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PhD Student in Optical Sciences

Algebra, Trigonometry, Geometry, Calculus, Physics, Statistics
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About Maryam

My name is Maryam Baker and I am a third year PhD student in the College of Optical Sciences. I am currently studying how to improve the resolution of a lens free microscope. A lens free microscope consists of a light source illuminating a transmissive sample (think human tissue) and a camera sensor to record the light that passed through the sample. From the pattern of light that is recorded on the camera sensor, we can computationally propagate the light back in time using propagation equations. Lens free microscopes are neat devices because they are able to produce images with a resolution comparable to lens-based microscopes, but with a larger field of view than lens-based microscopes. Our goal is to be able to resolve features of transmissive samples that are smaller than 250 nm for the purpose of disease detection. Lens free microscopes are more cost effective than lens-based microscopes and have competitive performance to lens-based microscopes, making them an effective option for point of care devices in areas that don’t have access to expensive diagnostic machines. In the middle of my PhD, I am torn between working in industry and pursuing academia. I am drawn to industry by the potential to design devices that can be realized and used by people in the near future. However, the opportunity to teach and continue my research interests makes academia a competitive option.

In my spare time I enjoy playing the cello and reading about and discussing social and cultural issues. In undergrad I took two courses, “Bodies and Machines” and “Cultures of Surveillance”, which are focused on the ways we interact with technology and the anticipated consequences. I still enjoy thinking about the intersection of humans and technology and discussing our many potential futures.

I have formally tutored students in high school and in graduate school. However, throughout my life my younger sister has naturally taught me how to be a tutor, by requiring me to be a tutor to her. Her honest feedback and constant questioning taught me the importance of listening while tutoring. It is critical for tutors to listen to their students so they can understand where their students are at and consequently provide useful feedback and instruction. My tutoring style focuses on gaining an understanding of where the student is at by providing an environment where students feel free to be (as my high school Geometry teacher would say) ‘right with conviction or wrong with enthusiasm’. Once the student and I have established common ground, I work on building the student’s skillset so we can begin to tackle problems. My goal throughout the process is for the student to develop a growth mindset and to feel that they are capable of learning anything. The unique perspective I bring to tutoring math and science subjects is that prior to high school, math and science was difficult for me. Throughout high school I learned how to develop a growth mindset to become proficient in math and science and eventually pursue a career in the same field. My goal is to help students have their own breakthrough and apply the growth mindset to whatever it is they would like to learn or pursue.


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