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Jetstream REU student Tenecious Underwood awarded prize at ERN conference

News and events Feb 27, 2020

Tenecious Underwood, a senior at Livingstone College in North Carolina, has already had quite a year.

Underwood presenting at SC19.

In early 2019, after a chance encounter with a fraternity brother at the National Science Foundation’s Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference, Underwood applied, and was accepted to the Jetstream REU program at Indiana University. Each summer, Jetstream - the National Science Foundation’s first production cloud computing system - lets students loose in the cloud on projects that capitalize on IU’s leadership in fields like bioinformatics, data visualization, and advanced media. Underwood, Evan Suggs (University of Tennessee, Chattanooga), and Eliza Foran (Indiana University, Bloomington) created a workflow to record and identify animal vocalizations, easing the burden of data collection on field biologists.

Specifically, they wanted to identify amphibians local to Indiana. They gathered sample calls for four species from the Macaulay Library archive of wildlife sounds at Cornell, and used 85% of the data to train three neural networks that could process data collected in the field. The team outlined a proof-of-concept workflow that makes the whole ordeal, from gathering to interpreting data, more attainable for researchers. They simulated the data collection process by collecting animal (frog) calls using recording devices and Raspberry Pi’s (low-cost, fully functional computers the size of credit cards). The team then fed this data into a database and virtual machine (VM) hosted on XSEDE resources (i.e. Jetstream and Wrangler).

Tenecious was an outstanding student! I am very happy that his efforts are being recognized in such a prestigious format.

Winona Snapp-Childs, REU Program Director

Once the research was done, Underwood’s journey was just beginning! He, Suggs, and Foran presented their work at PEARC19 in Chicago in July. Then, in November, Underwood presented their work at SC’19 in Denver to great acclaim. Most recently, he presented “Automatic Recognition of Frog Calls” earlier this month at this year’s ERN conference earlier, and won first place in undergraduate student posters in computer science.

And now he’s getting ready to graduate from Livingstone College in a few months. What’s next? Graduate study in computer science at Kentucky State University, with a specialization in cybersecurity. Underwood’s outlook is a credit to his accomplishments.

Don’t allow your past failures to limit your future success. Learn from failures, because the altitude of your success depends on your ability to utilize your failures as lessons. No one ever became successful because they allowed failure, or the fear of failure, to consume them.

Tenecious Underwood

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