Computer Science Major Studies Mental Health Informatics through an NSF Program

August 6, 2018
By: Kim Caisse

Kathleen LawComputer science major Kathleen Law has been studying mental health informatics this summer as part of a Research Experience for Undergraduates, funded by the National Science Foundation, at DePaul University in Chicago.

“I have always enjoyed participating in research,” she said. “This program allowed me to immerse myself in this kind of environment and learn more about what research is about.”

Law, a senior, plans to attend graduate school eventually, and this experience will strengthen her applications.

“I am one of 10 students throughout the country who were chosen to perform research under faculty mentors for a 10-week period,” she explained. “Through this research, my partner and I have prepared a paper with the hope of publication in a conference or scientific journal.”

“It’s been extremely rewarding to spend my summer doing work that relates to my field and gaining valuable experience that I can use at school and after graduation,” Law said.

Law, who wants to work in the field of biomedical informatics, was encouraged to apply for the REU experience by her faculty advisor, Professor of Computer Science Aparna Mahadev, Ph.D. “She has been very supportive of my progress in the computer science field,” she said.

Team of undergraduate researchers at DePaul University

Kathleen Law (middle, wearing a bright blue shirt) with her team of undergraduate researchers at DePaul University

“My study focuses on automatically retrieving and tracking mental health topics on Reddit over time,” Law said. “This process has involved lots of data analysis, topic modeling algorithms to extract the topics from Reddit, and statistical assessment, which are just a few of the concepts related to [computer science] that I have been able to use.”

Law’s passion for computer science and program extends outside the classroom. Last year, she was a member of the Computer Science Club and WSU Programming Team. During the 2018 spring semester, she also became a Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL) mentor for the Introduction to Programming course.

“I set up weekly group activities to help reinforce course content throughout the semester,” she said.

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