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Govind touts opportunities for women working in AI – Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

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Darshana Govind, PhD, touts the virtues of artificial intelligence (AI) research. She is so enthusiastic about it that she wants to encourage more women to enter the field.

“It’s difficult, because you don’t see many women on the pitch. I would like to see more women join STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and data science. It’s a great area. It’s hard to be a woman in a room full of men, so I encourage more women to join AI teams,” says Govind, who earned her doctorate in computational cell biology, anatomy and pathology.

“Realizing the potential of AI to make a difference in people’s lives by transforming healthcare is what really drew me to the field. Plus, it’s exciting to be part of groundbreaking research, especially when you’re surrounded by brilliant researchers you learn from every day,” she adds. “I was able to learn a lot of new science and techniques by being part of a rapidly developing field that is multidisciplinary.”

Govind conducted his research in the laboratory of his mentor, Pinaki Sarder, PhD, associate professor of pathology and anatomical sciences, who is a big supporter of his work.

“One of my goals at UB is not just to do research, but also to develop a workforce, and that’s very important,” Sarder says. “Darshana did an excellent and very challenging job for her PhD and was published in a top journal.” He notes that while it’s getting better, there still aren’t many women working in artificial intelligence right now.

Govind, a data scientist at Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a division of Johnson & Johnson, believes STEM and data science — especially AI — are great areas for female researchers.

“Data science and AI have allowed us to mine petabytes of data to extract meaningful insights across a variety of different domains. In healthcare, we are now able to extract volumes of medical data to optimize patient diagnosis and treatment response. This is a game-changer, and we need more data scientists,” says Govind, whose PhD is due in February 2022. “Unfortunately, there are currently a major gender gap in this field, with less than a third of data scientists being women It is important that women play an equal role in this industry and incorporate our voices and perspectives while developing technologies high-impact majors.”

“Additionally, this field is fueled by creativity and innovation, and we need as many diverse minds as possible to come up with new solutions to critical problems,” she adds.

“It’s no secret that in college, men tend to outnumber women majoring in STEM fields. Part of the problem is that gender stereotypes and a shortage of role models of diverse roles perpetuate gender gaps in STEM. In higher education, it is of the utmost importance that we increase opportunities in STEM for women,” says Allison Brashear, MD, vice president for Health Sciences and Dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “While progress has been made in recruiting women into certain fields, such as biological sciences and computer science, we still have a long way to go. to reduce the gender pay gap in STEM careers and ensure a more diverse body of STEM researchers in higher education. .”

“I commend Dr. Govind for actively encouraging more women to enter STEM fields. Now more than ever, women at the start of their educational journey need support and access to fields where they are underrepresented,” adds Brashear.

Govind says brilliant women like Joy Buolamwini, whose TED Talk on algorithmic bias has over a million views, and Fei-Fei Li, PhD, co-director of the Institute for Human-Centered AI Stanford University, are at the forefront of AI and have played a major role in encouraging more inclusion and diversity in AI. Additionally, organizations like Women in Data Science and Women in AI have enabled the formation of large communities that support women and minorities in the field.

“That being said, we are still vastly underrepresented in this field, and I think we all have a role to play in encouraging and empowering women to close this gender gap,” Govind says.