U student wins national computer science award

Ph.D. candidate Jaya Kawale uses computer algorithms to find the climate's "heartbeat."

Computer Science graduate student Jaya Kawale won a prestigious national award, the Explorations in Science Through Computation Student Award. Kawale will be receiving the award in Seattle on November 15.

Anthony Kwan

Computer Science graduate student Jaya Kawale won a prestigious national award, the Explorations in Science Through Computation Student Award. Kawale will be receiving the award in Seattle on November 15.

Jeff Hargarten

Jaya Kawale loves Seattle. And after winning a national award for her graduate project, she gets an all-expense-paid trip to her favorite city this fall.

Kawale won the prestigious annual Explorations in Science Through Computation Student Award for designing new methods to improve how scientists predict global warming.

Kawale, a computer science Ph.D. candidate at the University of Minnesota, worked for a year designing computer algorithms to automatically process global warming data when she entered her work for award consideration.

Her method works by finding âÄúinverse climate relationships,âÄù where some places on Earth are warmer and others cooler as a result.

 âÄúIf you find the planetâÄôs heartbeat, you can gain a lot of insight,âÄù Kawale said.

The award-winning entry will allow scientists to use computers to find climate relationships previously only detectable through human observation, said professor Vipin Kumar.

Kumar supervises Kawale, and described the winning innovation as âÄúreading the climateâÄôs heartbeat.âÄù

Kawale worked among 11 other graduate students under Kumar on a $10 million National Science Foundation project, which will make use of her new methods.

She was the first to digitally aggregate climate data collected throughout the world. A âÄúsmall but very important stepâÄù toward better predicting the future effects of global warming, Kumar said.

On Nov. 15, Kawale will receive her award at the SC11 supercomputing conference in Seattle, returning to the city where she interned as a Microsoft researcher over the summer.

The contest is held annually by the Shodor Education Foundation and run by a panel of 16 scientists and educators across the nation.

Robert Panoff, who started the foundation, said the award recognizes âÄúextraordinary breakthroughs.âÄù High school and college students from across the country compete annually, he said.

Aside from the award, winners are also offered a summer internship at the foundation.

Panoff, who will present Kawale with the award, said he encouraged her to continue her work.