News Archive

High School Students Showcase Data Science Project at 2024 San Diego Bird Festival

Published March 14, 2024

Torrey Pines High Schoolers Reese Carsley (left) and Sneha Lele (right) recently showcased their SDSC research poster at the 2024 San Diego Bird Festival, which was hosted by the San Diego Audubon Society.  Credit: Sneha Lele

By Kimberly Mann Bruch, SDSC Communications

High school student interns with the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego recently presented their research poster at the 2024 San Diego Bird Festival, which included hundreds of participants focused on ornithology and birding. The student poster discussed work on analyzing data related to the Western bluebird.

“We were pleased to share our findings at the local Bird Festival and enjoyed talking with the community about our internship experience at SDSC,” said Sneha Lele, a junior at Torrey Pines High School. “It was exciting to meet other people interested in taking a look at data related to ornithology projects like ours.”

Entitled “Comparing Western Bluebird Populations Throughout Southern California,” the poster was created in conjunction with the students’ work on a data science challenge called DataJam West, which is aimed at engaging high school students throughout the U.S. on data science projects.

“It’s great for these students affiliated with SDSC to come and share their hard work on this project with our local community,” said Lesley Handa, lead ornithologist for the San Diego Audubon Society. “We were surprised to learn that Los Angeles County had reported more bluebird sightings than other southern California counties and was also impressed that the student group – which also included a UC San Diego data science undergraduate student – Minchan Kim – was able to sort, filter and analyze such a huge number of data – more than 30,000 recorded sightings from Cornell’s site.

The students, who included a student from the Pala Band of Mission Indians, are mentored by SDSC Science Writer Kim Bruch, and are now focused on an array of activities with Bruch such as Native language and culturally appropriate science and technology activities. “We were honored to be included in the 2024 San Diego Bird Festival, as it served as a way for the high school students to exhibit their poster at a large-scale event,” Bruch said. “We’d like to especially thank the San Diego Audubon Society Executive Director Travis Kemnitz, who has been very supportive of our student engagement activities with ornithology and data analysis.”