Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Graduation date: Spring 2025
Additional details: Honors student
GCSP research stipend | Spring 2023
Global Supply Chains as Predictors of Activity
As detrimental legal, environmental, economic, or political events continue to be present in modern society, it becomes important to predict these activities before they occur. Studying the growing global buyer-supply network provides a unique approach in determining and predicting certain outcomes, as trade directly describes the health of industries, and thus by extension the welfare of the country. Thus, this research will utilize buyer-supply data and satellite location (AIS) data of vessels to determine if patterns, anomalies, or spikes in trade may predict certain legal, environmental, economic, or political outcomes.
Mentor: Paulo Shakarian
Featured project | Spring 2023
As part of the GCSP program, computer science sophomore Rohan Nair is investigating how global supply chain data can predict future legal, environmental, economic or political events that are disruptive to commerce and society. Nair is working with faculty mentor Paulo Shakarian, an associate professor of computer science and engineering, to use the vast amount of location and trade data from ocean-based shipping to help address the grand challenge of security.
What made you want to get involved in GCSP and the project you’re working on?
I wanted to get involved in the Grand Challenges Scholars Program because of the appeal behind being involved in macroscopic issues outside of the classroom. I have always been interested in using my skills to develop projects that would end up being useful to a certain industry or society in some way, and GCSP offered an opportunity for me to do just that with service learning and learning about globalized efforts for innovation to solve large-scale problems. Even further, there is an emphasis on diversifying the academic experience at ASU, and by working in groups with different majors to develop a project, I am able to be a much more well-rounded student and work more efficiently in groups.
I chose this project because it allows me to develop skills for both my computer science major and economics minor, as it works with the supply chains of global industries through maritime data analysis.
What has been the most memorable experience as a student researcher?
My most memorable experience was the process of developing and completing the code necessary for one of the lab’s earlier tasks. My responsibility was to develop code with Python that would gather as much information as possible from a REST API by using EC2, a cloud computing service from Amazon. I did not have any experience using EC2, but after taking the time to learn and reach out for help, I learned so much about the overall scope of how raw data can be turned into visualizations that can indicate truly meaningful patterns and results.
Have there been any surprises in your research?
The main surprise in my research has been discovering the immense amount of data that exists for maritime activity. Different data vendors gather shipping and location data of vessels from different sources and countries, and then compile what they receive into their personal database. With the number of vessels, ports, companies and countries, as well as the frequency at which location is tracked as a record, the data reaches terabytes of storage, a far larger scope than I had imagined before.
How do you see this experience helping with your career or advanced degree goals?
This experience will help both my career and advanced degree goals as it allows me to input knowledge I’ve learned from past classes and use it in a real-world context. In the classroom, it is quite difficult to learn how to apply the knowledge we learn outside of homework assignments. This is oftentimes because it is also difficult to retain information due to the numerous classes and concepts being instructed at once. This research experience allowed me to apply my computer science knowledge by practicing with databases, visualizations and cloud computing. Through the personal development required for the project, I was also able to further my skills using tools such as Python and REST APIs, which overall drastically improved my strengths in data engineering, a field that I plan on pursuing.
Why should other students get involved in GCSP?
It is a unique opportunity to work on a project that applies skills relevant to your major outside of classes while also under the supervision of a professor. Oftentimes, it is difficult for students to get real-world experience for various reasons, making it harder to stand out in competitive markets. This program offers a unique way of standing out, as not only do you actively apply the skills you learn in classes, but you also have the opportunity of working with a professor who has intense academic or industry experience, and they can advise you along the way and even after the project.