I’m a senior (class of 2020) from San Ramon, California, majoring in biomedical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and neuroscience. As a Grand Challenge Scholar working with Dr. David Carlson, my course of study has focused on working towards one of the fourteen Grand Challenges of Engineering identified by the National Academy of Engineering – Reverse-Engineering the Brain – through research, interdisciplinary coursework, and engagement.

My research has allowed me to explore the intersection of machine learning, signal processing and electrical engineering with traditional electrophysiological and neuroscience research. I’ve written algorithms to optimize the way neural excitation data is extracted from videos of neurons firing, and used a variety of signal processing techniques to explore differences in brain connectivity in mouse models of autism. For my thesis project, I used machine learning to extract information about latent networks in the brain tied to different sleep states.

However, to truly understand the brain, it’s not enough to understand just the science or the engineering. The brain, and the way we understand it, plays a huge role in our society, in everything from criminal courts to mental health to even the apps we interact with on a daily basis. Whether through FOCUS classes exploring the complicated relationship between cognitive neuroscience and the law, community outreach to mentor students and target misconceptions about the brain, or interactions with a global community through conferences, I have sought to understand the role the brain plays in the way we see our world.

Engineering solutions to problems like migraines, epilepsy, or depression means very little unless we can ensure that these solutions can be used effectively. The tasks undertaken in creating this E-Portfolio will enable me to not only work towards the Grand Challenge of reverse-engineering the human brain, but also provide me the understanding of how to ensure that my solutions are effective within the framework of the world around them.