Dr. Hannah Kerner develops machine learning solutions for NASA Harvest, a program led by the University of Maryland, in which a group of international partners use satellite data to make decisions related to food security and agriculture in the U.S. and around the world. Dr. Kerner said she appreciates the real-life implications of her work — for example, her team is responding to a locust infestation in Kenya, which has been called the worst in decades and is threatening farmland.
But Dr. Kerner’s background in machine learning is out of this world, specifically on Mars and other planets with the Mars Science Laboratory. She also worked on commercial remote sensing at Planet. Dr. Kerner talks about how and why she made the choice to change the focus of her work from exploring other worlds to protecting and maintaining our own. “Earth is definitely the best planet, and we need to really really pay attention to this one,” she says.
Hannah is also on the board of advisors for Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), an organization that she led as an undergrad. She shares her experience navigating academia as a first-generation college student, how space companies are attracting young engineers, and ways the next generation looks at the industry differently.