Statement of Purpose

Why do I want it?

My objective is to pursue a Ph.D. in Computational Biology, with a focus on functional genomics. My motivation to pursue a Ph.D. has come from my experiences in Dr. Tae Hoon Kim's lab, which I have been a part of for the past 5 years during my time as an undergraduate and Masters student. When I first joined the lab I had no idea what functional genomics was. But over time I have found out the enormous potential for the field and the questions it seeks to answer excite me now that I have an understanding for them. I am interested in non-coding RNAs, Single-cell transcriptomics, reproducible research, and chromosome folding.

Why I am I a good candidate?

As an undergraduate, my first research experience occurred working with the lab’s Research Scientist, Yeunhee Kim, isolating the cerebral cortex, cerebellum, and microglia from mice. The project's goal was to create a protocol to identify the effects of the viral response in the transcript expression in neuronal cell types. From this I learned the difficulties that bench scientists face, and have a deeper understanding of the findings that they create.In my sophomore year, I took a class taught by Dr. Faruck Morcos called "Introduction to Programming for Biological Sciences" which rekindled a passion for programming. I was excited to learn that there was a field that could merge my passion for biology with my computational skills. I continued learning in my free time, and by the summer I was ready to make the switch to the computational side of the lab.

For the past two and half years I have been focused on generalizing a pipeline for enhancer transcript identification created by a previous Ph.D. student. I leveraged this pipeline to expanded upon it to identify the inducible genes and eRNAs in time series datasets. This project is exciting because we have identified viral inducible groups which we hope to find differing groups across cell lines that we can explore futher. Through leading this project myself, I have taken great pride in making the pipeline easy to reproduce by learning an array of new skills.The software practices I picked up ended up gaining the attention of Olypsis Technologies, and I started working as a software developer.

The skills I learned from my industry experience and academic experience have fed off each other. In industry time is money, so it's import to automate things, make them easy to reproduce, and develop soft skills, such as identifying what pieces will produce the highest value, planning how to build those pieces effectively, and then executing the plans in a timely manner. Those skills have translated well to my academic work, helping me to work more efficiently.Working a full time job and completing my Masters at the same time has been difficult but it has taught me to manage my time and priorities.

Why this area?

I think this is answered in Why this program? and why do I want it?

Why this program?

I have a broad range of interests across math, computer science and biology. There are several professors at University of Washington. Professor Shendure. and Professor Trapnell are doing interesting work on transcriptonal expression that would be similar to my current path. Professor Noble and Professor Beliveau are working on exciting things with chromotin folding. I am sure the Ph.D. program in Genome sciences at the University of Washington will provide me with an abundance of opprotunities.

Free write

I'm excited about the future of functional genomics because of the exciting time point it's at. We are coming into an age where we have the neccessary technology to answer questions about why previous genetic models were too simple. Answering these questions are bringing up new ones, so I'm excited to see the field develop over the time of my career.

Why do I want to do a PhD?

I want to pursue a PhD for the freedom to learn deeply about any of these subjects. As can be seen by my history, I'm not just interested into one topic. I love Complex things, and figuring out how they work. A PhD will give me the training and skills that I need to pursue these complex topics.

I've realized that eventually I'm going to keep hopping topics as I tear through them, I need to develop the ability to create new knowledge, not just absorb it, if I am going to live a fulfilled life.

When I was 13 I had a pericardial effusion caused by a histoplasosis infection. This was a defining point in my life. Up until this point I was afraid of the entire medical field. But after an entire summer of tests, various medications I had become interested in all there was to know. So I went on thinking that I wanted to become a doctor. I was rejected from the UT-PACT program at UT Dallas when I was a senior in high school after making it to the interview stage. I was devastated, but some of my peers from my high school had gotten in, and the difference between our experiences had been research experience. I had not given up my dream yet so I sought out a research experience as soon as possible before I even started classes at UTD to fill the missing gap in my resume. The time I spent as an undergraduate was extremely valuable because of the broad range of topics that I was exposed to and for the time it gave me to better understand myself and what I want out of life. I realized that I really enjoyed getting deep into a subject. I found that I really enjoyed the depth that research in an academic setting got. Overtime I realized that my passion for any subject grew as the depth of my knowledge in the subject grew. I had spent my life so far developing the ability to absorb subjects at a deep level. This has been my most valuable trait over the years. I am excited to improve my ability to create new knowledge during the next step in my academic career. I think this will be a valuable skill going forward in a world where any information is available to anyone at anytime.