Kyle Zawada’s academic life began in the marine environment, studying marine and freshwater biology at the University of Essex in the UK before moving to Australia and delving into the world of statistics, data and computer programming as part of his PhD.
Kyle is now a key researcher involved in a Food Agility's Predicting Harvest Timing and Yield in Intensive Cropping project, working for the University of Technology Sydney and agtech company The Yield to develop models to predict wine grape harvest quantity, quality and timing. Kyle is primarily the data ‘guru’ for the project, supporting the project team to obtain, maintain, and visualise data and developing growth stage and harvest timing models.
“I’m currently working with Treasury Wine Estates to build harvest models. So far my research has been translated into predictions for their 2021 vintage.
“I also work a lot on data visualisation tools for different audiences, which I find are important tools for communicating results and exploring patterns in the data. I’ve built dashboards that combine grower and weather data for clients and have used them during workshops to help guide research questions and approaches. I’ve also developed internal data visualisation tools to communicate results to The Yield and Food Agility.”
“A big drawcard of this research project for me is the capacity to work with large and varied sources of information. So far I’ve worked with satellite, microclimate, weather and grower-specific data. Each dataset is different and requires different skills to use effectively.”
Kyle recognised the advantages of focusing on a role that was more than purely academic and this is what led him to The Yield and a Food Agility project.
“This role and the Food Agility project offered unique opportunities with a good blend of both academic and industry-based research. After a purely academic PhD project, it’s been good to get experience in a real-world, applied environment.”
There have been a number of advantages for Kyle in being involved in this type of industry-based project. He has been able to gain skills in industry-based practices and tools and to think about research in a more applied context, broadening his experience in the intersection of business and research outcomes.
“The Food Agility project has been great for upskilling as well, especially in the areas of machine learning and computer programming, and that is helping me be more effective in other areas of research. It’s really setting me up well for the future.”
Outside of the research world he is still dipping his toes in the ocean participating in surfing, free diving, and scuba diving.