Akshay Manglik

Student, Columbia University
  • Columbia University
  • People
  • United States of America

I am a/an:

Undergraduate Scholar

Area of Expertise

Biomedical Sciences Computer Science Economics Engineering Mathematics Politics Technology

Research Topic

Biomedical Sciences Computer Science Psychology

Laidlaw Cohort Year

2022

University

Columbia University

I am from:

United States of America

I speak:

English

My hobbies/interests are:

Cooking/Baking Dance Football (American) Hiking/walking Politics & current events Programming Reading Running/jogging Table tennis Technology

I am open to participating in mentoring/buddy programmes

Yes

Topics

Rooms participated in:

Columbia University

Recent Comments

Jun 29, 2022
Replying to Aryan Ghotra
  • What new ideas, challenges, or other issues have you encountered with regard to your project (this might include data collection, information that contradicts your assumptions or the assertions of others, materials that have enriched your understanding of the topic or led you to change your project, etc.)? How have these ideas or challenges shaped the bigger picture of your research? Has the scope or focus of your topic changed since you began this project? If so, how?

One new issue that I face is that when three-color imaging, the images of the vacuole are often shifted between the channels suggesting that the channels are not aligned with each other. This makes sense from the double-slit experiment as varying wavelengths of light refract differently. Oftentimes, biologists use beads allowing them to correct the registration. However, for some odd reason, the light shift is not linear rather it is affine and radial making it incredibly difficult to correct the registration. I have been facing this problem for the past couple of weeks and I haven't been able to resolve it. I think that I may instead simply do two-color imaging as the shift is often linear and easy to correct. My project scope has not really changed as I am still interested in microautophagy and Lipid droplet synthesis.  

  • What research resources have proven particularly useful to you as you continue your research?

I have used a lot of imaging software like ImageJ and Volocity as these allow for some very powerful image analysis including skeletonization, segmentation, intensity profiles, and colocalization. 

Hi Aryan, 

It was really interesting reading about your experience with analyzing cellular and microscopic imagery. I've done image analysis in the context of organs and organ systems, and never considered the physics challenges that one would have to deal with when trying to image at much smaller contexts. I hope you have more success with two-color imaging!

Jun 29, 2022
  • What new ideas, challenges, or other issues have you encountered with regard to your project (this might include data collection, information that contradicts your assumptions or the assertions of others, materials that have enriched your understanding of the topic or led you to change your project, etc.)? How have these ideas or challenges shaped the bigger picture of your research? Has the scope or focus of your topic changed since you began this project? If so, how?

One aspect of data collection that was challenging was having to annotate recordings of subjects' memory retrieval. As part of the study, we record subjects during their MRIs as they talk about their memory palace and what they are visualizing, which provides a reference point for what portions of the MRI correspond to specific items and locations. However, in order for this to happen, I needed to listen to all of the recordings and note down the timestamps for when each subject changed topics during their retrieval (which happened 40 times per recording for 3 different sessions). This in and of itself was not too hard, but there were several gray areas that I only realized were issues when actually annotating the recordings: what happens if a subject remembers an item but not the location (which they are supposed to know); what happens if a subject skips an item-location pair; what happens if a subject's recollection is off by one, rendering the entire retrieval sequence technically incorrect? Communicating frequently with my grad student mentor in the lab was helpful in clarifying what to do in these scenarios, and it gave me a deeper understanding of the challenges in analyzing and classifying people's memories. Some of these errors also open up new avenues for research: for example, we might be able to compare the situations in which people misremember or misconnect specific items and locations to understand if there is something specific about the content of a memory that makes it more or less likely to be remembered with the method of loci technique.

  • What research resources have proven particularly useful to you as you continue your research?

Most of my research focus has been computational, so online resources dealing with specific programming libraries and packages (such as documentation, online forums, etc) have been especially helpful in conducting my research. 

Jun 16, 2022
Replying to Sylvi Stein
  • While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Do you hope to produce an annotated bibliography that you reflect on down the line? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.

My research will hopefully culminate in a research paper and/or archive of interviews that have to do with my topic. I believe that a paper will be the most successful culmination of my research because I am interested in investigating a very specific topic: the replacement of one particular monument, and the ways in which community response is indicative of the interaction between the public and contemporary art. I think a paper will be able to address the topic succinctly and thoroughly.

  • Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

Monuments are enormously important in our current culture, and the debate surrounding them has unquestionably been brought to the forefront of our national attention in these past couple of years. As an art historian, my life's work will be to puzzle out the mysteries of the art world in order to understand how life and art are intertwined. I think that there has been a radical break with contemporary art and the public sphere in the past couple decades. Since Jackson Pollock, the art world has made a definitive and obvious move into intellectualism. Actually, I would say that since Picasso, art has slowly been morphed into something that you either "get" or just think is dumb. I think this barrier has prevented a lot of people from engaging with a concept that is, generally, just about expression and communication. I want to know why, exactly, the community chose the more traditional monument over a contemporary art giant, because I think it will unlock a path to our understanding of the consequences that come from the intellectualization of art.

I really agree with your description of the divide between the public and the art world -- I feel like I used to not "get" art or the motivations behind it (especially contemporary art), and only started to get into it after taking a course on art history and exploring on my own. Excited to see how you end up situating your project within this context!

Jun 16, 2022
  • While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Do you hope to produce an annotated bibliography that you reflect on down the line? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.

I hope to write a paper summarizing the results of my research (e.g., what conclusions I can draw about the similarities of memory representations formed by the method of loci across people during item retrieval). I think I'll continue to work on this after the six weeks are up, but I might incorporate more elements (e.g., semantic/language analysis, in addition to fMRI analysis) to my project. The conclusions of my research might also be part of a larger conclusion for the study that the lab is conducting using the data that is being collected.

  • Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

My research would help us understand more about how we form memories (e.g., what parts of the brain are involved) and how that is tied to learning. Techniques like the mind palace are not usually studied seriously because they're seen as gimmicks (i.e., not how most people will memorize things), and, while that is true, the lab hypothesizes that everyday forms of memory, like episodic memory, are involved in the technique. Analyzing this niche technique would then actually shed light on very commonly used types of memory.

Jun 12, 2022
Replying to Andreas
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

One ethical issue that I am confronting in my research is the potential applications of my research this summer to indigenous intellectual property rights, bioprospecting as an imperialist enterprise, and the mediation of pharmacognostic discoveries in international law and by multinational corporations. I am increasingly interested in how research into how information about medicinal plants and their use is graphically encoded into a writing system might be incorporated into contemporary legal discussions surrounding drug discorvery and intellectual property. 

As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

Since I don't think I've decided on any sort of dominant viewpoint in my research so far, I have from the start continuously assesed a range of viewpoints. This is particularly relevant in relation to certain fields related to my research where there is considerable scholarly disagreement, such as the use and classification of character adaptations in creating a vernacular Vietnamese script. Starting to compose a literature review on the range of exisiting scholarly opinions in the field has helped me to map out more clearly where points of tension arise, and even more importantly, to identify the reason why that diagreement has not yet been resolved. Is it due to a paucity of available evidence, lack of continued academic interest in the subject, different definitions of key terms, irreconcilable differences surrounding primacy source interpretation, etc.? Identifying both the cause of a scholarly disagreement and potential roadblocks to its resolution has proved to be an effective strategy in my research. 

It's interesting to see how intellectual property rights can be a double-edged sword in this case - providing the legal scaffolding for both protecting indigenous cultural uses of medicine and the appropriation of such uses by corporations. Excited to see how your research evolves!

Jun 12, 2022
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

One ethical issue that I've grappled with is thinking about privacy in handling and utilizing data. Lots of information is provided by subjects about themselves for the purpose of the study (especially making sure they are MRI-eligible) so it is important to ensure that data is safely handled. Additionally, when utilizing data for analyses it's important to conduct analyses that cannot be traced back to the subject (e.g., using anonymized data or using averaged brain MRI visualizations).

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

At this point there isn't a set viewpoint or method that I'm approaching the topic with; rather, I'm conducting exploratory data analysis to understand the relationship of different datasets (memory representations at the moment of encoding vs the moment of recall) with each other to figure out how to proceed next and what conclusions I can draw. 

Jun 04, 2022
Replying to Aryan Ghotra

1. I think that the interdisciplinary aspect of this program has led me to realize the broader implications of my research. Initially, I was very concerned with discovering more about microautophagy and the unfolded protein response, but I was failing to see why this research should be done. The seminars in this program allowed me to step back and look at my project as a whole and determine how this research can help humanity. This reflection has been especially important as often, the number one question asked about your research is how can it help society?

2. Currently, one of the biggest challenges is quantifying the images. It requires programming and research into what methods are most appropriate and valid. I am struggling on how make my current method more efficient but maintain the same precision and accuracy I am achieving. 

Hi Aryan - I appreciated seeing how you described your work at our group meeting yesterday! I'm interested in what you mean by "quantifying the images" - do you mean interpreting your results more precisely, or conducting image analysis (esp computer vision)? Both of those seem like interesting routes for your research, and I'm excited to see what you do!

Jun 04, 2022
  • Last week the trainings and discussions we had cut across the disciplines. How does the interdisciplinary nature of this program, the fact that students are focusing on such a diverse range of projects, help you think about your project and/or your academic interests more broadly?

I think the interdisciplinary nature of the program helps me better appreciate my own interdisciplinary project. My project combines psychology and neuroscience research with computational techniques, and it's interesting to see how other people have combined disparate fields into their own unique analyses (e.g., Ashwin's project, which combines an economic lens with a religious/caste discrimination lens when examining the farmers' protests in India).

  • As you begin your individual research projects this week, do you anticipate any challenges in getting started? If so, what are they?

Biggest challenge in getting started is the lack of topic knowledge but I'm quickly building that up right now. Something especially challenging is getting used to the jargon used in the field -- even if I understand the underlying material, I want to get to a point where I can express my thoughts using the type of precise scientific language that others use in order to facilitate better understanding of my own project and other projects. A big part of that for me has been reading papers (which is helped by something my lab does in their weekly meeting, where we review papers of people in the lab that are about to publish).