miRcore Blog

Class of 2020 Feature

By Rachel B.


Congratulations to the Class of 2020! We are so proud of your hard work, leadership, curiosity, and compassion over the past 4 years. We wish you all the best of luck as you begin the next stage of your lives!

Isha S.

High school/hometown: I go to Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA
Years in miRcore: 2
Favorite part of miRcore: My favorite part of miRcore is doing really interesting research with people who live science as much as I do.
Activities outside of miRcore: Outside of miRcore I’m involved in Science Olympiad, Academic League, and Model UN. I play tennis and love music and volunteering.
One thing you couldn’t live without: I can’t live without The Great British Baking Show and boba.
Post-secondary plans/Where do you see yourself in 10 years?: After high school I’m going to UC Berkeley to study cell and molecular biology and I hope to get my PhD and become a scientific researcher.

Isabella I.

High school/hometown: I’m from Clarkston MI and go to Clarkston High School (now I go to zoom high school from my couch lol)
Years in miRcore: 2
Favorite part of miRcore: My favorite part of MiRcore is being able to learn more about genetics and coding but also the ability to teach others. I really enjoy helping out others with research and also love the ability to discover new things MiRcore gives me.
Activities outside of miRcore: I am on the varsity figure skating team, volunteer at a local hospital, am a part of science club, a Girl Scout, IB class president, and I also dance.
One thing you couldn’t live without: I can’t live without cheese ( I put it on everything)
Post-secondary plans/Where do you see yourself in 10 years?: Following high school, I will be attending the University of Michigan majoring in either informatics or molecular biology and minoring in business. Following my undergrad, I hope to attend medical school and become a surgeon while also pursuing my research interests.

Eleanor L.

High school/hometown: Huron High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Years in miRcore: 3
Favorite part of miRcore: Being able to apply my scientific knowledge to education and advocacy.
Activities outside of miRcore: I’ve played piano and violin for roughly ten years. I also compete in Ethics Bowl and Ocean Bowl and volunteer through my school’s National Honor Society.
One thing you couldn’t live without: Taiwanese turnip cake
Post-secondary plans/Where do you see yourself in 10 years?: I will be attending Columbia University in New York this fall.

Rhea C.

High school/hometown: Huron High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Years in miRcore: 3
Favorite part of miRcore: I love connecting with students from all over the country—they never fail to impress me with their enthusiasm and drive! Every person is so different, but we all share an interest in science and making a change.
Activities outside of miRcore: Dancing, cello, Science Olympiad, HOSA, cooking/baking/eating, thrifting, hammocking, napping
One thing you couldn’t live without: The Bon Appetit Test Kitchen has consistently quality, entertaining content. Gaby is the cutest person alive!!
Post-secondary plans/Where do you see yourself in 10 years?: 10 years is a really long time—I have no idea what I want to be doing yet, but I definitely want to learn a lot and travel a lot. I’m super excited to be on the East Coast in the fall at Yale; thinking about maybe neuroscience and art history, but keeping an open mind for sure!

Nikhita D.

High school/hometown: Huron High School – Ann Arbor, MI
Years in miRcore: 3
Favorite part of miRcore: Meeting and collaborating with people from all different schools and communities!
Activities outside of miRcore: I play the violin and love to dance! I’m involved in my school’s orchestra program as well as GIDAS and BPA (Business Professionals of America). I also love to take naps, play with my puppy, and can often be found watching movies with my sister in my free time!
One thing you couldn’t live without: I definitely couldn’t live without chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.
Post-secondary plans/Where do you see yourself in 10 years?: I’m pretty indecisive, so ask me that question again in two months and I’m sure my answer would be different. As of now, I’m considering a few different options as to what I want to study in college but I’m definitely excited for this next chapter in my life!! I know that whatever I’m doing in the future, it’s going to involve collaborating with and helping others.

Nina V.

High school/hometown: Community High School, Ann Arbor, MI
Years in miRcore: 2
Favorite part of miRcore: The people! And the summer camp snacks.
Activities outside of miRcore: Band, GIDAS, working in a research lab, volunteering, activism.
One thing you couldn’t live without: Chocolate chip cookies that are chewy in the middle and crispy at the edges <3
Post-secondary plans/Where do you see yourself in 10 years?: College and then I have no clue! Financial stability would be nice.

Hanan M.

High school/hometown: I attend Canton Preparatory High School in Canton, Michigan
Years in miRcore: 3
Favorite part of miRcore: My favorite part is the opportunity of independently pursuing our research, rather than having to rely on an experienced mentor, it allows us to develop our own skills and understanding!
Activities outside of miRcore: Outside of MiRcore, I am heavily involved in activities like HOSA, Key Club, NHS, and enjoy learning new languages!
One thing you couldn’t live without: One movie/book series I can not live without is Harry Potter!
Post-secondary plans/Where do you see yourself in 10 years?: In the next 10 years, I see myself as a practicing physician!

Anisha S.

High school/hometown: Belleville High School/Belleville
Years in miRcore: 4
Favorite part of miRcore: My favorite part of miRcore is the research process and connecting with highschoolers/the community in a fun, enriching way.
Activities outside of miRcore: I am the President of the Science Olympiad team, a captain of the robotics team and swim team, a member of the National Honor Society, clarinet section lead of concert band, and an avid reader.
One thing you couldn’t live without: I couldn’t live without avocado toast.
Post-secondary plans/Where do you see yourself in 10 years?: I’m going to the University of Michigan and will major in electrical engineering.

Maria F.

High school/hometown: University Liggett School
Years in miRcore: 3
Favorite part of miRcore: I enjoy studying and learning about different diseases each year.
Activities outside of miRcore: When I was 11 I founded my own non-profit literacy peer-to-peer tutoring program called the G.R.O.W. (Generate Real Opportunities and Wonder) Tutoring Program. I have donated thousands of books to organizations and schools across the Detroit area through my annual book drive that I host at my school. I also tutor for two other local organizations. This year is my seventh year as a reading mentor for Soar Detroit and my second year tutoring for Center for Success. I volunteer at the Michigan Science Center, teaching a variety of STEM topics to the public through interactive activities and I also work with the Science Center’s exploration lab for kids. I also participate in pageants. Within recent years I have competed in the Miss USA/Universe and Miss America system. I am also on my school’s robotics team, active in my school’s theater program, and on student council.
One thing you couldn’t live without: I love the movie Black Panther.
Post-secondary plans/Where do you see yourself in 10 years?: My personal philosophy is to contribute relevant and valuable knowledge to the world. As a tutor and mentor, this is something that I already do and is my life passion. I believe that through STEM I can accomplish this and bring the philosophy into fruition. In 10 years, I hope to be working on my PhD for biomedical engineering to make that happen.

Nikhila A.

High school/hometown: Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, MI
Years in miRcore: 3
Favorite part of miRcore: My favorite part of miRcore is being able to work and interact with other eager, science-loving students and learn together!
Activities outside of miRcore: I love to stay active by playing soccer or running. I also play the violin, and I was part of my school’s Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, I played an active role in the Skyline Student Action Senate by organizing school events and fundraisers.
One thing you couldn’t live without: Grey’s Anatomy!!
Post-secondary plans/Where do you see yourself in 10 years?: Next year, I will be attending the University of Michigan, where I plan to study biology. I am on the pre-med track, and I see myself going to medical school and residency in the future!

Soorya J.

High school/hometown: Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, MI
Years in miRcore: 3
Favorite part of miRcore: Learning research techniques and meeting like-minded scientists!
Activities outside of miRcore: I do a style of Indian classical dance known as Bharatanatyam. I’ve been learning it for about 10 years and now help my teacher with younger students and participate in national competitions. I also research in a lab at the University of Michigan, a paper of which I recently found out was accepted to the Frontiers in Microbiology journal! At Pioneer, I’m the President of Student Council and play flute in Symphony Band. In my free time, I like to draw and play basketball.
One thing you couldn’t live without: I love mangoes and strawberries.
Post-secondary plans/Where do you see yourself in 10 years?: I’m going to be attending Case Western Reserve University to study Systems Biology on the pre-med track. In ten years, I hope to be pursuing a degree in medicine! And hopefully living somewhere like NYC or LA.

20 Questions with miRcore President, Dr. Inhan Lee

By Rhea C. | May 27, 2020


Dr. Lee is our amazing President who makes the miRcore world go round. We love her for always being enthusiastic, excited, and most of all, selfless. With these 20 questions, she shares a bit more about herself, and her bubbly nature never fails to shine through!

1. Where and how did you grow up?

Seoul, Korea. Metropolitan area where soil is rare. When I was a fourth grader, I was briefly lost in the middle of a busy downtown Seoul underground crosswalk (yes, people cross underground so that pedestrian crossing doesn’t stop cars—kind of a busy place) while transferring city buses after I missed the school bus. Before getting on the impossibly crowded bus in the morning during middle school, I felt blessed to walk on the rare unpaved sidewalk with grass to the bus station from my house. I loved to visit a palace when there were not many people there (like me and a handful of other visitors) and enjoyed well-brushed dry soils on the ground during high school. Bright city lights, car sounds, and building blocks were normal and I really enjoyed looking at the moon even (may be because) with such background drops.

2. What is the origin or meaning of your name?

Han is the character the same for all my male generation in our larger family. My grandfather made the name not considering I am a female (to clarify: he wasn’t a feminist). So, if Koreans see only my name, they think I am a male. I love the meaning, though: kind (one of the Confucian ideals) person. Around middle school, I was determined to live up to my name as much possible.

3. What is a fun memory with Jeehan?

When my youngest sister went to college, the three of us decided to go out together. We helped each other get made up, find dresses, and went to a restaurant in popular college streets. Nobody knew we were sisters. Three of us together, anytime, nothing can stop our laughter.

4. Did you know what you wanted to study when you went to college?

Yes. Physics.

5. What drew you to Ann Arbor?

I had a chance to learn biology (wet-lab) after my Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering.

6. What’s your favorite food?

Fruits and seafood (less prepared is good, like dried squid, steamed crab, raw fish), rice and kimchi

7. What’s your favorite dessert?

Shaved ice with fruits and cream

8. What are your favorite restaurants in Ann Arbor?

Bewon, Cardamom, Real Seafood

9. Where else have you lived in the world?

Seoul, Utah

10. What’s your dream/favorite vacation?

Nature: water and rocks, beach with mountains, desert, dark sky, 90%. Then 10% of modern lights, good beds, and nice restaurants for comfort.

11. Who’s your favorite BTS member?

V, Jimin, RM, Yoongi, Jungkuk, Jin, J-hope. Order changes all the time depending on the mood.

12. What’s your favorite BTS song?

Airplane part 2. For morning dance: Boy with luv (no matter what, I start to smile 10 sec after dancing with it)

13. Do you cook a lot at home?

Nope. I was excused from cooking when I started miRcore. I’ve been thinking of starting to cook again for a good while but implementing that has been delayed. It’s hard to give up a privilege.

14. What’s your favorite thing to watch on TV?

No TV in the house, but I guess Netflix can be counted as a TV. Korean drama – aching love story.

15. Do you like shopping? If so, where do you like to shop?

I hate shopping… except… I love to go to IKEA. I can literally be there for the entire day.

16. Do you have pets or do you want pets?

No, I have many children and my husband is allergic. Other factor: I think I have a trauma seeing our dog dying with rat poison when I was around ten.

17. What’s something you are grateful for today?

Taking a break today. Not working, not intensely planning, but having mindset to pleasantly stroll and respond to these questions. (It was Memorial Day)

18. What’s something new you’ve learned recently?

Summer camp research was published in a science journal. Intercalators can be used for fluorescence quenching molecules.

19. What are some of your favorite memories with your family?

My husband is an early riser. I was still in bed half sleeping, and I heard a sound. My door burst open, light and short running steps, another door burst open, two jumping boys on my bed, one left another right. Holding both giggling boys in my arms: the best sound memory. Now, almost 15 years after, no more giggles or jumping hugs, but firm stress-relieving hugs.

20. Do you have any life advice for high schoolers?

When I was in 11th grade, I noticed that the next building’s middle school boys had a club to build a radio. I wished I could do it instead of my mandatory class where I sewed (I was in the girls’ school). I built my first (and last) radio in college during a physics lab using expensive equipment. But I could have started to make a radio when I first learned about the radio club. I was confined in a mindset of a fixed system (now it’s all changed). Breakout from fixed thinking. You have the freedom and knowledge to explore something good. Don’t be intimidated just because others say it’s difficult or different. Be prepared to stop if it doesn’t work. You just learned that it’s not for you.

20 Questions with Rhea C., MVP Vice President

Our self-described “dependable, indecisive, eclectic” VP for the 2019-2020 year.

By Eleanor L. | May 7, 2020


Perhaps you knew that Rhea is our miRcore Volunteer Program Vice President for the 2019 – 2020 year, but what about her hobbies and favorite food? Read on to find out more about our favorite eclectic (her word) VP.

1. How did you get involved in miRcore?

I joined GIDAS freshman year with some friends, and then attended the Computational Biology Camp that summer. I met some really inspirational and fun people, so I wanted to join miRcore that fall!

2. What are some of your other interests?

In high school, I spent a lot of my time dancing, playing cello, and participating in science clubs. Outside of that, I love thrifting, cooking/baking, and going to art museums.

3. In school, what is/has been your favorite class?

I loved Humanities, which surprised me as a mostly STEM kid. So I really urge younger students to try new things outside of their comfort zone!

4. Describe yourself in three words.

Dependable, indecisive, eclectic.

5. What are some of your favorite books?

Lately, I’ve been loving Toni Morrison—Song of Solomon and The Bluest Eye are so beautifully written.

6. What is one thing people would be surprised to find out about you?

Maybe that I feel super uncertain about what I want to go into in the future—many different things interest me, and that’s scary.

7. If you could visit/revisit any place in the world right now, where would you go, and why?

I really want to visit my cousin in Australia and meet her newborn baby. I haven’t seen her in years, and have always really looked up to her. Plus, Australia seems to be full of sunshine and good food.

8. What are some of your favorite songs?

Anything by Mac Miller. My friends and I can also be found jamming to Yung Gravy.

9. What are your future educational and career plans?

I’ll be studying something at Yale University for the next four years, maybe neuroscience and art history. I haven’t figured out what I want to do after that just yet.

10. What are two ways you stay positive?

Since quarantine started, I’ve tried to jot a few things down that I’m grateful for each day. Eating dinner with my whole family and enjoying dessert together has also been a happy ritual.

11. What is one thing you miss from before quarantine?

I really just miss the dynamism—having different activities and people to look forward to.

12. What is one thing you’ve found more time to do during quarantine?

Actually appreciating the weather and enjoying time outdoors. I’ve discovered so many trails near my house that I never knew existed for the past, what, 8 years?

13. Do you have any pets and/or siblings?

Both, a fat cat and older brother.

14. What is one thing you learned from high school?

Not to beat myself up if things don’t go as planned; nobody is perfect!

15. What is one thing you are excited for in college?

The freedom to “shop” all kinds of really niche classes.

16. What is your favorite food?

A good New York bagel slathered with fresh cream cheese.

17. If you could have an unlimited supply of one item for life, what would it be?

Cottage cheese—I only discovered it somewhat recently, but now I’m obsessed. It’s so versatile but also delicious on its own! For non-food items, maybe black Uniball Signo pens.

18. Which season is your favorite season, and why?

Spring, for the perfect balance of sunny days and peaceful rainy days. Also, for lack of mosquitos.

19. What inspires you?

I have a lot of role models, and they’re all so humble, enthusiastic, and one-of-a-kind. I try to learn from their qualities, but on my own path.

20. What advice would you give younger miRcore volunteers?

Surround yourself with genuine people, but be strong and independent too. Don’t let self-doubt and negativity get in your head!



5/9/2020 – 20 Questions with MVP President, Eleanor L.

You all know Eleanor. You all love Eleanor. She’s a seemingly omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient god in the realm of miRcore. Have a question about your research progress, GIDAS club, or even WiFi troubleshooting? She’s got an answer within seconds. But have you ever asked her about herself, as a human outside of miRcore? Perhaps she’s an enigma to you, or even a little bit intimidating. In this spin-off of the popular 73 Questions series, she answers all of your burning questions. You’re sure to learn something new and maybe surprising about the President of the miRcore Volunteer Program 2019-20.

1. How did you get involved with miRcore?

I found out about miRcore summer camps through U of M’s Women in Science and Engineering initiative during middle school, and I joined my school’s GIDAS club freshman year.

2. Describe your childhood in 3 words.

Fun, curious, food-loving

3. Who are you quarantining with, and how’s that going?

My family! It’s going pretty well, and I’m very thankful that we have enough of the necessities of life and are all healthy.

4. What did you want to be when you were younger? (And has that changed?)

I never knew for sure what I wanted to be when I was younger, although I was definitely very fascinated in many different things (astronomy, history, programming, biology) . . . and that still goes for today! What’s changed is that I have learned that this is normal, and completely okay. The randomness of life creates exciting new possibilities.

5. What’s your go-to breakfast?

Bacon and eggs

6. Do you have a favorite movie?

The Martian.

7. What’s your proudest accomplishment?

Am I old enough to talk about my accomplishments yet? Having (hopefully) helped spread knowledge and enthusiasm for learning, and supported others’ learning in my school community and miRcore will be the proudest accomplishment of my (relatively short) 18 years of life!

8. What’s your favorite thing to bake?

Cream puffs, but they take an unholy amount of butter and eggs.

9. What (or who) will you miss most about high school?

I will miss my teachers and classmates, who’ve helped me survive AP Chem Lab and college apps; are generally kind, smart, and funny people; and are now all extremely supportive through quarantine.

10. Do you have any pet peeves?

Improper capitalization of titles (Title Case is Underappreciated).

11. Where is the most memorable place you’ve visited?

Siena, Italy; the entire city is basically frozen in the Medieval-to-Renaissance Era (the architecture, I mean).

12. What is your favorite type of cuisine?

I do really badly with choosing a single favorite of any thing, but some of my favorite restaurants are Cardamom, Noodles and Company, Mediterrano’s, and Asian Legend.

13. Are you a morning or night person, and why?

I am a night person. My circadian rhythms say so. (Another reason is probably that I love reading and watching movies.)

14. What’s something unexpected about you?

I’m a very introverted person by nature. I don’t naturally like to put myself in public; forcing myself to leave my comfort zone in this respect has been one major challenge for me during high school. And I do think that I’ve somewhat overcome my own inhibitions about this.

15. Where do you hope to live someday?

See answer to #4 . . . I haven’t figured this one out either, but I definitely hope to see more of the world before settling down!

16. Name some favorite songs or artists.

I’m a huge classical music nerd, and my favorite composer changes every couple months. Currently, it’s Ravel.

17. What new things are you excited about in college?

I’m excited about moving to the “big city” and meeting people from across the country and the world!

18. What were you most looking forward to as a second semester senior?

I’m definitely looking forward to spending more time with my family before going to college.

19. What, currently, are your plans for next year?

I will be attending Columbia College at Columbia University, in New York City.

20. Do you have any words of advice for younger MVP members?

Don’t be shy about trying new things, and don’t underestimate yourself!



Many people are at home wondering what they can do to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Of course, the best thing we can do is stay home and not go outside, except when absolutely necessary! However, there are many creative ways to help, including holding fundraisers for personal protective equipment and 3D printing face shields.

One other great way to help is by sharing valuable information with researchers working on COVID-19.

How We Feel (https://howwefeel.org/) is a nonprofit organization that created an app. You can download the app and tell them some information, including where you live and if you have any symptoms, what they are. How We Feel uses advanced data privacy algorithms and functions to protect your privacy. If you sign up, they will donate a meal to those in need.

Many companies and organizations, as well as top researchers, are partnering with How We Feel so you will be making a big difference and it is definitely a reputable way to help.
According to How We Feel, “Scientists and doctors will use the data to identify new outbreaks, understand how the virus is spreading, discover new populations that may be at risk, and evaluate how interventions are working to slow the spread of the disease.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Pinterest are among the supporters of How We Feel, and researchers such as Feng Zhang (co-credited for CRISPR research) are making use of the data.

You can also help by donating to the project on their website or through this email: donate@howwefeel.org.


Written by Andrew Gao