Unpacking Future Tools

Samantha Unger (Year 4, EngSci) graduates in spring 2023 with a major in Biomedical Systems Engineering and a minor in Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Unger has had a longstanding interest in the vanguard of new technology, such as AI and digital design.

“[With AI] there’s this question of someone making choices about these systems,” says Unger. “They’re not fully autonomous. They’re not thinking for themselves. We’re still thinking for them. They’re helpful statistical tools, but who is behind them? What are their motivations? These questions intersect with the other things I do.”  

I’m very much about ‘how does this idea impact the people involved and how do people feel about being involved in it?’ I think the discussion around how AI is used and how it should be used is very much about how does the use of AI support people or the opposite.”

In 2020 she was selected as one of 30 female students nationally to be part of AI4Good Lab Training Program, a program designed for women and AI in tech. In 2022, Unger was one of 15 students selected internationally to attend the Intelligence, Data, Ethics and Society Summer program at Northeastern University. She has since added professional experience working as a Software Engineer Intern at Google DeepMind and as a Summer Associate with Boston Consulting Group to an already impressive CV.

Unger has also found time to engage in an array of leadership experiences alongside her undergraduate studies.

Concurrently Co-Chair for both the Engineering Science Discipline Club (EngSci Club) and the Engineering Science Education Conference (ESEC) since 2022, she has led large teams of students, staff and volunteers in large-scale educational and targeted initiatives. As a Course Partnerships Advisor, Managing Director and Campus Lead for the Global Spark organization since 2019, Unger works in partnership with university administration and faculty to create and integrate social impact content into coursework.

Through the 2020 ILead Summer Fellowship program, Unger found a vehicle to make a strong impact as well; she developed a change project as part of the Fellowship that involved a rewrite of EngSci Club’s constitution.

“[In these roles] I learned a lot about global leadership, the idea of navigating really big systems,” she explains.  

“A key thing is being sensitive both to the needs of the individual problems you’re looking at, but also having shared core values and this idea of being very flexible to situations. So knowing what things are most important to you, what you can compromise, and making sure that the way you approach problems in different situations is sensitive to the complexity of each individual problem.” 

“Being able to listen to the situation and receive all of that complexity is really important in a leader.”

Using AI tools and designs in conjunction with biomedicine to contribute to positive physical and mental health is an area of growing interest for Unger. 

“You need that background and understanding of the science and the quantitative aspect,” she explains, “but I’m driving towards problems where you’re trying to help people, and they’re the experts in their own experience.” 

Working as a Research Trainee at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) for over a year, Unger utilized wearable devices to track and then analyze foundational health data, comprised of heart rate, sleep and movement readings.

In the future, Unger aspires to further combine her interests in Biomedical Engineering and AI through a PhD program.

Click here to meet all the 2023 Troost ILead Difference Maker Award finalists!