At the beginning of this summer, I wasn’t sure of how my internship would affect my future goals and outlook on life. I had taken a few different computer science based courses last school year and found the subject really compelling. Previously, I had focused primarily on my neuroscience studies and held an internship last summer in a genetics lab, and this past summer, I stepped out of my comfort zone and decided to engage myself in this new field. However, I did not want to let my interests in biology fall to the wayside, and I had hoped that the opportunity I had found with a lab on campus could allow me the chance to work closely with both fields. My internship provided me a number of challenges, most notably designing and implementing a sophisticated framework, as this was my first experience in software development. I had the exciting opportunity to present my work at a symposium for the first time and I could see what some other aspects of academia are like aside from strictly research and development. A crucial element of research is communicating work with others, something that can only be improved through practice. After this experience, I hope to continue working in the realm of software, particularly on problems where computer science can aid the biomedical community. Overall, I am very grateful for my experience this past summer. I look forward to exploring the role of software and computation in biological problems, and I hope to continue working in this fascinating field beyond my undergraduate career.
Overall, my internship provided me with many new opportunities and some exciting challenges to overcome. Most notably, I faced the challenge of presenting my research from this summer at a symposium of my peers, something I had never had the chance to do before. When I found out that I would be taking part in this event, I was incredibly nervous as public speaking as never been my strong suit. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to attend conferences and symposiums on campus this summer and talk to others about their research. This gave me the chance to see what would be expected and start thinking about how to showcase my own research. Using what I had learned from these events, I began crafting my poster and an “elevator speech” to give when describing my research to attendees. Additionally, I knew that I would be given only a short amount of time to describe my research and thus needed to be mindful of time during my presentation. When the time came to present my work, I felt confident that I could represent my efforts and team well.
Through this experience, I not only learned how to prepare a presentation but also how to better communicate with others. One of the most important aspects to scientific research is effective communication. While it is important to discuss work with people in the same field, it is also equally as important to share ideas with those outside the community. I aimed to talk about my work in a sophisticated but straightforward way to those people who were not familiar with my work. What I have learned from this experience will help me not only prepare for future presentations but also in many other situations where I will need to communicate my work to others, whether that be in future research or for my career.
When I began my internship, I was excited to see what a new field had in store for me. While I have always known that my interests lie in the biomedical sciences, more recently, I uncovered the field of computer science and the possibilities it provides. Over the past school year, I have become fascinated by the application of computer science to biological problems, particularly neuroscience, and I hoped to engage myself in this intersection. Through my online searches and research prior to and during my internship, I explored the field of systems biology, which aims to solve some of physiology’s biggest problems using high-throughput data and complex computational tools, and this field seemed very compelling. My internship this summer has provided me the basis to begin exploring computational methods and give me a sense of what of working as a computational biologist might entail. Additionally, the problems that I enjoy the most are complex and interdisciplinary, something that this field embodies. Once I finish my undergraduate career here at Michigan, I hope to attend graduate school in systems biology so that I can immerse myself in this exciting new field. Afterwards, I think I would enjoy working with a biomedical lab to build computational models, but also conduct wet-lab based research. In the past, I have interned in a genetics lab and together the work I did then and my work this summer has given me a sense for the impact computer science can have on the biomedical community worldwide. I would also be interested to develop sophisticated software that can benefit work in all walks of life, especially programs that aid the disadvantaged medical community. Technology has the power to transform medicine and human well-being far beyond the limits we face today, and therefore, I plan to use my academic interests in the most impactful way I can. So far my internship has helped me narrow down where in the field of biology I feel most passionate about, and it has provided me the opportunity to build up my skill set as I work to achieve my goals.
My favorite experience as an intern this summer was when I attended a two day neurotechnology conference on North Campus. An organization known as the International Program for Advancement of Neurotechonology (IPAN) held their annual conference at the Gerald Ford Presidential Library here on the Michigan campus. I had never attended an academic conference before, and I was excited to gather with my fellow peers and listen to extraordinary talks about neuroscience and the technology being developed to advance the field. Researchers from the US, UK, Germany, and Korea presented their groundbreaking research to the conference and hoped to set new goals for the field. I was nervous at first, since I would be communicating with such high-level professionals, but I was eager to show my interest and passion to my superiors.
As a neuroscience and computer science double major in LSA, I have been looking for different ways that explore neuroscience principles through computer science methods in order to understand of the underlying phenomena, and this conference has provided a vast number of options for me to investigate. Many of the recording techniques that are up-and-coming require specialized software for processing, something that is directly related to the work I am doing in my internship this summer. I can tell that there are many different problems that require special attention, and after attending, I am more confident than ever that I will find meaningful work I enjoy in the field.
Another great aspect of this experience was the poster session at the conclusion of the conference. Later this summer, I will be presenting my own poster to my peers on my work this summer, and this experience gave me the chance to be on the viewer’s side of the exchange. I was able to talk to many different researchers on a wide range of topics and get a better sense of what is expected at a poster session. Naturally, I thought the posters from Michigan labs were by far the best ones, and I hope that I can live up to the expectations set forth by them!
In all, I am very grateful for the chance to attend the IPAN conference, as it allowed me to engage with my peers, and I hope to attend more conferences on and off campus in the future, as it really would be a shame to pass up all that free food…
During my time developing software with the Statistical Online Computational Resource, I expect there to be many new challenges and some exciting opportunities. This is my first position as a software developer, and I am tasked with creating an online, open-sourced data analysis tool of my choosing. This project immediately threw me for a ride, as there are so many different things I need to think about before even beginning to write any code for the application itself. First off, I needed to determine what the target-audience of such an application will be and how can it affect their work? What type of application would be most useful? How do I present the framework so that it is intuitive and quickly responds to user input? In order to narrow down my choices, I have searched through databases of thousands of scholarly articles to determine where the most help is needed and what methods have been successful in the past. This research provides many different jumping points, but given my background in Neuroscience, my ultimate goal is to analyze electrode recordings in stimulating electrode implantation surgeries for Parkinson’s or epilepsy patients.
After determining the focus of my project, I have begun researching computational techniques and testing software packages that may be helpful. This phase presents another set of intimidating challenges; during this time I am essentially trying to answer the question of what methods have broad functionality as well as quick processing times and high accuracy, especially considering the application is web-based? While this step is very broad and time consuming, it can be a lot of fun to see what types of things engineers have built for others to use (at least when everything goes according to plan…). Getting programs to work the way you want is not always the easiest thing, and making every step work is like a mini-project on its own. Overcoming every little challenge is essential for producing an efficient, productive application, and while I’m relieved I have conquered a few of those challenges already, I know that there are definitely more like them are ahead. The process of researching, testing, and fine-tuning never ends, as there is always room for improvement, but I believe that is what makes this type of work rewarding!
But the most intimidating challenge, which I believe will also be a really exciting opportunity, is presenting a poster at my first science symposium! All of my work on this application will ultimately be compiled into a poster where I will need to convey all my rational and planning behind it. I will also have to give presentations to my fellow peers and superiors about my work in a formal setting, something I have never done. Public speaking has always been a challenge for me, but I believe that my passion for this topic and all the hard work I put in so far will be worth it. By the end of my internship, I hope to be successful in producing a lightweight, effective, and easy to use web-application that I can be proud of. Updates on that coming later!