Green Data Journey; Interview with Data Scientist Karina Cucchi

Environmental data science is nowadays known as the interdisciplinary field bringing together data science techniques and environmental business know-how for solving environmental issues. The high pace of technical development along with the explosion of environmental data and computing power motivated some data professionals to apply their skills to contribute to preserve the environment. The question is raised for whether it will be possible for humans to overcome the depletion of environmental resources, the speed of global warming, the rising pollution, the danger of hunger and poverty. In order to achieve sustainability, businesses need to have readily available tools for understanding how their decisions can impact the environment. And to achieve this goal, environmental data science can be key.

To learn more about the application of data science in the environmental industry, I had a great pleasure interview with PhD – Data Scientist. Karina Cucchi. 

Karina is an applied mathematician, data scientist and environmental engineer, working at Suez company. She was selected as one of 100 Green Data Driven professionals having great impact in the field of green data. With a background in mathematics, Karina uses mathematical representations of environmental processes to better understand and forecast them. She has previously used these techniques to better understand how water moves in the environment, how health and environmental data can help predict infectious diseases, and how environmental conditions influence yields in crops. Her current work mostly concentrates on utilizing innovative sensors to measure carbon concentration at different locations and building a digital solution supporting the climate transition. 

As a data scientist with a strong quantitative background, Karina Cucchi was willing to share with us her experience in carrying out a career in the environmental industry 

“ I really want to work on designing digital solutions that directly help us make better decisions for the environment” – Karina Cucchi shared in the interview. 

From environmental research to digital solutionsthe first career experience to the ambition to make better environment 

Before stepping into her current role focusing on low carbon solutionsthe current company for working about carbon management, Karina spent several years as a researcher in the department of Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Her PhD work focused on the development of low-cost environmental sensors to monitor water movement in the soil, and on the assimilation of the collected data using advanced mathematical techniques.

She then joined a tech company in she used to have time to settle her career path in the first company about digital agriculture, with the goal of applying her skills for real world applications. The goal is applying big data, environmental processes to support farmers to manage the farming operation. The idea of the work is making recommendations for farmers to use less of the input, optimize the financial investment and try to maximize the productivity of the operation. Since working for the first company, she holds a big ambition for making the environment better and still nurturing doing it so far. The goal of the digital agriculture industry is to help farmers manage their operations using data science and domain expertise.

When being asked about the obstacles that she met when in  working with environmental data, she did not hesitate to  share:

“ You had a lot of data, but at the same time this data is messy and it available and it doesn’t cover all the cases that you’re interested in understanding. So in order to interpret the data , you need to understand the physical processes that underlie them. This is what allows to link , in order to understand what are the important factors such as crop genetics and fertilizers inputs, to the outcome you’re interested inhat explain the certain outcomes. “

It can be clearly seen that to get an appropriate decision in environmental impact, it not only requires the data background but it also needs to combine with having the understanding  about the physical processes of operation. In the talk with Karina Cucchi, she pointed out a part of the picture about data application in the agriculture field. As we can see that, the introduction of big data in agriculture brings a lot of benefits for farmers and reduces a lot of physical work. DThe data scientists inor agritech companies utilize real-time data from on site can utilize the sensors and satellites and their understanding of environmental processes to help farmers maximize yield on fields while minimizing inputs. or different measurements for updating the real-time data in the field, weather prediction or water irrigation controlling. However, as a data scientist, their responsibility is to interpret the data under an algorithm and apply it to specific cases, try to minimize the input data like use less water, fertile or energy and maximize the yield of crops.  

Future activities in the career path 

When being asked about what she would like to do to make the environment better, Karina Cucchi shared that she would like to keep pursuing the career in the application of data science for in building solutions for the environment, bringing data science to environmental solutions. She wants to talk, continue talking with customers to better understand what issues they are running into and they need and building the solutions that fits their needsbased on that. 

Otherwises, she also would like to challenge herself to  have more experience and try in different fields or new domain knowledge because she believes that there is the transposition between different fields and domain knowledge. It will be great if having a connection or switching between these different fields. She is excited to start her new position helping cities monitor carbon emissions and implement low carbon solutions at Suez.

In her personal life, Karina has also taken action by In the last interview, I was impressed with her sharing when it comes to her personal activities that make the environment better, she tried to minimizinged herto eat meat consumption to less than  just for once a month, and by usinge the carbon compensation to compensate herfor the carbon emissions from her activities and would like to have a living home involving in eco-friendly life.