Eshoo recognizes senior Sidney Hough recognized for creating app that helps farmers fight weeds 

January 28, 2020 — by Brandon Wang

Senior Sidney Hough recently won the California 18th District’s 2019 Congressional App Challenge (CAC) for creating Uproot, an app that helps farmers identify and track weeds in their fields. Congresswoman Anna Eshoo came to Hough’s first-period class on Jan. 6 to bestow the award upon her.

Uproot uses computer vision to differentiate invasive weeds, which present a serious problem for farmers, from the native plants that are necessary for a healthy ecosystem and that can superficially appear similar to harmful weeds, Sidney said. After identification, Uproot then tracks the weed’s growth and spread to aid with its containment.

Hough was inspired to create Uproot in part because of her father’s complaints about oxalis, a yellow flower that can appear in yards in the rainy season.

Another inspiration was an internship she had last spring at an agricultural technology company called Kissan, where she worked on UX/UI design. “They also use machine learning to empower underserved farmers, but they’re in India,” Hough said. “I wanted to take that concept and apply it to California’s agricultural problems.”

Moving forward, Hough said that she is continuing to train Uproot’s machine learning-based vision mechanism, which currently has an accuracy rate of 97.5 percent. She is also working with the nonprofit California Invasive Plant Council to improve the mapping features of the app. 

Hough hopes to pursue computer science, particularly distributed systems, and entrepreneurship in college, with a long-term goal of ultimately heading a tech startup.

As part of her award, Hough won $250 in credits for Amazon Web Services and will be invited to the mid-April House of Code event on Capitol Hill. 

Senior Mitra Mokhlesi said that she “really excited” to hear that Hough was recognized for her achievement.

“I'm really happy for her because she went above and beyond to get her app introduced to California farmers and has been developing the app for months,” Mokhlesi said. “Sidney winning the challenge was so well deserved.”

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