Sciences: Ecology and Remote Sensing

Department: Department of Environmental Sciences

Supervising Faculty Member: Xi Yang

Specialization: Ecology and Remote Sensing

Research Focus: How does climate change affect our trees? Can our agriculture survive the drought? What are the novel techniques (cameras, UAVs, and innovative sensors) that we can use to better understand our ecosystem? These are the key questions we seek to understand in the Plant Ecology and Remote Sensing (PERS) lab.  What are the tools we use? First we use remote sensing, which uses sensors onboard satellite, airplane, UAV, or on the ground (in the forests!), to measure key health metrics of trees. For example, how hot are the leaves? How much CO2 is being taken up by the plants? Second, we use scientific programming (Matlab, R, Fortran etc.) to analyze satellite imageries (remember those beautiful satellite images from Google Earth?) from all over the globe. Third, we use advanced mathematical tools such as data assimilation and machine learning.  And if you are interested in fieldworks in the forests, both near C'ville and as far as Costa Rica and Alaska, PERS lab is your choice! If you are interested in designing new instruments, talk to me! If you are interested in coding, we have projects that deal with large satellite datasets (like those in Google Earth).

Position Description: Two types of projects: 1) Working with drones and the images collected by the drone. The student is responsible for analyzing the collected images and use them to reconstruct 3D structure of trees. The student may also need to work with thermal imageries too; 2) Data science related: The student will analyze terabytes data from satellite image to understand how climate change affect the forests in the northern hemisphere.

Required skills: Basic knowledge of computer programming. Knowledge of one of the following language is preferred: R, Fortran, Python, or Matlab.

What you will learn: Image processing skills; data science skills; fieldwork (nature) experience

Web site link to research: http://www.evsc.virginia.edu/yang-xi/