Information Technology Services
Duke University Libraries
Meet our staff
Data and Visualization Services
Analyze, discover, manage, map, and visualize your data with Duke Libraries Data and Visualization Services. Our team of six consultants and three interns provides a broad range of support in areas ranging from data analysis, data visualization, geographic information systems, financial data, statistical software and data storage and management. Our lab provides 12 workstations with the latest data software and three Bloomberg Professional workstations nearly 24/7 for the Duke community.
Name: Joel Herndon
Position: Head, Data and Visualization Services
Years at Duke: 12
I joined Duke University Libraries in 2003. Before coming to Duke, I was the head of the Electronic Data Center at Emory University Libraries. As the head of DVS, I lead the department, coordinate programs and services and act as a liaison with other data groups both at Duke and beyond. As part of the department’s consulting services, I work with researchers on a range of questions about data management (both planning and implementation), data visualization and digital mapping projects.
Name: John Little
Position: Data Analysis and Management Analyst
Years at Duke: 1 Score
What I do at Duke: I consult with patrons through the Data & Visualization Services Department. My goal is to help people identify, create and leverage Duke University services which involve data. Typically this includes data analysis, data storage, data sharing, and data cleaning.
If I had $5 million, I would: have $5 million dollars and try to figure out how to lose it without losing my sanity.
My first ever job: My very first money job was when I was about 10. I used to cut grass for Mrs. Hangen. She’d bring me Cokes and we’d sit on her back deck overlooking the Fox River. I don’t remember what we talked about. I wonder if I ever told her about my girlfriend Tracy Holland? Mrs. Hangen paid me $10 and it took about 40 minutes to cut the grass — not including Coke breaks. She was a real nice lady. Back then I used to wish grass would grow faster and that I could spend more time with Tracy.
My dream job: idk. Maybe cutting grass for Tracy Holland? lol.
If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: Do you recall Aimiee Mann, formerly of Til Tuesday? She used to sing, “Hush Hush, keep it down now, voices carry?’ We could talk about that. I think it would be a short conversation, potentially a very unpleasant conversation as well.
The best advice I ever received: “You don’t have to catch fish to go fishin’.” –Alfred O’Brien
What I love about Duke: The standard issue, dark blue jumpsuits and the bookmobile.
When I’m not at work, I like to: Imagine myself sitting in a mystical office, working.
If I could have one superpower, it would be: The Power of Perception.
A Movie I like[d]: Have you ever seen the Bee Gees in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band? Peter Frampton was in it. So was Earth, Wind & Fire. Frampton played Billy Shears. The Fire playedthemselves; they were dope. Anyway, when I was a child, I watched it on HBO and I thought it was pretty catchy. Do you think Mrs. Hangen may have slipped a mickey into my Coke? Because, I mean, I really don’t know what came over me.
Something most people don’t know about me: I have $5 Million.
A unique thing in my office: My imaginary pet Iguana, Remus.
An interesting/memorable day at work for me: There was this one day when I truthfully answered all these questions about myself….
Name: Eric Monson
Position: Data Visualization Analyst
Years at Duke: 15
What I do at Duke: I help people visualize, organize and think about their data, for their own exploration or to effectively communicate their findings to others.
If I had $5 million, I would: Stash a bunch of it away for retirement and my kids’ education. Then, I would put a new, less stinky engine in my ’88 Dodge Ram 100 pickup and get the driver’s side window fixed so it could roll down in the summer. Some of those covered gutters for my house would be nice, too.
My first ever job: My mom would pay my sister and me five cents for each mosquito we killed inside the house.
My dream job: Getting to work with smart, passionate people every day and use my strangely broad background to help them accomplish their goals – exactly what I’ve been doing for the past few years!
If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: Kerning
The best advice I ever received: Be yourself and don’t worry about the fact that not everyone will like you. (I have trouble following that advice.)
What I love about Duke: It’s a beautiful place to work that feels like home.
When I’m not at work, I like to: Practice photography, baking and woodworking, and watch My Little Pony with my two girls.
A Movie I like: I like many movies, but one I feel doesn’t get enough attention is Steve Martin’s 1991 film, L.A. Story. It’s a bit dated, but I love how the story mixes satirical, romantic and surreal elements.
Something most people don’t know about me: I like to practice target shooting with my friend who used to be a Marine Sniper/Scout Team Leader in Iraq.
A unique thing in my office: A folded-card polyhedron constructed during a workshop led by the mathematician/artist George W Hart during his visit to Duke a few years ago.
An interesting/memorable day at work for me: One of my most memorable was the day of my on-campus interview for this position. I was nervous about the timing of my talk, but other than that I was surprised and encouraged by the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed every event and interaction that whole day!
Name: Mark Thomas
Position: GIS and Map Librarian
Years at Duke: 21
What I do at Duke: Librarian for GIS, Economics, Geography, Maps, and Federal Government Documents; work in the Library’s Data and Visualization Services Department
If I had $5 million, I would: Relax a little
My first ever job: Bread baker at a Schlotzky’s sandwich shop
My dream job: Something related to vernacular music sound recordings
If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: Really old country and roots music; railroads; Volkswagens with air-cooled engines
The best advice I ever received: Don’t spend your capital.
What I love about Duke: Work around smart people
When I’m not at work, I like to: Ice skating with family.
If I could have one superpower, it would be: Make everyone happy
A Movie I like: The Searchers.
Something most people don’t know about me: Used to do a radio show on WXDU featuring “vintage” country music (fiddles and steel guitars from the 1920s to early 1970s), called “A Broken Heart and a Glass of Beer,” after the theme song
A unique thing in my office: A canister from the pneumatic tube system that was in the 1948 stacks.
An interesting/memorable day at work for me: Anytime a patron says this is just what they needed.
Name: Angela Zoss
Position: Data Visualization Coordinator
Years at Duke: 5
What I do at Duke: I help students, faculty, and staff learn about or produce data visualizations, incuding charts, graphs, and maps. I teach workshops, give presentations to classes or at conferences, develop online instructional materials, and provide one-on-one advice and technical support. I am also a member of the Visualization and Interactive Systems group (http://vis.duke.edu/) and co-organize the Visualization Friday Forum (http://vis.duke.edu/FridayForum/).
My first ever job:As a junior in high school, I started working as a math tutor at a local state university branch campus. The tutors had open office hours, and while most of the questions came from later-life returning education adults needing refreshers on basic algebra, we would occasionally get to struggle through harder problems with students from pre-Calculus and Calculus courses. Around that time I also got a job as a research assistant to a local mystery writer who was a family friend. I would often head to the library and comb through microfilm and microfiche to help her contextualize a historical novel.
The best advice I ever received: “You must learn to love to learn.” My French teacher in high school, too soon lost to cancer, was an extremely passionate woman who wanted to share her energy with her students. She understood all too well that learning was not a means to an end but a lifelong journey that should be cultivated and cherished.
What I love about Duke: I love how ready people at Duke seem to be to get their hands dirty learning a new skill or technique. Both inside and outside the library, I’ve been very impressed by the mentality that it’s okay to learn by doing, even if it’s a small project at first.
When I’m not at work, I like to: play music. I’m a member of the Duke Medicine Orchestra, for which I also serve as the Communications Chair. I play French Horn in the orchestra, but I’ve played many instruments in many different kinds of ensembles. I also enjoy singing.
Name: Mara Sedlins
Position: CLIR/DLF Postdoctoral Fellow in Data Curation for the Social Sciences
Years at Duke: 1
What I do at Duke: I am working with Duke Libraries and the Social Science Research Institute to develop and promote best practices for managing a variety of research data in the social sciences.
My first ever job: As a summer job I worked as a teller at a small local bank in Minnesota (where the air conditioning made it feel almost as cold as Minnesota winters!)
My dream job: I think this is it!
If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: traveling in San Miguel de Allende and Oaxaca, Mexico
What I love about Duke: the friendly and talented people, the beautiful wooded trails
When I’m not at work, I like to: run, do yoga, explore Durham’s restaurants and breweries, go to the Old Time Learning Jam at High Strung Violins & Guitars and play fiddle tunes
A Movie I like: Tarkovsky’s Stalker
Something most people don’t know about me: For a while I had a second career as a rock violist.
Name: Sophia Lafferty-Hess
Position: Research Data Management Consultant
Years at Duke: 1
What I do at Duke: I work in Data and Visualization Services where I provide consultations and instruction in research data management strategies to help researchers organize, describe, share, and preserve their data.
My first ever job: I worked at my neighbor’s blueberry farm where I did “odd jobs” during the summer.
If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: Science fiction movies and/or books
The best advice I ever received: After I graduated college, my favorite professor told me “to go out and fail.” At the time, this seemed like odd advice to me, but as I have grown, I found this to be great advice that taught me that life will never go exactly the way you plan and resilience is an important life skill.
When I’m not at work, I like to: Watch movies, read books, and eat good food (I am lucky to have a husband who likes to cook!)
If I could have one superpower, it would be: Telekinesis
A Movie I like: So many to choose from….Fifth Element, Serenity, Running Man (to name a few)
Something most people don’t know about me: In undergrad I majored in Classical Studies and focused my studies on Latin and Roman culture
A unique thing in my office: I have a “stress cow” from the 90th Anniversary of the UNC Odum Institute, where I previously worked. The cow was inspired by the fact that Howard Odum raised prize-winning jersey cattle.
Name: Jen Darragh
Position: Senior Research Data Management Consultant
Years at Duke: 1
What I do at Duke: I’m a member of Data and Visualization Services. With my counterpart Sophia, I provide guidance and assistance to Duke researchers from all disciplines in managing their research data, whatever that “data” might be. Right now we’re working on developing workshops on data management topics and workflows for data deposit in the Duke Digital Repository.
If I had $5 million, I would: Pay off my debt, buy a house here in Durham and then a house over on the OBX. Save what’s left for retirement, as I know I’d still be working.
My first ever job: Dog walker (my own business at all of 12), actual “real” job was busgirl at my friend’s parents’ Chinese restaurant.
My dream job: Anything that involves travel, good food and drink. So probably a food/wine/beer critic. Although the Craft Beer Historian position at the Smithsonian probably would have been really sweet (I’m very proud to see that a woman holds that position).
If someone wanted to start a conversation with me they should ask me about: Pittsburgh. It’s my home town. I have a lot of love for it, the food, the people and the Steelers.
The best advice I ever received: Don’t borrow trouble (from my Mom) – as in, don’t worry about things that haven’t happened yet. Waste of time and effort.
When I’m not at work, I like to: Go to the gym and wail on the heavy bag, do anything outdoors with my husband (especially now that we’re south), cuddle with my dog, explore new microbreweries, discover new restaurants as well as cook. As I’m new to Durham there is a lot to explore.
A Movie I like: Constantine. I don’t know why but I can watch that movie over and over again.
Something most people don’t know about me:I’m an extroverted introvert.
A unique thing in my office: A caricature of me that my high school boyfriend drew. It’s over 20 years old but hasn’t fallen apart yet.
An interesting/memorable day at work for me: Well I imagine there will be many more to come, but perhaps trying to walk to the shuttle (that never came as the lot was closed) after the big ice storm in January. I didn’t fall, but it was probably a good show for anyone that saw me.