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Hello! My name is Jash Mirani and I am a Junior from Farmington, CT majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Chemistry. I have served on the leadership board for the Asian American Students Association and have done some work as the language liaison for Immigrant and Family Health. Furthermore, I have also served as a volunteer at Bristol Hospital in Bristol, CT. As a research intern at the UNC Neuroimaging Research Analysis Laboratories, I am extremely interested in learning about the way in which structural studies of the brain through the use of Computer Science and Statistics can enable us to further our understanding of neurological disorders.

Under my mentor and alongside other volunteers working at The UNC Neuroimaging Research and Analysis lab, I had the opportunity to work on a project called ADNI, which involved looking at hundreds of MRI scans of brains of people who potentially had Alzheimer’s and attempting to quantify the amount of cerebrospinal fluid in them. Ultimately, this particular research is an extension of a link established between enlarged extra axial cerebrospinal fluid and the onset of Autism a couple years back. ADNI looks at the same variable of enlarged extra axial cerebrospinal fluid but in the cases of individuals that potentially have Alzheimer’s Disease to see if a similar relationship holds true.

I helped in the creation of a script that enabled us to go through hundreds of different cases and “map out” the cerebrospinal fluid in hopes of ultimately quantifying it. To do this, I worked with a software called AutoEACSF as well as another one called ITK-SNAP, which was used to view the segmentation and eventually make edits to it if required.  Ultimately, the work that I done could be broken down into 3 different parts: creation of a script in Python, quality checking of the results, and editing of the cases that severely underestimated the amount of extra axial cerebrospinal fluid. Each of these steps was a journey in itself and required periods of trial and error, through which the guidance of my mentor was pivotal.

In addition to working on my own schedule on the weekdays, I also attend research meetings about once a week to catch up with the other groups of volunteers on their projects and any progress made along with difficulties that they have been having. Floating ideas around among ourselves and implementing change based on this has been extremely helpful throughout the course of these past few months. It has also built a sort of camaraderie that I will look back on as memorable in the context of my college experience. As such, I have gained not only technical skills as a part of this lab, but also interpersonal skills and memories that I will cherish going forward. I thank my mentor and the Gil internship directors for presenting me with such a wonderful opportunity.

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