A Griffith PhD candidate has been awarded an AI for Earth grant from Microsoft to further enhance an innovative database that identifies and analyses the numbers and movements of fish species.

The grant will provide Sebastian Lopez-Marcano, a PhD student with Griffith’s Australian Rivers Institute (ARI), with $10,000 to accelerate work on theFishIDsoftware program.

The creation ofFishIDwas led by ARI’s Professor Rod Connolly who also heads up the Global Wetlands Project (GLOW).

FishIDidentifies and counts fish species via underwater footage, which can lead to faster generation and provision of data for fisheries management and help guide conservation efforts in regions by closely monitoring fish populations.

Lopez-Marcano, whose PhD is on ‘Measuring cross-habitat movements among habitat hotspots of fish with artificial intelligence’, saidFishIDwould complement traditional on-site monitoring techniques byanalysinghours of underwater footage of fish species for researchers and stakeholders.

“The overall objective of my PhD project is to answer different questions about fish connectivity – the movement of fish between habitats or locations – and this use of computer innovation and machine learning likeFishIDis quite new in the literature,” he said.

“Most people usually use traditional techniques like on-site monitoring – this technology works for monitoring fish movements and compliments traditional techniques by reducing the need for hours of vital resources on the ground.

“It takes hours and hours to manually process footage from on-site monitoring, so Microsoft’s AI for Earth grant will help us develop the system to the point where t it can be used by researchers from other institutions and environmental management authorities.”

AI for Earth is a $50 million, five-year program that brings the full advantage of Microsoft technology to those working to solve global environmental challenges in the key focus areas of climate, agriculture, water and biodiversity.

Through grants that provide access to cloud and AI tools, opportunities for education and training on AI, and investments in innovative, scalable solutions, AI for Earth works to advance sustainability across the globe.

Griffith is part of a growing number of AI for Earth grantees worldwide who have beenrecognisedby Microsoft for its impact and potential.

In this round, Griffith were one of only two Australian universities awarded grants among the 40 institutions awarded worldwide.

In 2019, two Griffith Engineering students were awarded a Microsoft AI for Earth grant to develop a carbon interchange model for green stormwater infrastructure in cities.

Learn more: Microsoft AI for Earth,https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/aiforearth