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The Love of Learning

Image of Freddie
Freddie in a lab, sitting in front of a microscopic device

Student-Faculty Connections

The Love of Learning

One conversation with a professor cultivated a student’s fascination with research.

Freddie in a lab, sitting in front of a microscopic device
Image of Freddie

Freddie Xu ‘20 came to Duke not entirely sure of what he wanted to study. But one conversation with a professor at the start of his undergraduate career cultivated a fascination with research that has grown throughout his four years.

As a first-year student, Freddie participated in Project Search, a pre-orientation program that introduces students to research at Duke. During a lunch seminar, he met Dr. Mohamed Noor, professor of biology and dean of the natural sciences within Trinity College of Arts and Sciences. After hearing about Dr. Noor’s research, Freddie decided to take a chance and approach Dr. Noor about working in his lab.

To Freddie’s surprise, Dr. Noor responded enthusiastically. Freddie spent his first year familiarizing himself with the lab and learning research methods. During his sophomore year, he began to contribute to the project of a postdoctoral researcher. By junior year, Dr. Noor asked Freddie if he would like to work on his own project. Since then, Freddie has been researching sexual selection in fruit flies.

Driven by his love of learning, Freddie intends to pursue a doctoral degree in biology at the intersection of evolution and genetics. As a senior applying for graduate school, he feels grateful for Dr. Noor. “I really think all these resources I’ve been able to use and experience have come through him,” he said. “The reason I am where I am is because of his mentorship and his support.”

To students interested in research, Freddie recommends putting yourself out there: “There is no set path to how you can get involved in research. Just try things that interest you and it really will work out. Don’t be afraid to talk to professors, just your sheer interest alone is enough.”