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Student Spotlight: Sybille Légitime Receives Sarah Levitan Larie Fellowship

By Noor Majid, CSE student writer

Congratulations to Sybille Légitime! She is the recipient of the Sarah Levitan Larie Fellowship for 2021-22. This merit-based fellowship is awarded to a graduate student pursuing a degree in Computer Science & Engineering. It is in honor of Sarah Levitan Larie, who was a member of UConn’s first ever class of graduate students to receive a Master’s degree in Computer Science in 1979.

Sybille is in her second year as a Master’s student in CSE and is currently working in the lab of Professor Derek Aguiar. Her research projects center on the intersection of computational biology and machine learning, as well as educational outreach.

At the forefront of her research, Sybille asks herself two questions: “Is this interesting?” and “Is this useful?” She looks for novelty and ways to process new data. Sybille’s main project is to develop a predictive algorithm for Opioid Use Disorder based on genetic and environmental factors for eventual clinical implementation. She is currently in the model selection process of machine learning which, in short, means discerning the best algorithm from several viable models. Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) involves the misuse of prescribed opioid medication and is a prevalent healthcare issue in the United States. One of the preventative measures to combat the rise of OUD is improving the way opioids are prescribed, which is precisely where such an algorithm is needed. 

Student portal in an informational module for AI and machine learning.

Sybille is also working on a Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Education project for math and science high school teachers in Connecticut. She is building instructional modules to help teach machine learning and artificial intelligence within current curriculum. Specifically, these modules teach about Convolutional Neural Networks and Object Detection by addressing the societal issue of solving wildlife poaching.

“I’ve always been [interested in] tech as a kid,” says Sybille. She wrote for the technology column of her high school newspaper and states her best article was about the inception of the iPhone 7. This interest followed her through her undergraduate studies, where she took her first computing course, and graduated with degrees in Computer Science and Business from Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire.

Outside of her work at the UConn, Sybille has also been involved with the Society of Women Coders, an international non-profit organization that provides free coding and technological literacy training for young girls. She was a judge for the group’s Hackathon competition in 2020, which featured over 200 participants from 27 countries.

“Don’t be afraid of the myth [behind coding],” says Sybille when asked what she would like to say to younger students interested in computer science. “Take things one step at a time but go for it!”

In the future, Sybille is interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in Computer Science with a focus on computational social science.

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