Student Stories

Aditya Kotla.

Digital health communities make a huge difference in community members’ disease outcomes. Hopefully as a future physician, I’m able to give suggestions to patients about what communities exist out there.

Priya Parkash.
Economics, Statistical Science

Bass Connections helped me seek an intersection between my multidisciplinary interests, spurred my curiosity and engrained a deep appreciation for research.

Anjali Arora.
Mechanical Engineering

This project combined many of the fields I am interested in: mechanical engineering, energy and the environment, and innovation and entrepreneurship. This was also my first time working on a mechanical engineering project from concept to implementation, so it was a great learning process.

Lillian Zhu.

This experience deepened my understanding of innovation and entrepreneurship for global health by teaching me what it takes to actually bring a potentially life-saving device to the hands of a patient.

Ayesha Syed.

I learned about writing’s beneficial effects on patients and healthcare providers and its usefulness as a part of the practice of personal wellness. As an aspiring physician, I hope to continue writing in the future as a means of centering and reflection.

Sarah Kwartler

My lab introduced me to a realm of science that I hadn’t previously considered: manipulating molecular biology to counter human and environmental health hazards.

Grace Llewellyn.
Computer Science

Conducting team-based environment research through my computer science background has helped me think about different career options. I gained technical and soft skills, networked with industry professionals and gained insight on my professional future.

Helen Shears.

The central ethos of Bass Connections is the value of project-based pedagogy, and working on Mapping History has provided the most effective crash course in this teaching approach.

Edgar Virguez
Environmental Sciences & Policy

By participating in Bass Connections, I was able to work not only with people in my doctoral energy team, but with undergrads, master’s students and postdocs. Many of my most fruitful experiences at Duke have been working with them.

Spencer Kaplan.
Political Science, Public Policy

One thing I’ve learned is how to lead a team while very much being a part of it, instead of just being on top of it. That’s been a novel experience and I think entirely related to the core of an interdisciplinary collaborative project.

Jalisa Jackson.
African & African-American Studies, Psychology

As a member of a Bass Connections team, I was able to get more invested in research, propelling me to complete a senior thesis project and search for ways to continue building research skills before applying to graduate schools.

Tyler Johnson.

Health equity describes the intersection of two pieces of my identity that are critical to defining who I am – a Black woman with a passion for medicine. Ending my Duke undergraduate career by being a member of this Bass Connections team has been an immensely rewarding culminating experience.

Elaijah Lapay.

I had no idea what to expect for my first year of college, with COVID impacting what I believed college classes, academic research and a general college atmosphere was supposed to look like. My Bass Connections project team has been the most personally impactful and academically stimulating experience of my time so far, and I will continue to remember the work and collaboration our team has done for the rest of my life.

Amanda Kang
Public Policy

My Bass Connections project got me interested in seeing how social media advertising affects the political process and how media plays a role in elections. When I took the Fall 2020 semester off to work on a Congressional campaign, I found it interesting to compare the ads I examined for Bass Connections and the digital ads that we ran ourselves.

Alice Chun.
Global Health, Public Policy

A recurring theme in my global health and public policy studies has been the difficulty of translations between research, policy and implementation. The work of this Bass Connections team has made me hopeful about the potential for interdisciplinary collaboration to address complex healthcare delivery problems.

Ashwin Gadiraju.
Biomedical Engineering

The work I’ve done in Bass Connections over the past semester has been one of the most fulfilling, eye-opening experiences I’ve had at Duke so far. Through my project, I was able to get first-hand experience working with students from a multitude of disciplines and academic levels to understand what it takes to implement an effective community interventional study.

Sophie Hurewitz.

My passion and commitment to this team extends far beyond our team meetings and the Duke University 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.

Sydny Long.

While my project and its members taught me invaluable lessons about the capacity of self-expression to change and influenced me to start pursuing a more humanity-oriented form of medicine, it was the storytelling aspect that has stuck with me most.

Songia Wynn.
African & African-American Studies

I take so much pride in my team. The partnership between the universities is one of the best things about the project because I get to interact with students from a different university and get different perspectives.

Jay Patel.
Computer Science, Mathematics

Education inequality across the country became immediately apparent to me after hearing about the more affluent high schools that many of my peers at Duke had attended. I saw a Facebook post for CSbyUs post during my sophomore year and felt like it would be a great way to begin acting on what was at the time a burgeoning passion.

Sarah Bond.
Global Health, Public Policy

The longevity of my involvement in this project is part of what has made it so rewarding. Each year on the team has brought something entirely new.

Maria Pita.
Cultural Anthropology

Learning about the current East African surgical capacity helped me contextualize the American healthcare system in a broader scheme and gave me a better sense of how important surgical development is to the health and life expectancy of populations.

Abigail Phillips.
Political Science, Religious Studies

We created a framework for an effective message as being one that was enthusiastic but primarily information-centered, conceptualizing non-voting behavior as being more due to structural barriers than apathy. We then tried to produce media that would bring that concept to life. 

Bridget Eklund.

I think the most valuable part of Bass Connections has been the partnerships with the faculty and community. I’ve grown really close with all of the faculty leadership, but in particular, with two faculty members from the Law School.

Wesley Pritzlaff.

This experience has allowed me to focus my research interests for the future, dealing with how to assess and manage physical injuries, such as a concussion or head injury.

Maria Paz Rios.
History, Mathematics

This has been by far the most rewarding experience I've had at Duke because it has provided me with a bridge between the classroom and the real world. It has also provided me with the most rewarding leadership opportunity I've had.

Jeel Ghughu.
Engineering Management

My team felt like a family, especially after working together for a year. It was a really positive environment.

Lauren Howard.

My Bass Connections project has given me a more optimistic view of medicine and has renewed my passion for it.

Taylor Braswell.
Neuroscience, Psychology

One of the highlights of my Bass Connections team is that we all came from various different backgrounds, which added significant contributions to the meaning behind our research. We all knew one thing was for certain – there is a lack of diversity in the STEM field, and we needed to find some way to solve it.

Kim Bourne.
Civil & Environmental Engineering

As a young woman in STEM, I often find it difficult to balance two things: 1) rigidity in order to be taken seriously as an authority in my field; and 2) compassion in order to remain approachable by others.

Dana Adcock with a dolphin.
Environmental Sciences & Policy

I highly recommend Bass Connections for those interested in learning about academic research or those just looking to explore their passions. I even got to swim with dolphins! 

Jason Mulligan

I am finding myself increasingly dedicated to work that helps destigmatize issues around illness both physical and mental while speaking directly to issues that I see my generation facing related to technology and social media.

Kendall Jefferys.
English, Environmental Sciences & Policy

Formed in response to Hurricane Florence, our Bass Connections project team explored how remote sensing technology can be applied to monitor coastal ecosystems facing sea level rise and intensifying hurricanes due to climate change.

African & African-American Studies, Public Policy

EHD [the Bass Connections Education & Human Development theme] makes room for students who are interested in learning more about education systems and human development. There is a lot of room for educational advocacy.

Sara Platek.
Public Policy

By far the most valuable part of any Bass Connections experience is the rare opportunity to work with members of the Duke community from a broad range of backgrounds and areas of study.


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.

Carlee Goldberg.
History, Political Science

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.

Travis Knoll

Bass Connections has gifted me with mentors and peers (faculty, graduate and undergraduate students), resources and the luxury of time to experiment, connect and learn through field experience.

Andie Carroll

My Bass Connections experience sparked my curiosity for further research into El Sistema USA through an independent study this year, with a goal of a senior honors thesis next year.

Shweta Lodha
Chemistry, Neuroscience

This project has overall been an entirely enriching process, filled with unexpected challenges and rewards that altogether have made me a stronger researcher and learner.