Friday 21 July 2023

Kelsey Doerksen Chosen for NASA’s Student Research Program

Our congratulations to Kelsey Doerksen (2021 PhD Autonomous Intelligent Machines and Systems), who has been accepted into NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) Visiting Student Research Program.

This highly competitive fellowship is awarded to students whose research interests align with NASA/JPL’s goals and provides them with a unique opportunity to collaborate with leading scientists and engineers who serve as mentors, as well as obtain educational experience in their field of study.

As part of the program, Kelsey will join the Machine Learning and Instrument Autonomy team, contributing to the Scientific Understanding from Data Science (SUDS) Initiative Air Quality project. The SUDS Initiative is a pioneering effort aimed at establishing a data science community of practice within JPL. By leveraging data science techniques to tackle complex physical science problems, the initiative seeks to expedite scientific discoveries and foster interdisciplinary collaboration.

Kelsey’s involvement in the project, titled “Subgrid scale drivers of pollution inferred from model-based inference and machine learning,” will address the intricate challenge of understanding and predicting global air pollution, and will include developing novel methodologies to enhance our scientific comprehension of air pollution on a global scale

Kelsey’s PhD thesis revolves around ‘developing new machine learning methodology to deepen our scientific understanding of Earth’s systems, with a focus on climate and humanitarian applications.’ With air pollution being a leading cause of disease and premature death worldwide, her research aims to harness the power of data science and AI to identify the factors influencing air quality predictions and uncover the key drivers of air pollution on a global scale. Such insights will play a crucial role in guiding policymakers and implementing effective measures to mitigate human exposure to pollution.

Looking ahead, Kelsey hopes that her research ‘can be used to improve our understanding of the physical phenomena of climate change and the natural disasters that are exacerbated by it.’ She envisions the integration of their technology into real-world applications that inform policy decisions aimed at preserving and protecting our planet. As a researcher bridging the gap between the scientific and machine learning domains, Kelsey seeks to develop data science tools that enhance our scientific understanding and lead to meaningful change.

In addition to her acceptance into the NASA JPL Visiting Researcher Program, Kelsey’s achievements extend beyond the lab. She was chosen as a panellist for the 2022 AI4Space: Perspectives from the Next Generation panel at the International Astronautical Congress, highlighting her contributions to the field.

We commend Kelsey Doerksen for her outstanding accomplishments and her commitment to advancing scientific knowledge and promoting a sustainable future as she embarks on this extraordinary opportunity at NASA JPL and looks forward to witnessing the impact of her work.