2021 Summer Research Students

This summer, we are hosting 23 students from around the US in our 2021 summer research program, both at UC San Diego and remotely. We’ll be working on projects from mapping Maya ruins with LiDaR and mangroves with drone imagery to measuring fish with underwater cameras. Meet our students by reading their bios below:

Student Researchers

Chris Maldonado is a first year transfer student from Allan Hancock College to UC Santa Barbara who is studying electrical engineering. This summer (2021), he is a part of the Smartfin project team where he is working on data analysis from the various sensors integrated in the Smartfin. He hopes to implement a Kalman filter into the Smartfin in order to produce more accurate and precise data from the sensor measurements; ultimately, doing so would render the significant results that are acquired from the data as more reliable. During his free time, he enjoys exhausting himself in a rigorous distance-running training regimen, practicing photography of many genres, and recently, he picked up the piano and is working on becoming the modern day Frédéric Chopin. He also loves to eat and will accept any eating challenge you propose to him. For reference, his personal record of sushi rolls eaten at an all-you-can-eat establishment is 9 rolls, respectively.

Sydnie Sewell is a second year student at Howard University, majoring in Computer Science. This summer, she is working alongside the Baboons On the Move project on a noise reduction algorithm in the hopes of bringing efficiency to the project’s current technologies. Sydnie is working on expanding her knowledge of Python and the field of CyberSecurity and Machine Learning. Sydnie hopes to move in the field of Space and Defense in the future. In her free time, Sydnie loves to travel, try new dishes, and meet new people.

Declan Freeman-Gleason is a second year undergraduate at Olin College of Engineering majoring in Applied Mathematics. Declan’s interests lie in optimization, control, and sensor fusion. He is working on optimizing the performance of Baboon Tracking project’s current algorithm and rewriting it in C++. He is also working to add additional filtering to increase the robustness of the current algorithm to noise and stationary baboons. Declan enjoys running and baking bread in his free time.

Sean Perry is a 2nd-year undergrad at UC San Diego. Currently, he is working towards his Mathematics-Computer Science major. As part of the Audio Acoustic Identification project, he is working towards developing a manual labeling website for expert annotators to identify bird calls in various audio clips. The hope is that the rest of the team can utilize those labels to develop tools for audio segmentation and audio event detection. After getting the website launched in early summer 2021, he is working towards improving and expanding the scope of and writing a technical paper for the site.

Ronan Wallace is a fourth-year undergraduate at Macalester College, majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Data Science and concentration in Cognitive Science. His work and interests are in machine learning, embedded software systems, neuro-robotics, and environmental conservation. This summer, he is excited to utilize a NVIDIA Jetson TX2 processor to implement real-time data processing in FishSense, with hopes to solve current power and memory issues in our current systems. He will also be conducting experiments using different neural networks for super-resolution image transformations in Mangrove Monitoring. After this summer, Ronan will be continuing his research pursuits in Germany while working with E4E part-time. In his free time, he enjoys propagating different plants, painting, traveling everywhere, and simply being outdoors.

Raghav Maddukuri is a second year undergraduate student at UCSD, majoring in Mathematics-Computer Science. This year he joined the FishSense project, as part of the machine learning team. Currently he is working on refining the existing models to work better in the context of the aquaculture industry. In his spare time Raghav enjoys playing basketball, soccer, videogames and watching shows on Netflix.

Tuyetthuc “Diu” Nguyen is a third-year Mechanical Engineering undergraduate at Cal Poly SLO, with an interest in non-invasive physiological and behavioral monitoring. When she isn’t befriending spiders and snakes on the trail, she loves sampling persimmons of all shapes and sizes, from dried whole persimmons to rare vodka-cured speckled varieties. This summer, she is excited to work with the Aye-Aye Sleep Monitoring team on developing the GUI and exploring motion detection techniques for their remote sensing system. This non-invasive system will enable researchers at the San Diego Zoo to keep an eye on the Aye-Ayes — without forcing the Aye-Ayes to lug around unwieldy sensors strapped to (or injected into!) their bodies.

Nathaniel Islas is a senior at CSU East Bay double majoring in Computer Science and Statistics with a concentration in Data Science. This summer, he is working with the Burrowing Owl Behavior Classification team to help create an easy-to-use system that interfaces with the machine learning algorithm previously developed by the team. He will also be adding features to the system. In his free time, he enjoys exercising, cooking, and checking out local restaurants and breweries!

Mugen Blue is a senior undergraduate at Cal Poly SLO, majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Data Science. For the summer, he is doing research with the Acoustic Species Identification team for automatically annotating bird calls in audio field recordings. He looks forward to working with new machine learning models to improve the quality of automatic annotations of bird calls in passive acoustic monitoring. In his free time, Mugen enjoys working out, cooking, surfing, and playing video games.

Mia Lucio is a recent graduate from UC San Diego with a B.S. in Computer Engineering, and will begin her M.S. degree studies in the fall. This is her second summer working with the Radio Telemetry Tracking project, and she will be working on developing RTT’s current single drone based system into a multi-station system to meet the needs of scientists from the University of Central Arkansas who want to track common collared lizards. In her free time, she enjoys painting, Animal Crossing, and travelling.

Madison Bland is a senior majoring in Electrical Engineering at The College of New Jersey. She is currently working on the FishSense project to further develop the system firmware. This undertaking will enable her to utilize her skills in embedded systems while learning how to operate the Intel RealSense Depth Camera in conjunction with the NVIDIA Jetson TX2. Madison hopes to continue research that combines her interests in both electrical engineering and the environment as she pursues her dream of becoming a professor, as well as a researcher. In her free time, she enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing.

Nishant Balaji is an incoming second year undergraduate student at UC San Diego, majoring in Computer Engineering. This summer, he is working on the Acoustic Species Identification team working on developing the manual labeling system and helping improve the automated labeling system in order to autonomously identify audio data from the Peruvian Amazon. In his free time, he likes going on hikes, playing video games and eating out with friends.

Romain Vergniault is a rising third year Electrical Engineering student at UC San Diego. For the summer, he’s been working on the Baboons on The Move project. He’s currently working on developing a particle filter algorithm to help track motionless baboons because the current pipeline lacks the ability to do so. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with friends, going to the movies, Korean BBQ, swimming, playing video games, and anime.

Valli Nachiappan is a second year undergraduate student at UC San Diego, majoring in Computer Engineering. This summer, she is a part of the Smartfin project. She is currently working on decoding encrypted data from ocean experiments and potentially enabling a Kalman Filter in order to reduce noise and determine exact position using inertial sensor data. In her free time, she enjoys painting, cooking, bingeing on a worthwhile series on Netflix, and spending time with friends.

David Salzmann is a second year Electrical Engineering undergraduate at UC San Diego. He has contributed to the Radio Telemetry Tracking Project on E4E this year by creating I2C communication and timer libraries for the project’s onboard AVR microcontroller. Currently, he is working on the Maya Archaeology team to use Unity and the Unreal game engine to help preserve some of Guatemala’s historical sites and ancient structures in virtual reality. David enjoys swimming and biking, as well as reading and discussing books with friends.

Nima Yazdani is a third year student majoring in Data Science and minoring in Cognitive Science at UC San Diego. This summer he is working on the Smartfin team, using Fourier transformations in order to more accurately calculate ocean wave heights from acceleration data provided by the Smartfin itself. Along with his passion for the environment and utilizing big data to save our planet, Nima is fascinated with going to the moon and mars and applying his knowledge towards establishing a human colony on another planet. In his free time, Nima enjoys everything from going to see new Marvel movies to traveling around California, to playing golf, basketball, and spikeball with friends.

Vivaswat (Viva) Suresh is a second year undergraduate Mathematics – Computer Science student at UCSD. He joined UCSD’s underwater robotics team as a machine learning engineer, and was introduced to Fish Sense. He is currently working on refining the fish detection pipeline through collection of more diverse data and researching new models. Viva enjoys swimming, reading, and playing South Indian classical music in his spare time.

Anthony Yao is an incoming first year undergraduate student at UCSD, majoring in Data Science. This summer, he is working on the Acoustic Species Identification Team helping with the development of a manual labeling website. In his free time, Anthony enjoys reading and playing volleyball with friends.

Team Leads

Nicholas Rowlett is a third year Electrical Engineering undergraduate student at UC San Diego. This summer, he is leading the Smartfin project and is currently analyzing data from the Smartfin accelerometer to calculate wave height. He plans on conducting experiments to compare the Smartfin calculated wave height with the wave height calculated from the Scripps Pier pressure sensor. In his free time, Nicholas enjoys working on Smartfin, surfing, dirt biking and hanging out with friends in the outdoors.

Jacob Ayers is a third year transfer student from Santa Barbara City College to UC San Diego. He is studying Electrical Engineering with a depth in Machine Learning and Digital Signal Processing. The summer of 2021 will be his second year working full-time over the summer as the project lead for the Acoustic Species Identification team. This summer, he is excited to work towards milestones such as automatically segmenting bird vocalizations from audio field recordings, presenting his work to the ICML 2021 conference, setting up Audiomoth deployments in the San Diego area, and learning all the necessary skills to achieve these goals along the way. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys hiking and yoga.

Ameya Singh is a third year undergraduate student at UCSD, majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Mathematics. Ameya has been working on the Aye-Aye Sleep Monitoring project since Fall 2020 and is now the co-team lead. Ameya has been working on the development of the sensor network focusing on the audio and video capture through the IR Camera and Microphones. He also works on the Computer Vision side of the project, implementing feasible techniques for motion tracking as well as refining these algorithms.

Katie Miyamoto is a third year Electrical Engineering student at UCSD. This past fall, she joined the Aye-Aye Sleep Monitoring team and has taken on the role of co-team lead for this summer. Katie has been excited developing the GUI and testing the stability of the PiTFT touchscreen. She is also implementing networking techniques including port forwarding for effective communication with the IP Camera and remote system. In her free time, Katie loves painting, reading, and going to the beach!

Christopher Crutchfield is a second year Electrical Engineering graduate student with a focus on Robotics and Intelligent Systems at UC San Diego. He is the current project lead of the Baboons on the Move project. He is currently focused on progressing the computer vision algorithm used to detect baboons from a non-fixed, six-degree-of-freedom camera at a height of 80m. He has previously worked on projects including embedded systems, virtual reality, web development, and telephony.

Peter Tueller is a sixth year Computer Science PhD student at UCSD. This summer he is leading the FishSense team by organizing and performing field deployments, working on firmware optimization and data processing, and writing manuscripts for journals and conferences. He is contributing to the Maya Archeology team as well. His research interests include embedded systems, 3D reconstruction, remote sensing, and robotics. In his free time, Peter enjoys writing and performing music with a few local bands, as well as recording and producing music with a recording studio he co-founded.