A3D3 trainees attend National Diversity in STEM conference 

By: Rajeev Bhavin Botadra

November 22, 2023

Researchers Javier M. Duarte (Faculty at the University of California San Diego, A3D3), Luke Song (Graduate student at the Ohio State University, Imageonics), and Rajeev B. Botadra (Graduate student at University of Washington, A3D3) represented the National Science Foundation (NSF) Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR) programs at the 2023 National Diversity in STEM (NDiSTEM) conference hosted in Portland, Oregon.

The SACNAS NDiSTEM conference is held annually to provide a platform for underrepresented groups in STEM to connect with peers and mentors and explore opportunities within academia and industry. By participating in this event the team aims to promote the programs under the HDR initiative while furthering the broader NSF effort of diversity in STEM.

The representatives presented opportunities across all five institutions under the HDR grant,  emphasizing the different scientific applications studied under each branch as they aligned with students’ interests. They also shared their experiences and career journeys, advising students unsure of the next step in their careers and making connections for future collaborations.

“The SACNAS NDiSTEM Conference is by far the largest gathering of its kind in the country,” Prof. Duarte said. “It’s a unique opportunity to reach potential trainees that we may not find at other conferences. Everyone is very open about sharing their cultures and identities because they recognize that it’s not separate from their science.”

The team set up a simple Pokémon classification demo at the booth using a webcam, a Pynq-Z2 FPGA board, and a monitor for display output. Using a simple quantized ResNet model fine-tuned on an open-source pokemon dataset, the Pynq-Z2 classified Pokémon in front of the camera and transmitted the labeled output to the external monitor. Rajeev commented, “the demo was very helpful in drawing people’s attention amongst dozens of other booths and breaking the ice towards a longer conversation about our research.”

“We got to interact with so many people and they were so excited to find out about the HDR  research opportunities,” Prof. Duarte said. “We hope to come back every year!”