About us

We are part of the Hydrology and Climate group (H2K) within the Department of Geography at the University of Zurich.

Outside the university, the citizen scientists play the most important role in the CrowdWater project: They collect and provide hydrological data and help with the data quality control and improvement. The company SPOTTERON is essential for CrowdWater because they are developing and maintaining the app for us and taking care of the legal aspects of collecting such data.

Within the university, two PhD students are responsible for the development of the project and for the scientifical processing of the data. A guest doctoral student is also scientifically involved in the project. They get support of the two supervising scientists. The community manager checks incoming data, is responsible for the PR work and the support of the citizen scientists.

Credits go to our former PhD students, shaping the project between 2016 and 2020.

PhD students

Sara Blanco

I am a PhD student at the University of Zurich and started my work on the CrowdWater project in September 2020. I am from Costa Rica and I have completed my Bachelor’s and Licentiate’s degree in Geography at the University of Costa Rica. My research was about citizen science to generate data about surface water quality, so I hope to continue my research on better methods and approaches to citizen science in hydrology and to apply it in regions like the one I come from.

Here you can find more information about my PhD project.

Mirjam Scheller

I am a PhD student at the University of Zurich and I started working on the CrowdWater project in September 2020. I come from Germany and did my Master’s Degree at the Albert-Ludwigs University of Freiburg. With the help of the project I hope to further improve the collection and management of data obtained by crowdsourcing and to awaken the interest of the public regarding water resources and their protection.

Here you can find more information about my PhD project.

Community manager

Rieke Goebel

I have been working as a community manager in CrowdWater since November 2022. As a Geography student I am interested in the different processes on Earth. My favorite part is how the processes of different systems work together. CrowdWater connects many of these systems with the two main ones being hydrology and citizen science.


Dr Ilja van Meerveld

I am a researcher at the University of Zurich. My research focuses mainly on understanding hydrological processes. I have been involved in field-studies in a range of places (Canada, USA, Alps, Madagascar, Philippines) and am interested in citizen science in hydrology because it provides new opportunities to obtain hydrological data and knowledge, and allows us to study previously unmonitored areas.

Prof Dr Jan Seibert

As a hydrologist I am curious about water. Current research topics include the use of catchment models for land-use and climate change impact studies, runoff generation processes and their representation in models, the value of different types of data and uncertainty analysis. Today’s mobile devices provide exciting opportunities to include the public in hydrological observations

Former employees

Barbara and Simon joined the CrowdWater project between 2016 and 2020 for their PhD project. When they started in 2016 CrowdWater was just getting started, so they contributed a lot to developing the project, the community and the app. In terms of research both of them focused on the virtual staff gauge, which was a novel approach to crowdsource hydrological data. For detailed information on their research please take a look at their publications.

Dr Simon Etter

The focus of my work was on the value of crowdsourced streamflow and water level class estimates for the calibration of hydrological models. Furthermore, I focused on the quality of water level class data that was collected with the CrowdWater app and with paper forms by citizen scientists as well as the motivations of citizen scientists to contribute.

I will still contribute to CrowdWater and continue to support the project with different contributions.

Dr Barbara Strobl

My dissertation is titled “Quality of Crowdsourced Water Level Observations”. It focusses on the accuracy of water level class data (collected via the virtual staff gauge approach) and on how this accuracy can be further improved. For this we developed the CrowdWater game, which enabled us to crowdsource the quality control and to train new citizen scientists.

My official role in the CrowdWater project might have ended, but I am still an active citizen scientist. I enjoy collecting hydrological data with the CrowdWater app and contributing to the quality control with the CrowdWater game.

Franziska Clerc-Schwarzenbach

I worked as a community manager at CrowdWater from December 2019 to January 2023. During this time, my interest in hydrology and citizen science has grown more and more. In my master’s thesis I explored the value of data from the CrowdWater project for hydrological modeling. You can find more information about that here. Since February 2023, I am a PhD student in the research group of Jan and Ilja. In my PhD, I will continue to investigate the value of limited data in hydrology, and I will definitely be inspired by the data from the CrowdWater project.

Wang Ze

I was a visiting doctoral student at the University of Zurich between September 2021 and September 2022. I am from China and a PhD student at Dalian University of Technology. My research area is the use of machine learning techniques for hydrological monitoring and modeling.

Here you can find more information about my PhD project



Hydrology and Climate Group
Department of Geography
University of Zurich – Irchel
Winterthurerstrasse 190
8057 Zurich


E-Mail: info@crowdwater.ch
Facebook: www.facebook.com/crowdwater
Twitter: www.twitter.com/crowd_water