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The Path Ahead For Felix

18 Mar 2022

Having accepted an offer of admissions to UCC’s PhD programme in Earth Science this week – it is finally official: Felix Butschek will begin his PhD with us. He writes his thoughts..

I will be commencing a four-year journey in the coming months, hoping to advance our understanding on how machine learning techniques can be used to relate seabed geomorphology, facies and habitat. In a way this journey perhaps started almost two years ago, when Luke O’Reilly and I climbed Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s tallest peak, and discussed (metaphorically) which mountain to climb next.

On top of Carrauntoohil (Photo © Luke O’Reilly)

Last year, Prof. Andy Wheeler, Riccardo Arosio and I wrote a successful grant application in response to the Marine Institute’s funding call on “Celtic Sea acoustic data analytics for improved habitat mapping & ecosystem assessment” for the Cullen scholarship programme. With more than 80% of its seabed mapped with high resolution multibeam echosounders through the INFOMAR programme, Ireland is a world leader in bathymetric mapping. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are good ways to analyse large quantities of data and find patterns or classify landforms. This will be an entirely new adventure for me, and I am glad to be part of an excellent working group to help me on this steep learning curve.

The applications and potential outcomes of machine learning on seabed data are manifold, but as mentioned above we are primarily interested in classifying geomorphological facies and identifying associated habitats and species. The project title is ABC Celtic SeaAcoustic Seabed Characterisation and Benthic Habitat Associations in the Celtic Sea, watch this space for more news and updates.

Marine Geosciences Research Group

University College Cork

School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, North Mall Campus, University College Cork, North Mall, Cork City, T23 TK30