Student Spotlight - Zixi Lin

March 6, 2020
Madavin Vong

How did you get into BME?

When I was an undergrad, I was in a program for integrated science at Peking University that focused on the physics of biological parts. I was particularly interested in imaging technology so I joined a lab that worked on super resolution microscopy but we have always had trouble with labelling. I got the chance to go around to a lot of different labs. After that, I came to the PhD program in Illinois (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). I feel like BME is the right program for me. The work is very meaningful to me because it can have a lot of biomedical applications and be a very promising tool in the future. I find the work very fun, and honestly, while I have not really tried a lot of other things except in my courses, since I started learning about this work, I am still very motivated by it. 


What has your journey like coming to Brown? 

I transferred along with Professor Toussaint. I thought that his research was very interesting, and I also wanted to stay in the same field of what I worked at in undergrad. I am still working on optical imaging but with a different aim now. I think that Brown is even better than expected. I was surprised at how small the classes are. This was a new experience compared to Illinois. I think that everyone has been very supportive, and that made my adjustment process to be very easy. I like to see the old buildings and living close to campus. 


What is it like being a researcher in the Probe Lab?

I am working on Second Harmonic Generation or SHG microscopy which is an image analysis tool that makes it very easy to label the samples we are looking at. It requires minimum preparations to analyze the images so I believe it has the potential to be combined with other technology such as polarization microscopy or radiation exposure monitoring (REM) imaging. 


What does your day to day look like? 

I take classes in nano optics and artificial intelligence in biomedicine to improve my skills in machine learning - which is very useful in my lab. Some of the members in my lab are in the same graduate seminar as me so it’s very fun to work and learn together. I work on projects in the lab which involve a lot of coding as well as a lot of microscope hardware setup. Our lab is new so it is still under construction so we have not had time to complete our microscopy set up like back in Illinois.   


Are there any accomplishments that you feel most proud of so far?

I don’t know, I don’t feel that getting published is a true accomplishment. I just feel happy figuring out a problem that I have been stuck on for a long time. Every step in the experiment I feel a sense of accomplishment. In the future, I definitely want to do something related to science or engineering, as long as the project is interesting to me. 


What do you like to do in your free time? 

I like going to classical concerts, watching ballet or musicals. I also like visiting museums, and I usually play video games. I mostly enjoy spending time with friends, and we just get together to play board games or werewolf - which is similar to mafia. I like to cook a lot, especially Asian food. I love to try other recipes as well, and one of my favorites is a Spanish seafood dish with rice that’s called paella.  


Do you have any advice you have for people looking to get into BME?

BME is a very multidisciplinary field of study so there can be a lot of unfamiliar things so challenges can arise from that. For me, there are times that I find it is hard to really get familiar with a lot of subjects, to work together with people from other disciplines since I have always been focused on one thing, but It is necessary for BME students to do this kind of work because that is what they are in this field for. I think persistence is key. Just keep doing it. The work can be tedious so it is important to keep a clear mind. Being able to collaborate with others is a key skill. There will always be other members of your team and advisors to work with you. When I get frustrated, I would go talk to them. They are all really nice and encouraging and they are really curious about your work. I feel very supported in my work, and I am happy to be here!