Amelia Costello


Piedmont, CA

Academic Interests

Neuroscience and Chemistry

Fun Fact

I lived on a sailboat for 40 days!

Hi! My name is Amelia, and I’m a Trinity student from Piedmont, CA (think SF Bay Area)! I’ve been fascinated by the human brain for as long as I can remember, and had the chance to explore the field of neuroscience in high school through research internships studying Alzheimer’s Disease and, later, nerve-specific fluorescent dyes. During my gap year before I came to Duke, as an Emergency Medical Technician in my home county in California, I responded to countless calls for patients who had been placed on involuntary psychiatric holds after being deemed ‘a danger to self or others’ or ‘gravely disabled’ due to their mental condition; most faced a combination of social challenges, including homelessness, unsafe living conditions, former or current incarceration, and drug dependency. These experiences inspire me to pursue coursework and research at the intersection of neuroscience, public health, and data science, with the goal of understanding the root causes of psychiatric disorders and addiction. As an intern in the Meade Lab through the Huang Fellows program, I had the chance to investigate the effects of cocaine use on HIV-related cognitive impairment. Most recently, through an independent study in the Levin Lab, I investigated the neurodevelopmental effects of early exposure to heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon compounds. 

On campus, I am a Field Training Officer and the Compliance Officer for Duke EMS, as well as the director of the Root Causes Maternal Health Initiative. In my free time, you’ll probably find me exploring downtown Durham with friends, sitting on the swinging benches in Few Quad, forcing my parents to put my dog or cat on FaceTime, or climbing at Wilson.

What do you like about being a SPIRE Fellow?

My favorite thing about being a SPIRE Fellow is having the opportunity to live with and learn alongside classmates with a huge range of academic passions, perspectives, and personal backgrounds. I’m looking forward to the next two years!

Amelia Costello
Amelia Costello