Boston University, Department of Medicine, Kolachalama Laboratory, Boston, MA
I worked for the Kolachalama Laboratory at Boston University this summer. Dr. Vijaya Kolachalama’s work focuses on Alzheimer’s disease and neuro imaging data about the brain and how Alzheimer’s affects the brain structure. My specific project was to create machine learning algorithms that helped identify if gender bias in the data driven models changed the way the models worked to classify Alzheimer’s disease.
Recently there has been a lot of criticism in the machine learning/AI realm because models are inherently biased due to the fact that they are trained on data which is biased (i.e., models are only as good as the data that they were trained on.) My goal was to somehow identify and quantify the bias in these models. To do this I created three different types of models, Random Forest, Support Vector Machine and K nearest neighbors; and trained each of them on data that had different percentages of female patients. I then compared how well models performed based on the data they were trained on. For example, I looked at a model that I trained on data that was 40% female and 60% male and how it performed compared to a model that was 60% female and 40% male.
Through this internship I learned that I really enjoy coding and enjoy computer science when it has a real-world application. I think the process is really rewarding and has some very interesting applications in all fields, ranging from biology to business. I was already considering majoring in computer science and am now more certain that I want to do that. However, one thing that I learned is that I do need some type of social interaction. I need to be able to work with people and communicate and check in on what I am doing and bounce ideas off of people, as well as see what they are working on and helping them with their projects. I think I work really well in groups and even though computer science is very individual it is still externally fruitful to work with other people. I now know that even if I start my career sitting at a desk from 9 to 5, I won’t want to do that forever.
I extend my greatest gratitude to the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and the Kraft Family.