Myra Cheng Receives Goldwater Scholarship
Myra Cheng, an undergraduate student in computing and mathematical sciences, has been selected to receive a Goldwater Scholarship. The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program awards scholarships to college sophomores or juniors who intend to pursue research careers in science, mathematics, and engineering. Myra works with Yisong Yue, Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, and Joel Burdick, Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist, on optimization algorithms that can learn individual preferences based on real-time interaction with people. These algorithms can be used in wearable exoskeletons that help mobility-impaired individuals walk. "I'm interested in how machine learning interacts with humans and, more broadly, human society," she says. Cheng has also been working with Katie Bouman, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, Electrical Engineering and Astronomy; Rosenberg Scholar, and Claire Ralph, Lecturer in Computing and Mathematical Sciences; Director, Career Development Center, on developing algorithms that address questions of explainability and algorithms that affect social change. [Caltech story]
CS + Social Good
Through TechReach, a new student club, Caltech undergrads aim to use tech skills to address social problems. Among people who are homeless, lack of connection to family and friends poses an often-overlooked obstacle to stability and well-being. Nivetha Karthikeyan, Myra Cheng, and Andrew Hess address the problem by developing new technological tools for Miracle Messages, a nonprofit that helps reunite homeless people with friends and relatives. Miracle Messages helps homeless individuals record video or audio messages to loved ones they have lost all contact with, and then volunteers scour social media and other digital platforms to find those loved ones and deliver the message. They hope to expand TechReach to five or six new projects involving larger numbers of computer science volunteers and a broader range of issues.