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

DKU awards funds to four faculty for research, travel costs

September 3, 2020

By DKU staff

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.

“It’s always difficult to select recipients, as our faculty members are involved in so many fine projects,” said Katherine Robertson, director of faculty affairs at Duke Kunshan. “Despite the disruption this year caused by Covid-19, the FSTA committee received many excellent proposals, showing just how determined and committed our faculty members are to their scholarship and advancing global knowledge.”


From left: Zach Fredman, Xiaofei Pan, Shixin Xu and Kai Huang.

2020 FSTA recipients

Kai Huang, associate professor of physics, chair of the Natural and Applied Sciences Division

He received an FSTA to support a project on the influence of gravity on granular drag, a collaboration with Spain’s University of Navarra, which aims to gain better understanding of drag force induced by granular materials, such as powders and grains. Scientific Reports published the project’s initial findings this year. As granular materials are the most abundant materials on other planets, the project has gained the attention of the Chinese space program. Huang, who has a Ph.D. in physical acoustics from Nanjing University, joined Duke Kunshan in 2019.

Zach Fredman, assistant professor of history

He received an FSTA to support completion of a book, “Uneasy Allies: China and the United States Before Mao,” which Fredman is editing, and to fund a conference in the United States for the book’s authors and editors. Cambridge University Press is expected to publish the book. Fredman, who has a Ph.D. in history from Boston University, joined Duke Kunshan in 2018.

Xiaofei Pan, lecturer in Chinese Language

She received an FSTA to support travel to a summer institute for teachers organized by the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) at the University of Minnesota. CARLA summer institutes are professional workshops for language educators to enhance their ability to develop communicative tasks, rubrics and assessment tools for student performance on a variety of tasks in a target language. Pan, who has a Ph.D in second language acquisition from the University of Iowa, joined DKU in 2019.

Shixin Xu, assistant professor of mathematics

He received an FSTA to support a project entitled A Mathematical Model for Persistent Post-Cortical Spreading Depress Vasoconstriction. The aim is to model the dissolution of calcium aggregated within the mitochondria of vascular smooth muscle cells, which results in persistent vasoconstriction, following a number of possible events including trauma. This interdisciplinary project also aims to engage undergraduates, and has important implications for the field of medicine. Xu, who has a Ph.D. from the University of Science and Technology, China, joined DKU in 2019.