My Phenomenal Summer in Philadelphia

Jerry Cai, COL’24, Chapel Hill, NC

Scrolling through Instagram, I saw friends all dive into internship experiences all over the world. Some were busy cranking out financial models in New York, while others academically immersed themselves in beautiful Madrid. Compared to my previous summer trekking across the country, my plans this summer seemed relatively lowkey. However, as it turned out, my summer spent in Philadelphia proved remarkably enriching. The first in-person summer since before the pandemic, I was able to meaningfully contribute to my current research project, explore a variety of passion projects and spend quality time with friends.

I conducted research for Dr. Chamith Rajapakse in the Radiology Department at Penn Medicine. My project involved developing an application that converts 2D medical images into 3D models, which can be holographically visualized in an augmented reality viewing headset. I have previously worked on this project throughout the school year, and my summer goal was to modify our existing image processing workflow to successfully intake brain MRIs. Currently, brain MRI is traditionally more difficult to construct viable 3D models from, and the augmented reality visualization process has only been implemented for orthopedic and cardiology applications.

Over the summer, I helped other members on the research team conduct literature reviews and develop the effective imaging analysis approaches. I also configured existing python script for use on my own device and modified python code to generate more realistic graphics. Near the beginning of August, I helped our research team write and submit a manuscript for the SPIE Research Conference in February 2023. Overall, I believe I made meaningful contributions to our team’s research efforts by exploring new applications for our existing technology and coordinated efforts to enhance our team’s collective productivity.

I am impressed by how much I developed several core technical skills, my time management and overall wellness over the summer. I learned an incredible amount about biomedical image analysis through my research project, especially optimizing image processing parameters and setting up environments for python. I also learned the fundamental principles of computer vision and color theory mathematics, I hope to explore in subsequent bioengineering courses. I also gained a deeper understanding of machine learning models applied in medical image segmentation and anatomy identification. I truly enjoyed the interdisciplinary nature of my research, integrating cutting-edge software technology to improve clinical workflows. I also shadowed several interventional radiologists at the VA Medical center, where I witnessed surgeons utilize the same image processing techniques to plan minimally invasive procedures. My overall summer experience has confirmed my desire to pursue medicine, especially through clinical practice and interdisciplinary translational research.

Outside of research, I also explored new passions and shared fond memories with friends. I got a DJ controller for my 21st birthday and fell in love mixing EDM and house music on late Saturday nights. I spent warm evenings with friends grilling in our backyard, watching fireworks and escaping the heat in the inflatable pool. I also made progress securing several guests for a podcast I help produce during the school year. I learned to manage my time and energy levels effectively, developing habits of daily exercise and healthy eating, which enhance my overall work productivity and mental health. Overall, I am so grateful for the opportunity to explore so many different pursuits this summer. As much as I’m thrilled to hear about my friends’ adventures abroad, I am equally excited to tell them about my phenomenal summer in Philadelphia.

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2022 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

By Career Services
Career Services