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Rachel Malloy ’17 and Katherine McLellan ’17 Develop New Method for Social Media Metrics

Rachel Malloy and Katherine McLellan

Sifting through the social stream just got a lot easier thanks to Rachel Malloy ’17 CLAS and Katherine McLellan ’17 CLAS. As part of their senior project, the two Computer Science majors developed a new method to positively identify a logo within an image on social media.

“This research was a great way for us to tackle a new problem that isn't currently solved with computers,” says Rachel.

With no readily available datasets for brand logos, Katherine and Rachel had to create their own. They gathered hundreds of tagged images of the Starbucks logo and tested several methodologies.

“The most challenging aspect of our research was testing various existing methods in a comprehensive way,” says Katherine. “That meant individually checking images to make sure our program was accurately detecting the presence of logos.”

The two young alumni imagine that this methodology could be used in conjunction with other social media tracking metrics to help companies better understand the public perception of their brand. Since presenting their project at several venues, their audiences have responded with enthusiasm and ideas of their own.

“Seeing other people get excited about our idea has been one of the best things about it. Everyone we talk to has other spin-offs of how to apply what we did,” says Rachel. “It's great seeing that we could create something and inspire others.”

Rachel and Katherine presented their project to the University community at the Sigma XI Student Research Poster Symposium, and they took first place in the Villanova Student Entrepreneurship Competition—a University-wide competition organized by the Villanova Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship Institute.

“VSEC was a great tool to hear feedback about our idea, and learn how to market and deliver a sales pitch. It really helped show that this research could be valuable on the market,” says Rachel.

They also presented to a national audience at the 31st Annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research at the University of Memphis. With resume-building research and exposure like that Katherine and Rachel both landed entry-level tech positions at top-tier companies upon graduation.

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