Meet the Members of the 2017-18 Student Advisory Council

November 14, 2017

BCSAC 2017-18

Interested in learning more about Bass Connections? Get to know the members of the 2017-2018 Student Advisory Council, and do not hesitate to reach out!

The Bass Connections Student Advisory Council serves as a sounding board for student ideas and suggestions relating to Bass Connections and interdisciplinary education at Duke. The council includes Duke students from all levels, representing all five Bass Connections themes and a diverse array of schools, programs and majors.

This year, the council is working in small groups to address five core program areas, including recruitment and outreach, communications and marketing, event planning, educational programming and program evaluation.

The 2017-2018 council is led by co-chairs Bengisu Pay ’18, an undergraduate studying Economics and Psychology, and Zachary Smothers, a first-year medical student in Duke’s School of Medicine and an alumnus of Duke’s Master of Biomedical Sciences program. Both served on last year’s council and bring a wealth of leadership, teamwork and research experience to this year’s group. Bengisu was a member of the Resident Engagement and Energy Behavior Assessment through Mobile Phone Technology team and participated in the Bass Connections course ISS110: Information, Society & Culture. Zachary was the project manager for the Stemming the Opiate Epidemic through Education and Outreach team and has reflected on his experience as a mentor.

Sarah Rapaport ’18 and Kelsey Graywill ’18 have been members of the Improving Neurosurgery Outcomes in Uganda team for the past two years and have conducted field research at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala, Uganda. Sarah is a Neuroscience major and also participated on the Perception, Language and Memory team. Kelsey is a Program II major studying evolutionary neuroaesthetics. Her team’s research poster recently won the Bass Connections poster contest at the Duke Global Health Showcase on November 1.

Doctoral student Travis Knoll studies History and is the project manager for the Cost of Opportunity? Higher Education in the Baixada Fluminense team. Emily Rains is a doctoral student in Public Policy and participated for two years on the Studying the Real “Slums” of Bangalore team.

Kedest Mathewos ’20 studies Global Health and Economics and was part of the Cookstoves and Air Pollution in Madagascar team. Last summer, Kedest conducted fieldwork in Mandena, Madagascar, collecting data related to local cooking practices, air quality and respiratory health. Josh Grubbs ’18 is studying Global Health and Chemistry and has been part of the Environmental Epidemiology in Latin America project for the past two years. Josh traveled with his team to Peru in the summer of 2016 and reflected on his experience.

Temini Ajayi is a fourth-year medical student planning to pursue a career in global health. Temini was part of the Shining Evolutionary Light on Global Health Challenges team and won the Global Health Emerging Leader Award in the Triangle Area in 2016. Fellow medical student Hannah Cunningham is a first-year in the School of Medicine and an alumna of Duke’s Master of Biomedical Sciences program. Hannah was a member of the Interculturally Competent Analysis of the Uptake of Routine Vaccination team.

Jai Eun Huh ’20 studies Biology and Computer Science and is currently involved in microbiological and computational analysis through the Blue Devil Resistome Project. Thomas Luo ’19 is majoring in Biomedical Engineering and Chemistry and was part of the Duke Undergraduate International genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Team. Maram Elnagheeb ’20 studies Political Science and is a member of the Addressing Global Health Needs among Refugee Children and Families in Durham County team.

Christine O’Connell ’19 is a Neuroscience major who took part in Brain-immune Interactions in Neurodegenerative Disease. Her Bass Connections research into the role of genetics, the immune system and protein interactions in Alzheimer’s disease will culminate in a senior neuroscience thesis. Fellow Neuroscience major Katie Kanter ’18 has been a member of the Stemming the Opiate Epidemic through Education and Outreach team since 2015.

Emily Johnson is a Master of Public Policy candidate whose research focuses on agricultural and food policy. She is currently participating on the Turning the Mid-Century Decarbonization Strategy into Policy for U.S. Forests and Agriculture team.

The prospect of participating in interdisciplinary team-based learning experiences like Bass Connections was one of main reasons freshman Mitra Kiciman ’21 chose to attend Duke. He is planning to major in Computer Science and hopes to join a team in the future. Fellow freshman Joey Liang ’21 also aspires to join a Bass Connections team. Joey will major in Electrical & Computer Engineering and spent last summer conducing lab research that combined her interests in synthetic biology, physics, and laser technologies.

Apoorva Sahay is a master’s student in the Nicholas School studying Business and the Environment. She has conducted ethnographic field work in rural India and has experience in leadership and community development. Doctoral student Graham Holt is in the Computational Biology & Bioinformatics program and is currently studying protein design with the Donald Lab. His work is highly interdisciplinary, and he is interested in promoting diversity and mentorship in the sciences. Vijoli Cermak is in the Master of Biomedical Sciences program at Duke and has extensive experience in interdisciplinary social science and health research and community engagement.

Learn More

First row: Zachary Smothers, Bengisu Pay, Sarah Rapaport, Kelsey Graywill, Travis Knoll and Emily Rains; Second row: Kedest Mathewos, Josh Grubbs, Temini Ajayi, Hannah Cunningham, Jai Eun Huh and Thomas Luo; Third row: Maram Elnagheeb, Christine O'Connell, Katie Kanter, Emily Johnson, Mitra Kiciman and Joey Liang; Fourth Row: Apoorva Sahay, Graham Holt and Vijoli Cermak