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Kelsey Hallinen

Department: Physics
Faculty Adviser: Andrew Leifer
Year of Study:
Undergraduate School: Carnegie Mellon University
Undergraduate Major: Physics

Personal Bio

I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and went to undergrad at Carnegie Mellon. As a physics major there, I realized I want to ask more biophysics questions and try to apply the physics I loved to biological questions. Starting my sophomore year, I worked in a lab focused on lipid membranes. After graduation, I headed to the University of Michigan and completed my PhD in Biophysics with a certificate in Complex Systems. The lab I worked in studied antibiotic resistance in bacteria and looking at the large scale population dynamics of bacterial communities.

Outside of academia, I enjoy running and rock climbing. I was a hurdler all through high school and college. I still like to go on runs around Princeton and I've really enjoyed getting to explore a lot of the parks.

Fun Fact

I like to cook and bake, and spent a lot of time this last year finding new exciting recipes. I often take a lot of inspiration from the great British Baking show- my sister even got me a cookbook from one of the judges and I've been slowly trying out more recipes.

Research Pitch

I work in the Leifer lab where we study the nematode C. elegans. Our lab is affiliated with both Physics and Neuroscience. My project involves whole brain imaging of the worm, both immobilized and as it crawls. C. elegans only has 302 neurons, but even with so few neurons (compared to a mouse or human brain) imaging and studying the response from the different neurons remains challenging. In our lab, we use fluorescence microscopy to both visualize the neurons as well as visualize calcium signaling from the neurons, with the goal of understanding how the neural network structure is tied to function. Beyond understanding the functions, we hope to use the calcium behavior we see to predict behaviors, tying certain responses to certain motions. I'm currently working on a project looking into worm navigation in an electric field and trying to probe why and how they do this navigation.

Plans for Summer 2022

Looking for mentee to participate in Summer ReMatch+ program.

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