We were incredibly excited to finally meet our data science partners from Booz Allen and Kaggle face-to-face during their site visit on January 15-16, 2015. We had communicated for months prior to their visit, discussing data, analytics, the number of plankton classes for the data science competition, and the general ins and outs of the Data Science Bowl.
Unfortunately, the weather didn’t seem to realize how momentous this meeting was. The previous week, we had beautiful blue skies, 60-degree weather (pretty warm for Oregon in January!), and planned many outdoor excursions for our visiting data scientists. However, on the actual day of visit, the clouds rolled back in and the rain decided to start blowing sideways. At least they experienced classic Oregon weather!
Nonetheless, like the ultimate professionals these data scientists are, our visitors from Booz Allen and Kaggle were receptive and enthusiastic throughout the visit; this included a tour of the Research Vessel OCEANUS, presentations from our group, and tours of multiple labs at Hatfield as well as the O.H. Tinsdale Wave Research Lab and the Ocean Observing Initiative at Oregon State University (OSU), Corvallis.
We wanted to show the breadth of marine science research being performed at OSU and how scientists were dealing with “big data” and how data can support social good in their work. We hoped that this visit would highlight the different fields where data science could be used to push the frontiers and make “waves” in our marine research. We showed our visiting data scientists how big data was a challenge scientists studying whale migrations an salmon genomics, as well as those operating ocean observing platforms comprised of moored instrument arrays and autonomous underwater vehicles, were trying to tackle.
We were impressed by the diversity of backgrounds in our visitors and how they loved to use data science to solve problems of all sizes, from big (e.g., classifying plankton imagery) to small (e.g., the seating arrangements of a wedding). This passion was evident in their enthusiasm while meeting with Dr. Thomas Dietterich, whose research in machine learning is notable for its application to ecological data sets like crowd-sourced bird counts.
We hope that our Booz Allen and Kaggle partners came away from this visit with a deeper understanding of how the outcome of the Data Science Bowl competition will benefit marine science research and, in turn, social good.
We look forward to seeing the outcomes of this competition and for our data science problem to be solved!
—Written by Kelly Robinson