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Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme


Amelia Holcomb


Computer Science, Fitzwilliam College

PhD thesis: Ground, Sky, and Cloud: Technological Advancements for Measuring Forest Ecosystems

Research interests:
1. Remote sensing
2. Computer vision
3. Biodiversity loss & conservation


Current trends in computer science promise a revolution in large-scale remote sensing. Satellite imagery is increasingly accessible and ubiquitous. Meanwhile, the Cloud's distributed computing infrastructure can take advantage of the highly parallelizable problems in traditional and AI-aided image processing to handle this massive quantity of new data. Together, these technologies can give us a picture of the earth that is more complete, accurate, and up-to-date than ever before.

My research seeks to develop new remote sensing and computer vision techniques to aid in the study and conservation of forest ecosystems. I will be combining datasets collected from the ground, air, and outer space to improve forest biomass estimation, monitor forest health, and identify the drivers of forest regrowth and carbon sequestration.

Who or what inspired you to pursue your research interests?

I always felt a disconnect between the STEM classes that were most intellectually exciting to me and the social issues I was most passionate about. After college, I happened across a panel discussion on the climate crisis between Kate Marvel, a physicist, Rhianna Gunn-Wright, a co-author of the Green New Deal, and Ayanna Johnson, a marine biologist. These women convinced me that social and environmental problems are deeply intertwined and empowered me to turn my skills toward addressing them. Since then, I have been so lucky to work with my incredible supervisor, Srinivasan Keshav, who continually encourages and inspires me.