The honor recognizes Graduate School alumni for career accomplishments, promising endeavors, and support of graduate education at Duke!

A scholar engaged in feminist and antimilitarist research and activism, a Duke professor who studies biological movements measured in milliseconds, and a plant scientist whose work could protect crops against diseases and climate change are the 2022 inductees into The Graduate School’s Few-Glasson Alumni Society.

The Few-Glasson Alumni Society, created in 2016, honors Duke graduates who have distinguished themselves through their career accomplishments, the potential of their current endeavors, or their support of graduate education and students at Duke.

Candidates for the society are nominated by members of the Duke community. The society is named for the first president of Duke University—William Preston Few—and William Henry Glasson, the first dean of The Graduate School.

The 2022 inductees are

  • Ayşe Gül Altınay (Ph.D.’01 Cultural Anthropology), a professor of anthropology at Sabancı University in Istanbul;
  • Sheila Patek (Ph.D.’01 Biology), the Hehmeyer Professor of Biology and a Bass Fellow at Duke; and
  • Steven Spoel (Ph.D.’08 Developmental, Cell and Molecular Biology), a professor of cell signaling and proteostasis at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom.


Altınay is a professor of anthropology at Sabancı University and former director of SU Gender (Sabancı University Gender and Women’s Studies of Excellence) in Istanbul, where she has engaged in cutting-edge research and social-impact projects at the intersections of academia, activism, and well-being.

Altınay’s 2001 cultural anthropology Ph.D. thesis, supported by the Social Science Research Council-MacArthur Foundation International Peace and Security Fellowship, tackled the then-taboo topic of militarism in Turkey, resulting in a pioneering ethnography: The Myth of the Military-Nation. She has continued to research traumatizing experiences of the past and present, from genocide to gender-based violence. Through books, exhibits, conferences, community projects, and radio programs, she has been highlighting feminist and antimilitarist re-imaginings and facilitating fresh conversations on possibilities of collective reckoning.

Since 2008, she has been volunteering at the Hrant Dink Foundation as founding board member and advisory board member, contributing to the co-creation of the 23.5 Hrant Dink Site of Memory. In 2016, she signed the Academics for Peace petition in support of a peaceful solution to the Kurdish Turkish conflict. For that, she received a 25-month prison sentence in 2019 but was acquitted a year later.

Since 2009, Altınay has served as associate editor of the European Journal of Women’s Studies, and she was the Marie Jahoda Visiting Chair in Gender Studies at Ruhr University-Bochum (Germany) in 2012. In addition, through her collaborative work at Central European University and Columbia University, she co-edited two books: Gendered Wars, Gendered Memories: Feminist Conversations on War, Genocide and Political Violence and Women Mobilizing Memory. Altınay is currently engaged in three EU Horizon 2020 research projects that tackle inequalities from a gender+ perspective and co-design inclusive alternatives for social change: GEARING RolesRESISTIRÉ, and ACCTING.

Her recent work focuses on transformative activism and feminist/queer re-imaginings of life and ecology, which have culminated in two pathbreaking programs at SU Gender: Curious Steps: Gender and Memory Walks of Istanbul (mobilizing marginalized memories through feminist/queer city walks) and Transformative Activism (a community of more than 100 activists from Turkey and beyond that engage in embodied, contemplative practices weaving personal and collective wellbeing, healing and transformation).

As part of her own journey of transformation, Altınay recently became a certified Zhan Zhuang (Standing Like a Tree) qigong instructor and completed her training in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy for Life at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, which enable her to offer qigong and meditation practices for activists. Through her teaching, research and activism, Altınay is passionate about opening co-creative spaces that weave personal and collective journeys of reckoning, healing and transformation.