Bass Connections

Bass Connections at Bass-KIEDuke supports vertically integrated teams of students and faculty across campus to engage in problem-based research built around five core themes: Brain & Society; Information, Society & Culture; Global Health; Education & Human Development; and Energy.

For the 2016-2017 academic year, the partnership with KIE and Bass Connections is supporting three new projects, thanks to the Silver Family Fund. They include Human Health Risks, Environmental and Ecosystem Damage Associated with Contamination of Used Motor Oil at Auto-mechanic Villages in Ghana and Spirituality, Self-management and Chronic Disease among Ethnic Groups of Robeson County, North Carolina. These projects align with KIE’s program areas and will feature a public symposium on the research findings. In addition, there is one on-going project, Citizenship Lab: Civic Participation of Refugee Youth In Durham. Students interested in connecting with one of these projects should visit the Bass Connections page on how to get involved.

Previous projects include: Generosity and Grattitude: Mechanisms, Motivations, and Models of Living Kidney Donation; Reviewing Retrospective Regulatory Review; Displacement, Resettlement, and Global Mental Health; Moral Judgments About and By Stimulant Users; The Language of Genocide and Human Rights; and Living Donor Kidney Transplants and the Good Samaritan. Information on these projects has been archived.


Engagement in self-management skills has been demonstrated to improve health outcomes, yet individual and community-based factors contributing to engagement is less clear. Spirituality, which has been associated with positive effects on mental health including coping, resiliency and fostering social networks, plays an important role in effective improvement of chronic disease outcomes among minority populations.

Our primary objective is to understand the relationship between spiritual and self-management practices among adults from Robeson County living with chronic diseases. Robeson County is home to a remarkably diverse population including the Lumbee tribe, which is the largest American Indian tribe in North Carolina and the ninth largest in the United States. Mortality rates are twice the state average for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and the county has one of the highest national rates of end-stage kidney disease.

Our specific aims are 1) to assess the spiritual and self-management practices of adults living with chronic diseases in Robeson County; and 2) to determine differences in spiritual and religious practices across major ethnic groups living in Robeson County.

Bass Connections theme: Global Health
KIE program connection: Religions and Public Life

Faculty/Staff Team Members:
Cherry Beasley, Nursing (UNC Pembroke)
David Boyd, Duke Global Health Institute
Clarissa Diamantidis, School of Medicine – General Internal Medicine
Uptal Patel, School of Medicine – Nephrology
John Stanifer, House Staff – Medicine
David Toole, Divinity School
Undergraduate Team Members
Emily Horn, Global Health
Christiana Oshotse, Global Health
Community Team Members
Ronny Bell, Epidemiology (Wake Forest)



In underdeveloped nations, advancement in economic and human development depends on growth in the transportation sector, which is dominated by imported used automobiles. In these nations, usually land—an auto-mechanic village—is allocated strictly for repair and service of automobiles. There are hundreds of such auto-mechanic villages in many cities in Ghana and Africa due to increasing human population and urban growth. In all these villages, auto-mechanics dispose used motor oil onto the ground, affecting streams, drinking water aquifers and the ecosystem. Used motor oil can be harmful to human health, the environment and the ecosystem, and can contaminate the food chain. There is an ethical need to promote behavioral changes by the mechanics in disposal and interaction with used motor oil.

This project team will collaborate with a team of faculty and students from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) to assess the extent and levels of heavy metals and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) pollution in soils, drinking water resources and food crops within and near Suame Magazine, a cluster of hundreds of auto-mechanic workshops in the vicinity of Kumasi. The joint team will investigate hair samples, the potential of mechanics being exposed to heavy metals and PAH and possible effects on their health. The findings will be used in developing an educational and awareness program by directly engaging and interacting with the mechanics.

Bass Connections theme: Global Health
KIE program connection: Human Rights

Faculty Team Members:
Fred Boadu, Pratt – Civil and Environmental Engineering
Dennis Clements, School of Medicine – Infectious Diseases, Pediatrics
Suzanne Katzenstein, Kenan Institute for Ethics
Graduate Team Members:
Naa Adoley Allotey, Global Health and Cultural Anthropology
Nana Young, Bio-ethics

Community Team Members:
Marian Nkansah, KNUST
Harry Tagbor, KNUST


The United States resettles between 50-80,000 refugees annually. And more than half of these are women and children. North Carolina ranks tenth in the country in terms of refugee resettlement. In the past three years 2,500 refugees, predominantly from Bhutan, Burma and Iraq but also from Sudan, Somalia and elsewhere were resettled in the Triangle area. Resettlement poses numerous challenges for refugees whose history of violent displacement together with cultural and linguistic barriers often makes access to resources, jobs, education and social support difficult. Refugees also face substantial barriers to full participation in the life of their communities and initial evidence is that they have significantly lower lifetime levels of civic engagement. This project explores mechanisms for enhancing refugee civic participation with a focus on high school youth in Durham, North Carolina. This project has two allied dimensions. First, we will create a citizenship lab at Duke whose core objective will be to conduct a community based research project in Durham. Second, Duke faculty, graduate students and undergraduates will explore the empirical relationship between social science research engagement and citizenship.

Duke faculty, graduate students and undergraduates will explore the empirical relationship between social science research engagement and citizenship. Through program assessment (pre-test/post-test of participants based on a mix of existing survey instruments) we will attempt to measure the effectiveness of teaching citizenship via this pragmatic social science research method. Here faculty, graduate students and undergraduates revisit, update, and examine the impact of this program on migrant youth civic participation.

Bass Connections theme: Education & Human Development
KIE program connection: Human Rights

Faculty team members:
Abdul Sattar-Jawad (Islamic Studies & AMES)
Suzanne Shanahan (Sociology & Kenan Institute)
William Tobin (UNC Civil Rights)
Undergraduate and Graduate Student team members:
Maha Ahmed (Undergraduate)
Aidan Coleman (Undergraduate)
Catherine Farmer (Undergraduate)
Reed McLaurin (Undergraduate)
Alex Oprea (Graduate, Political Science)
Snehan Sharma (Undergraduate)
Maura Smyles (Undergraduate)
Elizabeth Tsui (Undergraduate)
Xu Wang (Graduate, Public Policy)
Elizabeth Wilkinson (Undergraduate)