Illinois Innovation Network Honors Innovators From Across State

8/17/2022 1:23:01 PM University of Illinois System News

The Illinois Innovation Network (IIN) announced recipients of its second-annual innovation awards Wednesday at the Illinois State Fair’s Tech Prairie STEAM Expo, recognizing individuals from the IIN’s 15 hubs who have made key advances in research, technology commercialization and education.

Kaiyu Guan, second from left, with other IIN Innovation Award recipients.
Kaiyu Guan, second from left, with other IIN Innovation Award recipients.

The awards were presented to faculty, staff or scientists from IIN hubs in four of the IIN’s key subject areas: computing and data, environment and water, food and agriculture, and health and wellness. The IIN also presented awards for an open category of innovation and to a student innovator from IIN hubs.

“It is our honor to celebrate these innovators and their discoveries,” said Jay Walsh, vice president for economic development and innovation for the University of Illinois System, which coordinates the IIN. “They all are shining examples of the fantastic research and discovery happening across our state.”

IIN Innovation Award recipients 
Computing & Data Category
Kaiyu Guan, Blue Waters associate professor in ecohydrology and remote sensing and Illinois CS affiliate faculty, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Guan developed the technology to observe and measure land and water resources for every farm on the planet, which powers his startup company Habiterre. Habiterre integrates data streams from satellites, airplanes, automobiles and ground sensor networks to create a comprehensive view of farmland. Those data streams are processed with the company’s fusion algorithms, which eliminate gaps in the data and remove the effects of clouds, and have been verified with actual “ground truth” information, creating a quantitative analysis of individual fields at a 30-meter (100-foot) resolution and at a daily frequency, recording the past 20+ years. Then they apply scientific models and proprietary algorithms to evaluate crop growth conditions, water use, biochemical status, and management practices. Starting with a well-established scientific model for simulating entire agriculture ecosystems, Habiterre added proprietary improvements that incorporate hundreds of variables above and below ground, then it constrained the model with actual observations, create a reliable, realistic and holistic view of each farm. This effort has created the most advanced model for crop growth, carbon cycles, and nutrient dynamics. Using AI and advanced mathematical tools to combine the data and model, we have created the first real forecasting capabilities for agro-ecosystems. Habiterre can directly see how different components of carbon, water, and nutrients change during the growth season and how they are impacted by farming practices. Additionally, the company can create simulations that make it possible to predict the outcomes of various changes, from switching crop varieties and management practices, to assessing the impacts of climate change. With the aid of supercomputers and cloud computing, they can process millions of farm-level simulations simultaneously, allowing us to achieve field-level accuracy over large geographic areas.


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