UMBC alumna and visiting faculty member receives grant from Microsoft’s “AI for Earth” program

Published: Dec 20, 2017

Person using a computer. (Photo by Flickr user Andrew_Writer under license CC BY 2.0.)

Jennifer Sleeman, Ph.D. ’17, computer science, visiting assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering, received an award from Microsoft to continue to develop algorithms to model and predict scientific disciplines such as climate change. The “AI for Earth” program aims to solve global environmental challenges by increasing access to artificial intelligence tools and educational opportunities.  

The one-year grant recognizes work with AI influence to advance trend analysis related to issues impacting the environment. Sleeman’s proposal was one of 37 projects from around the world selected to receive funding in the first round of Microsoft’s “AI for Earth” program.

Sleeman will use the $5,000 in funding to develop algorithms to model things like climate change and predict future trends. The grant will allow Sleeman to access the Microsoft Azure server, a cloud computing service. While she was pursuing her Ph.D. at UMBC, Sleeman created a modeling algorithm to identify the correlations related to reports compiled by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), and the influence these documents have on the research and how it changes over time. The IPCC publishes a report every five years citing thousands of research papers about a range of topics.

“Our early work has shown that the theory of data assimilation, a method that is typically applied to numeric data to make predictions such as weather forecasting, can be applied to textual documents,” explains Sleeman. “By continuing this work, we would like to show the predictive power of our assimilation method so that it can be used to perform prediction for a given disciplines’ research direction.”

Microsoft launched the “AI for Earth” program in July and aims to solve environmental challenges by using AI tools and pursuing educational opportunities.

Banner image: Person using a computer. Photo by Flickr user Andrew_Writer under license CC BY 2.0.

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