Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability has awarded postdoctoral fellowships to three emerging scholars in sustainability, one of which will be affiliated in Information Science.

Cindy Kaiying Lin studies state-driven artificial intelligence (AI) to counter large-scale environmental threats in postcolonial contexts. Her dissertation examines how environmental data is used to predict fires on Indonesia's tropical peatland—the world's largest terrestrial natural carbon store—and the critical role of this data in the work of law enforcement and surveillance. As a Cornell Atkinson postdoctoral fellow, she will study how creators of machine learning training datasets address algorithmic bias to mitigate environmental destruction in the global South.   

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Cindy Lin
Cindy Lin

In collaboration with Steven J. Jackson, chair and professor in the Cornell Department of Information Science, practitioners from the Radiant Earth Foundation, and environmental scientists from Asia and Africa, she will develop a handbook on creating inclusive and anti-racist machine-learning datasets and models for the environmental domain.    

"Cindy's work represents a timely and important three-way connection - between AI and machine learning tools, climate change, and problems of bias and inequality in the Global South,' says Steven Jackson (CIS). Her work with Atkinson promises to build new insight at this crucially important intersection."  

Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability's two-year postdoctoral fellowships provide the opportunity to bridge academic research and non-academic external organizations to achieve real-world impact. Awardees stimulate original interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research, participate in  leadership training  coordinated by Cornell Atkinson and EDF, and join a growing cohort of almost 200  research fellows  seeking solutions to the world's most pressing sustainability challenges.  

"The Cornell Atkinson postdoc fellowship program continues to attract exceptionally well-qualified candidates from around the world to Cornell to work with faculty mentors and external partner organizations," says Graham Kerslick, Cornell Atkinson Executive Director. "Successful proposals demonstrate strong relationships with external organizations, such as the Wildlife Conservation Society and the EPA, that have the potential to have real-world impact on policy, practices, and products."  

Cornell Atkinson has awarded more than 20 postdoctoral fellowships since its establishment in 2015. The Cornell Atkinson Postdoctoral Fellowships and leadership program are made possible with generous donor support.

The above story is a condensed version adapted from a full report written by Sara Levin Stevenson and published at the Cornell Chronicle on March 24, 2021.