The asssistant professor of biology is a co-investigator on a project titled "The new buzz: AI-powered acoustic monitoring of insect communities to advance conservation of tropical rainforests," being funded by the National Geographic Society (NGS) and Microsoft.
The National Geographic Society (NGS) Microsoft AI for Earth Innovation Grant program has awarded Assistant Professor of Biology Jen Hamel funding for a project titled “The new buzz: AI-powered acoustic monitoring of insect communities to advance conservation of tropical rainforests.” The funding program awarded grants to fewer than 15 novel projects in 2019 to improve the way we monitor, model and ultimately manage Earth’s natural systems for a more sustainable future.
The one-year project is a collaboration between researchers at Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Elon University and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. The project leader is Holger Klinck, director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Bioacoustics Research Program. Co-investigators alongside Hamel include Laurel Symes and Shyam Madhusudhana of Cornell University, Hannah ter Hofstede of Dartmouth College and Rachel Page of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Elon University biology majors will also contribute to this project in various roles.
The award will be used to develop artificial intelligence computing tools to detect and identify signaling animals in tropical rainforests.
The goal of this work is to improve our ability to monitor changes in tropical forest biodiversity. To address this goal, researchers will develop algorithms to scan passively recorded acoustic sound recordings and identify the calls of tropical rain forest insects. Tropical forests contain much of the earth’s animal biodiversity, but many forests are difficult to reach, and within a forest, many species occur high in the trees where they are often inaccessible to researchers. Tropical forest insects are abundant and diverse and are critical to the survival of larger forest species because of their central position in rainforest food webs. This award starts Jan. 1, 2019, and ends Dec. 31, 2019.