Student Stories

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.

Biology, Global Health

I learned valuable information and collected important data, but perhaps nothing was more meaningful than what I learned during my travel to these places.

Christiana Oshotse.
Public Policy

My time in this program has provided me with the knowledge I need to continue to pursue the research questions I am passionate about, and I look forward to being able to employ the interpersonal and research skills I’ve learned in future interdisciplinary research projects.

Tasfia Nayem.
Environmental Management

The strong interdisciplinary nature of the project helped frame the issue of climate change through a number of perspectives: science, law, philosophy, engineering, policy, ethics. The project also provided the opportunity to have intimate discussions with leaders of the field.

Adair Citlalli Necalli

This team, which has been such a large part of my time at Duke, is coming to a close. All I can do is be grateful for the experiences and opportunities for growth it has given me, both personal and academic.

Ajilé Owens and team members.
Global Health, Sociology

The biggest personal victory for me was learning enough Malagasy and observing my Malagasy teammate conduct enough interviews to administer one by myself.

Luke Farrell.
Computer Science, Neuroscience

To learn about the abstract mathematics from experts like Professor Jonathan Mattingly and then go to the Supreme Court and see the Justices appreciate and cite research our team has dealt with was amazing.

Meghana Sai Iragavarapu
Program II

We interviewed employees from the Durham Public Health Department, historians, community health workers, and most importantly, Durham residents living with diabetes. We visited grocery stores and homes in neighborhoods only two miles apart and found shocking disparities.

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!