Sean DuBois

Hometown: River Forest, ILdubois face

Research Description: Examining impacts of ozone and climate change on carbon cycling in California

Personal Webpage

Biography: Born on the foothills of Chicago, after a brief stop in London to practice my English, I traveled to Ann Arbor in the pursuit of education. Initially motivated by Dr. Allen Grant, I prepared to become a paleontologist. Very quickly I fell out of love with creatures,DuBois copy replacing them with inanimate objects such as rocks as I decided I would study Geology. Eventually I softened up again, inviting living organisms back into my studies and I added the Program in the Environment major to my course load. With degree in hand, I headed to the Garden State to protect the environment under the supervision of the USEPA. After an enjoyable year and a half, I decided indentured servitude was necessary for my development, and I returned to America’s heartland to toil in the dungeons that is graduate school. After paying my dues, I plan to ply my trade at a federal environmental research agency. On nice days, I spend my time outside playing soccer, softball, or volleyball, and traversing mountains on skis and waterways by kayak. Otherwise I am catching up on which Stark was most recently beheaded, and other hit TV shows.

Research: My research interests include climate and the carbon cycle. My Master’s thesisFS4_Canopy2 copy combines ecosystem characterization using remote sensing and field data, and estimation of anthropogenic influences including ozone pollution and climate change. This work is related to my current position as a graduate research assistant on the project “Measurement of ecosystem metabolism across climatic and vegetation gradients in California for the 2013-2014 NASA AVIRIS/MASTER airborne campaign”.

Research project: HyspIRI flux tower project


Andrew Jablonski

IMG_0114Born and raised in New York, I am currently the main Coastie in the Townsend Lab. I grew up in the suburbs of NYC and spent five wonderful years attending college in Syracuse, NY at SUNY-ESF. Syracuse and Central New York hold a very fond place in my heart, and I sometimes will find any excuse to go back and visit. After getting my B.S. in Environmental Studies, I worked as a lab technician for a year in Maryland at UMBC. The job and location wasn’t exactly the right fit for me, and luckily Phil took me on as a student.

My education at ESF was without question an incredibly rich and unique experience which cemented my interest in ecology. I worked closely with Dr. Charles Hall (Charlie) and his wife Myrna while I was a student, and I consider myself blessed to have done so. Charlie taught me how to utilize a systems approach to problems, and I continue to be very interested in systems level thinking. As a graduate student here at UW, I am obsessed with trying to understanding photosynthesis and trying to model ecosystem productivity. This passion has lead me to my current research project; Hyspiri (see my research description for more information).

Outside of academic endeavors, I can be found watching baseball at a nearly fanatical pace. I’d argue that I’m one of the most knowledgeable minds on campus when it comes to the current day baseball. Beyond that I find myself spending a lot of time secretly trying to be a rock star and learning to play any instrument I can get my hands on. If any reader has a Gretsch Duo Jet they are willing to part with for free, I’d be eternally grateful. I’d write you a song or something.


My current research involves modeling photosynthetic parameters of plant vegetation; Vcmax (maximum rate of rubisco carboxylation) and Jmax (electron transport). Vcmax and Jmax play heavily into Farquhar’s model of photosynthesis, and so being able to better quantify Vcmax and Jmax in plants would allow for much better modeling of photosynthesis and productivity. Much of my research is related to the Hyspiri project and all of my fieldwork so far has involved collecting gas exchange and spectra measurements of vegetation in California.

The hope is to link leaf-level spectra measurements of Vcmax and Jmax to canopy measurements observed by AVIRIS pixels. If successful, hyperspectral imaging could then be used to estimate productivity much more robustly than current methods. See the Hyspiri Project description for more information.





Ryan Sword

Hometown: Fort Meyers, FLSword1

Research Description: Relationships among remotely sensed measures of foliar traits and arthropod community composition in an urban forest

Personal and Academic

Originally from Fort Meyers FL, my family moved to the Rockford, IL when I was young. I greatly enjoy living in the Midwest, but Florida has always felt like home. I attended college at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, where I received my BA in Biology with minors in Geography and Environmental Studies. During my time at Augie, I held an internship with the US Fish and Wildlife Service which fueled my enthusiasm in spatial analytics and entomology. Broadly, my interests focus on the use of remotely sensed imagery in Sword2process-based studies of forest ecosystems. More specifically, my research involves the use of remotely sensed data to build relationships between mapped estimates of foliar chemistry (a proxy for nutritional quality), canopy structure, and insect abundance in urban forests. In my free time outside of research, I enjoy playing tennis, hiking, and watching old episodes of Star Trek. After graduation, I hope to continue exploring my research interests and pursue a career working in a federal environmental agency.


Scaling hyperspectral imagery

Remote sensing and insects (Madison)


Alex Brito

I am originally from Delavan, WI, but I moved to Madison in high school and have remained here ever since. I received my undergraduate degree from here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I majored in Zoology and Environmental Studies.
Since graduating in May of 2011, I have worked in Phil Townsend’s lab assisting him and his graduate students with various fieldwork alex_fishand data analyses. In the spring of 2013 I began work on my master’s degree under Phil’s supervision, where I am exploring insect community compositions and how they influence (and are influenced by) forest ecosystem functioning in aspen stands. I hope to one day move out West to work in a national or state park doing research, community outreach, and/or tourism. My hobbies and interests outside of school include music, fishing, playing tennis, disc golfing, morel hunting, and skiing.

In my research, I am measuring insect species composition and exploring ways that insect communities affect ecosystem processes in aspen-dominated forests in northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As the most diverse taxon of any animal, insects strongly influence the structure, function, and sustainability of terrestrial ecosystems. As the major consumers in temperate forests, insects directly and indirectly alter energy flow, nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, and stand succession. Although multiple factors determine insect distribution, abundance, and diversity, three primary drivers of insect population dynamics in forests are (1) the abiotic controls of climate (e.g., temperature), (2) the bottom-up effects of plant quality (e.g., foliar nitrogen and secondary chemicals), and (3) the top-down effects of predation and parasitism. My goal is to use in situ measurements along with remotely-sensed imagery to better understand the mechanisms that drive insect population dynamics and to explore how insect populations may influence forest ecosystem functioning.



Remote Sensing and Insects, Northwoods