Kenan Summer Fellows: Past Participants and Projects


In the summer of 2012, the Kenan Institute for Ethics began its Summer Fellows program. Since then, dozens of undergraduates have traveled the U.S. and world to explore what it means to live an ethical life through work and research, transforming their personal and academic lives.

Learn more about former Fellows and their past projects, which have included research and education in Uganda, Peru, Cuba, South Korea, Nepal, China, India, Egypt and many more locations:


2017 Summer Fellows

Bigyan Babu Regmi is a rising sophomore, from Gorkha, Nepal, interested in pursuing Economics. His primary interest is in social interactions of different economic entities and markets during unfavorable conditions. He is also interested in policymaking and the way national policies shape economic development. For his project, Bigyan will work among communities impacted by a 2015 earthquake that destroyed large parts of the capital Kathmandu and towns and villages across the country. He hopes to give a voice to the stories of local reconstruction efforts as communities interact and collaborate for the good of all. His faculty mentor is Richard Collier.

Lucy Dong is a rising sophomore from Cleveland, Ohio, and plans to study Political Science and Public Policy. As a Chinese-American, Lucy has long had interest in cross-cultural comparisons. Her project will take her to China, where she will interview students at Duke Kunshan University and Chinese students studying in the U.S. Through these conversations, she hopes to learn about how cultural and philosophical differences are reflected in the way Chinese people view rights and the role of their government, specifically in terms of media censorship, and within the context of globalization of Western liberalism. Lucy plans to create videos that will share unique insights and explore the possibility of mutual learning between China and Western democracies. Her faculty mentor is David Wong.

Ema Klugman is a rising sophomore from Washington, D.C. She is interested in history, literature, economics, and public policy, but her major is as yet undecided. Ema has a passion for writing, human rights, and women’s empowerment. Her project will examine women in leadership in rural communities in southeast Myanmar. She will carry out interviews in conjunction with the international NGO Mercy Corps and hopes to explore how historical and cultural norms influence women’s decision-making abilities, and ultimately think creatively about how to empower more women to become change-agents in their families and communities. Her faculty mentor is Vasant Kaiwar.

Onuoha Odim is a rising sophomore from Dallas, Texas majoring in Public Policy with an Experiential Ethics certificate and minoring in German. During his first semester at Duke, he collaborated with Richardson, Texas Mayor Paul Voelker to enhance the City Ordinance’s Health Programs. Interacting with Voelker encouraged Onuoha to reach out to community members to help them understand the impact they can have in their own neighborhoods, the foundation of his project. Onuoha will spend the summer interviewing minority residents in Dallas, Houston, and Austin noting views on their communities and evaluating potential methods of legislative change. Onuoha will present the culmination of his research to both the communities in which he’ll work and their representatives. His faculty mentor is Carolyn Yvette Barnes.

Lola Sanchez-Carrion is a rising junior from Lima, Peru double majoring in Global Health and International Comparative Studies. Her academic interests lie in journalism, storytelling, and analyzing the external and internal factors that shape identities of individuals and members of larger, collective social groups. Lola’s project will focus on the ethics of storytelling in Cuba and Peru. In Cuba, her goal is to better understand how a communist regime has influenced social dynamics among the local population. In Peru, she’ll explore how geographical isolation can create social, political, and cultural disconnect between cities of the same country. Her faculty mentor is Miguel Rojas Sotelo.

Angeli Sharma is a rising sophomore from East Windsor, New Jersey. She is interested in studying Neuroscience and Public Policy with a focus on health disparities. Through her project, Angeli plans to research decision making related to allocation of resources in health clinics, domestic and abroad, and how physicians working in clinics view low-income patients. Her interest in medical ethics stems from her long-term association with the nonprofit organization Ekal Vidyalaya, for which she spent a summer in India working with teachers to educate children in basic hygiene practices and with physicians in medical campsites to treat the people in rural and tribal villages. Her faculty mentor is Margaret Humphreys.

2016 Summer Fellows

Aydin Anwar is a rising sophomore from Fairfax, Virginia, interested in studying Neuroscience and Documentary Studies. As an ethnic Uyghur herself, she is particularly passionate about the lives of Uyghurs from East Turkistan, a nation currently under the occupation of China. In her free time she enjoys baking, having deep conversations with close friends, and watching Netflix. This summer, she will be traveling to Istanbul and Kayseri, Turkey to delve into the past and present stories of the Uyghur diaspora population by interviewing Uyghur refugees and creating a documentary film. Through the film, she hopes that to not only shed light on the stories of an unknown, oppressed population, but also influence the viewers’ framing of their ethical viewpoints.

Evan Nicole Bell is a rising junior from Columbia, Maryland, pursuing a Program II degree entitled “Documenting Justice: The Role of Photographic Narratives in Activism.” In addition to her passions for documentary photography and activism, she loves to play the classical guitar and explore the great restaurants that Durham has to offer. Evan will spend the summer facilitating a non-profit initiative that she founded to subsidize the cost of travel for children in the Baltimore-Washington corridor to visit their incarcerated parents. Additionally, she will partner with a national non-profit to advocate for improving the quality and efficacy of parent-child visits. She will share the stories of families affected by incarceration in an ethical, meaningful way by culminating her work in the creation of a documentary photography portfolio and exhibition.

Amanda Gavcovich is a rising junior from Miami, Florida, majoring in Public Policy and Women’s Studies. She spent her last summer interning for the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office, curious about the ethics that guide all involved in criminal justice. The project will consist of conducting interviews of prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges as well as taking a deeper look into jury selection to uncover racial, gender, and socioeconomic biases employed in criminal proceedings. The main focus will be on the changing attitude on the death penalty in Florida and language used in sexual battery cases.

Rajiv Golla is a rising senior from Daytona Beach, Florida, studying Political Science, History, and Visual Media Studies. His primary focus is in journalism and telling the stories of war and life in East and Central Africa. While in South Sudan in July 2015, he met a number of Indian commodity traders based in Juba that had amassed fortunes supplying basic goods to the war stricken nation. Their presence is a common sight in the continent’s most fraught areas; this summer, Rajiv will be traveling to Kampala, Uganda, and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, to study these Indian entrepreneurs and their relations to the wars in neighboring countries. He will investigate the networks and justifications they employ in profiteering from devastating conflict and the threads they hold in the fragile institutions that govern these nations.

2015 Summer Fellows

Gautam Chebrolu is a rising Junior from Columbus, GA majoring in Biomedical and Electrical and Computer Engineering with a certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. As part of the certificate program he is constantly encouraged to think about pursuing social entrepreneurship, which led to the foundation of this project. Gautam will spend the summer trying to get a better grasp on what social entrepreneurship by focusing on the scalability of microfinance. After investing in a borrower through the online microfinance facilitator Kiva, he will travel to the Kiva offices in San Francisco, and then to Nairobi, Kenya to see where the money has gone.

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Jeff Feng is a rising junior from Virginia majoring in Environmental Sciences & Policy and minoring in Economics. He is interested in the intersections of environmental justice and sustainability, particularly in the realm of energy. In his free time, he frequents local farmer’s markets, reads books that were once trendy, and watches docufiction films. Jeff will be researching the impacts of surface mining and the ethics of necessity. He will be interviewing miners, activists, and other community members in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia and the Hunter Valley of Australia and focus on their experiences with surface mining. He will address the ethical questions that miners and activists encounter in their respective jobs and those of neutral parties caught in the middle of divisive environmental conflicts.

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Snehan Sharma is a rising sophomore from Grayson, Georgia studying History and Public Policy. He is particularly interested in refugee policy and the experiences of recently resettled refugees. In his free time he likes to discover new music and explore Durham. This summer, Snehan will be spending much of his time in Clarkston, GA, near where he grew up. Over the last few decades, Clarkston has been identified as a key location for refugee resettlement in the United States. On his mission to learn more about this diverse city and the ethical challenges faced by local refugee youth as they integrate, Snehan will be interviewing a variety of individuals who play different roles in this community.

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Alex Zrenner is a rising junior from St. Louis, Missouri majoring in Economics with a minor in Mathematics. She interested in the ethics of the online society and economy. Alex will be working with a cyber harassment victim advocacy organization, and interviewing targets of cyber harassment throughout the summer and also at VidCon, a conference for online video enthusiasts. She will explore how cyber harassment violates free speech, and how targets can respond to harassment while protecting free speech. Alex plans to create a collection of different techniques that victims of cyber harassment can use to respond.

2014 Summer Fellows

Lara Haft is a rising sophomore from Rockville, Maryland majoring in Political Science and Economics. She is interested in studying the intersections of race, gender, and wealth in American politics and enjoys writing and performing Spoken Word poetry.

Lara will be spending the summer crafting a portfolio of spoken-word poetry that explores the ethics of recounting stories of oppression, especially from a peripheral, advantaged perspective. She will spend time in Birmingham, Alabama and Cape Town, South Africa, interviewing of older women about their respective experiences before, during, and after the American Civil Rights Movement and the end of South African Apartheid. Her poetry will explore the themes of these conversations, as well as on the ethical challenges of sharing stories from an outsider’s position.

Caroline Horrow is a rising junior from Florida majoring in biomedical engineering, with a certificate in genome science & policy and a minor in global health. Her interests include Duke basketball, SNL, music, and crafting.

Caroline’s research focuses on the ethical training of service groups volunteering abroad. Her project will follow service groups in Uganda and explore how effectively they are trained, and how well that training translates into awareness and implementation.

2013 Summer Fellows

Christine Delp is a sophomore pursuing a major in Program II: Ethics and Visual Documentary Studies. She enjoys filmmaking, traveling, and coffee.

Christine’s project uses visual documentary methods to explore the effects of globalization on the indigenous Inuit population in Greenland. As climate change drastically alters the traditional cultural, economic, and environmental landscapes of Greenland, the Greenlandic people face crucial ethical decisions about the future of their nation, including whether to allow foreign mining industries to begin excavating potentially billions of dollars worth in minerals beneath the melting ice. Christine’s project will examine both the ethics of these issues and the ethical decision-making process of a population whose entire way of life is on the brink of radical change.

Cece Mercer is a sophomore from Ohio double majoring in Environmental Science and Public Policy. She is a Korean adoptee. Her favorite things to do include pie baking and studying outside while listening to Nat King Cole.

Cece will explore the evolving ethics of adoption in South Korea, its cultural basis, and the impact of Korean legislative attempts to eliminate international adoptions. More narrowly, she will focus on the ethics of a birth parent search in Korea and the implication birth parent-adoptee connections have on family dynamics.

2012 Summer Fellows

Seven Kenan Summer Fellows took part in the program’s inaugural season. They conducted research on three continents, examining everything from refugee communities in Boston to the ethics of vaccine development, and providing weekly updates throughout the summer on the Kenan Summer Fellows blog.

Sadhna Gupta (T’13): Politics and Religion in Refugee Resettlement in the US
Sadhna’s project developed from her experience with the 2012 Winter Forum. She examined how religion and politics affect the refugee resettlement process. Beginning with an analysis of the historical and political development of current US refugee resettlement policies that rely heavily on the work of faith-based organizations, she also examined what alternative models exist. She then turned her focus to the particular practices and viewpoints of resettlement organizations and refugees in the Boston area, and especially the relationship between Hindus and Christians at various points in the process. Her project addresses issues of responsibility, religious pluralism and tolerance, and the challenges of multi-culturalism. Faculty mentor: Katie Hyde (CDS/Education)

Mark Herzog (T’15): Ethical Duties in the Pharmaceutical Industry
Mark’s project was to map the ethical viewpoints and practices of various players in the pharmaceutical system regarding how incentives are currently used to create and distribute drugs, as well as other models (besides incentives) for encouraging the development and distribution of drugs. He particularly focused on a comparison between the approach and experiences of a not-for-profit vaccine developer in the RTP and the approach and experiences of the more common for-profit manufacturers. His project addresses issues of accountability, regulation, and social justice, and doesn’t expect to find any easy answers. Faculty mentor: Jason Cross (DGHI)

Gautam Joseph (T’13): Ethics of Humanitarian Aid in Cairo, Egypt
Gautam’s project developed from his experience participating in the 2012 Winter Forum. Through contacts he met at Winter Forum, Gautam has obtained an unpaid internship in Cairo, Egypt. Gautam’s project addressed two ethical issues. One raised a question that reflects on a general concern for how to determine what qualifies an undergraduate student to assist people in urgent need of effective and efficient assistance. The second ethical issue addressed by this project focused particularly on refugees and the ethical implications of the legal requirement that refugees tell and retell their stories to complete strangers in order to obtain resettlement. Faculty mentor: Catherine Admay (Sanford)

David Mayer (T’14): Grandfather’s Diary: Documenting a Life’s Search for Meaning
David’s project was to make a film investigating a diary written by his grandfather while living in Germany during WWII. He researched the diary by traveling to Germany and deepening his understanding of the life his grandfather recorded in his diaries before, during, and after his time spent in a German labor camp in the Harz Moutnains. David’s documentary project explored the ethical challenges faced by his grandfather and other family members during the Holocaust, but in the context of developing an understanding of how his grandfather defined an ethical life prior to as well as after the Holocaust. Faculty mentor: Gary Hawkins (CDS)

John McLean (T’13): Personal Computing and Christian Ethics
John explored the moral challenges of personal computing and social media use from a Christian perspective. How do ethically-minded Christian communities respond to rapid changes in technology? What would “a Christian ethic of personal computing” entail? John examined personal computing/mobile technology use in a variety of settings and forms, the potential constructive and destructive ways these technologies can be used, and how a Christian ethic can guide Christian communities in their responses to these possibilities. Faculty mentor: Adam Hollowell (Divinity/Public Policy)

Rosaria Nowhitney (T’15): Discovering Radical Hope at Kagoma Gate, Uganda
Rosie’s project took her to Uganda to explore the creation of a multi-ethnic/multi-national community by people who had all experienced violence either in Uganda or in their home countries of Rwanda, Sudan, the Congo, and Kenya. What does community mean in such a setting? What provides the foundation for trusting social relations among people who have a background of betrayal by close friends and neighbors? Currently living in extreme poverty and with few economic opportunities outside of work on a local sugar plantation, what, if anything, gives them a sense of purpose and hope for the future? Rosie draws on philosopher Jonathan Lear’s concept of “radical hope” to develop these questions. Faculty mentor: Suzanne Shanahan (KIE/Sociology)

Nyuol Tong (T’14): Leading an Ethical Life: The Moral Dilemmas of South Sudanese Americans
Nyuol’s project examined how South Sudanese Americans live an ethical life. How do they manage the tension between the ethical life defined by their Dinka heritage and the ethical life as defined by many Americans? For example, how to balance an ethic that would require sharing among one’s peers with an ethic that requires respect for private property? Nyuol’s project addressed ethical issues related to multiculturalism and moral development, as he is particularly interested in how South Sudanese American parents instruct their children in proper behavior. Faculty mentor: Charles Piot (Cultural Anthropology)