PhD Student, Landslide Modeling, Badal Pokharel @GarnetBadal: A Day in the GeoLife Series

PhD Student, Badal Pokharel in the field. ©2020 Badal Pokharel

NAME: Badal Pokharel

CURRENT TITLE: Ph.D. Student, Landslide Hazard Assessment

AREA OF EXPERTISE: Landslide susceptibility modeling using remote sensing techniques and GIS


EDUCATION: Ph.D. Student (present) – University of New South Wales, Australia
M.Sc. Engineering Geology (2015-2018)- Tri-Chandra Multiple Campus, Tribhuvan University, Nepal
B.Sc. with Geology major (2011-2014) – Tri-Chandra Multiple Campus, Tribhuvan University, Nepal


TWITTER NAME: @GarnetBadal

What’s your job like?

I am a Ph.D. student at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Unversity of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia. My research involves using remote sensing and geographic information (GIS) to access, monitor, and predict earthquake-induced landslides. I analyze the geospatial data using machine learning algorithms and advance image processing. One of the major focuses of my research is developing an effective mapping domain (slope units) as it is one of the determining factors in the quality of landslide susceptibility models. My study area lies in the central Nepal Himalayas. 

What’s a typical day like?

I spend most of my time in the office (lab). At present, I have organized my day into two parts: writing and data processing. Since I use satellite images to assess the landslides and different software like GRASS GIS, SNAP, ENVI, etc. to process the data, I have to do a lot of desk work. My daily routine might change when I have fieldwork. In the later year of my Ph.D., I will spend my day in my study area to validate the landslide locations. 

PhD Student, Badal Pokharel ©2020 Badal Pokharel

What’s fun?

The fun part is learning new things every day. I enjoy exploring statistics as it is a significant part to generate a predictive model. The next thing that fascinates me is the advancement of satellite images and how they give a visualization of the real world. 

What’s challenging?

The most challenging part of my research is to minimize the error in models. I frequently come across different problems related to statistics. This makes me realize how critical data science can be in the development of any geological model. Putting the geological or engineering geology knowledge in a data box and extracting logical output is very challenging. 

What’s your advice to students?

Research in any field requires a lot of patience and determination. We need a deep study to figure out the research gaps and this is the first thing that will lead us in a way of being a researcher. I am practicing it at present and will continue to. I have a special message for girls in geoscience-careers: have no gender. 

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