Two Faculty Recognized for Exceptional Co-Leadership of Bass Connections Team

April 11, 2022

Kyle Bradbury and Jordan Malof.
Kyle Bradbury (left) and Jordan Malof (right)

Kyle Bradbury and Jordan Malof are the joint winners of the 2022 Bass Connections Leadership Award. This award recognizes outstanding faculty and staff team leaders for their creativity, intellectual vision and commitment to student mentoring on Bass Connections project teams.

Bradbury and Malof, both of whom are assistant research professors in Electrical and Computer Engineering, are co-leaders of Creating Artificial Worlds with AI to Improve Energy Access Data. Nominations from student team members described how Bradbury and Malof collaboratively set an inspiring vision for the team’s work, mentored students on the research process, built a positive team environment, and encouraged and empowered students. Bradbury and Malof will each receive a monetary prize.

Finalists for this award also included two individuals and one additional leadership team:

Jordan Malof (left) and Kyle Bradbury (right) and their Bass Connections teams.
Jordan Malof (far left) and Kyle Bradbury (far right) and students on their Bass Connections team.

Kyle Bradbury and Jordan Malof

Assistant Research Professors in Electrical and Computer Engineering

The Creating Artificial Worlds with AI to Improve Energy Access Data team includes nine undergraduate students and four graduate students who, under Bradbury’s and Malof’s mentorship, are using synthetic data generation techniques to represent energy infrastructure in satellite imagery. The ultimate goal of this multi-year project, which has been running since 2013, is to apply machine learning techniques to satellite and aerial imagery to inform global energy access decision-making and electricity system planning. Over the past seven years, this team has developed new analytical tools, written numerous publications that include student authors, and yielded grants for further research. 

Through team bonding trips to the gardens and fun discussions before and after class, [Dr. Bradbury and Dr. Malof] have fostered a culture that resembles a family, in which we all feel comfortable around each other and have gotten to know each other well … The level of involvement and deep care of [both] is unparalleled. Week in and week out, they perform various tasks that prove they are not only committed to the project but to us as they develop lesson plans, check in throughout the week, gather feedback, listen to student voices about the project and take time out of their days to think about next steps, consult professors, and answer our questions … Dr. Bradbury and Dr. Malof are the perfect duo, in that they complement each other's talents well, while they both still hold a deep understanding of both energy access and data science. This equips them both in terms of being able to answer questions and give guidance, and their discussions help give us a well-rounded view of the problem we have at hand. –Frankie Willard, Undergraduate Team Member

The two of them have gone above and beyond to exemplify strong leadership and foster collaboration amongst our team members. As mentors, it is clear in the way in which they interact with us both in and out of our meetings that they are both personally invested in the success of our team as well as each of us as individuals … Coming into the project, I remember feeling scared that I would be out of my depth as I didn’t have much background knowledge in machine learning, but because of the warm environment that both Kyle and Jordan created, those feelings quickly dissipated. They were incredibly helpful in always providing resources on concepts that I was unfamiliar with and always welcoming any questions any of us may have had. –Caroline Tang, Undergraduate Team Member

Through my new position this semester [as project manager], I have experienced another level of Kyle’s and Jordan’s interest in the wellbeing of the team as a whole. In our weekly meetings, they ask me how I think the members of the team are doing. They very obviously care about the dynamic and prosperity of the team in a context removed from basic productivity in the project. –Madeleine Jones, Undergraduate Team Member

Each step of the project, they made sure we understood what we are doing, but importantly always asking the why. Both Kyle and Jordan have been incredibly helpful in providing resources for us to learn, giving us responsibility and agency in our project and leading by example with kindness and curiosity. –Caleb Kornfein, Undergraduate Team Member

Both exude a clear passion for their work and research – a passion that is infectious to their students. Kyle's attitude and vision for the project is the core driving force behind our project. Jordan's expertise and clarity allow us to refocus and understand what goals are … Uncertainties are short-lived, as they are quickly brought up and thoroughly discussed in our project meetings. I feel that they have struck a great balance between personal research agency and group organization; I am very glad to be working under these two great researchers and leaders! –Alex Kumar, Undergraduate Team Member

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