Another year has passed, and its getting harder and harder for me to distinguish the years from each other. Every new years goals post seems to be written just a few days ago in my head. This year was filled with transitions, both personal and professional. I started off the year living in France, and traveling to Switzerland to see how a NYE abroad would be like. The time abroad up until August was an experience that really taught me how to survive in a completely different country without a cohort of students around me, or a friend group from college for support. I did a lot of traveling in Europe, seeing countries and cities that I've never been to, such as Hungary, Portugal, Morocco and more.

Professionally, I grew in ways that I did not expect. Rather then going to the EMBC conference with the rest of my lab, I went to a computationally focused neuroscience conference in Seattle. I reconnected with my high school friends and some old friends from JHU. The time there was perfect and a fond way for me to transition my life back into the USA. My time spent with the Theoretical Neurosciences Group helped me grow as an independent thinker and researcher. I developed a distinct appreciation for how mathematics can drive precise and beautiful descriptions of biological systems. I did some explicit exploration of using deep learning to understand its classification capabilities, and also see the pitfalls that occur when designing an architecture, or training scheme.

Old 2018 Resolutions:

1. Travel [X]

  • I traveled a lot last year. Currently this year, I've visited London, Paris, Lyon, Marrackech, Casablanca, Munich, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Lausanne, Geneva, Cambridge, Nice, Monaco, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Porto, Tuscany, Qatar, Seoul, Busan, Hanoi, Lanhah Bay, Ho Chi Minh City and Columbus (Ohio).

So my travel goals for this year are two parts: i. I'm going to try to visit: Lisbon [ ], Oslo [ ], Helsinki [ ], Stockholm [ ], Istanbul [ ], Athens [ ], Santorini [ ], Croatia [ ], Luxembourg [ ], Bordeaux [ ], Berlin [ ], Frankfurt [ ], Rome [ ]

ii. The things I'm going to try to attend are Tomorrowland 2018 [ ] and Yacht week 2018 [ ].

2. Academic [X]

  • I submitted a conference paper on using research I did in France, using a computational modeling platform to study algorithmic performance of seizure localization in epilepsy patients. I submitted a poster for some preliminary work on combining training from empirical data and simulated data to improve seizure detection. This was a completely independent idea that I only had after spending some time working in France. I enrolled in Matrix Theory when I got back to JHU and really enjoyed delving deeper into the mathematical theory behind matrices and linear algebra.

This year holds a lot of potential. I'll be submitting a journal paper for a complete retrospective study on the fragility algorithm [ ], which will be part of my main thesis work. I'm going to be enrolled in Linear Systems Theory to understand more theory behind our work in the NCSL lab. I will also attempt to audit an optimization course with a focus on theory to better understand some of the core optimization algorithms that take place in machine learning and statistical modeling.

3. Professional [ ]

  • I wanted to submit applications for internships, but I feel like research is always going on and interrupting the flow of things. My goal here was to submit applications to DE Shaw LLC, DE Shaw Research, Google Brain Research Team, DeepMind, Facebook Research, Amazon Data Science, Amazon Health Research. In all fairness, things were hectic with life as I had to transition between living in France back to JHU. I can still do this, but I hope that I can achieve that this fall, when things have settled at JHU and my PhD is nearing its end.

  • Python review of data structures [ ]

  • Math review of machine learning basics, such as backpropagation, convolutional networks, lstm network, logistic regression, linear regression, expectation maximization scheme [ ]

4. Personal [X]

  • Wanted to do more photography, but my camera got stolen halfway into the year (RIP). However, I splurged and got an even better setup! The Sony a6500, will hopefully allow me to go even further with night shots, portraits and landscapes during this year. Also managed to hit benching of 225.

I want to reach a - a deadlift of 275 [ ] and - consistent running of 1-5 miles (by the end of the year) [ ].

5. Cooking and Lifestyle [X]

  • Managed to start cooking a lot in France. Once I returned to JHU, I started cooking pretty lean at nighttime with a spinach, salmon and chicken breast with garlic combinations. I also started making kale smoothies on a daily routine, which has been a life changer. Who knew pumping your body with greens and some ginger in the morning, concealed with the sugar of frozen fruits would feel and taste so good?

6. Reading and Knowledge [X]

  • I've tried to take on more reading about new topics that I find interesting, such as politics and blockchain technologies. I started using Pocket, which is a great resource for saving webpages for easy reading offline at a later time! Will continue to do so on topics related to blockchain scaling, right and left-wing politics, and machine learning in industry.

Resolutions for 2019:

1. Learning Mandarin Chinese - Simplified [ ]

Traveling to a Mandarin speaking country, Taiwan with my friends made me realize my Chinese is horrendous. I always went to China with my family, and I never had to get around by myself. This was the first time I wanted to rely on my Chinese to communicate with strangers, and get around the country, but I realized my speaking and reading ability is just not up to par. This year, I'm committed to speaking to my parents in as much Chinese as possible and I've even started a Wechat/Messenger/Line group chat with my Chinese friends to practice Chinese.

2. Bartending Basic Drinks and Theory [ ]

I bought a bartending kit on Amazon and am aiming to learn how to make some basic drinks like an old fashioned, mojito and other drinks I can find online. Aiming to learn how to make 6 good drinks by the years end!

3. Continuation of Lifestyle Changes [ ]

Cutting my own hair, benching 2 plates, reaching deadlift of 3 plates and running at least 5 miles per week. Been proud of myself for learning how to cut my own hair (thus saving time and money each month), and hitting a bench press of 2 plates, while still weighing 160 lbs. This year I hope to continue my fitness goals and potentially shave off 10-15 lbs to a flat 145-150 lb. This will be achieved with the help of my nifty Apple Watch Series 3.

4. Professional Improvements and Consolidation of Technical Skills [ ]

This year I'll be making a lot of strides in my professional career. On one hand, I'll be pursuing the development of a startup company that is a result of my PhD research. My PI and I will be developing a seizure localization software that outperforms anything on the market, or in academic research. Interestingly it is not based on deep learning ;). This means that I will have the opportunity to actually experience developing and designing software that complies with a 510K FDA approved software device. The software must be usable by clinicians, which will involve production level coding in Python. I look forward to learning while developing with our software engineering consultants (who definitely know more about production level coding).

Obviously, the ideal goal is to be able to sell our technology by the years end to a larger EEG based company who can scale and distribute the technology into the clinic fast. Even if this doesn't happen, I believe there are still many important lessons to learn.

As a result of this endeavor, I aim to showcase to myself and others that I am capable of designing and implementing a production level software system that can sit in a clinical center that pulls data, formats data properly, preprocesses it, runs an optimized parallelized algorithm for analysis and outputs high-grade visualizations that are clinically useful.

In addition, I want to practice more of my coding skills with data structures and basic algorithms using LeetCode. So far, I've done 20-30 exercises and they are actually quite interesting to sit through. Upon reading the solutions, I always learn something new in terms of how to think like an experienced programmer.

5. Improving Photography With New IG Page [ ]

This year, I'm going to try to post new photos to a new instagram blog page with more travel related photos. This is to sort of separate my personal instagram from my photography hobby. I have a lot more to learn about optimal lighting and photography of different scenes (e.g. portraits, landscapes, nightshots). I am aiming to post an additional 12 photos that I am proud of onto this IG page by the end of the year.

See link to keep up to dates with my adventure! https://www.instagram.com/ajltravels/