Students Go Far — and Near — for Summer Field Experiences

Participating in field-based research is one of the formative parts of the global health education. But more students are finding you don't have to travel far to expand your horizons.

Student Research Training students in Pamlico County, North Carolina

Members of the 2022 Student Research Training program team in Pamlico County, North Carolina, one of a growing number of U.S. locations where students are engaged in community-based health research.

By Joan Kimani

Published May 29, 2024, last updated on May 31, 2024 under Education News

Seventy students will head out this summer to participate in global health field experiences, one of the most inspiring and transformational parts of global health education at Duke. But many are not traveling far, reflecting a broader definition of what it means to work in the field. 

More than one third of those students will undertake field experiences within the United States, performing community-based research in low- and middle-income communities that mirror the health disparities often associated with global locations. While Duke Global Health Institute students have been engaged in domestic projects for many years, this is the largest percentage of students completing their field experiences within the U.S.

Those domestic projects include an ongoing collaboration in North Carolina’s Pamlico County, a rural area where many residents lack access to health services. For the past several years, DGHI has placed students in the county as part of the Student Research Training program, in which teams of undergraduate students work alongside local partners to perform community-based research. This year, SRT students will assess needs and barriers to care for hypertension, along with other projects to aid county health agencies in improving access to services. 

I’m looking forward to not only contributing but also learning from our partners who have been engaged in this vital work for a long time.

Lucy Weyer — Master of Science in Global Health student

Other students will complete their fieldwork internationally, spreading out to more than a dozen countries, including China, Panama, Singapore, South Africa and Kenya.

Lucy Weyer, a student in the Master of Science in Global Health program, will travel to Guatemala to conduct qualitative research on the intersections of HIV, mental health and violence among indigenous gay and bisexual men.

“I’m looking forward to not only contributing but also learning from our partners who have been engaged in this vital work for a long time, ” says Weyer. 

All students in the Master of Science in Global Health program conduct field-based projects, along with many undergraduate students who participate through programs such as SRT or Bass Connections. DGHI also supports third-year medical students in completing global clinical experience.

Some students, such as global health master’s student Galiya Kaidarova, will complete field requirements by participating in practice-based internships, which are designed to provide hands-on experience implementing and evaluating health programs. 

Kaidarova will participate in two summer internships related to her interests in food and nutrition. For part of the summer, she will work with the DGHI Healthy Eating Research program, conducting research on digital food marketing to children. After that, she will work with an international development agency focusing on global nutrition challenges. 

“I am looking forward to gaining valuable hands-on experience in both contexts, developing both personally and professionally, and meeting new people who share the same passion for nutrition as I do,” she says. 

For the first time, students are also satisfying global health experiential learning requirements through participation in a DukeEngage program at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, North Carolina, reflecting the important intersections between marine conservation, climate change and global helth. 

Catie Fristoe, an undergraduate student who will take part in the Marine Lab program, says she will be working with the Coastal Carolina Riverwatch to create a citizen science project. She will also lead after-school programs for kids on marine conservation. 

“I am excited to be in an area so different and far away from my home in California and am looking forward to integrating myself into the Beaufort community. I plan to listen and learn from as many community members as I can,” she says.