I would like to commit myself to the understanding and illumination of the human brain, pediatric medicine, and their intersection with neuropathology, neuroimaging, music, memory, and emerging technologies. As a third culture kid (with Danish parents, born in America, & having lived most of my life in Singapore), my existence has been a colour spectrum of experiences and perspectives. The more I learn about the deep wealth of diversity among places and people, the more I become captivated by how their environments and minds work together to create their individual person, and how that personality interacts and connects with the world's intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.
Pre-Med Post Bacc 2017-2019
I spent two years taking general science and neuroscience classes through the UCLA Extension program. Sparked by my time working in clinical research at the Duke Hospital via the Pearson Lab, I realized that I would not ever feel professionally and personally fulfilled if I didn't pour my heart and soul into pursuing medical research. As a result, to strengthen my knowledge of biochemistry and neuroscience, I began a pre-med post bacc at UCLA, maintaining a 3.8 GPA throughout the course of my studies. The privilege of taking these classes reinvigorated my love for scientific learning and served as a potent reminder that understanding the scientific principles underlying the nuances of neurobiochemistry are vital to conducting relevant and necessary research.
My Activities: Research Associate (RA) for the Duke Lab of NeuroGenetics, Psychology and Neurosciences VIP Fellow, RA for the Hoyle Psych & Neuroscience Lab, Me Too Monologues actor, All of the Above Monologues actor, Small Town Records Executive Marketing/Creative Director, Blue Devils United (LGBTQ organization) Executive, member of Pi Beta Phi Sorority, DJ at WXDU Radio, LDOC Committee Member, Campus Tour Guide, Project PWAVES (orientation program) Staff Member, Undergraduate Neuroscience Major's Union member
Here is an animation I created for my bachelor's distinction thesis, which developed a genetic risk profile for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), comprising of 9 genes previously identified for MDD risk that produce protein products involved in stress and/or reward neurocircuitry.
Singapore American School offers an American-based curriculum from preschool through to Grade 12 for approximately 3,800 expatriate students, making it the largest international school in the world. The student body is comprised of more than 50 nationalities.
My Activities: President of Executive Community Service Council, President of Habitat for Humanity, President of Thespian Society, Director/Producer/Actor for Theatre Department, member of National Honor Society, member of Peace Initiative, member of Spanish Honor Society
Research & VOLUNTEER Experience
CIBORG Lab at Children's Hospital
Research Associate 2020 - Present
Under the mentorship of Dr. Natasha Leporé, I conduct pediatric neuroradiology research within the CIBORG Lab, based out of Los Angeles Children’s Hospital. The CIBORG (Computational Imaging of Brain Organization Research Group) Lab works to advance pediatric neuroscience, utilizing machine learning and improving imaging technology and analysis to elucidate the relationship between preterm birth and structural neuroanatomy.
Currently, I am focused on writing/publishing three papers with the lab, the first of which uses magnetic resonance imaging data to explore the impact of preterm vs. full term neonatal delivery status, as well as APOE4 carrier status, on variations in the hippocampal anatomy of young children. The second paper aims to use surface tensor-based morphometry of the corpus callosum in children aged 1-5 years to investigate and expand our understanding of the normal development of the corpus callosum in young children. The final paper aims to study the effects of blindness on the morphology of the central sulcus as a means of identifying specific changes in somatotopic sensory-motor organization, within populations of congenitally blind, late-blind and sighted individuals. Through my work on these papers, in addition to processing and analyzing radiology data for the lab, I have gained proficiency in imaging analysis and segmentation programs such as ITK-SNAP, FreeSurfer Live, and MATLAB.
My role also encompasses personally facilitating the training of new research volunteers, along with the coordination and oversight of all work assignments done by lab volunteers. This requires constant and dynamic communication with both senior lab members and volunteers to ensure that projects are being assigned to and completed by the right people in a timely manner.
California Hospital Medical Center
Clinical Round Volunteer 2017 - 2021
As a COPE Health Scholar, I spend a minimum of 8 hours a week volunteering at California Hospital Medical Center (CHMC), assisting nurses and doctors with tasks within my scope of practice, while simultaneously helping to improve patient experience and wellbeing while in hospital. I have rotated between several departments, including labour and delivery, pediatrics, general medicine, couplet care, antepartum, the emergency department, and the education department.
Having spent the majority of my time in the couplet care and labour and delivery departments, I’ve gleaned valuable knowledge about effectively and thoughtfully caring for mothers in labour, mothers in postpartum recovery, and newborns. I am currently working on a research proposal aiming to decrease incidence of mother-child separation due to maternal substance abuse, by providing high-risk, expectant mothers with a broader spectrum of info on the fetal and legal repercussions of substance abuse during pregnancy.
Thus far I have devoted over 350 hours to the patients at CHMC.
Clinical Research Associate 2016-2017
Headed by Dr. John Pearson, the Duke Pearson Lab conducts research in computational neuroscience ranging from behavioral modeling using deep neural networks, to human intraoperative, multi-electrode recordings and analyses. My work with the Pearson Lab provided generous experience in computationally tackling big data, a regular chance for patient interaction, and the opportunity to take ownership over the full research process, from the initial experimental design, through the data collection, to the subsequent data analysis.
I collected all human-subject data accrued through the lab’s two unique patient populations at the Duke University Hospital. Parkinson’s patients undergoing implantation of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) participate in intraoperative tasks aimed at gaining a better understanding of the involvement of the sub thalamic nucleus (STN) in impulsivity, conflict, and motivation. Epilepsy patients being considered for surgical resection of their epileptic focus are implanted with electrocorticography (ECog) grids to characterize and localize seizure activity, allowing our lab to conduct neurological research paradigms (including a theory of mind battery and a competitive game task), while collecting multi-electrode recordings of neural activity.
Additionally, I gained proficiency in coding in Python, a skill which I apply to both experimental design and data analysis. In our most recent project, a colleague and myself designed a dot-discrimination task, to be completed intraoperatively by Parkinson’s patients; after being primed with visual cues corresponding to the task’s varying levels of difficulty, patients are asked to discriminate directionality between several different coherences of dots on a computer screen. The study intends to expound the potential cognitive thresholding effects of STN by assessing how cued differential expectation to accurately discern an ensuing stimuli effects STN dynamics and behavior.
I also generated a data processing pipeline for ECog data collected from our epilepsy patient population, and applied Python, MNE, Jupyter Notebooks, and a variety of other computational tools to clean the data, and to employ complex analyses including the calculation of event related potentials, average power analyses, and time-frequency spectral analyses.
Research Assistant 2014-2016
Under the mentorship of Dr. Ahmad Hariri, the research conducted through the Lab of Neurogenetics aims to use neuroimaging, molecular genetics, and behavioral data to understand the origins of variability in brain chemistry, as well as to explore the impacts of this variability on behaviorally and clinically relevant brain function.
Through the lab, I have worked on a meta-analysis exploring whether cognitive performance is a predictor of depression onset. The methodology included a systematic review and meta-analysis of existing literature, with a focus on longitudinal or epidemiological studies in which cognitive function had been assessed prior to depression onset. The analysis ultimately culminated in the calculation of an odds ratio of developing depression (or correlation coefficient if measures are dimensional) across studies, thereby establishing a quantitative relationship of any effect. The resulting article is currently being reviewed for publication.
My Graduation with Distinction project developed a genetic risk profile for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), comprising of 9 genes previously identified for MDD risk that produce protein products involved in stress and/or reward neurocircuitry. Statistical analyses using linear regression models and interaction models were conducted to explore the ability of an individual’s genetic risk score to predict incidence of depressive symptomology. Additionally, the risk profile was tested against functioning of relevant neurobiological circuitry assessed via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In particular, stress and reward-related functioning was tested. It was found that an individual’s genetic risk profile score predicts their level of depressive symptomology, as moderated by the experience of recent life stress. The results build off prior genetic findings to increase the predictive utility of depressive symptomatology, accounting for 1% of the variance in the total sample, and 4% of the variance in the male subsample, larger than the variance explained by any individual genetic variant.
The VIP Fellows (Vertical Integration Program) is a summer research program that provides advanced opportunities for undergraduate research leading to Graduation with Distinction. My research was conducted through the Duke NeuroGenetics Lab, under the mentorship of Dr. Ahmad Hariri, and explored the relationship between genetic impacts on neurobiological variability, and the functional and behavioral implications of this variability on psychopathology.
Using data collected through the Duke Neurogenetics Study (DNS), I tested the hypothesis that an individual’s SCN2A genotype has mediating effects on cognition, through variability in gray matter volume. Statistic analyses were conducted using SPSS, grey matter levels were assessed using voxel-based morphometry, and ultimately no significant effect was found.
In a separate, additional project, I worked on a meta-analysis exploring whether cognitive performance is a predictor of depression onset. The methodology included a systematic review and meta-analysis of existing literature, with a focus on longitudinal or epidemiological studies in which cognitive function had been assessed prior to depression onset. The analysis ultimately culminated in the calculation of an odds ratio of developing depression (or correlation coefficient if measures are dimensional) across studies, thereby establishing a quantitative relationship of any effect. The resulting article is currently being reviewed for publication.
I serve as a mentor and leader to incoming freshmen during a 10 day-long orientation program focused in outdoor water activities (such as surfing, kayaking, beach camping, and sailing). During the program, staff members form trusting friendships with freshmen (while pushing them out of their comfort zones), offering them advice for their future college experiences, while prompting them to reflect positively on their attitudes and lives prior to their Duke experience. The goal of the program is to become comfortable and reveal enough of your own vulnerabilities that others have the confidence to share theirs.
As president, I facilitated the logistical and organizational groundwork of all 47 service clubs operating under the Singapore American School, in addition to organizing emergency fundraisers for international crises (raised $145,000 for Japanese tsunami aid in 2011). I worked with administrators to help improve the Singapore American School service learning model, and was invited to present this model at the 2012 International Service Learning Conference in Singapore.
Duke VIP Fellowship
The VIP (Vertical Integration Program) Fellowship is a summer research grant that provides advanced opportunities for undergraduate research.