2008 Duke Postdoctoral Professional Development Award Winners

The Duke Office of Postdoctoral Services, along with the Vice Provost for Research and the Vice Dean for Basic Sciences, is pleased to announce the winners of the 2008 Postdoctoral Awards for Professional Development. These awards are designed to support postdocs' professional development needs by providing reimbursement for activities that directly enhance the individual's professional growth.

  Maryléne Boulet, PhD, Department of Biological Anthropology & Anatomy

Dr. Boulet earned her PhD in Biology from McMaster University, studying the evolutionary history and migration patterns of the yellow warbler. Dr. Boulet currently studies olfactory indicators of genetic constitution in ringtailed lemurs. The 2008 Postdoctoral Research Award will be used for travel to the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution (CSEE) Meeting in Vancouver, BC, where Dr. Boulet will give an oral presentation and attend the Symposium for Women Entering Ecology and Evolution Today (SWEEET), and Academic Careers in Biological Sciences, a workshop Dr. Boulet helped organize as past CSEE Council Member. Dr. Boulet will also attend a pre-meeting workshop on Mesquite, a phylogenetic software computing character evolution analyses.


 Wenhong Chen, PhD, Department of Sociology

Dr. Chen earned her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2007. Her research interests include social capital/social networks, economic sociology, and international migration. Drawing on a large representative dataset in the US, Dr. Chen is exploring the relation of ethnic diversity in the neighborhood and social capital at the individual level. The 2008 Postdoctoral Research Award will be used for travel to the International Social Capital Conference in Taiwan organized by Academia Sinica, where Dr. Chen will present a paper titled “Discontents in the Melting Pot: Diversity, Inequality, and the Plight of Social Capital”. The paper examines whether and how trust, an integral component of social capital, is related to racial/ethnic diversity and economic inequality.


  Amanda Moehring, PhD, Department of Biology

Dr. Moehring received her PhD in Genetics from North Carolina State University in 2003. She works on the genetics of variation in behavior within species and the genetics of reproductive isolation between species. The 2008 Postdoctoral Research Award will be used for travel to two concurrent conferences in Vancouver, BC: the Symposium for Women Entering Ecology and Evolution Today (SWEEET), a symposium addressing issues that influence the advancement of women with postgraduate degrees, where Dr. Moehring has been invited to speak on “Balancing Career and Family”, and the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution (CSEE) conference, where Dr. Moehring will present her research on “Genetics of behavioral isolation between two Drosophila species.”


  Jonathan Prather, PhD, Department of Neurobiology

Dr. Prather received his PhD in Neuroscience from Emory University in 2001. His postdoctoral research has focused on the neural mechanisms of vocal communication. Dr. Prather and his colleagues were the first to demonstrate the existence and characteristics of auditory-vocal “mirror neurons” in the songbird brain, leading to the recent publication of their article, “Precise auditory-vocal mirroring in neurons for learned vocal communication”, in the journal Nature. The 2008 Postdoctoral Research Award will be used for travel to the international meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington, DC.


  Bing Yu, PhD, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Yu received BS and MS degrees in Optoelectronics Technology from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, and a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2005. Dr. Yu performs research in biomedical optics, developing optical spectroscopy devices for breast cancer diagnosis, and a miniature spectral imaging system for intra-operative assessment of tumor margins. Dr. Yu invented a self-calibrating fiber-optic probe that has a built-in calibration channel and can be used to record lamp spectrum and instrument/probe responses concurrently with tissue measurements. The 2008 Postdoctoral Research Award will be used for travel to the Gordon Conference on Lasers in Medicine and Biology (GRC-LMB), where Dr. Yu will present his research on the self-calibrating probe.


The Office of Postdoctoral Services and the Duke University Postdoctoral Association extend their thanks to the 2008 ResearchAwards Committee: Dr. JD Dunn, Dr. Rebekah Fleming, Dr. Sonke Johnsen, Dr. Susan Smith, Ms. Molly Starback, Dr. Jennifer Tenor, Dr. Tomalei Vess, and Dr. Anne West.