Karina Heaton


Waccabuc, NY

Academic Interests

Potential Major: B.S. Psychology Potential Minor: Biology

Fun Fact

I am both an American and a British citizen

I love being around children, and with whatever career I peruse, I want to be able to help young children in their development and educational experience. In high school, I tutored young children, I was a volunteer reader for children at a medical facility that provides health care to people who do not have insurance, I ran book drives for underprivileged schools, I was a camp counselor, and I frequently babysat. Science has always been a major passion of mine, specifically biology and neuroscience. For three years in high school, I participated in an intensive science research course. In this course, I was allowed to pick a topic I was interested in, find a mentor on my own, create a research project with the mentor, and participate in a research project the summer before senior year.  My project focused on nanotechnology for improved cancer detection.  I interned at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC.  After the research, I participated in many competitions in the New York area. I earned myself a couple of titles, including a recognition award by the Westchester Medicine Academy.  At Duke, I have continued my passion with children by tutoring at the Emily K Center in Durham. I am also a part of Greek life, where my sorority focuses on philanthropy with St. Jude Hospitals.  This is meaningful because it has continued my involvement with medicinal research for children.  Fall 2018 and Spring 2019, I have been participating in a Bass Connections Program – “Wired for Learning”.  This research team combines psychology, education, and neuroscience.  The team and I have worked on improving curriculum in Durham elementary school’s K-2 graders by implementing a cognitive focused curriculum within state standards. This has been a great way for my interests in children, psychology, and neuroscience to all combine together into a meaningful, educational experience for young children. Also, this past summer 2018, I was an intern at a developmental psychology center.  I shadowed psychologists and their work, as well as had the fantastic opportunity of sitting in on case study meetings between the staff. 

What do you like about being a SPIRE Fellow?

SPIRE is meaningful to me because the group of students all love topics in the STEM field, and they are not afraid to say so. In high school, those who enjoyed STEM subjects weren’t appreciated. However, in SPIRE, all of the students understand the frustrating research days and the large time commitment STEM classes need in order to succeed. There is no competition between each other - there is only support and guidance. Dr. Wood-Crowley and Dr. Blackshear help run this fantastic group in a manner that encourages us to come to every dinner despite the busy day we may have had. It is a low-pressure community that I only affiliate with positive attitudes.

Karina Heaton.
Karina Heaton