Annyeonghaseyo!” chimed the members of Noo Li Jeon’s Laboratory the moment Bri Robertson arrived on the scene. In a weak, newly-developed Korean tongue, Bri returned the greeting. Although this small interaction of exchanged “hellos” appears insignificant, the vivacity and the overall goodwill of the lab assured Bri that she was placed in the right host lab. After a couple days of fumbling with pipettes and cell culturing, she quickly rose to a different project in the lab that suited her well—Deep Learning. With a background in OpenCV and Python, Bri wanted to work on this project, which was for the automated quantization of vascular morphology, because she wanted to dive deeper into object recognition techniques. With Deep Learning as an emerging field, she knew this was her opportunity to learn alongside her lab mates and contribute. In her eight weeks here, she hopes to develop a program that can handle microscopy images and learn to identify unique characteristics about the data. 

Along with research, Bri toured two unique sites—LG and KITECH. LG, the technology giant, brought the group into a thinktank-style room, featuring many of the soon-to-be-released technologies lining the wall. After discussing many of the problems and the methods behind solving those problems with the tour lead, Bri recognized that she wants to delve into a field that promotes innovation in a similar, open-discussion style. The other site, KITECH, which is a government laboratory, gave an intriguing introduction to how research extends past private companies and permeates the national identity of Korea as well. An example of this permeance was highlighted by one of the individuals who led the group through a photolithography lab. Rather than serving his mandatory two-year sentence in the military that all Korean men must serve, he serves his time by contributing to the R&D in which Korea is actively engaged.

Outside of the immediate field of research, Bri spends most of her hours with her lab mates, often sharing in meals and karaoke together. One of her favorite post-lunch activities is “Kai Bai Bo!” which is the Korean multiplayer game of rock, paper, scissors. The loser pays for everyone’s coffee! On her first weekend in Seoul, Bri met one of her childhood best friends in the popular district of Myeong-dong, in which the two embarked on a tourist-like adventure through the streets and up Namsan, a popular Korean mountain which is home to a 360° view of the city. In the second weekend, the group of five celebrated the start of a new week with trying sannakji: live octopus. Bri vividly remembers six tentacles attaching to the inside of her cheek!

With the past few weeks full of adventure in and outside of the lab, Bri anticipates with pleasing expectation the next weeks to come!