A hodge-podge of former stuff that I’ve been involved in…
(I mainly use this page to connect all the disparate links on the interwebs to one central location)
Built and ran simulations of a spiking neural network modeled with endocannabinoid retrograde signaling, GABA-mediated inhibitory, and excitatory Glutamate pathways found in the medial prefrontal cortex of mice. Attempted to investigate the changes in synaptic activity and firing patterns associated with cannabis use, brain development, and psychosis. This was done at the Hungarian Academy of Science as part of the Theoretical Neuroscience and Complex Systems group ran by Dr. Péter Érdi and mentored by both Dr. Zoltán Somogyvári and Mihály Bányai.
I also took part in the separate BSCS program studying neuroscience, cognitive science, and philosophy (as well as the Hungarian language) at Eötvös Loránd University. This experience allowed me to study, live, and explore Budapest and other European countries (my old travel blog can be found here).
Researched endocannabinoid signaling mechanisms through recording and analyzing the electrical activity of populations of neurons in the brain slices of mice as part of the Korzus lab under the excellent mentorship of Dr. Jonny Lovelace. Also wrote a paper and did my undergraduate honors thesis that is now preserved in the school library’s cold dark basement.
Gave talks about the mathematics of neural nets and tapped into the collective hive-mind of people writing proofs. These Pacific Summer Unsolved Math Seminars are ran by Dr. Dana Clahane, a kind-hearted and inspiring mathematician who works on cultivating the mathematical curiosity in the surrounding Fullerton, CA community. He hosts talks given by both students, colleagues, and professional mathematicians. He also heads the local community college Putnam exam math training on a volunteer basis.
Explored stable molecular geometries and the steric interactions of sp and sp3 carbons in acyclic alkynes and nitriles as part of a group led by Dr. Thomas Morton. Performed the data analysis and wrote the methods and results sections of the paper which was then published in the undergraduate research journal and presented in the symposium talks and poster sessions.
Studied the evolution of neurotoxin proteins in Agelenopsis aperta (the desert grass / funnel weaving spider) under the guidance of Dr. Michael Adams. Also assisted in the research of Dr. Do Hyoung Kim by dissecting fruit fly brains(!) as part of the effort to analyze the peptidergic neural networks underlying ecdysis. Provided additional help in the milking of neurotoxins produced by the emerald jewel wasp used to make zombie cockroaches (from which the wasp parasitically reproduces via the cockroaches in the style of the classic Alien movies!)
Learned common molecular biology and genetics techniques while studying the roles of the agamous transcription factor & wuschel genes in floral stem cell maintenance of the Arabidopsis thaliana (mustard plant) in Dr. Xuemei Chen’s lab under the excellent guidance of Rae Yumul.
As part of the UCLA Comparative Cognition Lab directed by Dr. Aaron Blaisdell, I learned about reward probability and behavioral variability by building my own operant conditioning chamber (“Skinner box”), feeding rats cocoa puffs, and teaching pigeons video games :)