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Rafael Zamora-Resendiz

I am most proud of being able to say that I’ve worked on meaningful scientific problems. Be it
learning more about cancer-causing RAS protein mutations or finding ways of detecting
homelessness and suicide over terabytes of electronic health care data, I always believed that,
as scientists, we have a civil and ethical duty to use our talents to help make the world a better
place. The SRP program fueled my desire to pursue a career in the field of computational
medicine.
My college professor, mentor, and friend Dr. Xinilian Liu brought me to the Lab three years ago
to participate as a student researcher in the SRP program where we explored the application of
novel machine learning methods to the field of proteomics. During that time, I was thrown
straight into the world of research, learning about current problems on the bleeding edge of
computational science, and growing enamored with the process of thinking about a problem and
designing experiments to answer questions around them.
I will be honest and say that the journey had moments of excitement and of difficulty and
frustration. Having worked on projects which crossed multiple scientific disciplines, I felt many
times like the learning curve was too steep for me to push through. I changed my perspective
and began to see that a scientist would use this as a chance to learn more about “the things
they didn’t know, they didn’t know”.
Aside from learning more about how to design and implement machine learning algorithms on
high-performance systems, I improved on valuable soft skills which are important to conducting
good research. Scientific research has a big social component; I enjoyed sharing our group’s
work through conference presentations in the U.S. and overseas, talks I’ve given at the Lab,
and community career days where I’ve shared my experience with the next generation of young
researchers.
If you are considering the SRP program, be prepared to see things from multiple perspectives,
and be open to new ideas. Take advantage of all the great resources at your disposal. This
includes both talks and presentations given at your research institution as well as your mentors’
experiences. The SRP program is a great way to gain an understanding of the world of scientific
research and refine what you want your research career path to be.
I am now a computational engineer working at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on a
project called the Million Veterans Program under the supervision of Dr. Silvia Crivelli. I am very
grateful for the opportunities that opened up along my career path thanks to my participation in
the SRP program.