At Brown, Keegan worked with a group of student peers conducting research around a foundational mathematical tool called singular value decomposition. They wagered the approach could be used to create novel watermarking technologies and provide better digital protection for copyrighted materials like songs, movies, or photos.
The team’s ideas proved groundbreaking. Their findings were published in a scholarly journal maintained by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics in early 2021. An invitation to present at the organization’s annual national conference soon followed.
The recognition was assuring. Keegan parlayed the success into attending a follow-up summer program at Emory University, where she studied ways singular value decomposition could be used to enhance diagnostic performance in medical imaging. She and her team will present their findings at the 2022 Joint Mathematics Meetings conference in Seattle.
“[All of this has] been a huge confidence booster, because [before studying at Brown] I had actually never taken a computer science course,” laughed Keegan.
Ong encouraged the blossoming math star to reach out to PEG alumni and Google quantum electronics engineer Marissa Giustina ’07 for career insight. Giustina helped plug Keegan into the company’s renowned Computer Science Research Mentorship Program. The two worked together virtually for 12 weeks this past fall discussing topics like how to identify research pathways and professional research problems, picking the right graduate school, navigating publication processes, and applying to postdoctoral, academic, or industry positions.
“It was amazing to have access to someone [like Giustina],” said Keegan. “It helped me gain a much clearer understanding of the steps I need to take to build a fulfilling career.”
While Keegan doesn’t know what specifically the future may hold, she does know this: Her time at MBU has equipped her with the skills she needs to achieve her dreams.
“I feel like I found a real home here,” said Keegan. The attentiveness of her professors and mentors, the help she received from staffers, the friends she made? “I know that’s something I’ll always be grateful for; that will always be a part of who I am.”