Student Stories

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.

Taylor Panzer
Chemistry, Psychology

I would like to research the best intervention methods to help promote healthy parent-child relationships.


Throughout the project, my team and I met some incredible people who made the experience all the more valuable to me. It was one of the most impactful summers of my life.

Gabrielle Zegers
Cultural Anthropology

During my work on the recycling project at TROSA I learned about diagnosing and bridging gaps between communities and resources, how to better involve all levels of TROSA residents in the decision-making process in order to address local-global environmental challenges and how to think about generating benefits that matter to different stakeholders involved in the intervention. 


I loved the subject of the research from the beginning, but I hadn’t realized how challenging designing an intervention and analyzing the collected data could be.

Arthi Kozhumam.
Biology, Global Health

Our project is a longitudinal assessment evaluating physical and mental health outcomes of children through various psychological measures—asking questions related to depression, anxiety, resilience and adaptability to trauma, attachment to friends and caregivers and other mental health considerations.

Global Health

In 2019, we are planning to transition to a more expanded network of healing sites. 

Arabella Chen and Annie Lee.

What does camping in the Amazon entail? Well, let us inform you. We proudly present Camping 101: Peruvian Amazon Edition.


I would encourage students to take advantage of Bass Connections as an opportunity to meet smart, interesting and engaged people who think and solve problems in different ways than they do.


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

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.

Evolutionary Anthropology

I have appreciated being on the organizing and designing side of a research project that has such a great potential to impact children with autism on a larger scale.

Jen Semler.
Philosophy, Public Policy

I was impressed by the openness of the Project Vox team toward aspiring undergraduate researchers. When I came to my first meeting, I was immediately encouraged to start getting involved in a way that aligned with my interests and goals.

Aashna Aggarwal
Economics, Environmental Sciences

I think there are a lot of factors that go into the decision-making [about increasing access to energy]. They’re often overlooked in the equation where we’re calculating energy access, but working closely together with these communities is a really big part of it.


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.

Hannah Ontiveros.

Being the project coordinator for America’s Sacred Spaces drove home for me the importance of being able to switch gears while conducting research. Your team membership might change, the sources you engage might take your inquiries in other directions and you might encounter hurdles that you don’t have the resources to surmount. The key to success is to follow where the research takes you.

Melissa Marchese taking feather samples with boat driver and field assistant, Pancho.
Environmental Sciences & Policy

Upon my return to Duke [after a summer of fieldwork], we spent two semesters discussing and presenting our findings. I realized that a myriad of impactful questions in fields such as ecology, global health and policy remain unanswered. I decided to continue my research in this region by pursuing a senior thesis.

Molly Paley at left.
Public Policy

Learning from experts on topics ranging from gender-based violence and family planning to the impact of the United States’ global gag rule exposed me to the many opportunities available to make a difference in the field of global reproductive health.

Biology, English

I want to work with this research team to study different global policies geared towards supporting the disabled and discover ways to change existing policies that limit the physically disabled.

Environmental Sciences & Policy

My advice to students considering Bass Connections—other than to seize this unique and worthwhile opportunity—is to be flexible as the project evolves.

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. 

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.

Kushal Kadakia.
Biology, Public Policy

Over the past few years, I’ve been able to host public conferences, lead individual meetings with stakeholders and actually see some of our recommendations become state policy, which has been an incredible experience.

Shashank Rajkumar

Bass Connections provided me the opportunity to work towards a project that had meaningful impact in the world.

Matt Phillips.

[The] diversity of expertise and experience enabled us to develop a more complete and nuanced understanding of cybersecurity issues than we would have developed otherwise.