Geomatics PhD Student, Sowmya Natesan, takes home Enbridge Graduate Student Award

Fourth Year PhD student, Sowmya Natesan, has been selected as the recipient of York University’s Enbridge Graduate Student Award for her research on tree species identification.

The Enbridge Graduate Student Award supports students at York University pursuing research in sustainability and the environment.

After completing her masters in Remote Sensing at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Sowmya joined Lassonde’s Geomatics Engineering PhD program as an International student, attracted by the endless career opportunities Canada offered her field of study.

She has since found the expertise and breadth of experience of Lassonde’s professors extremely helpful in driving her research forward, continuously impressed with the high-level, multi-disciplinary research being conducted across the School.

“I am particularly grateful to my supervisor Professor Costas Armenakis for his incredible support and encouragement,” Sowmya notes.

Sowmya’s research focuses on individual tree species identification in forests using cutting-edge technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles and Deep Learning, with the goal of introducing a cost-effective method to automatically identify tree species in forests.

Precise tree species classification will play an important role in the monitoring of biodiversity, forest health, wildlife habitat modelling, hazard management and climate change studies helping to ensure the sustainability of Canada’s publicly owned forests.

Canada is home to 9 per cent of the world’s overall forest cover, making the country’s resources essential to future environment, communities and economy.

“Efficient management of Canadian forests provide critical contributions to the conservation of the global ecosystem.

Canada is committed to sustainably managed forests,” says Sowmya, whose work is contributing to this goal through cutting-edge applications like robotization in forestry.

“As a mother of a two-year-old, this award gives me great confidence in my abilities. It’s been challenging juggling studies and motherhood but I’m motivated to work even harder. This award helps me work toward my degree without the financial worry.”

Congratulations Sowmya!