Irene Tanner, a computer science alumna, was a recipient of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. She will be pursuing her computer engineering Ph.D. at UCF this fall, and hopes to work in healthcare informatics or data science.

What advice do you have for others interested in following a similar path?

Get started in research early, and participate in as many varied programs as you can (e.g. NSF REU or other paid structured research programs). Take advantage of all of UCF's resources; the Office of Undergraduate Research and Office of Honors Research host many workshops on getting started in research and how to be a successful researcher, and they both offer a variety of research programs, like HUT and SURF. Network with professors and have conversations about your research or career interests. Join clubs or other extracurriculars that align with your interests and find other students who share your passion. And don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

What research and internship experiences did you have while at UCF?

I started research in Spring 2018, where I volunteered in the Center for Research in Computer Vision (CRCV) at UCF, and assisted a graduate student with his project on medical image analysis of the pancreas. I completed an NSF REU in the CRCV in Summer 2018; my project was on using deep learning to automatically classify and detect military targets in infrared images. This resulted in a paper ("Fundamentals of Target Classification Using Deep Learning") that was presented at SPIE Defense and Commercial Sensing and won the Student Best Paper Award at that conference [in April 2019]. In Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 I continued the medical image analysis project I was working on in Spring 2018, which resulted in two publications: an abstract in the Gastroenterology journal and the conference proceedings of the International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention.

I presented at SURE [UCF's Showcase for Undergraduate Research] last year as well (and was accepted to present this year). I was also awarded an Honors Undergraduate Thesis scholarship and a student research grant through the Office of Undergraduate Research, and was a recipient of the Founders' Day Award for the College of Engineering and Computer Science. I [served] on the Student Undergraduate Research Council as well.

What activity do you enjoy doing outside of academics?

Jigsaw puzzles - I enjoy finding patterns in the pieces and figuring out new ways to solve a puzzle faster.

What are your long-term goals, and how has receiving the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship helped you toward those goals?

I will be starting my computer engineering Ph.D. at UCF this fall. After graduation, I would like to work in healthcare informatics or data science in the healthcare industry. The NSF GRFP [Graduate Research Fellowship Program] has helped me with my goals because it allows me to pursue a Ph.D. with the freedom to research what I want on my own time, rather than having to complete an assistantship and be assigned a project.