Katy Stewart, Kavin Thakkar, and Nicholas Dibley (pictured above, left to right) were selected as the IUPUI Top 100 students from Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering at IUPUI in 2023. Each year, the IUPUI Office of Alumni Relations honors 100 outstanding undergraduate students who demonstrate excellence in three categories—academic excellence, campus leadership, and community engagement. Juniors and seniors in good standing are eligible for nomination. Stewart, Thakkar, and Dibley are prime examples of Luddy students who fully pursued the educational and extracurricular opportunities offered here at IUPUI.
Stewart is a junior majoring in Biomedical Informatics. She is a member of the Honors College and Alpha Lambda Delta/Phi Eta Sigma (ALDPES) honor societies.
“I knew I wanted to be in the medical field and hoped to go to medical school, but I also was passionate about user design and specifically ethics within technology. I was just unsure of how to combine the two since they seemed drastically different. I originally came to IUPUI as a biology major and minoring in graphic design knowing that IUPUI offered an abundance of research opportunities and clinical experiences. I wasn’t even aware there was a biomedical informatics track until the end of my freshman year and everything immediately seemed to fall into place,” Stewart said.
Stewart took an introduction to informatics class where she was able to design a mockup of an electronic health record interface, and from there on she found her niche. She switched her major to biomedical informatics with a premedical specialization and has been working towards her degree since.
Stewart has taken part in multiple research opportunities available at IUPUI. She is currently in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program through Life-Health Sciences Internship (LHSI) program at IUPUI where she works with Dr. Titus Schleyer and is the project manager and researcher studying the efficiency of an Electronic Health Record application that is used in the emergency department. She started in the summer of 2021 and has worked there ever since. Stewart is also Research Assistant at Mayo Clinic under Dr. Elizabeth Umberfield where she is currently working on putting together a study evaluating user trust of clinical AI tools. Starting in the summer of 2021, she became a Pathology Research Assistant under Dr. George Sandusky at IU School of Medicine and has worked there since.
In addition, she volunteers at Gennesaret Free Clinics and Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana.
In Fall 2022, Stewart had the opportunity to go to the American Medical Informatics Association Annual Symposium in Washington, D.C. for a week. “It was one of the most rewarding experiences. I was able to meet physicians and researchers from all over and present to them my research. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the financial support of the BioHealth Grant at Luddy IUPUI and the LHSI program,” she said.
She will be applying to an MD/Ph.D. program where she can continue to do research in the clinical informatics and bioethics fields, while also studying medicine to become a practicing physician.
Thakkar is a junior majoring in Informatics with a specialization in human-computer interaction. He is a member of the Honors College and ALDPES and is in the Accelerated 4+1 program, which will allow him to complete his master’s degree in HCI in one additional year after completing his bachelor’s degree.
“I chose to study informatics and human-computer interaction after learning about user experience (UX) and it grabbing my attention at summer camps while in high school. So I looked for that kind of program at urban universities and found IUPUI and the School of Informatics and Computing (now Luddy). I saw that SoIC had a great program and was a school based on a user-centered approach.”
“‘Why did I choose Luddy?’—I didn’t. Luddy chose us.” – Kavin Thakkar (when asked about his choice of schools)
Freshman year (2020-2021), Thakkar joined Circle K International (CKI), the world’s largest collegiate service organization, and became a board member of the club. He also joined the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) as a Senator representing CKI, joining the Oversight Committee and the Election Committee. That same year, he co-founded the Coffee and Computers Podcast student organization with fellow SoIC students and served as President for his freshman and sophomore years.
His sophomore year, Thakkar continued as a USG Senator for CKI and served on the Oversight and the Constitutional Committee. He was elected Bulletin Editor and Electronic Publicist (BEEP) for CKI, managing the club’s social media and website and as part of an Honors project created an award-winning promotional video. He also became an Undergraduate Ambassador for the School and started working at the front desk and served as an FYS Mentor for new students.
Junior year, Thakkar was elected Vice President of Membership and Marketing for CKI and currently serve as acting President and was confirmed to the Executive Board of USG as its Chief of Staff. He also started working at CourseNetworking as a UX/UI design intern. He was recognized as Outstanding Club Board Member by the Indiana District of CKI in February 2021 and as Member of the Year by CKI at IUPUI in April 2021. He was recognized as 2022 USG Verbal Ambassador of the Year, 2022 USG Legislative Author of the Year, and 2022 USG Committee Member of the Year by the CUBE Student Organization Center.
Going into his senior year, Thakkar will serve as CKI President and continue as USG Chief of Staff.
Thakkar is also a member of DesiJags, Indian Student Cultural Association, and other clubs on campus. He plans to work as a UX professional after graduating with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Dibley is a senior studying Biomedical Informatics in the Accelerated 4+1 degree program. He received his B.S. this May and will complete an M.S. in Bioinformatics next year. He is also a member of the Honors College and is a second year Top 100 student, having received the honor his junior year as well.
“The more I looked into it, the more I saw that (biomedical informatics) was a perfect combination of everything that I was looking for; namely, computer science, health and the human body, and math. This looked great, so I started to investigate Biomedical Informatics a bit more and discovered IUPUI’s accelerated program through which I could obtain a master’s degree in 5 years. It wasn’t much longer before I decided that this was the path I wanted to pursue,” Dibley said.
Dibley served as IUPUI Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) president, Horizon League SAAC secretary, secondary Horizon League representative for the NCAA Division 1’s SAAC, IUPUI Swim team captain, Team Impact liaison, and secretary of the Bioinformatics Club, as well as a tutor at Luddy. He also volunteered at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Zoo, the Indianapolis Convention Center, Riley’s Children’s Hospital, and St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church.
He received the Michael A. Carroll Scholarship last semester, which is an annual scholarship given to those athletes about to begin their last year of competition at IUPUI. The winner is chosen from among ten finalists who demonstrate athletic success, academic prowess, and a commitment to community service. He recently received the Horizon League Post-Graduate Scholarship, the first from IUPUI, and is a two-time member of the Horizon League All-Academic Team.
Dibley has been accepted to an internship this summer at the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute and is looking forward to gaining real-world experience there before starting graduate school in the fall. After graduate school, he plans on working at a research institution as a Bioinformatics Research Scientist. “Genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis have always piqued my interest and I believe that fully diving into research in this area will yield great results. The many connections that IUPUI has to offer around Indy are just a few of many examples of how this program could jump-start my career and help me reach my goals. For as long as I have known about this major, I have wanted to conduct my own research on genetic disease. Graduating with a master’s degree in bioinformatics from IUPUI would give me the tools and resources to do just that,” Dibley said.