With evaluate our results. To expose myself to basic

With great enthusiasm and in line with my growing interest in the diverse field of cellular
neuroscience and neuroengineering, I am applying for the Yale Biomedical Engineering graduate
program. My overall goal is to hone and expand my research skills, pursue my scientific curiosity, and
acquire in-depth knowledge about the tools and techniques used in biomedical research, in particular the
imaging technologies used in research and the clinic to visualize brain function.
Three hallmark research experiences particularly shaped my commitment to science. The first
experience was in college where, apart from being a Neuroscience major, I interned at the Minnesota
Epilepsy Group. My driving force to join an epilepsy lab was to better understand the disease, how and
where seizures are initiated in the brain, and how an interdisciplinary approach – involving
neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, surgeons, and radiologists – plays out in the clinical setting. I joined
neuroradiologist Dr. Wenbo Zhang in the magnetoencephalography suite – an imaging technology able to
detect and localize millisecond-scale changes of neuronal activity through the magnetic fields it produces.
Learning how this is used clinically in conjunction with MRI to localize the starting points of seizures in
the brain, I became curious to know if this approach could be used to distinguish between mental objects
based on their potentially different spatiotemporal representations in the brain. To test this, I teamed up
with a computer science student at Macalester and, under the mentorship of Dr. Zhang, designed and ran a
study on my own brain. Using two different machine learning algorithms we were able to predict the
object category I was imagining with 80% accuracy. For me this epitomized the value and power of the
interdisciplinary and collaborative approach in research. It taught me to challenge myself with unfamiliar
techniques and topics, and inspired me to pursue deeper knowledge about advanced bioimaging and the
statistical modeling we use to evaluate our results.
To expose myself to basic science and molecular cell biology, my second internship was at the
University of Rochester under Dr. Maiken Nedergaard. The lab focused on the study of astrocytes, a type
of neuroglia, in health and disease. My lack of experience with the techniques of molecular biology,
mouse genetics, immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy was challenging at first. However, I was
dedicated to learning, reading papers, and ask (many) questions. With focused effort and perseverance, I
learned the methods well enough that my work on hexokinase expression in astrocytes vs. neurons
became a part of a 2015 Nature Communications publication. The experience in Rochester piqued my
curiosity about molecular neurobiology and translational research. Inspired by this experience – not to be
afraid of venturing into unknown research territory – I always aim to bring an open and inquisitive mind
to new techniques and research topics.  Upon graduating from college, I joined Dr. Nedergaard’s newly opened Center for Basic and
Translational Neuroscience at the University of Copenhagen. With only 4 people in the lab I took on all
of the responsibilities of a lab manager. After the research in the lab started running smoothly, I joined
collaborator Dr. Helene Benveniste in implementing her MRI scanning protocol of the glymphatic system
at the University of Copenhagen and later in her lab at Yale School of Medicine. The technology was new
to me; challenging, but exciting because of it. The glymphatic system describes the movement of
cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) through the brain as a way of removing waste products. By infusing contrast
agents into the CSF, the activity of the system can be visualized. However, because metal needles cannot
be used in the MRI, the existing surgical technique had a success rate of only about 50%. To overcome
this I developed a procedure using pulled glass capillaries as needles. With this technique, our success
rate is nearly 100%, and we can conduct our experiments accurately and reliably, reducing costs, numbers
of animals, and hairs pulled from our heads.
The glymphatic system is exciting, because, although the existence of CSF has long been known,
the idea of it playing an active role in maintaining healthy brain function is just emerging. This opens
multiple avenues of creatively manipulating CSF fluxes as a new therapeutic target – mechanically,
pharmacologically or even behaviorally – as ways of improving brain function and combating
neurodegenerative diseases. This fusion of research and engineering, of aspiring to understand complex
biomedical problems and designing creative solutions grounded both in theory and practical experience, is
what I find most intriguing about biomedical engineering. Researching a topic teaches you something
new and adds to our shared body of knowledge, but to do so properly requires an appreciation and
mastery of the technologies, mathematical models, and imaging devices we use. While working in
multiple labs over the past 5 years I have been surprised by how rarely researchers take the time to
understand the sophisticated technology they use, the complex math and physics that underlie it, and how
ultimately their research becomes misguided or suffers because of it. With increasingly advanced and
powerful tools at our disposal for recording and manipulating brain activity, I believe it is more important
than ever to educate ourselves about these biomedical technologies to fully tap their potential.
By joining the Yale Biomedical Engineering graduate program, I intend to enhance my
neurobiology skills and become an expert in the fields of biomedical imaging and neuroengineering. An
education in biomedical engineering from Yale will allow me to pursue a career in bioimaging and braincomputer
interfaces by focusing on recording and interpreting complex data from biological systems as
well as ways of manipulating it using emerging molecular biology approaches. It would be an outstanding
opportunity to explore neuroscience from a molecular to a systems level, using an array of approaches
and imaging modalities. This fusion of knowledge, skills, and the holistic and collaborative research
environment would prepare me to excel as a scientist and as a person.
Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to hearing back from you

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Hi!
I'm Angelica!

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