100 Stories

Natasha Jaques, B.Sc. Computer Science. Hons, B.A. Psychology (Regina)

Ph.D. student (MIT)

Natasha Jaques

Natasha graduated with a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Computer Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from 2007 - 2012. Currently she is a Ph.D. student at MIT, Boston, Massachusetts in the Affective Computing group of the Media Lab.

Natasha Jaques is fond of her old school. A common theme amongst current and former students is the sense that they are in good hands at Campion:

“I have many fond memories of attending classes and mass at Campion, but what really stands out is my overall impression of the warmth, kindness, and generosity of the people at Campion. Whenever I needed help with an issue, big or small, I could be sure that the administrators, professors, and deans would be there to provide guidance in a kind and friendly way.”

Natasha is an accomplished student, always aiming to achieve more—for her, it’s the journey not the destination. Each new step forward in her work seems marked by a milestone. Her area of specialty at MIT is how computers interface with humans, an area of computer science commonly known as machine learning. Natasha conveys:

“I was very proud that at this year’s Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) conference (one of the most prestigious machine learning publication venues), I was part of the team that won Best Demo, and led the team that won Best Paper in the Machine Learning for Healthcare workshop. …This is significant in computer science, when I graduated 90% of computer science degrees were being awarded to men.”

Another project of hers attempts to help computer users minimize their level of depression. She and her team develop models that can predict when someone will become unhappy or stressed based on previous patterns. One method is to have the computer track your facial expressions. Her future goal is to develop machine learning techniques to truly help individuals and better the world:

“If we can deploy these models, we may be able to guide treatment and prevention efforts for anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of suicide. I hope to continue to learn and publish in this area in order to become a tenured professor, and guide machine learning research efforts in a direction that I think could benefit the most people.

Natasha has a long history of helping others. In her Campion days she participated at Mother Teresa Middle School Science Camp, engaging kids from Regina’s Core Community. Recently, she participated in Students Offering Support, helping give them an extra chance at successfully applying at the MIT Media Lab. There is also Cradles to Crayons - providing clothes, school supplies and educational toys to underprivileged children in the Boston area.