Intern Spotlight: Soumil Shekdar

Who is Soumil Shekdar?

The traditional description of myself is that I am an experienced programmer, aspiring entrepreneur, and avid learner studying Computer Science and Engineering at the University of California Davis. But if you were to ask me who I truly am, my answer would be that I am a Belieber (Justin Bieber fan). Interestingly being a Belieber encompasses most of my characteristics. I am continually trying to improve myself while staying loyal to my beliefs, ethics, and the people I care about. I am not afraid to hold an opinion contrary to what I am expected to be or feel. My journey through college so far, these characteristics and aspirations have been at the forefront.
Last year I consulted for two startups, working two programming jobs, researching under two Professors, forming an engineering design team, while holding leadership positions in three other clubs and taking care of my academics. I believe that these next few years will shape my life, and I will do everything possible to reach my goal of founding a healthcare startup that leverages Computer Science not only to improve the quality of healthcare but make it universally available

Why did you decide to apply to intern at Systems Imagination?

I applied to Systems Imagination to continue the same aspiration to contribute to the team's greater effort in harnessing data to provide insights into Oncology and other diseases.  

Tell us about your intern project?

Throughout my internship, I have been primarily working with three other interns to develop a model that predicts the nature, time, and prime locations for the Second Wave of COVID-19 in the United States. Being a small team, you can find traces of my influence throughout the project, but my primary focus has been developing non-traditional approaches to modeling the spread of COVID-19. I did this by building a Web-based application to present our results in an interactive platform to users. In the hopes of modeling the virus better than existing models, we decided on three key differentiators: sentiment data, machine learning models used in conjunction with SEIR, and determining the importance of certain social behaviors.  
I have involved myself in a wide variety of Machine Learning concepts, including Graph Neural Networks, Convolutional Neural Networks, Permutation based feature Importance, and Sentiment Analysis. In addition to this, I have also gained invaluable experience as Software Engineering in building the Backend, Middleware, and Front-End of a map-based web application. This included setting up the Postgres Database schema, developing REST APIs, and interfacing with the Leaflet API.

What were a few of your biggest takeaways this summer?

While programming is how I spent most of the time, the System Imagination teams' periodic interactions were entertaining and educational. From discussing startup ideas with Nico, the Marketing Manager of SII, to discussing drug development procedures for COVID-19 and Cancer with Chris, the Founder. I have built countless meaningful relationships from the chatter with my fellow interns to Hypergraph knowledge sessions with David and Kendyl. These interactions have helped me not only be a better Programmer, Software Engineering, and Data Scientists but also have made me a more socially conscious and responsible human being.  
As this internship draws to a close, I look forward to applying the knowledge I have gained to develop a Graph Neural Network that autonomously identifies drug candidates and target proteins given the virus's genome and its symptoms. I am sure that continued interactions with the Systems Imagination team will help me overcome the multiple challenges and problems I might face in developing this revolutionary platform. The possibilities are endless for this platform as it might help in developing a Drug for COVID-19, curing all kinds of cancer, and might just be the startup I am looking to start.  
The possibilities are endless for me to, and my internship with Systems Imagination has not only made me more prepared but also revealed even more opportunities.

Posted on

August 31, 2020

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