Summer Centered: Tionney Nix '17 Investigated Class Imbalance in Morocco
Thanks to funding from the Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center, Tionney Nix '17 conducted research at Al Akhawayn University.
After spending this past spring semester abroad at Al Akhawayn University in Morocco, Tionney Nix '17 stayed on at the school for an internship this summer, thanks to funding from the Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center (KINSC). The computer science major researched the relationship between a class-imbalance problem in data mining and discrimination in machine-learning classifications of certain groups of people.
She spent her days working on her laptop in an engineering lab and reading related research, which helped her better understand her research topic and opened up new lines of inquiry.
Nix loved living in Morocco and admired the beauty of the university's campus, which is located in Ifrane, a town about 36 miles south of Fez in the Middle Atlas Mountains. She especially enjoyed working alongside other local and international students who were conducting their own research projects.
"It really produces an environment that is always creative and thinking and never dull," she says.
Machine-learning prediction and classification tools are used in decision-making areas, such as credit assessment and loan approval, generating outcomes that can have a tremendous impact on peoples' lives, says Nix. But, she notes, there is growing research that shows that some of the decisions produced by these algorithms can negatively discriminate against people with certain group membership (i.e., race or class or sex).
"There is still much research to be done to eliminate the possibility of such discrimination while maintaining the predictive ability of these algorithms, so I hope my research will contribute to that effort," says Nix, who was initially drawn to the topic through her on-campus research with Assistant Professor of Computer Science Sorelle Friedler.
"Haverford really prepared me to not be afraid to ask questions and to propose solutions," she says, "and to learn from and build upon others' research."
-Jamauri Bowles '17
"Summer Centered" is a series exploring our students' Center-funded summer work.