Just prior to school closings, Elwood-John H. Glenn High School student Rithika Narayan placed first in the Long Island Science & Engineering Fair. Her project, titled “Coral Grief: Machine Learning on Crowd-sourced Data to Highlight an Ecological Crisis," highlighted the precarious health of coral reefs around the world, which are in danger of bleaching and disease due to climate change.
In just five months, Rithika developed a machine learning algorithm that identifies healthy, bleached or diseased coral in images taken by underwater autonomous vehicles, researchers, or even amateur divers. The efficiency of this algorithm in analyzing thousands of images makes it a viable technology for use in global databases on coral reef health, government archives or citizen science projects.
“I hope to empower the public to be able to contribute to conservation efforts by simply taking pictures of the corals they might see on vacation,” Rithika said.
Her research was entered into the Earth and Environmental Sciences category at LISEF, where she won first place in the category. She, along with other first place winners from various categories, were selected to advance to the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in May to represent Long Island among student researchers from all over the world. Unfortunately, due to the spread of COVID-19, she was unable to do so.
Additionally, Rithika entered her work in the Environmental Science category at the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, where she took first place in the category and third place overall for the Long Island Region. Congratulations Rithika Narayan!