My current research and teaching interests are plant eco-physiology, climate change, and plant stress, including earth observation science applications for multi-scale scientific research on these topics, with particular emphasis in crop phenotyping in support of breeding for crop resilience. This is a reflection of ten years of related research and educational activities, including (i) the University of California, Davis Center for Spatial Technologies and Remote Sensing (CSTARS), (ii) three summers of airborne science research as a mentor for the NASA/NSERC Student Airborne Research Program (SARP), (iii) a two-year scientific visit with the Center for Research on Ecological Applications and Forestry (CREAF) at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain, and (iv) my current position as a postdoctoral researcher as part of the Plant Physiology Unit of the Department of Plant Biology of the University of Barcelona. As a mentor and program plant physiology and remote sensing specialist, I guided students for three summers of SARP through every aspect of combining imaging spectroscopy and thermal remote sensing for plant physiological assessments, including field and image data acquisition, imagery calibration and data pre-processing, and statistical analyses. This is the same synergy of leadership, research, and teaching skills that I fine-tuned at CSTARS and brought to the CREAF as part of the Fulbright fellowship that paved the way for my PhD dissertation research and is what I bring to the Mediterannean Crop Physiology Group of the Plant Physiology Research Unit at the University of Barcelona (UB) Faculty of Biology as a postdoctoral researcher.
My PhD dissertation work focused on the use of imaging spectroscopy and GIS for the assessment of air pollution and climate change impacts on forest health in the Mediterranean montane ecosystems of the Sierra Nevada of California and the Pyrenees of Catalonia, Spain. My dissertation work was split between Dr. Susan Ustin at the CSTARS lab at UC Davis and Dr. Josep Peñuelas at the Center For Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF) of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) in Spain.
My research has been featured in a number of publications in peer-reviewed journals including The International Journal of Remote Sensing, IEEE JSTARS, Conservation Biology Ecological Indicators, Remote Sensing of Environment, Atmospheric Environment, Hydrological Science Journal, and Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. My Google Scholar H-index is 5 with a total of 193 citations with my top three publications currently cited 76, 47, and 30 times, respectively. Additionally, my research has found public interest in Spain, having been highlighted by RAC1 in Barcelona, the city’s top radio channel, while previously, in the United States, my research and educational activities with NASA reached the public eye via the Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio (NPR), and Capital Public Radio, Sacramento. In the past few years, I presented research at the 2012 European Space Agency Earth Observation Summer School in Frascati, Italy, which I also attended as a student and the 2012 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium in Munich, Germany, where I was also given the distinction of serving as the co-chair for the Vegetation Health session. In 2011, I was also invited as a guest speaker at the Masters in Remote Sensing program at the University of Alcala de Henares, Spain and also at the BIOSPEC meeting at the Consejo Superior de Investigación Científica (CSIC), where both talks were given in Spanish. I also currently teach an upper-level environmental plant physiology course at the University of Barcelona in Catalan.
In the course of my educational career I have demonstrated remarkable skills in actively pursuing and acquiring competitive funding for my own education and research, totaling over $210,000 in grants and fellowships during my undergraduate, graduate and professional career. This includes, among numerous smaller awards, the Rhodes College four-year University Fellowship of $40,000, a US Student Fulbright nine-month Student Research Fellowship and three-month Extension Grant of $20,000, and a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship totaling $90,000 over three years. Other significant awards include being a two-time recipient of the Ecology Graduate Group Block Grant of $5000. I have also recently been awarded as PI 150,000 on a CIMMYT-funded research project “HTPPs and open-source image processing tools for maize foliar disease assessments” in collaboration with a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Research project of the Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute.
I feel that my experience in earth observation science, plant eco-physiology and global change ecology can be of a great benefit to humanity through improving our understanding of the forces of change that surround us. Throughout my educational career, I have eagerly sought more experience in international multi-scale scientific research on these topics and have explicitly pursued excellence and opportunity as an educator. With these experiences and interests, my career goals and objectives included continued research on applications of remote sensing and GIS with a strong focus on teaching and mentoring of future generations in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields, focusing on the cross-disciplinary challenges of earth observation science in particular. Thus, as a career goal I would consider a university research professorship or other research position with a strong and explicit focus on mentorship impacts.
There are links providing more detail on my dissertation research, collaborators, teaching programs and projects at the bottom of the page.