UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For many students at Penn State, opportunities to blend extracurricular opportunities with classroom knowledge lead to the development of well-rounded skill sets that will position them for successful careers.
Gregory Glatzer, a junior majoring in applied data science in the College of Information Sciences and Technology, is one of those students, who has discovered undergraduate research as a way to benefit his own career development while making an impact in the world. Glatzer spent his summer helping to evaluate how technology could be used to track elephant movement in national parks in Africa to help prevent poaching.
“My research uses a clustering algorithm to look at elephant movement data to try to identify patterns,” Glatzer said.
Glatzer first got involved with undergraduate research after looking for an opportunity to advance his education during the summer of 2021. That was when he connected with Prasenjit Mitra, professor of information sciences and technology, who is co-leading the research project along with Johnson Kinyua, associate teaching professor. Glatzer knew Mitra from a previous course he had taken in data science.
“I had worked with him before and liked working with him,” Glatzer said. “So, it was a good opportunity to do research.”
Glatzer felt prepared for this research role after both his classroom knowledge and other extracurricular work. Tracking elephant movement requires a lot of data visualization, with which Glatzer had ample experience after taking an entire class dedicated to topic.
“One big focus of the class was mapping, and that is a really important skill for data scientists,” Glatzer said. “The research that I did has opened my eyes to the many amazing applications of data science that exist in various domains.”
As a result of this research opportunity, Glatzer has become the first author on a paper titled "An Analysis of Elephants’ Movement Data in Sub-Saharan Africa Using Clustering," which he will be presenting at the TAWIRI Scientific Conference in December.
“From this experience I hope to network with other people in the field, get my name out there and appreciate what other groundbreaking technology-driven work is being done in the wildlife conservation domain,” Glatzer said.