UH Hilo Student and HIDSI Fellow receives Outstanding Presentation Award
By Kayla Bisquera
University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Undergraduate Student and Hawai’i Data Science Fellow Sofia Ferreira is a recipient of the 2020 Hawai’i Conservation Convention award for Outstanding Undergraduate Student Oral Presentation. Her project was on examining coral community composition and 3D habitat structure on shipwrecks located in Apra Harbor, Guam.
“I started working on this project in Fall 2019 with as an ‘Ike Wai Project Scholar,” Sofia said. The project investigated how coral reef ecosystems may be affected by maritime shipwrecks. She built 3D models from coral reef imagery collected in Guam, from which she extracted data pertaining to the coral community composition and 3D habitat structure.
Ferreira, who is studying Marine Science and finishing a certificate in data science, found her calling for coral reef research and data science after completing her first ‘Ike Wai summer research program back in Summer 2019. For her senior thesis, she plans to continue investigating coral reef ecosystems, and later obtain a master’s degree in a data science-related field.
With COVID-19 restrictions still in place, Sofia is working and studying virtually from her home in Paraguay. Despite the challenges of learning on her own, she is excited to be diving into new projects. This semester, she is starting the HIDSI Fellowship Program, for which she is applying innovative data science tools such as machine learning to coral reef research. Sofia first learned about the program after presenting her ‘Ike Wai Scholars project at a Hawai’i Data Science Research Symposium.
“As an international student, I am extremely grateful to be able to participate in the amazing opportunities offered by the EPSCoR program,” Sofia explains. She hopes her joining the program will open new doors for students abroad who can’t access the resources that U.S. citizens have.
Sofia thanks her mentor, John HR Burns, for his relentless support and encouragement that allowed her to find her passion for research and data science.
Another of Sofiaʻs notable achievements include Best Research Presentation at the 2020 Marine Option Program Symposium.