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Computing for Change

Peizhu “Pam” Qian ’19 and her computer science team won an international competition.

Peizhu “Pam” Qian ’19 has seen the power of computer science—and she isn’t turning back. A senior from Beijing, China, Qian is a computer science and mathematics major who aims to provide free, quality educational resources to underserved populations. 

Qian is making strides toward her goal as the winner of the “Computing4Change” competition at the November SC18 International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis in Dallas, Texas. Qian was one of just 16 undergraduate students from a pool of more than 250 who were selected to research and solve social issues using technology. 

“[The competition] was a milestone in my career…the ‘Computing4Change’ community is just one of many examples of how technologists advance human history and lead social changes. I learned that helping others and making changes are two values I must incorporate into my future work,” says Qian.

Qian’s project, “Resisting Cultural Acceptance of Violence,” centered on the acceptance of violence in different cultures. Qian, with teammates from Hawaii, California, and Guam, studied domestic violence in Hawaii, mass shootings in the United States, and self-inflicted violence in Guam. 

“Helping others and making changes are two values I must incorporate into my future work,” says Peizhu “Pam” Qian ’19.

With a focus on technological design and violence intervention, Qian explored using GPS receivers to disable firearms in school zones, biometrics in guns to decrease underage shootings and stolen firearms, and artificial intelligence therapists to aid with mental illnesses. 

Qian was also the runner up for the Castellan Award for best student presentation with special recognition at the 48th Annual Meeting of the Society for Computers in Psychology in New Orleans. For her paper “Life in the Semantic Space: Structures of the Language Network,” she built a language network to simulate human social behavior using natural language processing techniques. 

Qian plans to graduate this spring—a year early—and says she later hopes to obtain a Ph.D. And if she wasn’t busy enough, her Simmons experience has included being a member of the Simmons crew team for more than three seasons.