A New Passion for Science


Eden Harris, a junior at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, wrapped up her second internship with the Duke Center for Combinatorial Gene Regulation (CCGR) with enhanced communication skills and a new passion for science. 

“I came into college set on going to go to physician assistant school, but this internship helped me to be more open-minded about my future,” she said.

The internship was offered through the Science Communicators of North Carolina and led at Duke by Karl Bates, executive director of research and communications at Duke University. Harris first applied during her freshman year and was later accepted into the program. She began her internship in the summer of 2022 after an interview with Bates. “I really liked Karl's personality. He was kind and I thought it would be a great fit for me, especially learning a subject different from health care,” Harris said.

Eden Harris working as an intern
Eden Harris exploring the toxicology lab during a visit to North Carolina State University

She was matched with CCGR, and the group served as her sponsor for the program. The internship is mainly remote and is three-months long with 20-hour weeks. Harris was accepted back to the program during her sophomore year and completed her second internship with CCGR in the summer of 2023.

As an intern, Harris assisted faculty and staff leading the Genomics Scholars Program, which was launched by CCGR to increase diversity in the field of genomics. It’s a 10-week training program that offers a range of training activities that aim to expose undergraduate students to STEM and genomics work. Harris said it was an extremely rewarding experience, and something she became extremely passionate about.

“It’s important to have more diversity in STEM in general. More can be accomplished, there can be more ideas and more research can be conducted,” Harris said. “Statistics show that
Black women only make up 9% of the STEM workforce. I felt like I could work towards changing that, and it’s what inspired me to do STEM in college,” she continued.

Harris assisted with several aspects of the Genomic Scholars program, including developing some language for it. “By working with everyone from different disciplines, like scientists and clinical researchers, I learned how to be a clearer communicator, and I became confident in sharing my ideas,” she said.

She created a logo for the program and informed faculty and staff members about activities at NC A&T so there wouldn’t be a scheduling conflict for students and enjoyed attending program meetings. “I liked listening to what everyone had to offer, and also being able to bring my own insight to them,” she said.

“With me being a student and the Genomic Scholars Program being catered to students from historically black colleges and universities, I was able to put my spin on it and try and figure out a way for people my age to be excited to learn about science. Science can be fun, but you have to make it fun for students, so they’ll want to engage with the material,” Harris said.

Outside of completing work for the program, Harris made website updates, created graphics, and wrote online pieces. One of her stories highlighted graduate students collaborating across different disciplines. “I learned how to communicate to a targeted audience,” Harris said.

She earned an immeasurable amount of knowledge and learned to never be afraid of asking questions or advocating for herself, she said. Harris will be interning at Mondelez International Inc. in summer 2024 and will graduate from NC A&T in May 2025.