APPENDIX G
Committee Biographies

Ruth S. DeFries, Chair, is professor at the University of Maryland, College Park with joint appointments in the Department of Geography and the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center. Her research investigates the relationships between human activities, the land surface, and the biophysical and biogeochemical processes that regulate the Earth’s habitability. She is interested in observing land cover and land use change at regional and global scales with remotely sensed data and exploring the implications for ecological services such as climate regulation, the carbon cycle, and biodiversity. Dr. DeFries obtained a Ph.D. in geography and environmental engineering from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree in Earth science from Washington University. Dr. DeFries was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2006.


Roberta Balstad is senior research scientist at Columbia University and senior fellow at the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN). Dr. Balstad has published extensively on science policy, information technology and scientific research, remote sensing applications and policy, and the role of the social sciences in understanding global environmental change. She is the author of numerous articles and books, including City and Hinterland: A Case Study of Urban Growth and Regional Development (1979), and editor, with Harriet Zuckerman, of Science Indicators: Implications for Research and Policy (1980). She was previously the director of CIESIN, director of the Division of Social and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation, the founder and first executive director of the Consortium of Social Science Associations



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Contributions of Land Remote Sensing for Decisions about Food Security and Human Health: Workshop Report APPENDIX G Committee Biographies Ruth S. DeFries, Chair, is professor at the University of Maryland, College Park with joint appointments in the Department of Geography and the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center. Her research investigates the relationships between human activities, the land surface, and the biophysical and biogeochemical processes that regulate the Earth’s habitability. She is interested in observing land cover and land use change at regional and global scales with remotely sensed data and exploring the implications for ecological services such as climate regulation, the carbon cycle, and biodiversity. Dr. DeFries obtained a Ph.D. in geography and environmental engineering from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree in Earth science from Washington University. Dr. DeFries was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2006. Roberta Balstad is senior research scientist at Columbia University and senior fellow at the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN). Dr. Balstad has published extensively on science policy, information technology and scientific research, remote sensing applications and policy, and the role of the social sciences in understanding global environmental change. She is the author of numerous articles and books, including City and Hinterland: A Case Study of Urban Growth and Regional Development (1979), and editor, with Harriet Zuckerman, of Science Indicators: Implications for Research and Policy (1980). She was previously the director of CIESIN, director of the Division of Social and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation, the founder and first executive director of the Consortium of Social Science Associations

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Contributions of Land Remote Sensing for Decisions about Food Security and Human Health: Workshop Report (COSSA), and president and CEO of CIESIN prior to its joining Columbia University. Dr. Balstad is the chair of the NRC U.S. National Committee for CODATA and the vice-chair of the NRC Panel on Earth Science Applications and Societal Needs. Dr. Balstad received her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. Rita Colwell is chairman of Canon US Life Sciences, Inc. and distinguished university professor at both the University of Maryland at College Park and the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her interests are focused on global infectious diseases, water, and health, and she is currently developing an international network to address emerging infectious diseases and water issues, including safe drinking water for both the developed and the developing world. Dr. Colwell served as the eleventh director of the National Science Foundation, 1998-2004. Dr. Colwell is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences; the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and the American Philosophical Society. Dr. Colwell holds a B.S. in bacteriology and an M.S. in genetics from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of Washington. Tom P. Evans is the co-director of the Center for the Study of Institutions Population and Environmental Change and an associate professor in the Department of Geography at Indiana University. His research interests are in the human dimensions of global change, geographic information systems, remote sensing, land cover change, and modeling social-ecological systems. His current research utilizes various methods of modeling land cover change with a particular emphasis on the process of reforestation. Dr. Evans completed his Ph.D. in geography from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and his B.A. in geography from Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Nina S.-N. Lam is a professor of environmental studies at Louisiana State University. Her research interests are in geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, cartography, spatial analysis, and medical geography. Dr. Lam has published on topics such as spatial interpolation, cancer mortality in China, HIV/AIDS in America, land cover change detection via fractals and spatial indices, and scale and uncertainties in environmental health studies. Dr. Lam’s research has centered on developing as well as applying new methodologies in remote sensing and GIS to detect patterns and find associations between environment, health, and the social condition of people. Her current research focuses on data mining of medical, social, and economic phenomena; decision making in post-catastrophe uncertainty; and rapid environmental assessment and change detection via remote sensing. Dr. Lam received her Ph.D. and M.S. in geography

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Contributions of Land Remote Sensing for Decisions about Food Security and Human Health: Workshop Report from the University of Western Ontario and her B.S. in geography from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Joel Michaelsen is a professor of geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research interests are in climatology, meteorology, and statistics. He has been working with researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey on the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET), a federal early warning program that monitors, anticipates, and mitigates the impact of flooding and drought in sub-Saharan Africa and Central America. Dr. Michaelsen completed his Ph.D. and M.A. in geography at the University of California, Berkeley, and his B.A. at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Karen Seto is a center fellow with the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and an assistant professor in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences at Stanford University. Her research focuses on the impacts of anthropogenic activity on spatial-temporal patterns of land use and land cover change. She uses a combination of remote sensing, socioeconomic data, and field surveys to monitor and model landscape dynamics. Her current research efforts include analyzing the effects of policy reforms on urbanization and agricultural expansion in China and Vietnam. She is the remote sensing thematic leader for the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN) Commission on Ecosystem Management and is a recipient of the NASA New Investigator Program in Earth Science Award and the NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award. Dr. Seto received her Ph.D. in geography from Boston University; M.A. in international relations, Resource and environmental management from Boston University, and B.A. in political science from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Mark L. Wilson is the director of the Global Health Program and professor of epidemiology and of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan. Dr. Wilson has broad research interests in infectious diseases, including the analysis of transmission dynamics, the evolution of vector-host-parasite systems, and the determinants of human risk. Most of his projects address environmental and social variation, in time and space, as it impacts on vector and reservoir populations and pathogen transmission dynamics. In addition to standard field, lab, and statistical techniques, he has been using satellite image data and GIS to undertake spatial analyses of environmental change and the ecology of risk. Spatial analytic tools are also being applied to noninfectious disease processes. Dr. Wilson received his Sc.D. and Sc.M. from Harvard University and his B.A. from Hiram College.

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