Major: Mathematics with emphasis in Statistics Research
Research Department: Biophysics
Graduation Date: May 2019
Abstract: Mounting evidence suggests that the dynamic organization of receptors in the plasma membrane; e.g. their mobility and clustering, is crucial for ligand binding and downstream signaling. The actin cortex is thought to play an influential role in cell surface receptor organization, although its role has been almost exclusively deduced via cell-wide actin perturbation experiments which might pose undesirable side-effects. The Jaqaman lab aims to learn and determine quantitative relationships through explicit anlysis of diffusivity, mobility and other properties of receptors together with the underlying actin cortex turnover kinetics and filament movement via single molecule imaging and fluorescent speckle microscopy.
What does research mean to you? To me, the meaning of research is to upend apparent truths through the suggestive results achieved by curious mental capacity. By sparking ingenuity through this outlet, I think that these apparent truths have potential to shine light on current and future mysteries. Specifically with a passionate self-desire to unshroud scientific mysteries, the Green Fellowship provided me with a means to explore a multidisciplinary field using data analysis and statistics. In conjunction to researching at a medical center, the experience is designed to apply these research techniques to illuminate biological mysteries. Not only does this perspective bring meaning to my work, but to many others that also research at UT Southwestern.
Tell us about your journey.From when I was young until now I’ve loved numbers, operating on them, and translating meaning to them in different contexts. On the road to attaining my BSc, excelling in mathematics pushed me to explore avenues of abstract thinking and problem solving in a growing number of contexts to continue applying meaning to numbers Originally, I was on a track for pursuing the realm of actuarial science - a discipline with roots of applying advanced statistical methods to mitigate financial risk in business contexts. The journey of a growing actuary involves learning a dense array of financial and statistical material for the purpose of completing a series of certification exams. Though after passing the first exam, I wondered about other contexts to explore before I proceeded further. Craving a new adventure, I applied and was accepted into UTSW’s Green Fellowship program for the purpose of diversifying my college experience and an opportunity to find something that I enjoy. With plans to join the Jaqaman lab, I would be joining a team investigating the relationships of cell surface receptors and the underlying actin cortex. It was assumed that I would play a computational role in the lab by analyzing experimental data to investigate relationships via data of kinetic and diffusive tendencies of receptors as well as the treadmilling and turnover of actin. To observe this, code would need to be written to compute the lab’s data into useful information. Scientific computing often involved carrying out many thought experiments for both code structure and proceding with the project in accordance with results in previous literature on the subject. With this in mind, developing a directional sense when a wealth of possibilites swarmed about was a trait that took months to build. However, this is a standard haze which seems to blind a lot of young and first-time researchers. I chose to never be discouraged and find a comfortable pace to proceed in the project that would allow for time to experiment with thoughts. Later on, I applied supervised and unsupervised machine and statistical learning techniques to examine the data, which are methods that have contributed to the explanation of some recent biophysical results. Along the way, I was able to gather some interesting results that was able to push the understanding of the project, but there is plenty of work to be done to reconcile some mysteries. With these learned skills in hand and experiences in head, I’m excited to pursue graduate school in computational sciences - where I hope to continue learning about efficiency, optimization, and methods of modern computing that push for a more exciting future.
Advice for Future Green Fellows
If the Green Fellowship notices you as a candidate to pursue through the program, then it will be an immersion into a renowned research environment at a medical institution. This comes with many responsibilities and sacrifices that should be understood before the start date. With this, take care to the time preparing for the start of the semester and be ready to soak into a unique culture—especially for first-time researchers.
If you’re passionate about your control of the state of your project, then it is crucial to ask questions, stay motivated, have a healthy state of mind, get plenty of sleep, a proven diet, and anything else that is necessary to perform at your best. Your functionality will be critical for this fellowship—be sure to come with it!
Enjoy and have fun learning and engaging with an exciting opportunity and life at UTSW. Do what you need to do in order to bring out all of your best qualities :)