Yasha Iravantchi receives Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship

Recognizing Iravantchi’s exceptional achievements and progress, the fellowship will support his ongoing research on privacy-preserving sensing for in-home health monitoring.
Yasha Iravantchi
Yasha Iravantchi

CSE PhD student Yasha Iravantchi has been awarded a Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship in recognition of his outstanding research progress. The award will support his continued dissertation research, which centers around the development of novel privacy-preserving sensing technology for in-home health monitoring.

The Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship is an honor given to doctoral candidates with an outstanding record of achievement and who have demonstrated exceptional progress toward completing their dissertation. Awarded to a select group of PhD students annually, the fellowship recognizes individuals based on the results of their research, as well as excellence in teaching and/or service.

“Yasha is an extremely strong and motivated researcher who has a bright future ahead of him,” said Prof. Alanson Sample, Iravantchi’s advisor and nominator. “I would rate Yasha as having the highest potential to make significant scientific and technical impact through his research.”

Iravantchi’s dissertation focuses on the design of in-home passive health sensing technology that preserves privacy, a major concern in the development of effective health monitoring systems. Passive health sensing platforms deployed in the home have emerged as a potential solution to gaps in health monitoring, allowing for the continuous collection of important health data, such as heart rate, mobility, etc., without requiring active participation from the user. Such monitoring can lead to more accurate and timely health interventions and diagnoses.

Passive sensing techniques (with data collected via camera or microphone) show significant advantages over wearable devices, as they are not hampered by inconsistent device use or maintenance. However, a key concern surrounding the implementation of such sensing technology is patient privacy.

To address these concerns, Iravantchi is working to develop privacy-preserving sensor technology that monitors important health information without sacrificing user privacy. One example is his design of an ultrasonic microphone system that collects inaudible sounds without capturing speech. Using these ultrasonic microphones in users’ homes, he showed that these sensors could accurately monitor various health metrics, including kidney function.

Iravantchi’s research in this and other areas has already seen tremendous success, including publication in some of the field’s leading conferences, such as CHI, MobiCom, and UIST. His work has resulted in a CHI Best Paper Award as well as two honorable mentions.

Going forward, Iravantchi plans to continue fine-tuning his use of ultrasonic recording and other privacy-preserving sensing methods to enhance their capabilities for in-home health monitoring. He is also working to build robust AI models and new approaches to train them on privacy-preserved sensor data to support these sensing platforms.