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Machine learning conference

Univ Diana Avadanii Travel ReportResearch Training Fund Report – Diana Avadanii

In March 2019 I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Second Machine Learning in Solid Earth Geoscience, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, US. This is a conference organized by the centre for Non-linear studies from Los Alamos National Laboratory. It was a focused and technical conference, attended by world leading scientists within the subject. My favourite aspect of the conference is its interdisciplinary nature between geosciences, computer science, and applied maths.

At this conference I had the opportunity to give a 30 minute talk about my DPhil work up to date on the role of grain boundaries in olivine plastic deformation. Olivine is the main mineral constituent of the upper mantle, and its physical properties control large scale phenomena such as plate tectonics. I talked about olivine deformation at low temperatures and high stresses and how the experiments I have done so far could translate to geological problems. I also exposed my ideas about where machine learning techniques could yield insights in material deformation. For me, the key focus of this conference was to learn and absorb how machine learning algorithms are applied in solid earth geosciences and to identify the best approaches to implement these in experimental studies.

The highlight of the conference was meeting with scientists from Los Alamos National Lab and other institutions across North America and discuss my work and potential further collaborations. It was extremely insightful to meet scientists from a numerical modelling background and to discuss interdisciplinary ways of addressing outstanding questions.

I am also glad that my talk went really well and it was very well received. While I am passionate about the subject I am studying, I am particularly proud that I exposed a different academic community to the outstanding problems in the rock rheology field and I gained their interest for the subject more broadly. I received further questions and requests for further literature and sources after my talk, which gives me great pleasure.

After the conference’s closing remarks during lunchtime, I had a brilliant afternoon exploring Santa Fe’s active art community in different galleries and museums. I visited the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts and a few galleries owned by local artists.

I left the conference with a lot of enthusiasm and ideas I am eager to put in practice. I also left Santa Fe confident that I managed to participate in meaningful scientific conversations and that I established new collaborations. For this key academic experience, I am particularly grateful to the Research Training fund from University College.

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