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Valerie Kalchenko '24 Selected as Winner of 2024 Undergraduate Student Research Award

Valerie Kalchenko '24 Selected as Winner of 2024 Undergraduate Student Research Award

Side by side screenshots of the AI generated outputs from Valerie's award-winning research

Valerie Kalchenko, ’24 was selected by Epsilon Pi Tau (EPT), the international honor society for professions in technology, as one of the winners of its prestigious 2024 Undergraduate Student Research Warner Award. The awards program, established in honor of William Everett Warner, the founder of EPT, is a planned annual competition open to all undergraduate students who are good standing members of EPT.

The research project that garnered her victory is entitled Computer Vision: Facial Recognition & Emotion Classification AI. The focus of the study, undertaken as part of her Senior Seminar capstone course at Chestnut Hill College, was to answer the question, "Can the Viola-Jones algorithm accurately input images of faces into a convolutional neural network to enable machine learning for detecting the human emotion of happiness?" Her experiment demonstrated that image diversity plays a crucial role in improving the reliability of emotion detection in machine learning systems.

"As Valerie's Senior Seminar advisor, it was a pure joy for me to watch her take on and complete a research project of this magnitude," notes Susan Ceklosky, instructor of computer science. "She managed the project from beginning to end. It's a clear illustration of Valerie's tenacity, perseverance, and intelligence.

When asked what motivated her to embark on such a study, Kalchenko responded by saying that she wanted to deepen her knowledge of artificial intelligence, in particular machine learning for purposes of facial recognition and emotion detection, since its use is skyrocketing globally across many different disciplines. 

"I have a tendency to downplay my achievements, so at first the award didn't seem real, but in hindsight now, it makes me happy, and it makes the time and effort I spent on my research project worth it," says Kalchenko on receiving the prestigious award. 

Kalchenko, a recent EPT inductee and student in the Interdisciplinary Honors Program at Chestnut Hill College, will be graduating in May 2024 with a Bachelor of Science degree. She majored in Computer Information Technology with a concentration in Web/Multimedia Design. After graduation, she will be seeking to establish a career within the Computer Science Information Technology field.


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