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How can design-thinking connect NASA's hydrological data to end users?


NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Design Research Internship, Fall 2016 - May 2017


Team leads: Jessie Kawata (Advanced Design Engineering) and Joshua Fisher (Scientist, Water & Carbon Cycles Group)

Co-intern: Gina Om


The goal of this project is to help improve the water community’s decision-making process, by designing a new visually-compelling and 

user-friendly system of indicators, using data from NASA’s hydrological satellites.  


As part of this internship, I worked on a team of climate scientists and designers to research factors that go into decision making related to drought management at various stakeholder levels.  Our team incorporated a design-thinking creative research strategy towards connecting data and drought indicators to key decision points of stakeholders and end-users.  Leveraging expertise in Industrial and Product Design, our team applied this methodological approach to climate science through ethnographic, visualization and systems thinking techniques to assess the state of water management and information infusion throughout the US, with a focused case study on California.


Going forward, these findings will be used to create a comprehensive system of drought and hydrological indicators that will go into the future National Climate Assessment Report, which is a central component of the 2012-2021 US Global Change Research Program.

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