Engineer Guillermo Sapiro and child psychiatrist and epidemiologist Helen Egger, both Duke University faculty members, have begun discussing how inexpensive video cameras with special software might serve as diagnostic tools to track anxiety triggers in young children. They hope to recruit students interested in education and human development, or in information, society and culture.
The novel collaboration across these different disciplines is a part of a new initiative, “Bass Connections,” meant to provide a range of new educational pathways for Duke’s undergraduate, graduate and professional students and bring them together on project teams with faculty and others to address issues that require the expertise of educators and researchers with diverse backgrounds.
The initiative, which was launched by a $50 million donation from Anne T. and Robert M. Bass of Fort Worth, Texas, will focus initially on five broad areas: brain and society; education and human development; energy; global health; and information, society and culture.
For instance, a medical student interested in global health might spend a year on a project team in Tanzania studying the health of migrant workers. After returning to Durham, he might develop a student training program for Duke undergraduates who want to conduct research at one of Tanzania’s health clinics. Bass Connections would help him gain that hands-on experience with real-world problems and develop expertise in his major.
Susan Roth, vice provost for interdisciplinary studies, will provide leadership for the initiative, working with a team of faculty directing the five areas as well as cross-cutting issues. They will continue to consult with faculty, staff and students across the university in guiding the development of Bass Connections over the coming months and years.