Great science and engineering cannot happen in a vacuum. Attending and presenting at conferences has helped me to understand concurrent developments in my field, and gain insight from other researchers critiquing my own work.
BIOSTEC 2020: 13th International Joint Conference on Biomedical Engineering Systems and Technologies, Valletta, Malta, February 22 – 26, 2019
This conference was composed of sessions from 5 different subconferences in biomedical engineering: Biodevices, Bioimaging, Bioinformatics, Biosignals, and Health Informatics. It also ran concurrently with multiple other conferences, including ICAART, the 12th International Conference on Agents and Artificial Intelligence, and ICPRAM, the 9th International Conference on Pattern Recognition Applications and Methods. The conference was held in Malta, with representatives from around the world presenting on their work. Although I did not present, I truly enjoyed the opportunity to learn from people across the globe.
My favorite session was a paper presentation about a new form of neuromodulation technology, designed to improve balance, that had shown promise for a host of psychiatric disorders. After the talk, I stayed for nearly half an hour, asking questions along with another scientist. Throughout the conference, I learned about a variety of ways to process neural data, from new signal processing techniques involving mutual information, to imaging techniques that used infrared to qualitatively monitor frontal lobe activity, to sensor platforms that would have made my senior design project much easier, to even machine learning techniques for neural network extraction. I had spirited debates with other scientists about the responsibility we have for the use of our research, and learned about ways to fool Facebook into not recognizing my image. I also had lunchtime debates with other scientists about the system of higher education, as well as the impacts of neurodiversity in learning and robotics.
International Symposium for Science and Technology, Medford, Massachusetts, November 15-16, 2019
This conference focused on the ethical implications of emerging technologies, with representatives from countries around the world discussing ethical design and potential concerns. It also featured a talk by members of IEEE’s Brain Neuroethics Subcommittee that discussed both the promise and potential harms of neural engineering, and the framework that is currently being developed to address these problems. I did not present at this conference, but had the chance to attend presentations on everything from the legislation of machine learning to the integration of ethical design into an undergraduate curriculum, to the future of neurotechnology. One thing that became quite obvious was that most engineers care a great deal about the ethical implications of their work, but don’t necessarily know how to translate that interest into something tangible. Oppositely, many sociologists, lawyers, and policymakers can effect change, but truly don’t understand the science they try to study. More work is clearly needed to translate between these fields.
6th Annual North Carolina Biosciences Collaborative Symposium, July 2018
At this conference, I presented work on the use of machine learning to predict social activity in mice from their neural data.
State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposioum (SNCURCS), November 2017
At this conference, I presented work on the development of an algorithm to detect and track neurons in calcium imaging videos.
I have also helped to plan conferences, and was one of the primary organizers of the Science and Soc[AI]ety Symposium that happened in March 2019. This symposium, hosted by the Huang Fellows program, looked at the intersections of artificial intelligence with medicine, the economy, and the military, and featured Douglas Rushkoff as a keynote speaker. I was also involved in planning the 200 Years of Frankenstein Symposium of April 2018, as part of the same program. This symposium discussed both the technological and societal parallels between the novel and today’s society, from the creation of artificial intelligence and genetically modified food, to exclusion in science.