Three women from Harker were honored by the Davidson Institute in its annual awards. Natasha Maniar ’19 and Cynthia Chen, grade 12, were named 2019 Davidson Fellow Laureates, while Ruhi Sayana ’19 received an honorable mention. Maniar’s award is in the technology category, while Chen’s and Sayana’s awards are in the science category. The two fellows each will receive a $50,000 scholarship and a trip to Washington, D.C., to receive their awards.
Chen’s project is titled “Decoding Neural Networks: Novel Computational Methods to Discover Anti-Tumor B Cell Receptor Binding Motifs.” Her Davidson summary reads: “Cynthia’s study is the first to provide a framework for interpreting the motif patterns learned by deep learning models trained on protein sequence data. Deep neural networks have achieved great success in diagnosing diseases, but they remain black boxes: scientists are often unable to clearly explain how a model arrives at its decision or which features matter most. To address this, Cynthia developed computational methods to uncover the patterns learned by a deep neural network that predicts cancer types based on B cell receptor (BCR) sequences. By decoding this model, she identified and validated 65 tumor-specific BCR binding motifs for 13 cancer types, a discovery that could guide future synthesis of antibody drugs for targeted cancer treatments.” Read more about Chen’s efforts here.
Maniar’s project is titled “MapAF: Deep Learning to Improve Therapy of Complex Human Heart Rhythm Abnormalities” and, according to the Davidson site, she has “developed a computational approach to identify sources of atrial fibrillation (AF). Despite affecting more than 33 million people worldwide, diagnostic imaging of electrical conduction through the heart remains relatively subjective and continues to rely heavily on visual interpretation by experts. Natasha addressed this as a two-fold problem. She first developed an algorithm to analyze the heart’s chaotic electrical signals and then interpreted those results using her computational tool. Her code identified the AF sources inside the heart with greater accuracy than trained experts. This tool improves AF treatment by streamlining and standardizing the catheter ablation procedure, making it globally accessible.” Read more about Maniar here.
Sayana’s project, titled “Precision Care for Leukemia: Discovery of Novel Therapeutics for High-Risk ALL via Epigenetic and Computational Transcriptome Profiling,” already earned her one of the 40 finalist slots in the Regeneron Science Talent Search in early 2019. Maniar also was a finalist. In addition, Sayana was a grand prize winner in the Synopsys Silicon Valley Science and Technology Championship, held in March. Chen was also a grand prize winner. Last but not least, Sayana earned a $10,000 scholarship as an Intel Foundation Young Scientist from the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Read more about Sayana here and search the names of all three at news.harker.org to see the many science prizes these exceptional women have earned in their budding careers!
Other Harker Davidson Fellows of record include Amy Jin ’18, Rajiv Movva ’18, Rishab Gargeya ’17, Veneet Kosaraju ’16 and Yi Sun ’06.