‘A Great Beginning’

Lejia Zhao
Lejia Zhao, a rising junior in the Department of Computer and Information Science, virtually connected with researchers at the National University of Singapore through Penn Abroad’s Global Research and Internship Program.

I applied to the GRIP program because I was very intrigued by the idea of doing research with a professor from another world-renowned institution with potentially very different perspectives than that of Penn. I wanted to get to know what they were working on and what was at the forefront of computer science through their lens. What further propelled me to move forward with the program after being accepted was the opportunity to practice my intercultural skills. I believe that in this increasingly globalized world the ability to work with people from different cultures and experiences is crucial – both on a personal level and a societal level.

The specific program I’m involved with is GRIP: Research in Singapore. I’m working with professor Tang Kuk Zuea from the National University of Singapore on a project titled “Using Machine Learning for Medication Recognition”. As the name suggests the project involves using machine learning methods, specifically deep learning, to assist healthcare professionals in the prescription of medication and to lower their error rate, thus increasing the quality of patient care and lowering patient mortality.

Since the program has begun, it has fitted perfectly into my daily schedule. The flexibility of the program allows me to pursue other personal interests and projects on the side while also ensuring that I’m completing what is expected of me from the program.

So far, most of the work I’ve done has been reading up on background information related to the project – papers that other people have written about medication recognition using deep learning. This has been a very interesting and rewarding experience for me since I just took a class in machine learning this past semester. A lot of the readings are about things that I’ve already been exposed to in the class so they are not entirely new to me. It’s been great to see how the materials I’ve learned in class can have applications in real-world situations and help solve real problems.

Apart from the project itself, another aspect of the program I’ve really enjoyed is getting to know my peers who are also in the GRIP program and even students from other schools who are also doing research at NUS. For example, I’ve gotten in touch with Jennifer, a rising sophomore at Johns Hopkins University who is in the same research project as me working under the supervision of Professor Tang.