Follower Friday: puyo-blah

Follower Fridays is a series of profiles highlighting members of Gaysian Third Space to showcase the diversity of gaysians in the Community. This week’s featured member is @puyo-blah.


Who are you?

Cis-gender male.
Taiwanese American.
East coast born and raised, midwest resident, west coast bound (hopefully).
Mid-twenties graduate student with a background in engineering, but often a child at heart.
The rest is not so concrete, but then again, people who are static and unchanging are also uninteresting!

Where are you from?

I was born and raised for the first eighteen years of my life in the central-shore area of New Jersey, U.S.A. From there, I spent four years of undergraduate in Baltimore, Maryland with two summers in New York City. As of two years ago, I now reside and work in Chicago, Illinois. I call each of these places “home”, but each one represents a different period of time in my life, and I often feel homesick for each for different reasons. Being in Chicago now, I often miss New York City the most, but I’m slowly establishing myself in my new city of residence.

What do you do?

I’m currently a graduate student at Northwestern University studying biomedical engineering. More specifically, my research track is biomaterials and regenerative engineering. My project focuses on studying cellular interactions of these specific cell types that compose the glomerulus of the kidney, which is the initial site of blood filtration in the nephron, and trying to recapitulate these interactions within 3D in vitro culture environments. The applications of this research include expanding our understanding of renal cell biology, developing models for drug testing and therapeutics, and contributing towards the end-goal of engineering transplantable kidneys.

But most of the time right now it feels like all my project really involves is culturing these cells on different types of scaffolds/substrates and hoping they survive and proliferate. The rest of my time is spent trying to navigate my mid-twenties in a reasonable fashion while appearing like a semi-put-together person. (I feel like being a graduate student allows me some leeway in only being semi-put-together rather than fully put-together, haha!)

What are you passionate about?

I’m actually passionate about a lot of things, which can often make life as a graduate student difficult because I feel pressured to dedicate the majority of my time to research. But on the other hand, if I neglect all of these other things I’m interested in, I start to become both anxious and depressed.

I enjoy playing video games–I grew up with Nintendo consoles and handhelds. Certain video games have this intense nostalgia factor for me. Some of my favorite series include Super Mario, Kirby, and Pokemon.

Photography is sort of an amateur hobby of mine. I have a nice mirrorless camera that was given to me by my family as a gift after graduating from undergrad. Sometimes it’s just relaxing to go to a new location, camera in tow, and see what kinds of shots you can get. I do some photo editing in Photoshop as well.

In general, I like to explore and go on adventures. Traveling is something I would definitely do more if I had the time and money. This includes both indoors and outdoors and ties into my interests in photography as well as food. I wouldn’t say I’m a foodie, but I love trying new places to eat as well as new foods or even just going back to the same locations for something that’s particularly delicious. And yes, I’m guilty of taking and posting pictures of the food I eat!

I could talk about a lot more things, but TL;DR.

What is your dream job (real or fantasy)?

To become a travel photographer. Being able to travel to new places and just take photographs of things–people, architecture, vistas, food, whatever! There are so many places to visit, people to talk to, foods to try, and things to do–there are just endless adventures that I wish I could experience. Clearly I’m not on that track now, but hopefully in the future when I have more vacation time (and money) I’ll have that chance.

If you could change the world with one idea, what would it be?

“It’s you who defines your greatness.”

It sounds cliché, but it’s the quote I got as a tattoo. To me, it means that you have control over your own potential–that you should set your own expectations and goals, and that you can decide whether you reached them or not. But as with everything, there is a balance: hopefully you find the motivation within yourself and are passionate about something to set high but attainable goals without external pressures such as familial, social, or societal expectations. And in turn, we should respect other people’s goals and experiences as we would our own–discerning but also free of judgment.


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