Maren Loe

Electrical & Systems Engineering
Degree pursuing: PhD in systems science & mathematics and MD
Hometown: Apple Valley, Minnesota

Please provide your lab and description of research.
I joined the lab of ShiNung Ching in summer 2018. The lab is interested in brain dynamics: How can we use systems theory, mathematics, computational neuroscience and clinical medicine to understand how the brain works, and how it works differently in states of diseaseMy current project is using an advanced signal processing approach to detect and characterize potential biomarkers in EEG of critically ill pediatric patients. My hope is that we'll be able to integrate my automated detection pipeline into bedside monitoring devices in order to provide additional prognostic information and improve patient care.

Where did you complete your undergraduate degree?
I earned a BS in computational and applied mathematics at the University of Chicago.

What played into your decision to get a graduate engineering degree?
My first research experience in college was in neuroscience. At the same time, a family member underwent neurosurgery for a benign brain tumor. Those two experiences solidified my decision to apply for an MD/PhD dual degree program. With my computational background, I was interested in finding a doctoral program that would help me cultivate the skills necessary to navigate the "big data" era of neuroscience and clinical medicine. I love research and the impact that it can have on patient care and the lives of ordinary people, and Washington University is a wonderful place to pursue that kind of interdisciplinary, bench-to-bedside research.

Why did you pick WashU?
The Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at WashU is one of the largest and most prestigious in the country. The combination of opportunities here was ideal for me: A top-notch medical education, cutting edge and collaborative biomedical research, and the opportunity to train at a world-class hospital.

What was your favorite course and why?
My favorite course was probability and stochastic processes. I've always loved probability, but this course took a deeper dive and helped me to appreciate more of the theory behind probability spaces and sigma-algebras.

Who is your favorite instructor and why?
My research mentor, ShiNung Ching, was the most engaging lecturer I've had in a theory-based course. He did a really nice job of encouraging student participation, making lectures interactive and ensuring that everyone understood the fundamental concepts.

What advice would you give to a new student?
Get involved in a student group that will allow you to meet students outside of your degree program and don't be afraid to explore the city. St. Louis has a lot of incredible neighborhoods outside of the "WashU bubble," with great restaurants, parks and cultural events.

What is your favorite thing about St. Louis?
My favorite things to show visiting family and friends are the Botanical Gardens, Forest Park and the many local breweries. St. Louis has great nature and beer! It's also easy to drive out to state parks for hiking and camping. And when it gets too hot to be outside in the summer, there are lots of delicious ice cream shops in the city.

What campus activities or groups would you recommend to a new student?
The Young Scientist Program (YSP) is a fantastic way to give back to the community, either by teaching demonstrations for field-trip groups or by becoming a mentor for a high-school student for four years.

Are there any not-for-profit agencies that you have volunteered or worked with?
Yes, 500 Women in Medicine (founding member) and American Medical Women's Association (student treasurer).

What are your plans for the future?
After defending my thesis, I have another 18 months of medical school to complete before my medical residency, and then fellowship. When I finish fellowship, I would like to hold a faculty position in an academic hospital, where I can see patients 10 to 20 percent of the time and pursue research the rest of the time.