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Research Experience Placement: Gareth Haagman

Gareth is a student from the University of Exeter who worked with Dr Gary Watmough and his Geospatial Livelihoods research group on a project entitled: Poverty Estimates in Zimbabwe Using High Resolution Satellite Data

What are you studying?

Mathematics BSc at the University of Exeter, currently going into my third year.

Tell us a bit about the project you have been working on this summer?

My project aims to facilitate the mapping and monitoring of socioeconomic conditions in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Using a combination of high-resolution satellite data and novel machine learning techniques I have been able to identify certain features of residential buildings which can often be correlated with wealth and poverty.

You can find a more detailed explanation of the work Gareth did here on his research group blog

What new skills have you learned while doing this internship?

While undertaking the internship I have gained a massive insight into the research process as well as applying new software and programming libraries I had not previously used. For example, using Google Earth Engine to extract mapping data and using Python libraries such as geopandas to interpret geospatial information. I also got the opportunity to apply Vision Transformer, a new type of computer vision algorithm to perform building segmentation.

Building segments on a satellite image

How have you found working with your research team here at the University of Edinburgh?

I have immensely enjoyed working with the Geospatial Livelihoods Group, especially my supervisor Gary who has been very helpful in introducing me to the topic of Earth Observation and to Sohan Seth a researcher in informatics who gave me some insight and advice on how to apply machine learning to this new data.

What has been the highlight of the internship for you?

The highlight of the internship for me was the opportunity to present my research to some of the senior members at SENSE CDT as well getting to see the other research that was being conducted by the other REP interns.

How has doing this internship changed your plans or thoughts about your future career?

Doing this placement has confirmed for me that I would like to continue to study at postgraduate level and incorporate some more cross-disciplinary work in the future.