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About Me

I am currently a ECE PhD student working with Professor Edward Wang, majoring in Machine Learning and Data Science at University of California, San Diego (UCSD). I received my undergraduate training at UCSD in major of Physiology and Neuroscience with a minor of Cognitive Science. During my M.S. training, I worked with Professor Jing Wang to study the neurobiology of olfaction in Drosophila Melanogaster, also known as the fruit flies.

My research interests lie at the intersection of ubiquitous computing and personal tracking. I am interested in enabling what I refer to as unconscious interaction, where users' natural behaviors can implicitly facilitate seamless and personalized usage of computational systems. I aim to solve this problem by leveraging novel sensing techniques, hardware integration, and machine learning.

During my M.S. training, I have developed and integrated an image processing software to extract individual cell activity information from videos of flattened fruit fly guts. I have also devised and implemented an olfactory virtual reality system to measure odor guided behaviors in fruit flies. I also had the opportunity to participate in building a custom three-photon fluorescent imaging rig, where I learned free-space optics while aligning ultrafast laser for multiphoton (two & three photon) microscopy. In addition, I helped build a custom (2nd order) auto-correlator to characterize the pulse-width of ultrafast emission from an Optical Parametric Amplifier.

If you want to know more about my work, or discuss any research ideas, please feel free to email me!

Research

Low-Profile Facial Motion Tracker

In this project (currently under review for CHI 2021), we demonstrate a novel system that tracks a user’s facial motions using two wide-angle cameras mounted discretely at the corners of eyeglasses. Avoiding the usage of cameras extended in-front of the face greatly improves the feasibility to integrate full-face tracking into a low-profile form factor. We demonstrate that a neural network-based model processing the wide-angle cameras can run in real-time at 24 fps on a mobile GPU and track independent facial movement for different parts of the face with a generalized global model. Using a short 2 minute personalization, the system improves it’s tracking performance by 13.5%.

Pipeline for analyzing large population of cell activities

This project is a data processing pipeline which aims to automatically extract and analyze individual cell activity information from calcium imaging videos, in order to eliminate excessive manual effort and facilitate the study of biological questions regarding enteroendocrine cells in the mid-gut of Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly). While the pipeline is fine-tuned for this study, it still has the potential to be applied onto imaging videos of other tissues or animals.

This project can be separated into two main parts: extracting individual cell activities and further analysis of these activities. The project is still under active development.

Olfactory Virtual Reality for Flies

This project is an olfactory VR system to measure odor-guided behaviors in Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly). The system consists of three parts: a spherical treadmill, an olfactometer (to deliver odor in a controlled manner), and a feedback system (to update the delivery of odor based on the fly’s position in the virtual world).

This system is designed to be compatible with multi-photon imaging so that the neuron activity in fly's brain can be recorded together with its behavioral activities.

Feedback Temperature Control System for Fruit Fly Surgery

A feedback control system is built to keep the temperature of a metal holding rig cold enough to anesthetize the fly for surgeries such as opening the head or the back under the microscope.

Publications

Electronic cigarettes induce DNA strand breaks and cell death independently of nicotine in cell lines

Vicky Yu, Mehran Rahimy, Avinaash Korrapati, Yinan Xuan, Angela E. Zou, Aswini R. Krishnan, Tzuhan Tsui, Joseph A. Aguilera, Sunil Advani, Laura E. Crotty Alexander, Kevin T. Brumund, Jessica Wang-Rodriguez, and Weg M. Ongkeko. Electronic cigarettes induce DNA strand breaks and cell death independently of nicotine in cell lines. Oral Oncology, 52:58–65, January 2016.

Transcriptome sequencing uncovers novel long noncoding and small nucleolar RNAs dysregulated in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

Angela E. Zou, Jonjei Ku, Thomas K. Honda, Vicky Yu, Selena Z. Kuo, Hao Zheng, Yinan Xuan, Maarouf A. Saad, Andrew Hinton, Kevin T. Brumund, Jonathan H. Lin, Jessica Wang-Rodriguez, and Weg M. Ongkeko. Transcriptome sequencing uncovers novel long noncoding and small nucleolar RNAs dysregulated in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. RNA, 21(6):1122–1134, April 2015.

The non-coding landscape of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

Angela E. Zou, Hao Zheng, Maarouf A. Saad, Mehran Rahimy, Jonjei Ku, Selena Z. Kuo, Thomas K. Honda, Jessica Wang-Rodriguez, Yinan Xuan, Avinaash Korrapati, Vicky Yu, Pranav Singh, Jennifer R. Grandis, Charles C. King, Scott M. Lippman, Xiao Qi Wang, Andrew Hinton, and Weg M. Ongkeko. The non-coding landscape of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Oncotarget, 7(32):51211–51222, June 2016.