Researcher of the Month
Major: Biomedical Engineering, Honors College, Class of 2024
Research Mentors: Dr. Wei Lin, Biomedical Engineering (current); Dr. Fan Ye, Electrical & Computer Engineering (previous)
Christopher Moore is a Biomedical Engineering major in the Honors College (Class of 2024) whose research under the mentorship of Dr. Wei Lin (Biomedical Engineering) was funded by URECA in summer 2021. Christopher recently had the distinction of publishing his research on "FPGA Correlator for Applications in Embedded Smart Devices" in the open-access journal Biosensors as the first author: he was involved in all aspects of the project, from designing hardware and testing on a real FPGA chip to drafting and revising the manuscript. Christopher is also a member of a Vertically-Integrated Project (VIP) team on Bioengineering Application, Education and Research (BEAR) led by Dr. Mei Lin Chan.
Christopher’s passion for electronics, coding, and engineering research was stimulated in 2018 while he was a high school student participant in the Computer Science and Informatics Research Experiences (CSIRE) summer program at Stony Brook University directed by Dr. Fusheng Wang (Computer Science), and was assigned to work in the Mobile Computing and Application Lab of Dr. Fan Ye (Electrical & Computer Engineering). Christopher maintained his connection with his mentor, Dr. Ye, long after the program ended, as he carried out further research on software development and machine learning to fulfill the requirements of his school’s Independent Science, Technology and Research (InSTAR) program. Christopher also participated in the Wolfie Bowl (Quiz bowl) prior to starting his undergraduate studies.
Reflecting on his substantive research involvement at Stony Brook over the past few years, Christopher states: “I like the challenge of figuring out how things work and creating things that are useful. I chose to major in biomedical engineering because I want to learn how to master the skills and techniques of problem solving and to apply what I learn to make medical devices that can have positive impact on people’s lives. Doing research gives me the opportunities to gain hands-on experience and in-depth understanding of knowledge learned in the classroom. There's a lot of debugging and problem solving involved when doing research. It is extremely gratifying to finally solve a very difficult problem after spending a long time on it and to make a breakthrough. I just love that feeling every single time and it's always worth it.”
Christopher Moore was born and raised in Stony Brook; and graduated from Ward Melville HS in East Setauket in 2020. His hobbies include playing piano and violin, bike riding, and playing badminton. He aspires to be a physician-scientist. Below are excerpts of his interview with Karen Kernan, URECA Director.
Karen: Tell me about your research.
Christopher: My project is applying Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) for biomedical applications such as Diffuse Correlation Spectroscopy (DCS) — a non-invasive optical technique of measuring blood flow index. An FPGA can be configured to be an extremely fast computational device. Many applications have need for the correlation computation including DCS/Diffuse Correlation Spectroscopy, FCS/fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, and DLS/dynamic light scattering. A well-chosen microcontroller could carry out the enormous numbers of computations needed for correlation, but a properly designed FPGA circuit will always do better in speed. An FPGA design specifically for the task can also be much smaller in physical size than a microcontroller. Small size sensors with embedded correlation computation capability are desirable, especially in medical applications.
The challenge in this research was to show that a custom FPGA design could be made to accelerate the correlation computation in embedded devices. This would enable these optical biomedical techniques to show correlation results in real time. The actual hardware design is what I have been working on for the past year. I am continuing to work on developing this system to make it a bit more usable. We had a publication on it fairly recently.
Congratulations--that’s a big accomplishment! What was the experience of working on a publication like for you?
Writing the research paper was a really good experience. I feel very fortunate being able to get this published in my sophomore year. I contributed to every section of the paper with writing and reviewing. Dr. Lin and I kept sending drafts back and forth, revising the paper, and this process really helped me in developing my scientific writing skills. Dr. Lin also taught me how to satisfy reviewers and identify needed changes. Producing a published paper was just an overall a good experience, to see the whole scientific research process through to publication.
How helpful was it for you to have devoted a summer to research, in terms of moving this project along to this publication stage?
It was absolutely necessary. I needed to have large, dedicated blocks of time to learn how to do some very new things. FPGA programming is notorious for having a very steep learning curve. So having that time to be able to learn something that was pretty foreign to me was absolutely necessary. Dr. Lin had a plan for every single week of the URECA summer program to help me reach a stage where I would be able to be more self-sufficient and independent in my work.
How did you first learn about Professor Lin's lab?
In my freshman year, I was looking through the BME Faculty research pages, reading over a bunch of different projects that people were working on. When I found Dr. Lin's lab, it just seemed like a perfect fit for me because of my previous research experiences and my general interest in electronics and computing. That's something I really enjoy, and I could tell that it was a focus of the Lin lab as well. So, I just reached out to Prof. Lin and luckily, even though COVID was still going on, I was able to start a project virtually. I was then able to get funding for the URECA program in summer 2021.
You alluded to having done prior research. Was that while you were in high school? And was that also at Stony Brook?
Yes, all of my research has been at Stony Brook! My first exposure was through the CSIRE program. In the summer before my junior year of high school, while in CSIRE, I did a project at an electrical and computer engineering lab at the Research and Development park at Stony Brook under the direction of Dr. Fan Ye. It was my very first introduction to research – and I got to learn about machine learning. The CSIRE provided us mentorship and guidance from grad students, professors, and a series of lectures. Not only did I get to work on a very interesting project, I also learned a lot, such as reading through research papers and trying to figure out the whole research process. The next summer, I went back to Dr. Fan Ye’s lab and did a project in connection with my high school research program, InSTAR.
So, I came in as an undergraduate with a fairly good amount of research experience. I was familiar with how to reach out to professors, etc. I also had some coding and lab experience that I had gained from those research experiences as well.
I noticed when you presented at URECA that you had two poster projects. Can you tell me a little bit about the second research project/affiliation?
Yes, in addition to my research in Dr. Lin’s group, I have also been working with Dr. Chan from the BME department, doing a couple of projects with her as a member of one of the CEAS-Vertically Integrated Project (VIP) teams. We intend to make a low-cost EEG device for academic and research purposes.
With your multiple involvements with research in the Lin group, and with the VIP team, I have to ask: how do you have time to do all this?
I came in with quite a few credits which I satisfied through the ACE program at Stony Brook, which has probably helped quite a bit in terms of my workload. Also, I guess I just find time for doing things that I like. I don't really need to take a break, and I don't burn out very easily, when I’m doing something I really, really want to do. It’s just something I like to do a lot, and it’s just really fun!
What do you enjoy most about research?
I like the challenge of figuring out how things work and creating things that are useful. I chose to major in biomedical engineering because I want to learn how to master the skills and techniques of problem solving and to apply what I learn to make medical devices that can have positive impact on people’s lives. Doing research gives me the opportunities to gain hands-on experience and in-depth understanding of knowledge learned in the classroom. There's a lot of debugging and problem solving involved when doing research. It is extremely gratifying to finally solve a very difficult problem after spending a long time on it and to make a breakthrough. I just love that feeling every single time and it's always worth it.
Do you see a lot of connections between your classwork and your research experiences?
There's definitely been some overlap. In fact, several of my classes are taught by my research mentoring professors. For example, I teach myself some coding and lab skills from doing research and I also learn different coding techniques and theories from my classes. Because I gain knowledge from more sources, this gives me more ideas to help me solve problems both in the research lab and the classroom. I feel that the classes are more structured where students are expected to go in a particular direction. With research, there's just a lot of flexibility and if I want to do something a particular way, I can go that way, as long as it's justified, which is why I like research so much more.
Do you have any advice for other students about research?
With research, you need to find something that you really like to do because it shouldn't, at least in my opinion, really feel like work. This is something that you're doing voluntarily, so you should really find something that you like to do a lot and really get into it. And always ask questions! I’ve found that asking questions, no matter how stupid the questions may seem, is extremely important because communicating with your PI or your mentors is very important in order to succeed in research.
What are your plans for this summer?
I'm going to be continuing on my project that just got published-- trying to develop it further. I will also be doing some volunteering and shadowing some physicians. I'm also going to try and get EMT-certified this summer.
What are your long-term plans?
I've really enjoyed the physician shadowing experiences that I've had so far. I also really like doing research as well, particularly working on biomedical engineering research, and making devices. I have set my career goal of becoming a physician-scientist, because it allows me to continue doing both later after I am done with my schooling.
Will you be presenting again at the URECA symposium next year!
Absolutely, yes! It's a very rewarding experience to be able to show what I've accomplished to my peers and my professors. I also enjoy sharing my experience and teaching other people about what I know, which also reinforces my own knowledge. I definitely plan to participate again in the URECA symposium — it was a really fun event!