Carmen Laura Miller


Redwood City, CA

Academic Interests

Chemistry, Biology, and Economics

Fun Fact

I lived in Colombia for 2 years.

I’ve always been a very curious person. I think this is why I like science so much—I love being able to ask a question and pursue it until the end. It was only after a fetal pig dissection in 8th grade, however, that I realized my love for biology. I’m a very visual learner, so being able to see everything I’d been learning laid out in front of me was enthralling. I’ve since expanded to chemistry as well—a course in drug design put pharmacology on the map for me. And although I’m not sure yet of exactly what I want to major in, I know it’ll be something in the natural sciences and I’m so excited to continue exploring within the field. 

I love exploring other subjects as well. Although I’m not interested in pursuing a career in law, legal matters fascinate me. I even did an internship at the San Francisco Superior Court in the Juvenile Dependency department in high school. During this internship, I discovered the intersection of immigration and adoption law, and ended up composing a policy on transnational juvenile dependency for the judge I was assisting. I also wrote pamphlets in Spanish explaining the basics of the dependency system to children that came into the courtroom and the steps they were likely going to experience. Additionally, I have always been very passionate about the arts. I play the piano and love to paint, and have been dancing since I was 5 years old. 

I’ve also done lots of volunteering, mostly in the Latino communities near me. Throughout high school, I taught kids to read and helped them with their homework at my local library. Most of these kids spoke primarily Spanish, so I would converse with them in Spanish to put them at ease. I also volunteered at the Immigration Institute of the Bay Area, leading a class on subjects covered in the US citizenship test that was taught solely in Spanish. Currently, I am part of Duke Health and STEM Connect, where I help design chemistry experiments for middle and high school students in Durham.

What do you like about being a SPIRE Fellow?

One of the main things that drew me to Duke was it’s focus on interdisciplinary academic exploration while still being a strong research institution. The support and encouragement to combine interest areas and explore their intersections is unparalleled. I also love the sense of community and school pride—coming from a small high school, this was something I’ve always wanted. While being here, I have also loved meeting people from all over the world—some of my closest friends are from Venezuela and India. 

Carmen Laura Miller
Carmen Laura Miller