ARCS Foundation Utah honored its 2019 scholars during an awards luncheon Oct. 16 in the Warnock Engineering Building.

This year’s event included a research update and panel with last year’s scholars, welcoming remarks from College of Engineering Dean Richard B. Brown and John A. Moran Eye Center CEO Randall J. Olson. Also included was a tribute to University of Utah chemical engineering Emeritus Professor Noel de Nevers, who passed away earlier this year at age 86.

ARCS Foundation Utah Chapter is part of the national nonprofit women’s organization throughout the country which helps U.S. students completing degrees in science, engineering and medical research. The Utah chapter of the foundation supports students in doctoral programs at the University of Utah.

This year’s engineering scholars include:

Jadie Adams (School of Computing)

Adams is pursuing a doctoral degree in computing with a focus on machine learning and image processing techniques for biomedical data analysis. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with honors from Westminster College where she also minored in physics and computer science.  Her research background ranges from publishing on the interface of snow and human sciences in avalanche-safety literature, to solving open questions in the pure math field of tiling theory and patenting new technology for enhancing language models in automatic speech recognition systems. At the University of Utah, she will be working with research assistant professor Shireen Elhabian from the Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute on a project in the orthopedics domain, using deep learning to construct 3D models from sparse X-ray images for anatomical shape analysis. She believes in the potential for computer vision and probabilistic modeling to make diagnosis more accurate and less expensive for all. In her free time, she enjoys skiing and backpacking in the mountains as well as tending to her garden and playing with her new puppy.

Emily Diedrich (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

Diedrich completed her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at Gonzaga University in 2017. After graduation, she started her career as an Engineer in Training on a structural engineering team at DLR Group in Seattle. During her two years there, she was exposed to the design of many different construction materials including wood, steel and masonry on a variety of projects ranging from schools and justice centers to warehouses. After working for a while, she decided to return to school to pursue a graduate degree from the University of Utah. Diedrich is excited to be back in the academic world and looks forward to applying the experience she had while working as a designer to future research projects. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, cooking and spending time on the water.

Lizzie Kumar (School of Computing)

Kumar completed a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with honors at Scripps College, where she became interested in issues of social justice arising from the use of machine learning to automate decisions that affect people, such as credit scoring, loan eligibility, and other risk assessments. She worked as a data scientist while completing her master’s in computer science at the University of Massachusetts in her hometown of Amherst. At the University of Utah, Lizzie is pursuing a doctorate in computing under the supervision of School of Computing Professor Suresh Venkatasubramanian, studying how to audit algorithmic systems for fairness, justice and other legal and ethical qualities. Kumar hopes that her work will support the development of technology policy.