Dylan Hutchison, a computer engineering junior at Stevens Institute of Technology, has been named a 2014-15 Goldwater Scholar, recognizing his research potential across theoretical and applied computer science. He is particularly recognized for his work with Assistant Professor Samantha Kleinberg on “Combating Uncertainty via Weighted Causal Inference,” where he strove to strengthen inference algorithms by using finer uncertainty representations.
The premier undergraduate award of its type, the scholarship program honoring Senator Barry Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering.
The 283 Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,166 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.
Hutchison’s award follows Stevens chemical engineering major David Monteiro’s award from last year for his goal to eradicate arthritis.
“More than a decoration for past academic results, I take the Goldwater scholarship as a green light to continue my research routine,” says Hutchison. “I will simultaneously dive deep into research projects and broadly explore new topics.”
Through internships in industry and two national laboratories, Hutchison gained significant experience in big data analytics via distributed and parallel computing. He’s published one work on uncertainty in causal inference and has broad interests in graph theory, probability and formal methods.
“On a more practical note, I hope Goldwater will show graduate schools that I am serious about pursuing a research career,” says Hutchison.
During the Spring 2014 semester, Hutchison has studied abroad at the University of Edinburgh, where he finds time to play on the Quidditch team, debate in the philosophy society, and take up ceilidh dancing, in addition to his studies.
“I enjoy philosophic debate, an avenue where I can address the why’s of science and society and consider public policy’s impact,” he says. “Where is the world heading if we as a society continue researching, consuming and living as we do today?”
Hutchison has organized those discussions into a ModelTalk titled “Our Aims as Modelers: Predictions, Explanations, Interventions and their Ultimate Implications,” which he presented in technical seminars at Stevens and Sandia National Laboratories.
This summer, Hutchison accepted an internship in Cambridge, UK to work at Microsoft Research on new algorithms for Tabular, a schema-based probabilistic programming language.
According to Hutchison, “being a researcher doesn't just mean reading papers and thinking about narrow problems all day. It's more a mentality: actively making connections in all your endeavors, in and out of your research area. So to spot a researcher, look for the student perpetually wearing his thinking cap.”