P&N Person of the Week: Karen Young

P&N Person of the Week: Karen Young

Karen (KC) Young, a Duke senior from Wisconsin, harbors a strong sense of Midwest pride. She has three younger brothers. Her mother is a pediatrician, which Karen says may have influenced her decision to pursue a career in medicine. She recalls spending much of her time around children, and her fascination with them has led to working in the Wilbourn Infant Development Lab. In her free time, Karen likes to run (fun fact: she ran a full marathon the weekend before finals!) KC is a member of ADPi, Psi Chi, and Phi Beta Kappa. Karen volunteers with Duke Hospice and the Ronald McDonald House. She also works at Bull City Fit. In her undergraduate career, Karen participated in DukeEngage (Kochi, India). KC is academically exceptional: she has earned her spot on the Dean's List with distinction for all four years. When she isn't in the Social-Psychology building, you can find her in K-ville this spring, living in a tent like a true Cameron Crazie

How many years of service do you have at Duke?

I began my academic career as a first-year student in August 2014. I began working in this lab during the second semester of my first year. Since then, I have spent every semester with this department; I also spent one of my summer semesters doing research here as well. By the time I graduate in May, I will have three years of service with this department. 

Tell us about your affiliation with P&N:

First, I am earning my B.S. in psychology, which requires a combination of neuroscience and psychology classes. This has been helpful to knock out some of my pre-med requirements. I also work in Dr. Makeba Wilbourn's lab. In the lab, I did various Research Assistant (RA) tasks. Right now, I am writing an honor's thesis with the assistance of Dr. WIlbourn and Dr. Tomasello. We are looking at joint attention and different communicative cues. This particular topic fascinates me because I have younger brothers who grew up with language issues; nonverbal cues became their way to communicate. I am appreciative to those of this department who allowed me to have such a great research opportunity as an undergraduate. 

What do you like about this department?

I admire how involved and engaged everyone is here. I have worked with numerous professors who are in different divisions of the department, such as developmental, educational, etc. I appreciate and enjoy having a well-rounded experience with this department and its faculty, who are very supportive. Additionally, I am thankful for the focus on undergraduate students. Many universities do not allow undergraduates in the research process. There's not much engagement outside the classroom. But, here at Duke, and especially in this department, undergraduates are encouraged to involve themselves and are supported when they choose to do so. 

What is your favorite P&N memory?

The summer before my senior year (summer of 2017), I participated in the Vertical Integration Program (VIP), which allows students to research a topic that will most likely be their senior theses. The entire summer was amazing, but I particularly loved the poster session at the end. Many of the psychology faculty came, along with faculty from other Duke departments. They were eager to hear about our research; we were eager to talk about the work we had done. 

Do you have any hidden talents?

I play the oboe...not well, but I play. I am also an exceptional seaweed raker. I lived on a lake in Wisconsin, where a particularly invasive species of seaweed threatened the boats. I quickly learned how to effectively rake the plant.

What others say about her:

"KC’s exceptional intellect and motivation are only matched by her authenticity, kindness, and humility. She is one of the most intelligent students I have ever worked with. She has a gentle strength that makes her such an incredibly successful leader. KC possesses a wisdom, humility, and poise well beyond her years. There are truly not enough adjectives to describe KC and her potential." -Dr. Makeba Wilbourn, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience 


"KC (as we call her in the lab) is one of the most amazingly bright, intelligent, kind, and driven students whom I am grateful and proud to have in the WILD lab, she's one of a kind. I, myself, look up to KC, despite being her supervisor as she is diligent in her work ethic and ALWAYS gets the job done. Her future is extremely bright and I await her future accomplishments as Dr. Young!” -Primula Lane, WILD Lab Coordinator

KC's story does not end here; after Duke, she plans on attending medical school. No matter where she goes, we know that she will be successful!