Duke’s STAR Past Participants: Where are they now?

Duke’s STAR Past Participants: Where are they now?

2018 Participants

From Caroline Chivily: “This spring, I graduated from Hamilton College with a biology major and classical studies minor. I recently began the MPH Program at the University of Pennsylvania and working as a Clinical Research Coordinator in a gynecology oncology research unit. I plan to apply to medical school in the spring. The summer I spent at the DCRI confirmed my interest in clinical research and public health and imparted me with skills that I will use throughout the rest of my life.”

From Samuel Danquah: “I am currently a first-year at Yale University intending to study Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. Aside from simply helping to get my foot in the door and providing me with the training to converse and engage with professors and researchers at T1 universities, the Duke STAR program featured a host of amazing mentorship upon which I rely perhaps every day. It can be challenging and overwhelming to even think about medical school and what my qualifications are versus the next person but workshops such as the resume building and "tough conversations" days helped me to establish myself as a serious student to my professors and my peers in school, extracurriculars, and sometimes my social life and simply adjusting to college. I'm eternally grateful for the STAR experience.”

From Cordelia Hume: “I am currently a high school senior and am working hard on applying to college. The Duke STAR Program has really influenced what I am looking for in a college and what I want to major in. I know now that I definitely want to participate in research as an undergraduate and am thinking of majoring in Biology or Neuroscience. The STAR Program really helped me see that science is a field I can have a career by exposing me to many opportunities!”

From Sujata Kishnani: “I graduated from Duke University with a double major in biology and global health. I am currently working at Roivant Sciences, a biopharma company located in New York, and I plan on attending medical school in 2 years. Duke STAR offered me tremendous leadership opportunities in working on a team to publish a scientific manuscript from start to finish.”

From Kaila Moore: “I am currently a student at East Carolina University and am a part of the university's honors college. Also, I'm a part of the honors college medical early assurance program with Brody School of medicine. Participating in Duke STAR made me extremely interested in research and due to this interest, I also work in a surgical oncology lab for ECU.”

From Angibel Tejada: “I'm a current senior at NCCU, and plan on graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences December 2019. I plan on attending an ABSN program here in North Carolina to become a nurse and one day become a Nurse Practitioner.”

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2017 Participants

From Olivia Bretzius: “I am currently a Freshman at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, and I still refer to my experiences in the Duke STAR program all the time. Being in the program gave me the opportunity to explore various medical and other career paths and guided me towards my own personal intended path. Especially as a pre-med student, having the privilege to collaborate with and learn from doctors, statisticians, and editors on publishing a research paper in high school was such an incredible opportunity. My research in the STAR program has helped me with college and job applications, and it has sparked great conversations about research with my professors.

The program expanded my understanding of clinical research and medicine, and it prepared me to work in a professional environment. I recommend the program to any high school students with the slightest interest in research and medicine and also to any students seeking to explore new careers.”

From Nia Brown: “I am currently a sophomore at Vanderbilt University, and I have recently been accepted into a research group studying pharmacoepidemiology through a multi-disciplinary lens. The DCRI and the Duke STAR program was extremely important in helping me get this position as my interviewees and current bosses were extremely impressed by the fact that I had already been published at my age. Moreover, one of them (a pediatric infectious diseases physician) had actually heard about the paper and been wanting to read it!”

From Andromeda Crowell – teacher: “I am currently entering my 8th year of teaching biology.  After the Duke STAR program, I learned how to incorporate authentic scientific research into my science classes.  My students now read scientific literature and learn to think more critically about experimental design.” 

From Colman Freel: “I am a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying microbiology. I am following a pre-med track and pursuing certificates in leadership and global health. I mentor incoming STEM students and continue to do research in an OB/GYN lab investigating fetal effects of preeclampsia.”

From Louis Ray Harrison: “I am currently a first-year Neuroscience major at UNC-Chapel Hill. I aspire to be a neurologist. The Duke STAR program has given me leverage on other medical and research opportunities; I am glad I got to be a part of it.”

From Douglas Price – teacher: “Currently, I am still serving as a sixth-grade educator locally. Recently, I was named the 2019 Burroughs Wellcome Fund NC Charter School Teacher of the Year and was one of nine finalists for the State Teacher of the Year. Additionally, I am completing my coursework in my doctoral program in Educational Leadership at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The Duke STAR program has contributed too much of this success, as it has helped me to establish myself as a teacher leader, one who is versatile in expanding their outreach to students across the state in various types of programs.”

From Gabrielle Scales: “I am currently a freshman at Spelman College as well as a member of the Ethel Waddell Githii Honors Program and a recipient of a Dean's Scholarship. Currently, I am majoring in biology on a pre-med track. Since my time in the STAR program, I have also had an internship at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and hope to pursue a career in medicine in the future.”

From Rebecca Ssengonzi: “I am now a sophomore majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Johns Hopkins University. This past summer I participated in NC A&T's REU in synthetic biology program. During this school year I will be working in a research lab focused in Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine.”

From Caroline Wechsler: “I graduated from Harvard College with a degree in History of Medicine this past May and am now working as a research assistant at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute while I apply to medical school. I work in a pediatric oncology research laboratory on translational therapeutics research. DCRI's STAR program was invaluable in preparing me to work in a professional research environment and emphasizing the importance of making research results relevant to patient care.”


2016 Participants

From Kris Chellani: "I am currently a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill majoring in Business Administration and Economics. I am writing my Senior Honors Thesis this year to study the effects of microfinancing and microlending on smaller communities. I hope to join a graduate program next year or work in the tech industry in Raleigh. The STAR program helped me explore the world of medical research and data analysis. I still use the writing methodologies and skills I gained from the program in my present-day courses. The amazing faculty gave me a strong foundation of research and writing skills that heavily influenced who I am today. "


2015 Participants

From David Clark:  "I am currently a sophomore at Stony Brook University. I am currently majoring in Applied Mathematics and Statistics, and recently made the decision to also double major in Biology with a specialization in Quantitative Biology and Bioinformatics."

From Briana Davis: "I am currently a second-year graduate student at Duke University in the Molecular Genetics and Microbiology department. Now that I am involved in full time research, I really appreciate the skills that I gained during my time in the STARS program. Learning how to review primary literature and collaborate on an original project has been invaluable to my success in biomedical research."

From Courtney Fennell: "I have recently graduated from North Carolina Central University with a BS in Biology, pre-medical concentration. Currently while working I am trying to get myself ready for a Physician Assistant program."

From Matthew Gilliskie: "I studied biostatistics at the University of North Carolina and graduated in May 2019. I am currently a data analyst with the UNC Center for AIDS Research. I am applying to Duke Divinity School for their Theology, Medicine, and Culture training program. I hope to take part in that program next fall. The STAR program was my first experience in clinical research, and now doing statistics for clinical research is my job! I am thankful for the exposure and training I received in the program."

From Evan Kim: "I graduated from high school back in May 2016 and am currently attending Dartmouth College as a freshman. As of now, I am still unsure about what specifically to major in (but I will definitely keep pre-med in mind!).

From Madeleine Laughon: "After participating in the NCC Summer Research Experience in high school, I am now an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Chemistry and Biology double major.  I am currently participating in undergraduate research and I am a medical scribe in the Emergency Department at UNC. Next summer, I plan on applying to medical school (wish me luck!)."

From Andrew Romaine: "I'm now in my second year of medical school at UNC-Chapel Hill. After completing the STAR program in 2015, I joined a research team at the DCRI and was able to co-author several peer-reviewed publications. I later moved to Philadelphia, where I spent two years working in the public health field while applying to medical school. Now, I'm happy to be back home in Chapel Hill and excited to be moving to Charlotte in early 2020 to start third-year clinical rotations. I remain extremely grateful for the STAR program for being an important early step in my progress towards a career in medicine."

From Spencer Smith: "I am currently employed at the UNC Center for Pain Research and Innovation as a Clinical Research Assistant. I am responsible for recruiting and collecting data from participants with the OPPERA II study. Our study is interested in the biological, psychological, and genetic factors of TMD pain and other associated pain disorders. The NCC Summer Research Experience Internship at the DCRI offered great preparation for my current position in clinical research. The professional skills I developed at the DCRI have been incredibly beneficial. I am currently applying to medical school."

From Utibe (Uty) Utin: "I am currently teaching high school honors biology and honors earth and environmental science. I will be pursuing a master’s degree in biomedical and biological sciences at NCCU next fall. I will also be applying to medical school again within the next 2 years during or after the master's program."

From Kaylyn Wright: "Thank you for checking up on us. I truly miss being in the program at Duke. I'm currently enrolled at Durham Tech studying Nursing and I plan to transfer to Winston-Salem State University in the fall of 2018."

Grads and mentorsSTAR2015

2014 Participants

From Taylor Blake: “I will be attending Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. Not quite sure what major I’ll be declaring, but I’m planning to be pre-med with a political science minor. The goal is to become a pediatrician. Thank you for the opportunity this program provided.”

From Jiyu Cheong: “I am finally headed to college and will be attending Vanderbilt University. I’m hoping to double-major in biology and economics on the pre-med track, but we'll have to see what I end up doing once I get there.”

From Adrienne Davis: “This year, I am going to be a junior at UNC-CH. My major is still chemistry (BA), and I plan on applying to pharmacy school next summer, with UNC being the first choice.”

From Francia Fang: “I recently began my first year at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. It’s been a challenging transition but I’ve really enjoyed everything so far!”

From Abdurrauf Muhammad: “I will be attending Columbia University in the fall to study mechanical engineering.”

From Brooke Sauer (teacher): “Since participating in the Duke STAR program, I have completed research experiences at UNC School of Medicine, Duke University, and the National Institute for Environmental Health Science in Research Triangle Park. I continue to serve as department chairperson at Durham School of the Arts, where I teach biology and AP Biology. I have maintained a connection with the STAR program by continuing to help with program interviews since my own experience in 2014. I am grateful for the leadership and authorship experiences provided to me in this program and I do believe that I now have a better grasp of clinical research, statistics, and facilitating diverse groups.”

From Will Tuminski: “I graduated from UNC in May 2015 and recently got a job with Epic Systems in Madison, WI. I'm working as a project manager with their emergency department application.”

From Angela Zhang: “I'm currently working as a clinical research assistant for my gap year, in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins Neurology-Institute for Cell Engineering. The study is investigating biomarkers for Parkinson's disease. I administer cognitive tests, gather medical histories, and process biospecimens. Other than that, I'm going to start volunteering at a free health clinic, and I write for a public health podcast. I'm also hard at work on secondaries for medical school and will hopefully be matriculating next fall.”

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2013 Participants

From Jordan Cho: "I will be starting college at Stanford University this fall. From the DCRI internship, I will take with me all the incredible research skills I learned and the meaningful collaboration with smart, fun people making a tangible difference in the world."

From Nathan Cho: “I just started in a PhD program in cell and molecular biology at the University of California, San Francisco.  After continuing to do research for the past couple of years since graduating from Stanford, pursuing a career in biology research seemed to be the right path for me.  I will always be grateful for my experience in the Duke STAR Program, as it was my entry point into the research process, particularly research-oriented towards improving patient outcomes."

From Crystal Leonard: “I am an instructor at a community college in Jacksonville, N.C., where I teach medical office administration, billing and coding, and an intro to computers course. My next step will be to apply to medical school to be an orthopedic surgeon. Ultimately, I hope to work as a Navy Reserve doctor, both because I want to work on people with traumatic injuries and because I would love to serve my country in some way. I loved the NCC Summer Research Experience Program; it has helped with my job, in giving my students an idea on what research is all about, and I hope it will help me get into medical school. I hope to see more North Carolina Central University students apply to the program, as that is my alma mater.”

From Eddie Liu: “I just graduated from Duke with a BS in Neuroscience and Psychology and will be starting medical school at UNC-Chapel Hill. Outside of school, I created a smartphone app called MoodTools, which is aimed at helping people suffering from clinical depression (www.moodtools.org) and has been downloaded over 80,000 times!”

From Amar Patel: “I'm starting my second year at UNC–Chapel Hill and am planning on declaring a physics/economics double major.”

From James Tian: "I’ve recently graduated from the Duke School of Medicine and returning to Duke for my ophthalmology residency. I’ve been able to continue my research interests with Dr. Anthony Kuo at the Duke Eye Center. I thought the DCRI internship was a highly enriching and valuable experience; I attribute it to teaching me most of what I know about writing and literature review that I’ve continued to use throughout my training and career."

From Ele’na Wilson: “I am now a rising senior (one more year!). Currently, I am touring colleges to shrink my list down when I start applying. I am not quite sure what I want to major in, but the majors I am thinking of are psychology, biology, and something involving the environment. I really am interested in research, so in whatever major I choose, I do want to incorporate research.“

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