duke and not be touched by the arts in some way. And one of the things I’ve identified is how much stronger we can be when we join forces. This past spring, we had a student arts showcase that

Artists have gotten us through this period. I decided I wanted to do something fun, and music has always called me back.

Who are some of your musical heroes, and what music do you keep turning to? Ray Brown, a bass player who worked with Oscar Peterson and all of the greats, is one of my biggest heroes. I also admire those who wrote the big symphonies: Mahler, Tchaikovsky—any Brahms symphony will do wonders for me. I listen to Marvin Gaye, I listen to Barry White. In junior high school, I played in a band that performed Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest. I listen to ballads a lot, and also [saxophonists] Cannonball Ad-

to prepare for performance, we used this stretch as a kind of gift, a chance to talk about music—including having the students share what they had been listening to—in a way that we hadn’t been able to before.

What has the pandemic taught us or reminded us about the value of the arts? The common denominator among all of us is human creation. There is no part of the human existence that is without creation; the arts make us who we are. The arts enhance not only our creative skills but also our thinking, our reasoning skills, how we approach our problem-solving. You spend your day on Zoom, and when your

featured music, theater, dance, creative writing, film, photography. It was the first time ever that all those departments had come together and collaborated on a presentation. It was a huge moment; for years I had wished for that. I’m equally proud of the Resist Covid/ Take 6! Project, which marked the first-ever collaboration among the Nasher, Duke Health, and Duke Arts. I think we have made very clear statements about the importance of the arts at Duke as being part of who we are. But there are so many rich opportunities when, within the arts disciplines, we say, let’s just see what happens when we get together. —Robert J. Bliwise





TEAM of many comers


Despite being an unusual mix of transfers and fifth-year seniors, the 2021 men’s lacrosse players found a way to jell and win.


By Scott Huler | Photography by Natalie LeDonne

he Duke men’s lacrosse team finished the regular season ranked second in the nation, tied for the ACC championship. The players were the top seed in their bracket in the NCAA. And they made it to the semifinals. But the unique complexity of the 2021 men’s lacrosse team found expression moments after a one-goal win over Syracuse in March, its first ACC game. As time ran down, Duke clinging to a one-goal lead, a Syracuse attack man took a pass in the crease and shot directly into the goal mouth—where goalie Mike Adler made a point-blank save, winning the game. That’s Mike Adler, extra year of eligibility, graduate student—-and transfer from St. Joseph’s University. You might call him a COVID transfer, one of some dozen extra players who swelled the Duke roster

this year. Last year’s seniors, granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA, returned en masse, getting graduate degrees from the Fuqua School of Business. And students transferred to Duke, too. Graduates of Princeton, Amherst, Dartmouth, students who decided to use their extra year of eligibility to chase a championship with Duke. Which left returning goalie, last year’s standout Turner Uppgren, not defending the goal for the most important play of the season thus far but on the sideline watching Adler make the save. Not on the sideline for long, though: Uppgren led the charge of celebrating teammates onto the field. Then, not long after the game, on Twitter, from Adler, this: “Not a big Tweeter, but Turner Uppgren is the best teammate I have ever had.” DUKE MAGAZINE SUMMER 2021


Something special was going AT WORK: Above, on in the Duke locker room. defender Tyler Carpenter and goal At that point, even having a tender Mike Adler; locker room was an upgrade. right, Joe Robertson “We didn’t have a locker room makes a gamein the fall,” said coach John winning goal against Danowski. “We didn’t have the Tar Heels. the traditional social time they’re used to having. Going to a football game, a women’s soccer game, going to the movies together. All those things that are synonymous with college living have all been removed,” because of COVID. Players wore masks in the weight room, came and went without socializing, adapted to the normal of the moment. The NCAA granting an extra year of eligibility to athletes whose 2020 seasons were cut short raised the potential for locker-room friction. A class of rising seniors, expecting their moment in the spotlight, suddenly had last year’s starters coming back. Add in the transfers, stars from other schools who graduated and then, with extra eligibility, took advantage of a sudden opportunity to play for an ACC championship, to chase a national title. The team ended up with fifty-six mem20

bers, where usually there are somewhere in the forties. A team that usually has a few graduate players this year had fourteen. Yet instead of churn, instead of resentment or frustration, the 2021 team came together, a team in every sense of the word. Uppgren explains. Given the opportunity to return— he had been a graduate student, earning a master’s from Fuqua; this year he completed his M.B.A.—he jumped: “I’d be here eight or ten years if I could.” But then “we found out there was going to be a ton of transfers, so we didn’t really know what was happening.” One of whom turned out to be one of the nation’s outstanding goalies. Uppgren was the goalie last year, a team captain the year before, and now… “How are you ready for something like that?” he asks. “There’s no playbook on it. So yeah, you’re literally just taken aback. And then I think the cool part is that initial reaction of, you’re not maybe thrilled or whatever, but then you get to meet these guys, and all that just goes out the window.” With Adler on the team, Uppgren had competition in goal, and every athlete accepts that someone wins and then you move on. He saw Adler’s Tweet after the Syra-

SPORTS cuse game. “Obviously it’s great praise, and it means a lot coming from someone like Mike.” Last year he started in goal for a team with championship aspirations whose year was cut short by COVID. This year things are very different, but “now that I play less, you’ve got to find ways to contribute, right? I guess the case with Mike is if our team’s going to be successful, Mike’s successful, so how can I make Mike as successful as possible in the position he’s in?” That means coaching from the sidelines, accepting complexity, and working with it. Stories like that fill the roster. Princeton graduate Mike Sowers, considered by many the best player in college lacrosse, used his extra year to come to Duke. But no special treatment: Sowers remembers getting a little fancy in practice one day. “I threw a behind-the-back pass, and it didn’t go so well.” He shrugged it off on the field, as did everyone else. “After practice, Coach D called it out. This is, like two hours later. And he was just saying, ‘That’s not the way we do things around here.’ ” Sowers came to Duke along with his teammate Phil Robertson, older brother of senior attacker Joe Robertson. Joe was ready for his senior year in the sun, and then into the locker room walked not only Sowers but Joe’s older brother Phil. But instead of sibling rivalry, the Robertsons felt like they were living out a childhood fantasy. “It was a dream” to play for the same school, Phil says. A year apart, they were pulled in different directions by recruiting. So though Phil recalls being devastated by the cancelation of the season and by the Ivy League’s decision not to grant its seniors additional eligibility, “I immediately started talking with Joe and kind of just said the only place I would want to play lacrosse would be at Duke with Joe.” They not only played together but lived together, in one of several houses of senior and graduate lacrosse players. Joe completely agrees. “Being separated in college and being on my own has made me realize how much I miss him, as corny as that sounds. We’ve always been best friends even through high school, so there wasn’t a single second I was going to regret this. I was just super-pumped.”

It also meant that Phil got to watch one of Joe’s greatest moments. Duke, then ranked number one, played Carolina, ranked number two, in April, and the game went to overtime. “You know,” Phil says, “growing up, like in the backyard, we were always joking around like, ‘Overtime, five seconds on the clock, counting down like, five, four, who scores the game-winning goal?’ ” In this case the ball came to Joe. “I was watching the play develop,” Phil says, “and as weird as it sounds, I saw Joe get the ball, and I just kind of knew he was going to score.” Which he did.

“‘I just got to watch my younger brother score the game-winning goal against UNC, playing at Duke, number one versus number two.’ That’s something I’ll never forget.”

“And aside from running and stampeding the field with all your teammates and grabbing them, the excitement of an overtime win, after the fact I was just like, ‘I just got to watch my younger brother score the game-winning goal against UNC, playing at Duke, number one versus number two.’ That’s something I’ll never forget.” When Coach Danowski looks for the roots of the team’s success, he doesn’t point to the heavy roster. He DUKE MAGAZINE SUMMER 2021


“It’s cool lighting at practice, and we’re all just sitting there listening to Coach talk. You XX. look around and see what we’re talking about and who everyone is, and it’s a cool experience.”


TEAMBUILDING: The culture lacrosse coach John Danowski has created aided in this year’s success.


SPORTS traces them back directly to 2006, when the program collapsed amid false accusations of rape at a party and a general reconsideration of team culture. When the team disbanded in 2006, he says, every member of the team had permission to transfer to any program in the nation. “They had no coach, no future, in a sense, and all the seniors got together,” he says. “And they say, ‘Listen. We’re not going anywhere. We’re finishing what we started.’ All thirty-four kids stayed. Nobody transferred. And the reason I tell you that story is because I think that’s when the foundation of the program as I know it was built.” And it’s not just love or team spirit, he says. Kids who this year lost starting spots at Duke could have played at other top schools, but they stayed—and practiced, and offered coaching and criticism. Adler agrees. “Once I got here, the culture is so ingrained,” he says. “The culture’s been this way for like ten years now, however long Coach Danowski’s been here. And the guys were super-welcoming, but you still had to earn your spot. Guys wanted to hear your story, wanted to see what you’re about. You had to be vulnerable, honest with them, and that was kind of a big thing.” Outcompeting Uppgren at goal was intimidating. “Everybody loves Turner,” he says. “He’s kind of the heart, he’s the soul of the team. So in that aspect it was a bit off, but it was a competition, and I like that. I wouldn’t want to be handed anything, so that was awesome.” And once he’d won the job? “Turner handled it better than I could’ve handled it. He was giving me tips, telling me what Duke lacrosse was all about. He just became kind of that rock.” Adler has another year of eligibility remaining (he red-shirted his freshman year after being bitten by a shark) and hopes to stay another year. This is what Danowski is talking about. “It has not been easy for these young men,” he says. At the end of last year’s suddenly canceled season, the program knew these issues would come up. “But we knew team chemistry needed to trump everything else.” It has. When asked for moments that define the season,

nobody talks about winning goals or comeback victories. J.T. Giles-Harris says he took “all of maybe thirty, forty minutes” to decide to stay on for a fifth year. He expected “to compartmentalize, and think that I had my senior year, so I’ve got to let these guys have their senior year and run the show and stuff.” Still he was elected captain for the second year running. He praises his teammates for their willingness to offer—and accept—the criticism

that makes the team better, but looking back at the year, he talks about an almost mundane moment sitting on the field after practice as the sun goes down. “It’s cool lighting at practice, and we’re all just sitting there listening to Coach talk. You look around and see what we’re talking about and who everyone is, and it’s a cool experience.” But he also brings up a moment several other players did, which came after the overtime win against Carolina. “So it was like 10:30, 11 at night, whatever. And as people are leaving the field, you see like eight guys that didn’t play and a couple guys that did play out on the field, like shooting or doing wall ball.” After that exhausting overtime game, they still had a hunger for practice, for lacrosse. “You know, we won the game, but they’re still working.” n

OFFENSE: Michael Sowers




Monica West ’99 about Revival Season (Simon & Schuster), a coming-of-age story about the daughter of an evangelical preacher who each year takes his family on the road to heal souls and bodies.

On her not-straight-path to becoming a novelist

I’ve written stories since I was nine, and somehow, it always felt like, and honestly it was treated like, a hobby. It was a thing that I loved doing but people were always saying, “Okay, well, when you go get this real job, you can always just do this thing you like on the side.” The first legit class I took in writing was at Duke. I took a fiction-writing class with Elizabeth Cox; I think it was my senior year. And I thought, “Where has this been all my life?” I took Ms. Cox’s class and one with Christina Askounis, who did a nonfiction class the spring of my senior year. Both classes were really, really lovely and kind of transformative for me as a writer. I What does it kept doing it, toiling mean for him away on my own. But I was really to not just to be practical about, the dad, “Okay, how can I make money?” and but to be this just went that way. kind of stand-in I left Duke and went to Teach For for God? America in Phoenix. I did that, and then I went to New York University for grad school. I kind of started writing [another, unpublished novel] back in 2000— gosh, 2001— for nine, ten years, I worked on that. I got in writing groups and writing programs in New York, and that was when I actually started getting my feet wet a little bit in a writer’s life. I did


workshops and then I worked on a novel and then went to writing programs in the summer for the first time. But it still felt like a hobby. I finished the first book, tried to get it out in the world. I wasn’t really diligent with it. I did a little bit of querying, but not a ton. I worked in publishing for a while and then started Revival Season in 2012. I went right away to a writing program that summer, and my first writing instructor said to me, “You should really think about an M.F.A.” I got into the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2015. And then once I went to Iowa, it was like officially, “Okay, I can do this, I think. People believe in me to do this.” And so, it’s been this long, winding path to getting where I am, but it’s basically been people whispering into my ear. But I’ve never stopped writing. On finding the plot of her novel

I don’t sit down and say, “I’m going to write a novel about blank.” I finished my first book, and thought, “I don’t know what I’m going to write next. Is there another book in there?” I hadn’t really thought about something else. And then this picture of the van comes to my brain. I thought, “Huh, what’s that?” I ignored it, but I kept seeing it, and so I said, “Okay, so what’s happening here?” I kept seeing it. Anytime when I was not in the midst of something else. Anytime I was still and quiet, that image would come back to me. And so, I saw the van, and then I said, “Okay, so there’s a van here, and what is it, and what’s happening in it, and what’s the

story here?” And that’s when I thought about, “Okay, what matters? What do I think would be interesting to write about?” That’s when the idea of a power dynamic came and the idea of the van becoming a space, not just transportation, but a home in some ways, especially for this family. And what it would feel like for a person with all the power in the world to be sitting right next to a person who had none of it? Once I found the power dynamic, that’s when I played out the idea of “Why are they traveling? Where are they going?” That’s when I thought about the idea of what would happen if they were a religious family and they’re in this van because that’s part of their job. I’ve always been fascinated by the dynamics of religion, and how power works, and how power is passed through lines of gender. I was thinking in terms of how power works in this family where the person that they look up to is also the father, who is flawed; he’s their spiritual leader in some ways and the spiritual leader for a lot of other people. What does it mean for him to not just to be the dad, but to be this kind of stand-in for God? It’s something that I always struggled with, even when we went to church. I was born and raised Baptist but not in the South. We went to

church on Sundays. And even when I was younger and growing up, I always struggled with who gets to be seen. I’d see men doing this, and men doing this, and men doing this. And I always just wondered, why aren’t there women? Why do I not see that mirrored back in some ways, and how are men kind of taking the reins of that power Courtesy Monica West and then using the Bible to justify it? I had to ramp it all the way up for this book because it couldn’t be just a girl who goes to church on Sundays and has this struggle. It had to be someone who…this is their family’s life work. This is their blood. This is their bread and butter. This is what they fully, fully believe and have dedicated their lives to. On finally publishing a book

I never dared to call myself a writer. A writer publishes books. So, to then sell a book with a Big Five publisher, to have a dream that I’ve had for years—for over thirty years—come to fruition, is so validating. To have a book in the world is terrifying; exciting and terrifying. And anxiety-provoking. And yet, what I have to always bring myself back to is this is exactly what I wanted, and this is just a realization of a dream. I have lovely, lovely parents. My dad never understood when I quit my full-time job to go to Iowa to get my M.F.A. I already had an M.A. I said, “Dad, I’ve got to give this a chance. This is the one thing that has been my constant.” When I finally sold my book, I said, “Dad, this is why I’ve been doing this. I finally did this thing that I’ve been trying to do for years.” So, to have the dream then happen feels so, so, so, so good. n



BookClub continued... RECOMMENDATIONS from Scott

Ellsworth A.M. ’77, Ph.D. ’82

In The Ground Breaking: An American City and Its Search for Justice (Dutton), Ellsworth digs into how the 1921 race massacre that happened in his hometown, Tulsa, Oklahoma, was brought to light. Here, he shares the works that influenced his writing.

The Nation Must Awake: My Witness to the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 by Mary E. Jones Parrish, foreword by John Hope Franklin

There is no more important source on the history of the tragedy in Tulsa than this slim volume, written by a pioneering African-American journalist who survived the massacre by fleeing down the streets of Greenwood in a hail of bullets. Privately published in 1923, with fewer than 100 copies printed, Parrish’s book is now widely available for the first time. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

What a gem of a book! Not only did Skloot help to bring out into the open one of the most important medical revolutions of the past seventy-five years, but she did so with precision, clarity, and empathy. Her book was also important to me as a guide to how an author who is a part of the story can, for the most part, stay out of it. 26

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe

A masterful account of “the Troubles” in Northern Ireland, and the murder of a Belfast woman, Radden Keefe’s book touches upon many of the themes in my work. Not only is it beautifully researched and composed, but the author does an incredible job of re-creating the tone and atmosphere of a divided land. Death in a Promised Land: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 by Scott Ellsworth

Written when I was a graduate student at Duke, this was the first comprehensive history of the massacre. It helped to crack open the door to a fuller understanding as to Tulsa’s hidden disaster, and for a while it was the most stolen book out of the city’s library system. First published in 1982, it’s now been in print for thirty-nine years.

by DUKE ALUMNI & FACULTY Black Girls Must Die Exhausted

Jayne Allen aka Jaunique Sealey B.S.E.E. ’00 (HarperCollins) Tabitha Walker is on track for “having it all” when an unexpected diagnosis jeopardizes her ability to have children. Disrupting Whiteness: Talking With White People About Racism

Off Our Chests: A Candid Tour Through the World of Cancer

John Marshall ’83 and Liza Marshall ’84 (Ideapress Publishing) Oncologist John was outspoken in his resentment of the dominance of breast cancer advocacy and research. Then his wife, Liza, was diagnosed with a high-risk breast cancer.

Darrell “Drick” Boyd ’75 (Arch Street Press) Drawing on his personal experience as a professor and anti-racism trainer, Boyd offers a conversational—rather than combative— approach to talking about racism.

Not Little

Something Happened in our Park: Standing Together After Gun Violence

Stupid Things I Won’t Do When I Get Old

Marianne Celano ’79, Ann Hazzard & Marietta Collins (Magination Press) When Miles’ cousin is injured in a shooting, he realizes people can work together to reduce the likelihood of violence in their community. The Job Closer: Time-Saving Techniques for Acing Résumés, Interviews, Negotiations, and More

Steve Dalton, senior career consultant and associate director, Fuqua School (Ten Speed Press) A guide to time-saving techniques to land your dream job, from the interview to the negotiation. Shooting Cameras for Peace/Disparando Cámaras para la Paz: Youth, Photography, and the Colombian Armed Conflict

Alexander L. Fattal ’01 (Peabody Museum Press) Fattal’s text accompanies photography from a media project he founded that taught photography to young people in Bogota.

Maya Myers ’96; Illustrated by Hyewon Yum (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House) When diminutive Dot stands up to a bully on behalf of an even smaller friend, she proves how big she can truly be. Steven Petrow ’78 (Kensington) Soon after his fiftieth birthday, Petrow began assembling a list of all the things he thought his then-something-year-old parents were doing wrong. Unique Eats and Eateries of Atlanta: Stories of People Who Make the Food We Love to Eat

Amanda Plumb ’99 (Reedy Press) The stories behind more than eighty restaurants and grocers that make up the city’s Southern and global culinary scene. A Home on Wilder Shores

Susan P. Posey ’68 (Great Rocks Press) This novel follows two Welsh sisters in the 1750s who leave colonial Philadelphia for the North Carolina frontier in search of their mother. Angels We Have Heard Are High

Charles Schuster M.Div. ’69 (Wipf & Stock) Stories that invite the reader to use Christmas as a pathway to find the sacred in everyday life.

Whence These Special Places? The Geology of Cashiers, Highlands & Panthertown Valley

100 Days in Vietnam

William S. Jacobs J.D. ’71 (Great Rocks Press) Part guide, part illustrated explanation of the geology of the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau of western North Carolina.

Joseph F. Tallon with Matt Tallon ’01 (Koehler Books) A father and son memoir chronicling the father’s time in Vietnam and his quest to secure a Purple Heart for a fallen comrade. DUKE MAGAZINE SUMMER 2021




The Centennials YR The Class of 2024 was always going to be distinct; they are the class that graduates the year of Duke’s centennial. But they also began their college careers during a pandemic, a massive movement for racial justice, and an election marred by violence and misinformation. We’re following four members of the class for four years to see this strange new world through their eyes.


he weather was easy—mid-seventies and pleasantly sunny—and the windows were down as the three friends departed West Campus in a cramped Uber backseat, headed for the Eno River. It had been an intense accelerated semester, an unyielding juggernaut of labs and quizzes and projects that left little time to be a person. Colin Kaeo had slogged through it with a fractured pinkie—courtesy of a hardthrown football at the end of winter break—rising to the challenge of his coursework without the full use of his dominant hand or even the ability to unwind by playing his clarinet. Yet here was a moment of reprieve! Here was a two-day break on March 9 and 10, “wellness days” that had been added to Duke’s academic calendar. And here were Kaeo and two friends heading for the woods to make the most of it. “The night before, if you would have asked me what I was doing on the first wellness day, I would have no idea,” Kaeo recalls. “That morning, we just decided to go [to Eno River State Park] and do a CENTENNIALS little bit of hiking.” CELEBRATORY: Anticipation grew as the friends On the last day approached the Eno. Immediately upon of classes, Colin, arrival, Kaeo found the perfect hiking center, and stick. Soon the three were on the banks friends capture of the river itself, watching a dozen the moment. turtles sun themselves on a fallen tree. Even though this was Kaeo’s second semester at Duke, the lifelong Texan felt like he was finally experiencing North Carolina—and he liked it. Granted, neither of the two semesters comprising Kaeo’s Duke experience thus far were conducive to getting to know the area. Kaeo is part of a class like no other: Not only will he graduate in 2024—Duke’s centennial year—but he and his classmates’ entire freshman year was altered and defined by COVID-19 precautions. Fall ’20 and spring ’21 were compressed semesters without roommates, without indoor dining or in-person events, and with many classes held virtually. There wasn’t even a spring break: in its place, those wellness days—a two-day break in March, as well as an additional optional (though Les Todd

encouraged) day off on April 12. Kaeo is one of four students in the centennial class that Duke Magazine is following through all four years. And while Kaeo’s Eno hike was no doubt a reprieve, the rising sophomore recognizes that future semesters won’t be as frantic. “I’m kind of sad that I didn’t get to do more fun things aside from school,” he admits. “At the same time, I feel good about the work I did this semester and what I’ve accomplished academically.” Organic Chemistry II, for instance, was far more fulfilling than Kaeo expected, which he credits to Charlie Cox’s teaching style and course design. The associate professor of the practice of chemistry communicated the material clearly and efficiently, and the pace of the course, though fast, felt manageable. “He’s probably one of the best teachers I’ve ever had,” says Kaeo. Like he did in the fall, Kaeo met friends in his classes (some of whom this Pratt student recognized or knew from his first semester). He began studying with classmates from his linear algebra and molecular biology courses. Sure, being in the same room (albeit masked and distanced) helped with comprehension, but it also kept yet another COVID-dominated semester from getting too lonely. As the spring semester wrapped up, the university was easing outdoor mask requirements, opening Duke Gardens to the university community, and vaccinating students—an excited Kaeo included. Summer brings the tantalizing possibility of a Mexico trip with friends (to make up for a 2020 trip that was canceled by COVID). And after summer there’s the promise of a new normal for Kaeo. After a freshman year living solo in Blackwell on East Campus, his sophomore assignment to Crowell comes as a relief—he’ll get something every Duke class except the centennials has taken for granted: a roommate. “We got our housing assignments [for fall ’21], and I’m rooming with one of my partners who was in my First Year Design group,” Kaeo says. “Across the hall from us are the other two guys who were in the group. “I’m excited about that,” he continues, “to have friends—good friends—living right close to each other.” —Corbie Hill DUKE MAGAZINE SUMMER 2021


Implementation science focuses on ensuring that the benefits of studies reach the real world. At first, scheduling for COVID-19 vaccinations was tough,

but even a month or so into it, chances are you waltzed through an organized, uncrowded, series of rooms in a hospital or medical center or drug store. It’s little short of a miracle. Half the population in the U.S. has had at least one dose of the vaccine, and though slowing, the numbers of the vaccinated continue to rise. Yet there are big questions. For example, reach out to Gavin Yamey, professor of the practice of global health and public policy and director of Duke’s Center for Policy Impact in Global Health. He helped design COVAX, the vaccines element of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator created by the World Health Organization to help the world collaborate to create, manufacture, and equitably distribute tests, treatments, vaccines, and other tools to respond to COVID-19. He’s working constantly on the crisis in India, where around 3 percent of people are fully vaccinated, but he finds a second to respond to a reporter. “Every request just makes me cry 30

inside, to be honest,” Yamey says of the tide of calls he receives asking him to explain what’s going on. “We all need some time off. But we’re never going to get it. “Obviously the rapid development of astoundingly safe, high-efficacy vaccines in under a year, from lab to jab in eleven months, is one of the most extraordinary recent scientific achievements.” The problem is that, once the vaccine was developed, the system seems to have broken down. Yamey gives a rapid-fire rundown of problems with international vaccine distribution. Addressing the current situation that he has heard called “vaccine apartheid” and “vaccine nationalism,” he says, “Only 0.3 percent of all global vaccine doses have gone to low-income countries.” He’s glad the Biden administration has backed the intellectual-property protection waiver. This will enable plants around the world to produce vaccines for their own


countries’ use, without fear of a lawsuit by the vaccines’ developers, like Moderna and Pfizer. But it comes late, and poor countries around the world are suffering. “It’s unethical,” he says of the current situation, but then makes a point that, for outcomes, is even more important: “It’s terrible public health.” That is, despite the astonishing scientific accomplishment of the development of the vaccine, the point of the science was to protect people from COVID-19, and what seem like the simple next steps to make that happen aren’t being taken. A scientific miracle itself doesn’t accomplish anything. If it’s not implemented, the breakthrough is only conceptual. Welcome to implementation science, a somewhat new discipline that addresses how science affects the world outside the study. “Implementation science is bridging that gap between what science tells us we should do and actually getting it done in whatever setting we choose,” says Leah Zullig, associate professor in popula-

tion health sciences and in medicine at Duke’s School of Medicine. All kinds of great science address all kinds of amazing things. But implementation science focuses on getting the benefits of the studies to the real world. Similar to that outworn 1980s term “technology transfer,” which focused on getting science into companies and the economy, implementation science focuses more on people, addressing uptake by populations and policymakers. The issues implementation science examines vary from situation to situation. Regarding COVID-19, in rich countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, governments hoard doses they cannot get their populations to take. Yamey says fear that booster shots may eventually be needed may be keeping rich countries from sharing doses they’ve acquired, but he’s not impressed: “The 1.5 billion excess doses that the rich world isn’t using needs to be given to COVAX.” He adds, “We have got to get better at understanding some of the drivDUKE MAGAZINE SUMMER 2021


“We have got to get better at understanding some of the drivers of

ers of scale-up related to the intervention itself.” That’s implementation science. Zullig puts it in simple terms. She commonly works in community-based health-care centers that don’t have the resources of a Duke or UNC hospital system. “What works in academic medicine,” she says, “doesn’t necessarily work in these places.” Whether it’s vaccine hesitancy, mask-wearing, or getting a cancer patient to take all of rather than some of his or her medication, implementation science tries to figure out how best to address things like worries people have about vaccines, complexities policymakers face in deciding what course to pursue, and other hurdles between science and the good it can do. It’s a new area of study, only generating literature for the last decade or so. Says Zullig, “The MeSH term was only introduced in 2019.” That’s Medical Subject Heading, the thesaurus of terms used by the National Institutes of Health National Library of Medicine. Like many people working in implementation science, Zullig says the area has developed because when things like pandemics arise, standard scientific practice has a hard time responding quickly. “There’s a statistic that says only 7 percent of science is ever translated and makes its way into the real world,” she says, citing a widely shared 2011 paper from the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. “And when it does, it takes an average of seventeen years.” That pace isn’t going to cut it when a new virus shows up or the planet is on fire. To explain how implementation science studies not just whether an intervention works in a lab but wheth32

er it can work in practice, Zullig cites her own work on an intervention for cancer patients. Whether the patients’ health improved was one outcome measured, but the other was “Can we actually deliver the intervention using only resources available in a normal clinic? Not air-dropping in research staff, but actually accomplishing it with resources” that the clinic would have on hand. She says she’ll encounter clinicians who say, “Gosh, we don’t actually have a nurse or a pharmacist in our clinic who has free time, or who has the training, who knows how to handle oncology drugs.” Often a study will provide an online resource for participants, but the local clinic will say, “Well, that’s super, but our patients don’t actually have Internet access at home. Forget wifi—we don’t even have dial-up. “And as these things are uncovered, we continually reassess these outcomes,” Zullig says. “Both the clinical outcomes and the implementation outcomes, and we make changes.” She describes a study of a hospital-based mobility program. A standard intervention, where patients were required to move, and their movement was correlated with muscle health. “Super basic, right?” But during COVID-19, with patients confined to rooms without being touched, they couldn’t walk in corridors or be helped in their walking without adding risk. “So there was this whole adaptation process.” The program changed to a self-directed movement program, with patients moving within their room with the help of a family member or caregiver rather than a scientist. They’re still studying the effect of movement on muscle, “but we’re doing it entirely differently.” The protocol changed mid-study to adapt to the needs of the moment—and to help get to the health outcome the study was designed to pursue. She describes this as hybrid study design: “In parallel, we’re collecting information about the clinical effectiveness of an intervention, and in tandem, also collecting information about how it can be implemented better. So we’ve got two primary outcomes.” This is essential if science needs to work fast, and it will help, she thinks, improve people’s response to sci-

sc a




ence in the first place. Because of the necessity of getting grants and focusing on small problems that seem certain to yield results, science can seem, on the surface, not to be accomplishing much. According to Zullig: “I think one of the reasons society has such disdain for science is because science has historically been for the sake of science. We’re still focused on the next fancy publication and the largest grant. That isn’t actually helping people, and you can see that with our promotion track record.” That is, researchers advance by publishing papers. “People think, ‘Ta-da! I got my Annals of Internal Medicine paper…everything will change!’ And the truth is the people who are actually going to use this knowledge are too darn busy to take the time to adjust to the Annals paper, which likely didn’t have enough detail in it for them to do anything with it anyway.” In her work about medical adherence among cancer survivors, under common circumstances, “we have lots of opportunity to construct really beautiful, pragmatic, and hybrid and adaptive trials” that can gather evidence for decades about very small changes given one group of patients or another. “We’re not really harming patients by withholding that, because they’re still getting the best cutting-edge cancer treatment. We can wait for a super-strong evidence base stemming from trials.” In a pandemic—or, say, with current crises in the climate—that won’t work. “We need to be geared toward moving more rapidly. And our infrastructures are set up on an NIH timeline, and we’re really not nimble enough to move when we have the need for rapid change. So we need to understand how much evidence do we really need to practically be able to move forward? Because our goal is to make societal impact.”

Making societal impact

is the central point of implementation science. Lavanya Vasudevan, assistant professor of family medicine and community health and assistant research professor of global health, does research on immunization demand equity and accep-

related to the intervention itself.”

tance, so she’s been busy in recent months. “In the vaccine hesitancy space,” she says, “there’s not usually just one factor.” Vaccine hesitancy grows from “political climate, historical influences, and you have things related to individual or social experiences.” One study she’s working on involves creating an online resource that physicians offer patients to consult, with the goal of helping physicians identify “where on the hesitancy spectrum [patients] fall,” and providing information appropriate to their positions. “So the study involves not just the efficacy of the adaptive components, but do we screen accurately, do we assign the right intervention components to the right people? And does it actually translate to vaccination, because ultimately that’s your goal: You want people to be vaccinated.” Like Zullig, she talks about hybrid studies, “in which while you’re assessing the effectiveness of an intervention, you also collect implementation outcomes.” That is, instead of just studying, say, which kind of information is most convincing to which kind of person, the same study works on identifying the best way to convert that convincing information into an actual vaccination. “And the Web-based resource I talked about, our approach to that was to actually include our end-users in the design of that resource. That falls within one of the implementation-science constructs: in sort of engaging your stakeholders, engaging your end-users, from the beginning.” Leaving stakeholders out—and leaving the hoped-for outcome out—ends up with the kind of small, repetitive study Zullig was describing, which may get funding but doesn’t yield useful results and doesn’t inspire the population with confidence.

“We just don’t have time to do it the way we used to do it,” says Subhrendu Pattanayak,

Oak Foundation Distinguished Professor of environmental and energy policy at the Sanford School of PubDUKE MAGAZINE SUMMER 2021


“Congress calls for something important. The funding agency gets the money, it puts out an RFP, the best scientists respond. Five, six, seven, eight years to do the study.” Then follow-ups, publication battles, and then, “eventually, the paper gets published, right? Congress asked for this result eighteen years ago. It’s totally irrelevant. I mean, the glaciers have melted,

the penguins are gone.” lic Policy. “I want to make a plug for avoiding type III errors,” he says. In science, type I errors are false positives—believing you’ve found a result in data that don’t actually support it; a type II error is a false negative— believing data do not show a looked-for effect, when in fact they do. He describes a type III error as “precisely answering a pointless question.” Doing science, writing papers, getting trustworthy results on tiny topics because real-world complexity has been removed. “We control away the things that are challenging about the world, and that’s what’s making our science irrelevant at some point, because they’ve become so precisely right, they are exactly wrong. “It’s like no one cares about this answer at this point, right?” Pattanayak says. He, too, notes that science moves slowly, and onto that he piles arrogance: “Scientists who are not going to the field, are saying, ‘Hey, you dumb policymakers or you practitioners on the ground, why don’t you wait for us to generate the evidence around your practice?’ Congress calls for something important. The funding agency gets the money, it puts out an RFP, the best scientists respond. Five, six, seven, eight years to do the study.” Then follow-ups, publication battles, and then, “eventually, the paper gets published, right? Congress asked for this result 34

eighteen years ago. It’s totally irrelevant. I mean, the glaciers have melted, the penguins are gone.” Evidence-based practice has become an accepted principle in health care, embracing the most up-to-date science in the practice of medicine. “I’m saying flip it around,” Pattanayak says. “Practice-based evidence. Build the evidence base around what people are already trying to do on the ground. I would much rather get a rough answer to the right question.” He’s looked into issues surrounding the adoption of cleaner-burning cookstoves in India and Senegal, where their pollution causes significant health issues and research into toilet adoption where sanitation is an issue. He’s critical of research that draws simple conclusions, like giving people money to spend on cleaner cookstoves or better toilets furthers their adoption. Another study showing that if people have limitless funds, they will buy toilets doesn’t help, nor does another expensive toilet designed by engineers funded by philanthropists. What will help is figuring out how to get people to adopt the needed change. “We’ve learned over the years that you need to educate, you need to bribe, you need to shame them.” He published a paper called “Shame or Subsidy,” addressing how to get people in a part of rural India with high child mortality

to adopt improved toilets. (Conclusion: Subsidies sure help, but the social pressure of shaming “can improve sanitation worldwide.”) The point, once again, isn’t abstractly learning that paying people or shaming them is more likely to get them to improve sanitation; it’s getting them to actually improve sanitation. He returns to the case of COVID-19. “The vaccine is a beautiful thing,” Pattanayak says, an example of science at its best, identifying and rapidly solving a problem. “But the trials should also include the human dimensions of it. Giving it to people who are Republican, giving it to people who are Democrat, giving it to people who are religious, you know: The variation should be built in. Because once the technology is in the field, its rollout is going to face not only the supply chain, and keeping the vaccine available, but prejudices, biases, opinion, because that is the field reality of vaccination rollout, right?”

Right. Both Zullig and Vasudevan

speak directly about that issue, and their approach is the same: You start by accepting what Pattanayak calls field reality. “The role of implementation science is to really think about what sort of rules and strategies can we use to communicate with people where they are, to help them understand what science would direct what they should do,” Zullig says. “We have to take in this really contextually rich situation. In this instance, whether it’s right or wrong doesn’t really matter. It’s important that there is this social-political thing that’s impacting different populations differently. We don’t control for in a way that trials will control for a variable, but we recognize that as a variable we have to address. We embrace it as part of the beautiful chaos of implementation science.” Some of the work of implementation science rolls back on itself, yielding extra dividends. Many people cite the confusing recommendations about face masks as an example of early failure in communication about COVID-19. And now that masks are becoming optional, the message seems equally muddled, and many people seem reluctant to give them up. Implementation science has looked at this. “Amazingly,” Zullig says, “it’s actually easier to get people to adopt a new behavior than it is to get them to stop one they think is good or reasonable or scientifically sound.” Though Duke scientists focus on actually practicing implemen-

tation science, the discipline “has suffered, ironically, from so many folks focusing on the science of implementation science so much that they’re not actually doing it. It’s in its adolescence,” she says. “Trying to bulk up the science, but at the same time really focus on the transition work. It’s tough to have those two tracks going at the same time.” Yamey notes that implementation science still doesn’t get the funding other scientific disciplines get, so the applicable, boots-on-the-ground solutions it can help put in place don’t come. “Knowledge continues to sort of be left on the shelf.” Just the same, Vasudevan points out that steps toward a less-iterative, more-responsive science are being taken. “I think the field is slowly moving toward the idea that implementation is not just something you study at the end. Implementation is something you start thinking about from the beginning, instead of just once you have an effective and proven intervention.” As it should be, Zullig says. “If we could just require that this implementation piece be part of science, and really have that be a required perspective,” implementation would stop being an afterthought and would start guiding science. “Then when we find something that works, we could actually hit the ground running, and in an informed way, to actually include people’s health. Like, how novel would that be?” Grant proposals currently require a dissemination plan, discussing where results will appear, what conferences researchers might attend. “What if we actually changed that dissemination plan to how we’re actually going to tell people about our research findings and what we’re actually going to do with it?” she said. “I think that would really kind of shift what’s important to us in the scientific community.” n



Mining the Complications In their prize-winning books, two scholars challenge the familiar American story. By Robert J. Bliwise

CC - Trail of Tears, a painting along the highway in Golconda, Illinois


istory may be written by the winners, the best work in American history or biography—for but only as a first draft—a feel-good, The Year of Peril: America in 1942 (Yale University simplistic, triumphalist view of the Press). Saunt’s 2021 Bancroft Prize in American Hispast. What about the history that entory and Diplomacy is for his Unworthy Republic: The dures? That’s all about asking tough Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indiquestions, doing hard digging, and acknowledging an Territory (W.W. Norton). stubborn complexities. Saunt, who teaches at the University of Georgia, foTwo Duke-trained historians, Tracy Campbell cuses on the 1830s and chronicles the forced migration Ph.D. ’88 and Claudio Saunt Ph.D. ’96, are reachof Native Americans across the Mississippi River. This ing for that enduring impact. Campbell won the most was one of the first state-sponsored mass expulsions in recent New York HistoriMASS EXPULSION: In the summer and fall of 1838, Cherokees were marched westcal Society American Book ward across some 1,200 miles; thousands died of disease, famine, and violence. Prize—given each year to


Claudio Saunt Ph.D. ‘96 In June, his book brought him the Robert F. Kennedy Book Prize—a distinction claimed in the past by Duke’s John Hope Franklin, William Chafe, and Timothy Tyson Ph.D. ’94.

the modern world; it would be a turning point for indigenous peoples and for the country, he writes. “The geographical segregation created a westward-moving frontier, and as the United States expanded toward the Pacific over the course of the nineteenth century, the army maintained that frontier by killing native people or concentrating them on marginal lands.” For Native Americans, “the risks posed by relinquishing the land and rendering useless the accumulated multigenerational expertise in its flora and fauna were enormous.” In addition to their well-founded fears of starving in the West, the journey itself meant a mortality rate between 3 and 10 percent. And what would be their future political and legal status? To muster support in Congress, Saunt says, advocates of dispossession clothed their policy in “a gauzy humanitarianism,” as an expression of natural law; they argued that moving the residents hundreds of miles west was in the best interest of the victims of the policy. “I’m sure some people who made this argument actually believed it, but many others were clearly deeply cynical and were merely seeking cover for their desire to convert Native farms into slave plantations.” Peter Wood, now a history professor emeritus, recalls Saunt’s coming to Duke from studying Renaissance history in Italy. “As can happen with Americans, the year spent in Europe prompted him to think harder about our culture’s complicated origins. So, he arrived in Durham with a fresh interest in colonial American history, even though that field still had a justified reputation as being narrow and hidebound.” But the field was changing, and Wood had just published a demographic overview of the European, African, and Native American populations of the colonial South. Another sign of change: a graduate seminar taught

by Wood that looked at all of North America in the era of the American Revolution. Saunt found the seminar readings—from Shakespeare’s The Tempest to Cabeza de Vaca’s Narrative, recounting travels through the American South in the 1520s and 1530s—crucial for raising “so many fascinating questions about the early centuries of North American colonization.” Saunt notes that, for scholars of Native American history, one persistent question is how to recover Native voices. He was able to draw on the correspondence of several literate Native leaders, including the Choctaw Peter Pitchlynn and the Cherokee John Ross. He also dug into the administrative records held by the office of the Commissary General of Subsistence, which oversaw the logistics of the deportation. Those records “capture some

Was the FORCED MIGRATION of Native Americans—and, in a later era, the persistence of democratic government—inevitable?

THE TRAIL OF TEARS ROUTE: The dispossessed Cherokees passed close to the Hermitage, in Nashville, Tennessee, where former president Andrew Jackson commanded more than a hundred slave laborers. National Park Service

Native voices as well as offering a fascinating perspective on the small but dedicated federal bureaucracy that shaped the operation,” he says. That bureaucracy served the deeply intertwined causes of dispossession and slavery. “Both generated DUKE MAGAZINE SUMMER 2021


Tracy Campbell Ph.D. ’88 Writing in The Washington Post, political commentator George Will called his book a challenge to “the saccharine myth” of a nation united in wartime.

enormous profits; both earned the support of Northerners who were sympathetic to the cause of white supremacy and often personally invested in the oppressive polices; and both generated a vocal opposition in Congress that remained a minority, in part because the three-fifths compromise skewed representation in favor of the slave South.” It’s understandable, Saunt writes, that Andrew Jackson, a slave-holding, land-speculating war hero, who led U.S. troops against the Creeks and the Seminoles, has come to represent the era. “But there was plenty of blame to go around, starting with Southern planter-politicians, who imagined that they would come to dominate the Union, the continent, and even the hemisphere, if they were able to expand their empire of slave-labor camps to the shores of the Pacific. Poor whites in the South were also implicated, since they want-

federal agencies. One example: the Biscuit, Cracker, and Pretzel Subcommittee, seen as controlling the livelihood of bakers. Then there was the pushback against a proposal (never adopted) that would have taxed incomes above $25,000 at 100 percent—a “maximum wage.” The Wall Street Journal saw it as “a device capable of being used to liquidate—economically, not physically—a group of citizens.” But the policy that brought the stiffest resistance, particularly from Western states with their long-distance-driving needs, was gas rationing. (It was needed not because the country didn’t have enough gas, but to save rubber.) What may have been “the final straw” for some was a ration of a different sort: one pound of coffee per citizen every five weeks, or about one cup per day. The myth of wartime unity completely overlooks Black Americans. That fact was brought home to Campbell, now at the University of Kentucky, by the late Duke historian John Hope Franklin. “I took his last class, and one day we were chatting, and I brought up World War II in the usual kind of heroic context. He quickly alerted me that my images of the home front in the 1940s were at odds with what he experienced. He kindly replied, ‘That might be your war, but it wasn’t mine.’ ” (In the book, he recalls Franklin’s “outrage as someone who wanted to serve, but because of his race was treated with contempt by draft boards and other officials.”) Campbell writes about an African-American man, Willie Vinson, who was arrested in Texas for the attempted rape of a white woman; he was said to have “resembled” the presumed perpetrator. When the sheriff came to arrest him, a scuffle ensued and Vinson was shot. While hospitalized, he was grabbed, chained to the back of a truck, and dragged for miles before the mob hanged him from a cotton-gin winch. In response to such incidents, fifty-seven African-American leaders gathered in (remarkably) Durham. “In an hour of national peril, efforts are being made to defeat the Negro first and the Axis powers later,” they said in a statement. They called for reforms that would represent a chapter in a later American history, such as voting rights, a

“In an hour of NATIONAL PERIL, efforts are being made to defeat the Negro first and the Axis powers later.” ed cheap land and decided that the likeliest source belonged to Native peoples. And Northern bankers also sought to profit from the situation. They invested millions of dollars in indigenous land.” A different era, a comforting story of national unity in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. But Campbell, in The Year of Peril, complicates the narrative. A class on recent American history with William Chafe, now professor emeritus, planted the seeds for the book. “In the first week, as we covered the American home front during World War II, he challenged so many of the political, economic, and social assumptions of the war years that I didn’t realize were deeply ingrained in my head. It set in motion a fascination with this critical moment in the life of the nation that stuck with me through the years.” A source of division was the perceived overreach of 38

federal anti-lynching law, an end to all-white juries, and Social Security benefits for domestic-service workers. Misinformation—some of it rooted in racism—targeted an anxious public. There was the rumor that African-American women were organizing “Eleanor Clubs,” named after the first lady, with the aim of organizing Black domestic workers to “force white ladies into their kitchens.” (Then there was the rumor of a woman who worked in a bomb factory, went to her hairdresser for a permanent wave that left an explosive residue in her hair, and subsequently passed near a heat source that blew her head off.) Before working on the book, “I had no idea that the Office of War Information undertook to systematically fight misinformation with the War Rumor Project,” Campbell says. “Officials concluded that highlighting rumors only served to spread them more.” Saunt, in Unworthy Republic, debunks the idea— promoted by contemporaries and even by some historians—that the federal policy of forced relocation was inevitable. Campbell wrestles with the inevitability of democracy itself. If a different kind of politician had been in the White House, constitutional government would have been in jeopardy. “Self-government is necessarily fragile,” he says. What if the president in 1942 had not been Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but rather been someone like Senator Theodore Bilbo, for whom extending voting rights to Blacks would be nothing less than an existential threat for his Mississippi constituency? Or Representative Martin Dies, chair of the Special House Committee on Un-American Activities, who had pushed for the mass detention of Japanese Americans? “Then all bets are off.” n

UNITED AND NOT-SO-UNITED: FDR delivers a moraleboosting fireside chat; rationing as a patriotic duty; and a newspaper account documenting the ugly racism that remained a feature of wartime.

Newsclipping: “Lynching of Willie Vinson,” Lynching In Texas,; Wikipedia



Jared Lazarus


Jamie T. Lau J.D. ’09, clinical professor and the supervising attorney for Duke law school’s Wrongful Convictions Clinic, helped win exoneration for a man who spent six years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. It’s the clinic’s tenth exoneration.

Stephen Iya ’12 has joined Weil, Gotshal & Manges as a corporate associate, focusing on private equity-related transactions.

Nathan Willowby M.Div. ’08 was named dean of the School of Theology and Christian Ministry at Anderson University.

Andrew Lakis ’04 has been named executive director of the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program. A collaboration between Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill, the program promotes leadership as well as closer ties between the two universities.

Melanated Soul Crew member Jamila Ponton-Bragg ’96 helped raised $27,000 for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund after partnering with the fund’s senior director of programs, Tamara Thompson ’96, below. The Crew members use their love of fitness and their Pelotons to raise money for organizations.

Rhonda J. Tobin ’84, J.D. ’90 was recognized in the 2021 Insurance Law Trailblazers as an agent of change. In March, she was named the first female managing partner of the law firm Robinson+Cole. 40

Alyssa Fowers ’13 has joined The Washington Post as a graphics reporter focusing on economics.

Inka Johnson B.S.E. ’14 was featured in Design World as a prominent person in the engineering field.

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

ENGAGEMENTForeverDuke Sterly Wilder ’83 Senior associate vice president, engagement and development

Chris Hildreth


ast october 30, Dave Kennedy, then the vice president for alumni affairs and development, unveiled a new structure for the staffs of the Duke Alumni Association and University Development. Historically, both of these organizations have reported to associate vice presidents who in turn reported to the vice president. Now these two offices would be merged into one organization under one new title—DUKE ALUMNI ENGAGEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT—and one new vision. Our work would be conducted as one office with the goal and purpose of creating more seamless and coordinated programs and developing even more meaningful ways to engage our alumni, parents, and friends. But let’s take a step back—in May 2018, President Vincent Price rolled out his vision for Duke to the board of trustees. His strategic framework had five planks, and “Activating the Global Network” was the fifth one. Rarely, if ever, does a university president call out engaging alumni as a top priority! The president convened a yearlong board of trustees task force co-chaired by Katy Hollister ’81, a trustee, and Dave Kennedy. It quickly became clear that with the support of the president and the trustees, this was the perfect time to create an aligned organization focused on becoming the most engaged and committed global network of alumni, students, parents, organizations, and friends. As an organization, we are committed to exercising unparalleled rigor around one strategy: fostering engagement among our

constituents to inspire loyalty over a lifetime. Dave shared the following in his October 30 memo, that going forward we would: • S peak to our audience with one voice. • S et ambitious goals that could only be met together. • M ake decisions and prioritize work based on what the data tell us our audience wants and needs from Duke. • U nleash our organization’s full potential, leading to more time, talent, and treasure contributed to further Duke’s vision. In addition, this is how we will become organizationally ready to commence the most ambitious

and collaborative campaign in Duke’s history. And, even more important, this is how we will help Duke achieve its ideals and highest aspirations. As the longtime associate vice president of alumni affairs and one who is steeped in the history of this institution, I know that change has its challenges and that, for many of our alumni, the Alumni Affairs office was a key touch point during their student days and beyond. While there no longer is an alumni office, Duke Alumni continues to be the largest constituent group of this university. Our collective power and network hasn’t changed and, in fact, will grow even stronger. We are excited to share our journey over the past few months and look forward to sharing more in the time ahead. So, stay tuned and, as always, stay FOREVER DUKE. n




Focusing on the human condition Duke volunteers and staff worked hard to ensure this year’s virtual reunion felt like a hug.


By Bridgette A. Lacy

AN FELDSTEIN ’90 and his classmates Some of the most popular classwide events included the picked the perfect theme for their 2021 class Reunion Week Kick-Off: Identity and Affinity Gathering reunion: Us Then, Us Now, and Our Future. Areas; Spring at Duke Gardens; and Duke Through the “We were trying to celebrate who we were, Decades. Feldstein said it wasn’t so much about your specific class; who we are, and who we are becoming.” instead, “there was a general appreciation of the human Feldstein, along with the 1990 reunion committee, did condition.” Classmates joined the virtual Zoom presentalarge surveys asking a variety of questions, including: What tion from around the world. “We are separated, but we are was meaningful during your Duke days? What do you retogether now, whether you are down the street from Duke, member about Duke all these years later? Did you attend or in San Diego, New York, Virginia, Georgia, Connecticut, graduate school? What have you become? What’s your famIdaho, New Orleans, Australia, or Tokyo. ily configuration? What goals do you have remaining for “We asked them how they were your life? feeling. Strangers and friends were For April’s virtual reunion, voluntyping via the chat feature heartfelt teers and Duke Alumni staff tried to “You have low emotions authentically…you felt be intentional in planning events that expectations for a virtual you had gone through the same helped alumni connect to their memexperience, but I think thing in the same way.” ories of Duke and their relationships Nicole Field ’90 says she enjoyed with each other, and to reflect on the people were blown away the submitted archival photos of meaningful moments from their shared by the real connectivity of fraternity and sorority parties, and experiences at Duke. It was a combined this reunion. We all want sporting events. “I recognized some 2020 and 2021 reunion; last year’s was of the people, venues, hair styles, canceled because of the COVID-19 to step foot on Duke’s and clothing. It was this shared outbreak. campus again, but in the moment; your mind was flooded “There’s no real replacement to hugmeantime, we will keep with memories that don’t happen ging a classmate you haven’t seen in at a cocktail party or in real life.” thirty-six years, but that being said, I calm and carry on.” “I think folks were really keen for think it was positive and different in the in-person experience, to cona lot of surprising ways,” says class renect and have a drink, and introduce their families,” Field union volunteer Page Murray ’85. “Because we couldn’t see says. “You have low expectations for a virtual experience, each other, it forced us to find other ways to reconnect. but I think people were blown away by the real connectivity “The university staff can only do so much to capture all of this reunion. We all want to step foot on Duke’s campus the wonderful emotions; the classmates jumped in with both again, but in the meantime, we will keep calm and carry on.” feet and filled in the gaps. It was very good, but different.” “You come away from the weekend, for a couple of days, According to Jeremy Houser, program coordinator at you were twenty years old again,” Murray says. “I’ve had Alumni Affairs, there was a total of 3,206 registrations and several Zoom meetings with several classmates post-reunion. about 55 percent (1,726) of all registrants logged in to the If connecting with classmates is the success metric, it was a Virtual Attendee Hub, the online platform where most of success.” n the sessions were held virtually.


DUKEISEVERYWHERE WAS IT FATE or good planning that placed James Sims ’21 and his mother, Erica Henry ’94, in the same spot on Duke’s campus almost eighteen years apart? Call it a mix of both. In 2003, Henry had traveled from Atlanta to Durham for the wedding of a fellow Blue Devil, when she and Sims, three at that time, took a stroll on Abele Quad. A sentimental snap of a mother and a son. Sims would grow up “obsessed with

Duke,” in his telling, and was introduced from an early age to the community and its traditions. “Since he was about eight years old, James consistently stated that he wanted to go to Duke,” Henry says. And so when he achieved his goal and got in, “proud mama is an understatement,” she says. In honor of his graduation, Henry surprised Sims with a tribute in The Chronicle, including the 2003 photo; enter Sims with an idea. And so on May 2, as they were rushing to Wallace Wade, they paused for a few seconds. “To go back on campus and to see him wearing the same robe that I wore and to see his degree, it was truly an emotional time.” n

Durham 10,449

ALUMNI: INSTAGRAM: #DukeIsEverywhere

@jamessims_ @i_am_ericah


Good chemistry Meet the Duke Ph.D.s on a mission to make science more accessible. BY BARRY YEOMAN ILLUSTRATION BY ANA JAREN


hen Titi Shodiya and Zakiya Whatley launched the science podcast Dope Labs, they started not by talking about science, but instead by telling the story of their friendship. “Zakiya and I met in grad school,” Shodiya Ph.D. ’15, a materials scientist and engineer, told listeners. “It was a tough time, to say the least. And in our pursuit to get the hell out of there, we became cousins. You know how Black folks do. She’s my play cousin.” “Titi and I would set up our experiments to run overnight,” added Whatley Ph.D. ’14, a molecular biologist. “Then we’d go to the bar, cackle in those people’s faces until about 2 a.m., go home, change our lipstick to a daytime color, and head back to the lab.” During those years at Duke, while they were out socializing, people would ask them science questions, sometimes unrelated to their areas of expertise. Shodiya and Whatley prided themselves on answering in non-technical, non-scary language. With Dope Labs, 44



ForeverDukePROFILE which premiered in February 2019, they planned to do the same, for a wider audience. “This podcast ain’t for your mama,” Shodiya said. “It ain’t for your kids. We’re talking about things from TMZ, Shade Room, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, the barbershop, the hair salon. We are the ‘people scientists.’ So, we’re talking about things that you and your crew are gonna be talking about in your group chats and at brunch.” Then, because it was Valentine’s Day, the duo launched into an exploration of “cuffing season”: the period, starting as fall approaches, when single

people look for romantic partners to last through the winter. This was a chance for Shodiya, who is married, to tease Whatley, who is single and said she was looking for “nothing too, too serious.” “She has a commitment problem,” Shodiya said. “I could go with a six-month contract,” Whatley responded. “Based on performance and option to renew.” “That’s like a cell-phone plan,” Shodiya said. “That’s right,” Whatley responded. Shodiya had questions. “Is this something that is innate within all of us?” she asked. “Have we always been cuffing? Like, were Adam and Eve cuffing?” “Do animals have a cuffing season?” Whatley added. With those questions on the table, they brought in Alex Trillo, a behavioral ecologist who studies courtship behavior. Trillo explained the ways different animals mate: monogamously, polygamously, and sometimes in more complicated arrangements. Red foxes “cuff,” too, Trillo explained, pairing up for a single winter and then separating. “So, the male red fox next winter might be the stepdad,” said Whatley. “That sounds like a ‘Maury’ episode waiting to happen,” Shodiya added. 46


istening to Dope Labs is like being welcomed into a conversation between best friends, squeezed into the corner booth of a familiar restaurant. It is audio candy, bright and funny. It is also plenty serious. Shodiya and Whatley know that, as Black women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), they are demographic outliers. Blacks make up about 13 percent of the young-adult population in the United States but accounted for 2 percent of doctoral degrees in engineering and 3 percent in biological and biomedical sciences in 2018-19, according to

the U.S. Department of Education. Last year, the digital magazine Undark analyzed four decades of data and found the share of undergraduate STEM degrees awarded to Black graduates peaked in the early 2000s. Even as the federal government steps up its STEM diversity initiatives, the report said, “those hard-won gains for Black representation in the sciences are quietly slipping away.” The podcast, then, is their effort to reach people who have been excluded from academic science: Blacks, other people of color, women, LGBTQ folks, and people with disabilities. “This 100 percent shapes the format of our podcast,” says Whatley, who is also the assistant director of the University of Maryland’s Biological Sciences Graduate Program. “It shapes every word that we choose to say or choose not to say.” Anyone who has muddled through a science journal article knows that the language is not meant to be inclusive. Jargon, boilerplate, and acronyms dissuade all but the specialists. Studies show academic writing has grown less accessible over time. Shattering those barriers means adopting new language: in Whatley’s words, moving from the laboratory to the living room. “If I go to the lab bench, I exclude all these people who may be interested, but just

“If I go to the lab bench, I exclude all these people who may be interested, but just don’t speak lab-bench language. By saying, ‘I’m going to talk about this in the living-room setting and let everybody put on your sweatpants,’ I think it opens the door.” don’t speak lab-bench language,” she says. “By saying, ‘I’m going to talk about this in the living-room setting and let everybody put on your sweatpants,’ I think it opens the door. Everybody can get comfortable. And everybody can start to see themselves as a scientist. We’re all wearing sweatpants.” It also means finding topics that are on people’s minds, starting with pop culture. When rapper Nicki Minaj tweeted that she had paid for ex-boyfriend Safaree Samuels’ hair transplant, Dope Labs used the dispute to explore the biology of hair loss. When the movie Black Panther re-popularized the magical (but fictional) metal vibranium, the duo discussed rare properties of real-world materials—like sono-

luminescence, in which the energy from sound waves produces super-fast light flashes. Beyoncé’s stardom sparked a lesson on actual stars. Shodiya, Whatley, and their guests have unpacked the science behind vaccines, political ads, and the eviction crisis. They examined the link between wildfires and climate change. As supermarket shelves emptied during the COVID-19 pandemic, they explained the food supply chain. The growing Black Lives Matter movement sparked an examination of eugenics and other racist science. And as self-isolation left us feeling stressed and

SUPPLY CHAIN: Shodiya, left, and Whatley do Lab work




hodiya and Whatley met at Duke’s Bouchet Society, an organization of graduate-level STEM students from underrepresented groups. Not only did the society offer mutual support, it also got them thinking about communication. Members gave presentations, which required explaining their research across disciplines. “You’ve got to be able to communicate with other scientists who may not use the same jargon,” Whatley says, “who may not understand the same canonical frameworks for what’s happening in your field.” The two women also mentored and gave talks to younger students. “If you’ve ever tried to explain Ph.D.-level work to fifth-graders, you

lonely, they responded with episodes on friendship, celebration, and burnout. They’ve broadened the notion of “science” to include fields like economics and sociology. “People in the scientific community have been very protective of what science is. I’ve even had people say to me, ‘Well, this episode wasn’t really science,’” says Shodiya, who works for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a federal agency. “But I really believe that science is in everything, and you can bring a critical and scientific mind to all things.” Whatley describes science as a lens that can be pointed in many directions. Traditionally, a credentialed elite has determined what merits that gaze. “If you think of who’s always in charge, who’s pointing our telescope, there’s whole solar systems, collections of stars, that we haven’t seen,” she says. “We’re saying those stars are worthy of observation.” “It happens to be that those stars may be what the majority of people are already looking at,” she adds. “But they’ve been looking with their bare eyes.” 48

better have the right words,” Whatley says. Those experiences, plus their informal conversations with non-scientists, reinforced the importance of jargon-free communication. So did Whatley’s later experience teaching biology and seeing students move from confusion to understanding. And so did their frustration with climate denialism and other gaps in scientific literacy, which have real-world policy impacts. After graduating, they began floating the idea of a podcast. It didn’t get traction until 2018, when Whatley sent Shodiya a link late one night. The streaming service Spotify had announced an accelerator program, called Sound Up, for women of color who wanted to start their own shows. Ten participants would travel, on Spotify’s dime, to New York for intensive training. Of those ten, the company would fund pilot development for three. Eighteen thousand women of color applied. Shodiya’s proposal caught the judges’ attention. “She had clear, specific examples of the science and pop culture things that she wanted to put together,” says Natalie Tulloch, Sound Up’s global lead. “And it stood out. She had the details.” As one of the selectees, Shodiya spent a week in New York. Each day, she said, she reported back

PROFILEForeverDuke to Whatley what she had learned: how to hold a microphone, how to develop a narrative throughline, how to structure a season. Together, they developed a pitch for the seed funding, which Shodiya presented to a judging panel. She won that, too. “We took that money, and we just hit the ground running,” Shodiya says. “We bought all the tech we needed. And we’re like, let’s start, let’s go, let’s not even hesitate.”


uring their second season, Shodiya and Whatley took a hard look at Thanksgiving, a holiday that, for some Americans, evokes the European genocide of indigenous

Whatley uses the same metaphor later while imagining Dope Labs’ future. “This is the first blade of native grass,” she says. “We are trying to build an ecosystem, and it feels like Dope Labs as a podcast is one format.” In April, she and Shodiya held a live virtual conversation, sponsored by Boston’s Museum of Science, where they jumped from

“... I really believe that science is in everything, and you can bring a critical and scientific mind to all things.”

people. They brought in Nicholas Reo, a citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and a scholar who studies ecological stewardship of indigenous lands. Together, they explored how colonists altered the North American landscape: deforestation, diseases like smallpox, and invasive species like hogs. “These things are persistent,” Shodiya said. “It’s not something that’s just in the past and we just look back on it and say, ‘Aw, man, that sucks.’ ” The legacy remains, she said, in the form of unemployment, suicide, and chronic health problems on reservations. Diverse voices look at old stories in fresh ways. In Dope Labs’ telling, the story of European settlement does not begin with a celebration of Columbus’ voyage. “What are those three ships?” Whatley said in an interview, laughing. “The Santa Maria—I always get them wrong. The Pinto is a horse… “We’re not going to talk about that,” she added. “Instead, we’re gonna flip the lens and say, ‘This is about conservation. This is about what our native grasses look like.’ I think there are so many opportunities to recenter the narrative, to decide who gets to be important, who gets to be the protagonist.’ ”

the mechanics of pasta shapes to the shrimp someone allegedly found in a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. They want to keep finding new ways to popularize science. “If I could have a Dope Labs touring bus, and we went to different community centers and did live shows, I would love that,” Whatley says. “There’s no shortage of things to talk about.” n Yeoman teaches journalism at Duke’s DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy. He wrote about Gabriel N. Rosenberg and how livestock breeding intersected with the histories of race and sex in America in the Spring 2021 issue. DUKE MAGAZINE SUMMER 2021



Not just for play

An alumna’s board game seeks to educate youth on how to handle police interactions.


pril Preyar ’96, a criminal-defense lawyer in private practice in Chicago, was exhausted from helping one client at a time, arguing before a judge and jury, recognizing that 49 percent of Black males and 44 percent of Hispanic males will have been arrested by the time they’re twenty-three. She videotaped a salty middle-of-the-night rant, urging people to hire a lawyer before talking to police. She recorded weekly videos repeating her message—don’t talk to police, don’t argue, don’t tell them things they don’t already know, call a lawyer. Then she invented Trials & Triumph, a tabletop board game designed to spur conversations to teach young people how to handle stressful police interactions so they can get home safely. “During a police stop, everybody’s panicked,” Preyar says. “It doesn’t matter what race you are or how old you are. Everybody’s nervous, so imagine how much more uncomfortable it is for a teenager, who’s maybe never been stopped before or is a new driver. I don’t want to inundate people with a bunch of information they won’t remember in that moment of panic. I want them to walk away with strategies.” She couches those strategies as the seven R’s—don’t run, don’t reach, don’t resist, don’t run your mouth (by answering questions or volunteering information), refuse consent to search, reject a blood alcohol test, and request a lawyer. Or as her company’s T-shirts say, “Shut Up. Lawyer Up.” The game, released in June 2019, includes more than fifty scenarios drawn from Preyar’s twenty years as a criminal defense lawyer. They’re situations any young person could encounter—group crimes, social-media crimes, fights where something is stolen. “The difference is, Black and brown teens are more


likely to have police contact as a result,” she wrote in an e-mail. “White kids are often given warnings, options outside of the criminal-justice system, or second chances by prosecutors and judges, if it gets that far.” She targets people of color because they’re more likely to suffer the worst consequences for actions that, if committed by their white peers, receive little or no punishment. “It teaches them to make better choices,” she says. The game has two tracks, and players can find themselves unexpectedly moving from one to the other. The World of Trouble is the hard-to-esTOOLS: cape loop of the criminal-justice Scenario system. The only ways out are to cards draw land on spaces where your “cop is a from actual no-show” or “NOT GUILTY!” experiences. The game’s other track is called

the World of Possibilities, with aspirational successes like “You get accepted into 10 colleges you applied to” and “Buy your 2nd rental property.” Players roll and

Images courtesy April Preyar

“April’s game shows how one choice can impact the whole trajectory, and that is something that young people think won’t happen to them.”

advance, hoping not to land on the red Flashing Lights spots that require them to draw one of the scenario cards. One reviewer criticized the randomness of the game; there is nothing a player can do to cause a better outcome. But Jamila Jones, a Spanish teacher and mother of four who lives in Homewood, Illinois, played it with her highschool-age son Darnell and his friends and then with a class of younger students, and she was surprised by how many could relate to the scenarios. Then Darnell was pulled over, and he was able to tell the driver what to do to safely interact with the police officer. “He believes that because of what he learned from April and the game,” she says, “getting pulled over went really smoothly.” Nico Tynes ’95, a former federal probation officer who now works with iMentor in New Jersey, played the game with fellow adults and said You and your friends are leaving a protest. You are it was eye-opening. “Depending on riding a bike. An officer knocks you off your bike as what music, what movies, what vidyou ride past him. While on the ground, you fumble eos young people are watching, that for your phone to record the incident. The officer informs their responses in real life, which can be dangerous,” he says. yells, “STOP MOVING!” He strikes you with a baton. “April’s game shows how one choice You are arrested. The officer tells his Sergeant that can impact the whole trajectory, and you rammed your bike into his leg. You are charged that is something that young people with aggravated battery to a police officer (felony). think won’t happen to them.” Preyar was excited to bring the game into classrooms. “The kids put Rules Broken: You reached. Go to the World of their phones down, they have real Trouble. conversations, they talk trash about who is going to get to the finish line first,” she says. “Most had no idea of the importance of lawyering up, they all thought to ask their moms, as if they were in the principal’s office, not the police officer’s.” “No,” she continues. “Shut up and lawyer up."


—Janine Latus




No Funny Business

When Duke’s first humor magazine had its last laugh



uke has always been a place with a sense of humor. From student pranks to improv groups, we like to laugh. Not everyone’s taste in comedy is the same, though, and in 1951, a difference in opinion between students and administrators led to the shuttering of Duke’s first humor magazine. The board of trustees authorized student publications back in the 1930s. The title Duke ‘n’ Duchess was approved on February 2, 1938, with a caution in the minutes: “the Board of Publications to understand that the approval will be withdrawn at any time when this publication seems to fall below the standard it should maintain, in the opinion of the appropriate authorities of the University, and the Board of Publications to be under obligation each year to make this clear to the editors and business managers of the Duke ‘n’ Duchess before they assume office.” The publication had been independently and sporadically published since 1933, but with board approval, the September 1938 issue proudly proclaimed “for the first time in Duke’s one hundred years’ existence, there is an official Duke university humor magazine.” The magazine, with mostly but not all male

“Say, are you a toe dancer?” “No.” “Then, get off my toes.” contributors, was a mix of features, cartoons, and photographs—and jokes. Here is one joke, which today would be classified as a “dad joke,” from the October 1940 issue. “Say, are you a toe dancer?” “No.” “Then, get off my toes.”


FOLLOWING A BREAK during World War II, the magazine returned in 1947 with the “Duke Alumni Rehasher,” satirizing the Duke Alumni Register, predecessor to Duke Magazine. In 1950, senior Walt Wadlington was named editor. By this time, the magazine was pushing boundaries, with full-page photographs of campus “co-eds” who were especially lovely, as well as articles that referenced drinking and sex—the poem “Tight Sweater Tragedy” accompanied by a nude female figure, for example—and drinking more blatantly than they had before. In January 1951, the entire issue was devoted to tracing the family history of the “Littleworths,” an undisguised satire of the Duke family. While some of the profiles covered ancient European family members thinly disguised as British royalty, the latter section covered the Littleworths in America. It did not take much to see that Colonel Jefferson

Littleworth, who discovered “that heavy, lardaceious delicacy, the old-fashioned Southern hush-puppy,” was fashioned after Washington Duke, who, of course, capitalized on another Southern delicacy, brightleaf tobacco. “Buchanan Littleworth” was even more obviously poking fun at James Buchanan Duke, although the humor was at times gentle: “Buck Littleworth’s greatest and most worthwhile endeavor was the building of Littleworth University. The world’s architects fought for the job, but Buck demanded good taste in his buildings. Fountains, lakes, pools and gardens he had built.” The last profile in the magazine was the

Photography Duke University Archives

one that caused real trouble. “Diane Littleworth” was clearly Doris Duke, then the only living family member the magazine poked fun at. The article was accompanied by a nude cartoon drawing. It traced Diane’s travels around the world, with houses in Hawaii and New Jersey, and mentioned that she occasionally visited Littleworth University for “functions of importance”—all things the real Doris did. Most shockingly, it crudely suggested that she had worked briefly as a call girl—not something the real Doris did. The masthead claimed that “The names, descriptions of all characters in the fiction, fictional articles, cartoons, and other humorous

CHANTICLEER MEMORY: The comedic team at work




features herein are fictitious. Any resemblance in name or description to any one person or persona is not intended and is purely coincidental.”


Duke President Hollis Edens felt differently and wrote a rather terse note to Dean Herbert Herring, chair of the Publications Board: “You will please call the Publications Board to meet and inform the membership that further publication of [t]he Duke and Duchess is forbidden. I shall be glad to discuss the matter with you at your

SATIRE: Pages from Duke ‘n’ Duchess

convenience, and will be glad to meet with the the magazine was due only to “[o]ne terrible, reBoard if that is necessary. This directive arises grettable, but still forgivable mistake.” He ends from the indecent issue of the Duke and Duchhis column with a challenge: “[W]e who built it ess which appeared yesterday.” Unclaimed copies will soon be gone. It is not in our power to fight were removed from circulation. for its life. And it will be a fight. Pub Board has The Daily Tar Heel, which covered the incisuspended the magazine indefinitely. But I feel dent while The Chronicle (which also answered there must be one of you who is willing to take to the Publications Board) remained conspicuously silent, reThe masthead claimed that “The names, descriptions of ported that “Wadlington put on the squeeze all characters in the fiction, fictional articles, cartoons, and said he would and other humorous features herein are fictitious.” blow the whole mess sky-high in the press if he or anyone else involved in the publication were tossed out up such a fight. We who have lived and loved in of school. His bluff wasn’t called but he didn’t the exhaltation (sic) of making people laugh by keep his job long. The Publications Board met little black words on white paper…charge you on Tuesday, January 23, voted to ‘accept his not to forget. ...” resignation,’ then approved suspension of the Duke ‘n’ Duchess was never to be revived, but magazine.” The Duke ‘n’ Duchess was never again numerous other humor magazines have come published. Wadlington graduated later that year (and gone) from the university. Our senses of and went on to have a distinguished career as humor have changed over time, but publications a professor of law at the University of Virginia. like Duke ‘n’ Duchess give us a window into the At the end of the school year, fellow student concerns, interests, and even vices of Duke stuArt Stauer wrote a plea in The Chronicle under dents in previous generations. n the headline “Father Pleas for Baby to Continue Gillispie is the university archivist. on Campus.” He mourns that the cancelation of

Photography Duke University Archives



ForeverDukeIN MEMORIAM 1940s Arthur McGrane B.S.C.E. ’43 of Winston-Salem, on Feb. 1, 2021. Charles Blanchard ’45, J.D. ’49 of Raleigh, on March 10, 2021. Richard Gilbert ’45 of Kirkwood, Mo., on Jan. 14, 2021. Nancy Baumgartner Sigler ’45 of Longwood, Fla., on Jan. 14, 2021. Kenneth Carroll ’46, B.Div. ’49, Ph.D. ’53 of Easton, Md., on Feb. 25, 2021. Gilbert Cofer M.Div. ’46 of Lewisetta, Va., on Jan. 4, 2021. William Whitley ’46 of Concord, N.C., on March 31, 2021. Margaret Adelaide Hamilton Hapala ’47 of Richmond, Va., on March 2, 2021. Phyllis Register Pautler ’47 of Murphysboro, Ill., on Jan. 15, 2021. Mary Brown Schneider ’47 of Bridgewater, N.J., on Jan. 24, 2021. Frances Milam Stoneburner ’47 of Danville, Va., on March 6, 2021. Jamie Branch Wright ’47 of Memphis, Tenn., on April 14, 2021. Celeste Howser Causey ’48 of Liberty, N.C., on Jan. 5, 2021. Lillian George Douglas, ’49 of Houston, on March 1, 2021. Constance Harley ’49, A.M. ’54 of Atlanta, on Jan. 14, 2021. Jeanne Deming Harris ’49 of Westport, Conn., on Feb. 22, 2021. Bartlett Hendrickson ’49 of Ashburn, Va., on March 27, 2021. Thomas B. McLeod ’49 of Charlotte, on Jan. 5, 2021. Martha Beck Moore ’49 of Palm Beach, Fla., on March 1, 2021.


a future impact.

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There’s a flexible way to ensure your impact far into the future. Including Duke in your will or estate plan with a charitable bequest secures the long-term support Duke needs to provide world-leading education, research and service for generations to come. To discover how, visit:


ForeverDukeIN MEMORIAM Carl Sapp ’49 of Durham, on March 15, 2021. Anne Callaway Zipplies Saunders ’49 of Savannah, Ga., on Jan. 10, 2021. Shirley Shapleigh White ’49 of Durham, N.H., on Feb. 12, 2021. Elizabeth Bockmiller Williams ’49 of Gastonia, N.C., on Feb. 21, 2021.


William Fisher ’50, Ph.D. ’57 of Blairs, Va., on Jan. 28, 2021. Horace Loftin ’50 of Greenville, N.C., on Jan. 23, 2021. Dewey Mims ’50 of Southern Pines, N.C., on Jan. 24, 2021. Marjorie Streicher Reid ’50 of Raleigh, on Jan. 9, 2021. Donald Silver ’50, M.D. ’55, H ’56, H ’64 of Durham, on Jan. 27, 2021. Darrell Williams ’50 of Gastonia, N.C., on March 27, 2021. Seymour G. Clark Jr. ’51, LL.B. ’54 of Mount Lebanon, Pa., on March 2, 2021. Patricia Conrad Gayle ’51 of Hilton Head, S.C., on Feb. 15, 2021. W. Kelly ’51, J.D. ’54 of Charlotte, on Feb. 2, 2021. Huitt Mattox ’51, M.D. ’54 of Wilson, N.C., on March 20, 2021. Marvin Park ’51 of Austin, Texas, on Jan. 16, 2021. Robert Raisch ’51 of Detroit, on Feb. 11, 2021. Lawrence Snively ’51 of Rockville, Md., on Feb. 15, 2021. John Stone ’51 of Raleigh, on April 8, 2021. Virginia Adams ’52 of Buies Creek, N.C., on Jan. 27, 2021. Bruce Linn ’52, Ph.D. ’56 of Bridgewater, N.J., on Feb. 20, 2021. Martha Freeman Brewer ’53 of Greensboro, N.C., on Jan. 2, 2021. John Lowndes ’53, LL.B. ’58 of Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 12, 2021. Robert White ’53 of Davidson, N.C., on Feb. 1, 2021. Barbara Harris Earnest ’54 of Winston-Salem, on Feb. 14, 2021. Thomas Lewis ’54 of Fairmont, N.C., on April 22, 2021. John Miller ’54 of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, on Jan. 24, 2021. Katharine Parr Ravenel ’54 of Greensboro, N.C., on April 23, 2021. Thomas Todd ’54 of Glendale, Ohio, on Jan. 29, 2021. Robert Welch ’54 of Baltimore, on Jan. 5, 2021. Dan Bellinger ’55 of Severna Park, Md., on Jan. 22, 2021. Trent Bowen ’55 of Blacksburg, Va., on March 16, 2021. William Christian ’55 of Raleigh, on Feb. 16, 2021. Richard Copeland ’55 of Detroit, on Feb. 9, 2021. Janelle White Gore ’55 of Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., on March 20, 2021. Kenneth Johnson ’55 of Asheville, on Jan. 15, 2021. Margaret Keels Kimzey ’55 of Durham, on March 9, 2021. Frederick Kuhnert ’55 of Seven Lakes, N.C., on Jan. 1, 2021. Barbara Stott Metz ’55, of Greensboro, N.C., on Jan. 17, 2021. Joann Whitley ’55 of Albemarle, N.C., on March 18, 2021. Max Williams ’55 of Burlington, N.C., on Jan. 24, 2021. Albert Rabil Jr. ’56 of Chapel Hill, on Jan. 8, 2021. Thomas Tabor ’56 of Hurricane, W.Va., on Jan. 25, 2021. Calvin Willis ’56 of Halifax, Va., on Jan. 4, 2021. William Fore ’57, M.D. ’60, H ’64 of Black Mountain, N.C., on Jan. 23, 2021. Thomas Ivey ’57 of Big Timber, Mont., on Feb. 13, 2021.


MORE DUKE MEMORIES ONLINE Find links to full obituaries for Duke alumni at

William Spann ’57 of Roxboro, N.C., on Jan. 7, 2021. Henry Stuckey ’57 of Charleston, S.C., on March 8, 2021. Burwell Allen ’58 of Winston-Salem, on March 4, 2021. H. Bradford Bell ’58 of Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 20, 2021. Peter Freund ’58 of Missoula, Mont., on Feb. 16, 2021. Richard Holloman ’58 of Taylorsville, N.C., on Feb. 2, 2021. James Kurz A.M. ’58, Ph.D. ’61 of Cary, N.C., on April 22, 2021. Frank Preissle ’58, of Columbus, Ohio, on March 26, 2021. Barbara Gay Robertson ’58 of Charlotte, on Jan. 9, 2021. Alma Thompson Schaffer ’58 of Richmond, Va., on Feb. 11, 2021. John Staples ’58 of Kernersville, N.C., on March 16, 2021. Williams Arant ’59 of Easton, Md., on Feb. 10, 2021. Robert Byers ’59 of Sugar Land, Texas, on March 6, 2021. Richard Cutler ’59, M.Ed. ’61 of Tarboro, N.C., on Feb. 23, 2021. Suzanne Larisey Kerkhoff ’59 of Taunton, Mass., on Jan. 8, 2021. Charles Martin ’59, M.D. ’63 of Jacksonville, N.C., on Jan. 1, 2021. John Roberts ’59 of Park Ridge, Ill., on April 14, 2021. Joseph Sink ’59 of Lexington, N.C., on March 23, 2021. Mark Wagner ’59 of Freeport, Ill., on March 1, 2021.


Bettie Brinkley Cooper ’60 of Lexington, N.C., on Feb. 6, 2021.



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Point of Reckoning The Fight for Racial Justice at Duke University THEODORE D. SEGAL Available for 50% off at with coupon ALUMNI50.

Patricia Hatch Foster ’60 of Jacksonville, Fla., on Jan. 28, 2021. Erskine Harkey ’60 of Charlotte, on Jan. 18, 2021. Walter Konefal ’60 of Norfolk, Va., on March 14, 2021. Betty Rogerson Kropinack ’60 of Swansboro, N.C., on Jan. 8, 2021. Walter Reynolds ’60 of Lexington, N.C., on March 29, 2021. John Birmingham ’61 of Singer Island, Fla., on Jan. 21, 2021. John Brown M.D. ’61, H ’61, H ’66 of Newberry, S.C., on Feb. 17, 2021. Tuncer Cebeci ’61 of Los Angeles, on March 28, 2021. Charles Hammond M.D. ’61, H ’62, H ’64, H ’69 of Durham, on Feb. 1, 2021. Philip Johnson ’61 of Williamsburg, Va., on Feb. 7, 2021. Mary Branton Jones ’61 of Fox Point, Wis., on March 24, 2021. Glendall King ’61 of Gastonia, N.C., on Feb. 28, 2021. Earl Metz M.D. ’61 H ’66 of Worthington, Ohio, on Jan. 2, 2021. Carol MacArthur Bishop ’62 of Ames, Iowa, on Jan. 24, 2021. Edwin Chesnutt ’62 of Greensboro, N.C., on Jan. 10, 2021. Olgard Dabbert ’62 of San Diego, on March 20, 2021. James Efird ’62 of Durham, on Feb. 17, 2021. Doris Morrow Jackson ’62 of Charlotte, on April 13, 2021. Daniel Bridges ’63 of Panama City Beach, Fla., on April 21, 2021. John Golden ’63 of Wilmington, N.C., on Jan. 29, 2021. Kenneth Koock ’63 of Boca Raton, Fla., on Jan. 4, 2021. James Mayson ’63 of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., on March 9, 2021. William Nicholson ’63 of San Antonio, on Feb. 11, 2021. Charles Stanier ’63 of Indianapolis, on Jan. 18, 2021. Martha Clark Sullivan ’63 of Fayetteville, N.C., on Feb. 20, 2021. Anne Watson Halsted ’64 of San Francisco, on March 13, 2021. Yuri Hanja ’64 of Minneola, Fla., on Jan. 27, 2021. Stephen Salisbury ’64 of Raleigh, on April 29, 2021. John Bouman ’65 of Fairport, N.Y., on April 23, 2021. Martha Thomas Callaway ’65 of Atlanta, on March 14, 2021. Jane Lang Fehrenbacher ’65 of Pasadena, Calif., on Feb. 21, 2021. Hubert Gurley ’65 of Baltimore, on Jan. 30, 2021. John Rollert ’65 of Traverse City, Mich., on Feb. 21, 2021. Henry Wagner ’66 of Naples, Fla., on March 4, 2021. Richard Brandau ’67 of Powhatan, Va., on Feb. 2, 2021. Martyn Caldwell ’67 of Washington, D.C., on Jan. 24, 2021. James Harper ’67 of Pinehurst, N.C., on March 8, 2021. Joyce Hayman ’67 of Lakeland, Fla., on March 25, 2021. Bill Tyzz-Dwo Lu ’67 of Huntington Beach, Calif., on Feb. 10, 2021. Edward Schweitzer ’67 of Salisbury, Md., on Jan. 18, 2021. Nathaniel White ’67 of Atlanta, on March 19, 2021. Robin Bodkin ’68 of Richmond, Va., on Feb. 14, 2021. Louise Dunlap ’68 of Edgewater, Md., on April 15, 2021.



WHERE DO YOU WANT Flavors of Chianti, Oct. 7-15, 2021

Grand Danube Passage, Oct. 9-24, 2021

Columbia & Snake Rivers Journey, Oct. 17-24, 2021

Panama & Colombia: Exploring the Caribbean Coast, Nov. 13-20, 2021


de r

Holland & Belgium: featuring The Floriade 2022, Apr. 25-May 3, 2022 Iberian Treasures: Less Traveled Spain & Portugal, May 4-15, 2022 Scottish Isles, the Faroe Islands & Iceland, May 4-16, 2022 European Coastal Civilizations, May 11-20, 2022 Discovering Eastern Europe, May 24-June 8, 2022 Swiss Alps & Italian Lakes, May 25-June 3, 2022 Seine River & Normandy Passage, May 29-June 6, 2022 Barging Amsterdam to Bruges, with The Floriade 2022, June 1-9, 2022 The Amalfi Coast, June 8-16, 2022 Circumnavigation of Iceland, July 24-Aug. 1, 2022 Flavors of Catalonia, Oct. 1-9, 2022 Alsace of France, Oct. 2-10, 2022 Sicily in Depth, Oct. 9-20, 2022 Cappadocia, Coastal Turkey & Greek Islands, Oct. 12-24, 2022


e ro ch © Beth Ray-S

A Civil Rights Journey, Mar. 6-12, 2022 Exploring Alaska, June 12-19, 2022 The Great Lakes, Sept. 24- Oct. 1, 2022



Exploring Costa Rica, Feb. 19-Mar. 1, 2022 Whales of Baja & Magdalena Bay, Mar. 4-9, 2022 Cuba: Featuring Afro-Cuban Heritage, Nov. 11-18, 2022

Insider’s Japan, Apr. 18-30, 2022 Along Central Asia’s Silk Road, May 7-23, 2022



Egypt & the Eternal Nile, Mar. 7-21, 2022 Israel: Timeless Wonders, Mar. 24-Apr. 4, 2022 Madagascar, June 19-July 3, 2022 Classic Safari, July 30-Aug. 14, 2022 Southern Africa, July 31-Aug. 13, 2022 Moroccan Discovery, Oct. 16-29, 2022 Egypt & the Eternal Nile, Oct. 17-31, 2022

Patagonian Frontiers of Argentina & Chile, Feb. 24-Mar. 11, 2022 Galápagos, July 1-10, 2022


New Zealand, Mar. 10-25, 2022


Expedition to Antarctica, Jan. 6-19, 2023

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**Please note that departures and dates are subject to final confirmation.** Photos courtesy of iStock


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IN MEMORIAM ForeverDuke R. Bertram Greener ’68 of Minneapolis, on March 23, 2021. James Gross ’68 of Spartanburg, S.C., on Jan. 28, 2021. J. Samuel Hammond ’68 of Durham, on Feb. 25, 2021. Thomas Nuckols ’68 of Sherman, Texas, on Feb. 21, 2021. Jeffrey Hahn A.M. ’69, Ph.D. ’71 of Washington, D.C., on Feb. 15, 2021. Rod Mayo ’69 of Worthington, Ohio, on Feb. 7, 2021. Susan Jeffords Olson ’69 of Wake Forest, N.C., on March 8, 2021.


Judith Rohrbacher McAlpin ’70 of Charleston, S.C., on Jan. 23, 2021. William Robinson ’70 of Marlborough, Mass., on March 8, 2021. John G. Waller ’70 of Laguna Hills, Calif., on March 15, 2021. Paul Caldwell ’71 of Goldsboro, N.C., on Feb. 13, 2021. Ernest Parker ’71 of Garner, N.C., on March 29, 2021. Walker Pettyjohn ’71 of Lake Junaluska, N.C., on April 7, 2021. Patricia Prather ’71 of Fayetteville, N.C., on March 23, 2021. Michael Kennedy ’72 of Phoenix, on Feb. 9, 2021. Jack Lasonde ’72 of Atlanta, on Feb. 12, 2021. Dewey Lawson ’72 of Durham, on March 11, 2021. Cym Lowell ’72 of Dallas, on Feb. 23, 2021. Michael Passero H ’72, H ’73, H ’74 of Pittsburgh, on Jan. 6, 2021. Arnold Postlethwaite H ’72, H ’73 of Memphis, Tenn., on Jan. 18, 2021. Duane Russell ’72 of Dallas, on Jan. 30, 2021. Gene Thursby ’72 of Gainesville, Fla., on Jan. 15, 2021. Angelica Schuyler Whitman ’72 of Sarasota, Fla., on Feb. 17, 2021. Caralie Nelson Brown ’73 of Raleigh, on Feb. 27, 2021. Laurence Carroll H ’73, H ’74 of Lancaster, Pa., on Feb. 11, 2021. Gordon Duggins ’73 of Guilford, N.C., on April 1, 2021. Paul Walaskay ’73 of Henrico, Va., on April 9, 2021. Joseph Forbes ’74 of Southern Pines, N.C., on March 10, 2021. Terrence Johnson ’74 of Holland, Mich., on Jan. 4, 2021. Jerome Smith ’74 of Wilmington, N.C., on Jan. 6, 2021. Lee Stiff ’74 of Raleigh, on March 19, 2021. Mary Louise Porter Bailey ’75 of Austin, Texas, on Feb. 11, 2021. William Shingleton A.M. ’76, Ph.D. ’82 of Valparaiso, Ind., on April 26, 2021. Marjorie Boeck ’77 of Dallas, on Jan. 5, 2021. Kevin Call ’77 of Kennett Square, Pa., on March 22, 2021. Neil Skaggs A.M. ’77, Ph.D. ’80 of Bloomington, Ill., on Feb. 17, 2021. Lynn Calhoun ’78, M.B.A. ’83 of Ardmore, Pa., on March 7, 2021. Daniel Harshbarger ’78 of Riverview, Fla., on March 11, 2021. Alan Mansfield ’78 of New York, on Jan. 11, 2021. William Moskosky ’78 of West Greenwich, R.I., on Feb. 27, 2021. Philip Wolf ’78 of Boston, on March 16, 2021. Susan Poyner Matthews ’78 of Raleigh, on Jan. 9, 2021.


Mark Edelstein H ’80 of Detroit, on Jan. 4, 2021. Tara McCarthy ’81 of Weston, Mass., on March 1, 2021. William Tarry ’82 of Weaverville, N.C., on March 23, 2021. Richard McCann H ’83 of Chapel Hill, on Feb. 5, 2021. Mary Bishop M.Div. ’87 of Durham, on March 12, 2021.


Gavin Domm ’91 of San Francisco, on Feb. 24, 2021. Jeffrey Byers M.D. ’92, H ’96 of Nashville, Tenn., on Jan. 9, 2021. Glenn Lail ’93, ’96 of Knoxville, Tenn., on Jan. 12, 2021. Doris Shepherd Marriott ’94 of Durham on Jan. 7, 2021. Daniel Lehmann ’97 of Denver, on March 4, 2021. Andy Kwon ’98 of Charleston, S.C., on March 26, 2021.


Bradley Chain ’02 of Forest Hills, N.Y., on Jan. 2, 2021. Raymond Kelly ’03 of Aston, Pa., on April 13, 2021. Louis Amoroso ’07 of San Diego, on Feb. 8, 2021. Emily Reeves ’09 of Baltimore, on March 2, 2021.


Richard Daniels ’11 of Atlanta, on Jan. 17, 2021. Kelly Rice Young Lisenbee ’12, of Barnardsville, N.C., on Feb. 20, 2021. Andrew Pearson ’15 of New Vernon, N.J., on March 1, 2021. Olivet Brown M.Div. ’17 of Philadelphia, on Jan. 28, 2021. Khaliq Sanda ’18 of New York, on March 2, 2021.


Katherine Bruno ’21 of Durham, on Feb. 16, 2021.




RISING LEVELS: left to right, plastic bags being dyed, tapestry detail, team member weaving, preparing materials; opposite, the finished tapestry

UNDERGRADUATES: Chaya Brennan Agarwal Madison Griffin Joyce Gu Kendall Jefferys Kate Kelley Sarah Kelso Ayesham Khan Lizzy Kramer Alison Rosenbaum Mila de Souza Jessica Wang GRADUATE STUDENTS: Mingyong Cheng Ke Ding Kathleen Mason Jessica Orzulak Hillary Smith COLLABORATORS: Elizabeth Albright Mark Olson Donovan Zimmerman Will Cioffi Justin Cook TEAM LEADERS: Jonathan Henderson Raquel Salvatella de Prada



pectral Seas is an installation by the Arts and Anthropocene Bass Connections team that depicts the scale of future sea-level rise on the North Carolina coast, with each color in a tapestry representing a different NOAA sea-level rise prediction for 2100. Climate change is not the only force altering our oceans. Plastic pollution is entering our waterways at an alarming rate, harming human health, entangling wildlife, and damaging marine habitats. Pollution in our waterways is an issue that is interwoven with all forms of life. To reclaim, and perhaps re-engage, this single-use material, the tapestry is woven from plastic bags. Over 300 bags were collected from the Durham community and processed into “plarn” or plastic yarn. The soundtrack for the installation is composed of field recordings along the North Carolina coast: the rising tide flowing into a salt marsh, waves breaking onto white sand, birds and insects singing in the distance. These sounds are

meant to evoke a sense of the changes facing North Carolina’s coastal ecology. By incorporating images and movement, the video projections add another textural layer to the installation. Lapping waves, shadows of human figures, and photography from the Outer Banks aim to portray the impact of sea-level rise on humans and the environment. In engaging with many aspects of the Anthropocene, this installation conjures both meanings of the word spectral. In color, we highlight a spectrum of sea-level rise predictions that hinge on today’s climate action. But we are also reflecting on the spectral or ghostly qualities of making art about sea-level rise: the eeriness of impending floods from increasing storms, the swaths of skeletal trees killed by saltwater intrusion in North Carolina, the graveyards and homes being washed out to sea, memories adrift in the swelling ocean, carried away with the rising waves. —Raquel Salvatella de Prada

How does late-life vision loss impact the aging brain and cognition? That link is exactly what Whitson and her team are focused on understanding. Partnered with an enlightened group of scientists spanning disciplines across the university and health system, Whitson’s work could lead to the early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

A link between vision loss and Alzheimer’s? That’s visionary thinking. DR. HEATHER WHITSON Director of the Duke Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development

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Nature inspires invention. PAGE 12

Virtual memories An end to the year that was…

Courtesy Vardhman Kumar


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