Natural curiosity and a passion for discovery have led me to participate in a number of research experiences that include cutting-edge advances in genetic engineering, close monitoring of hummingbird migratory patterns, and assessment of solar technology in rural Africa. Below are a few highlights of past research.
With the mentorship of Dr. Karl Deisseroth and Dr. Zhenan Bao, I am studying the physical and chemical properties of CLARITY polymer-brain hybrids using a variety of characterization techniques such as Raman spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, mechanical testing, and protein quantification assays. We propose to explore the utility of CLARITY as a platform for creating innovative ways of hybridizing polymer with tissue for enhanced neural interfaces. This will require the development of a new set of polymer-tissue hybrid characterization methodologies, as well as innovations in orthogonal biochemistry and polymer synthesis. Ultimately, we will create new tools for biological exploration and manipulation that are both highly targeted and structurally and physiologically compatible.
The objective of my independent research project, under the direction of Dr. Curtis Frank from 2009-2011, was to characterize the tuneability of a three-dimensional interpenetrating polymer network composed of Polyethylene glycol (PEG) and Polyacrylic acid (PAA) for an inexpensive way of making corneal implants, lenses, and other ophthalmic devices with customized shape and curvature. I have developed a technique that will enable synthesis of our polymer network into three-dimensional curves at significantly decreased manufacturing costs. This development will enhance current keratoprosthesis technology by enabling correction of myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism in individual patients. My work is the basis for a patent that was filed in Dec. 2009.
Working with Dr. Rosamond Naylor at the Stanford Program in Food Security and the Environment (FSE), I helped determine the impact of solar-powered drip irrigation systems for crop production in Northern Benin. My specific responsibility was to help compose and administer surveys to leaders of local women's agricultural groups, which quantitatively evaluated economic and marketing aspects of technology adoption. This research opportunity brought me into the field March 2011, and gave me a first-hand look at how incredibly beneficial renewable energy technologies are for improving quality of life in third world countries. Click here for more information on the project!
As an intern at the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and under the supervision of Ph.D. Physicist and Chief Technology Officer, Sam Baldwin, I developed recommendations and prioritized a $700,000 budget to ensure a sustainable supply of rare earth minerals for the growing clean energy sector, and informed decision-makers about the implications of China’s global resource monopoly. My report on the utility of rare earths in hybrid/electric vehicles was used by the Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs, David Sandalow, in his keynote speech for the "Technology and Rare Earth Metals for National Security and Clean Energy" conference in March 2010, and was also used to compose the first DOE Critical Materials Strategy, released December 2010.
Starting at the age of 11, I assisted in conducting a six-year field study of hummingbird migration and breeding patterns with the Hummingbird Monitoring Network . As primary bander at seven field sites throughout Southern California, I captured and identified birds, entered and analyzed data, and discussed trends at two national research conferences.