Zach Levitt

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urban Growth interactive graphic link
Where America's developed areas are growing

Explore two decades of urban growth with an interactive map and accompanying article that allows readers to search for any address in the United States and see where new land development has occurred. Pitched, designed, developed, reported and co-wrote this project using JavaScript, Mapbox, Illustrator, GDAL and QGIS. This project was written about on Flowing Data.

Washington Post, August 2021

Earthquake interactive graphic link
What would a powerful earthquake feel like where you live?

Interactive map and supporting article that allows readers to search for any address in California and see one of the worst earthquake scenarios from the USGS. Worked with USGS scientists and LATimes earthquake reporter Ron Lin to select 14 scenarios out of hundreds possible for California. Designed, developed, and co-wrote this project using JavaScript, Mapbox, Illustrator and QGIS. This project was written about twice on the Mapbox blog (Q&A and overview).

Los Angeles Times, August 2019

Power companies graphic link
Which power companies are the worst polluters?

Interactive search and visualizations of the top 100 polluting power companies in the country. Designed, developed, and produced a custom build for this article on the worst power company polluters by energy reporter Sammy Roth.

Los Angeles Times, June 2019

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The United States of Climate Change

As a senior project for my joint major in geography and computer science, I attempted to visualize the geography of climate change in the United States in 2100 using data from the Climate Impact Lab. This project was advised by Professor Jeff Howarth. Explore the map to see what risks your county faces and how it compares to the rest of the country. If you're interested in learning about the process for building this map, hearing some of my thoughts on interactive map design, or reading more about climate change cartography, here's my accompanying essay.

Middlebury College, Winter and Spring 2020

divest graphic link
Energy2028, explained

Pitched, reported, and developed interactive graphics for a four-part series on Middlebury College's Energy2028 plan. As part of this project, I also created The Middlebury Campus' first GitHub account and first foray into entirely custom-built projects.

The Middlebury Campus, October 2019

earth engine ss
Machine learning and satellite imagery analysis

As a Research Assistant for Professor Jeff Howarth, I have applied machine learning algorithms to detect land cover change using hand-drawn maps from the 1800s, aerial photographs from the early 1900s, and recent satellite imagery. Using Google Earth Engine, I have also developed applications to automatically calculate topographic variables for any region in the world (application, tutorial). Finally, I have produced several labs for a Environmental Geography with GIS course using JavaScript and Google Earth Engine. These labs show students how to analyze remotely-sensed imagery in order to research and visualize environmental and social phenomena including wildfires, hurricanes, and racist housing policy.

Middlebury College, Spring 2019 - Present

Midd music graphic link
Badger-Two Medicine

During Middlebury's 2018 January term, I worked with Becca Holdhusen '18 on a cartography independent project advised by Professor Jeff Howarth. For our project, we researched and mapped the history of environmental and political injustice on the Blackfeet reservation and their sacred lands in Montana near Glacier National Park. Click here or on the image to see a higher resolution version of this layout.

One aspect of our research explored the history of the Blackfeet reservation from 1800 to 1895, in particular the actions of the American and Canadian governments to drastically reduce their homeland through false treaties and intimidation. In addition, we researched the modern day environmental struggles to ban oil and gas leasing on the Badger-Two Medicine, which has been in place since the 1980s. We also examined the meaning and uses of mountain cartography and whether it can be used to enhance our understanding of issues of injustice.

The full set of maps we designed for this project can be viewed here.

Independent Study, Middlebury College, January 2019

earth engine ss
Generative image processing

In a 300x300 pixel digital image in RGB color space, there are approximately 7.059 x 10649765 possible images to be created. Despite the refrain that new imagery is impossible, this series of work explores the potential of digital imagery for novel compositional and formal creations. Through generative processing of thousands of historical paintings from, these images represent attempts to engage with art history through contemporary digital techniques. These works are generated using Python image processing libraries such as scikit-image and Pillow.

Fall 2020

Code sketches in p5.js

These sketches offer me the opportunity to explore how my creative and artistic approaches can be reproduced and extended in the digital realm. Many of these sketches (linked above) derive color schemes, compositional logics, or themes from my own works on paper or historical paintings.

Fall 2020

Text renderings

This series recreates imagery such as 35mm photography, drawings, paintings, and historical artworks using Python and text-based outputs in Terminal.

Fall 2020

Ridgecrest graphic link
Ridgecrest earthquake packed the power of 45 nuclear bombs, but its impact was muted

Designed and produced a map demonstrating the muted impact of the July 5 Searles Valley earthquake near Ridgecrest, CA. Worked with earthquake reporter Ron Lin to visualize one reason why populated areas avoided the worst shaking. This map was published on the front page of the Los Angeles Times, as well as online.

Los Angeles Times, July 2019

Oregon housing crisis graphic link
Oregon vowed not to become California — and passed sweeping housing crisis legislation

Worked with housing reporter Liam Dillon to visualize the causes and effects of the housing crises affecting Oregon and California. Produced two graphics demonstrating rising housing and renting costs in major California and Oregon metropolitan areas due to high job growth and low housing stock increases. One graphic was published on the front page of the Los Angeles Times, as well as online.

Los Angeles Times, July 2019

gerrymandering graphic link
Supreme Court’s approval of partisan gerrymandering raises 2020 election stakes

Pitched, researched, and produced a map to supplement the Times' coverage of the Rucho v. Common Cause Supreme Court decision on gerrymandering. Worked with the Times' Washington D.C. bureau to plan visual coverage of this major decision.

Los Angeles Times, June 2019

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Congressional redistricting rules

Developed an interactive visualization of congressional redistricting rules by state as part of my summer fellowship with the Voting Rights Data Institute. My co-worker, Ethan Ackerman, gathered and cleaned the data, and I designed and built the application using R Shiny and Leaflet.

The application takes about 30 seconds to load so please be patient! The code is stored on GitHub here.

Voting Rights Data Institute, July 2018

DAPL graphic link
Dakota Access Pipeline Route

This map was created as part of Middlebury's introductory GIS course, Spatial Thinking with GIS, during Fall 2016. The initial data collection and layout was done during the course in ArcGIS, but most of the cartography was finished in Adobe Illustrator during Fall 2017 after I took Middlebury's Cartographic Design seminar. The goal of the project was to represent and describe the impact of the Dakota Access Pipeline on drinking water sources and tribal lands in North Dakota. This map was created while the protests at Standing Rock were ongoing, and it was when I heard that the pipeline construction had completed and oil was already flowing that I decided to complete the layout with up-to-date information.

GEOG120: Spatial Thinking with GIS, Middlebury College, Fall 2016

Antarctica graphic link
Antarctic expeditions

Layout highlights expeditions to the South Pole and describes the use and importance of cartographic projections. This map was displayed in the map gallery at the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) annual meeting during October 2017 in Montreal, QC.

GEOG326: Cartographic Design, Middlebury College, Spring 2017

Midd music graphic link
Midd Music

Worked with fellow Software Development students to develop Midd Music, a Middlebury-specific platform to connect student musicians with music fans on campus. The web application allows Middlebury musicians to login with the Google API, create and edit their profile, create and edit events, and publicize their information to students. While it has not been deployed to the college community yet, there are a combination of fake and real profiles/events shown on the site. The application was built using React.js and Node.js over the second half of our semester.

My role in this project was multi-faceted. I led the overall design of the site and implemented many of the key functionalities, such as the calendar views on the home page, the featured artist sidebar, the search bar, the ability to create/edit/delete profiles and create/edit/delete events, as well as integration of the UI with the server. ​

CS312: Software Development, Middlebury College, May 2019

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Prison gerrymandering

One of the projects I worked on during my fellowship with VRDI was analyzing the phenomenon of prison gerrymandering in North Carolina. Prison gerrymandering is a term for the ways that the Census Bureau's population-counting rules disenfranchise incarcerated people and lead to vote distortion. For more information on prison gerrymandering, I would encourage you to visit the Prison Policy Initiative's website.

These maps examine the racial geography of incarceration in North Carolina and which counties benefit from the Census Bureau's prison counting rules. Vote inflation refers to a situation in which the incarcerated population is counted as part of the eligible voting population yet are not allowed to vote, leading to inflated influence for voters in these areas. Most often, this phenomenon occurs in rural, white areas where prisons tend to be located. In these cases, rural, white populations are over-represented due to the disenfranchisement of people of color.

You can view all of the maps and analysis I created for this project here.

Voting Rights Data Institute, July 2018

gerrymandering graphic link
Indigenous Borderlands and Border Rites

During my sophomore year at Middlebury, I worked as a research assistant/cartographic designer for Dr. Guntram Herb, Professor and Chair of the Middlebury Department of Geography. Professor Herb's research explores the social, political, and economic impact of the U.S-Canada border on indigenous people in both countries.

In my role, I designed and produced maps for the project's website, researched indigenous issues to gather relevant data, and produced interactive maps with ArcGIS Online and static layouts with the Illustrator. Click here to see some of the static maps I produced for the project, and here are links to some of the interactive maps I worked on: Indigenous Museums and Cultural Centers, United States Ports of Entry.

Middlebury College, 2017-2018

homelessness graphic link
L.A. says it got 21,631 homeless people into housing. Is that really true?

Worked with reporter Doug Smith to explain the truth behind the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority's housing numbers from 2018. Produced a graphic breaking down the disparity in housing placements by the agency. Published in print and online.

Los Angeles Times, July 2019

polling graphic link
California Democratic 2020 presidential primary is a wide-open race, poll finds

Produced two charts visualizing the results of a California Democratic 2020 primary poll. One chart covered the first- and second-choice preferences among the presidential candidates, while the other looked at how supporters of each candidate differ on key issues.

Los Angeles Times, June 2019

houston research poster link
Environmental Injustice and Natural Disasters

Researched environmental injustice in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in Houston. For this project, I analyzed whether certain demographic groups were more likely to live close to toxic sites before the hurricane, and whether damage caused by it disproportionately impacted these same populations. Since I completed the project only months after the disaster, data collection proved difficult and flood inundation areas were still preliminary. Therefore, I ended up looking at the large concentration of toxic sites in Harris County and using damage to these sites as a proxy for damage from the hurricane. This project represents a semester of work and learning about using GIS analysis and techniques to deconstruct and understand environmental issues. Please click on the image to view at full-size. It was made to print at 34"x44", so you may have to zoom-in to read the text!

GEOG326: GIS Applications in Environemntal Science and Management, Middlebury College, December 2017

flow free graphic link
Flow Free game

As a final project for Middlebury's Fall 2017 Data Structures course, I worked with classmate Zack Peters '18 to implement a modified Java Applet version of Flow Free, the popular computer and mobile game. Flow Free displays a grid of squares with colored dots occupying some of the squares, and the user must connect the colored pairs with non-intersecting paths to fill the grid.

To view and play the applet in your browser, click on the image to the left. Unfortunately you will need to allow Java Applets to run in your browser in order to see and play it. The applet will only be able to run in Safari, Internet Explorer, and some versions of Firefox. To enable the applets, you will need to go into the Java settings for your computer and click "Enable Java content in the browser" and add "" to the exception site list.

CS201: Data Structures, Middlebury College, December 2017

celtics graphic link
Visualizing the 2015-2016 Boston Celtics Travel

This infographic was my final project for Middlebury's Spring 2017 Cartographic Design seminar. As an avid NBA and Boston Celtics fan, I was interested applying my interests in data visualization and cartography to basketball. For this project, I looked at the Boston Celtics' 2015-2016 season and analyzed how travel impacted their chances of winning.

I would recommend clicking on the layout to open up the full size document for viewing, since it was designed to be viewed on a webpage. This project was inspired by the brilliant work of Tom Haberstroh (ESPN) and Nate Silver (FiveThirtyEight).

GEOG325: Cartographic Design, Middlebury College, May 2017

gis graphic link
GIS Applications in Environmental Science and Management

This is a collection of GIS research projects completed for a GIS Applications in Environmental Science and Management course at Middlebury with Professor Lindsay Dreiss. Throughout the course, we wrote web posts that discuss our course work and labs. These projects are meant to communicate the workflow and methods to people with limited to no GIS experience.

GEOG326: GIS Applications in Environmental Science and Management, Middlebury College, Fall 2017

lapd graphic link
LAPD searches blacks and Latinos more. But they’re less likely to have contraband than whites

Developed visualization of investigative reporter Ben Poston's data analysis of LAPD RIPA data.

Los Angeles Times, October 2019