Meet the Members of the 2019-2020 Bass Connections Student Advisory Council

October 24, 2019

2019-2020 Student Advisory Council headshots.
L to R: Haynes Lynch, Krishna Sinha, Elizabeth Gu, Charlie Zong, Harshvardhan Sanghi, Ashton Merck, Saba Ali, Meredith Graham, Sahil Sandhu, Amina Mohamed, Merle Nye, Amy Zhao, Ameya Sanyal, Brendan Burg, Katie Waeldner, Ahmad Amireh, Sydny Long and Karan Desai

Got a question about Bass Connections? Get to know the members of the 2019-2020 Student Advisory Council, and don’t hesitate to reach out.

The Bass Connections Student Advisory Council (SAC) serves as a sounding board for student ideas, questions 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 (as well as Bass Connections Open) and a diverse array of schools, programs and majors. All of the students on the council are current or former members of a year-long Bass Connections project team, participants in affiliated courses and/or participants in Bass Connections summer programs.

In addition to weighing in on important questions and issues, this year’s SAC members are focusing on projects related to program evaluation and communications.

2019-2020 Council Members

Saba.Saba Ali ’22

Major: International Comparative Studies

Saba is a sophomore pursuing a major in International Comparative Studies with a concentration in the Middle East along with a minor in Chemistry. She is a member of two project teams this year: Developing Data Tools for Natural Disasters: Implementing Best Practices for Electricity-dependent Medicaid Enrollees and Youth, Music & Social Change: Building the Evidence Base with Kidznotes & El Sistema USA. Due to these project involvements, she has become interested in education and healthcare accessibility for people of low socioeconomic status and hopes to pursue a certificate in Civic Engagement & Social Change.

Ahmad.Ahmad Amireh ’21

Majors: Biology and Evolutionary Anthropology

Ahmad is pursuing a double major in Biology and Evolutionary Anthropology. His research focuses on human performance, health and well-being. In 2018-2019, he was on the Exercise and Mental Health team, which focused on the relationships between exercise and various mental health outcomes. This year, he is on the Are Dolphins Really That Smart and Does It Make Us Like Them More When They Are? project team, which is partnering with the Dolphin Research Center (Marathon, Fla.) to better understand dolphin energy expenditure and cognitive energetics.

Brendan.Brendan Burg ’21

Major: Psychology

Brendan is an Arizona native studying Psychology with a focus on human development and abnormal health. He spent one year on a Bass Connections project team researching the capabilities of consumer EEG devices and associated privacy concerns. This year, Brendan is on a project team that is creating an application for mental health intervention as a researcher and a trained health coach to provide an additional source of support on campus.

Karan.Karan Desai ’22

Majors: Neuroscience and Computer Science

Karan is currently pursuing majors in Neuroscience and Computer Science and is intrigued by how the intersection of these two fields can yield new insights in brain imaging and the disordered brain. His research as a part of the Consumer EEG Devices: Attention, Emotion, Privacy and the Brain project team centers around whether emerging EEG headsets can accurately measure different types of emotions such as positive, neutral or negative emotions. Karan also conducts Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and traumatic brain injury research through fMRI analysis independently.

Meredith.Meredith Graham ’22

Ph.D. in Musicology

Meredith is a Ph.D. candidate in musicology, studying the choral music of Ralph Vaughan Williams, Herbert Howells, Elizabeth Maconchy and Grace Williams. She is also involved with digital humanities at Duke, serving as the 2018–2019 Harsh Murthy Fellow in Digital Scholarship and the current project manager of Project Vox

Elizabeth.Elizabeth Gu ’22

Major: Biology

Elizabeth is currently part of the Help Desk: A Student Initiative to Help Address the Social Determinants of Health project team. She is passionate about public health, especially in relation to the oral healthcare crisis in America. She is part of the Huang Fellows program and is a research assistant with the Margolis Center for Health Policy, studying unethical practices in the pharmaceutical industry. She is involved with Duke’s Pre-Dental Society and currently serves as the Director of Internal Operations for the Sarafian Foundation. She is also the Creative Director of Duke’s Dance Marathon chapter, Devilthon. In her free time, she enjoys painting and making delicious (but not necessarily healthy) treats.

Sydny.Sydny Long ’21

Major: Psychology

Sydny is a student of psychology and biology. She is currently conducting research on how joint attention influences social bonding in children and adults through the Tomasello Lab. Sydny has been a member of the Expressive Writing for Resilience in Adult Pediatric Oncology Survivors and Their Caregivers project team since 2018 and will continue to work with this team to lead workshops on campus, as well as conduct research on the influence of theater and drama in healing and health.

Haynes.Haynes Lynch ’22

Major: Undeclared

Haynes is interested in the intersections of public policy, environmental science and psychology and would like to pursue a major within these fields. His participation on the Data+ team Detecting and Predicting Impacts of Saltwater Intrusion on Coastal Ecosystems in Summer 2019 and his ongoing work with the Developing Rapid Remote Assessments of Oyster Reef Health and Biodiversity project team this fall sparked his interest in joining the Student Advisory Council.

Ashton.Ashton Merck ’20

Ph.D. in History

Ashton is a doctoral student in History who studies regulatory institutions from a historical perspective, particularly with respect to the development of modern food safety regulations over the course of the twentieth century. She was a member of the 2016-2017 Animal Waste Management and Global Health team where she researched challenges and prospects for swine waste-to-energy projects in North Carolina. In 2019-2020, Ashton is a Graduate Intern at the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History at the Rubenstein Library.

Amina.Amina Mohamed ’21

Majors: Public Policy and Global Health

Amina is double-majoring in Public Policy and Global Health and has been a member of the Evaluating Interventions Aimed at Improving Neurosurgical Patient Outcomes in Uganda project team since 2018. As part of the Patient-Caregiver Education sub-team, she and her teammates are designing interventions aimed to reduce aspiration rates among neurosurgical patients.

Merle.Merle Nye ’21

Majors: Public Policy and Data and the Environment (Interdepartmental)

Merle studies how we can better leverage technology toward improved environmental outcomes and the policy necessary to drive and implement this innovation. Merle was a member of the 2018-2019 Coal in America: Chronicling and Analyzing Its Economic and Social History project team that worked on building a holistic history of the coal industry in Central Appalachia.

Sahil.Sahil Sandhu ’20

Major: Program II: Health Innovation: Evidence to Impact

Sahil studies the use of evidence-based practice to design, implement and evaluate new health innovations. He was member of the Global Alliance on Disability and Health Innovations (GANDHI) project team in 2017 and 2018. In 2018, he received a Bass Connections Follow-on Research Award to collaborate on the design and implementation of a “Help Desk” initiative to address patients’ social determinants of health. This year Sahil is expanding and evaluating the Help Desk program as a team leader.

Harsh.Harshvardhan Sanghi ’20

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Harshvardhan is a senior studying mechanical engineering and economics. He leads the energy club and has been on three Bass Connections project teams related to energy and climate change. He is extremely interested in the ability of innovations, implemented through social enterprises, in solving global issues. He is currently working on an agriculture technology startup and was a global finalist at the Hult Prize accelerator. He is also very interested in economic development, specifically in the context of India, and spends his free competing as a member of the Duke debate team.

Ameya.Ameya Sanyal ’21

Majors: Psychology and Global Health

Ameya is a junior studying Global Health and Psychology and from Madison, Wis. She has been a member of the Virtual Avatar Coaches project team since 2018 and is helping to pilot a virtual support system for students in need of mental health assistance. In 2019-2020, the team is working with new peer health coaches and continuing app development. In her free time, Ameya loves playing the ukulele and taste-testing grilled cheese sandwiches.

Krishna.Krishna Sinha ’22

Major: Undeclared

Krishna is a sophomore at Duke and is incredibly excited to join Bass Connections this year. As part of the Language, Music and Dementia project team, he conducts interviews to better understand the music and language-related experiences of people who are musicians and/or speak multiple languages. Outside of Bass Connections, Krishna is involved in duARTS and Hoof ‘n’ Horn, takes classical piano lessons and volunteers at the Durham VA Health Care System.

Katie.Katie Waeldner ’21

Major: Cultural Anthropology

Katie studies Cultural Anthropology and Global Health and is pursuing the pre-medical track. She is deeply interested in social determinants of health. With her 2018-2019 project team, Documenting Durham's Health History: Understanding the Roots of Health Disparities, Katie researched the history of health disparities in Durham, specifically HIV/AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s, and produced a museum exhibit and documentary. She also interns at the Duke World Food Policy Center, where she learns how food insecurity affects health outcomes.

Amy.Amy Zhao ’21

Majors: Biology and Global Health

Amy studies Biology and Global Health. Her academic interests lie at the intersection of epigenetics, environment and community health to understand and address health outcomes. In 2018-2019, she was a member of the Global Alliance on Disability and Health Innovations (GANDHI) project team and worked to integrate campus and community organizations to improve physical activity in the community. She is currently a member of the Global Impacts of E-waste Exposure and E-waste Recycling Policy on Maternal and Fetal Health project team and is studying the effects of e-waste chemical exposure on community health in China through biological, clinical and policy perspectives. 

Charlie.Charlie Zong ’22

Majors: Philosophy and Sociology

Charlie is a sophomore majoring in Philosophy and Sociology. He is interested in journalism and is exploring interdisciplinary approaches for researching political and economic developments in the Global and American South. He is on the American Predatory Lending and the Global Financial Crisis project team, which will produce a comprehensive portrait of conditions in North Carolina leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.

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