Big Data and Ecoinformatics in Agricultural Research

On Thursday, April 27, 2017, the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences sponsored day-long symposium to explore “Big Data and Ecoinformatics in Agricultural Research”

Speaker videos:

“Big Data and Ecoinformatics: Opportunities, challenges, promises and pitfalls”

Drs. Claudio Gratton and Chris Kucharik, University of Wisconsin Entomology, Agronomy and Nelson Institute


“From photons to food: Remote sensing, geospacial data and agriculture”

Dr. Mark Friedl, Boston University / Tellus Labs


“Taming ecological modeling and forecasting with an informatics approach”

Dr. Ankur Desai, University of Wisconsin, Atmospheric and Oceanographic Sciences


“Data Science in Agriculture: Challenges and Opportunities”

Dr. Rebecca Willett, University of Wisconsin, Electrical and Computer Engineering / Wisconsin Institute for Discovery


“Big Data and Digital Ag to improve decision making for growers”

Dr. Ravi Sripada, Climate Corp Senior Scientist


“Towards a science of complex data”

Dr. Alfred Hero, University of Michigan, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science


“A Data Science pipeline for non-traditional students”

Dr. Alex Smith, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Mathematics


“Big Data in plant science: The UW maize breeding and genetics program”

Dr. Natalia DeLeon, University of Wisconsin, Agronomy


“Human behavior and prediction vs causation with Big Data”

Dr. Paul Mitchell, University of Wisconsin, Agricultural and Applied Economics


“Data Science opportunities for sustainable agricultural systems”

Dr. Parag Chitnis, USDA/NIFA Deputy Director


Symposium Agenda

In the last decade there has been a vibrant discussion, along with a surge in investment and research pertaining to “big data” approaches for problem-solving. While other fields such as physics, astronomy, and more recently social media and finance, have been handling big data well before the term was coined, big data has now noticeably entered an array of academic disciplines as well as everyday life.  What role does big data play in field of agriculture now and what will the future look like?  What role does academia have in affecting this field?  How do we integrate big data approaches in our traditional research agenda and how do we train the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs and scientists to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by big data?  What are the limitations and pitfalls associated with big data approaches?

The objective of this symposium is to highlight exciting new areas of inquiry.

The symposium will feature speakers from the University of Wisconsin as well as outside of our campus coming from a variety of backgrounds.

The topics and list of speakers includes (specific schedule coming soon):

  • Introduction and background: Drs. Chris Kucharik and Claudio Gratton (UW-Madison Agronomy, Entomology)
  • Remote Sensing and Yield Forecasting: Dr. Mark Friedl (Boston University, Chief Science Officer/Co-founder Tellus Labs)
  • Predictive Ecosystem Analyzer: Dr. Ankur Desai (UW-Madison Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences)
  • Algorithms and Machine Learning: Dr. Rebecca Willett (UW-Madison, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Wisconsin Institute for Discovery)
  • Application of Big Data in Agribusiness: Dr. Ravi Sripada (Senior Scientist, The Climate Corporation)
  • Academic Initiatives: Dr. Alfred Hero (University of Michigan – Michigan Institute for Data Science and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science)
  • UW-MS in Data Science Program: Dr. Alex Smith (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire)
  • Enhanced Crop Breeding: Dr. Natalia de Leon (UW-Madison Agronomy)
  • Applications of Big data to Agricultural Economics: Dr. Paul Mitchell (UW-Madison Agriculture and Applied Economics)
  • Policy and National Research Directions: Dr. Parag Chitnis (Deputy Director NIFA/USDA)