Realizing her fascination with neuroscience in the 8th grade, Iliana is laying a strong foundation to pursue her dreams. As an EE major, Iliana finds balance through the arts, and helping other undergraduates have a great Stanford experience. She's president of Fuse, the EE undergraduate student group, and she is involved with several other student groups and committees. She's grateful for the research and presentation experience available while at Stanford.
How did you become interested in your research area?
I have always been fascinated by the brain. In eighth grade, I took "Intro to Neurosystems Engineering" at the University of New Mexico, and I realized that a strong technical background in Electrical Engineering would be the best way to approach the neuroscience topics that interested me. I pursued neuroscience through my high school summer research at the MIND Research Network, and I presented our research project as a poster at the 19th Annual Meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping. During the past two summers, I focused more on traditional signal processing for my research with Sandia National Laboratories, and I presented a paper at SPIE Optics and Photonics last August. I am continuing to combine signal processing with brain applications in my current research.
Explain a project you're currently working on.
I am doing research with the Neural Prosthetics Systems Laboratory (NPSL) as an EE REU student. I am analyzing signals recorded from electrodes in the brains of rhesus macaques as they proceed through a decision making task. Through this data, I am studying how brain activity before a sensory stimulus impacts how one reacts to the stimulus. I am using signal processing techniques and statistics to examine if activity in a specific brain region is related to the eventual behavior. We hope to get a better understanding of how the signals in the brain coordinate during decision making.
Why did you choose Stanford EE?
Although I knew I wanted to major in EE, I also wanted to be at a school where I could take classes in other areas that interest me (Music, History, Languages, etc.) and to be with students that are passionate about those areas as well. Stanford was able to provide both an incredible EE education and a holistic general education. I am so lucky to be surrounded by such talented peers and faculty, and I love the numerous educational and research opportunities available to undergraduates. Last summer, I was able to go to England and Wales with the Bing Overseas Seminar Program, studying the Magna Carta for its 800th anniversary. As a sophomore, I was able to do a Summer Arts Intensive, The Science of Sound, which explored the technology behind music production. I appreciate that Stanford provides such a variety of programs for its undergraduates.
What other activities are you involved with on campus?
I am currently the president of Fuse, the EE undergraduate student group. I am also vice president of Women in Electrical Engineering (WEE), a member of the EE Student Life Committee, and a member of Society for Women Engineers (SWE). I am very committed to making the Stanford EE experience inclusive, fruitful and enjoyable. I also love to sing opera and dance ballet and Bharatnatyam.
What are your career plans?
I will apply to PhD programs this fall. I hope to pursue my PhD in EE with a focus on signal processing and neural applications. After I complete my studies, I am very interested in working in academia.