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SDS Lab PhD student Thomas Vandal accepts position as NASA scientist

July 3, 2018

Sustainability and Data Science Laboratory (SDS Lab) PhD student Thomas J. ("TJ") Vandal has accepted a position as a NASA scientist at their Ames Research Center in the San Francisco Bay Area. He will work on Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the Earth Sciences, and closely with the NASA Earth Exchange (NEX) team. TJ interned with NASA during his PhD, and completed his dissertation based on his award-winning research on Bayesian Deep Learning for Statistical Downscaling in Climate. His doctoral adviser is CEE Professor and SDS Lab PI Auroop Ganguly. TJ defended his dissertation in April 2018, and will formally complete all requirements for graduation within the next few weeks. TJ's work helped open the door to further collaborations with NASA, and subsequently a NASA internship (Coop) for Northeastern Undergraduate Matthew Mage (Matt), who worked jointly with the SDS Lab and NASA, and was co-mentored by TJ in Deep Learning for Satellite Remote Sensing. Currently, SDS Lab PhD student Kate Duffy is working at NASA Ames as a Data Science Intern. TJ is a computer scientist and mathematician, while Kate is a civil and environmental engineer, by training. Matt's major is Mechatronics. This diversity of backgrounds is a feature of the SDS Lab.

More about TJ: Thomas J. Vandal is an Interdisciplinary PhD candidate in the Sustainability and Data Science Lab (SDS) at Northeastern University where he develops novel adaptations of deep learning methods to problems in climate science.  He is advised by Auroop Ganguly, a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and co-advised by Evan Kodra, the CEO of climate analytics startup risQ. During his PhD, Thomas spent the summer of 2016 at NASA Ames as part of the NASA Earth Exchange group where he developed an image super-resolution approach to statistical downscaling of climate models called DeepSD which was awarded the best-paper runner-up and best student paper runner-up in the applied data science track at ACM SIGKDD 2017, a prestigious computer science conference with about 9% acceptance rate . He is a student member of the American Meteorology Society committee on Artificial Intelligence Applications to Environmental Science. Prior to his graduate studies, Thomas spent multiple years in industry, working as a data scientist at Affectiva and a risk analyst at Boston Technologies. In 2012 he completed in B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Maryland College Park.