Hello! I’m Tianxiu Li, an international student from Beijing, China. I’m currently a senior double majoring in Biology and Psychology with a minor in Statistics. I started college with a broad interest in both majors I’m studying, and thus it took me a while to figure out my future pursuit. The sudden occurrence of the pandemic back in 2019 elevated the value of Public Health in improving people’s well-being to a new level. At that moment, I foresaw an opportunity to integrally apply what I’ve learned academically to address real-world issues within an industrial environment like a pharmaceutical company. Consequently, I intend to pursue a master’s degree in Biostatistics after graduation, wishing this higher education would prepare me sufficiently to fulfill the duties of a position working on clinical trials’ data.
My concern for people’s well-being actually started much earlier before college. In high school, I’ve participated in a charity program for three years, during which I’ve not only witnessed the struggle of orphans born with mental illness but understood the significant role personalized assistance could play to help each child develop a fulfilling and independent life. In my sophomore year, I was lucky enough to join Dr. Aysenil Belger’s Neurocognition and Imaging Research Lab, the goal of which is to identify biomarkers and early targeted interventions through studying adolescents at high risk for psychopathology. Volunteering in this lab has enabled me to obtain insights into symptoms of mental illness through clinical interviews, learn how to acquire brain activity data on adolescents via EEG and behavioral data via neurocognitive assessments, and be trained on editing MRI images to investigate how cortical thickness relates to symptoms of mental illness. In my junior year, I accepted two successive internship opportunities at Pfizer. This combinedly one year’s experience has let me apprehend the promising future of “digital health” in aiding people to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
As a senior, it is my great honor to become a Gil intern and be paired with Lenovo, a multinational technology company with the primary mission: “deliver smarter technology for all”. Currently, I’m working with the Next UX team under the mentorship of Dr. Megan Frankosky. The Next UX team, under the big umbrella of the intelligent devices group (IDG), accentuates the development of physical devices. Researchers and designers within the team look just ahead on the current roadmap and provide innovative ideations based on contemporary issues that need to be addressed and ameliorated. Some current projects of the team target big topics like “evolution of work”, “smart home, “gaming”, and “education”.
Until now, I’ve completed a literature review plus a presentation on “Behavioral Changes and Devices”, touching on specific topics like “distraction”, “ergonomy”, “eye strain”, and “better breaks”. For this project, I looked at how devices influence people’s behaviors and tried to gather information on existing products in the market, from where I came up with ideas on how next-generation devices produced by Lenovo could help better address these issues. Currently, I’m designing survey questions for an independent project on “Personal Health Care and Devices”. The results of this survey will be used to screen out specific individuals to participate in future studies. The ultimate goal of this project is to establish potential directions for future device development that would help customers detect unhealthy behavior timely, promote a change in behavior, and maintain long-term healthy habits. A side project stemming from this main study will target mental health, a quite blank area within the field of personal electronics. Through this project, I’m expecting to learn what role devices could play in helping customers sustain a healthy mental state. Besides all the above-mentioned, I will also assist the team in creating a guidebook explaining the functions and potential usage of Power BI, a data analysis and visualization tool.
This internship opportunity at Lenovo not only allows me to get acquainted with and learn from professionals within an area somewhat outside of my fields but provides me a platform to freely exert my pursuits. That is to say that I could extend “digital health”, a concept I learned from my internship with Pfizer, to my work at Lenovo and apprehend, from a brand-new angle, what I could do to contribute to the well-being of people. Finally, I’d like to thank my mentor, classmates, and Dr. Buzinski for all the supports along the way. I’m excited to see the outcomes of my project at the end of this semester!