miRcore Blog

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