Concordia hosts Annual CIRCH Research Conference

Concordia held its annual Concordia International Research Conference on April 1st, 2023. 

This year’s Keynote speakers were Mr. Kester Scandrett, Country Representative from US water management consulting firm DSI, and Mr. JJ Hurley, from the US Department of Agriculture at the US Embassy. 

Mr. Scandrett discussed real-world applications of data analytics and showed how DSI uses millions of data points to create 3D models of rivers and lakes.

These models allow DSI to evaluate management scenarios for lakes, rivers and coastal systems. Mr. Scandrett explained model calibration: how DSI tweaks certain parameters to account for such factors as turbulence, to help the model perform better.

DSI can then assess habitat sustainability for parts of the lake for species protection, such as salmon. The models can also be used to predict harmful algae blooms, and evaluate the fate and transport of chemicals of concern, such as 6PPD-Quinone, a toxic chemical produced as tires wear down.

Mr. Hurley discussed bug and pest eradication programs, in particular invasive pests like the Mediterranean fruit fly, which infest fruit in places like Central America if not prevented. 

He explained how we use data to study patterns and analyze how best to control insects and prevent outbreaks, and detailed US government cooperation with Mexico and Guatemala to push such flies away from important agricultural export zones. 

This is important to international agricultural trade, because if such pests are found in fruits, the US will prohibit their import, affecting local farmers and US consumers. 

Student presentations included such topics as Analyzing Global Lung Cancer Data, Text Analysis of Mental Health-rated Reddit Posts, and Analysis of the Correlation Between Economic Indicators and Financial Crimes in South Korea and the USA from 2000 to 2015.

Students found the conference a very insightful learning experience.

“Writing my very first research paper was not a smooth, easy process, but with Dr. Santos' extensive help, I was able to complete a research project that I ended up being very proud of and excited about. It was also my first time presenting at a formal research conference so I was a bit nervous, but seeing all the others passionately explaining their findings also made me excited to share mine. I learned that there are so many topics I could explore and share just as I did that day, which is something to look forward to in the future,” said Chaewon (G11).

“This was my second year participating in CIRCH as a member of the organizing team. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the conference in person after doing it in a hybrid fashion for two years, and I found the experience very educational. Not only did I get to see research and data analysis in a new light, but I also found the presentations very informative and gained some insight on what Big Data students did and how their work was applicable to real life,” said Mettel (G11). 

"CIRCH is a great opportunity for anyone with passion in their area of interest to share their findings from research projects, and form meaningful networks with other student researchers. Although CIRCH has yet to be an internationally well-known student-led research conference, I believe that it can soon become our future if we move forward with small improvements each year," said Jinseo (G11), one of the student organizers of the conference. 

"The CIRCH conference was an amazing and useful academic experience for me, since I received valuable input and perspectives from the various participants and chairs. I enjoyed sharing the findings of my study with my research partner, and I'm looking forward to participating in future CIRCH conferences!" said Quang Minh (G10).

Learn more about Concordia’s high school program.


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