Bekir Demiray

Bekir Demiray, PhD student, informatics

Augments flooding data with AI

“Mr. Demiray has shown great academic achievement and leadership in the University of Iowa community. His cyber tools and applications are in use with over tens of thousands of users in Iowa. These applications improved the daily workflow of many state agencies and support the public in making better informed decisions in flooding, mitigation, and accessing critical information.” -Ibrahim Demir, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering

Hometown: Tokat, Turkey

Faculty mentor/advisor: Ibrahim Demir, PhD, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, College of Engineering

What is your degree program and expected graduate date? PhD in informatics, Spring 2026

Please describe your research: My research focuses on the application of artificial intelligence to environmental issues. I develop artificial neural networks to extract information from environmental datasets to improve their qualities. In addition to that, I mostly work on flood-specific tasks to limit the devastating effects of flooding with pre-flood and post-flood approaches, including flood forecasting, mitigation, and preparedness strategies, etc.

In simple terms, why does this research matter? Recent studies show that a result of climate change is having more extreme and severe natural disasters with higher frequency in many parts of the world in the near future, with more casualties and losses. Floods are the most frequent type of natural disaster and have caused losses of billions of dollars and countless lives over the years. The quality of environmental data is crucial to limiting the detrimental impact of natural disasters. Most of the time, environmental datasets lack the quality required for effective disaster monitoring, recovery, and response due to expensive acquisition procedures. My research focuses on using AI to improve existing datasets and flood forecasting for better disaster management.

How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I started participating in research as a graduate research intern before I was a student at the University of Iowa.

How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Being a part of various research projects gave me a chance to learn different concepts with hands-on experience. I have benefited from these experiences throughout my studies at the University of Iowa.

What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? I aim to be a professor at one of the research universities and continue working on environmental AI projects.

Banner location: Downtown—Clinton St. in front of Blick