Whole Cell Modeling
My PhD research focused on using mass-spec proteomics, fluorescence imaging, and soft x-ray tomography to characterize pancreatic beta cells and integrate data from multiple experimental modalities to create whole cell models. My research contributed to the Pancreatic Beta Cell Consortium, a group I helped build from my advisor’s initial idea into a coalition of 15+ research groups collaborating and contributing data to create cell models. In addition to experiments at USC, I performed proteomics research at The Scripps Research Institute with Prof. John R. Yates III and X-ray tomography research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory with Prof. Carolynn Larabell of the University of California San Francisco.
Microscape is a cross-platform software application I developed to render 3D microscope and MRI image volumes, for which I was awarded a provisional patent. I raised $40K to hire a team of USC masters students from the departments of computer science, medicine, and cinematic arts to help develop the software into a standalone prototype for virtual reality, PC, Mac, mobile, and web. My team and I developed additional features for remote simultaneous multiperson viewing, as well as integration with the AWS cloud for sending and receiving datasets in one click.
I raised $100K in a pitch contest hosted by the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Biosciences to create a program that connects artists and scientists at USC and in the greater Los Angeles area. With the team I recruited, we developed a community of interdisciplinary collaborators aimed at merging scientific discovery with the storytelling and spatial intelligence of the visual arts.
Through BASA, I produced over 25 art/sci media projects including: short films, documentaries, animations, games, virtual reality experiences, comic books. I hosted over 15 events, workshops, and panels to connect artists and scientists at USC and in the greater Los Angeles area. I collaborated with over 200 students, faculty, and industry partners to create a range of art/sci media projects. Projects received over 20 awards at science and film festivals, including SXSW, Ars Electronica, LA Shorts International Film Festival, DOC NYC, and more. Projects were also featured in The New Yorker and received Emmy consideration.
I used cell culture, mutagenesis, protein purification, crystallographic techniques, cryo-electron microscopy, and nuclear magnetic resonance to determine the atomic resolution structures of G Protein Coupled Receptors - the melanocortin 4 receptor and the adenosine a2a
receptor. The work was published in Science.
I founded the World in a Cell project in 2018 along with famed Hollywood Production Designer and USC Cinematic Arts Professor, Alex McDowell RDI. Together we raised over $500K for a two year project to design and build a virtual reality experience for exploring the world within a cell. The experience allows you to follow molecules along signaling pathways to watch the process of insulin production take place inside a pancreatic beta cell.
Cell Toy is an independent project I created in 2019 to experiment with using video game technology to teach concepts in cellular and systems biology. The app was built for mobile, web, PC, and Mac. I designed the experience, modeled the components, and coded behaviors for all of the elements using the C# programming language, Maya, and the Unity Game Engine.