Student Stories

Anna Johns Hrom

Bass Connections gave me an opportunity to put the tools gained from both the law and history curricula to use in a problem-oriented setting.

Katie Kanter

There are dozens of perspectives to the story of the opioid crisis, and my Bass Connections team has given me the incredible opportunity to have a hand in many parts of this story all at once.

Kathleen Burns.

Not only have I had the opportunity to meet and learn from a variety of experts ranging from famous atmospheric chemists to former U.S. ambassadors, I also have had the experience of helping build a team of undergraduates, graduates and faculty across an entire year.

Robert Steilberg
Computer Science

I feel lucky having found a project at Duke that is a concrete application of the skills I’ve learned both in class and on my own.

Environmental Management

In Bass Connections I have been fortunate enough to work with exceptional students and faculty across the Duke community as we dig into the topic of the history and future of ocean energy.

International Development Policy

Duke teams have been working in the region for almost a decade, and during this time, there has been intensive community engagement that allowed us to be welcomed and reach out to different stakeholders.

Huijia Yu
Computer Science, Statistical Science

 We’re trying to make an impact on the community with our work as well as with some of our community education activities.

Tracey Ding
Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science

I am willing to build my knowledge base on global health through GANDHI, and explore the area of healthcare from different angles.

Selena Qian at right.
Computer Science, Visual & Media Studies

Bass Connections showed me the different ways that research can manifest. Research is not necessarily working in a lab or analyzing vast quantities of data.

Business Administration, Environmental Management

Effective teams have a diversity of thought processes, skill sets, and preferences that balance each other.

Mercy DeMenno
Public Policy

Engaging with our fantastic team of interdisciplinary researchers and policymaker partners throughout the RRRR project enhanced the quality of my academic work, enabled translation of individual and collaborative findings into actionable policy recommendations, and provided innumerable professional development opportunities.

Business Administration, Medicine

There’s an energy amongst the faculty, the graduate students, and the undergraduate students that’s probably not paralleled by any other project I’ve participated in at Duke.


This project was challenging yet very rewarding. The fact that the research we conducted resulted in numbers and facts that have never been calculated before, and that will now hopefully contribute to future policy decisions, continues to amaze me.

Rob Rappleye
Computer Science, Statistical Science

The skills I developed and the values I have come to hold will stick with me for the rest of my time at Duke, and hopefully for the rest of my life.

Environmental Sciences & Policy

The most meaningful part of Bass Connections was engaging with faculty and doing a deep dive into an interesting topic!

Alex Dai

I hope to be able to do work that can lead to meaningful policy decisions within health systems.

Adam Stanaland.
Psychology, Public Policy

The Bass Connections project is a beautiful tie between how the social identity/norms research I do over in psychology can be useful/impactful at a policy or community level!


The skills and experiences I gained from these projects will not only help me better navigate postgraduate life, but will positively affect my upcoming dissertation research and writing.

Business Administration

GANDHI enables us to develop tangible, impactful solutions that address complex problems like this, supported by our diversity in expertise and unity in mission.

Sam Sadler
Global Health, Neuroscience

The responsibility ultimately rests on us – students – to take the opportunity, when possible, to engage in responsible work outside of the bubble that is Duke.

Roy Auh.

I had the opportunity to present a paper about Project Vox at the 24th World Congress of Philosophy. As an undergraduate, it was a scholarly chocolate factory where on top of exploring many topics, I was able to see some of my heroes and heroines in person.

Kathy Dai
Chemistry, Neuroscience

I’m excited to see how these building blocks of neurobiology fit into higher-level functions as I take more neuroscience classes and as I continue my Bass Connections research.

Duke students and faculty visited a solar microgrid site in the village of Mugurameno in August 2018.
Political Science

What surprised me the most was with all of the funding coming in and a new emphasis on sustainability and energy access as well, that same emphasis on sustainability hasn’t necessarily been extended to the actual business side of the energy access equation.


As a result of having worked with a multidisciplinary team, my writing changed and improved with the goal of reaching wider audiences.

Art, Art History & Visual Studies

The most rewarding part of this experience has been the multiple view points and interdisciplinary conversations that have occurred.

Business Administration, Public Policy

Like the best Bass Connections projects, this experience has presented the team with convoluted questions, competing interests, ambiguous findings, and imperfect processes.

Chemistry, Computer Science

Bass Connections is an excellent opportunity to work on a project that required collaboration across a variety of disciplines.

Biology, Global Health

I learned that involving the community and collaborating with its members are cornerstones to improve public health. I also learned that one of the pillars of community health work is community empowerment.

Emily Mason.
Business Administration

Bass Connections has allowed me to build my network beyond business school and tap into the perspectives of other graduate disciplines.

Environmental Engineering

As this was my first field research experience, I learned a ton, but the most important lesson was that you have to be flexible and adjust to changes.

Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Public Policy

This project has helped me learn to think in a truly creative way by combining and synthesizing information from a variety of sources. 

Aryaman Gupta
Biomedical Engineering

I had expected my trip to Uganda to develop me as an engineer; rather, I returned to the U.S. with a stronger desire to overcome avoidable medical disparities.

Paige Scarborough

I think we were a little overwhelmed when we first saw just how many things there were to do, but we’ve made so much progress over the past couple of weeks!

Political Science, Public Policy

When I complete my dissertation, I plan to disseminate the findings to policymakers. I hope the evidence will provide important insights for policy design in rapidly urbanizing areas in the Global South.

John Benhart
Computer Science

Perhaps the most satisfying part of Bass Connections was how it encouraged so many of us to turn our minds away from Duke and out into the world.

Evolutionary Anthropology

We are each writing our own published research paper, so I’ve had to go through the process of getting my IRB protocol done and approved, and writing survey questions.

Environmental Management

The project not only involved solving a real-world problem using skills learned in classes, but it also had to do with working closely with clients and collaborating with students from different academic backgrounds.

Kelly Dobroski
Environmental Management

Managing this project has been one of my proudest achievements during my master’s degree. From learning how to better communicate with and support team members to learning how to manage data and multiple timelines, my experiences gained through this project will forever be some of my fondest memories.

Chelsea Liu
Computer Science

I am interested in technology and healthcare, so naturally, I wanted to contribute to a project using technology to improve health outcomes.

Sharon Peng
Computer Science

I think having opportunities like Bass Connections, Duke Engage, and these other programs at Duke that encourage learning in different environments really helped encourage me to seek out things that were interesting and also pushed me beyond my comfort level.