Class of 2023
Alexandra Bennionis a junior from Tampa, Florida. She is a SPIRE Fellow majoring in Biology, with a special interest in cancer biology. She is a member of the Devi Lab in the Duke School of Medicine’s Department of Surgery, studying inflammatory breast cancer -a rare andunderstudied cancer. Inspired by her research and watching her own mother’s battle with cancer, Alexandra helped celebrate Rare Disease Day on Duke’s campus and spearheaded initiatives to form an undergraduate student coalition for rare cancers. Previously, Alexandra conducted research on immune checkpoint inhibition at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as a 2020 American Physician Scientist’s Association Summer Scholar. Alexandra was also selected as a 2020 Scholar in Marine Medicine, and completed comparative oncology work looking at genes associated with tumor hypoxia. Outside of the lab, Alexandra is passionate about making STEM education more accessible and inclusive through academic research, diversity initiatives, and intervention development. As a 2021 DukeEngage fellow, Alexandra helped lead a science and engineering club with WISER International based in Muhuru Bay, Kenya. Working with female students interested in careers in science and engineering, Alexandra helped empower them as future members of the global STEM community and helped the students design a sustainable passive solar water heating system. Additionally, during her time at Duke, Alexandra has conducted research on team based learning as a Bass Connections team member with Dr. Thomas Newpher and Dr. Minna Ng. She is also a member of the Duke Chemistry Education lab, where she researches methods to make chemistry courses more effective and equitable. Lastly, on campus, Alexandra is a co-founder of Duke Clever Endeavor -a resiliencymentorship program for Durham youth, serves as the Mentorship Chair of the American Women’s Medical Association, is a member of Duke Honor Council, and volunteers with Duke HomeCare and Hospice. After earning her undergraduate degree from Duke, Alexandra plans on pursuing an MD/PhD and a career as a physician-scientist, focused on researching and advocating for rare cancers. In her free time, Alexandra loves to play the clarinet, and has taught music lessons for the past seven years.