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Selena L

- Research Program Mentor

PhD at Duke University


Cancer Research, Brain Cancer, Novel Cancer Treatments, Immunology, Immunotherapy, Science Communication


I received my PhD in immunology from Duke University where I studied how brain cancer impacts the immune system. I am passionate about science and research as a way to help people, particularly cancer patients. In addition, I am passionate about finding better ways to communicate science to non-scientists. I studied Biology at Bowdoin College in Maine then moved to Boston and worked in a cancer research lab Massachusetts General Hospital. I later moved to North Carolina for my PhD research at Duke University in the Brain Tumor Immunotherapy Program. My research experiences have been an effort to try to help create better treatment options for cancer patients! When I'm not in lab, you can find me working out, reading, or cooking (but mostly eating)! I love to travel and find ways to learn and practice new languages!

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Covid Communication: Vaccines

In this project, students will learn the principles of vaccines, including the similarities and differences between the three Covid-19 vaccines currently authorized by the FDA, and the principles of how vaccines impact the immune system. Students will create an output of your choice, either a short video, podcast or review paper outlining the key information regarding how these vaccines work and the pros/cons of each.

Immunotherapy: how we can use the immune system to fight cancer

Throughout this project, students can learn more basics of the immune system and apply that knowledge to a therapeutic area. Students can pick one or more immunotherapies to study and describe how these treatment rely on features of the immune system to help treat cancer. This project can be customized based on where the student wants to focus- we can easily work on a publishable review paper or create an oral presentation for students to share at the Polygence Symposium of Rising Scholars. In either option, students would have the opportunity to practice communicating science to both scientific and non-scientific audiences.

Languages I know

German- conversational

Teaching experience

Throughout college I tutored high school biology students and was a teaching assistant who taught Chemistry to individuals and small groups. I have also been a teaching assistant for three graduate-level courses at Duke and I have recently tutored high school students in chemistry and AP biology.


Work experience

Thermo Fisher Scientific (2014 - 2014)
Summer research intern
Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (2015 - 2015)
Summer research intern
Massachusetts General Hospital (2016 - 2018)
Research Technician


Bowdoin College
BA Bachelor of Arts (2016)
Duke University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy

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