Stand Out Moments of 2018

December 23, 2018

Well it is now December 22nd, 2018. I am currently sitting on my Grandmother's couch with Charlie sleeping next to me...looking adorable in her Christmas bow-tie collar (don't judge me, dressing up my dog brings me so much joy). I came here a few days before Christmas to help out (she has a bad foot) and spend some extra quality one on one time with her before all the other family members arrive. I have been reflecting on this year a lot the past few days, and figure I should summarize my thoughts here (for myself).  

 

The whole idea of New Year resolutions is kind of silly to me and I don't think I set any resolutions at the beginning of the year. I believe that every day, or minute for that matter, is an opportunity to reset, re-center, find your breath and decide to be better than past you from yesterday or you one minute ago. Being "better" means a lot of things to me, but broadly I think it is about taking full ownership of the things you have control over - your reactions to the external world. Realizing this (super)power, and remembering to use it, has been life-changing. One of the best qualities I see in myself is my ability to identify what I want, question why I want it and if it's good for me, then find a way to make it happen. A lot of other qualities, like putting in the hard work, are actually fueling all the good happening in my life. But this big picture-goal-setting-masterplan-creating-holding-myself-accountable thing has really helped move me forward. 

 

So, yeah, time to recap some of my favorite memories of 2018.

 

January: Started the year cross country AND downhill skiing in Harbor Springs, MI. It feels really, really good to be back on my skis for the first time since my tibial plateau fracture last season in Breckenridge, CO. 

 

March: I attended the Brain Functional Organization, Connectivity, and Behavior conference in Whistler, BC, Canada where I gave my first big girl talk, to an audience of some pretty important people (slides here). Sat at a dinner table with Daniel Marguilies, Simon Eickhoff, Todd Constable, Michael Brakespear, Rosalyn Moran, Mark Woolrich, and Peter Bandettini. Amazing networking (and skiing) opportunity. 

 

April: Helped my friend Lauren move to Houston, Texas. We drove there (in a moving van) from Ann Arbor. It was my first time in Texas, and I had a pretty good first impression. Adopted a second dog, Blue, a 12-year-old very smart and sweet Australian Shepherd. Go to my first brainhack (in Ann Arbor)! Find out my first publication is out on the same day! 

 

May: Attended a Flux Society Satellite conference, Big Data Little Brains at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC. Presented a poster about leveraging public datasets to create a youth mega sample. Stayed in an AirBnB that was INCREDIBLE. I felt like I lived in a treehouse. 

 

June: Submitted a paper describing our prediction model methods. Went to ISRMR for my first time in Paris, France. Presented an E-Poster on fetal fMRI preprocessing and gave a power pitch. Spoke up about my discouragement with the lack of female awards, and maybe was heard? Penny Gowland acknowledged and validated my concerns at least. Spent an extra few days in Paris with my dad and also went to London for the first time. Visited King's College, discovered Google London (where DeepMind lives!!), and the obligatory Harry Potter Platform 9 3/4. 

 

July: Saw my aunt's art show, Mind Over Matter, dedicated to my late Uncle Bob. 

 

August: Two week long summer school, Neurohackademy, at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. I met so many cool smart people who also love brains and coding. Learned SO, SO much about reproducibility, collective coding, and open science. My capstone project team used deep learning (U-Net CNN) to generate T2w images given a T1w image as input. This is useful for better anatomical-functional co-registration and can help process data through HCP-pipelines which require a T2w image for preprocessing. Went on a day trip to Mount Rainer National Park. Flew home on a red-eye flight (after someone stole and crashed a plane!) and landed in Detroit at 7am on my 26th birthday. Headed straight to race in OABI and won. Saw the Roots play a mind-blowing concert in Detroit. Paper on brain age prediction from T1w images published in Machine Learning for Health Care conference at Stanford. Lowest MAE and train time of any model I have come across! Paper gets noticed on Twitter by Gael Varoquaux.

 

September: Resting-State Brain Connectivity conference in Montreal, QC, Canada. This is a bi-annual conference, and I had attended it two years prior in Vienna, Austria. It had been my first real science conference in Vienna, and it felt really awesome to evaluate how much I have learned and grown from two years ago. I was the first to the microphone to ask David Van Essen a question about validating the Glasser parcellation in other samples/populations and Alex Fornito a question about considering a different type of motion de-noising. I met Angie Laird who invited me to lunch and recruited me to come to FIU to do my PhD in Physics with her. She told me I had an obligation to continue as a woman in Physics. I told her she was in her "Rihanna" phase of life, aka being a boss-lady doing what interests her and not what other people tell her to do. She made a really wonderful impression on me. 

 

October: Submitted a paper about task activation patterns predicting a general factor of intelligence (g) better than any prediction we have ever seen (r=0.64 out of sample). Caterina Gratton, Damian Fair, and Julia Siege all gave talks I attended in Ann Arbor in the same week! Dressed up as the Bride from Kill Bill and Harry Potter for Halloween. 

 

November: I was invited to participate in the Self-Organizing Conference on Machine Learning (SOCML) at the Google Toronto office, hosted by Ian Goodfellow. It was my first conference outside of academia. Really great conversations with diverse group, and was surprised at how non-technical a majority of the conversations were. A lot of big picture thinking (ethics, safety, AGIs). Also major props for the gender ratio being equal. 

 

December: Submitted a paper using ABCD data to predict neurocognitive factors, we are the first paper (I think) to use ABCD imaging data for phenotype prediction! I will end the year by getting on a flight to Geneva, Switzerland on New Years Eve to cross off a major item on my bucket list: skiing the Swiss and French Alps. Needless to say, I'm super excited for my last trip of 2018. 

 

Books I read (all the way through) this year: The Book of Joy by The Dali Lama and Desmond TuTu, Becoming by Michelle Obama, Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown. 

 

Music that I listened to: Back for Love by Jiggler, Money by Cardi B, Invasion of Privacy album by Cardi B, anything by MØ, anything by Banks. 

 

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