by Emily Pschigoda
Viswadeep Lebakula found himself a world away from home when he landed in Starkville, Mississippi. His hometown rests 8,994 miles from the Magnolia State, as Viswadeep hails from the state of Andhra Pradesh in India. Viswadeep’s educational career in computer science led him to a doctorate program at Mississippi State University and a graduate research assistantship with the Social Science Research Center.
Viswadeep is an active PhD student in computer science at MSU, on the heels of completing his undergraduate degree in India and a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Central Missouri. When he arrived at MSU, Viswadeep’s advisor assisted in connecting him with the SSRC’s need for computer science students.
“In India, students are completely funded by parents,” said Viswadeep. “No matter what, students don’t work in India. Here, it’s a completely different thing.”
He now works as a full-time graduate research assistant in tandem with the SSRC’s director, Dr. Arthur G. Cosby, on a pair of projects that are shaping the way the world understands its population.
Using the LandScan database, Viswadeep works intently to estimate the coastal populations of the world, its continents and countries. This project is the first of its kind in estimating near-accurate coastal populations of the globe, with Viswadeep in the midst of the ground-breaking research.
The technology used in the project reveals that a vast majority of the American population reside coastally. In other countries, it shows that the coastline areas are lacking structures, people and resources.
Alongside the LandScan initiative, Viswadeep works with analyzing night-time light for the United States and Canada as another way to predict population. This project allows them to analyze light at different times of the year, which forms a broad stroke of the continent’s population annually.
Putting his aptitude for computer science to work in the SSRC’s innovative projects, Viswadeep is passionate about using his talents to make an impact. Growing up in a coastal state of India, he can certainly compare the need for coastal attention across different continents.
Following graduation from MSU with his doctorate in computer science, Viswadeep hopes to become a professor and aid other undergraduates in the possibilities within the field.
“I think I will be here for some time. Eventually, I am planning to go home,” said Viswadeep. “I would like to eventually be a professor.”
Aside from his expertise in computer science and groundbreaking research, Viswadeep enjoys partaking in games of cricket, a popular sport of his home country.