Jeff Davids is an expert in the field of water, and knows how important collecting data is.
Davids, “We need certain information about water to make good decisions, like how much water is running in this creek behind me? Or what’s the quality of this water? Those sorts of data help us make better decisions as engineers and policy makers.”
With that in mind, Davids and his wife Kristi, created Smartphones4Water, and then four years ago, moved from Chico to Kathmandu, Nepal, to put it to work.
Davids, “In places like Nepal that data really isn’t available, and if it is available, it’s kind of locked away behind perhaps some government officers firewall, so to speak, so we were actually working with students, and community members with a thing called Citizen Science, to engage these people, use their smartphones to actually generate these data themselves, and actually share it, and kind of encourage research and close this data gap.”
However that wasn’t the only thing Davids worked on, during his time in Asia.
Davids, “Started working in Afghanistan for the UN, the Food and Agriculture Organization, so the FAO, doing trainings with national level water leaders there, and then started the same thing in Myanmar after that.”
Then in 2018 Davids relocated to the Netherlands, where he finished up his PhD in Civil Engineering, with an emphasis in Water Management at Delft University of Technology. In all Davids and his family spent four years overseas, three in Asia, and one in Europe. He says the experience was invaluable.
Davids, “There’s so much you can learn from getting outside of your cultural context, and I think a lot of times the way we look at the world, is sort of like a pair of glasses that we have on, and it’s sort of invisible to us, that we have them on even, and so when we get outside of our context, we actually realize, wow, I actually see the world through this certain set of glasses, and what is it like to actually take those off and see the world, from a different perspective.”
This summer Davids returned to Chico, accepting a position as a professor, with time split between Civil Engineering and Agriculture, thanks to his knowledge of water. It’s the next step in his journey, and one that he’s ready for.
Davids, “I’m excited to partner with enthusiastic learners, and explore the water resources we have up here in the North State, learn more about it, figure out how we can do a better job managing in sustainably.”