Summer 2023 ASCEND Coaches & Graders

The coaches and grader are the stars of the ASCEND program! They are older Duke students who know what it takes to succeed at Duke and are eager to share their knowledge. Each coach leads a small team of incoming students and guides them through the program.  They are available to answer any questions about STEM at Duke or campus life. So, ask away!

Sawyer Grovel '24

Sawyer Grovogel is from Green Bay, Wisconsin originally, but now lives near Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a rising senior majoring in Chemistry on a premed track. He is an executive member of the Duke Initiative for Urban Studies, a Global Fellow, a member of the Duke Aviation Association, works on research regarding functional biomaterials in the Becer Lab, and works with Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention and Education. Sawyer is a big movie fan and also enjoys rock climbing and hanging out with friends. 

Daisja Honorable '24

Daisja Honorable is a rising senior majoring in Neuroscience with minors in Chemistry and Spanish on the pre-med track. She is from outside of Chicago, IL and also spends a lot of time around Atlanta, GA, but she can’t pick a favorite between the two. She has two dogs at home named Hazel and Blue, and adopted a rabbit in January that she named Snoopy. She loves playing guitar, baking, running, getting her nails done, and shopping. Outside of ASCEND, Daisja is involved with peer mentoring for the DukeLIFE office, is one of the co-directors of the Project Lead orientation program for incoming first-year students (which she helped create last summer), and will be studying to take the MCAT this fall. After graduation, Daisja will be taking a gap year before medical school to work in a clinical setting, do research, and/or take some time to travel. 

Emma Maddock '25

Emma Maddock is a rising junior from Winston-Salem, NC. She is pursuing a degree in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in bioinformatics and computational biology. When she’s not studying or with friends, she loves going to the gym and exploring Durham. She is involved in many clubs, most of which she holds leadership positions in. These include: Theta Tau, Biomedical Engineering Society, Class Councils, Society of Women Engineers, Engineering World Health, Women’s Wellness Club, Camp Kesey, and Adopt a Grandparent. She also works for the Annual Fund on campus, is a Clark Scholar, and a biomedical engineering fellow. In addition, she is a volunteer student research assistant in the Roper Lab. 

Katie Newton '24

Katie is a rising senior from Denver, Colorado studying Biology. She has been involved with DukeLIFE, Project WILD, Duke QuestBridge chapter, Club Swim, research with faculty, and SLGs on campus, and she has loved Duke so far! Katie plans to become a marine mammal trainer in the future, with the goals of rehabilitation, entertainment, and general care.

Elle Strand

Elle Strand graduated from Duke University with a BS in Biology and a BA in Global Health. Over her undergraduate career, Elle spearheaded research regarding quality of and access to leprosy care options in Sri Lanka; emergency care for scarf-related injuries in Bangladesh; and the dynamics and drivers of domestic minor sex trafficking in the United States. Her senior capstone with the Duke Global Health Institute investigated the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 in Durham, NC. For her undergraduate work, Elle was awarded the Outstanding Capstone Award and the Michael Merson Undergraduate Student Leadership Award in Global Health. Currently, Elle works as a Project Coordinator under the mentorship of Joao Ricardo Nickenig Vissoci, PhD, MSc, MBA; Catherine Staton, MD, MSc; and Charles Gerardo, MD. Her interests are in trauma-informed medicine and adapting care systems to increase access among vulnerable populations. As such, her primary research projects involve increasing access to antivenom in the Brazilian Amazon and understanding the effects of climate change on health in Durham, NC. Elle also works as a teaching assistant for three graduate courses taught by Dr. Staton and Dr. Vissoci on grant writing, implementation science, and systematic reviews.


Diya Patel