Cindy Xu


San Jose, CA

Academic Interests

Economics (Finance), Public Policy, Statistics

Fun Fact

I have seen all 40 seasons of Survivor, and can talk about my favorite episodes for hours on end.

My name is Cindy Xu, and I am a freshman from San Jose, CA. I am an economics major, but I am highly interested in a variety of STEM fields, shaped by my past experiences. In high school, I volunteered at my county’s Peer Court, competed in business case competitions, and ran my own startup selling sustainable art. Currently, I am a part of the Economics Student Union and the Bench & Bar Pre-law Society.

I am interested in combining entrepreneurship and statistical sciences for sustainability initiatives. As someone who feels strongly about the importance of innovation, modelling, and research to reinvent our irreversible impact on the planet, I am studying STEM at Duke in hopes of creating groundbreaking technology that will impact our environment and the quality of life for our future generations. 

Having been a debater since middle school, I have always seen the topic of climate change commonly mentioned. We would cite headlines such as “Climate Change Will be Irreversible by 2030” and “Investing in the Environment Benefits the Economy in the Long Run,” citing estimates from statisticians on the impacts of rising temperatures, ranging from natural disasters to resource shortages to health issues. However, years into my career, I noticed that my peers and I had begun taking a cynical approach on the issue. Oftentimes, I would win debates arguing that climate change and environmental damage is irreversible and thus should be expected, no matter what policies we enact.

I refuse to believe that this is the perspective we should be embracing. In the short term, I resolve to conduct research, combining my passion for economics and statistics to gauge the impact of climate change on how we live on a day-to-day basis, and compiling information on what sustainability initiatives are effective, juxtaposed against the technology that we lack. I hope to, in the long run, delve into entrepreneurship and apply my research to creating and testing real world solutions that may mitigate emissions, save water usage, and more.

What do you like about being a SPIRE Fellow?

I am excited to be a SPIRE Fellow for its tight-knit community and access to mentors and resources! My ambitions for the future entail research and experimentation, and I have confidence in the SPIRE community to be there for me. With my peers, I look forward to giving and receiving feedback on our ideas and supporting one another in our endeavors. With my mentors, I look forward to dinners and discussions that will broaden my perspectives. With my community, I look forward to hearing from guest speakers that will provide unique insight on their own work.

Cindy Xu
Cindy Xu