Age: 18Chappaqua, NY
Project Title: A Scalable and Freely Accessible Machine Learning Based Application for the Early Detection of Dyslexia
Isha is an 18-year-old student from New York passionate about harnessing her love for computer science and mathematics for social impact. She is extremely honored to be a Davidson Fellow and is grateful for the opportunity to join such a dynamic community of change makers and creators, as well as for the support of the Davidson Institute for her education and future endeavors.
She is the creator of DYSCERN: A Scalable and Freely Accessible Machine Learning Based Application for the Early Detection of Dyslexia, which utilizes an eye tracking methodology she created to make screenings for dyslexia available to anyone with access to a laptop. Dyslexia is the world’s most common neurological learning disability - it affects one in ten people worldwide and results in severe social and academic consequences, especially when undiagnosed. A majority of people, however, do not have access to screenings for dyslexia due to their prohibitive cost and their need for specialized scientific equipment. By leveraging several machine learning algorithms to create an accurate eye tracking application for the standard inbuilt computer webcam, the results of which are then analyzed, her research provides screenings for dyslexia without regard to financial or physical location. It makes a tremendous impact in the lives of those who would not previously have had access to crucial screenings for dyslexia.
She began her journey in AI in 2016 when she attended the second-ever Stanford AI4ALL, a summer program that immersed her and 23 other girls into the remarkable applications of artificial intelligence and computer science for social good. While at the program, she built her first-ever AI application, utilizing natural language processing to analyze tweets: essentially connecting people who needed help during natural disasters to those who were offering it. The experience showed her that she was capable of innovating in the AI-space, and she has been exploring its potential ever since!
This journey could not have been possible without the support of her mentor, Dr. David Cox, who first introduced Isha to the field of eye tracking when she worked with rodents in his neuroscience lab over the summer - she is so thankful for his support and guidance. She would also like to thank her teachers in school, her family, and her friends for their continuous encouragement. Finally, Isha thanks the entire AI4ALL community - she is so proud to be an AI4ALL alumni, and she is so grateful for the many opportunities it has provided her. Being a member and advocate in this tremendous community of change makers has changed her life, and she cannot wait to see how this movement for diversity and impact in AI continues to grow.
Isha recently graduated from Horace Greeley High School, and the rigorous classes she took there have prepared her well for her college education. She thanks her school faculty and administrators for their constant support and flexibility throughout her journey as a researcher, scientist and learner, and for instilling in her a love for exploring deeply the fields about which she is passionate. She has also explored her various interests through programs, online classes and other mediums. She will be attending Harvard University in the fall, where she hopes to major in computer science and applied math and continue to explore their potential for social impact.
Isha has been honored nationally and internationally for her research as a Google Science Fair Global Finalist, ACM Cutler Bell Prize Winner, Coca Cola Scholar, American Academy of Neurology Neuroscience Research Prize National Finalist, and a Second Grand Award winner at Intel ISEF. She has presented her work at such venues as the MIT Tech Review’s EmTech Conference, the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Conference, Columbia University, and the Machine Intelligence Conference. Additionally, Isha co-founded CreAIte, a national organization that inspires young women and other underrepresented minorities to pursue artificial intelligence by immersing them in its artistic and creative applications. To date, CreAIte has reached more than 500 students nationwide in New York, Oakland, Chicago, etc, through its workshops and hackathons. In high school, Isha was Co-President of the Math Club, the Computer Science Club, and the Greeley Advocate. She plays the harp and enjoys performing for audiences in and around her local community. She also loves to travel and hike and is an avid collector of Junior Rangers and postcards.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I would like to be working at the intersection of computer science and health, perhaps as a researcher or in a health tech company.
If you could have dinner with the five most interesting people in the world, living or dead, who would they be?
Trevor Noah, Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Blackwell, Priyanka Chopra, and Mary Bowser
If you could be on any TV show, which one would it be?
The Daily Show or West Wing
In the News
Isha Puri to be awarded $25,000 as a 2019 Davidson Fellow Scholarship Winner,
Vishnu Polkampally to be awarded $10,000 as a 2019 Davidson Fellow Scholarship Winner, and
Brian Wu to be awarded $10,000 as a 2019 Davidson Fellow Scholarship Winner
Yonkers, N.Y. – The Davidson Institute for Talent Development has announced the 2019 Davidson Fellows Scholarship winners. Among the honorees are Isha Puri, 18, of Chappaqua; Vishnu Akash Polkampally, 17, of Ossining; and Brian Wu, 17, of Scarsdale. Only 20 students across the country are recognized as scholarship winners each year.
“I am extremely honored to be a Davidson Fellow,” said Puri, who will be attending Harvard University in the fall. “I am grateful for the opportunity to join such a dynamic community of change makers and creators, as well as for the support of the Davidson Institute for my education and future endeavors.”
Puri’s project, A Scalable and Freely Accessible Machine Learning Based Application for the Early Detection of Dyslexia, developed a novel combination of different machine learning algorithms to produce a highly accurate eye tracking method. Using a computer’s standard webcam, Puri’s application can predict if a child has a higher risk of dyslexia with a 90.18 percent accuracy. Dyslexia is the world’s most common neurological learning disability, affecting one in every 10 people worldwide, so an early diagnosis can significantly reduce learning difficulties later in life.
Click here to download the full press release
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Started in 1999, the Davidson Institute for Talent Development is a 501(c)3 private operating foundation. Our mission is to recognize, nurture and support profoundly intelligent young people ages 18 and under, and to provide opportunities for them to develop their talents to make a positive difference.
Profoundly gifted students are those who score in the 99.9th percentile on IQ and achievement tests. Read more about this population in this article.