Big Data: University of Washington Students Awarded Integral Fellowships
May 16, 2018
Big Data

Integral scientist Brandon Sackmann, Ph.D. (left), meets with UW graduate students Hillary Scannell and Ryan Groussman to discuss the big data research fellowships.

Integral Consulting Inc. (Integral) recently awarded two University of Washington (UW) graduate students Environmental “Big Data” fellowships for their oceanographic research. After submitting proposals detailing their projects, Hillary Scannell and Ryan Groussman were selected by the UW faculty research committee as the 2018 recipients of the research grants.

“Integral is thrilled to present these research fellowships to deserving UW students for the second year, solidifying our commitment to supporting research on the role of big data in environmental studies,” said Bill Locke, P.E., Integral President. “Our firm is dedicated to building on the fellowships through active mentoring and collaboration with the awardees.”

Established in 2016, Integral’s research fund program was developed and initiated with four universities across the country. Several of Integral’s top scientists and engineers are alumni of UW. The “big data” award was open to graduate students in the College of the Environment whose work is focused on extracting information from large data sets and exploring patterns of scientific interest. More than mapping, big data is building the relational data structures that facilitate problem-solving.

Ms. Scannell’s project is “Ocean-Atmosphere Interactions Associated with Marine Heatwave.” Using large and complex remote-sensing data sets, Ms. Scannell is applying machine learning to detect, forecast, and understand how anomalous weather conditions and their interactions produce extreme and prolonged warming events in sea surface temperature, a phenomenon known as a marine heatwave.

Seeking answers to questions about how microscopic organisms drive carbon and nutrient cycles in the Pacific Ocean, Mr. Groussman’s research project is “Eukaryotic Phytoplankton Gene Expression in the North Pacific across Diel and Basin-scale Studies.” This work integrates functional genomics, microbial taxonomy, and marine chemistry information using big data techniques to conduct this level of system analysis. Of particular interest will be the insights gained by analyzing unique organisms whose contribution to biogeochemical cycles is currently unknown.

Integral senior consultant Brandon Sackmann, Ph.D., recently met with the students at the University, where he discussed future collaborations and delivered the awards. Dr. Sackmann’s projects have included Ferries for Science, an innovative research program that ground-truths satellite products using optical data collected from passenger ferries in Puget Sound.

“Integral’s support helps our students to pursue big data projects that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to do,” said Anthony Salazar, Graduate Student Specialist for the College of the Environment at UW. “Also, the award has served as a wonderful bridge in helping these students to understand more about the industry and potential pathways.”

For more information about Integral’s research fellowship program, contact Dr. Sackmann at

Integral is a science and engineering firm providing multidisciplinary services in the fields of health, environment, technology, and sustainability. Learn more at

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View University of Washington web page on the Integral Big Data Research Award