Meet the Members of the 2021-2022 Bass Connections Student Advisory Council
November 5, 2021
Interested in learning about Bass Connections from a student perspective? Get to know the members of the 2021-2022 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. This year’s council includes 15 undergraduates and four graduate students, all of whom have participated in Bass Connections through a year-long project team, semester-long course or summer program. Several of this year’s members have also received Bass Connections Student Research Awards.
2021-2022 Council Members
Nikhil Chaudhry ’24
Majors: Biology and Global Health
Nikhil is a sophomore double majoring in Biology and Global Health. In 2020-2021, he was on the Community-based Testing and Primary Care to Mitigate COVID-19 Transmission team, and he is currently a member of the Bridging the Health Equity Gap for COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake in Durham team. He hopes to combine his interests in health policy and neuroscience into a future medical career. Nikhil is also taking a Neuroscience Mentorship course at the Duke Autism Center, where he studies autism, ADHD and anxiety in children.
Ashwin Gadiraju ’24
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Ashwin is a sophomore pursuing a degree in Biomedical Engineering. He was a member of the 2020-2021 Closing the Gap on Health Disparity and Treatment Outcomes in Hypertension team, which worked on reducing the health disparities in Durham with a particular focus on hypertension. Through this project, Ashwin has grown an interest in the intersection between engineering and community medicine. Outside of Bass Connections, Ashwin works as a scribe at a local hospital, a research assistant for the Nourish study and a student mentor.
Nikhita Gopisetty ’23
Majors: Biomedical Engineering and Global Health
Nikhita is a junior double majoring in Global Health and Biomedical Engineering. She was a member of the 2020-2021 Assessing an Innovative Community-based Response to COVID-19 in Rural North Carolina team. Through this project, she helped design a chronic care model to improve diabetes management at a free clinic in Pamlico County. Her work with Bass Connections encouraged her to pursue her own independent research study about the experience of living with diabetes in South India.
Erica Langan ’22
Erica is a senior studying Biology with a concentration in Cell and Molecular Biology and a minor in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics. She is in her second year as a member of the REGAIN: Roadmap for Evaluating Goals for Advanced Illness Navigation team, where she studies urban and rural differences in knowledge of and access to palliative care. She has had the opportunity to interface with a wide range of students, faculty members and care providers affiliated with the Duke Center for Palliative Care, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy and other interdisciplinary programs at Duke.
Elaijah Lapay ’24
Major: Program II
Elaijah is a sophomore pursuing a self-designed degree focused on understanding migrant and immigrant health perceptions and outcomes. In 2020-2021, he was a member of the Improving Food Security to Increase Resiliency to COVID-19 for Latinx Populations team, which investigated COVID-19’s impact on food insecurity among the Latinx population and hunger relief organizations in the Triangle. The team partnered with Root Causes, an organization Elaijah has continued to work with. Currently, Elaijah is a member of the Equitable Community Research Partnerships team, which is seeking to understand the implications and best practices of community-engaged research.
Jessica Lipschultz ’24
Jessica is a sophomore pursuing a Biology major and an Environmental Science & Policy minor. She is a member of the Impact of Declining Animal Populations on Tropical Forests team, which is studying how declining animal populations impact carbon stocks in tropical forests. She has also done research with the Morris Lab studying pollen and resource limitation in Hexastylis minor, a rare plant species in Duke Forest. Jessica’s interests include conservation biology and ethology. In her free time, she loves to go hiking, paint and watch hockey.
Program: M.S. in Global Health
Don is pursuing a Master of Science in Global Health through the Duke Global Health Institute. He is a member of the Information, Perceptions and Health Behavior team, looking to analyze the factors related to vaccine hesitancy and other health behaviors. Additionally, he works with international collaborators to study potential novel viruses and develop pre-pandemic surveillance processes. His work in the Duke One Health Laboratory is part of the global One Health Initiative.
Program: Ph.D. in Environmental Policy
Ekta is a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Policy, studying the global politics of desalination and water resource management. She was a member of the 2020-2021 Mapping WASH and COVID-19 in the Middle East and North Africa team where she helped student teams examine how different communities and humanitarian actors responded to the pandemic.
Program: Ph.D. in Genetics and Genomics
Krista is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Genetics and Genomics program. She is a member of the Open Design Studio: Participatory Solutions for Human Flourishing team. As part of the education subteam, she is working to improve computer science education for 3rd-5th graders in North Carolina. She also works in the Goldberg Lab studying the epidemiology and evolution of malaria-causing parasites.
Anil Prasad ’22
Anil is a senior pursuing an English major and Chemistry minor. He was a member of the 2020-2021 Leave No One Behind: Exploring the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on People with Disabilities in North Carolina team, which looked at the inequity faced by the disabled population in Durham during COVID-19. He is currently a member of the Bridging the Health Equity Gap for COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake in Durham team. He has become a better team player, researcher, volunteer and citizen though his time with Bass Connections, and he is excited to now play a role in shaping the program for future Duke students.
Mihika Rajvanshi ’24
Mihika is a sophomore pursuing a major in Neuroscience and minors in Linguistics and Chinese. She is a second-year member of the Social Network Dynamics and Social Development among Preschoolers team, which centers on how preschoolers understand prosociality and how that can inform future policy work. She has also spent several years in the Bergelson Lab, examining how infants acquire language. In her free time, she helps plan events for the mental health organization Duke NeuroCare, mentors young girls with The Girls’ Club and dances with Duke Rhydhun, an Indian dance team.
Bea Schleupner ’22
Bea is a senior pursuing a major in Biology and minor in Environmental Science and Policy. She is a second-year member of the Bioremediating Plastic Pollution to Conserve Marine Biodiversity team. Her research focuses on the detrimental health effects of plastic and plastic additives in the marine environment. From her experience with this team, Bea has become particularly interested in the intersection of health and the environment.
Program: Ph.D. in Psychology and Public Policy
Adam is a fifth-year Ph.D. student pursuing a joint degree in Psychology and Public Policy. He was a member of the 2018-2019 Prevention of Sexual Misconduct on University Campuses team. His graduate research explores the causes and consequences of restrictive social norms, primarily how cultural norms related to masculinity adversely affect male identity development, well-being and behavior. His research has been published in top psychology journals and covered by media outlets such as Psychology Today, VeryWell Mind and the Daily Mail. He is currently working with universities to apply this research and improve young men’s healthy engagement on college campuses.
Program: Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering
Hanna is a Ph.D. candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Due to her interest in spatial data analysis, she is a member of the Biogeographic Assessment of Antarctic Coastal Habitats team, which relies on remote sensing techniques and GIS to characterize the Antarctic coastal ecosystem and establish baselines for research on ecological change. Additionally, as a member of the Wiesner Research Group, she is exploring the influence of atmospheric particles on the surface of solar panels.
Eileen Wen ’24
Eileen is a junior from Falls Church, Virginia, pursuing a major in Neuroscience and minor in Economics. She is a second-year member of the Alzheimer's Disease: Exercise Therapy and Brain Networks team, where her research focuses on the implications of disease, exercise and menopause on metabolic pathways of mouse models. She also works with her teammates and mentors on quantifying biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease pathology, such as ovarian follicles and brain immunohistochemistry.
Audra Whithaus ’23
Audra is a junior majoring in Psychology with a minor in Global Health and certificate in Science & Society. She was a member of the 2020-2021 Crowdsourced Health: Online Patient Communities Enabling Health Innovation team, which investigated the impact of digital health communities on patient outcomes. She is currently a member of the Role of Physiotherapy in Ugandan Neurosurgical Transitional Care team, which is a collaborative effort between Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Uganda and Duke University. The team is working to define and assess the effectiveness of a protocol for using physical therapy in discharge planning of neurosurgical patients in Uganda.
Lisa Zhao ’23
Lisa is a junior pursing a major in History and minor in Chemistry. She is a member of the Trust and Violence in Healthcare team. She is on the pre-medical track and is interested in studying the history behind the modern medical system. She hopes to use this knowledge to improve the patient-physician relationship.
William Zhao ’23
Majors: Economics and Mathematics
William is a junior pursuing majors in Economics and Mathematics. He was a member of the 2020-2021 American Predatory Lending and the Global Financial Crisis team, and he is now a member of the COVID-19 & Household Well-being in Developing Countries team. He is also a research assistant at the International Population, Health and Development (IPHD) research center. William's research interests lie in development economics and cryptocurrencies, and he hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Economics after his graduation.
Anna Zolotor ’23
Major: Interdepartmental in Biology and Statistics
Anna is a junior from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, pursuing an interdepartmental major in Biology and Statistics. She is interested in the use of scientific and quantitative methods to improve human health. Anna is a second-year member of the Evaluating Strategies to Reduce the Global Burden of Hearing Loss team and worked on the Data+ project Piloting an Environmental Public Health Tracking Tool for North Carolina during the summer of 2020.