Devon Ulrich ’23


Computer Science

Project Title

Reconstructing Earth’s First Reefs and Their Impacts on the Cambrian Explosion

My internship focused on analyzing fossils from the Cambrian explosion, a period in Earth’s history marked by an enormous increase in new species and overall biodiversity as complex life forms first evolved and spread. Not much is known about why it took place, however, and its origins and causes are still largely unexplained. The Maloof Research Group is investigating the importance of oceanic reefs in the development of life during the Cambrian explosion. My primary goal was to create a computational method for analyzing fossilized shell samples obtained from an ancient Cambrian reef. I used machine learning and computer vision algorithms to automatically categorize each sample into different types of rock. I also created MATLAB programs to automatically search through our images and identify shells with the help of machine learning models. This was a really great hands-on introduction to computer vision and data science, and I learned about programming in MATLAB using different machine learning algorithms and analyzing digital images. I will definitely explore more opportunities in computer vision and data science.

Internship Year


Project Category

Biodiversity and Conservation


Maloof Research Group, Department of Geosciences, Princeton University


Adam Maloof, Professor of Geosciences; Ryan Manzuk, Ph.D. candidate, Geosciences