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USDA Provides Winning Data in Women in Data's Climate Sustainability Datathon

Posted by Stephanie Ho, USDA Office of Communications in Forestry Technology
Nov 16, 2023
A composite graphic with Jenny Blasé, Naisargi Dave, Gintvile Valanseviciute, and Adriana Weingart

USDA partnered for the first time with Women in Data for the non-governmental organization’s just-concluded Climate Sustainability Datathon, which is a friendly contest for people who really like to work with data.

Third place winner, Team Jenga, used data from the Forest Service’s Climate Risk Viewer, which team member Naisargi Dave enjoyed working with. “It’s like a playground, and then of course, you put in the competition aspect to it. It’s just like added motivation,” said Dave, an environmental engineer from India who has lived in Nebraska for the past seven years.

Team Jenga’s analysis looked at ways the Forest Service could prioritize its climate adaptation efforts, based on risk and importance. “Our climate is like a delicately balanced structure of (the game) Jenga,” said team member Jenny Blasé, who is from Atlanta and has a background in public health. “Each block represents a parameter – temperature, water, rain, snow, carbon and humans, amongst others.” She added, “if we had more time, we could have done 100 different analyses.”

For the datathon, participants had only four weeks to complete their work, which meant an intense experience for team members like Adriana Weingart, who works in a private company in Brazil. She joined the contest to develop skills that will advance her career. She also gained important knowledge about data that she hopes to use to help Brazil with its own climate concerns.

The fourth team member is Gintville Valanseviciute, an environmental economist from Lithuania, who also joined in order to hone her data analysis skills.

More than 200 teams, made up of more than 850 participants from around the world, competed in this year’s Women in Data Climate Sustainability Datathon.

At the awards ceremony, Forest Service geospatial information specialist Jennifer Ross, who was one of the datathon’s judges, said “I was completely blown away how each team tackled their chosen problem statement with such enthusiasm, creativity and ingenuity.”

Team Jenga member Dave added that one important result is that the contest harnessed ideas from teammates of different backgrounds to come up with actionable climate strategies that make sense to all of them.

Category/Topic: Forestry Technology