Benjamin Kellenberger

Hello, world! I am a researcher at the Jetz lab at Yale University, working at the intersection of Earth observation, machine learning, and ecology to answer questions about the distribution of species and underlying processes.
I previously worked in the ECEO lab at EPFL, Switzerland, where I researched methods to automatically identify animals from above—using aerial imagery.

In a Nutshell

Ecologists have been contributing for decades to our understanding of where individuals of species thrive and where they don't. It turns out that most of these findings about biological nature are things we acknowledge that we don't know—perhaps more so than in any other science field (reference needed). Nonetheless, the process understanding amassed by ecologists is huge and severely underused in current methodologies.

Species distribution map of the Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis).

In my research, I explore ways to integrate such latent knowledge into modelling approaches in new ways, stepping beyond hard and limiting assumptions of existing heuristics.

Digital Wildlife Conservation: What and Why

I am interested in developing and providing solutions for nature and wildlife conservation, particularly using machine learning, computer vision in conjunction with aerial or camera trap imagery. One of my major research directives to this end is the automated and interactive localisation of mammals (elephants, rhino, etc.) in aerial images. Click for more infos!

Other things I do

My research interests are highly interdisciplinary and span more general vision, remote sensing and GIS topics. In detail, I also work on domain adaptation, weakly- and self-supervised learning, meta-learning, land cover and land use mapping, and more.
Besides that, I have been frequently involved in teaching (BSc and MSc courses in GIS and machine learning for spatial data), and I administered and maintained the computing infrastructure of my previous research groups, including some GPU servers back in the Netherlands.


September 1, 2022

I will be moving labs! Starting October 1st, I will be joining the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, the Jetz Lab, at Yale University as a postdoctoral researcher! My focus will be on large-scale habitat suitability mapping with remote sensing and machine learning; so will be contributions to the Map of Life project.

February 9, 2022

New position paper in Nature Communications: Perspectives in machine learning for wildlife conservation
We connect the dots between ecological research on wildlife conservation and automated heuristics from machine learning and computer vision. We not only highlight the potential of machine vision to assist, accelerate, enhance, and upscale ecological research, along with success stories and lessons learnt, but sketch an agenda to foster joint efforts between the involved fields towards a holistic understanding of wildlife behaviour, conservation, and needs.

I am thrilled to have been joint first author on this landmark publication and, more importantly, honoured to have been able to work together with some of the greatest scientists and people imaginable.

January 28, 2022

Development of AIDE v3.0 is on its way! Lots and lots of new features are planned. Here's just a sneak peek of some of them:

  • Photoshop-grade semantic segmentation tools (seriously): tweet
  • Support for multi- and hyperspectral remote sensing images and formats (ENVI, ERDAS Imagine, etc.): tweet
Development will take more time, but you may want to stay tuned for an exciting release!

▼ more news

About me

I am originally from Zurich, Switzerland and also did my BSc and MSc there (University of Zurich). I completed my PhD at Wageningen University, Netherlands, with distinction "cum laude" (PhD thesis). A recording of my PhD defence from April 6, 2020, can be found here for your amusement. I have also worked in the U.S. at Microsoft in summer 2019.

Here's a brief summary of my educational activities:

October 2020 - Postdoctoral position at ECEO, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, campus Sion, Switzerland.
April 7, 2020 - September 2020 Postdoctoral position at GRS, WUR
May - August 2019 Research Intern at Microsoft in the context of the AI for Earth initiative. Development of the AIDE platform.
Aug 2017 - April 6, 2020 PhD candidate (cont'd) at the Laboratory of Geo-Information Science and Remote Sensing (GRS), Wageningen University (WUR), the Netherlands.
Feb 2016 - Jul 2017 PhD candidate at the Remote Sensing Laboratories, University of Zurich.
2015 - 2016 Intern at the Institute of Cartography and Geoinformation, ETH Zurich. Development of the GeoVITe geodata download portal.
2014 - 2015 Intern at the Federal Office of Topography swisstopo. Development of the Swiss Map Mobile data backbone.
2009 - 2014 BSc and MSc in Geography (Remote Sensing and GIS) and Computer Science at University of Zurich, Switzerland.

Feel free to contact me for a full CV.

People I collaborate with

Just a few of the amazing people I have or had the honour to work with (in no particular order):