First Name

Marissa

Last Name

S.

Bio

Marissa has an avid interest in tackling global challenges through innovation in technology. She spent this past summer at the Research Science Institute (RSI), a highly selective summer research program held on MIT campus by the Center for Excellence in Education, where she built a novel network model to enhance drug discovery. Using this in silico computational approach to network medicine, at the Harvard Medical School Sharma Lab she constructed a tripartite miRNA-gene-disease network and a novel statistical-inference algorithm to identify 19 novel miRNA targets for cancers, congenital diseases, and neurological diseases. This computational research won the 34th Annual RSI Top Award, a top 5 best research project out of 80 international RSI projects. Through this experience, self teaching, and taking online CS courses, Marissa is proficient is R, MATLAB, C++, Java, Python, and HTML/CSS, and Javascript. In addition to her growing repertoire of computing experience and skills, she has a long record of independent STEM research studying heart disease at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She is the 2016 Intel ISEF Grand Award Winner and Best of Category Winner in Cellular and Molecular Biology and the 2017 Intel ISEF 2nd Place Grand Prize winner for her research on developing a novel heart disease therapeutic. She is also Grand Prize winner at the 2016 and 2017 Virginia State Science Fair, a three-time BioGENEius International Finalist in 2015, 2016, and 2017, and a two-time National Finalist at the National Junior Science and Humanities competition in 2015 and 2017. Most recently, Marissa was named a Top 40 Finalist in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation's oldest and most prestigious science and math competition. Co-founding and captaining her school and county’s first iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machines) team, she has led her team to international recognition. At the 2015 and 2016 iGEM international competition, her team was honored as the top US team and one of the top five international teams. Marissa led her iGEM team to genetically engineer an organism to solve a real-world manufacturing problem. Marissa’s interest in computing and STEM has led her to found the 100 Girls of Code Northern Virginia Chapter to train girls in developing computational skills through providing educational coding workshops. Through her nonprofit work leading the non-profit Catalyst for Hope, she brings digital literacy to a poor, rural village schools in Sri Lanka with laptops and internet, and teaches the students through on-site teaching and e-mentoring. She plans to study Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science in college and become a leader in computational biology. A competitive figure skater from age 5, she still spends a few hours, six days a week, practicing and preparing for competitions as an ice dancer, which she hopes to continue through college.