One of UAMS’ top cancer researchers, Fred Prior, Ph.D., was so impressed by his student mentee — Little Rock Central High School junior Anu Iyer — that he hired her. She now interns with Prior’s team with support from a $3,360 National Science Foundation grant to develop a more accurate machine learning tool for diagnosing multiple cancers and analyzing MRIs and pathology images.
Three-minute thesis presentations by UAMS graduate students Moshin Ali, Matthew Thompson, Haley Lowe, Lance Benson, Katie Bronson and Haven Griffin showcased graduate student research at UAMS. But the highlight of the day was the high school and middle school student science fair poster presentations, which were observed by UAMS Cancer Institute members who discussed the projects with students.
Cancer Institute member Fred Prior, Ph.D., served as mentor to Little Rock High School student Anu Iyer. Prior, who also serves as professor and chair of the UAMS Department of Biomedical Informatics, said her award-winning computer and research skills put her well ahead of her peers.
“Anu is one of the best programmers I’ve met in a while,” said Prior. “She’s very quick, very accurate, and her code is beautiful. I’m working with her like I would a graduate student, and that’s pretty amazing for someone in high school.”
Prior worked with Iyer as she interned at UAMS with support from a $3,360 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to develop a more accurate machine learning tool for diagnosing multiple cancers by analyzing MRIs and pathology images. Her approach increased accuracy of diagnoses from less than 90% to nearly 96%. The work was published in November 2021 in the national Journal of Student Research.
The work also earned second place in the inaugural Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute Special Award for Outstanding Cancer Research at the Arkansas State Science and Engineering Fair.