This year I was fortunate enough to attend the National Conference of Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at Kennesaw State University. At the conference, I was able to converse with other undergraduate researchers about studies from nearly every discipline, from linguistic studies to cancer biology. Moreover, I was able to attend talks by various undergraduates on a wide variety of subjects. A few of my favorites include a discussion about the Drake Equation and its applications to biology, a lecture comparing musical techniques and scales in Western and Eastern music, and a presentation of an undergraduate comic art project meant to elucidate the nature of Japanese yōkai. Moreover, throughout the conference I was able to meet with representatives from various graduate schools to network and learn more about the application process in general. Towards the end of the concert we broke out into open houses based on our academic interests. As a biology major, I attended the Biology department’s open house during which I had the opportunity to connect with multiple faculty members and learn more about their careers and research. Through this conference, not only did I gain knowledge about research in my own areas of expertise, but I also learn more about the culture of academia as a whole.
In addition to NCUR, this summer I traveled to Australia with the Duke in Australia program. We traveled all throughout Australia, from Darwin in the Northern Territory, to Sydney, to the Blue Mountains, Daintree Rainforest, and Great Barrier Reef, to Cairns. Throughout the experience we encountered (and learned to identify) a wide variety of wildlife including but not limited to: cassowaries, kangaroos, crocodiles, and a platypus. Furthermore, we learned about Australia’s geology and ecology through field work and first had experience, spending almost everyday either exploring Australia’s wilderness or visiting museums and cultural sites to learn more about the history of the Aboriginal peoples and European colonization. Overall, the program was a life-changing. I left Australia with a multitude of once-in-a-lifetime experiences and a host of new friendships.