Ryan Wong

Meet Ryan Wong: a sophomore in the pre-Computational and Systems Biology major, an interdisciplinary major at UCLA. This past summer, Ryan was part of the 2023 URC-Sciences Summer Program, a 10-week opportunity for UCLA undergraduates to undertake research with a UCLA faculty and receive professional development through workshops and seminars. We had the opportunity to hear more about Ryan’s research experience at UCLA:

1. How did you first get involved in your research project?

Few other organs in the body are as important as the brain; it controls everything! Isn’t that interesting? So many things can damage it but we don’t have any reliable methods of healing or prevention. That’s why the Geschwind Lab’s research in neurological disorders caught my eye as I looked for opportunities for my sophomore summer. I reached out and quickly found a positive and supportive work environment where I learned about different modern computational techniques and applied them to the research project I’m working on now.

2. How would you describe your research experience at UCLA?

I can only say that it’s been a blast! Conducting research in science is remarkably different from studying science in a classroom. My lab and research have given me a space to freely make mistakes, to grow, and explore topics that I find myself continuing to ask questions about! I’m fortunate to have a great mentor who supports my personal and professional goals, and it’s only allowed me to grow my experience in academia even more.

3. What is one piece of advice you have for other students thinking about getting involved in research?

So many people experience imposter syndrome when they first get involved in research. But it’s important to realize that everyone starts from somewhere. Whenever I face these struggles, I remember that the only way I can grow is by challenging myself, and that I can rely on my mentor to guide me.

4. Have you attended a conference before? If so, can you describe your experience on preparation, presenting, etc.?

As part of my last research program, I presented at a poster presentation among my peers. It’s definitely a nerve-wracking experience and I couldn’t help but compare my project with the others’. Thankfully, my mentors were there to help and support me throughout the way, giving me a fresh perspective on my presentation and helping me anticipate questions. When it finally came time to present, I was no longer nervous and actually realized that presentations are an amazing forum for scientists to share their ideas, meet like-minded individuals, and become interested in the research in and out of their field!

5. What are your future career goals?

I hope to pursue an MD-PhD and one day contribute to improving the health of our communities!