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Honors Contract Spotlight: Nyle Siddiqui's Computer Science Research

| Rosa Gomez

Honors student, researcher, and mentor, Nyle Siddiqui, is preparing to share his skills beyond the Blugold community.

Having successfully completed two honors contracts, Siddiqui is now working on his third as he finishes up his math and computer science double major.

Siddiqui attributes the Honors Program as having helped shape his college experience beyond his field of study. He said the courses he took helped him learn how to critically read, analyze, and write.

This has proved to come in handy throughout the research projects he has dedicated so much time to. He first became involved in research with his advisor, Dr. Rushit Dave, in the fall semester of his junior year.

“He has been an extraordinary student, as he has published two conference papers at international venues published by IEEE & Springer. He has also published two papers in reputed journals,” Dave said. “His passion and dedication towards research helped him secure a summer REU project supported by an NSF grant at the University of Minnesota.” 

Honors student, Nyle Siddiqui, and his research advisor, Dr. Rushit Dave, discuss their latest research.

Siddiqui said his preliminary work was largely based on learning the basics of what it means to do research. His honors courses helped him understand the information from other researchers, before applying it to his first honors contract where he wrote a survey paper.

“I’m understanding how to do research, refining and honing my skills.” 

From there, Siddiqui was able to start collecting data for his second honors contract and research project the following spring. This project, continuing over the summer, is focused on cybersecurity.

Siddiqui explained that he focuses on behavioral biometrics, specifically computer mouse dynamics. “Essentially,” he said, “this means analyzing how an individual uses their mouse—if someone logs into an account and they don’t have the same mannerisms as the owner of it, they can raise a red flag.”

This is especially impressive, as current authentication methods, such as fingerprints or iris scans, all are physical aspects. This allows an individual to authenticate their account from miles away. Siddiqui completed the research project in the summer and published his work.

Siddiqui is currently working on a third honors contract and research endeavor. This project consists of creating a model that can detect human emotion. He explained that users can upload photos of themselves or others, and the model can determine the emotion they are feeling.

When asked why his research is important, he expressed that above all he has been most impacted by progressively gaining more skills and interests.

“The research is good and it's substantial, but at the same time I feel like the biggest benefit that it's giving to anyone is to myself.”

He said he is looking forward to graduate school as the greater impacts of his research may become more evident then. “I love to think that my research might have some sort of positive impact on the world in the future, that may become more apparent in graduate school.”

It is safe to say that Siddiqui is already having a positive impact on the world. He is involved in a group on campus called AIMS (Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning for Security).

This group provides an opportunity for students interested in research to sit-in on research group meetings and help them better determine if this is the right path for them.

“We do a lot of mentoring in our research group,” Siddiqui said. He explained that the group has expanded from just eight students, to now twenty-five student researchers. Many of the original members, such as himself, have truly embraced the mentorship role.

They have hosted two workshops open to other undergraduate students, local high schools, and anyone in the surrounding community who may be interested in sharpening their research skills.

Dave witnessed firsthand Siddiqui’s skills in teaching others. “His ability to mentor other students and explain complex concepts will be an asset when he pursues a PhD in computer science.” 

“Being able to give back to the community, and not just use research so that I can get farther in my career, but also using what I learned and disseminating that to other people is what I’m most proud of,” Siddiqui said.

AIMS will be hosting a workshop, “An Exploration into Game Theory and AI,” on November 6, 2021.

Siddiqui is in the process of applying to graduate schools and exploring doctorate programs. Based on his dedication to his research, helping others, and utilizing the resources around him, he is sure to be successful wherever he goes.

In the words of his advisor, “Nyle is an excellent undergraduate student as a researcher, tutor and mentor.”