TA News

Elle Dixon Presents Research at National AJAS Conference

Elle Dixon '20 shows her research at AJAS.

Thetford Academy senior Elle Dixon is a not only a cross country and track athlete, a competitive skier, and a standout writer, she is an up-and-coming scientist. For the last two years, Elle has been studying with the New Hampshire Academy of Science in its intensive summer STEM programs. Each year, her hard work paid off with an invitation to present at the national American Junior Academy of Science‘s (AJAS) annual meeting –something less than 1% of US high school students are invited to do.

Elle’s research, a study titled “Monitoring Chicken Embryological Development with Machine Learning,” aims to use machine learning to lay the foundation for reliable, accurate testing for human embryonic malformations. In her peer-reviewed and published abstract, she writes, “With 3% of live births having a malformation and the cause of 65-75% of malformations in human newborns being multifactorial or unknown, it is a common yet complex problem.”

Using chicken embryos and the machine learning programs MakeML and CreateML, Elle worked to “train” the machine to recognize normal development in five areas of the embryos: the spinal tube, the end of spinal tube, somite 16, the forebrain, and the eye cup. By building this database of healthy embryo images, Elle is laying the foundation for the day when machines can reliably identify known abnormalities at earlier stages of human development.

Elle is heading to the University of Vermont this fall, where she plans to major in Biology.



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