People's Choice Award Winner Uses AI to Identify a Person’s Glaucoma Risk

June 03, 2020

Jay Gopal headshot Jay Gopal, a junior at North Broward Preparatory School in Coconut Creek, Florida, won the 2020 People’s Choice Award in Sigma Xi’s Student Research Showcase. His presentation from the Math and Computer Science category, “Applied Artificial Intelligence: Differentiating  Between Glaucomatous, High- and Low-Risk Suspect, and Normal Eyes with Neural Networks,” won by public vote based on the merit of his presentation’s video. Videos in the Student Research Showcase are geared for a general audience. The award consists of a $250 cash prize.  

Gopal is passionate about bringing together science and technology to solve humanity’s problems. In his video, he explains that he wanted to focus on helping people easily diagnose glaucoma because his grandmother has the disease. 

“Something she wishes she had is early diagnosis as it would have helped doctors prevent the conditions that develop complications,” he said. 

For his project, Gopal trained a convolutional neural network (CNN) to differentiate between four categories of eye conditions using retinal images—normal eyes, low-risk, high-risk, and glaucomatous. The CNN was able to differentiate the images with a high rate of accuracy. A potential application of this research is to create an adapter so that a picture from a smartphone camera could be used to diagnose eye diseases, Gopal said in the video. 

Gopal reports that he has worked with Florida Atlantic University and major local institutions such as the Rand Eye Institute. His research interests include medical diagnosis using machine learning and artificial intelligence, bioengineering, biophysics, and ophthalmology.

Using artificial intelligence and other rapidly developing technologies, Gopal hopes to revolutionize medicine and provide doctors with a greater set of tools to save lives. 

He spends his spare time mentoring younger students in math and science and volunteering at the local hospital, Broward Health North. His lifelong vision is to become a physician and help other people.

The Student Research Showcase is a science communication competition for high school, undergraduate, and graduate students. In April and May, qualified Sigma Xi members evaluated presentation websites from participants and selected top presenters in the high school, undergraduate, and graduate divisions as well as an overall top presenter and top presenters by discipline. 

Division winners receive $500 from Sigma Xi and the three division winners were eligible for an additional $500 as the overall top presenter. All participants receive feedback from judges. Congratulations to this year's participants! 

More About Sigma Xi: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society is the world’s largest multidisciplinary honor society for scientists and engineers. Its mission is to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. Sigma Xi chapters can be found at colleges and universities, government laboratories, and industry research centers around the world. More than 200 Nobel Prize winners have been members. The Society is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. On Twitter: @SigmaXiSociety