URS Student Advisory Council

The URS Student Advisory Council (SAC) is a committee of undergraduate students that are currently participating in research. Together, they provide critical student perspectives and feedback to the URS Office. 


Curious about research at Duke? Each SAC member can be reached via their Duke emails below with any questions.


Emilio Abelmann

Emilio Abelmann headshot


Major(s): Philosophy and Sociology

Minor: Political Science

Class Year: 2025

Duke emailemilio.abelmann@duke.edu

Pronouns: he/him

Current research project: This past year, I worked on the Bass Connections: Open Design Studio team that leveraged human-centered design approaches to understand Durham's entrepreneurial ecosystem. Ultimately, we aimed to expand necessity-driven entrepreneurial access to resources to support small businesses and build economic strength in the Durham communities traditionally underrepresented in entrepreneurship. Moving forward, I hope to find future research experiences that align with my interests in impact finance, international development, and public-private partnerships.

Post-Duke plans: My plans are certainly uncertain, but for now, I intend to travel immediately after graduation before beginning work as a social impact consultant in my hometown of Washington, DC. I hope this opportunity will provide me with the skills needed to then enter an international development organization, impact startup, or graduate program in related fields. I know that my past research exposure has had a profound impact on how I approach social issues, and I thus hope to gain more research experience as my career unfolds.


Ishaan Brar

Ishaan Brar headshot

Major(s): Biology and Global Health

Minor: Chemistry

Class Year: 2025

Duke emailishaan.brar@duke.edu

Pronouns: he/him

Current research project: I am interested in researching antimicrobial resistance and health innovation and access. I've explored this through wet-lab research as a member of the Jones, where I have studied nano-particle accumulation in biofilm to understand how drug resistance occurs. I have also conducted global health research and policy analysis on antimicrobial resistance and health innovation and access issues as a summer assistant at the John's Hopkins IDEA Initiative. I seek to bridge the gap between wet lab research and global health on solving the multidimensional, complex issues of antimicrobial resistance, and that broadly, develop and implement health care interventions that push for equity.

Post-Duke plans: After graduation, I plan to head to med school, and continue to build on my passion for research! I would be interested in entering into global health or health policy, and continuing to help support translational, equitable interventions.

Allie Brown

headshot Allie Brown


Major(s): Visual and Media Studies and Global Cultural Studies in Literature

Minor: Sociology

Class Year: 2025

Duke emailallie.brown@duke.edu

Pronouns: she/her

Current research project: I am fascinated by the intersection of media, technology, and education in addressing social and environmental concerns. This has led me to pursue research at Duke, with my collaboration on Bass Connections’ Revaluing Care in the Global Economy team. There, I worked with students in environmental, economic, and policy-based disciplines to research and produce a mixed-media simulation game. Our research created a game prototype that allows players to experience the difficult questions and trade-offs involved in climate action. I have since continued academic research with the goal of developing innovative educational approaches to combatting social inequality and global climate change today.

Post-Duke plans: I hope to continue learning about media in whatever capacity, with the aim of contributing to positive social and environmental action.

Surya Cannon

surya cannon

Major(s): Art History

Minor: Architecture

Class Year: 2024

Duke emailsc655@duke.edu

Pronouns: she/her

Current research projectI am primarily interested in how different relationships to "nature" across history have defined the built environment — urban planning, infrastructure, and architecture. My current research focuses on this tension in West Texas/Comancheria during 1750-1950, where many immigrant cultural groups tried, and often failed, to use architectural and community-organizing techniques based on their home environment (the American South, Europe, the Great Basin, or elsewhere) on the flat, arid Llano Estacado. A historical understanding of how "carbon modernity" came to be — the physical structures like highways, oil rigs, and skyscrapers that accommodate and perpetuate the extractive, fossil fuel-reliant way we live now — is instrumental to moving and building in ways that will better support planet and people.

Post-Duke plans: After Duke, I will most likely work or participate in a research fellowship for a year or two, then pursue a M.Arch degree and work as a practicing architect/designer. However, I am also considering pursuing further studies (PhD/MFA) in environmental humanities or textile arts/applications.


Julia Davis

Julia Davis headshot

Major: Neuroscience

Minor: Psychology

Class Year: 2024

Duke emailjulia.o.davis@duke.edu

Certificate: Science & Society

Pronouns: she/her

Current research project: The United States consistently trails global counterparts in maternal mortality, infant mortality, child maltreatment rates, and kindergarten preparedness, with families of color particularly disadvantaged. I am interested in early childhood interventions that support families as they have and care for their children. More specifically, I am working with Dr. Kenneth Dodge's intervention program: Family Connects (FC). FC is a universal program to identify family-specific needs and refer families to tailored community services (e.g., maternal mental health resources).

Post-Duke plans: After Duke, I intend to work for a few years as a research assistant before pursing a PhD in Clinical Psychology, with a focus in child clinical psychology. After my PhD, I hope to fulfill multiple roles, including seeing patients, conducting early childhood development research, mentoring psychotherapy students, and teaching classes.

Grace Davis

grace davis headshot

Major: Undeclared

Class Year: 2026

Duke emailgfd6@duke.edu

Pronouns: she/her

Current research project: I am involved in Bass Connection's Trauma-Informed Courts Project where we look into how improving the level of trauma-informedness towards juveniles during court proceedings results in better outcomes. My role includes observing juvenile court cases in varies North Carolina courts to asses the level of trauma-informedness.

I also have been involved in a MUSER project throughout my time at Duke, exploring factors that encourage or harm the political involvement of women, people of color, and others historically excluded from politics.

Post-Duke plans: I am interested in pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology after Duke. My long-term goals are to engage in research that promotes an understanding the way that trauma impacts individual's well-being and how to recover from it. In addition, I hope to be a clinical therapist that helps those who've suffered from traumatic experiences.


Maya Ghanem

Maya Ghanem headshot

Major: Public Policy

Minor: Education, Inequality Studies

Class Year: 2024

Duke emailmaya.ghanem@duke.edu

Pronouns:  they/them

Current research project: Maya's aspirations center around queer Muslim research and advocacy. Their work points to how queer Muslim perspectives hold patriarchal hegemony in Muslim countries responsible, while also accounting for the harm Anglo-Western colonization has imposed on Muslim societies. Maya thus hopes that advocating for queer Muslim viewpoints can inform more nuanced approaches to global problems. For example, Maya’s ongoing thesis on “Queer Muslim Environmental Futurisms” illustrates a decolonial healing approach to environmental issues, one that dismantles queer/Muslim and human/nonhuman dichotomies in tandem. Funded by the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, Duke Benenson Award, Duke LIFE Fellowship, the Kenan Institute for Ethics, and the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Maya’s undergraduate research works to honor queer Muslim experiences.

Post-Duke plans: After graduating, Maya hopes to work for a few years, then pursue a PhD related to queer Muslim studies.


Drew Greene

Drew Greene headshot

Major: Public Policy

Minor: Education, Inequality Studies

Class Year: 2024

Duke emailandrew.greene@duke.edu

Pronouns: he/him

Current research project: My research primarily covers K-12 and higher education policy, especially policies centered around equitable access and outcomes. I have been on the University-Assisted Community Schools Bass Connections (and Data+) team— a partnership between Duke, North Carolina Central, and the Durham Public Schools Foundation focused on strengthening partnerships between local universities and Durham schools— for over 2 years. I also work as a researcher on various topics related to academic support for Duke undergraduates in the office of the Trinity College Dean of Academic Affairs including service-learning, undergraduate research, URM/FGLI inclusion, and more. Outside of education, I conduct research on state lotteries under Prof. Charles Clotfelter and previously researched mass incarceration in the Deep South under Prof. Adriane Fresh.

Post-Duke plans: After Duke, I plan to work in higher education policy and/or research. While I do not know exactly what my post-Duke future entails, I look forward to expanding upon the research topics I have studied in my time at Duke.


Rani Jones

rani jones

Major: Psychology

Minor: Cultural Anthropology

Class Year: 2025

Duke emailraj29@duke.edu

Pronouns: she/her

Current research project: I work at the identity and diversity lab with Dr. Gaither! Our projects look at how children and young adults perceive and express their cultural identies as well as how children are impacted by cultural expressions/contexts. I've grown to be quite fascinated in the ways sociocultural identies develop among children! I would like to conduct further research on these developments and the ways children express their identities.

Post-Duke plans: I plan on going to grad school and getting my PhD! Eventually I would want to become a professor, but before then I'd like to explore the various opportunities out there within my fields of interest.


Kaitlyn Lewars

Kaitlyn Lewars headshot

Major: Double major in Biology and Global Health

Class Year: 2024

Duke emailkaitlyn.lewars@duke.edu

Pronouns: she/her

Current research project: I currently work in Dr. Robert Tighe's lab in the pulmonary division of Duke Medical School. Our lab is working to define mechanisms of susceptibility to lung injury and disease. My project specifically is to determine the effects of aging on ozone induced lung injury and inflammation with a focus on differential gene expression.

Post-Duke plans: After Duke I hope to get my PhD in immunology and eventually work for pharmaceutical company's global health department.


Emily McReynolds

Emily McReynolds headshot

Major: Public Policy & Markets and Management Studies

Class Year: 2025

Duke emaillauren.mcreynolds@duke.edu

Pronouns:  she/her

Current research project: I worked as a data analyst on the Data+ "Visualizing Durham Public Schools" team, where I helped to expand and translate a website outlining available resources within DPS schools and the surrounding community. Presently, I am a research fellow on the continuation of my Data+ work through the Bass Connections "Strengthening Partnerships between DPS and Local Universities" team. Through both experiences, I've had the joy of working alongside my amazing peers, learning from impressive faculty/mentors, and expanding my knowledge about my surrounding community.
I am passionate about education policy, data analysis, and the intersection between government and businesses.

Post-Duke plans: I hope to work as a consultant and experience various industries and business cases. Beyond this, I aspire to obtain a Master’s in Business Administration!

Mariana Meza

mariana meza headshot

Major: Undeclared

Class Year: 2026

Duke emailmm973@duke.edu

Pronouns:  she/her/ella

Current research project: I hope to explore qualitative research opportunities in the liberal arts and humanities. Previously, I conducted research on the immigration detention Credible Fear Interview process with a focus on detention centers in El Paso, Texas and New Mexico. I seek to develop my research on immigration and its intersections through community-based projects that center authentic migrant narratives. Additionally, I hope to pursue an expansion of the research opportunities available to marginalized communities on Duke's campus, as well as broaden the scope of research projects in Latin America.

Post-Duke plans: While I continue to develop my career interests, I hope to incorporate my passion for social justice and community organizing in my future plans. Additionally, I seek to continue my education by pursuing a graduate degree.


Margarita Krylova


Major: Neuroscience

Minor(s): Chemistry and Russian

Class Year: 2026

Duke emailmk591@duke.edu

Pronouns:  she/her

Current research project: I am currently involved in two research projects affiliated with Duke Neurosurgery. My basic science research and independent study, conducted in the Waitkus Lab at The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center, focus on targeting DNA replication stress in glioblastoma cells by utilizing an atypical telomere-lengthening mechanism. My clinical research, under the mentorship of Dr. Hauck, investigates spontaneous and traumatic intra-orbital arteriovenous fistulas—an extremely rare occurrence with fewer than 30 reported cases worldwide. These immersive research experiences enhance my understanding of neuro-complexities and how to effectively address them using a patient-centered approach.

Post-Duke plans: After graduating, I aim to pursue either an MD-MBA or an MD-PhD. My specific interests in medicine include neuro- and transplant surgery, and I aspire to contribute to surgical research, either basic science or clinical, throughout my career.

Trisha Santanam

ts hradsht

Major: English

Minor(s): Music

Class Year: 2026

Duke emailtrisha.santanam@duke.edu

Pronouns:  she/her

Current research project: My research focuses on how music and literature overlap and enhance each other when used in tandem. I am currently working on a research project about how the idea of "sonic curation," a method of arranging music that speaks to political, historical, and geographical afterlives, appears in the works of American playwrights. I'm interested in how music and literature are used to re-member and preserve things related to memory, as well as how music/literature can be used to warp our traditional sense of time. I'm also part of the "Rosetta Reitz Musical Archive of Care" Bass Connections team, where I study the blues and jazz archives of a feminist records collector, writer, and historian.

Post-Duke plans: I hope to pursue a PhD related to English/sound studies and eventually become a professor!


 Anika Vemulapalli

anika v headshot

Major(s): Global Health and Cultural Anthropology

Class Year: 2025

Duke email: asv21@duke.edu

Pronouns: she/her

Current research project: Working with the Margolis Health Policy Center and Dr. Mina Silberberg, I have analyzed the impact of place-based initiatives, projects that enhance cross-sectoral leadership skills to improve local public health, on 6 NC counties. Additionally, I have been working with Duke Remote Area Medical and Dr. Laura Fish in Duke Family and Community Health to understand the social background of patients who attended free pop-up medical clinics in the South. I am also a part of the Reproductive Justice Post Roe v. Wade Bass Connections Project with Dr. Wesley Hogan, Dr. Beverley Gray, and Dr. Jonah Schwartz, where we are formulating an archive depicting the impact of restrictive abortion policy through oral histories of abortion providers, socio-historical research on gynecology and reproductive rights, and abortion care advocacy. Ultimately, my research experiences have cultivated my interest in qualitative analysis and community based research in order to understand gaps in the healthcare system.

Post-Duke plans: After I graduate I plan on taking a gap year and then pursuing an MD/MPH, with a concentration on health policy in the latter. My goal is to be a practicing physician involved in the health advocacy space. Eventually, I would like to get involved with public service on a state or federal level to influence US health priorities and health policy implementation to reduce health disparities.

Rachel Washart

Rachel Washart headshot

Major: Biology

Minor: Global Health

Class Year: 2024

Duke emailrachel.washart@duke.edu

Certificate: Latin American Studies certificate

Pronouns:  she/her

Current research project: I currently work in the Wood Lab in the Pharmacology and Cancer Biology department at Duke. My project focuses on a process called Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) that occurs in some cancers, allowing them to spread throughout the bloodstream and acquire drug resistance. In my time there, I have become well versed in basic molecular biology techniques and cell culture. I am also a huge advocate for mentorship, and I am currently mentoring a high school student from NCSSM.

Post-Duke plans: Following graduation, I will be attending an MD/PhD program in the Fall of 2024. I hope to bring my research experience together with my clinical exposure to pursue studies in cancer biology or immunology. My eventual goal is to run an academic lab at an institute like Duke, so I plan to be invested in research for a long time!