Dayoung Kim became interested in artificial intelligence (AI) while completing her undergraduate degree in computer science at the EWHA Womans University in South Korea. She worked in a bioinformatics and natural language processing (NLP) lab there, which shaped her decision to pursue higher education and further her knowledge of AI. She is now an alumna of the MS in Health Informatics program at Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM) and works as a machine learning engineer at Boeing.
“In early 2020, I did an undergraduate study using AI to detect the effect of drowsiness on drivers’ safety,” she said. “I realized that AI and computer skills weren’t just useful in building apps for companies, but that they could also have implications in healthcare.”
One of Dayoung’s professors in South Korea suggested that she apply to graduate schools in the U.S., where she might be able to specialize in health informatics. As she searched for a program and learned more about the field of health informatics, the program at WCM felt like a perfect fit for learning about computer science and AI while maintaining a healthcare focus.
Dayoung experienced some initial challenges when she started the program, given that she didn’t have extensive healthcare experience and was uncertain about the terminology being used. However, she quickly found that she was surrounded by students with healthcare experience who were willing to help. In turn, she was able to share her knowledge of data science.
Her favorite course was Natural Language Processing taught by Dr. Yifan Peng, assistant professor of population health sciences. In her last semester, she enjoyed the opportunity to work as a research assistant with Dr. Yiye Zhang, assistant professor of population health sciences and emergency medicine, and developed a prediction model for postpartum depression using machine learning.
“I got to work on it from start to end: building the website, dealing with electronic health record (EHR) data, and deploying the service,” she said. “Dr. Zhang taught me a lot about each process, many of which were new to me. She also taught me about working in the U.S., which has been very helpful in the last three years.”
In her current role as a machine learning engineer at Boeing, Dayoung is responsible for using computer vision models to automate factory processes, various data analytics projects, modeling and deploying new services, and more. She also volunteers her skills at Virufy, a nonprofit research organization that is developing an app for people to detect whether they have COVID-19 using their cough audio. As she moves forward in her career, she hopes to advance her skills in AI and become a machine learning expert, such that she can continue researching and ideate in ways that help various industries.
She credits her time at WCM with teaching the importance of networking, and strongly recommends that students meet with people in different fields while being in the program. In meeting with doctors or people who were becoming doctors, she was able to better familiarize herself with the medical field. In meeting people who worked for EHR companies, she was able to determine the kind of organization she wanted to work for after graduating.
“Don’t be shy,” she advised. “Network with professors. They always have opportunities for students and are really open to and trusting in students’ skills. That’s how I first contacted Dr. Zhang. It’s all about networking, and there are so many opportunities in NYC.”