Student Stories

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.

David, Julie and Gina with samplers.

I entered into this project with a good-willed but egotistic perspective that my expertise and technical training in the U.S. can be equally applied to Sarawak, Malaysia. I think it’s okay to admit that there are limits to our knowledge in unfamiliar places and that is the purpose of research.

Klug on left.
Environmental Sciences, Public Policy

My work in Madagascar led me to work for the Sustainable Energy Transitions Initiative (SETI) based here at Duke, which is an international network of energy access researchers and practitioners that coordinates and supports new energy access research around the globe.

Computer Science, Public Policy

Working with a tight-knit team of motivated individuals and a professor who is at the forefront of the global value chain framework development allowed me to gain insights into North Carolina’s economic position that I would never have been able to grasp.


This is a field of research that is always changing and full of mysteries—and full of collaboration from so many different people and labs and specialties. This project will continue to play an important role in my academic and professional career.

Sarah Kerman.
Public Policy

Bass Connections projects foster genuine collaboration among undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and community members. Those relationships have and will continue to benefit my intellectual growth.

Kelsey Rowland.
Environmental Management

Alongside academics, NGOs and the corporate sector, we were joined by congressional staffers to discuss federal policy changes that would increase funding for rural water programs nationwide.


I consider my Bass Connections experiences invaluable in making me confident, creative and open to change.

Program II

My involvement with the Bass Connections program very early on in my undergraduate journey helped to establish a network of support during my time at Duke.


I learned the value of a diverse team, which enabled us to think more broadly about the question at hand.

Neuroscience, Philosophy

The type of student drawn to Bass Connections is a very independent, creative and thoughtful one. Bass Connections helped me develop an insight into my skills and interests that will be crucial in guiding my future choices.


My participation in this Bass Connections project is one of the most meaningful and rewarding Duke experiences I have had. 

Global Cultural Studies, Psychology

I joined this Bass Connections project because, growing up, I saw firsthand how many of my peers were impacted by tracking and either ended up dropping out of high school or never made it to college. 

Environmental Engineering

Bass Connections allowed me to practice my “problem solving” skills in a real life setting, rather than a problem set on paper. It gave me the liberty to design a protocol myself rather than having one given to me.

Electrical & Computer Engineering

Bass Connections has allowed me to further my research for my dissertation and to greatly improve my communication capabilities.

Education, Political Science, Public Policy

Bass Connections is a program that has the audacity to take on the big, “so complex they’re scary” problems in society, while maintaining the flexibility to find solutions creatively.

Cultural Anthropology, Global Health

One of my favorite experiences of our Bass Connections project so far was the debate. This debate was a great learning experience for me on how to argue for a different side than I originally thought and helped me improve my own debate skills.

Biomedical Sciences

Bass Connections at its core is a mission by Duke University to overcome the issues that our society faces by encouraging different disciplines to collaborate. This collaboration allows teams to look at problems from several angles and pull from multiple skill sets.

Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, Environmental Sciences & Policy

Through our internal conversations on our Bass Connections team and our time at Yale discussing their progress on a carbon charge program, one lesson about equity has started to become evident: with every potential program design, a case can be made for and against how equitable it is.


I’m constantly reminded of this first experience working on an interdisciplinary team in my role at the Energy Initiative, where I am almost always the only historian at the table. Thanks to Bass Connections, I can navigate conversations about interdisciplinary research with the confidence not only that history matters, but also that I have been able to make it matter in similar situations in the past.

Lizzie Hunsaker.

I used to (naively) think that most problems could be solved through scientific pursuits, and that a reduction of uncertainty through science would lead to an obvious course of action. I quickly learned that using science to address societal concerns is much more complicated and difficult.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Environmental Management

I am confident that my education and experiences at Duke are preparing me to make a true impact in the energy sector after I graduate.

Chloe Ricks
International Comparative Studies

My senior thesis, which compares my home region to the Baixada Fluminense, a peripheral region of Rio de Janeiro that serves as the basis for our project, reflects how I have come to situate my own experiences in the Delta within a broader experience after both being a student at Duke and, more particularly, traveling to Brazil.

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.

Sandra Batakana

This experience has been life changing for me, not only because it fulfilled my wish to get a closer look at the fields of neuroscience and neurosurgery, but because it has actually altered my path in unexpected and exciting ways.

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.

Maaz Mulla

Not only were my contributions valued, but they were held on equal grounds with all of my other team members regardless of major, year or level of education.


The most meaningful aspect of Bass Connections has been the ability to simultaneously delve into my passions and conduct interdisciplinary, real world applicable and implementable research.

Environmental Management

The path from policy proposal to rule of law is certainly long and winding. But who knows? Maybe, by the time our recommendations are ripe for congressional action, we’ll be the ones writing the bill.

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.

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.

Environmental Sciences & Policy

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

Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering

Bass Connections gave me confidence in my technical skills and made me realize the extent to which they can be used to solve engineering problems encountered in industry.

Computer Science, Statistical Science

My thesis is related to computer vision, which was first introduced to me in the Bass Connections project.

Mechanical Engineering

The most meaningful part of Bass Connections was the end-to-end development of a project.