I am a senior from Athens, GA.

I am pursuing a career as a neurosurgeon-scientist. I will be beginning my training in 2013 at Harvard Medical School through the Harvard/MIT MD/PhD program. Through the Medical Scientist Training Program, I will be working towards my MD from Harvard, and a PhD (likely in neuroscience) at either Harvard or MIT.

Although I entered Duke with a vague interest in medicine, I discovered a love for basic systems neuroscience during my freshman year in the neurobiology lab of Dr. Richard Mooney. Specifically, I spend a large chunk of my time outside of class performing intricate surgeries and electrophysiological experiments on the brain of the songbird, with the goal of probing the role of the auditory telencephalon in the maintenance of learned vocalizations. Duke's highly versatile biology major (within which I completed the neurobiology concentration) allowed me to take graduate-level courses as early as my sophomore year in areas spanning from molecular biophysics to neurotoxicology to the neurobiology of disease.

Outside of my research and academic commitments, I currently serve as co-president for the Selective Living Group, Round Table. I have also served as president of the community service organization ArtsConnect, where I teach arts lessons to underprivileged kids. I have also served as a teaching assistant in the Statistics department. Finally, Duke's outstanding piano department has allowed me to continue piano performance, which is my favorite outlet. I have performed in masterclasses with world-class visiting artists, and in front of the Duke Board of Trustees, during my time at Duke. I even had a backstage chat with Barbara Kingsolver along the way!

I am grateful to the A.B. Duke Scholars program for providing me the opportunity to study at Duke and make the most out of my experience. The quality of my peers and of my mentors has exceeded my expectations. I can only imagine how well my Duke experience has prepared me for the next phase of my life.

Academic Awards and Honors

Barry M. Goldwater Scholar (2012)

Phi Beta Kappa (2012)

Amgen Scholar, Caltech (2012)

Trinity Biology Research Forum Fellow (2012)

Dean’s List with Distinction, Duke University (2012-2013)

Dean’s List (2009-2011)

Outstanding Presentation Award, ABRCMS (2011)

Angier B. Duke Research Fellow (2011)

Trinity College Dean’s Summer Research Fellow (2010)

National Merit Scholar (2009)

Valedictorian, Cedar Shoals High School (2009)

Musical Awards and Honors

President’s Showcase for the Arts, Piano Solo (2012)

Masterclass Performances, Piano Solo (2010-2012)

Duke Arts Festival, Piano Solo (2011-2012)

LEAF Award Ceremony for Barbara Kingsolver, Piano Solo (2011)

Duke Board of Trustees Meeting, Piano Solo (2010)

Piano Honors Gala, Piano Solo (2010)

1stPrize, Margaret Guthman Keyboard Competition (2009)

1stPrize, Georgia Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition (2008)

1stPrize, Ruth Kern Young Artist Competition (2008)

1stPrize, Kawai ‘Searching for a Star’ Competition (2007)

1stPrize, All-State Piano Competition (2002-2008)

1stPrize, Georgia Music Teachers’ Association Competition (2004, 2008, 2009)

Academic History


Duke University

Graduation Class


Basic Information


Clara Starkweather

Class of