DegreePublic Policy and Global Health '21
I am currently on the Enabling Precision Health & Medicine Bass Connections team, otherwise known as WearDuke. WearDuke is a campus initiative that aims to promote healthy living through student engagement with wearables and novel learning opportunities. I have been on this team for three years.
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. In my first year, I learned how to develop a research study – including how to create surveys, select suitable wearables, design logos and conduct focus groups. In my second year, I learned how to recruit participants, implement a pilot study and develop an app intervention. Now, in my third year, we are carrying out that intervention, examining data from the pilot study and conducting a literature review.
While learning these hard skills has certainly been useful for me, Bass Connections has been even more influential in my life in other ways – particularly through mentorship and teamwork. I have been working with my team leader, Dr. Susanne Haga, since the very beginning of this project. In fact, I first became aware of the work while sitting in Dr. Haga’s Focus class first semester freshman year. At that point, I knew I wanted to be involved in research in some way, but had no idea how to do so or even what exactly research entailed. Dr. Haga changed all of that for me. She introduced me to Bass Connections and supported my development as a researcher. Throughout my four years at Duke, I have always known I could turn to her for guidance and support.
The teamwork element of Bass Connections is another key component of why I value the program so much. My team is comprised of faculty and undergraduate students. Given the interdisciplinary nature of this work, members of my team come from a diverse set of backgrounds, including Public Policy, Biology, Computer Science and Biomedical Engineering. Since my own background is in Public Policy, I knew little about the process of app development and website design prior to this experience and was able to learn about these elements from my teammates.
In addition to learning skills from them, I learned how to effectively work as a team – communicating new ideas and dividing up tasks to accomplish them efficiently. I have worked with many members of this team for three years now, and as such, also call my team members my friends.
I am incredibly grateful for my experience with Bass Connections and highly recommend this program. Being on this team has transformed me from a first-year unsure of what research was and if I would like it, to a confident researcher capable of leading and mentoring new researchers.