Campus Event Calendar

Event Entry

What and Who

High-stakes decisions from low-quality data: AI decision-making for planetary health

Lily Xu
Harvard University
CIS@MPG Colloquium

Lily Xu is a computer science PhD student at Harvard developing AI techniques to address planetary health challenges. She focuses on advancing methods in machine learning, large-scale planning, and causal inference. Her work building the PAWS system to predict poaching hotspots has been deployed in multiple countries and is being scaled globally through integration with SMART conservation software. Lily co-organizes the Mechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG) research initiative and serves as AI Lead for the SMART Partnership. Her research has been recognized with best paper runner-up at AAAI, the INFORMS Doing Good with Good OR award, a Google PhD Fellowship, and a Siebel Scholarship.
AG 1, AG 2, AG 3, INET, AG 4, AG 5, D6, SWS, RG1, MMCI  
AG Audience

Date, Time and Location

Wednesday, 21 February 2024
60 Minutes


Planetary health is an emerging field which recognizes the inextricable link between human health and the health of our planet. Our planet’s growing crises include biodiversity loss, with animal population sizes declining by an average of 70% since 1970, and maternal mortality, with 1 in 49 girls in low-income countries dying from complications in pregnancy or birth. Underlying these global challenges is the urgent need to effectively allocate scarce resources. My research develops data-driven AI decision-making methods to do so, overcoming the messy data ubiquitous in these settings. Here, I’ll present technical advances in stochastic bandits, robust reinforcement learning, and restless bandits, addressing research questions that emerge from my close collaboration with the public sector. I’ll also discuss bridging the gap from research and practice, including anti-poaching field tests in Cambodia, field visits in Belize and Uganda, and large-scale deployment with SMART conservation software.


Lena Schneider
+49 681 9303 0
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Virtual Meeting Details

668 9092 0474
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Lena Schneider, 01/23/2024 09:11 -- Created document.