Debra Tsai

2013 Co-Director, 2012 Co-Deputy Director

Debra is currently a sophomore undergraduate student at the California Institute of Technology, majoring in Computation and Neural Systems. This is her second year with InnoWorks, and she is excited to serve as Co-Director for the Caltech InnoWorks program.

During high school, Debra found a passion for volunteering, first as a student tutor at the tutoring center in her high school. She then spent her summer after freshman year as a volunteer at Camp Galileo, where she guided and shared her passion for science with young elementary school children. Throughout the rest of her high school years, Debra served as a member of the Los Altos City Youth Commission. As a commissioner, she worked to promote youth interests in the city community and to provide youth program and events. Debra volunteered many hours every month to setting up and chaperoning the most popular youth event, the community sponsored dance nights.

During her later summers, Debra was entirely consumed by research. She served as a research assistant at the Sanger Laboratory in the Stanford School of Medicine. The research project centered on infant motor development and culminated into an abstract accepted by International Society on Infant Studies. During the summer before her senior year, Debra conducted research on regulating lung cancer tumor growth at Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine in the Stanford School of Medicine. She co-authored a paper that was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care, which was then presented at the 2011 American Thoracic Society International Conference.

Outside of academics at Caltech, Debra has enjoyed fencing for the Caltech fencing team. Last summer, she competed with a team of Caltech undergraduate students in the International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (iGEM), where student research teams compete to build biological systems of their own design using a given kit of biological parts. Debra also was a clinical shadower for over two hundred hours in a hospital preceptorship at Huntington Memorial Hospital. This experience has greatly increased her understanding and knowledge of various medical professions, including but not limited to neurosurgery, critical care, pathology, and neuroradiology. For the upcoming summer, she hopes to conduct research in biomedical devices.


InnoWorks is a Winner of the 2007 BRICK Awards