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Student Impact: Seizing Opportunities

Allowing for Invaluable Experiences

March 1, 2021

Having your research poster selected for Posters on the Hill, a D.C.-based research competition sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research, is an honor. It’s also an incredible opportunity. You get the chance to present your research in a very competitive program. You receive recognition at a prestigious event. And you have the unparalleled opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. and meet with the Kansas representatives. It is a dream come true in so many ways.

In 2019, Song Yang’s research Acoustic Classification of Bird Species Using Wavelets and Learning Algorithms was the only project from Kansas selected to compete at the Posters on the Hill event. It was a well-deserved honor for her hard work and it shone a bright light on the research that Emporia State students conduct.

Yang’s research with faculty advisor Dr. Qiang Shi worked to answer the question — can a computer determine the species of a bird when the computer hears the bird’s calls?

According to Yang, knowing what birds are living in a local habitat is beneficial for a number of reasons. Bird populations — or the lack of specific birds — can show the health of an ecosystem. Local airports also want to track bird populations to avoid bird-plane strikes. Identifying birds by their calls is time-consuming for experienced ornithologists.

For her project, Yang designed a mathematical algorithm to identify bird calls. Her work included breaking down bird calls by syllable and establishing classification rules to determine the species.

The selection of her research was an honor she earned through her work. The realization of the opportunity was a matter of teamwork. The generous support of Hornet Nation donors to unrestricted funds helped to cover the travel expenses and make this journey a reality.

Hornet Nation was well represented in our Nation’s capital and Dr. Shi said there were numerous beneficial outcomes from the experience for the student, “I think the recognition gave her more confidence in her research ability and skills. I think what she got out of the project and the trip was not only a high-impact learning experience in math and computer science but also a great learning experience about the American government and American culture. Overall, I think it was an invaluable experience for her.”