Master's student Amelia Holcomb uses mobile phone sensors to calculate how much carbon a forest sequesters

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Amelia Holcomb, a master’s student at the Cheriton School of Computer Science, wanted more than a great job at a large tech company. She is now researching how technology can measure forest carbon.


photo of Amelia HolcombAmelia Holcomb was working at one of the biggest tech firms in the United States after graduating from Yale University when she started to grow restless.

“I found myself asking why I was doing what I was doing. If I succeed … how does that change the world?” 

Amelia realized she wanted to use her background in math and computer science to tackle climate change. Today, she’s a graduate student at the Cheriton School of Computer Science. “I got really excited about Waterloo, specifically the thesis program and the ability to direct my own studies,” Amelia says. “Not a lot of schools offer a research thesis option. It’s a bit of a non-traditional path within computer science.” 

Her current research is inspired by the British government’s plan to achieve net carbon neutrality and reforest 22 per cent of its land. “If you want to incentivize reforestation, how do you evaluate the process?” Amelia asks. 

“Especially if you want to incentivize a lot of small-scale reforestation efforts around a country, how do you allow someone to report on their progress?”

Learn more about Amelia’s research.

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