Meet the Kintsugi Team: Vishagan Ratnaswamy

November 23, 2021
Alice Kim

Kintsugi, a fast-growing Berkeley-based mental health startup, is scaling up across multiple roles and all levels of experience to help shape the future of mental healthcare. 

We are a lean team of hard-working, thoughtful, and curious individuals.  The work at Kintsugi is a mixture of highly independent and collaborative, where team members are excited about problem-solving and often take initiative for project ownership. At Kintsugi, members have an opportunity to create solutions and meaningful impact while being a part of a team that is passionate about scaling access to mental healthcare. We are excited to welcome ambitious and talented people into our empathic community.  Today we highlight Vishagan Ratnaswamy, our Machine Learning Researcher!

Prior to joining Kintsugi, Vishagan finished a postdoctoral research appointment at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, CA., and was a visiting research scientist at the Granular Science Laboratory at New Jersey Institute of Technology. Vishagan’s academic background is primarily in engineering and applied mathematics, where he graduated from New Jersey Institute of Technology with a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics along with a Masters in Mechanical Engineering. He then received a Masters in Aerospace Engineering as well as a PhD in Aeronautics at the California Institute of Technology. In his spare time, Vishagan is a tutor for School on Wheels, Hillsides Education Center, and Reading Partners. He is currently a mentor for Project Avary. His hobbies include boxing, distilleries and breweries, trivia nights, and Pokemon GO. Vishagan is also an avid bobblehead collector.

About Vish

University, Class, Major: Caltech, 2018, Ph.D. Aeronautics

Job title: Machine Learning Researcher

Fun Fact:  I’ve lived in 5 countries and 4 continents by the time I turned 13.

Why did you choose Kintsugi when on your job search?

I was looking for positions in deep learning and a friend told me about Kintsugi. After speaking with Grace, Rima, and the rest of the team, I learned about their mission of using AI for mental healthcare. It appealed to me as I was looking to work in an area of AI that benefits society. The need for AI in mental healthcare is brought to the forefront now because of the pandemic and their mission deeply resonated with me and my personal mission of using AI for good.

What kind of projects have you worked on in your time at Kintsugi? 

The projects that I have worked on vary on using machine learning to find anomalous data that would aid in improving models, as clean data is important. Currently, I am working on using deep learning to determine whether a person is depressed or not based on various features of their voice.

How has working at a mission-aligned, diverse company like Kintsugi shaped your career path? 

Working at Kintsugi has allowed me to explore concepts in deep learning and how it can be applied to the mental healthcare space. Furthermore, working on AI for mental healthcare at Kintsugi has allowed me to understand and test various approaches to building accurate models that can help with predicting depression from a person’s voice, which is important as healthcare providers are taking mental health more seriously now. At Kintsugi, I am able to learn and explore many different avenues in machine and deep learning research that can aid in detecting depression.

What words of advice would you give to new team members at Kintsugi?

The advice I would give is to not be afraid to ask for help if they’re struggling with any issues that arise. Everyone at Kintsugi is always willing to help in any capacity, and there is usually always someone that can help.

What are 3 words you would use to describe the Kintsugi culture? 

Kind, Hard-working, Nurturing

Share a favorite All-Hands/video conference moment.  

I loved the all-hands moment when Max’s dog was doing tricks during his farewell.

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