Icahn and Pitt's medical school secondary

The Final Project in a Cognitive Modeling Class

The final project in a cognitive modeling class was the most memorable thing I ever finished at UCLA. The course emphasized Bayesian modeling of human cognition in Matlab. A large percentage of our grade is based on the final project of 4-5 persons, for which we choose the topic ourselves.

We were to suggest a project, conduct research on existing knowledge, develop a model for an existent human behavior, conduct an experiment to check if the model matched human performance, and finally write up and present the project to the class.

We initially spent nearly three days on a fruitless attempt to model the Wason selection assignment. We had to start over and redo an experiment on shadow inference. Throughout the quarter, we would meet at least three times a week, eight hours each time, to plan and discuss. We each did what we were good at and explained our work to the group. We kept multiple Google docs and a spreadsheet to update the data when we were not meeting each other. At the end, not only did the professor love our work, but we also built close friendship and agreed that this was the most memorable teamwork we each experienced.

Adapting to the American Culture

I was not born in the U.S. In fact, I spent the first half of my life in Taiwan and came to the U.S. when I was 12 years old. Although spoken language might seem like the obvious problem, it actually took me only a couple of months to overcome this difficulty. Adapting to the American culture, however, was not so simple.

Honestly, I was lucky to have amazing friends here who welcomed me. Yet, the cultural gap between my friends and I remained, and it took a lot of years to close. The difficult times gave me an opportunity to learn just how amazing an entire culture can be. I started to appreciate not only the American culture but also my own culture.

Gradually, my familiarity with both the Chinese and American cultures made it possible for me to make friends with people from both worlds. I can choose to watch football with my American friends or go karaoke with my Chinese friends. I saw that my background is especially helpful in the medical setting, where understanding the beliefs and values of a patient can mean a difference between life and death. I'm proud that my experience made it possible, for example, to advice and explain to the attending surgeon why the Chinese patient in exam room six is so adamant in pursuing alternative medicine rather than accepting orthodox treatment.

Hopefully, the hardship I endured throughout the years can help bring crucial understanding between the different cultures in UPSOM.

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