Loughborough PhD Social & Support Network

#BLOG – Interview with Loughborough Alumnus Dr Avinoam Baruch

In this article, Avinoam Baruch, former Doctoral Researcher from the Geography department, talked to us about his PhD research and the spin-off he launched with his supervisor.

What department and school you were part of as were a Doctoral Researcher at Loughborough?

I was in the Geography department, School of Social Sciences and Humanities.

When did you graduate?

I graduated in 2019.

Did you do an undergraduate and a master’s degree? If so, was it in Loughborough?

I did an MSci in Geography at Durham University.

Did you work between the time you finished your undergrad/master’s and the time you started your PhD?

Following my undergraduate and Master’s degree specialising in water quality, I was a researcher at Earthwatch Institute pioneering a global water quality monitoring programme. This helped form a springboard for my PhD at Loughborough University with Prof. Yu.

Can you give a quick layperson description of your PhD research?

As a PhD researcher I focused my interest in disaster response, using crowdsourcing, flood modelling and satellite imagery to map flood impacts. These helped assess risk from major disasters including Hurricanes and floods in India, USA, UK, Kenya, Uganda and Japan.

Was your PhD funded? If not did you manage to get any external funding?

Yes, my project was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Did you get involved with any societies or clubs and did you work outside of your PhD during your time at Loughborough?

Yes, I was the president of the Jewish society and was a regular at Mylifestyle sports events.

Can you think of one skill that you developed or improved during your PhD?

My GIS, research design, hydrology and investigative skills.

Can you tell us more about your current job?

Following my PhD, I co-founded Previsico with Prof. Yu as a spin-out from Loughborough University to achieve our shared mission of preventing avoidable flood impacts globally by commercialising a new technology for real-time property level forecasting.

What is your biggest achievement so far?

At the heart of my vision for Previsico is a drive is to eliminate the majority of flood impacts by providing actionable forecasts to those who need them. This requires continuous innovation through harnessing leading information sources and cutting-edge technology to produce quality forecasts for those at risk of flooding. With early adopters including the Cabinet Office, BP and several top tier insurance companies we help reduce flood impacts by delivering actionable warnings to their customers and allowing civil contingencies to support vulnerable populations faster. This work has allowed us to also carry out humanitarian work. We recently partnered with the Kenyan Red Cross to provide the first live flood forecasting system for flash flooding in the country to help proactively mitigate the impact of flooding on the most vulnerable communities. Our service delivers real-time flood warnings to the people of Kisumu city including both wealthy and poorer neighbourhoods.

Tymele Deydier
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