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Student Spotlight Double Feature: Orion Kornfeld and April Zuo

March 1, 2024 | By Mimi Jenness
Originally published by Department of Psychology and Neuroscience

Celebrating March Madness with a special double feature in our student spotlight this month. These two individuals not only share affinity for delving into the intricacies of the brain and Evolutionary Anthropology, but also harbor a passionate commitment to enhancing Duke’s campus life by enriching the experiences of others within the community. They’re both excel at playing a musical instrument. However, beyond these shared interests, these two individuals couldn't be more different in various facets of their lives.

Photo of Orion Kornfeld
Photo courtesy of Orion Kornfeld

Orion Kornfeld is a junior, double majoring in Neuroscience and Evolutionary Anthropology. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Kornfeld arrived at Duke with the hope of pursuing a philosophy major. While taking 'Philosophy of Mind' in his sophomore year, led by Ting Fung Ho, Kornfeld discovered that many questions that intrigued him could be answered by studying the field of neuroscience. Kornfeld aspires to become a researcher in systems neuroscience after completing graduate school. Besides his interests in neuroscience, Kornfeld loves camping, hiking, reading novels, and meditating. Kornfeld is the president of the Buddhist Meditation Community here at Duke and leads guided meditations for the Duke Moments of Mindfulness program every Tuesday.

I hope to go to graduate school and ultimately become a researcher in systems neuroscience." ~Kornfeld

April Zuo in marching band
Photo courtesy of April Zuo

From San Diego, California, we have the fresh-minded sophomore, April Zuo, another double major in Neuroscience and Evolutionary Anthropology with no less an impressive resume. April has her sights set on being a trauma surgeon in the ER, which led her to Biology major. Although her interests have always been in the natural sciences, she found that biology was too broad, and her interests did not extend to learning about plants. After exploring introductory courses and engaging in some lab work, April realized that she wanted to understand the fundamental basis of human actions in day-to-day life and chose to major in Neuroscience. April is currently working in Yang’s lab, leads by Dr. Rebecca Yang, in the Neurobiology department. Currently working with D. melanogaster, she uses optogenetic methods to study their capacity for nonvisual spatial learning. Beyond academics and research, she showcases her musical talent as a bass drum player in the Duke University Marching Band and generously volunteers at the Puppy Kindergarten during her downtime. 

I plan to go into medicine and want to work in the emergency room as a trauma surgeon" ~Zuo