As part of my undergraduate journey at Duke, I pursued an interdisciplinary curriculum to understand how I can integrate my engineering training to tackle real-world problems. Real-world problems are multifaceted, so having a broad perspective is necessary to tackle these problems.
SOCIOL 110: Sociological Inquiry
Term: Fall 2020, 140 Hours
Instructor: Dr. Craig Rawlings
This course served as an introduction to social networks, groups, organizations, and institutions in the United States. In this class, we learned about the ethical considerations of income inequality, education, and healthcare. We also learn about how cultural and social constructions have led to the creation of scientific and professional norms and individual characteristics. Social determinants of health can greatly impact the accessibility of medicine to patients, demonstrating the need to accelerate the drug development process.
PSY 101: Introductory Psychology
Term: Spring 2021, 140 Hours
Instructor: Dr. Craig Rawlings
This course served as an introduction to psychology and covers the nervous system, how our sensory system perceives, how humans learn, and the theory behind emotion, social influence, and behavior. As part of this class, we learned about the psychological research framework and devised a research proposal. My research proposal aimed to investigate how the effects of caffeine on memory consolidation differ depending on sleep quantity. Psychology plays a key role in how individuals perceive and make decisions. This class introduced me to the psychological impacts patients experience while battling a disease, emphasizing the need for better medicines to be engineered given the effects that illness can cause on mental health.
HISTORY 239: History of Chinese Medicine
Term: Fall 2021, 140 Hours
Instructor: Dr. Nicole Barnes
This course covers the history of medicine through the philosophy and traditional medical practices and theory in China. In this class, we learn about how the foundations of these beliefs emerged, how medicine in China evolved over time, and how the introduction of Western biomedicine led to changes in Chinese medicine during the 20th century. As part of this class, I worked on a group research project on acupuncture anesthesia in 20th century China and its rise to global fame. Check out our website here! The biggest takeaway I had from this class was the mindset for conducting historical research. It is important to consider the political, economic, and social circumstances of a given time period and location when evaluating history. Similarly, these determinants should also be given greater consideration in scientific and medical research because it dictates how individuals make decisions about their health.
Bass Connections: Duke International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM)
Date: September 2020 – October 2022
Advisor: Dr. Cameron Kim
Duke International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) is an undergraduate-led synthetic biology research group. Clinical glioblastoma treatment is limited by the lack of a scalable, physiologically relevant model for drug testing. To address this, we are developing a brain organoid-based drug screening platform to characterize treatment efficacy in IDH1-mutated patient-derived glioma cells. A plasmid reporter system is used to quantify the concentration of D-2-HG, an oncometabolite upregulated by IDH1, as a readout for tumor growth. When a drug that reduces D-2-HG levels is added to the system, the fluorescence or luminescence levels in the glioma cells will decrease. We designed the fluorescent and luminescent reporter plasmids, synthesized the constructs using PCR and Gibson Assembly, and transfected them into HEK 293T cells. Additionally, we electroporated commercially available plasmids into primary glioma cells as a proof-of-concept for integrating our own plasmids into these cells. We are working on finalizing our reporter constructs, integrating them into our co-culture system, and testing the efficacy of therapies using our platform. We published our project as a website, were awarded the 2021 iGEM Team Impact grant, presented at the 2021 iGEM Giant Jamboree, and won a silver medal at the 2022 iGEM Grand Jamboree.