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Thanks for wanting to learn more about my thesis defense!

First, some logistical details:

Date: Friday, May 21, 2021

Time: 2:30-3:30pm PST

Contact me for the Zoom link!

Next, the basics. What can you expect to see?

This is a one-hour long Zoom presentation on my graduate school work. First, my advisor Dr. Elizabeth Nance will give a short introduction. Then, I will spend about 45 minutes explaining my research and major conclusions, and highlight the wonderful colleagues that made this work possible. In the remaining time, I will answer questions from the audience!

After an hour, the Zoom room will become private to me and my committee (4 awesome faculty members in engineering and medicine), who will ask me questions to decide if I'm PhD-worthy. I will share the news as soon as I can!

What's my research about?

So glad you asked! Here's a quick visual summary to give you the main ideas that I will present on in May. If you want to read more, I will upload an abbreviated version of my thesis here by May 18 and the finalized version by the end of June. You can also check out my publications under the "CV" tab!


What am I going to do with this? What's next?

Great question. At UW, I realized I really enjoyed working with nanomedicine (the same technology used in the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines), and that I find the neonatal health research space very fulfilling. My next step is a postdoc where I can develop more expertise in maternal-fetal medicine and nanomedicine. I want to eventually lead a research lab at a university in these areas, where I can also teach chemical engineering undergraduates and mentor graduate students.


Are there any people that deserve huge thank-yous for getting me to the end of graduate school?

Yes, 1 million percent! Please enjoy scrolling through this album of amazing people that have supported me over the past 5 years. If you see yourself here, I hope you have the best day. Your support has meant the world to me! You can read my full acknowledgments (from my thesis) below.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

– African proverb

It is a testament to the excellence of the Nance Lab, Department of Chemical Engineering, and University of Washington that, looking back on graduate school, I feel overwhelming gratitude. What an opportunity it was to spend 5 years solving interesting problems with some of the smartest and kindest people in the world! Let me begin by thanking the custodians of the land upon which my research was conducted. The UW Seattle campus sits on the traditional, ancestral, ceded and unceded territory of the Duwamish, Puyallup, Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot nations. These Coast Salish Peoples have been and continue to be responsible for protecting and preserving the natural spaces that supported this thesis work.

            When I think about the ways I have grown since 2016— knowing who I am and what I value, becoming a better communicator, managing stress and conflict— I know most of this was influenced by two incredible women in my life. Elizabeth, thank you for showing me who I want to be: an excellent mentor above everything; a patient teacher and relentless advocate for her students; a strategic leader; someone who faces the past with honesty and the future with hope. You helped me see myself in academia and your support means the world to me. Mom, you have always been kind and wise, but I want to particularly thank you for how you have brought mindfulness into your own life and shared your journey with me. It feels rare and special to not be able to imagine a better mom than the one you have. The world would be a better place with more women like you both.

            I am thankful for the time and service of my thesis committee, without whose support I also would not be receiving my PhD. Lilo, I’ve learned so much from the way you ask questions and how passionately you fight for the things that are important to you, especially diversity in science and outreach that positively changes our community. Sunny, working with your lab has grounded me and helped me see the long game: one day, in a few decades, maybe something I’m studying will save lives the way your work has. Ying, it was wonderful to meet you as we discussed the microvessel collaboration; I look forward to reading about it in the future! Thank you all for reading through this document; I hope I have made it concise and interesting.

            I am grateful for the support of colleagues who made the work in this thesis possible. First, Tommy, thank you for teaching me about (among many things) brain health and ancestral health, and for sharing your home gym. Half of these projects, and all of my sanity, would not look the same without you! Thank you to the rest of the Neonatology team as well, especially Kylie for her friendship and superpowers in managing labs and people. In the Nance Lab, I want to highlight the contributions of: Rick, who trained me on most of what I know; Mike, whose team spirit and eye for detail truly keep the lab running; Mengying, who trained me on everything Rick didn’t; and Chris, who always brings a fresh perspective. When research got tough, it was a blessing to rely on and decompress with my fantastic team of undergraduate students (Danny, Zach, Denise, Ana, Norah, Tora, Georges, Hugo, and Emily—I’ll also include Victoria, who wasn’t technically my mentee but is so awesome I have to mention her!) and high schoolers (Maria, Sanjana, and Meghan). What an incredible honor it has been to work with so many people who are going to change the world.

            Finally, I want to thank my family and friends outside of lab for their unconditional support over the past few years. I have had the good fortune of being close friends with my immediate and extended family (Mom, Papa, Kathy, and Stephanie; the Josephs in Philadelphia; the Jacobs in Maryland) and having friends who feel like close family (Rick and Alex; Kayla and Carson). I have no doubt that my academic success is a privilege afforded to me by the financial, emotional, and social stability that you collectively provide. I am beyond excited to see most of you in person for my biggest birthday party yet!

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