Chicago computer scientists develop tools to help ecologists in Kenya

Participants: EVL faculty, staff, and students

Institutions: Laboratory for Computational Population Biology (LCPB) / UIC, Princeton University


Mpala Research Center in Kenya

EDITOR’S NOTE: The recent return of several UIC Computer Science (CS) faculty and students from a 3-week trip to Kenya is featured in a news article by two Northwestern University Medill School journalism students. The trip is a part of CS professor Tanya Berger-Wolf’s course “Field Course in Computational, Ecology.” Jason Leigh, also a CS professor and director of the UIC Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL), participated in the class this year, bringing to it a special emphasis on 3D visualization. The students are now compiling and analyzing all the data they collected on the trip, so more stories will come, but here’s the first… and it’s clear everyone had a great time and learned a lot about scientific collaborations!

Chicago computer scientists develop tools to help ecologists in Kenya
by Rian Ervin and Thomas Owen
Medill Reports Chicago, Northwestern University

FEBRUARY 15, 2012 - Merging the worlds of ecology and computer science meant a trip to the Mpala Research Center in Kenya for Chicago graduate students. Students enrolled in field computational ecology at the University of Illinois at Chicago made the trip to Kenya in January. In Africa, they conducted experiments, used computer technology to gather wildlife data, and took 3D images and video footage to create Mpala as a virtual space back home. The UIC’s Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) and Laboratory for Computational Population Biology (LCPB) worked on the initiative with scientists from Princeton University.

LCPB Director Tanya Berger-Wolf combined her background in data mining, which focuses on finding patterns in information, with EVL professor Jason Leigh’s expertise in data visualization. And while the faculty organized the course, it was the students in her ecology course who drove the projects, Berger-Wolf said. Among these projects were the study of ants in acacia trees, ant navigation and a “Virtual Mpala” project.

Read the entire article



Date: February 15, 2012
Virtual Mpala - Jason Leigh, EVL / UIC
(UIC Laboratory for Computational Population Biology’s 2012 Blog site)

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