Feb 1, 2017

Fellowship Recipient Uses Data Science for Sustainable Water & Energy Development

School of Information student Matt Stevenson is the first recipient of the Jack Larson “Data for Good” Fellowship, which helps MIDS students using data science to benefit society.

Matt is interested in water and energy — areas that are increasingly critical in the face of climate change. Matt started the School of Information’s Master of Information & Data Science program this semester, and is excited about the impact that data science techniques can have on water and energy, especially in developing regions.

“Working at the cutting edge of monitoring and evaluation of distributed water and power technologies for the past decade, I can see a windfall of data sources becoming available for analysis,” he says. He notes that Internet-of-Things, remote sensing, and semi-structured public data sets are increasingly becoming available for analysis. “The MIDS program will enable me to manipulate these new data sources to create better solutions to complicated social and environmental problems.”

Over the past decade, he has worked on a variety of water and sanitation initiatives in Africa and India, including work with the Global Environment & Technology Foundation, a nonprofit supporting sustainable development, with an emphasis in water and sanitation, clean energy, and sustainability. Matt has:

  • Provided technical guidance for a number of water and sanitation initiatives in Africa.
  • Designing customer engagement and back end workflow processes for a marketplace for water and energy conservation.
  • Designed an improved a data and service delivery platform for water testing, with integrated telemetric monitoring.
  • Managed the technical and operational development of 6 cutting-edge water purifiers for the military, outdoor, and emerging markets divisions.
  • Managed a randomized controlled trial to determine the health impact of household chlorination among 2,200 families in India
  • Conducted sanitary surveys of five cities in India to find a suitable location for a health impact trial.
  • Drafted and implemented plans for engineering works in Southern Sudan.

Matt also has a master’s degree in environmental engineering from MIT and a B.A. in chemistry and African studies from Amherst College.

Matt is especially interested in the machine learning algorithms that are making small-scale energy and water systems possible. Examples include Tesla’s smart chargers, which optimize car batteries to reduce peak grid power usage; TaKaDu’s software to analyze leaky pipes; and Gridform’s algorithms that turn satellite images of rural villages into planning maps for micro-grids.

The Jack Larson “Data for Good” Fellowship helps MIDS students pursue a career using data science to improve human life or benefit society. Starting this semester, six $8,500 fellowships will be awarded to MIDS students over the next two years. The fellowship is sponsored by a donation from UC Berkeley alumnus and entrepreneur Jack Larson.

“I am extremely grateful to have received this fellowship,” says Matt. The fellowship will make it possible for him to pursue the most environmentally and socially useful path after graduation.

Last updated:

February 2, 2017