2016 Amanda
Senior - Northeastern University
Major: Biology Minor Mathematics & International Affairs 
Amanda Luken is a rising fourth year student at Northeastern University. She is an Honors student and is a Biology major with minors in Mathematics and International Affairs. Upon completing her Bachelors Amanda aspires to matriculate into a doctorate program in global health. 

During her undergraduate career, she has pursued her passion for public health by working as a medical assistant in an outpatient pediatrics office and as an international intern at a local-led NGO in Chennai, India. While in India, she conducted public health workshops for the at-risk youth residing at the organization and researched domestic violence reduction among Chennai slum-dwellers. Besides India, Amanda has traveled to Kenya to learn about community development and Kenyan public health. While in Kenya, she researched the prevalence of motor vehicle accidents, as well as public awareness and knowledge of rare communicable diseases. While in Boston, she works in a Psychology lab that studies how introductory biology education can lead to misconceptions of biological concepts and processes.

In her free time, Amanda, the Vice President of Northeastern’s SASE chapter, enjoys planning SASE activities with her fellow eboard members, watching plays produced by local theater companies, practicing yoga, and reading the Nautilus magazine and Eric Barker’s articles. Amanda also belongs to the Tri Beta National Biological Honors Society, Northeastern University’s Honors Program, Biology Club, and Partners in Health Engage.

What motivates you to expand STEM outreach ? How do you think STEM outreach will change the world?

I’m motivated to expand STEM outreach to create a collaborative community of people from different backgrounds. With this diverse community, STEM research can help change the world by developing more sustainable solutions, where STEM professionals are more aware of the possible effects their products or research may have. I think STEM outreach can help individuals become more mindful of the consequences in the STEM field - of the unfortunate possibility of creating drug-resistant antibiotics, of developing water solutions relevant to culture and in tune with the citizens’ wants in developing countries, and of considering political, religious and social effects of their actions. If we can emphasize the positive and negative impact of STEM during STEM outreach, we can not only improve our future, but we can also prevent or reduce the time and money wasted to fix the negative consequences of STEM findings or products.

What is one of your most memorable experience from your STEM outreach?  

Northeastern University SASE’s annual scavenger hunt at the local museum has to be my most unforgettable STEM outreach experience. I loved contributing to this fun, educational event for individuals of all backgrounds. STEM and non-STEM students participate in this interactive photo scavenger hunt that tests their STEM knowledge via riddles encrypted in binary to cryptic messages for esoteric STEM facts. It’s a great event to create lasting relationships and rekindle individuals’ passion for STEM.

What do find most enjoyable? What do you do in your free time?

I enjoy organizing events and applying creativity. Currently, in my free time, I refresh my programming skills in R, practice piano, continue to learn German and Mandarin, read, and hang out with friends.

When have you been most satisfied in your life?

I think I am the most satisfied now. Having just returned from India after interacting with the at-risk youth, the rescued human trafficking victims, and the dedicated staff, I have become appreciative of what I have – materialistically, opportunistically, socially, and academically. In the past I was so caught up with competing against others or comparing myself to others, but after understanding how privileged I am relative to others in the world and learning to do what makes me happy, I have found that I continue to strive for my goals with less stress. I have become more confident and self-aware of my emotions, strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, though, I have learned to make more time for myself and to just enjoy life any day of the week.

What is your favorite subject in school and why?

My favorite subject in school is statistics, because learning statistics gives me the opportunity to program and to apply mathematics, to a degree. The subject challenges me differently than my typical biology courses. Statistics offers a systematic approach to answering questions posed by a variety of fields and allows for the fast dissemination of findings through visual representations and usually intuitive numerical values. I enjoy learning to program in R in my statistics classes because as a Biology major, I have no previous experience with programming and using R curtails the statistical analysis process. I also like statistics, because I look forward to improving in the subject and applying it throughout my career.