MIT Technology and Policy Program
Pragya Neupane Grace Hopper Celebration
Pragya Neupane Grace Hopper Celebration

Toward an inclusive future
March 18, 2024

Pragya Neupane is a Master’s student in the Technology and Policy Program at MIT. Her technical concentration is in the Machine Learning/Data Science track, and she plans to pursue a dual degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. She has helped to organize the MIT Policy Hackathon, and she is passionate about responsible and ethical ML and AI.

What is the focus of your research? What sort of knowledge and disciplines did it bring together? How can it make an impact?

My research is primarily focused on leveraging Artificial Intelligence within the realm of healthcare, with a particular emphasis on addressing childhood obesity interventions. What makes this work particularly intriguing is its interdisciplinary nature, bridging the fields of public health and AI.

At its core, my research involves developing an automation pipeline to extract and analyze crucial information from the literature on childhood obesity interventions. Most of the useful information on intervention types, methodologies, and BMI changes is located across abstracts and tables within the research papers. To streamline the extraction process, I have webscraped hundreds of childhood obesity intervention papers and used Natural Language Processing (NLP) to identify key components of these studies. The project also integrates Large Language Models (LLMs) into the pipeline to retrieve intervention data from abstracts.

Moreover, as part of my thesis, I am evaluating the ability of an Object Detection model to extract information from tables within childhood obesity intervention papers. This evaluation includes analyzing various inconsistency filtering techniques to enhance the reliability and applicability of the model. By doing so, my research aims to empower policymakers and domain experts with insights and tools to make well-informed decisions, ultimately contributing to the development of more effective interventions and models.

Why did you choose to come to TPP?

While pursuing my undergraduate degree in computer science, I realized that I wanted to use my technical skills in interdisciplinary sectors where my work can contribute to making effective data-driven policies. I also wanted to explore the field of responsible and ethical computing. TPP at MIT seemed like the perfect choice to dive deeper into these areas.

What is the Grace Hopper Celebration? How did you find out about it? What was a highlight of the conference?

The Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) is the world’s largest gathering of women and minorities in technology. It is held annually, and in 2023 it was in Orlando, Florida with approximately 30,000 attendees.

I first attended GHC in 2019 as a student scholar and really enjoyed the experience. This time I was invited to attend as a leader of a community with which I am involved. I am an advisor of Nepali Women+ in Computing, which is a part of the Syster’s Community of (the institution that organizes GHC).

The highlight of the conference was definitely the connections that I made. I was able to talk to so many accomplished women working in multiple sectors. I also hosted a community meetup session for Nepali women in tech and was pleasantly surprised to meet so many Nepali women at all levels, from students to senior leaders.

The sessions were also really insightful as I got to learn about diverse topics like building safe AI, navigating your career as a woman in tech, being a good mentor/mentee, and so on.

What have you learned from attending GHC?

One key learning from my interactions with many women at GHC was that, as minorities in tech, we should be each other’s cheerleaders and supporters instead of seeing each other as competition. With whatever small effort we make in helping a fellow minority, we are contributing toward a future that is inclusive for all.


MIT Technology and Policy Program
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