Hudson Koch joins KGS to assist with landslide project
When Hudson Koch moved from his native Wisconsin to Lexington in early April to take a job with KGS, he immediately noticed the difference in climate. “It’s warmer down here!” he says. “Which is nice; I’m wondering, though, if it might get too warm. But I think the city’s a good size, with lots of options.” He grew up in the Madison, Wis., area and earned a bachelor’s degree in geology, focusing on geophysics, from the University of Wisconsin. Skills he developed earning his degree, such as geophysics techniques and the use of ArcGIS and LiDAR datasets, will be useful for his KGS assignment, working with Matt Crawford on a landslide susceptibility and risk assessment project for communities in the Big Sandy Area Development District of eastern Kentucky.
Koch finished his bachelor’s degree in May of 2018, and his first job was with a road-surveying company on contract with state transportation departments. “We scanned roads with a laser measurement system, mostly for a roughness index, took photos, and made 3-D LiDAR models. The company processed the data and turned it over to the transportation agencies.” The work helped states decide which roads needed repairs.
When he saw an online listing for the KGS position, he was attracted to the idea of working for a state survey on a university campus, not to mention having a job that didn’t involve constantly driving roads in a van. “I also liked the idea of working with real data and real geology in the field when we get out there,” Koch says. “It interests me too because it has a real-world use. I’m helping with a project that has a societal impact.”
Since being hired, Koch has worked with multiple models, including the PISA-m program developed by KGS Director Bill Haneberg, to identify regions in the area development district that are more prone to landslides and to create a map delineating landslide risk.
When he’s not working, Koch enjoys hiking, visiting national parks, and watching movies. He’s also an avid bird-watcher. “There are more birds down here, and they’re here earlier,” he says. “It’s almost summer before the birds showed up in Wisconsin!” He’s using the Audubon bird app on his smartphone to identify species he’s not familiar with when he’s in the field.