Amelia Costello


Piedmont, CA

Academic Interests

Neuroscience and Computer Science

Fun Fact

I lived on a sailboat for 40 days!

I’ve always been fascinated by the human brain, particularly by how it functions and malfunctions. During my sophomore year of high school I joined an Alzheimer’s Disease research lab at UC San Francisco, and spent my days homogenizing human brains and analyzing images of mouse brains for Tau protein accumulation. That, combined with my exposure to the powers of biotech through an Advanced Biotechnology summer class, heightened my curiosity about neurobiology and about using novel technologies to study the brain. 

Prior to my first year at Duke, I took a gap year to explore my personal, professional, and academic interests - to date, I think it’s the best life decision I’ve ever made! During the fall, as a research assistant in an interdisciplinary neuroscience/biomedical engineering lab at Oregon Health & Science University, I studied a nerve-specific fluorescent dye with the intent of allowing surgeons to visualize and avoid damaging hidden nerves. My eyes were opened to the opportunities for leveraging technology to not only understand the human body, but also to improve health and alleviate suffering. In the spring, I gained experience with patient care and saw the effects of health inequities - something I hope to learn more about through courses and research at Duke - as an Emergency Medical Technician for Royal Ambulance. To wrap up my gap year, I spent 40 days aboard a 90-foot sailboat in the Caribbean Lesser Antilles, sailing, diving, snorkeling, and learning through formal courses and my own exploration about the marine ecosystem and organisms around me. 

Here at Duke, I am part of the American Experiences FOCUS cluster, an EMT on the campus DUEMS squad, a Clinic Coordination Officer for the Remote Area Medical club (aka DukeRAM), and a (very amateur) member of the Duke Climbing club. In my free time, you’ll probably find me exploring downtown Durham with friends, getting iced coffee from Cloche, forcing my parents to put my dog or cat on FaceTime, or making Spotify playlists.   

What do you like about being a SPIRE Fellow?

My favorite thing about Duke, as cliche as it sounds, has been the people here. I’ve met and learned from students (and professors) with a huge range of academic passions, perspectives, and personal backgrounds. Beyond that, there are SO many opportunities, both inside and outside the classroom, to choose from. I’m looking forward to the next four(ish) years!

Amelia Costello
Amelia Costello