27 May 2020

Data science talent at UH Mānoa, UH Hilo showcased virtually

University of Hawaiʻi’s Hawaiʻi Data Science Institute (HIDSI) partnered with Hawaiʻi EPSCoR’s ʻIke Wai project to host a virtual poster session on May 8. HIDSI Data Science Fellows studying at UH Mānoa and ʻIke Wai Scholars from UH Hilo presented a variety of research spanning the areas of artificial intelligence, deep learning, data visualization and more.

UH faculty, students and staff, as well as professionals from the local industry, attended to learn more about the research and engage with graduate and undergraduate students.

“My biggest takeaway from this experience is the fact that I was able to learn more in depth about data analysis and the achievements one can do with it,” said Noelani Gonzalez-Villanueva, one of the four ʻIke Wai scholars who presented at the session.

Employment opportunities

HIDSI is a UH systemwide effort to support data science education, collaborative research and partnerships with the industry. For information and computer sciences graduate student and HIDSI Data Science Fellow Paul Spooren, the poster session was the biggest Zoom call he had ever attended. Nearly 80 participants from educational institutions such as Honolulu Community CollegeUH Maui College, Chaminade University, University of California Irvine and Stanford University, local organizations such as Conservation International Hawaiʻi and First Hawaiian Bank, as well as government agencies including the U.S. Department of Defense and State of Hawaiʻi attended.

Spooren, who walked away from the poster session with two job offers, aspires to continue his research so it can be used across various organizations. “I hope to help more than one researcher with the micro-controllers I’m building,” he said.

UH Hilo showcased

ʻIke Wai’s Bob Pelayo, who leads the project’s data science team at UH Hilo, said “This poster session was a unique opportunity to showcase to stakeholders across the state how well-developed the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Data Science program is. Our ʻIke Wai Scholars worked with UH Hilo Data Science faculty members in marine science, computer science and quantitative business analysis on projects that use data science techniques in their fields of study. This research is tied to material they learned in their data science courses at UH Hilo, which can be found in several different departments.”

UH Mānoa Assistant Professor of Information and Computer Sciences and HIDSI mentor Peter Sadowski said he learned more about UH Hilo research during the poster session. “I learned about some fascinating coral research happening here at UH, and I want to use their data for my machine learning class,” said Sadowski.

Connecting to industry

HIDSI held its first in-person research showcase in fall 2019 and quickly adapted its spring event to a virtual platform in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Having redesigned the in-person format from the ground up, we are happy that we successfully showcased the research of our talented students virtually. This format not only allowed them the opportunity to connect with colleagues across the UH system but also industry partners,” said HIDSI Director Gwen Jacobs. “What’s more is our ability to adapt quickly and safely reaffirms our dedication to data science education in these unprecedented times.”

Posters presented at the HIDSI poster session can be viewed online.