COVID-19 and Transition Into Full-Time Summer Work

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A lot of things have happened in the last few months. The situation with COVID-19 has undoubtedly posed new challenges for many of us. Schools have switched to online learning and I am now working fully remotely.

While what happened is certainly not favorable by any means, I do think that it gives us a lot of essential and transferable skills. The ability to deal with high levels of stress and move on despite the difficulties is one of the most important skills one could acquire. I think it is also interesting to think about the pandemic from the technological perspective. The pandemic would have hit a lot harder if it happened twenty or even ten years ago. Now that pretty much everyone owns a computer and has access to the internet, it is manageable to maintain social life. In other words, it is just physical distancing that we have been practicing and not necessarily social distancing.

Data visualization tool
Data visualization tool

In regard to my internship, as the pandemic started its rapid emergence, some of our projects got postponed/delayed and we started working on projects related to COVID-19 right away. For the past few months, we have been fully dedicated to the COVID-19-related research and development. In the first few days, Dr. Yanshan Wang and I automated COVID-19 screening process for Mayo nurses and physicians, which ultimately saved a lot of precious time for medical personnel. Additionally, I have been working on two big/major projects.

The first project I worked on (with Dr. Feichen Shen) leveraged the AI-driven graph mining techniques to assist COVID-19 knowledge discovery, which has the potential value for innovative COVID-19 drug discovery. We also built a user-friendly web-based tool to visualize the data as well as support link/relation prediction. The project that Dr. Shen and I worked on yielded promising results and our manuscript was accepted by Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA), the most prestigious journal in the domain of medical informatics.

The other project (with Dr. Yanshan Wang) revolved around building a chatbot that answers questions related to COVID-19. Additionally, we have been testing a number of state-of-the-art models and embedding-generation techniques for performance comparison. We have almost finished drafting the paper and will soon submit it to one of the top biomedical informatics conferences.

Finally, my mentors have expressed enthusiastic support for extending my internship into full-time summer work, so I am planning to stay here over the summer.

We will beat this pandemic and come out stronger than ever before!

Stay safe and stay strong!

The original blogpost is located here.