Category Archives: Uncategorized

Tom Smith & Hilary Godwin – Building the Congo Basin Institute

Dr. Thomas B Smith & Dr. Hilary GodwinThe University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) recently opened the Congo Basin Institute (CBI) in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Expanding on the existing resources and infrastructure of the IITA campus the CBI will serve as a regional nexus for interdisciplinary research, education, training and technology development focused on critical issues facing the Congo Basin with implications for both the developing and developed world: climate change, water and food security, biodiversity, and human and animal health. Additional universities and NGOs will be added to the CBI consortium that will eventually be expanded to IITA 14 stations and campuses across sub-Saharan Africa.

Presented by: The Davis Humanities Institute African Studies Research Cluster

Lunch will be served.
Please RSVP to Sarah Gilkerson, Graduate Student Coordinator at

More information on CBI:

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Voorhies Hall – Room 228, Davis, CA, United States
More info: Event attachment

OSGeo California Annual Meeting

Saturday Jan 23rd
9:30am to 4pm
California Chapter Meeting of Open Source Geospatial Foundation
Come meet other users of open source geospatial software, hear about people’s past projects, participate in mapping activities, and discuss current topics in research and industry.Full meeting details
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Hunt Hall – Room 142, North Quad Avenue, Davis, CA

UAV’s: Designing Battery Powered Flying Vehicles to Support Construction, Agriculture, Mining, and Energy Sectors

Institute of Transportation Seminar

Sam Miller, Chief Technology Officer, Skycatch

UAV’s: Designing Battery Powered Flying Vehicles to Support Construction, Agriculture, Mining, and Energy Sectors
May 15, 2015.  1:40 – 3:00 PM
1605 Tilia, Room 1103, West Village

Drones (also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs) have attracted plenty of public attentions in recent years for their increasing presence in commercial applications, government surveillance, scientific research,  and environmental conservation. They also have potential for a wide range of future applications yet to be imagined. Additionally, drones are becoming increasingly popular in the energy sector, carrying high-resolution cameras and sensors to perform various functions. including monitoring, inspection, detection, and exploration. And these are just the beginning. The seminar will touch on the following topics:

1. “What Skycatch does” — Briefly talk about the markets, products and the industry.
2. “Interesting data” — All the different data you can get from the air: focus on agriculture, mining, construction, and power sectors.  Specific examples that relate to power and transportation will be presented and discussed.
3. “How to build a battery powered UAV” — Discuss optimization trade-offs that apply to ANY vehicle (power, construction techniques, weight, lithium ion challenges, battery systems, run time, charge vs. swap strategies, brushless motors).
4. “The data pipe” — Discuss all the raw data that is pulled from the UAV, during flight and after landing, and how it’s transferred and processed and presented. (This could be considered “telematics,”  although the usage model may not be a close enough match. In most cases data collected is mostly used to deal with bad situations.)

At the end of the seminar, there will be a live demo of flying drones (if permitted) and Q&As.

Biographical Sketch
Sam Miller is the Chief Technology Officer of Skycatch (, a company that builds autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones, and offers data solutions and autonomous construction support around the world. Sam has an outstanding technical background starting at Intel, where he led a custom chip design team supporting Pentium IV processors.  Sam left Intel in 2001 to found a successful custom design company that he managed for 12 years, providing product design and manufacturing services for medical, defense, and high-tech industries. Sam has a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.


Landscape in transition? Climate change and disturbance regimes in Greater Yellowstone

Ecology and Evolution seminar / Storer Life Sciences Endownment, Major Issues in Modern Biology lecture

Monica Turner,  University of Wisconsin
Landscape in transition? Climate change and disturbance regimes in Greater Yellowstone
Thursday, February 26, 4:10 – 5:30 pm
1003 Giedt Hall

Professor Turner is internationally recognized for her precedent setting research in landscape ecology, which emphasizes causes and consequences of spatial heterogeneity in ecological systems, focusing primarily on forest ecosystems. She has conducted research on disturbance regimes, vegetation dynamics, nutrient cycling, and climate change in Greater Yellowstone for over 25 years, including long-term studies of the 1988 Yellowstone Fires. Other current research examines how climate change may alter the frequency of large fires and, in turn, change vegetation patterns and carbon storage across landscapes of the northern Rocky Mountains. Turner also studies land-water interactions in Wisconsin, effects of current and past land use on Southern Appalachian forest landscapes, and spatial patterns of ecosystem services. She has published over 220 scientific papers; authored or edited six books, including LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY IN THEORY AND PRACTICE; and is co-editor in chief of ECOSYSTEMS. Turner was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences in 2004, and she received both the ECI Prize in Terrestrial Ecology and the Ecological Society of America’s Robert H. MacArthur Award in 2008. She is currently President-elect of the Ecological Society of America.

Spatial food-web dynamics in the Serengeti ecosystem

Ecology and Evolution seminar

John Fryxell,  University of Guelph
Spatial food-web dynamics in the Serengeti ecosystem
Thursday, January 29, 4:10 – 5:30 pm
1003 Giedt Hall

My research focuses on interactions between behavior and consumer-resource dynamics. A mix of theoretical and empirical approaches is used to consider the dynamics of specific systems. Theoretical questions of interest include herbivore and carnivore movement in relation to resource availability and predation risk, optimal diet, patch selection, and dispersal patterns in heterogeneous environments, the effect of social interference and territoriality on consumer-resource interactions, and impacts of harvesting by humans on fish and mammal populations.

Empirical work has been concentrated on 3 different terrestrial ecosystems over the past decade: large herbivores and carnivores in Serengeti National Park (Tanzania), woodland caribou, wolves, and moose in boreal forests of northern Ontario (Canada), and mustelid carnivores and other small mammals in boreal forests of northern Ontario. In each case, my graduate students and I conduct detailed field and experimental studies of behavioral ecology of both predators and prey. Theoretical models are then used to assess the implications of behavioral strategies on population and community dynamics and model predictions are then tested against long-term observational data from terrestrial ecosystems.

Kevin McCann and I recently initiated a collaborative research program on spatial food web dynamics of phytoplankton and zooplankton populations in massive aquatic mesocosms in the new Limnotron facility at the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario. Initial experiments relate to resource- vs predator- and ratio-dependent functional and numerical responses, responses of predator and algal populations to pulsed versus continuous nutrient influx, resource- and density-dependent diffusion patterns by zooplankton and phytoplankton, and spatial pattern formation in relation to population fluctuations.

An ongoing applied research interest relates to sustainable harvesting of fish and mammal populations. Key questions relate to long-term stability of harvested populations due to dynamic variation in harvester effort, effects of bioeconomic dynamics on long-term stability of fish stocks and prices, and spatial processes in harvested populations with and without no-harvest reserves.

Robust, Ambiguity Faithful (RAF) classification

Paul Gader, University of Florida
Robust, Ambiguity Faithful (RAF) classification
Monday, January 26,  2:00- 3:00 PM
3001 Plant and Environmental Sciences

Researchers have demonstrated a variety of classifiers that are able to achieve excellent performance on many different standardized data sets. These classifiers are usually evaluated using the general methodology: Given a set of feature vector samples, X = {x1, …, xN}, that all have known class labels from m classes C1, …, Cm, do the following one or more times: (1) Estimate parameters of a classifier, fi, using a subset of X and (2) Evaluate the classification accuracy of fi using a different, disjoint subset of X by evaluating how often a data sample is assigned to the correct class. However, this evaluation strategy and mode of development ignore very important issues when building classifiers for fielded systems. One issue is that in fielded systems, classifiers are generally part of a larger system and binary decisions are often not required. The “Principle of Least Commitment” espoused by the computer vision pioneer David Marr in 1982 applies. Therefore, classifiers should produce more information than a class label. This information can be represented using probability or possibility distributions. Classifiers should be able to estimate possibility that an input pattern is a sample of one of the classes of interest or is an outlier. This capability is referred to here as robustness. The other issue is that some patterns are truly ambiguous; no distinction can be made between them based on the feature vectors. It is possible that contextual or multi-sensor cues can be used to resolve the ambiguities. Issues involved in designing RAF classifiers are discussed. Examples are given on real-world problems, including handwritten word recognition, landmine detection, and remote sensing.

Paul Gader has been devising pattern recognition algorithms since 1984. He received a Ph.D. in Math in 1986 for parallelizing image processing algorithms. Since then, he has focused on applying theory to real problems. He became a leading figure in the application areas of handwriting recognition and landmine detection and is becoming one in hyperspectral image analysis. He led the development of handwritten character and word recognizers that performed in the top 5 and top 1 in a NIST competition. In 1998, he and H. Frigui devised a real-time Ground Penetrating Radar landmine detection algorithm that was a top performer in blind field testing. He was Technical Director of an Army Demining MURI for 2 years. He and D. Ho developed algorithms for hand-held mine detection system currently in use by the U. S. Army. He participated led many landmine/IED detection projects using data from Acoustic/Seismic, EMI, FLIR, SAR, and LWIR and VISNIR/SWIR sensors. He led teams that studied and implemented Hidden Markov Model and Possibilistic detectors in real-time on a Husky Mine Detection System (HMDS). HMDS was fielded in Afghanistan. The HMDS with his team’s algorithms, is featured in National Geographic Television program: “Bomb Hunters: Afghanistan”.
He has been researching hyperspectral algorithms since 2002. He was general chair of the IEEE Workshop on Hyperspectral Image and Signal Processing in June 2013. Dr. Gader has published 90 journal and over 300 total papers, (was) an Associate Editor of IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters (before becoming Chair), led an ad-hoc committee on Standardized Algorithms, Data, and Evaluation (SADE), is a U. of Florida Research Foundation Professor, Chair of the CISE department, and an IEEE Fellow.

More Data, More People, More Conflicts

Center for Science and Innovation Studies Seminar

Who: Jean-Christophe Plantin
What:  More Data, More People, More Conflicts. The Power of Visualization Technologies in a Big Data Era
When: Tuesday January 27th from 4:10 – 5:30 PM
Where: 126 Voorhies
More info


There has been recently an increase in sources of digital data available, either coming from governmental “open data,” social media companies, or crowdsourced initiatives. While these “big data” are often characterized by their massive size, another important factor is the participation of new and potentially conflicting actors in collecting, processing, and disseminating these data. Using ethnographic methods and social network analysis, this talk will explore the political and epistemological tensions emerging from this larger participation. It will present two case studies where visualization technologies play a key role in the conflict between traditional stakeholders and newcomers for control over data. The first case study focuses on mapping technologies and citizen science: it will show how, after the nuclear catastrophe at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan in March 11, 2011, activists used digital maps to challenge the control of experts and credentialed institutions in regards to radiation data, and to keep watch over the government’s crisis response and radiation measurements. The second case study uses the example of Twitter data to study big data in the humanities and social sciences. It will review how web-based data sources afford original disciplinary collaborations, but simultaneously create methodological tensions between research practices and corporate sources of data. The conclusion will present a future research agenda analyzing the social consequences of the production and circulation of online personal data.

Jean-Christophe Plantin is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Michigan. His research investigates information systems and visualization technologies and their use for civic participation. He is the author of Participatory Mapping: New Data, New Cartography (Wiley, 2014).