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Fall 2021 Courses

Click on the course title for more information. Scroll to the bottom for Independent Studies and Interdisciplinary Research Projects.

SYNOPSIS: Sensory physiological principles with emphasis on visual and chemical cues. Laboratories will use behavior to measure physiological processes. Taught in Beaufort at Duke Marine Lab.

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: Scientific research proposal

READER REQUIREMENTS: The reader should be familiar with biological sciences and marine biology and ideallt have taken courses at the Beaufort Marine Lab (perhaps even with Prof. Rittschof).

INSTRUCTOR SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS:

Questions readers should ask when reading a draft:

  1. Is the writing clear and well organized? That is, how easy or difficult is it for you to follow the student’s line of reasoning?
  2. What do you find interesting and compelling?  Where are you skeptical or bored?
  3. If possible, do a “think aloud response” - reading the paper aloud and pausing frequently to describe your reactions to what you’re reading. For guidance on how to do this, please listen to this example:

DEADLINES: Student will inform reader of all pertinent deadlines.

SYLLABUS:  Coming soon

 

PRIMARY GOALS OF THIS COURSE:

1.) To compare the cellular and molecular mechanisms of human neurodegenerative disorders to scientific literature.

2.) To use animal model to analyze a neurodegenerative disease (Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia) and the homologous mutated gene.

3.) To test novel reagents.

4.) To communicate results to the broader scientific community through written figures, tables, and through oral presentation of a scientific poster.

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: figures, tables, and a scientific poster

READER REQUIREMENTS: The ideal reader would be scientifically literate (preferably biology), but would not need a lot of specialized genetics or neurobiology knowledge. Anyone who has focused on science communication and effective data visualization is particularly welcome. 

INSTRUCTOR SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS: Please pay attention to the visualization and presentation of figures; in particular: are data presented in a logical and easy to follow manner, are the visualizations an accurate depiction of the data, how impactful are the visualizations and tables? Can you understand what findings are represented in the figures and tables?

Readers with a graduate degree or MDs in the field encouraged.

Please take a close look at the following information provided by the instructor:

 

IN-CLASS DEADLINES:

Figure 1 "Sequence Analysis and Alignment": due to professor on 24th September 2021

Figure 2 "Larval Neuromuscular Junction": due to professor on 22nd October 2021

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

SYNOPSIS: The course covers systematic methods for retrieving research articles on your independent study project, research methodology, locating, reading and summarizing a lead reference provided by the research director, locating other articles on the research project, and general methods of keeping a research lab notebook and a literature research notebook, safety in the context of a research lab, safety in the research laboratory, research instrumentation, research ethics, writing a research proposal and progress reports. Chemistry 295, Introduction to Research for Independent Study, is required for majors who intend to pursue graduation with distinction in Chemistry or a degree in Chemistry that is certified by the American Chemical Society.

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: Scientific research proposal

READER REQUIREMENTS: Readers must be chemists, biochemists, or medical or pharmacology professionals with a graduate degree and extensive research and laboratory experience in the industry and substantial experience with writing research proposals.

INSTRUCTOR SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS: There will be two substantive reader interactions in addition to the introductory meeting. One discussion will be about the Introduction and Literature Review sections of the proposal and the second will be about the Methods and Results sections. Each will probably be 5 to 8 pages long.

Questions readers should ask when reading a draft:

  1. Is the writing clear and well organized? That is, how easy or difficult is it for you to follow the student’s line of reasoning?
  2. What do you find interesting and compelling?  Where are you skeptical or bored?
  3. If possible, do a “think aloud response”—reading the paper aloud and pausing frequently to describe your reactions to what you’re reading. For guidance on how to do this, please listen to this example:

IMPORTANT COURSE DEADLINES: Students will apprise the reader of all pertinent deadlines and student and reader schedule their interactions accordingly.

SYLLABUS:

SYNOPSIS: Students will learn how to conduct economic research that focuses on gender-based inequalities. From their research, students will make recommendations for how to bring about social change, with the goal of improving women’s status. Students will work in learning communities (teams) of 3 to 4 students. The research paper contributes 40% to students’ final grades in the course.

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: The final writing assignment is a well argued research paper. Students should write their paper to be geared towards undergraduate economics majors at Duke. In this way, terms that most economics students would know (such as utility, supply & demand) do not need to be explained. However, terms that are specialized and/or specific to your topic will need to be explained. The paper should be scholarly and at the high, intellectual level of Duke undergraduates, but it should also be clearly written and understandable to peers who are familiar with reading economics articles.

READER REQUIREMENTS: The target audience is either economists or related social sciences professionals with interest in women and labor issues, women labor cultural studies, visual studies, gender studies, and possibly public policy specialists. The specific area of expertise depends on the student's paper topic.

INSTRUCTOR SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS:

Questions readers should ask when reading a draft:

  1. Is the writing clear and well organized? That is, how easy or difficult is it for you to follow the student’s line of reasoning?
  2. What do you find interesting and compelling?  Where are you skeptical or bored?

If possible, do a “think aloud response”—reading the paper aloud and pausing frequently to describe your reactions to what you’re reading. For guidance on how to do this, please listen to this example:

DEADLINES: coming soon

SYLLABUS:

SYNOPSIS: This course traces economic factors leading to the downfall of the Russian Empire and the rise of the USSR, followed by an assessment of the decline and aftermath of the USSR. Particular attention is devoted to the NEP period, earlier Soviet economic models, the famine of the 1930s, the impact of the Great Patriotic War (WWII), industrialization and urbanization, Soviet planning, and declining productivity growth and life expectancy in the in the 1970s and 1980s. The course then explores the economic consequences of the USSR's collapse as well as the nature of recovery in various countries that followed. The course concludes with an overview of formal political economy models. Students will be encouraged to explore Census data, household surveys, and other data sources.

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: A journal article-type research paper that could be developed into or submitted as an honors thesis. It should be 15-25 pages in length plus tables, on a topic of the student's choice, but subject to instructor approval. The paper is expected to involve original empirical or theoretical research.

READER REQUIREMENTS: One of the following: (1) professional experience in empirical economics, history, or international business--and interest in USSR economic/business history; or (2) diplomatic, economic, or business experience with former Soviet Union or Eastern Europe during the Cold War or transition era. In addition, especially desired are volunteers with the following: knowledge of econometrics, fluency in Russian, Ukrainian, or other Soviet language, personal experience with the Cold War, familiarity with conventions of Western academic writing practices.

INSTRUCTOR SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS:

  • Organization (should follow IMRD format) with each section of appropriate length.
  • Validity of claims/conclusions: keep claims limited to within scope of evidence.
  • Readability: vocabulary, coherence, definitions, etc. Does it make sense to the target audience?
  • Engage in meaningful discussions of the limitations of the work.

Questions readers should ask when reading a draft:

  1. Is the writing clear and well organized? That is, how easy or difficult is it for you to follow the student’s line of reasoning?
  2. What do you find interesting and compelling?  Where are you skeptical or bored?

If possible, do a “think aloud response” - reading the paper aloud and pausing frequently to describe your reactions to what you’re reading. For guidance on how to do this, please listen to this example:

 

IN-CLASS DEADLINES:

  • October 20th  Original research paper: outline, empirical plan
  • November 17th   Research paper (including slides for oral presentation)   
  • December 8th    Revised version of research project

SYLLABUS: 

SYNOPSIS: This is the first part of the Honors Thesis Seminar in Economics which continues in the spring. The goal of this semester's research workshop is for students to acquire a working knowledge of theories and empirical research in an area and are now in the writing stage. If students are doing empirical research, they will be collecting relevant data this semester and prepare to present their findings in the spring. The writing assignments for this semester is a research proposal.

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: Course requires completion of a research proposal suitable for development as an honors thesis in next semester's Economics 496S.  Numerous drafts, presentations, and full participation by the student are fundamental to the nature of the two-semester honors seminar research workshop.

READER REQUIREMENTS: Readers with an interest in economic issues. Professional experience and academic training in the field (MA-level at least) preferredMore importantly, reader can devote time to careful review of drafts and offer helpful suggestions.  Because students will decide on their topics in the fall semester, readers will get involved later in the semester (November) and continue working with the student in the spring. Interested readers will receive information on the student’s planned topic from the student and can help them to prepare and organize their findings in order to produce a well-structured research paper in the spring based on their research.

INSTRUCTOR SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS: We have found it most helpful when readers can note the strengths and weaknesses in the drafts that they will read.  Students appreciate the comments on the consistency of their arguments and flow of discussion, validity of their methodology, and resource suggestions. Readers offer their perspective on how to shape an idea into a well-argued, well-structured proposal and may continue working on the Honors Thesis with the student in the spring.

IMPORTANT COURSE DEADLINES: Applicable student assignment deadlines are noted on the syllabus.  The reader and student can establish their working relationship with regard to the deadlines.

SYLLABUS:

SYNOPSIS: This seminar investigates the historical, social, political, economic and ethical implications of health care in the United States. We will explore how other nations have developed and fund health care resources. The course examines the educational preparation of health care providers historically as well as current calls for reform. Through reading and discussion, we will analyze health outcomes and contrast those outcomes with health care costs as well as implications for the future national and global economy. We will investigate proposed health care models, methods of training health care workers for an aging population, inequalities in distribution and the political and ethical implications of change. Finally, we will look at the trend to population health and value-based healthcare and how the US is prepared to function in a new model of care delivery.
Readings will come from multiple disciplines. Local health care leaders will serve as consultants and instructors. The course is writing intensive and will include short weekly written reflections of assigned readings. A midterm paper will be an opinion piece, suitable for publication in a major medical journal (i.e., Health Affairs, JAMA, NEJM, Academic Medicine). The final presentation and project will identify state-level health issues, with proposals for five-year priorities.

WRITING ASSIGNMENT:

1. Mid-term: Opinion piece as found in general medical journals such as JAMA or NEJM.

2. Final: Conference talk including PowerPoint presentation and related White Paper on a current issue in public health. Assume that you are the health and human services director for the governor of any state that you choose. Describe the five largest health problems confronting your state and outline a five-year plan to address those problems. You must substantiate and reference those health problems and explain to the citizens of your state your reasons for your choices and how the health of the state will improve.

READER REQUIREMENTS: Professionals in medicine or other health care fields, or professionals in economics with an interest in public health. Readers have to have experience writing op-eds for medical journals, giving conference talks, and drafting White Papers.

INSTRUCTOR SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS: Readers are ideally regular consumers of established peer reviewed medical journals (M.D., medical administrators, economists with a focus on healthcare related topics), also informed citizens at a town hall meeting or a conference related to healthcare.

Questions readers should ask when reading a draft:

  1. Is the writing clear and well organized? That is, how easy or difficult is it for you to follow the student’s line of reasoning?
  2. What do you find interesting and compelling?  Where are you skeptical or bored?

If possible, do a “think aloud response”—reading the paper aloud and pausing frequently to describe your reactions to what you’re reading. For guidance on how to do this, please listen to this example:

IMPORTANT IN-CLASS DEADLINES:

Midterm Paper:

The midterm will consist of a commentary piece (Perspective) designed for publication in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).  The paper must conform to the editorial style and guidelines for authors.  Opinion/perspective may be based on information gained in class or another topic of interest. Students are highly encouraged to consult with instructors regarding their midterm topic.  The midterm is due to the professor on 9/30/21.

Final Project:

For the final, the students will work in teams of two.  The project is as follows:

Students are the health and human services director for any state that they choose. The will describe the five largest health problems confronting this state and outline a five-year plan to address those problems.  Students must substantiate and reference those health problems and explain (or persuade), to the citizens of the state, the reasons for their selection and how the health of the state will improve. The paper should include a 1-page executive summary, 10-pages of body (max.), and 1-page conclusion/summary.  A 10 minutes presentation (7 PowerPoint slides) will take place on November 30th or December 2nd. 

Students will apprise the reader of all changes in deadlines and student and reader schedule their interactions accordingly.

SYLLABUS: 

 

SYNOPSIS: The goal of this creative writing course is for aspiring playwrights to think deeply about what—exactly—they are trying to do, and avoid, in their writing.  What causes a play to be heavy-handed and propagandistic, as opposed to impassioned?  How can students who believe deeply in a particular issue write artful drama about that issue?  In what ways is theater similar—and dissimilar—to social protest in the streets?  Students will be encouraged to experiment, question, and revise, at every turn.

This course will closely examine a diversity of plays that have had a marked impact on their cultures—an impact beyond an excellent and meaningful theater-going experience.  Over the course of the semester, students will read—and watch—excellent political plays as well as write their own.  They will write and develop their own full-length script, in addition to doing weekly creative responses to produced plays.  Class discussion will be divided between focus on students works-in-progress, produced plays, and play-writing craft.  Students will work in small groups, meet with alumni readers, and individually with me.

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: Full-length Stage Play

READER REQUIREMENTS: The ideal reader would have a keen interest in theater and possibly some experience as an actor or director. Dramatists, screenwriters, professionals familiar with the process of play writing strongly encouraged.

INSTRUCTOR SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS: You are strongly urged to consult this website for further information on reader expertise needed: https://www.thetheatricalboard.com/editorials/constructivecritique

IN-CLASS DEADLINES:

Rough draft of script:  October 12

Revised draft of script:  November 2

Final draft of script:  December 6

Readers could be useful before any of those deadlines. Reader and student will schedule their interactions accordingly.

SYLLABUS:

SYNOPSIS: In this course we study the major environmental, social and economic drivers of increasing global aquaculture, with a focus on marine systems. We will perform quantitative evaluations and comparisons of the range of species for aquaculture, locations where operations occur, operational aspects including environmental impacts, and management considerations.  We will investigate alternative approaches and potential future areas for aquaculture expansion as well as social, economic, and technical barriers to implementation. 

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: Students will write as their final submission a White Paper on a system of their choosing (approx. 2000 words). This assignment will start after fall break (mid-October). 

READER REQUIREMENTS: The White Paper is aimed at non-experts with an interest in marine biology, aquatic sciences, aquaculture, and conservation.

INSTRUCTOR SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS: Topics are selected by the student but the goal is to have it be a White Paper such that a person with little knowledge of the subject matter can understand the issues of hte system.

Please help the student with time management and set firm deadlines.

Please pay attention to the clear and well organized presentation of information.

1. Is the writing clear and well organized? That is, how easy is it to follow the student's line of reasoning and explanation?

2. What do you find interesting and compelling? Where are you skeptical or bored?

3. If possible, do a "think aloud response" - reading the paper aloud and pausing to describe your reactions to what you are reading. For guidance please listen to this example:

IN-CLASS DEADLINES:

1st Draft: Currently the first draft is due on 8. November, but this deadline might shift according to the overall pace of the class.

Please check in with your student frequently.

2nd Draft: due at the end of the semester

The student will inform their reader of concrete deadlines and schedule their interactions accordingly.

SYLLABUS:

SYNOPSIS: Through the examination of key reproductive health issues and case studies, students will explore the ways in which gender, ethnicity, race and nationality intersect with biology, culture, wealth and political structure to result in stark disparities in health outcomes, with widespread repercussions on human rights. We will also explore the complexity of working in the field of global sexual and reproductive health and the ways in which various health and social science disciplines can be integrated in the development of effective health programs. Using examples from high, middle and low-income countries, students will identify key focus areas in sexual and reproductive health, technical and programmatic challenges, and successful interventions.

READER REQUIREMENTS: Professional experience in any of the following fields: global health, public health, health disparities. Professionals in public policy focusing on sexual and reproductive health. Professionals with experience in sexual or reproductive health are especially encouraged.

WRITING ASSIGNMENTS:

Paper #1: The topics in the first part of the class focus on the intersection of biology, gender equality and poverty.  In many examples, we see a clear relationship between lack of empowerment and poor reproductive health outcomes.  For this paper, students should describe a country setting in which reproductive health indicators are poor. Using well-referenced sources, describe some of the social, economic and political factors contributing to the poor indicators, providing historical, political and temporal links between these factors and the poor outcomes.  This country setting will provide the background for your second paper. Graphs and figures can be included, but must be created by the student.  Papers should be no more than 4 double-spaced pages, not including figures.

Paper #2: Students choose at least one of the health indicators that you described in Paper #1, and describe an intervention that sought to address some of the structural factors contributing to the poor outcomes (political, cultural, social). Describe how empowerment was considered in the intervention design and implementation. Describe the metrics used to evaluate the intervention and whether it was found to be “successful.”  Discuss the strengths and weaknesses and suggest alternative strategies that would build on, strengthen or replace the intervention.  Papers should be no more than 5 double-spaced pages, not including references. More details will be provided in class.

Final Paper: The final paper will build on the work of the final presentation, with an in-depth analysis of the reproductive health issue and target country that groups have chosen.  Students should situate their innovative strategy in the cultural, gender and political context of their target country and describe how other solutions have worked (or not) to improve health outcomes.  The paper should address how their proposed solution integrates gender and empowerment considerations, and why they chose that strategy.  We will discuss the expectations for the final paper in-depth in class.  Although they will describe the proposed innovation that was conceptualized in groups, these papers will be done independently.  Papers should be 7-8 pages, double-spaced, not including appropriate references.

INSTRUCTOR SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS:

Questions readers should ask when reading a draft:

  1. Is the writing clear and well organized? That is, how easy or difficult is it for you to follow the student’s line of reasoning?
  2. What do you find interesting and compelling?  Where are you skeptical or bored?

If possible, do a “think aloud response”—reading the paper aloud and pausing frequently to describe your reactions to what you’re reading. For guidance on how to do this, please listen to this example:

IMPORTANT COURSE DEADLINES: Students will apprise reader of all pertinent deadlines and students and reader will schedule their interactions accordingly.

SYLLABUS: 

 

SYNOPSIS: From eye-gouging to Muhammad Ali and Girlfight, Mia Hamm to the Superbowl, the nature of sports in the U.S. has dramatically changed. Using films, scholarly articles, essays, and documents, this course examines the shifting terrain of sports in the U.S. beginning in the 19th century, including the way sports have been tied to and expressed ideals of manhood and womanhood, race, class, and nation, and the development of sports as spectacle and enterprise.

Students will deepen their ability to analyze both, sports and history, will hone their historical understanding (involving dynamics of change and stasis, context and contingency, human agency and its limits), and will strengthen their critical thinking and writing skills.

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: One 15-20 page research essay (40% of the grade): the essay is on an approved topic of the student's choice.

READER REQUIREMENTS: Non-professionals from all different backgrounds with any relationship to sports. Media, health, law, policy, medicine, business, economics, marketing, racism, gender equality, institutional inequity AND with background knowledge in sports. The essay should be broadly accessible, but be backed by original research on a topic approved by the instructor.

INSTRUCTOR SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS: It would be useful to the students if their reader has some expertise on their particular topic (these vary widely but all touch on some aspect of sports or a particular sport - in the past, topics have included sports analytics, concussions, power lifting, gender differences in age limits, soccer in the U.S., and many others); also particularly useful would be feedback on the intelligibility of the piece, accessibility, and liveliness of writing.

1. Is the writing well organized? That is, how easy or difficult is it for your to follow the student's line of reasoning?

2. What do you find interesting and compelling? Where are you skeptical or bored?

3. If possible, do a "think aloud response" - reading the paper aloud and pausing frequently to describe your reactions to what you're reading. For guidance on how to do this, please listen to the following example:

 

IN-CLASS DEADLINE: 9. November 2021

SYLLABUS:

SYNOPSIS: Political science addresses a wealth of questions, involving everything from the determinants of the onset or resolution of conflict to the dynamics of parties and elections to the functioning of legislatures and courts and bureaucracies. Many of these questions deal with complex systems, in which it is difficult to know how a change in any one factor might affect another. Computer simulation, an increasingly popular tool in the social sciences, can help manage this complexity and so help us derive insight into such questions. This class is your chance to explore the use of this tool yourself, and hold the (simulated) world in your hand. Specifically, in this course we will explore computer simulations of political phenomena, first theoretically, then via group projects tackling discrete practical questions in the field, and finally via individual research projects.

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: A journal research note of 2000-4000 words, or 10-20 double-spaced pages, not including any appendices.

READER REQUIREMENTS: A reader able to read a scientific paper is key. Ideal would be a social scientist who has written a simulation or agent-based model, but really anyone who understands what a theoretical model is and how one can interpret quantitative output from such a model would be fine.

INSTRUCTOR SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS: It would be great for the reader to pay attention to the clarity of the argument underlying the theoretical, simulation model, and the clarity of the description of the model's results. A lay person should be able to read the paper and understand what the point was and also what the conclusions were.

IN-CLASS DEADLINE: Individual projects are due to the instructor on Wednesday, December 8th. Reader and student will schedule their interactions accordingly.

SYLLABUS:

 

SYNOPSIS: This course will consider the roots of Interstate and intrastate conflict and the various means that actors try to resolve their disputes. A large component of the course will be focused on understanding the theories behind the initiation and termination of armed violence, paying special attention to how actors interact with one another strategically. The students will learn both how to conceptualize armed conflict situations and about
how actors practically go about resolving their disputes.
The course assignments have a heavy emphasis on writing. A primary goal for this course is to develop strong writing skills in a variety of contexts. Readers will work with students on the op-ed piece where students express their educated opinion on a topic.

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: Op-ed/blog piece
that recommends strategies for the disputing parties to move toward future resolution. (between 600 and 800 words) where students express their educated opinion on a topic covered in the course.
The arguments should be based on the real-world conflict. This piece should be written for the general public and thus contain a brief summary of the important issue, as well as brief overviews of the relevant course concepts that are used in the argumentation. Students are encouraged to draw parallels to other analogous conflict situations that we covered in class.

READER REQUIREMENTS: The op-ed piece is aimed at non-specialists with a general interest in international politics.

INSTRUCTOR SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS: Students will be evaluated on the ability to tie together course concepts across the entire semester, as well as on the clarity of their arguments, which must have a logical flow from one point to the next.

IN-CLASS DEADLINE: on or before 11th December 2021

SYLLABUS:

SYNOPSIS:  This course is the second semester of the Sanford School of Public Policy Honors Thesis Seminar. In the spring (495S), students formulated their research question, conducted a literature review, wrote a research proposal, identified data and information sources, and learned the relevant research techniques. Now, in the fall (496S), they complete the process of writing their thesis.

Students in this course have done their research and are now in the writing stages. Students are expected to complete their honors theses by the end of the semester and give a public presentation of their work.

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: Honors thesis in the form of an academic research paper potentially publishable in a journal in the field and a public presentation.

READER REQUIREMENTS: Professionals in a wide variety of public policy fields. Specific knowledge area depends on the student's topic.

INSTRUCTOR SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS: In addition to giving constructive feedback, please help your student stay on track and encourage time management.

Questions readers should ask when reading a draft:

  1. Is the writing clear and well organized? That is, how easy or difficult is it for you to follow the student’s line of reasoning?
  2. What do you find interesting and compelling?  Where are you skeptical or bored?
  3. If possible, do a “think aloud response”—reading the paper aloud and pausing frequently to describe your reactions to what you’re reading. For guidance on how to do this, please listen to this example:

 

DEADLINES: Please check with your student on deadlines

SYLLABUS: coming soon

SYNOPSIS: The changing configuration of global capitalism, with emphasis on comparing global regions of North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. The internal dynamics of these regions, including the development strategies of selected nations, inter-regional comparisons (for example, regional divisions of labor, state-society relationships, the nature of their business systems, quality of life issues).

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: Research paper

READER REQUIREMENTS: coming soon

INSTRUCTOR SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS:

Please help your student with time management by setting firm deadlines and holding the student accountable.

To keep in mind when reading the writing assignment:

1. Is the writing clear and well organized? That is, how easy or difficult is it for you to follow the student's line of reasoning?

2. What do you find interesting and compelling? Where are you skeptical or bored?

3. If possible do a "think aloud response" - reading the paper aloud and pausing frequently to describe your reactions to what you're reading. For guidance on how to do this, please listen to this example:

DEADLINES: Students will inform readers of important deadlines for this course.

SYLLABUS: coming soon

SYNOPSIS: STA 440 is an intensive applied course that asks you to analyze timely real-world data across diverse domains in a principled, data-driven way. This course is the capstone for students majoring in statistical science. Students apply statistical analysis skills to in-depth data analysis projects ranging across diverse applications including but not limited to environmental sustainability, global health, information and culture, brain sciences, and social networks. Its goal is to prepare students to transition to the professional practice of statistics and data science in a variety of organizations and industries. Important skills required of practicing statisticians (in addition to having a great set of tools in the statistics toolbox!) include creativity, critical thinking, teamwork, the ability to identify needed new skills and to learn them with minimal direction, the ability to craft a statistical analysis plan to fit a scientific hypothesis or question, teamwork, and the ability to communicate to a variety of audiences (including other statisticians, experts in areas other than statistics, a supervisor at work, and the general public, among others). Students also gain experience at learning and applying new techniques as they will need to do as lifelong learners. Much of the work is done in teams, but the individual writing assignment is a chance for each student to gain experience, confidence, and individual feedback on their analysis and professional communication.

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: Students will identify interesting hypotheses to evaluate for a topic and data set of their choosing, select appropriate statistical methods, conduct the analysis and present their findings in a written report and oral presentation.

READER REQUIREMENTS: Readers with an interest and prior experience in reading statistical analysis of real world problems. Students have chosen their own topics and readers will be matched to projects of interest. The course uses R for statistical computation, while helpful, readers do not need to be R users or statisticians.

INSTRUCTOR SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS: Envision the student’s project as a data analysis report on a topic of interest, and something you might hear as a presentation from internal research staff, consultants, or presenters at a practitioners’ professional meeting.  The report should have compelling enough graphical displays and text to hold your interest and be publishable by a reputable journal.

IMPORTANT COURSE DEADLINES: Student will advise reader of all pertinent deadlines.

COURSE WEBSITE: For information related to this course please check:

STAT 440 Course Details

SUMMARY: The student in this independent study will focus on research which will help to identify how mutations to multi-protein coats in the cell might alter cell physiology at different stages of the cell cycle.

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: Research paper for submission to reputable journal or conference in the field.

READER REQUIREMENTS: Readers for this independent research project need to have graduate-level training in cell/molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics or a very similar discipline. The ideal reader is a researcher familiar with cellular processes. Please read the abstract for detailed information on the project.

ABSTRACT: Vesicle transport between the ER and Golgi is essential to proper cellular metabolism and function. For correct vesicle trafficking between the organelles a specialized multi-protein coat, the COPII coat, is needed. A component of the inner coat, Sec24, is essential for the recognition of different binding sites on cargo proteins and ER export signals that are necessary to allow the transport of protein and lipid cargo between the ER and Golgi. My research focuses on how O-linked beta-N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) modifications affect the function of Sec24D, a mammalian paralog of Sec24, and the COPII protein coat during different stages of the cell cycle.

The lab so far has produced some promising preliminary data on Sec24C. It seems to indicate that Sec24C is modified by phosphorylation during mitosis and by glycosylation during interphase. My research this coming semester will be closely related, as I am conducting parallel experiments to identify if and how Sec24D is affected by post-translational modifications like protein glycosylation and phosphorylation. This research will help to identify how mutations to Sec24D might alter cell physiology at different stages of the cell cycle. A zebrafish lab has already begun to produce results demonstrating how some mutants of Sec24D have inhibited collagen trafficking leading to deformed bone development. I have also begun to produce some preliminary results which seem to suggest that Sec23A may co-IP with Sec24D and that Sec24D may be phosphorylated during mitosis.  

 

SUMMARY: The student in this independent study will focus on verifying changes in alternative splicing obtained from RNA-sequencing. This involves running RT-qPCR assays, gel electrophoresis, and quantification of the percent spliced in (PSI). The title of the study is: Determining the impact of snoRNA-guided Nm modifications on U6 snRNA on splicing

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: A written report at the end of the semester discussing the experiments, results and future directions.

READER REQUIREMENTS: Readers for this independent research project need to have graduate-level training in one of these disciplines: genetics, cell/molecular biology, biochemistry or a very similar discipline. The ideal reader is a researcher familiar with cellular processes in genetics. Please read the abstract for detailed information on the project.

ABSTRACT:

2’-O-methyl (Nm) is an abundant post-transcriptional modification in many RNAs (such as transfer RNA (tRNA), small nuclear RNA (snRNA), and ribosomal (rRNA)). Nm can be introduced to the ribose sugar either by stand-alone methyltransferases or by the enzyme fibrillarin when guided by box C/D small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs). The loss of snoRNA-guided Nm modifications on U2 and U6 snRNAs leads to alternations in the splicing of cardiac genes. At Duke, the Al-Hashimi and Holley laboratories recently discovered that Nm modifications may trap RNA excited states (ES), which are transient and have low abundance. Using the HIV-1 transactivation response element (TAR), a well-studied model system,  their studies reveal that Nm preferentially stabilizes alternative secondary structures in which the Nm-modified nucleotides are paired, increasing both the abundance and lifetime of low populated short-lived ESs. In these ways, Nm affects the structural dynamics of RNA in TAR. Therefore, these groups hypothesize that Nm might also affect the activity of naturally Nm-modified RNAs by modulating RNA structural dynamics. The ultimate goal of this study is to bridge the gap between the structural studies on Nm-modified U6 snRNA and the changes in alternative splicing due to the loss of specific Nm sites. To achieve this end, the Holley laboratory generated genetically defined knock-out cell lines lacking snoRNA 67 which methylates C60 on U6 snRNA. My role in this study will be to verify changes in alternative splicing obtained from RNA-sequencing. This involves running RT-qPCR assays, gel electrophoresis, and quantification of the percent spliced in (PSI).

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Bioremediating Plastic Pollution (BASS Connections Course)

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Regenerative Grazing (BASS Connections Course)

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