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Double award win for postgraduate

Postgraduate computer science student and Gates Cambridge Scholar Krittika D'Silva (2016) has won not one, but two, awards this month in recognition of her innovative work.

Winner of the Youth Award at this year's Royal Bank of Canada Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards, the prize was presented at a ceremony in Vancouver. Born in India, Krittika moved to Canada in 2004 when she was just eight years old.

The award citation mentions Krittika's work in research labs as a bioengineering and computer engineering student at the University of Washington. During that time she designed devices to improve prosthetic sockets for individuals with lower limb amputations, built software for low-resource settings and examined ways to use DNA molecules for long-term data storage. It also mentions her selection as a Gates Cambridge scholar and her PhD research which focuses on using spatio-temporal urban mobility modelling to predict changes in cities over time.

“My parents instilled in me a deep sense of grit, resilience and a hard-working ethos, which has helped me persevere,” Krittika comments. She says she struggled with balancing her Canadian and Indian identities while growing up. “As I grew older, I learned that these don’t conflict with each other and that identity is something that evolves with time,” she added.

Krittika's second prize - the Rising Star in AI Award - was presented in San Francisco as part of the inaugural VentureBeat Women in AI Awards. On this ocassion, her work in India took centre stage. Krittika designed and built a mobile application that allows journalists in regions with no internet connectivity to record and upload stories and photographs to a platform that translates, reviews, and shares them with the mainstream media. Her work, which has wide-reaching applications, has been covered by National Geographic.

In addition to her academic research, Krittika has also completed two internships at Google, where she learned about scalable digital platforms. More recently, she worked for the United Nations in Indonesia, where she used technology to support policy efforts. 

Talking about the future, Krittika says: "I expect technology to play a larger role in development efforts worldwide and I hope to support this work using my background in technology. Canada has become a leader in Artificial Intelligence worldwide, as this industry continues to grow, I hope to work in public policy to help Canada govern the use and growth of AI."

A version of this article first appeared on the Gates Cambridge Scholars website 

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