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Electrical Engineering PhD Candidate, Stanford University, USA
Country of birth: USA
Educational background: MS, BS Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, USA
Who or what inspired you to work in science/engineering?
I was lucky to have energetic K-12 science teachers who went the extra mile to make classes more interactive. Our hands-on science projects, combined with my parents' willingness to let me take things apart around the house, showed me how exciting and rewarding it is to design and build gadgets!
Primary responsibilities of your current job
The job of a PhD student is to define a challenge and investigate how to solve it, gaining and applying insights along the way. My challenge is to take some of the functionality of traditionally bulky and expensive biomedical analysis equipment and shrink the system to enable portable, cost-effective diagnostics. I get to design and build prototype optical sensors to detect biomolecules (for example, viruses or cancer markers) in a handheld "lab-on-a-chip." We start from a bare wafer and end up with an integrated device that combines optics, electronics, microfluidics, and biochemistry. It is a collaborative, interdisciplinary environment that encourages researchers to explore solutions by constantly learning, teaching, and doing.
Advice you wish you had received when you were first starting out
Learning how to effectively work and communicate with your colleagues, sponsors, and the "end user" is crucial. Being able to productively interact with others in the two minutes or two hours that you may have is a skill that is worth practicing!