Advanced Science Program for Independent Research and Engineering (ASPIRE) Program: Spotlight on Ashley Xu '19

Ashley Xu '19 is one of four students selected this year to participate in the new Advanced Science Program for Independent Research and Engineering (ASPIRE) Program, which includes an off-campus internship in an R01-level research laboratory and an accompanying course on the fundamentals of scientific research. Ashley was chosen for the program along with fellow seniors Portia Cummings and Mallory Ehlers, and junior Harry Amadeo.

Ashley is working with Dr. Thomas Fuchs, under the supervision of Ph.D. student Hassan Muhammad, at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, New York. Dr. Fuchs is a research professor at the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Cornell University in the novel field of computational pathology. The primary focus of his group's research is to develop and apply quantitative methods for the analysis of digital microscopy slides and relate the resulting statistical descriptors to patient outcomes. Learn more about Dr. Fuchs here.

Ashley's research project involves analyzing Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC) slides using a type of machine learning known as a convoluted neural network to classify each slide as clear cell RCC, clear cell papillary RCC, or renal oncocytoma. Ashley comments, "Even though this is my first year in the research course, I feel very comfortable with what I am working on and everyone in the lab has been extremely helpful in guiding me through my project. In particular, Hassan, Dr. Fuchs, and the lab manager, Christina Virgo, have all been very understanding and supportive of the progression of my project. I am looking forward to continuing our work throughout this school year. I feel very fortunate to have gained this experience in performing scientific research; it will be something that will stay with me for many years into the future."

Ashley will present her work in the spring as a part of her Senior Project for graduation. She was accepted EDI to Northwestern University and will pursue this field of research in college.

Ashley finished Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus BC and AP Chemistry as a Junior last year, and she is currently taking Multivariable Calculus, AP Physics C, and AP Psychology. She is also a passionate artist with the Artistic Minds Studio in Stamford, CT and has won many awards for her show pieces. Ashley enjoys watching Vox videos and is a competitive archer in local tournaments. What does she like most about King? "I love the community; it's like a second family," says Ashley.


Established in 2018 by Margharet, Frank, Bea '15 and William '17 Nash, the Advanced Mathematics and Science Study Program endowed fund supports select students with demonstrated ability and interest in achieving true excellence within science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics in global competition preparation, and/or laboratory research experiences. If you are interested in supporting this opportunity for students, please contact the development office to discuss how your gift can help.