New Students

Project Search

The 2018 Pre-Orientation Application will open in May 2018 

Learn More About Project Search 

project search logo

Welcome! Here you can learn about Project Search, the best way to get a jumpstart on your four years at Duke. pSearch is designed as an introduction to undergraduate research. Over two weeks, participants will be introduced to the discoveries at this high-powered research university and gain the basic skill set to start their own experience--all before their classmates even step foot on campus! Incoming students can choose from two research tracks. In the sciences track, students will learn valuable lab techniques through the completion of a metagenomics project. In the humanities track, students will use humanistic inquiry to develop their own research projects in an area of their choosing. Whether you are curious about history, art, literature, music, economics, law, politics, global health, or a different topic, you will have the chance to explore your interests by performing an independent research project.

Project Search Sciences Track in the Lab Project Search Humanities Track students doing research

pSearch will:

  • For the science track, teach basic biology lab skills through a metagenomic analysis of micro-environments around Duke campus
  • For the humanities track, expose students to the various resources available for study at Duke through visits to The Edge, the Nasher Museum of Art, the Rubenstein Rare Book Library, and more
  • Provide exposure to a wide variety of life sciences and humanities fields through daily lunch talks by research faculty catered by a different Durham restaurant each day 
  • Introduce students to Duke and Durham, America's foodiest small town, by exploring local restaurants and taking a salsa dance lesson at Cuban Revolution
  • Catch the last rays of summer with a day trip to the beach, a barbecue event at the Central Campus pool, and a relaxing afternoon at the Duke Gardens
  • Provide upperclassmen mentors and a group of close friends before orientation week begins

If you want to become acquainted with Duke and Durham before other students arrive, meet Duke faculty one on one, and get a head start on your own research, consider applying for pSearch. We are looking for students who are interested in gaining exposure to research -- especially those who haven't had formal research experience in high school. We look forward to hearing from you, and cannot wait to see what you can discover in your four years at Duke.

Additionally, please know that need-based financial aid is available to participants who apply for pSearch. If you have any questions, please contact the Office of New Student Programs at or 919-684-3511

Welcome to the Duke family,

Olivia Pennoyer & Neel Prabhu, 2018 Project Search Program Directors 


Below is a sampling of the research topics that past pSearchers in the humanities track chose to study. One of the most exciting parts of pSearch humanities is the ability to choose your own topic in virtually any field that interests you!

  • Biopolitics
  • The Housewife Heroine
  • Humorism in Elizabethan Literature
  • Civic Humanism and Christian Thought
  • DSM: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  • Hip Hop Hooray
  • Through Their Eyes: "American War"
  • Black Women in America: "Fitting the Image"
  • Reconstructing Identity: Young American Muslim Women
  • March "Madness"
  • Terminology of the Internment of Japanese Americans
  • Understanding the New Kindergarten
  • Unicorn Companies
  • Health Disparity: A Systematic Dilemma
  • Critiques on John Rawls: Review and New Topics


2018 Program Directors

Olivia Pennoyer & Neel Prabhu

2018 Program Dates

August 5, 2018 - August 20, 2018

Questions or Concerns?

If you have any questions, please contact the Office of New Student Programs at or 919-684-3511