12 Jan 2024

Empowering Students for Sustainable Agriculture: A Collaborative Endeavor with NASA Harvest/AI


January 12, 2024

Keller 103, 2pm

Seminar Abstract:

This program provided students with a unique opportunity to delve into sustainability systems and citizen science. Through a hands-on project, participants utilized the NASA Harvest data application to compile datasets related to local farm crops, all aimed at enhancing Maui County’s food security dashboard. The initiative brought together 11th and 12th grade students from the local community, as well as Data Analytics students from Maui College. Working in collaboration with the NASA Harvest Hui, they embarked on building Machine Learning (ML) models to predict agricultural food production in Maui County. The project was a remarkable integration of various stakeholders, including the NASA Harvest AI team, UHMC, Maui United Way, Kamehameha Schools, and generous donors through the Ahupua’a Steward’s funding. Notably, students not only received invaluable mentorship but were also rewarded with stipends for their dedicated efforts. Their mission? To create a Geographic Information System (GIS)-enabled food security dashboard that seamlessly combined Earth observation data with socioeconomic and price datasets. The ultimate goal was to bridge knowledge gaps in agricultural production across Maui County, with a special focus on supporting indigenous farmers.


Tom Blamey is currently a member of the mathematics faculty and statistics/data science coordinator at the University of Hawai‘i Maui College. After earning his BS in Mathematics/Actuarial Science at Central Washington University, Tom went on to work as a programmer, data scientist, actuary in San Diego for 15 years, followed by 15 more years of teaching at universities/colleges in San Diego. Tom holds a MS in Biostatistics/Statistics from San Diego State University. He is currently co-PI on 2 active NSF grants:

Hannah Kerner is an Assistant Professor of computer science in the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence at Arizona State University. She is pioneering new machine learning techniques to harness the potential of remote sensing data to address global challenges like food insecurity and climate change. Her research aims to tackle barriers to realizing the benefits of machine learning in real-world applications that benefit society.  As the AI Lead for NASA’s agriculture programs, NASA Harvest and NASA Acres, she is deploying research methods in real applications across the globe; her projects have directly resulted in optimized agricultural planning, disaster response, and financial relief in various regions around the world. The impact of Kerner’s research was recognized in Forbes 30 Under 30 and the International Research Centre On Artificial Intelligence’s Top 10 projects solving problems related to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals with AI.

Nicholas Winfrey, President of Maui United Way, came to Maui United Way from the Australian Red Cross, where he was the philanthropy, strategy and relationship manager. His job involved managing a $5.5 million portfolio for all major donors and prospects. Prior to joining the Red Cross, he served as vice president of planning and development for the Rancho Coastal Humane Society in California.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts in human communication from Arizona State University. His skill set includes strategic planning, donor relations and relationship management.

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