Host Kenji Lee '15


Kenji Lee '15
Major: Biochemistry and Mathematics, Neuroscience emphasis
Job Title:
Research Associate
The Allen Institute for Brain Science
Host Date: Monday, January 15, 2018
Time: 12:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Location: Seattle, WA

What student groups/clubs/activities were you involved in when you were a student at Puget Sound?

  • Sigma Chi Fraternity
  • Hui o Hawai`i
  • SAACS; Kids Can Do!

How would you describe your role and organization?

The Allen Institute is a set of institutes created by philanthropist Paul G. Allen to help facilitate a sea change in the way that science is done in the fields of artificial intelligence, neuroscience, cellular biology and more. At the Allen Institute for Brain Science, over 300 scientists work collaboratively to understand the brain by providing the greater scientific community with several highly-standardized data sets surveying the tremendous transcriptomic, morphological, functional, and connectomic diversity in the human brain.

In my work at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, I conduct imaging experiments that record the responses of neurons in the visual cortex to the presentation of certain images on a screen; these experiments will help us decipher the "neural code" that the brain uses to transform information presented to the retina into meaningful concepts.

How would the skills and competencies gained through a liberal arts education be beneficial in the type of work you do?

Small class sizes and the frequent discussions in lecture have made me confident in my abilities to be able to synthesize certain pieces information gleaned from a variety of sources into a coherent argument that I am willing and able to defend in front of others - frequently in my position I am asked to present and defend scientific results in front of my peers and other scientists.

A liberal arts education has also given me an appreciation of and preparation for an interdisciplinary approach to knowing. In a field such as neuroscience, I am required to understand and utilize a broad set of concepts from across the fields of science: biochemistry to understand genetic engineering, physics to understand lasers and optics, biology to understand the living brain, math and statistics to carry out data analysis, and computer science to program said analyses.

What can a student expect to experience by job shadowing you?

They can expect to be introduced to the work that the Institute does along with a tour of the facility. I'll also introduce the students to what it's like to work in a non-profit lab and how that's different from an academic lab. Additionally, I'll walk students through the process of applying to a position along with what it's like to participate in an interview from an interviewer's perspective. They can also expect to discuss their career goals and whether or not a PhD is right for them. I'll also do my best to bring in scientists to talk about their work and to talk about graduate programs.