First Name

Debleena

Last Name

C.

Bio

In a word, Debleena would describe herself as curious. Growing up across three different continents, she had nearly inexhaustible fuel for questions, questions about languages and people and the rules that controlled her surroundings. Her curiosity led her to pursue knowledge about a broad array of topics, ranging from studying and achieving proficiency in eight languages to sometimes infuriating attempts to build functioning Goldberg machines in her AP Physics classes. Upon entering her school’s Academic Decathlon team, she found various activities such as multidiscipline tests, interviews, speeches and team quizzes that allowed her to embrace her varied passions while interacting with and leading her teammates. At regional competitions, she won 1st place in her division, 11 medals, and a $250 scholarship, and helped her team win the Most Improved School Award. Through all of her exploration in STEM classes and programs, however, she found computer science to be a reappearing enabler for answering all kinds of questions. Mathematics, for example, was a subject she enjoyed even without application to other fields, unique in its ability to provide streamlined solutions to complex problems. After taking AP Calculus BC in the ninth grade, she moved on to complete all of the post-calculus mathematics courses offered at her local community college, and took a number theory class with Stanford Online University. A chapter on encryption, describing the use and evolution of systems such as RSA and ECC, drew her interest to the applications of higher-level mathematics to cryptography and data security. This is a field she hopes to work in upon graduating college, developing and strengthening protocols. Over the summer after junior year, she was chosen as one of 10 High School Summer Fellows out of 200 applicants at the LA Biomedical Research Institute. Upon taking anatomy at her school, the subject had begun to interest her, and the opportunity to work in a neurology lab where discoveries about the nature of perception and memory were made in real time felt surreal. Yet amidst all of the chemical assays and sometimes traumatizing mouse euthanasia, she found that once again computing was a driving force in the industry. As she built experimental apparatus, she noticed that the majority of the behavioral analysis of mice in response to external stimuli was conducted using MATLAB. She found the deep-learning and image recognition capabilities of MATLAB fascinating, its applicability ranging from recognizing faces to successfully diagnosing stages of prostate cancer from scans. After presenting her behavioral findings at a poster presentation, she has continued to intern at the lab, performing data analysis of mouse MRI data in response to various drugs. She is also currently taking a MATLAB course with Stanford Online University and is in the process of completing a project where she trains a neural network to distinguish between control and ovarian cancer patients’ scans. She works as a math and science tutor at Math Support Services, helping kids of all ages understand and hopefully enjoy subjects ranging from algebra to biology, calculus to chemistry. At her school, she is the founder and president of the Physics club and Girls Who Code club, and loves engaging her peers with STEM through collaborative coding projects (who doesn’t love building optimally sassy chatbots?) From creating a tech assistance program at her city’s senior center to holding coding workshops at her local Boys and Girls Club, she hopes to inspire the people she meets to pursue their own curiosity wherever it takes them.