By Josh Baxt
UC San Diego Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) Ph.D. student Angelique Taylor and Princeton University undergraduate Nicole Meister are finalists in the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT) Collegiate Award, thanks to the mentorship and research opportunities they found at CSE. NCWIT honors outstanding accomplishments among collegiate women, genderqueer and non-binary. Given annually, the award showcases creative and innovative projects and the people who produce them.
“NCWIT offers an exceptional community of educators and researchers that aim to support and empower women in the computing field,” said Taylor who conducts research in UC San Diego’s Healthcare Robotics Lab led by CSE Professor Laurel Riek. “It also provides a network of industry professionals that are passionate about supporting women and those from underrepresented groups.”
Taylor’s project, called “Robot Social Navigation in the Emergency Department,” explores how robots can support overburdened providers by taking on some of the more routine tasks. The project is working to create robots that can function seamlessly in these human environments, in which safety is critical, to improve patient outcomes and reduce clinician workloads.
“I designed a social navigation system that enables robots to incorporate the severity of patients' health, while navigating the emergency department, to prevent interruptions in care delivery,” said Taylor. “My system outperformed classic navigation methods in terms of avoiding high acuity patients and generating the most efficient paths.”
Meister, who is currently an undergraduate at Princeton University, developed her project while working with CSE Professor Ryan Kastner for UC San Diego’s Engineers For Exploration. Entitled “Bringing Technology to Conservation Groups by Creating Accessible Mangrove Monitoring and Classification Tools,” her work gives conservation scientists more democratic deep learning tools to quantify mangrove ecosystems.
“Conservation groups with large mangroves sites have trouble monitoring the growth of their mangroves,” said Meister. “The application I created takes drone images from mangrove regions and helps scientists determine how much is mangrove and how much is non-mangrove to help track the growth of this vital species.”
Of course, science is a team sport and both Taylor and Meister are grateful for the help they have received from their CSE mentors.
“Professor Kastner has been extremely supportive throughout this project,” said Meister. “He also wrote my recommendation letter for the NCWIT award. I’m really grateful for his engagement and leadership.”