Physical Hydrogeology Lab

Research Assistant
December 2022 – January 2023

The Physical Hydrogeology Lab is a research lab at UB led by Dr. Chris Lowry. The lab is focused on the study of groundwater ecosystems and groundwater flow. My work was focused on writing software for the lab’s crowd hydrology project.

Crowdsourcing Hydrological Data

The crowd hydrology project leverages smart phones and crowdsourcing to collect spatially distributed hydrological data. Over 300 data collection stations have been set up across the United States, each one providing instructions for how to interpret and submit the station’s reading. One interesting pattern that was observed in the crowdsourced data was that most people only submit data once. This observation led to a social science study in a collaboration with University of Vermont. The goal of the study was to determine the cause of this behavior by distributing a survey.

I implemented the survey distribution system using Python, Django, Twilio API, and Qualtrics Webhook API. This system distributes the survey in a respectful and privacy-preserving manner. Contributors will only be sent the survey if they send a piece of data, have not completed the survey previously, and have not been sent the survey in the past month. Additionally, contributors privacy is protected through a tokenization mechanism. Rather than send phone number information directly to Qualtrics, a token is sent. This token is meaningless outside the context of the Django application.