I am a graduate student in the Mathematical, Computational and Systems Biology program at UCI. I’m in both the Nie and Atwood labs, studying cancer-immune system interactions using a variety of different tools such as scRNAseq, mathematical modeling and in vivo mice experiments. You can follow me on Github and LinkedIn.
I am currently working on four different projects:
- Differences between immune responses to melanoma and basal cell carcinoma through single cell RNA sequencing. Melanoma is an insidious skin cancer, with a very high rate and speed of metastasis. It also induces a strong immune response. Basal cell carcinoma seems to be the polar opposite of melanoma in these respects: it rarely metastasizes and doesn’t trigger an immune response, despite having a higher mutational load than melanoma. I am trying to understand why these cancers have disparate immune responses by comparing their immune cell transcriptomes.
- A model of melanoma’s response to checkpoint immunotherapy. Checkpoint immunotherapy cures metastatic melanoma, a claim that no other drug can make; however, not only are the mechanisms not well understood, but this drug works only 25-50% of the time, for unknown reasons. In collaboration with another graduate student in the Nie lab, we are developing an agent-based model of melanoma’s response to immunotherapy, parameterized by single cell RNA seq data.
- Imiquimod’s influence on BCC in mice models. Imiquimod is indicated in the treatment of BCC, but the mechanism of action is unknown. Imiquimod is thought to be a TLR7 agonist, which would mean it induces an immune response, but there are also indications that it directly affects the tumor. Using a BCC mouse model, I will characterize the tumor, tumor-microenvironment and immune cell response to imiquimod using a combination of staining and single cell RNA seq.
- Wound healing in axolotls. Wound healing is an incredibly complicated and dynamic process, involving skin, stem and immune cells among many others. Following this intricate dance is really challenging in mammals, due to the timescales involved (typically days). However, axolotls can heal their wounds in a matter of hours, making them ideal models for wound healing. Moreover, their healing timescales preclude cell division, implying there is some other mechanism that isn’t seen in mammals. In collaboration with the Plikus lab, we are 1) Tracking the epithelial cells live in vivo and determining their physical properties, such as size and velocity and 2) Adapting a previously published multiscale agent-based model which will explain how these wounds manage to heal so quickly.
I am a graduate student in the MCSB program. I came to Systems Biology by a torturous path: I got my BA in Chemistry with a concentration in Biochemistry, and spent a couple of years in biotech doing analytical and separations chemistry and formulations chemistry. While at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, I drove a project which resulted in a 50% reduction of mice used for preclinical pharmacokinetic studies, company-wide. At UCI I co-founded MCSB’s Peer Mentoring Program (MCSB PMP), which pairs first year graduate students with more senior students to help navigate their first year of graduate school. I’m passionate about systems biology, theory of knowledge, immuno-oncology and modeling. When I’m not doing science I enjoy rock climbing and doing science.