Gloria Lee

Gloria Lee


Highlands Ranch, Colorado


Degrees Pursing

Bachelor of Arts in Physics and Astronomy (Concentration in Biological Sciences)

Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Bioengineering


Research Interests

I am interested in the applications of genetic engineering to sustainable energy. More specifically, increasing the efficiency and efficacy of biofuel productions. Currently, I am conducting research with the Bugaj lab in the Bioengineering department. We are working on the optogenetic stimulation of cellular systems and the construction of devices that will allow precise, high-throughput optogenetic experimentation.


Why did you choose VIPER?

VIPER was a really great opportunity to blend my interests in STEM with my passion for environmental sustainability. Throughout high school, I was a very STEM heavy student. I really enjoyed physics, biology, and math, and I always had this vision that I wanted to pursue a career in biomedical research. Outside of my coursework, I was involved in environmental sustainability in my school and community, and that was where I became increasingly aware of the environmental issues our society faces. VIPER really blended my interests together in a rigorous, research-centered environment that I’m extremely grateful to be a part of. 


What are three words you would use to describe VIPER?

Diverse, Curious, Rigorous


What is your favorite aspect about the program?

The diversity of interest present in VIPER program is really exciting to see. Sometimes, many people who view energy research from the outside might think that it has a really narrow application, but after learning about the multitude of projects VIPER students are working on, you can tell that energy research really has applications in all aspects of science. Even just looking at my class, there are people who work with robots in construction, lithium batteries, drone flight, genetic engineering, and more. No matter where your interests in research may lie, VIPER will help you find its connection to sustainability. 


How do you see VIPER integrating into your future goals?

The research opportunities that VIPER provides has helped me envision what a future career in research looks like. I also hope to pursue a Ph.D. in the future, and even just after my first year, I have been well prepared to enter a research environment with the experiences that I’ve gained. 


How do you like to spend your free time? Are you involved in any organizations in or out of Penn?

At Penn, I’m involved in the Penn Figure Skating Club, Science Olympiad, Penn Aerospace Club, and Wharton Asia Exchange. When I’m not studying for class, I like to visit Penn Park to play some soccer, the Class of 1923 Rink to skate, or the Schuylkill to go on a run. Otherwise you’ll find me stuffing my face with my friends at all the different restaurants around Penn and in Center City. 


What advice would you give to incoming VIPER students?

Look for research early and know that professors at Penn are really here to help you. They are all really responsive and love to lend a helping hand. Don’t constrain yourself to only professors in your department either. Researchers in the Medical School, Engineering School, and even Graduate Schools are all willing to take in Penn Undergraduates, and even if they’re full, sometimes they’ll help you find other projects and professors to work with!

Graduation Year