Duke Seniors Share What Was Most Meaningful about Their Bass Connections Experiences

May 7, 2018

These 17 seniors are among the more than 400 undergraduates who participate in Bass Connections each year. Here are excerpted examples of what this experience has meant to them.

Congratulations to all our graduating seniors!

Joshua Grubbs, Chemistry and Global Health

Josh Grubbs

Bass Connections has given me the opportunity to closely work with faculty and grad students in a way that I could not have anywhere else. The close collaboration across disciplines have been formative experiences and helped me become more conscious in all of my studies.

I did a senior thesis related to my Bass Connections research titled “Evaluation of a Dietary Intervention for Chronic Methylmercury Exposure Among Communities in Madre de Dios, Peru.”

Sarah Zimmermann, Statistical Science

Sarah Zimmerman

My most meaningful experience from Bass Connections was my research abroad. Through my team, I was afforded the opportunity to spend a summer collecting data from low-income areas in Bangalore. I later used this data in a year-long data analysis project on the role of social capital in social mobility.

Bass Connections has greatly influenced my career aspirations and plans after graduation. I have decided to continue exploring my love of data analysis and the social sciences. I am an incoming statistician for a research institute dedicated to improving the human condition and could not be more thrilled.

Khalid Williams, Neuroscience

Khalid Williams

I think one of the best things about Bass Connections is that it gives you an opportunity to be intimately involved with very sophisticated and difficult research topics, with the freedom that you might not otherwise have in a more traditional undergraduate research setting.

Julia Kaufman, International Comparative Studies and Global Health

Julia Kaufman

The most meaningful part of my Bass Connections experiences was working with and learning from people I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to collaborate with otherwise. I learned how to be a flexible team member, embracing different communication styles and ways of problem solving.

My senior thesis in Global Health is related to the work of my Bass Connections team. The project is titled “Understanding Community-Based Practices Used by Lay Counselors in a Family Therapy Intervention in Eldoret, Kenya.”

Ismail Iberkak, Mechanical Engineering

Ismail Iberkak

The most meaningful part of Bass Connections was the end-to-end development of a project.

Sophie Polson, Computer Science

Sophie Polson

I am thankful that these Bass Connections courses allowed me to combine my passion for computer science and technology with my desire to study the history of Durham and North Carolina. Through these courses, I was able to construct digital projects that exposed stories and other historical records that otherwise may have been buried in the archives, unlikely to be uncovered. It was incredible that there were available courses and projects that emphasized an appreciation for the old and the new, for the historical and the technological.

Jennifer Ling, Evolutionary Anthropology

Jennifer Ling

Working on the STEM for ALL Bass Connections team allowed me to approach research through an interdisciplinary lens and watch how a project grows and develops over many years.

Katie Kanter, Neuroscience

Katie Kanter

Through success and failure, we have done work that has been very local – reaching as far as Duke’s campus – but we’ve also completed projects that can affect the entire state.

There are dozens of perspectives to the story of the opioid crisis, and my Bass Connections team has given me the incredible opportunity to have a hand in many parts of this story all at once. I am extremely thankful for this unique and rewarding experience.

Maaz Mulla, Biology

Maaz Mulla

As an undergraduate, you often wonder: do my contributions even matter? Are my opinions even being considered? Thanks to Bass Connections, I can confidently say that not only were my contributions valued, but they were held on equal grounds with all of my other team members regardless of major, year, or level of education. Thank you for giving me the confidence that I can indeed make an impact now and in the future.

Lesley Chen-Young, Environmental Science & Policy

Leslie Chen-Young

The most meaningful part of Bass Connections was engaging with faculty and doing a deep dive into an interesting topic!

Sarah Rapaport, Neuroscience

Sarah Rapaport

The most meaningful aspect of Bass Connections has been the ability to simultaneously delve into my passions and conduct interdisciplinary, real-world applicable and implementable research.

Both teams I have been a member of have been centered around brain injury. My senior thesis is titled “Conditional LRP1 Knockout Murine Model for Traumatic Brain Injury,” which is essentially the development of a mouse model to study a receptor that is implicated in mediating functional outcomes after brain injury.

Nikila Vasudevan, Biomedical Engineering

Nikila Vasudevan

I loved having the opportunity to meet and become friends with both undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty members I never would have met. We discovered and nurtured a shared passion for sustainable energy with each other. Though my Bass project was quite different from my major, I felt welcome on the team, and challenged to learn and contribute as much as I could. The research and engagement skills I’ve developed through Bass are unique of my overall academic and research endeavors at Duke.

Robert Steilberg, Computer Science

Rob Steilberg

I feel lucky having found a project at Duke that is a concrete application of the skills I’ve learned both in class and on my own. My studies in computer science have shown me that the two things I love most are programming and building new things that solve problems. Working on the mVax team has let me do both, ultimately culminating in a project that is going to make a real impact on someone else. Solving others’ problems is a guideline for what I do and it has been great to achieve that through Bass Connections.

Wuming Zhang, Computer Science and Statistical Science

Wuming Zhang

This project introduced me to the field of machine learning and computer vision, which greatly influenced my research projects later on. My thesis is related to computer vision, which was first introduced to me in the Bass Connections project.

Shashank Rajkumar, Chemistry

Shashank Rajkumar

Bass Connections provided me the opportunity to work towards a project that had meaningful impact in the world. Getting to participate in the group work and navigate complex problems was an actualization of the ideals of interdisciplinary study in higher education.

Ziad Elarab, Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science

Ziad Elarab

Bass Connections gave me confidence in my technical skills and made me realize the extent to which they can be used to solve engineering problems encountered in industry.

Taylor Panzer, Psychology

Taylor Panzer

My work with the Bass Connections team was one of the first experiences that solidified my interest and passion for education.  I was inspired to continue working with children and in public education, and I’m now thrilled to join Teach For America in the Fall and pursue a passion that Bass Connections helped me find.

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