Freshman Kennesaw State student has unprecedented success in research

KENNESAW, Ga. | Mar 15, 2024

Tashin Kazi
Most people know someone with a “go-getter” personality – that person who is energetic and determined to be successful. There might not be a person who better encompasses the idea of being a go-getter than Kennesaw State University student Tahsin Kazi.

While still a junior at Woodstock High School, he started emailing professors at Kennesaw State asking to join a research team. It was through that outreach that Kazi was connected to Maria Valero, an assistant professor of information technology in KSU’s College of Computing and Software Engineering (CCSE).

It takes a lot to impress Valero, who has mentored, taught, and worked with hundreds of students. But none have stood out to her like Kazi.

“This is the first time someone contacted me before their senior year and without requesting any school credit,” she said. “This was the first time I’ve seen a student who was just trying to have this experience in research. I saw huge potential in him.”

While in high school, Kazi worked alongside Valero’s senior graduate students. The research team was focused on GlucoCheck, a device using light shown through a finger or an ear lobe to determine blood sugar level.

“My job was to improve the project and try different things to see what worked,” said Kazi, who is pursuing a degree in computer science. “I built different types of software for the device, and I tested them all, and I found some interesting conclusions.”

Valero said Kazi’s contributions were so good, they were able to publish a paper on the research while he was still a high school student – an impressive feat for someone so young.

“Kazi actually ended up being the first author of the paper, even over my graduate students,” Valero said.  “But it was because he was the one who made major contributions to that specific part of the paper.”

Kazi recently completed his first semester at Kennesaw State as a part of the Keeping Sights Upward Journey Honors College. He has continued his research work with GlucoCheck, has participated in the First-Year Scholars program, placed second in undergraduate research at CCSE’s biannual event called C-Day, and was accepted to present at the highly competitive National Conference of Undergraduate Research (NCUR).

“I feel so grateful that the professors I work with give me a lot of responsibility and accountability,” said Kazi, who is preparing to publish another paper.  “I get a lot of choice and control over how I want to do certain things and the projects I want to run with. It can make decision-making difficult, but it also means I get to do so many more things and have more opportunities.”

Despite all his success, Kazi struggles to answer where his drive comes from.

“I think I just like talking to interesting people who do interesting work,” Kazi said. “That’s one of the major reasons I’m into research because I get to talk to interesting people all day – not just Dr. Valero, but her colleagues, the people I work with, the people at conferences, or anybody that we have contact with. I just love talking to people about the things they’re doing and the research they’re pursuing.”

Valero said that Kazi should be applauded for his work ethic and his accomplishments, but more so, he should serve as a source of inspiration for what is possible for all students at Kennesaw State.

“Kazi is an excellent example of what undergraduate students can do here at Kennesaw State if they have the right motivation and direction,” Valero said. “The possibilities are endless.”

– Amanda Cook

Photos by Matthew Yung

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit