April 17, 2017
By Kenny Ryan
DALLAS (SMU)– SMU sophomore Ian Johnson has been named a 2017-18 Barry Goldwater Scholar, one of 240 sophomore and junior college students selected nationwide to receive the honor. Goldwater scholars are selected from top mathematics, science and engineering students nominated by their universities.
Johnson is a computer science major in SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering who has a keen interest in machine learning. He has held an internship with the AT&T Big Data Team in Plano while also playing a significant role in two research projects with Lyle School faculty members.
The Goldwater scholarship has provided a “huge sense of affirmation” regarding my research in computer science, Johnson says. “Knowing that faculty members I’ve worked with nominated me – and thought my work was interesting enough to write about – is an incredible honor.”
With Daniel Engels, associate professor of computer science and engineering, Johnson has researched new methods of user authentication.
Johnson also has conducted research with Michael Hahsler, assistant professor of engineering management, information and systems. As part of that project, Johnson developed boosted associated classification, a learning algorithm that helps machines make classification predictions based on non-numeric data.
Johnson, who is from Denver, Colorado, is also an SMU Hamilton Scholar and a recipient of SMU’s highest academic merit award, a President’s Scholarship.
“Both Hahsler and Engels have been huge anchors for me in respect to my work intellectually and academically,” Johnson says. “I’ve learned so much more in my time working with them on their research than I would have if I’d only stayed in the classroom, and that’s clearly been invaluable.”