New Physics Staff
Rita was born in Durham, NC and has spent most of her life in Raleigh. She graduated from Meredith College with a degree in Music Education and taught several years both privately and at Converse College in Spartanburg, SC. Since getting married in 1981, she and her husband have lived in Spartanburg, SC, Kinston, NC and then back to Raleigh.
When they moved to Raleigh, Rita accepted a job with a company that sold phosphates internationally. She worked in international marketing with them for 15 years, and then operated in a similar position with the NC State Ports Authority for another 6 years.
She came to Duke University in 2009 and worked in the Department of Medicine until this past July when she came to Physics as Grants and Contracts Administrator for Warren Warren and Christoph Schmidt. The first few years she was with the Department of Medicine, she worked at the VA in the rheumatology division of Duke.
Although her understanding of Physics is limited, she still has her original slide rule. "For some reason I don’t understand, we were not allowed to use calculators when I took Physics!" When the position in Physics became available, she was interested because of the contact she would once again have with students and faculty. Unfortunately, the position in Department of Medicine had become very centralized, and she prepared grants and reconciliations for doctors that she never had the opportunity to meet. "I am so enjoying the personal touch in Physics and the opportunity to understand the grants and how they fit into the overall picture."
She is looking forward to having a firmer understanding of the grants she administers for her faculty members. "I am also looking forward to putting more names and faces together!"
She enjoys reading and board games in her free time. Neither of those is happening very much right now because she is renovating her home. "I have 2 beautiful granddaughters (ages 10 and 6), and we go to visit them about every 6 weeks in Virginia. My son laughs because I may be very sedentary most of the time, but I can still kick a mean soccer ball and outscore them in basketball. I’m still working on the cartwheels!"
Patty Hight Davis
Patty became the Administrative Manager in October 2016. She is originally from Raleigh, NC and currently lives in Hillsborough, NC. She has her B.S. in Business Management from NCSU/Mount Olive College and began her career working in mortgage banking with First Union and then as the Assistant Manager of the North Hills Club in Raleigh, NC. Her academic administrative career began in 1991 at NCSU as a Research Administrator. In her 17 years at NCSU, she held positions as Proposal Processor, A/R Manager, Fiscal Specialist, Grant Manager, and Research Administration Director in the College of Textiles. She accepted a position at Duke in the fall of 2007 working for the Division of Cardiology. She was also Site-Based Research Manager for the Department of Medicine and the Post-Award Manager for the Division of Rheumatology’s NIH funded Autoimmunity Center of Excellence. Prior to coming to Physics, she was the Subcontract Manager for Duke University in the Office of Sponsored Programs.
What drew her to Physics? Several friends reached out to let her know that the position was open. Since she has always enjoyed working on the departmental level as opposed to a central office environment, she was very interested in the position. The structure and research portfolio reminds her of her experiences working for NCSU’s College of Textiles.
Patty's main goal for the future is to establish policies and procedures that will make the Department run smoothly for faculty, staff, and students and make it a great place to work.
In her free time, Patty loves to attend concerts, theatre, and sports with friends and family. She also enjoys gardening, needlework, and spending time with her dogs and chickens.
Katherine joined the Physics team this past August as the Graduate Program Coordinator. She earned her B.S. in Marketing/Management from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Originally from St. Louis, she has called Durham her home for the past couple of decades.
“I love North Carolina... In just a few hours you can be sitting on the beach or hiking through the mountains. You are not land-locked. And, best of all, the winters are much milder here!”
Katherine has nearly 20 years of Duke experience working with faculty as well as medical and graduate students. She has enjoyed working with Physics students over the past few months and looks forward to growing the Physics program in years to come. She welcomes all faculty, students and staff to stop by for a friendly chat, recommend an idea or express a concern. “My door is always open.”
Katherine is a proud Navy mom and wife. She and her husband enjoy spending time with family and friends, visiting Naval Station Norfolk, hunting for treasures at area estate sales, boating/fishing in nearby lakes, frequenting the beach and watching Duke basketball. She definitely bleeds Duke blue. “Go Blue Devils!”
June is the Grants and Contracts Manager for TUNL and she joined in March 2016.
She was a Medical Technician who specialized in Special Chemistry in a hospital laboratory. She was thrown into research administration when she worked for a NASA/Challenger Learning Center facility. "Funny story, I ended up moving to North Carolina working for the Governor’s Office to bring a Challenger Learning Center to Raleigh. I was placed on NCSU’s campus to learn how NCSU does their grant management and ended up working for Patty Davis (yes, our Business Officer here in Physics). To make it even more amusing, Patty and I worked for Sandy Connolly who is the Associate Dean of Administration for the College of Arts & Sciences. What a small world."
When June was looking to come back to Duke, this position came up for a Center of Excellence came up. "I love being in a Center. The close relationship of faculty, students and staff in a center has always been my favorite working arrangements. I certainly did well with this choice. I couldn’t be happier!"
What is June's main goal for your job in the future? "Clean up the mezzanine. Seriously, that’s one of my goals."
In her free time, June likes reading and classical music. Her favorite composer depends on the genre. "But, if I was really pushed to pick, I’d have to say Franz Schubert. I could definitely survive on a desert island with his music."
Welcome to Physics, ladies!
Photo: From left to right: Patty Hight Davis, June Tirpak, Katherine Siler, and Rita Boggs