Born in California in 1992, Robert would be confined by state boundaries for the next 24 years of his life. Although deprived of experiencing foreign lands, he would often explore the rugged wilderness of California, investigate foreign cultures vicariously through non-native Californians, and find his own niche within the scientific community over the years. He graduated from the University of California, Merced in 2014 with B.S. degrees in biology and physics before transitioning to biophysical microfluidic assays at Stanford, which was followed by hardware engineering at Chan Zuckerberg Biohub. He is now a Ph.D. student in the UC Berkeley - UCSF Joint Program in Bioengineering.
My career in research began somewhat unexpectedly during my undergraduate years at University of California, Merced (2010-2014) as I was exploring emerging and unfamiliar interests. It was through these early experiences and encouragement from various mentors that I found nascent attraction to the engineering discipline, which was further refined during my time at Stanford. Brief summaries of my research are listed below:
Bioengineering Platform, Chan Zuckergerg Biohub (‘17 - ‘20) : Founding member of the bioengineering platform who worked under the great leadership of the BioE platform director, Dr. Rafael Gómez-Sjöberg. Due to Rafael’s and the team’s supportive mentorship, this has been the most formative professional experience that I’ve had to date. This really propelled me into engineering and provided the opportunity to become technically proficient while working on impactful applications. Please refer to my CV for extensive details.
- Fordyce Lab (‘14 - ‘17) : Founding member of the lab. Built optical, pneumatic, microarrayer systems and developed semi-automated analysis software. Studied transcription factor - DNA binding kinetics using high-throughput microfluidics.
- Gopinathan Lab (‘13 - ‘14) : Modeled actin dynamics to predict f-actin polymerization at the plasma membrane interface with potential applications for predicting cell shape on nanoscale topography. Senior thesis project for physics degree.
- McCloskey Lab (‘11 - ‘13) : Worked with postdoctoral fellow William Turner to differentiate mouse and human embryonic stem cells into cardiomyocytes with the conventional methods as well as nanoscale topography and electrical pacing.
My college town had one bike shop that was exorbitantly priced and often sold me the wrong parts at a time that I had little financial stability. Frustrated that I had to saw off kevlar tire beads that were too small for my wheels one evening, I decided to learn the mechanics of bicycles and be self-sufficient. Through that experience and my mentor, Carrie Menke, strongly suggesting that I study physics, I entered the realm of physics and engineering. My interest would grow with each step of the way as I would later build scientific instrumentation for the Fordyce Lab such as a microarrayer, move on to tinker with larger mechanics such as Jeep 4.0L Inline 6 engine, and draft designs for my own instrumentation including an infectious disease surveillance tool. I intend to make all of my own personal instrumentation open source once I have a working prototype.
Exploring the Outdoors
My childhood was riddled with outdoor adventures thanks to my parents and those adventures have come to play an important role in my life. It started with family trips, continued into Cub Scouts, and then into Boy Scouts of America (attained the highest rank of Eagle Scout at age 14), and now I venture out on my own. Up until June 2017, all of my adventures had been within the limits of California, but I have begun to take my explorations out of state and out of country. All of the images posted on this website were either taken by me or others who have joined me on a given adventure.