One Year Completed!

On September 2nd, I will be leading a panel on graduate student life at Princeton. Time flies – it feels like just yesterday I was moving myself into my on-campus apartment! I look forward to the opportunity to help prospective students decide if Princeton, NJ is the right spot for them.

Though the year has been tumultuous, I am so happy that I picked Princeton for my graduate career. The community here is a great one. I am looking forward to the fall semester, even if it must be remote. My next step is getting used to calling myself a “first second year graduate student.”

Included below: the flier for the open house event. Any / all applicants are welcome!

Princeton Citizen Scientists

I am excited to be the vice president of Princeton Citizen Scientists for the 2020 – 2021 school year. From the PCS mission statement: “Princeton Citizen Scientists (PCS) is a group of graduate students who are committed to defending science. We are mobilizing at Princeton and beyond to protect the ideals of equality, justice, compassion and fact-based public policy.”

Science is such a critical tool in fighting ignorance when wielded correctly. As scientists, it is our job to mobilize to make sure that our work has as wide and positive an impact as possible. This means working hard to keep our spaces inclusive, lobbying for better environmental policy, donating our time and resources to projects that improve human welfare, and increasing education and outreach to the next generation of scientists. If our work ends when we leave the laboratory, we have done ourselves and our community a grand disservice.

Online Learning for Computer Science

I was able to resolve a true head-scratcher of a code bug today. As it turns out, in C++ (1 + 2) / 2.0 = 1.5 while, counterintuitive as it may be, (1 + 2) / 2 = 1. This is just a wonderful quirk of integer arithmetic, but it can have some bizarre and unintended consequences (like making my otherwise functional binary search into an infinite loop this morning.)

Fortunately my undergraduate career prepared me well for bugs like this one. I’ve spent enough time with excellent TAs and professors by my side that I was well-equipped to find what was breaking my loop. But this error led me to think more deeply about computer science as a field: it was not a problem I could have answered easily via Google. (The symptom – an infinite loop – seems far removed from its root cause. And the line at fault was inconspicuous enough that I doubt I’d have had the wherewithal to post it to Stack Overflow.) This leads me to wonder how easy it is to self-teach CS. Granted, many languages do not have the absurd quirks and obscure segmentation faults of C++. That being said, there are some deeper and more universal concepts in CS (like runtimes of various algorithms or the ins and outs of memory allocation) that would be unintuitive to all but the most left-brained of people – they certainly did not come naturally to me!

As classrooms move online and as students start learning new skills on their own, CS knowledge will become pervasive. That is a wonderful thing! That being said, I wonder if this new generation of students will have a harder time without those TAs physically by their side, pointing out potential pitfalls in their code and warning them about the bizzarities of their programming language of choice. I do imagine I would have a much harder time learning in this current academic environment.

Lab Selected!

I am very excited to announce that I will be co-advised by Steve Pacala and Simon Levin for my PhD thesis project here at Princeton. I will be working with Jesse Jenkins and the Zero Lab at Princeton, using linear programming tools to study paths to zero-carbon emissions in the United States by the year 2050.

This project is a pivot from my background in computational biology. But I am thrilled at the opportunity to delve into environmental science; a long-time interest of mine. I am looking forward to seeing where this leads!

Rotation Wrap-Up

I am wrapping up my rotation at the Ayroles lab here at Princeton. My work focused on covariance between traits – namely, can correlation between two biological measurements be treated as a third measurement that varies per individual? I am thankful to have gotten a lot of experience these past few months – particularly with linear mixed models and large medical datasets.

I am looking forward to seeing where this work leads in coming months!

First Rotation

Thrilled to be starting my first rotation at the Ayroles Lab at Princeton – doing big data analysis on medical data sets. Looking forward to seeing where this work leads!

Graduation

This past month, I received my Bachelor’s of Science from Tufts University, cum laude in computer science and biology. I have worked hard to get here, and am so grateful to all of the people in my life (friends, professors, teachers, mentors,) who made this possible.

Next stop – NJ. I am very much looking forward to all of the new work and experiences that Princeton has to offer!