Daniel Petticord, 2019, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

The goal of my summer project was to test the efficacy of a new type of rangeland observation that uses drone photography, QGIS image manipulation, and machine learnining. The intended end product was an autonomous program that could use drone photography to test for vegetation transects in hard-to-reach areas, or large areas in a much shorter time frame. My contribution involved a lot of drone piloting in the field, as well as debugging and implementing code to handle the drone images and training data used for our identifications. A great deal of my work revolved around ground-truthing in the field so that I could later accurately group landmass types in the aerial images. This project has opened me up to new potential ideas in two chief ways. First, it has shown me that I really thrive and enjoy working in “extreme” conditions in the field, and, second, that I can use advanced technology to manipulate and streamline preexisting research methods.

* This internship is connected to the PEI Development Grand Challenges project, “Water, Savannas and Society.”