Student Spotlight: March 2019

Student Spotlight: March 2019

In this issue, we’re pleased to feature a Notation in Science Communication student who was awarded a prestitigious international fellowship, as well as three students who published versions of their PWR RBAs.

Cindy Liu, a fourth-year biomedical computation major and student in the Notation in Science Communication program in PWR, was recently awarded a Churchill Scholarship. Only fifteen Churchill Scholarships are awarded annually, and it provides funding for a year of Master's study at the University of Cambridge, based at Churchill College.

Cindy kindly answered a few questions from the PWR Newsletter team about her research in biomedical computation, her experience in the Notation in Science Communication program, and her long-term dreams and interests:

Can you tell me a little bit about your research in biomedical computation? What have you worked on and what kinds of problems interest you?

I've worked in two labs as an undergrad at Stanford, and both have provided amazing opportunities to explore the fields of medicine and bioengineering. In the Skirboll lab in the Department of Neurosurgery, I helped characterize antibody markers on brain cells to identify cancer stem cells, particularly in patients with glioblastoma (an aggressive form of brain cancer). In the Deisseroth lab in the Department of Bioengineering, I worked on an improved method of gene expression mapping/imaging in 3D tissue samples. Through research, I've seen the tremendous potential that bioengineering/biocomputation have to improve our understanding of medicine and create new tools to help with treatment, diagnosis, and further exploration. I'm currently very interested in applications of machine learning to biomedical data, which is a field I plan to explore next year during my master's in Advanced Computer Science at Cambridge!

How has your experience in PWR’s Notation in Science Communication program impacted you during your time here at Stanford?


 Being in NSC has been amazing experience, both strengthening my writing/communication skills and giving me opportunities to discover and explore new topics. Through some of my NSC classes, I've improved in the more traditional science communication skills, geared towards research proposals/papers and academic presentations. Other NSC courses have introduced me to diverse forms of science communication, such as creating infographics to visually represent big datasets to a public audience or crafting cohesive ethical arguments. I've gotten to explore interesting topics like the opioid epidemic, the replication crisis in scientific research, and even lucid dreaming (in both science fiction and real research). Beyond the academics of NSC, I've found the emphasis on personal reflection to be incredibly rewarding. With my different interests in engineering, science, and medicine, I've had the chance to think about my experiences and goals and better understand the importance of communication in all of these fields. NSC has definitely helped me grow as both a science communicator and as a biomedical engineer.

What do you enjoy doing in your "free" time? Hobbies? Extracurricular activities? Volunteer work?

I love photography and art, so I try to find time to take photos and draw! I'm part of Stanford Health Innovations in Future Technologies (SHIFT), Stanford Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), and Tau Beta Pi, all of which have helped me spread the word about how cool bioengineering/biocomputation is and provide opportunities for other students to learn more about these fields. I'm also part of Intersect (The Stanford Journal of Science, Tech, and Society) and Anastomosis (Stanford School of Medicine's Humanities and Literary Journal), working on editing and layout/design. I also love volunteering with United Students for Veterans Health (USVH) at the Menlo Park VA, where we spend time with the veterans, and with the East Palo Alto Stanford Academy (EPASA) tutoring local middle schoolers.

What are some of your dreams, plans, and/or visions for the future?

I'm hoping to eventually pursue an MD-PhD and become a physician-scientist. Through research, I hope to help improve computational methods of analyzing medical images and diagnosing patients. I'm excited to see the new technologies that are created in the field of biocomputation/bioengineering in the future!

PWR wishes Cindy all the best in her future ambitions!

Other PWR Student News

Selby Schwartz's former student Ankush Swarnakar (PWR 1, Fall 2018) has had a version of his RBA accepted for publication in the Undergraduate Journal of Contemporary Issues and Media.

In addition, another of Selby's former students, Vishnu Shankar, who was featured in our May 2017 newsletter, has transformed his PWR 2 project into an initiative on student mental health at Stanford, in collaboration with Vaden.  He has put together a program called CARES that integrates wellness services and menatl health education with student life.  You can read more about this exciting initiative on the CARES website.

Yanshuo Zhang's autumn 2018 PWR students Samatha Thompson and Lauren Ramlan will publish their PWR RBA papers in the Undergraduate Journal of Contemporary Issues and Media, a national journal of undergraduate research. Yanshuo worked with Samantha and Lauren on their RBA essays in her "Rhetoric of Beauty Across Cultures" class. 

Samantha's paper is titled "Beyoncé - The Modern and Black Olympia: Exploring the Relationship between Black Women, Sexuality, and Controlling Images." It tackles the issue of how contemporary black performing artists like Beyoncé exercise representational agency over a long history of representational violence against the black female body in Western, especially U.S, art and media.

Lauren's paper, "In the Eyes of the Beholder: Perspectives on American Thin Ideal," reveals the toxic obsession with thinness in American consumerist and popular culture.