Malika Nisal RATNAYAKE (Sri Lanka)

Deep learning and computer vision are widely used to facilitate and improve human comfort, but not enough attention is paid to the possibility of using them for sustainability and environmental protection. Malika's research seeks to bridge this gap. Malika’s main research goal is to develop technologies based on deep learning and computer vision to facilitate insect monitoring in agriculture and ethology.

PhD Student in Information Technology at Monash University, Australia

Research focus: developing and implementing deep learning and computer vision-enabled tracking technologies for insect pollinator monitoring in agriculture and ethology

Global food security has become one of the most pressing sustainability challenges of the 21st century. Given the severity of the issue, “zero hunger” has become one of the most important sustainability goals. Insect pollination is an essential component of food production, and insect pollinators such as bees and flies pollinate over 87 food crops on one third of agricultural land. Research shows that a sustainable and better managed pollinator resource can increase crop yields by 25 percent, providing a much-needed boost to food security. However, due to the lack of efficient and effective methods to monitor pollinators, efficient pollination management is currently an impractical concept. Malika’s research aims to develop efficient and automated technologies to monitor insect pollinators.

Currently, manual data collection methods are used in sustainability research related to pollination and pollinator monitoring. These methods are usually laborious, require a high level of expertise and are relatively inefficient. In his PhD, Malika provides new perspectives for sustainability research by developing techniques for pollination monitoring supported by computer vision and deep learning. He uses state-of-the-art computer vision and deep learning-based object detection and tracking technologies to monitor insect pollinators such as honey bees. The methods he has developed provide sustainability research with a set of novel and powerful tools to record and analyse the behaviour of insect pollinators in natural outdoor environments.

Malika’s approach could help to understand the contribution of different insects to pollination, and enable farmers to use the most efficient species for pollination services. In this way, his research contributes to more sustainability in agriculture and natural ecosystems. For this reason, the jury selected Malika as a Green Talent.

The research of Malika mainly contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, 12, 13, 15:

Take a look at this video that briefly introduces Malika and his research: