Student Advisory Council

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. Typically, the council recruits new members every fall semester. Learn more about the SAC.

2022-2023 Council Members

Headshot of Perisa Ashar.Perisa Ashar ’25

Major: Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science

Perisa is a sophomore Robertson Scholar pursuing a degree in Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science on the premedical track. She is a member of the Developing Nursing Resources for LGBTQ+ Older Adult Care Using Human-Centered Design project team, where she is helping to create an LGBTQ+ older adult resource box to improve health care worker knowledge of long-term care practices for the geriatric LGBTQ+ population. She is also involved with the Big Ideas Lab, where she researches the implementation and improvement of multimodal sensing wearable devices in cardiorespiratory fitness. Through her Engineering 102 course, she has also worked to develop low-cost, portable teaching models of postpartum hemorrhage uteri for health care professionals to facilitate early diagnosis and treatment, which have been tested locally and in Kenya. In addition, she is part of the general executive team of Duke Remote Area Medical and an ambassador and lead of the programming committee of Muser, and leads her non-profit organization, STEMinate, to increase STEM resources to underserved students. As a premed student, she aspires to use knowledge gained in engineering and healthcare policy (especially in health disparities) to deliver optimal patient care as a future physician.

Headshot of Pranav Athimuthu.Pranav Athimuthu ’23

Majors: Psychology and Political Science

Pranav is a double major in Psychology and Political Science pursuing the certificate program in Decision Sciences. He is interested in studying political behavior, particularly among historically underrepresented identity groups, and hopes to reform systems of political engagement using insights from psychology and the behavioral sciences. This year, he is working on the Social Provision of Information for Effective Democratic Citizens project team, aiming to improve citizens’ interaction with the media through information literacy initiatives. Outside of Bass Connections, he is studying the political information needs of the Triangle’s Hindu community as part of an independent interview project.

Headshot of Jasmine Daniel.Jasmine Daniel ’22

Majors: Psychology and Global Health

Jasmine is a senior double majoring in Psychology and Global Health. She was a member of the 2021-2022 Strengthening Partnerships Between Durham Public Schools and Local Universities team, in which Duke students, staff and faculty collaborated with their counterparts from North Carolina Central University to empower public schools through university-community partnerships. As a student researcher on the health subteam, she investigated how the community schools model and local universities can provide broad health services for Durham residents. Her experiences helped her understand the importance of community partnerships and teambuilding to conduct meaningful research.

Headshot of Kyle Ferguson.Kyle Ferguson

Program: M.S. in Medical Physics

Kyle is a second-year M.S. student pursuing a degree in Medical Physics. Due to his interest in low-cost healthcare solutions and medical innovation, he is a member of the Mobile Apps and Machine Learning for Noninvasive Anemia Diagnosis team. As an operations and outreach subteam member, he participates in patient data collection, experimental design and establishing connections with target hospitals and researchers. Additionally, as a member of the Greenberg Research Group, Kyle is exploring applications of novel x-ray diffraction imaging for non-invasive cancer detection.

Headshot of Julia Gambino.Julia Gambino ’25

Majors: Biology and Global Health

Julia is a sophomore double majoring in Biology and Global Health. She is currently a member of the REGAIN: Roadmap for Evaluating Goals for Advanced Illness Navigation team, through which she is studying patient-centered communication in palliative care through documented goals-of-care conversations. On campus, Julia co-teaches a house course covering issues related to healthcare delivery reform and is involved in Duke WISER, promoting female health and empowerment for young girls in the local Durham community.

Headshot of Melody Gao.Melody Gao ’23

Major: History

Melody is a senior majoring in History and minoring in Chemistry and Spanish. She is returning for her second year on the Celebrating Latinx Culture with a Spanish Reading Program team, where team members read in Spanish with elementary school children to increase reading motivation and build cultural identity. Her experience on this team has given her the opportunity to engage in the research process from start to finish, attend conferences and make valuable connections with faculty and graduate students.

Headshot of Noelle GarrickNoelle Garrick ’24

Majors: Computer Science and Visual Art

Noelle is a sophomore majoring in Computer Science and Visual Art. She is currently a member of the Laboratory Art in Practice: Building a Model for the Art/Science Lab at Duke project team where she explores experimental models for academic documentation such as virtual and augmented reality-based experiences. She is also a member of the Duke Multimedia Project Studio developer team where she helps members of the Duke community build new and innovative applications. She is excited to explore the potential at the intersection of art and technology through these positions.

Headshot of Jordan Hamelsky.Jordan Hamelsky ’25

Major: Statistical Science

Jordan Hamelsky is a sophomore from Boston, Massachusetts studying Statistical Science. She is a member of the Bass Connections Mental Health and the Justice System in Durham County team, where she is working on creating an app that examines the relationship between Duke Health data and Durham County Detention Facility data. Additionally, she is a project associate for the Duke Consulting Club and a member of Duke Club Golf. In her free time, she enjoys long-distance running, competitive golfing and spending time with friends.

Headshot of Will Hess.Will Hess ’23

Majors: Mechanical Engineering and Political Science

Will Hess, who participated in the 2020-2021 Energy and the Environment: Design and Innovation project team, is a senior Mechanical Engineering student in Pratt. By some miracle, he managed to double major in Political Science too. Will has been accepted into the 4+1 program for Mechanical Engineering to prolong his MechE agony. He is from Saint Petersburg, Florida. When not attempting insanely hard calculations in class, Will can be found building sets at Hoof 'n' Horn or covered in grease at Duke Motorsports. Will also enjoys roller coasters, loves a good spicy mustard and hopes one day to run for political office. When he is not on campus, you can find Will happily tinkering with an old car, hiking with one of his four dogs or reading a great biography.

Headshot of Brendan Kelleher.Brendan Kelleher ’24

Major: Neuroscience

Brendan is a junior from Charleston, South Carolina pursuing a major in Neuroscience and minors in Chemistry and Biology. He is a second-year member of the Gamifying Risk Identification for Alcohol Use Behaviors Across Countries and Cultures project team, which focuses on understanding differences among drinking behaviors based on psychometric constructs like reward valuation, relative reward efficacy and proportionate reinforcement due to alcohol. He has also spent multiple years studying the pathology and prevention of perioperative neurocognitive disorders in the lab of Dr. Miles Berger. Outside of research, he frequently engages in community service through Bull City Scholars, Bull City Fit, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle.

Headshot of Zoe Murphy.Zoé Murphy ’24

Majors: International Comparative Studies and Public Policy

Zoé is a junior studying International Comparative Studies, Public Policy and Islamic Studies. She is a second-year member of Project Vox: Conducting Philosophical Research on the Margins, where she researches underrepresented philosophers and helps create accessible and in-depth guides of their philosophical work, lives and impacts. Outside of Bass Connections, Zoé centers her work on human rights and political activism through her continued engagement with research institutes like Freedom House and her participation in campus organizations like Duke Votes.

Headshot of Caroline Palmer.Caroline Palmer ’23

Majors: Public Policy and Global Health

Caroline is a senior pursuing a Public Policy and Global Health co-major from Duke University and Duke Kunshan University. She was on the Community-based Testing and Primary Care to Mitigate COVID-19 Transmission team in 2020-2021 and the Bridging the Health Equity Gap for COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake in Durham team in 2021-2022, which explored health inequities perpetuated by the COVID-19 pandemic in Durham. Outside of Bass Connections, Caroline is a resident assistant and a review editor for the Duke Medical Ethics Journal. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a Master's in Public Health and conduct research on infectious disease and environmental health topics.

Audra Whithaus headshot.Audra Whithaus ’23

Major: Psychology

Audra is a senior 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 was also a member of the 2021-2022 Role of Physiotherapy in Ugandan Neurosurgical Transitional Care team, which was a collaborative effort to define and assess the effectiveness of a protocol for using physical therapy in the discharge planning of neurosurgical patients in Uganda. She is now working on a Bass Connections Student Research Award project (Surveying Neurological Rehabilitation Resources in Ugandan Public Hospitals) that builds on the work on of that team. She is currently evaluating the capacity of Uganda’s public health sector to provide rehabilitative care for neurological patients during and after acute hospitalization.

Headshot of Finnie Zhao.Finnie Zhao ’24

Majors: Economics and Environmental Sciences and Policy

Finnie is a junior double majoring in Economics and Environmental Sciences and Policy with a certificate in Sustainability Engagement. She was a member of the 2021-2022 Empowering Youth Civic Action on Plastic Pollution team, where she created a curriculum for action-civics education outreach on plastic pollution and policy solutions. She is now working on the Exploring Links Among Ecological, Social and Personal Resilience team, which aims to facilitate interaction across social, ecological and educational disciplines and create a template for community-based restoration projects to increase coastal resiliency and restore biodiversity.