DKU awards funds to seven faculty for research, travel costs | Duke Kunshan University

DKU awards funds to seven faculty for research, travel costs

July 9, 2021

Duke Kunshan has announced this year’s recipients of the Faculty Scholarship and Travel Awards (FSTA). Funded by the Office of Academic Affairs, the annual awards support faculty members by covering the costs of scholarship projects and conference-related travel expenses.

From left, (top row) Benjamin Anderson, Kristin Hiller, Xiaoqian Xu, Liqi Ren, (bottom row) Charles Chang, Saghar Leslie Naghib and Tyler Kustra

2021 FSTA recipients

Benjamin Anderson, assistant professor of global health

The award will support his project to detect routine and novel respiratory viruses in China and Vietnam, part of a larger project that aims to develop a low-cost, sustainable system for molecular detection of common respiratory viruses in hospitalized patients. Duke Kunshan students will have the opportunity to learn how to carry out high-throughput molecular testing of nasal swabs and other molecular diagnostic techniques by using the funded thermocyclers. Anderson has a Ph.D. in public health from the University of Florida. He joined DKU in 2018.


Charles Chaoyi Chang, assistant professor of environment and urban studies

The award will support his travel to the annual conference of the American Political Science Association in Seattle, in fall 2021, where he will present his paper, “Measuring State Infrastructure,” co-authored with Yuhua Wang from Harvard University. Chang has a Ph.D. in environment and resources from University of Wisconsin-Madison. He joined DKU in 2020.


Kristin Hiller, assistant professor of English language, associate director of the Writing and Language Studio

The award will support her project, Language Policy and Translingualism at Duke Kunshan University, which aims to combine linguistic landscape analysis with interviews, observations, images and surveys, to study how language policies and practices at DKU open up or close down spaces for translingual practices. Hiller has a Ph.D. in linguistics, applied track, from the University of Utah. She joined DKU in 2018.


Tyler Kustra, assistant professor of political science

The award will support his travel to the International Studies Association conference in Nashville, in spring 2022, where he has been invited to present his paper, “Turning out the Lights: How do economic sanctions affect sanctioned countries?” Kustra has a Ph.D. in politics from New York University. He joined DKU in 2020.


Liqi Ren, associate director for innovation and entrepreneurship, lecturer of innovation and design

The award will support a project to investigate cultural and creative industries (CCIs) as a driving force for social and economic development of new villages in the Yangtze River Delta region. She will study the growth of CCIs, which the Chinese government has promoted. The project will engage students to conduct field research in rural China. The results will be used to develop a grant proposal for a larger-scale investigation, and to provide students with the opportunity to create Signature Work products. Ren has a Ph.D. in design, environments and the arts from Arizona State University. She joined DKU in 2020.


Saghar Leslie Naghib, senior lecturer in English language

The award will support a project entitled Lived Experiences from the Pantanal: Translating Climate Change into Everyday Language. The aim is to study how inhabitants of the Pantanal in Brazil have experienced climate change over the past 20 to 30 years. The study is expected to yield a paper and a documentary film that presents the conflict of climate change in Brazil and contributes to a narrative from a conflict resolution standpoint. Naghib has a Ph.D. in conflict analysis and resolution from Nova Southeastern University. She joined DKU in 2019.


Xiaoqian Xu, assistant professor of mathematics

The award will support a project that aims to use mathematical modeling to describe the pheromone effect on reactions between rho-GDPase and rho-GTPase in positive feedback pathways in eukaryotic cells. Xu has a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He joined DKU in 2019.

Read about previous FSTA recipients: 2019, 2020.