2021 Annual Review

Meera Singhal
5 min readJan 1, 2022

Dont shoot for the stars when there are footprints on the moon”

This quote has been racing through my mind all year long. It has taught me to never minimize my goals, for anyone or anything. Thankfully I have failed so many times this year. I have failed in every aspect of my life, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the person I have become and will continue to aspire into because of these failure. These failures have showed me to shoot high, fail, reflect, change, rinse and repeat. Id never trade this year for anything; and here’s why.

Highlights of my Year:

  • internship @spiral genetics
  • failed gene editing passion project
  • create a simulation + research paper based on COVID strains @SSI
  • Lessons I learned while placing as a semi-finalist for The Impossible Award by Patrick Poirier

Internship @ Spiral Genetics

Its not the resources but the resourcefulness that ultimately makes the difference.” Tony Robbins

On day one of my internship, I learnt that no one was going to baby me or give a direct outline to what I had to do and when; i simply had to figure it out and reach my goals myself. Unlike school or anything I have ever experienced before, there was no “answer in the back of the textbook”, there was simply my mentors and bosses. FIguring out what to ask to gain the most knowledge and value instead of just asking “what is this” or “how do i do this” was pretty challenging at first, but I slowly realize google was my best friend. Although I still picked their brain about any and everything, I learnt the art of how to ask the right questions; a skill that will not only save hours of frustration and time, but boost you’re view and relationships with others.

Although my internship ended in September, I will carry these lessons with my forever. Thank you so much Aaron Hurst for introducing me to Adina Magnubat, CEO of Spiral Genetics, who introduced me to Spiral genetics as a whole where I met Niranjan Sheklar; a lifelong mentor and friend.

Failed Gene Editing Project

failure is not the opposite of success, its a part of success” Arianna Huffington

I failed. I failed hard. In the hopes of diving deeper into the realm of gene editing and biology as a whole, I started a problem and solution sprint. After a month of research, I decided on solving issues in the realm of energy with my core idea being “Using gene editing to alter the process of photosynthesis, converting ATP to raw energy, and then using that to power a lightbulb”. After deciding on that, I took it a step further, a step that Ive never been to before. I spent almost two months working out technical questions that I should ask, mentors and professors that I should ask, etc. However, I slowly started to fade away from the project because of the unmanageable chunks I cut out for myself. Looking back, I regret the way I pushed the project onto myself, I applaud myself for the amount of technical depth I tried to get, and I learnt that talking to people in the area is the most crucial aspect of getting a good technical understanding.

Creating an Algorithm to Detect new COVID Strains + Writing a Research Paper @ SSI

The courage to try something new makes me proud” Jane Pauley

After 6 grueling weeks of researching COVID strains, figuring how how and why they duplicate, and writing an algorithm in python to predict future strains. With new strains like the omicron, its clear that COVID will continue to thrive. During this process, I tried to focus on the core question “How can we use different ML algorithms to further analyze COVID genome sequences that we already have, and use it to help predict the future paths of COVID?” We took the raw genetic sequence of the seven most common variants of COVID and ran them through a series of algorithms to get a better understanding of what ol mutations look like to predict new ones. We ran this data through 3 main algorithms, one to find the total composition, another for the frequency range, and finally an algorithm to compare the nucleotides of each genome. We produced an array of scatter plots, bar graphs, and line graphs to help further our thesis.

Semifinalist for “The Impossible Award”

Dont count your chickens before they hatch” Thomas Howell

After submitting an application in January, getting interviewed Patrick Porier himself in September, I finally was onto the last stage of the interview process; creating a proposal for how you want to spend the money. I had 7 days to write it up and show proof of concept. Unlike the other 9 finalists, I hadn’t come into this process with a solid idea. Fast forward 7 days, I put in roughly 40 hours into this proposal, less than 10% the effort that others put in (a fact I found out well after). After reflecting on this whole experience, I learned that applying for awards, speaking opportunities or anything to build you’re portfolio wont work unless you have an idea or thought that people want to learn more about/ invest in.

Thinking vs Acting

Most of the problems in life are because of two reasons, we act without thinking or we keep thinking without acting” Zig Ziglar

2020 was all about going from 0–1 for me. It was realizing that school isn’t everything to me and this ache in my chest isn’t just indigestion, it was this feeling to do more. So, in 2021, I did more. I went from 1–10. Instead of just learning, I added the act of thinking and acting to my process. From building relationships with incredible mentors to create focus projects, it feels like i did it all. A few highlights:

Next year, lets go from 10–100 with building.

Content Consumption

What consumes your mind controls your life” — Unknown

2021 book rec:

“The Power of Your Subconscious Mind” — Joseph Murry

I have become such a book nerd this year. Although my passion didn’t start till halfway through the year, I have read over 200 books! Some days I consume 2 books a day and other half, but i have been religious about reading. Although most fall into murder mystery and horror, I have read quite a few to learn more about how I work, this one standing out.

2021 research paper rec:

Solar Drying

This paper pushed me into solar energy, a major portion of my life for the past few months. Technical, easy to understand, and related to cutting edge technology; give it a read!

Thank you so much for reading all the way through! Please connect with me on LinkedIn, or reach out to me @ meerasinghal53@gmail.com.

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Meera Singhal

Biotech Enthusiast at TKS | Stem Cells | Gene Editing