Electrical Engineering Major Wins NPSC Fellowship

Award will fund student's graduate training

Meera Krishnamoorthy, a senior in electrical engineering, has received a National Physical Science Consortium (NPSC) Fellowship that will fund up to six years of graduate training.

Krishnamoorthy will be enrolling in a computer science PhD program at the University of Michigan, studying artificial intelligence and machine-learning applications for health care, such as turning complex medical data (individual patient health records, genomic data, data from wearable health monitors, online reviews of physicians, medical imagery, etc.) into actionable knowledge that ultimately improves patient care. "Engineering is a great way to solve problems in multiple disciplines," she says. In addition to providing funding, the fellowship will partner Krishnamoorthy with the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct research.

Krishnamoorthy's interest in machine learning was sparked by coursework she did during her junior year as well as by a research project she worked on last summer with Yisong Yue, assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences. She and Yue analyzed the impact of machine learning on the motion of autonomous systems at Caltech's Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies (CAST).

"There's so much data available to us these days, and humans aren't always able to analyze the data and draw all the relevant conclusions from it," Krishnamoorthy says. "I'm interested in using machine learning to solve big-picture, global problems."

At Caltech, her academic adviser has been Steven Low, Frank J. Gilloon Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, and she has been involved in a number of groups and clubs on campus: she co-edited the Caltech Undergraduate Research Journal (CURJ) and volunteered with the Caltech Y and Robogals, a STEM outreach group that teaches elementary school kids how to program Lego Mindstorms robots.

Once she earns a PhD, Krishnamoorthy says she's open to pursuing opportunities in both academia and industry.

Since its inception in 1989, NPSC has awarded more than 500 graduate fellowships. Of those fellows, 82 percent have been minority, female, or a member of both of those groups, which have been historically underrepresented in science.

Written by Robert Perkins

Robert Perkins
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