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Hi everyone! My name is Zhuoyu (Selina) Shi, and I am a junior double-majoring in psychology and computer science with a minor in neuroscience. I’m from Jiaozuo, China. When I was in high school, I was fascinated by the concepts and principles in AP psychology, so I decided to pursue my interest in psychology after I entered UNC. During my studies here, I’m getting interested in the mechanisms of neuropsychiatric disease and the computational tools and packages. I am double majoring in computer science to strengthen my understanding of computation and analysis, and minoring in neuroscience to supplement my physiological knowledge. In the spring of 2022, I took PSYC 395 with Dr. Stephens, and I was trained to control the quality of T1 and T2 human brain masks using ITK-SNAP at the Neuro Image Research and Analysis Lab (NIRAL). During the summer, I worked as an undergraduate research assistant at Dr. Wu’s Advanced Computational Medicine Lab (ACM) and worked on an independent project on brain connectivity. We hypothesized that the hub nodes might be a driving force for mobility decline and cognitive impairment, and we utilized the brain connectivity toolbox in MATLAB and machine learning package SVR in Python to train hub nodes’ baseline features and predict MoCA score. Delving into brain connectivity, cognition, brain images, computational tools, and brain structure software, I developed a passion for computational neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and behavioral and integrative neuroscience.


I’m thrilled and honored to be accepted into this fall’s Gil cohort. The Gil Internship has given me an amazing opportunity at Dr. Belger’s Neurocognition and Imaging Research Lab (NIRL). Dr. Belger is the director of our lab and the director of the UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. Her research focuses on translational and interdisciplinary studies of cortical circuit breakdown in neuropsychiatric disorders. Our lab combines functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electrophysiological scalp recording (EEG), and neuropsychological assessment techniques to explore the behavioral and neurophysiological underpinnings of sensory and cognitive impairments across disorders. In addition to the research mission, Dr. Belger also emphasizes the educational mission of our lab. As a lab that offers diverse training to undergraduates, graduate students, post-docs, and early faculty members, our lab works on training next-generation researchers and instructors in this field, which I found very meaningful and inspiring.


I’m working on an independent project with the lab engineer Josh Bizzell. We plan to reprocess the fMRI data in the CogNIT dataset and analyze the potential correlation between fMRI data and cognitive or behavioral task scores. The CogNIT dataset is collected by our lab and has been preprocessed at Duke-UNC Brain Imaging and Analysis Center. We will reprocess the task-based fMRI data using fMRIPrep, a preprocessing pipeline combining tools from FSL, ANTs, FreeSurfer, and AFNI, and do preprocessing like slice time correction with the most updated fMRIPrep. For now, I’m studying how to use FSLeyes and run fMRIPrep on UNC Longleaf, a Linux-based computing system available to UNC researchers. I’m also reviewing the shell scripts of the previous processing and modifying them with Josh. After preprocessing, we will run into analysis and delve more into the correlation between brain functions and behavioral or cognitive performance.


I really love my experience as a Gil intern. The Gil internship has not only provided me with research experience in my interest area, but also offers a lot of professional development opportunities. I’ll meet with the UCS advisor tomorrow to discuss my resume, and I just networked with Gil Alumni on LinkedIn. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from these professionals and obtain valuable suggestions and skills concerning my future research and career. I really want to say thank you to Emily Dolegowski, Dr. Buzinski, Dr. Gil, Dr. Belger, Josh Bizzell, and everyone at NIRL for teaching me so many things and offering such an incredible experience!

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