2021 Year-In-Review

A review and reflection on 2021, a year of learning, growth, change and new experiences — & an update on my personal journey.

The last time I was writing a newsletter, I noted how 2021 was officially 25% done. 9 months later, here we are at the 99.7% mark.

Spring: April — June

TKS Moonshot Challenge

During April, alongside Sanvi Rao, Sophia Laird, and Nancy Shnoudeh I had the opportunity to dive deep into the intersection of nanotechnology and malnutrition during TKS’ Annual Moonshot Sprint — inspired by Google’s Lab X, Moonshot Companies. We were given 3 weeks to find a pressing problem and create a solution leveraging breakthrough technologies that could be feasible in the next 5–10 years. My team focused on female, and maternal malnutrition, (you could imagine how thrilled I was about tackling a nutritional issue.)

A Mindset Note

Our minds are a powerful force that can enslave or empower us.

Volunteering

I want to be intentional about where I volunteer, with the consistent aim to create value for others and build tangible skills simultaneously that I can take forward.

The body keeps it’s score.

One morning in June, I woke up to wires being hooked up to my body. But I assumed it was a dream where I was boarding the SpaceX Starship, lucky enough to be apart of the first manned mission. The second time I woke up, after noticing a combination of people I wouldn’t normally find in my room in the morning (my neighbours & family friends) I realized the circumstances were a bit different than I presumed.

Summer: July — September

Research Work — Synthetic Biology x Pharmacogenomics x Neurobiology

I spent the first few months of 2021 focusing my research in synthetic biology, specifically on applications of gene circuits and Bio-CAD modelling. Simultaneously, my intrinsic desire to study behavioural psychiatry and the mind-gut connection continued to grow. So I further explored the premise of neurobiology before recognizing the role synthetic biology and pharmacogenomics (how our genes affect our drug response) can play in the activity of the neurochemical serotonin.

Marketing Internship at Univie Health

In september, I began my first internship at Univie Health; an early-stage non-profit that aims to empower refugees to take ownership of their personal health data. Over the past few months, I’ve been working on the pre-work to building out the organization’s marketing presence.

More interesting experiences!

  • Consulting for the Toronto based Biomedical AI company in the drug discovery space, BenchSci with with Simran Mayra, Manroop Kalsi, and Richa Pandya! Our proposed recommendation increases the speed of clinical trials with AI-assisted design & partly sightless feasibility studies.
  • Went on a family trip to Muskoka — Journaling thousands of feet above sea level persists as one of my favourite experiences.
  • With Ontario entering step 3 of the reopening plan, I was incredibly fortunate to have a sweet 16 with family & friends. Thank you again to my parents for crafting the preciousist of days and for everything you do.

Fall & Winter: October — December

Effective Altruism

After completing my first Effective Altruism fellowship, I’ve started working with EA Toronto — planning and executing the marketing strategy to reach broader audiences of EA’s and will be tracking + monitoring the wellbeing of the team.

Clearing the Backlog

After a hard lesson learned, I’m continuing to prioritize my non-negotiables to keep the entirety of my health in check and to optimize my performance, in any and all areas.

My Year in Pictures

2022 Focus Areas & Objectives

Execution.

In early 2021, I engaged in a lot of writing sprees and genuinely enjoyed the learning and reflection processes.

AI + Biocomputing > Technical Skill Development

In Spring, I will resume my skill development in ML, working towards carrying out a quantified self project for for thorough glucose monitoring and accurate a1c prediction through accounting for the influence of subconscious habits on glucagon secretion.

  • Review Paper on Designing Computational Circuits in Living Cells & Discussing Cello — Pioneer platform automating design of DNA circuits

Time Optimization

In Neil Pasricha’s book, “The Happiness Equation”, he identifies that everyone’s weeks are generally divided into three 56-hour “buckets”: 56 hours of sleep; 56 hours of work (education & work) ; and 56 hours for “everything else.”

  • Sustain energy levels and high-level consciousness
  • Abide by my non-negotiables and fulfill my health responsibilities

Engineering Valuable Experiences

Finally, I want to gain experiences, and build strong connections by activating them myself. In the past, I’ve been slow to act on opportunities, and a lot of what I’ve achieved this year has been through discomfort and difficult conversations. It’s essential to expand my scope for ambition to action.

Connect with me!

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed my article or want to learn more, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up with my progress and to receive an insight on everything I’ve been up too! In the meanwhile, let’s connect on linkedin.

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Heya Desai

Heya Desai

A 15-year-old on the path of working towards leveraging biotechnology to impact billions and create sustainable innovation.