Audubon project wins D2K Showcase

Team’s computer vision system tracks waterfowl, counts them from the air

The winning Team Audubon, from left: students Minxuan Luo, Alexander Xiong, Krish Kabra and William Lu.

A computer vision system that can classify birds by species and count them from the air won the Rice University Data to Knowledge Lab (D2K) Showcase.

The team sponsored by Houston Audubon — appropriately named Team Audubon — won cash prizes for its project, which D2K Director Genevera Allen said has important implications not only for tracking endangered waterfowl from aerial drones but also for the environment and climate change.

The winning Team Audubon, from left: students Minxuan Luo, Alexander Xiong, Krish Kabra and William Lu. Photo by Brandon Martin
The winning Team Audubon, from left: students Minxuan Luo, Alexander Xiong, Krish Kabra and William Lu. Photo by Brandon Martin

The team members are Alexander Xiong, a senior statistics and computer science major; Minxuan Luo, a professional master's student in statistics; Krish Kabra, a graduate student in electrical and computer engineering; and William Lu, a senior in statistics. 

The annual event, held in person for the first time in two years at Duncan Hall, included “elevator pitch” presentations on video by D2K capstone students and a poster session. 

The honorable mention winner, Team Stroke Risk, worked with the University of Texas Health Science Center to develop a deep-learning model to forecast the likelihood of recurrent strokes. 

Team members are Nick Glaze, Artun Bayer, Josue Casco-Rodriguez, Justin Cheung, Samantha Fuentes and Michael Sprintson, all senior electrical and computer engineering majors. 

There were two audience choice winners. 

The first, in the D2K capstone category, was Base R Baddies, sponsored by BakerRipley, which modeled inequity in Harris County in an effort to help target and elevate communities that experience barriers to achieving equity. Team members are undergraduates Laura Jabr and Karen Yuan and professional master's student Yun Sun, all statistics majors. 

The audience choice introductory winner was Team AirbnBros, which analyzed the relationships between price, reviews and host status among Airbnb data from Austin’s current listings. Team members are Haiming Wang, a senior architecture major; Navid Ghodsi, a freshman cognitive sciences major; Jonas Terleckas, a freshman economics major; Daniel Zhao, a freshman business and managerial economics and organizational sciences major; and freshman Mylyjael Poteat. 

The poster session included students from the D2K Capstone Program, the Introduction to Data Science course and the Rice DataSci Club’s DEEP program. Photo by Brandon Martin
The poster session included students from the D2K Capstone Program, the Introduction to Data Science course and the Rice DataSci Club’s DEEP program. Photo by Brandon Martin
The winning team spent part of the semester performing fieldwork at Houston Audubon’s Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary in preparation for its D2K Showcase bid. From left are Richard Gibbons, sponsor/mentor and conservation director at Houston Audubon; students Krish Kabra, Minxuan Luo, William Lu and Alexander Xiong; and Kathy Sweezey, Bird-Friendly Communities program manager at Houston Audubon. Photo by Jeff Fitlow
The winning team spent part of the semester performing fieldwork at Houston Audubon’s Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary in preparation for its D2K Showcase bid. From left are Richard Gibbons, sponsor/mentor and conservation director at Houston Audubon; students Krish Kabra, Minxuan Luo, William Lu and Alexander Xiong; and Kathy Sweezey, Bird-Friendly Communities program manager at Houston Audubon. Photo by Jeff Fitlow