Senior Spotlight: Reflections from the Class of 2022

April 26, 2022

Graduating seniors.

These 10 seniors are among the nearly 600 Duke undergraduates who participate in Bass Connections each year. For some students, taking part in collaborative, interdisciplinary research confirmed and deepened their interests; for others, the experience opened up entirely new paths. Many students found ways to take their research further through honors theses and other opportunities. Here are excerpts of what this experience has meant to them.

Congratulations to all our graduating seniors!

Dana Adcock

Major: Environmental Sciences
Project Teams: Understanding Monkey Movement Using Conservation Technology and Are Dolphins Really That Smart and Does It Make Us Like Them More When They Are?
Honors Thesis: Juvenile Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) Produces Song Fragments on a Winter Feeding Ground

Dana Adcock“Bass Connections was my first formal introduction to research. Not only did it help me develop a variety of soft and technical skills, but it also highly influenced my career trajectory. I now plan to pursue a career in marine biology research, and I can’t be more excited for my future. This program has been a highlight of my Duke career.”

After graduation, Adcock will be pursuing a Ph.D. in biology at Syracuse University. Read her student story here.

Adcock with dolphins.
Adcock at the Dolphin Research Center in Florida

John Boom

Majors: Biomedical Engineering and Chemistry
Project Teams: Sustainable Implementation of Laparoscopy in Low-Income Countries and Increasing Access to Laparoscopic Surgery in Low-Income Countries

John Boom.“Something I have really enjoyed about this project is that it felt like working at a company with lots of small projects going on simultaneously. I get to watch weekly presentations from the clinical trial subteam and weekly presentations from the economics students who are running the business subteam, so I get a different perspective on how everything is implemented, which has been really wonderful … This experience made me realize that [in the future] I don’t just want to be a bench engineer – I want to work in an interdisciplinary team and lead projects like this one.”

Read his student reflection here.

Carlee Goldberg

Majors: Political Science and History
Project Team: Making Young Voters: Policy Reforms to Increase Youth Turnout
Honors Thesis: Taking Out the Big Guns: The Dickey Amendment and the Ban on Funding Gun Violence Research

Carlee Goldberg.“Starting from my first year, I was a full-blown researcher, learning how to code, conduct interviews and staff research studies. Participating in this project gave me connections with professors and familiarity with how to engage in direct research. Most importantly, Bass Connections opened the door for me to participate in research, both in the current project and through subsequent connections, for the rest of my time at Duke.”

This summer, Goldberg will be interning with the World Bank’s Dispute Resolution Service. In the fall, she will be attending the University of Oxford to pursue a Master of Science in evidence-based social intervention and policy evaluation. Read her student story here.

Elizabeth Gu

Major: Biology
Project Teams: Help Desk: Scaling Volunteer Models that Address Patients' Social Needs and Help Desk: A Student Initiative to Help Address the Social Determinants of Health

Elizabeth Gu.“Through Bass Connections, I was able to engage with the Durham community in ways that I never imagined doing during my time at Duke. My interactions with the residents of Durham have helped me grow so much as a researcher, future healthcare provider, and most importantly, as a person. I am forever grateful for the opportunities that I gained by participating in the Bass Connections program and the impact that my team and work have had on my life.”

After graduation, Gu will be attending dental school at the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine.

Gu and team.
Gu and team members with Dr. Howard Eisenson of Lincoln Community Health Center

Sophie Hurewitz

Major: Neuroscience
Project Teams: NC Early Childhood Action Plan: Achieving Goals With Innovative, Evidence-Based Policy Solutions and North Carolina Early Childhood Action Plan: Evidence-Based Policy Solutions
Honors Thesis: Ensuring Equity in Early Childhood Autism Service Provision: Supporting Black and Latinx Caregivers During COVID-19 and Beyond

Sophie Hurewitz“My passion and commitment to this team extends far beyond our team meetings and the academic year. My involvement with Bass Connections has inspired me to pursue my interests in child and family policy, health policy and educational policy alongside an MD degree.”

After graduation, Hurewitz will work as a research assistant in the Down Syndrome Program in the Division of Developmental Medicine at Boston Children's Hospital. Her honors thesis is based on research she conducted through her 2021 Bass Connections Student Research Award. Read her student story here.

Sophie Hurewitz presenting.
Hurewitz presenting at the 2022 North Carolina Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disorders Symposium

Katherine Li

Major: Civil Engineering
Project Team: DECIPHER: Decisions on the Risks and Benefits of Geoengineering the Climate

Katherine Li.“Bass Connections brought about one of the most impactful projects I've taken on in my life so far – I co-founded Operation Climate, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focusing on empowering youth climate communicators and educators with multimedia resources and a training program … Through the research, project planning and communication skills that I gained through Bass Connections, I discovered how much I loved science communication and educational outreach. I'll be continuing work on Operation Climate as the director of internal operations after graduation, and I hope to always be incorporating science communication, education and outreach in my career.”

After graduation, Li will be interning as a water/wastewater engineer at HDR in Austin, Texas, before attending Stanford University in the fall for her Master of Science in environmental engineering.

James Marek

Major: Civil Engineering
Project Team: Earthquake Early Warning in Nepal: Technology, Behavioral Science and Policy

James Marek.“We decided to focus on earthquake source clustering to build more accurate hazard relationships. My work with IOE [Tribhuvan University Institute of Engineering in Kathmandu] has been truly amazing, and it’s exciting to see this relationship between the two institutions produce potential leaders in the earthquake field in Nepal.”

Marek was among the 41 recipients of the prestigious Marshall Scholarship, which is awarded to high-achieving American students to pursue postgraduate studies at any university in the United Kingdom. He plans a career in operations research to improve public transportation systems. Read more about his Bass Connections team here.

Sarabesh Natarajan

Major: Chemistry
Project Team: Providing Clean Fuel for the Developing World: Technology is Not Enough
Honors Thesis: Effects of Chronic SCH-23390 and Memantine on Nicotine Self-Administration in Rats

Sarabesh Natarajan.“You may underestimate the numerous intricacies of independent research, but once you get used to it, exciting opportunities abound! Accomplishments are especially personal, and even the perception of progress provides great satisfaction… I am extremely appreciative of my Bass Connections experience!”

After graduation, Natarajan will be attending the University of Oxford to pursue a master’s degree in pharmacology. He also plans to attend medical school. Read his student story here.

Natarajan and team.
Natarajan (left) with Kami Pullakhandam, Kennedy Sun, Rebecca Melaku and Dr. Benjamin Wiley

Priya Parkash

Majors: Economics and Statistical Science
Teams: Big Data for Reproductive Health, AI in the Investment Office (Data+), Open Design at Duke and Beyond and Building Duke: The Architectural History of Duke Campus from 1924 to the Present
Honors Thesis: European Union Allowance (EUA) Pricing and Twitter Sentiment

Priya Parkash.“Bass Connections helped me realize that my passion for making a positive social impact and exploring my academic interests could go hand-in-hand. I have been involved in Bass Connections throughout my four years at Duke, ranging from an archival deep-dive into Duke’s architectural and budgetary developments during the Cold War to most recently using Twitter to explore beliefs surrounding female reproductive health. Bass Connections enabled me to bring my passion, candor and global-orientation to the table and seek an intersection between creative thinking, bold innovation and Duke values of discovery alongside diverse teams. Going out into the world, I feel more prepared to tackle interdisciplinary challenges and not be intimidated when the answer is not immediately apparent.”

After graduation, Parkash will be working in management consulting in Austin, Texas. Read her student story here.

Kerry Rork

Majors: History and Political Science
Teams: Mapping History: Seeing Premodern Cartography through GIS and Game Engines and Building Duke: The Architectural History of Duke Campus from 1924 to the Present

Kerry Rork“Completing a Bass Connections project was a fundamental step in my development as a scholar and historian; I am so grateful for my team and their incredible insight.”

Following graduation, Kerry plans to attend UCLA Law School to pursue a career in civil rights and public interest law.

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