Using Exploration as a Catalyst Toward Research-Definition

Andriy Mulyar, a proponent of supportive research environments, is currently  pursuing a dual degree in Computer Science and Mathematics at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). His research journey began during his senior year in high school where he participated in a natural language processing project under Dr. Bridget McInnes through an outreach program coordinated by the Computer Science program at Andriy’s high school (CIT at Deep Run High School). The experience ignited an intrigue in machine learning which Andriy began to further explore in college.

While at VCU, Andriy has been able to build a strong network. During his first year, Andriy gathered mentors who were able to push him to develop background knowledge in relevant areas like artificial intelligence. This eventually led to an opportunity to become involved in an undergraduate research program sponsored by  VCU (DURI), where he worked on machine learning methods for imbalanced data. Andriy’s hard work resulted in a conference paper which further drove his research passion.

His research interests shifted into applying machine learning methods to natural language processing problems. Andriy built an open source framework for biomedical and clinical domain information extraction comprised of machine learning methods he developed. In Summer 2019, as a visiting student in the Center for Language and Speech Processing at Johns Hopkins University, Andriy worked under Dr. Mark Dredze conducting information extraction from electronic health records. Andriy’s primary contribution was a novel neural network architecture based on contextualized neural language models for performing document classification. Impressively, his work was accepted as an extended abstract to ML4Health at Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS).

Through his exceptional career as an undergraduate researcher, Andriy has developed an understanding of the affordances of academic versus industry environments and how those impact research. In addition, Andriy has realized that the effort and dedication input is extremely important for crafting a profound research experience. Most importantly, clarity in output has implications for communication not only within research but outside such as teaching.

Currently, Andriy is entering the last year of his dual degree. The ability to tinker in a non-threatening research environment that appreciates exploration has encouraged his pursuit of a doctoral degree. To end, Andriy offers, “I find that my best work emerges not from explicit, long term planning but in scenarios when I have the freedom to explore ideas.” This seems like a blueprint for other budding undergraduate researchers to follow.

– Written and edited by Joslenne Peña

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