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Brandon Pardi

Computer Science and Engineering
Computer Science and Engineering

Why UC Merced?

The UC education system is one of the best in the world. Merced gave me a chance as my community college GPA was not stellar, and being accepted here I was able to turn that around and perform at my best, leading me to plan on attending grad schools at another UC campus.

Why Your Major?

I enjoy every aspect of programming and always have. Every syntax error, every library dependency version mismatch, every bad documentation website, every micro concussion I’ve given myself banging my head on the desk when my model predicts worse than random. I see all these things as learning experiences that make me not just a stronger computer scientist, but a stronger person to. As every challenge and every struggle, no matter how small, is a chance to grow.

Inspiration and Mentors

Prof. Chandrasekhar taught my algorithms class, and despite it being a very dense course, he was able to put effort into engaging with the students in his class. I performed well in this class largely because of that, and it led him recommending to my other mentor Prof. Andresen Eguiluz, as he accepted me onto his team for computational biology research and I've continued with him since. Under his guidance I've developed data analysis tools, published papers, and decided to apply for grad school. Both of these professors were also incredibly supportive when I had a serious accident shattering my ankle January 2023, requiring me to spend 3 months of last semester at home recovering from ankle reconstructive surgery. My other three professors that semester had no sympathy and I was forced to drop their classes, but these two accommodated me working remotely during this time, and were both incredibly supportive. This past semester while continuing work with Prof. Andresen Eguiluz, I also began a quite hefty project with Prof. Chandrasekhar, and it has been a wonderful opportunity to learn and also show what I am capable of. I also need to thank Prof. Su for recognizing my capabilities in his OOP class, and being the first to broach the subject of this award. It truly heightened my confidence as a student and a programmer, and allowed me to set my goals even higher. Thank you to my mentors the last several years, I don't know how I would've gotten where I am without you all!

Memorable Academic Experience

As mentioned earlier, I suffered a traumatic injury last semester, turning most of my ankle into a crushed bag of chips. It was just 2 weeks into the semester, so I could have easily just taken a sabbatical and returned for Fall semester, but I was committed to what I had signed up for. The next few months were hard, but I was able to effectively lead my capstone team to develop an image classification pipeline, and continue work adding models and visualization capabilities to a biophysics experimental data analysis software, that I would eventually present at the CCBM undergraduate fellowship research symposium when Ireturned to campus the last few weeks of the semester as I relearned to walk.

What's Next?

Short term, I will be continuing research with the threeprojects I have currently until publications can be made, and I will be looking for internships or part time work as I graduate this semester. I am also currently finishing graduate school applications for U Berkeley, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Davis to do either machine learning of computational biology research, as these are passions I was able to find for myself the last couple of years here.

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