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Internship Spotlight: Huangrui Chu, MS ’24 (Biostatistics)

October 02, 2023

Graduate Research Assistant, Remote, Drexel University; Funding: Drexel University

What is your career goal?

My goal is to become a data scientist in public health and bioinformatics. I am passionate about machine learning and the prospective applications of artificial intelligence. Data science provides me with a great gateway to pursue these interests. In this field, I would be able to apply my skills and further educate myself in order to work in, and hopefully make contributions to, this field. I want to make use of the knowledge I learned and the skills I developed to help people unfamiliar with data science gain more meaningful information from pure and raw data.

What were your duties/responsibilities during your internship?

I assisted in developing models of neuromechanical control of locomotion. We utilized deep reinforcement learning to train the models and conducted various simulations. I also documented all the experiments and functions that I’ve implemented with LaTex [a language that allows all math symbols to be written by typing standard text on a keyboard, which is especially helpful to blind and visually impaired students].

What did you take away from your experience as an intern? What was the value of the internship to you?

I learned how to make use of PyBullet [a Python module for physics simulation and robotics] to build a virtual environment for testing robots and other functions of objects. Throughout this internship, I’ve gained rich experience in how to set up cooperative projects with others using [the code hosting platform] Github. With the help of a neural scientist, I have developed better skills to translate my ideas into reality more vividly. This has given me a deeper understanding of how to utilize reinforcement learning to optimize models to find better solutions for specific situations. Because of this project, I am now encouraged to pursue a PhD in the neural science field.

What was the most rewarding aspect of your internship? What was the most challenging aspect? The most surprising aspect?

The most rewarding aspect of this internship was definitely the people and the experience I gained working in a group research environment. I visited Philadelphia this summer and hung out with them after work for a few days. It was a nice time. The most challenging part was that for the first two weeks, most of my lab members went to Japan for a conference, so I had to overcome the time difference to communicate recent updates and discuss the details in [meetings of the entire group]. Luckily, we had well-scheduled meetings and split processes of the project so I could track my progress.

How did your first year at YSPH prepare you for this internship?

Machine learning with biomedical data provides me with a solid foundation for doing research in the area of biomedical data. Moreover, the data science software system teaches me how to document my code and build nice programs.

What would you say to a student who’s considering a similar internship?

Don’t be afraid to go ahead and ask a professor whether you need a research assistant or not. Many of our professors are more than willing to help broaden our fields. There is also much interesting research going on, and it’s a great opportunity to get your feet wet!

Submitted by Sabrina Lacerda Naia dos Santos on October 02, 2023