How many penguins are there? (and other mysteries solved by satellites and AI)


Monday, February 8, 2021, 11:00am to 12:00pm


Zoom conference

AI for Social Impact Seminar Series

Computational tools are poised to play an increasingly large role in our society across different domains, including public health and conservation. As a consequence, computational tools need to be designed to ensure equitable benefits for everyone. 
To that end, we need to bring in a diverse set of perspectives that spans from algorithmic fairness, human-centered computing, and sustained deployment. This seminar series will explore how artificial intelligence can equitably solve social problems. For example, what role can AI play in promoting health, access to opportunity, and sustainable development? How can human-centered computing methods be deployed to ensure AI systems are ethical, inclusive, and accountable?


Heather Lynch, Ph.D. (Stony Brook University)

IACS Endowed Chair for Ecology & Evolution, Stony Brook University

Abstract: Satellite imagery and computer vision are two transformational technologies that have rapidly, and quite radically, expanded our capacity to study wildlife in the world’s most remote places. In this talk, I will describe my lab’s efforts to combine satellite imagery, drones, and other remote sensing technologies with good old fashioned field work to study the distribution and abundance of penguins and other wildlife in Antarctica. I’ll also discuss the threats facing Antarctic penguins and how scientists are bringing together new technology, artificial intelligence, and advanced predictive modelling to help guide policymakers in their work to protect one of the world’s last remaining wildernesses.

Heather Lynch bio

Heather Lynch

Dr. Heather Lynch is the Institute for Advanced Computational Sciences Endowed Chair for Ecology & Evolution at Stony Brook University and currently a AAAS Leshner Fellow for Science Engagement focused on AI and its applications. Following a B.A. in Physics from Princeton University and an M.A. in Physics from Harvard University, she received her Ph.D. in Organismal and Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University in 2006. Dr. Lynch’s research sits at the intersection of statistical ecology, geography, applied math, and computer science. Her research is focused on all aspects of conservation ecology in the Antarctic, with a particular focus on the integration of satellite imagery and traditional field work to map the distribution and abundance of Antarctic wildlife and to predict how populations will be impacted by climate change, fishing, and tourism.