Eben N. Broadbent, PhD, is an assistant professor of forest ecology & geomatics in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation at the University of Florida. He is also an affiliated researcher with the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University and a faculty affiliate of UF's Tropical Conservation and Development program, Center for Latin American Studies, Water Institute, and Biodiversity Institute. He co-directs the GatorEye Unpiloted Flying Laboratory. He holds a PhD in Biology (Ecology & Evolution) from Stanford University, a MS in Tropical Forestry from the University of Florida, and a BA in Botany from the University of Vermont. When time allows, he enjoys mountain biking, trail running, snowboarding, guitar, and playing chess - but mostly he just enjoys learning new methods to advance SPEC Lab research.
Postdoctoral Researchers / Research Associates
Andrea Chavez is a postdoctoral researcher in the SPEC Lab. Her principal research projects are (a) looking infrastructure and governance issues in the Peruvian, Colombian and Brazilian Amazon, and (b) looking at phenological mismatches among migratory birds and forest productivity using automated 4D soundscapes (and in the process coordinating a team of artificial intelligence programmers to develop a new R package titled 'SoundMapper4D'. A CV is available at: http://uftcd.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/CV.AndreaChavez.pdf
Trina Merrick is a postdoctoral research associate with the SPEC Lab. Her principal research focus is drone hyperspectral imagery (e.g., GatorEye) to quantify Solar Induced Flourscence (SIF) in Brazil and Panama. Her academic background is: Ph.D. Environmental Engineering/Earth & Environmental Sciences, Vanderbilt University, 2018; M.S. Geosciences: GIS & Remote Sensing, Murray State University, 2012; M.A.(Ed) Physics Education, Murray State University, 2003; B.S. Physics, Murray State University, 1998. Her overall research Interests are: Remote sensing, spectroscopy from satellites and unmanned aerial systems (UAS), solar-induced fluorescence and gross primary production, other vegetation health indices, tropical vegetation, interdisciplinary collaborations to answer ecological questions about vegetation in the tropics
Graduate Students - PhD
Beatriz Lopez Gutierrez is a PhD student in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation at the University of Florida. She is advised by Dr. Broadbent. Bea graduated with an Honours Degree in Zoology at Cambridge Anglia Ruskin University and completed a Master Research in Biosystematics at the Imperial College London. In addition to her academic life, she has been involved in various conservation projects around the world, being experienced in a range of marine and terrestrial surveying techniques. Her interests lie in biodiversity monitoring, sustainability, conservation and development issues in tropical regions, particularly in the Osa Peninsula and Golfito region, Costa Rica, where she has spent the last several years coordinating several ongoing research projects, including water quality and works with camera traps and sea turtle conservation. Her PhD research combines geospatial approaches (LiDAR, multispectral sensors) and field surveys (camera traps, audio recorders) to model and assess biodiversity and habitat structure and connectivity across tropical forests in this region of Costa Rica. Additionally, she will carry out socio-economic analyses and outreach efforts, including workshops, to further our understanding of biodiversity conservation, sustainability and the role of local communities in conservation efforts in these regions.
Carla Mere is a PhD student in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation at the University of Florida. She is advised by Dr. Broadbent. She is working on conservation biology and sustainability issues in the Peruvian Amazon. She is also currently a Moore funded Amazon governance and infrastructure research fellow, working on an assessment of how new geospatial approaches, including drones, micro-satellites and field-based tools, can integrate into an ecosystem monitoring and evaluation framework in the Peruvian, Colombian, and Brazilian Amazon. You can read about some of the issues she is interested in at: https://news.mongabay.com/2018/08/in-peru-a-new-president-is-faced-with-old-conservation-challenges/
Pamela Montero-Alvarez, is a PhD student in the Department of Tourism, Recreation and Sport Management at the University of Florida, with a concentration in Tropical Conservation and Development. She is advised by Dr. Almeyda Zambrano. Pamela obtained her bachelor’s degree on Biological Science at the National University of the Peruvian Amazon (UNAP); she also holds a Diploma on High Amazonian Studies from The Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP). Pamela’s interest is centered on protected areas and community-based management of natural resources, and also on planning and participatory tools for rural diagnosis. She has ample professional experience and has served as Specialist on Protected Areas for the “Peru Bosques” – USAID/Peru Project; Director of Natural Resources of the Municipality of “Datem del Maranon”, Loreto-Peru; Community Management Specialist at the Regional Project for Conservation in Loreto (Maijuna Native Community Proposal and Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Protected Area), and Specialist on conservation and ecotourism for the National Bureau of Forestry and Wildlife, Ministry of Agriculture. Pamela currently serves as Director of “La Minga”, a communal association working on rural tourism in the Tamshiyacu – Tahuayo Communal Regional Conservation Area, Loreto-Peru. For her dissertation research Pamela will investigate Community Rural Tourism as a tool for sustainable development and conservation of biological diversity.
Luyu Wang, is a PhD student in the Department of Tourism, Recreation and Sport Management at the University of Florida, with a concentration in the tourism analytics in protected areas. Dr. Almeyda Zambrano serves as her advisor. Luyu received her bachelor’s degree in Tourism Management at the Hainan Normal University; she also obtained her master’s degree in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism at the University of Florida. She did a project about the public access issues in Yosemite National Park using ArcGIS tools. Luyu’s research interest is on protected areas and tourism behaviors based on user-generated contents and also on techniques for exploring digital geographic datasets. Luyu will focus on social media data on protected areas with data mining techniques. She is doing a sentiment analysis to study emotions on Natural Protected Areas by mining online user-generated information in Tweeter, Trip Advisor, and Instagram. Additionally, her PhD research will adopt geospatial analytic methods such as Geographic Information System (GIS), remotely sensed image processing, and geo-visualization.
Michael T. Dobbins is a PhD student in the School of Natural Resources and Ecology at the University of Florida. Dr. Broadbent is his advisor. He was a Masters student and Graduate Teaching Assistant affiliated with the SPEC Lab at the University of Alabama. His MS research focused on a multi-faceted jaguar conservation project in the Mayan village of Blue Creek, Belize. Through the use of camera traps and track plotting, he investigated jaguar habitat selection and activity patterns over a 25 sq. mile study area centered around the village. Additionally, he interviewed residents of Blue Creek to obtain a better understanding of the human-jaguar interactions that take place, as well as to find out the overall attitude of the residents towards jaguars. His PhD research looked at the spatial ecology of terrestrial wildlife in dynamic human dominanted landscapes, and included bayesian occupancy modeling techniques, remote sensing, soundscapes for hunting intensity quantification, and surveys with diverse local communities.
Hoda Manafian is a PhD student in the Department of Tourism, Recreation and Sport Management at the University of Florida. She is advised by Dr. Almeyda Zambrano. She is broadly interested in using a geospatial approach to assess dynamics of agritourism in Florida. This approaches integrates Florida's largest economic sectors, tourism and agriculture to identify 'win-win' approaches to resilient sustainable industries. In addition to potential economic advantages, agritourism development may be an effective tool for sustainable conservation of "agricultural heritage", which is the main source of cultural ecosystem services (CES) in agricultural context. Her current research project seeks to assess, map and quantify the social values of CES of agritourism farms in FL through analyses incorporating geographic information systems (GIS) and the SolVES modeling framework. She is from Iran, where her studies were on sustainability science topics related to rural development. For her master's thesis she worked on sustainable rural tourism as a "cultural heritage preservation" strategy in an ancient national heritage site called Abyaneh Village, which has more than 1500 years of cultural history, which is located in her hometown Isfahan. She holds a minor in Historic Preservation from UF.
Youssef Kaddoura is a PhD student in the Geomatics Program of the School of Forest Resources and Conservation at the University of Florida. He is co-advised by Dr. Broadbent and Dr. Wilkinson.
Graduate Students - MS
Oscar Ivan Raigosa Garcia is a MS student in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation at the University of Florida. He is co-advised by Dr. Broadbent and Dr. Minogue. He is originally from Colombia. His focus is on use of GatorEye LiDAR for forest tree level automated parameter extraction in Florida.
David Huggins is a M.S. Student in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation at the University of Florida and is advised by Dr. Eben Broadbent. David has a Bachelor’s Degree in Geology from Albion College, and a Master’s Degree in Geospatial Science and Environmental Geology from Missouri State University. His graduate research was on the spatial distribution of heavy metal contamination in fluvial environments at a USEPA Superfund site in S.E. Missouri. During graduate school, David has worked on numerous other habitat assessment and water quality projects including erosional beach surveys at the Galleon Fish Sanctuary in Jamaica, and the impact of wildfires on water quality and fluvial geomorphology in the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri. Currently, David is employed with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in Tallahassee where his work is primarily focused on springs and ground water restoration, as well as the development of Total Maximum Daily Load reports and Basin Management Action Plans. David’s research interests are in fluvial geomorphology, habitat assessment, spatial statistical analysis, and water quality.
Gary C. Baine II, is an online masters student in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation with a concentration of Geomatics. He is advised by Dr. Eben Broadbent. Gary received his bachelor degree in marine biology from Texas A&M University in Galveston, Texas and a masters in biology from the University of West Florida. His masters thesis was on the effects of nutrient inputs on primary productivity in the Grand Bay estuary in Mississippi. His interests lie in spatial ecology, ecological modeling, and the pathways of nutrient flows throughout an ecosystem. Currently Gary works for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as an Environmental Specialist investigating violations regarding Florida’s natural resources. During his free time, Gary dabbles in electronic music production, PC gaming, custom PC building, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Jesse Scott, is an online masters student in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation with a concentration of Geomatics. He is advised by Dr. Eben Broadbent.
Zhiqing “Gail” Cheng, is an undergraduate student majoring in Tourism, Events and Recreation Management and minoring in Geography in University of Florida. She is specialization in Tourism and Hospitality management. She currently conducts research on tourism in the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica, under the guidance of Dr. Almeyda Zambrano. Her research includes the stablishment of a database on lodging offerings in the Peninsula and golfito area and the spatial analysis of lodging in the Peninsula. Gail hopes to gain more experience and pursuit further education in tourism after graduating from University of Florida. In her leisure time, she enjoys outdoor recreation and holds several certifications in scuba diving.
Margaret Songster graduated with a BS in Ecology from the University of Georgia. She is working with the SPEC Lab as a research assistant based at Lapa Rios Ecolodge on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, where she is involved in a variety of upcoming projects which may range from ecotourism surveys, and community capacity building and outreach efforts, to soil fertility linkages with endemic tree species, and integrated biodiversity monitoring using semi-automated bird, bat, and terrestrial mammal sensors.
Eduardo Schmitz Bongiolo is conducting a research internship in the SPEC Lab using remote sensing to map Brazil Nut tree density in Acre, Brazil, through integration of a network of field plots he established for his MS work and recent high-resolution Planet Labs and Sentinel-2 satellite imagery. He is from Brazil.
Clare Ols graduated with a BS in Biology from the University of Alabama. She is a native of Cleveland, OH. She is working with the SPEC Lab originally through the University of Alabama Emerging Scholars Program ( http://emergingscholars.ua.edu ) and now continues wrapping up various projects for publication. For her research, she has spent months living in remote areas of Costa Rica leading camera trapping projects to identify linkages between animal species composition and abundance distribution and drone-derived forest structural attributes in the Osa Verde ecological farm owned and managed by Osa Conservation. She is also involved in other projects linking forest structure and wildlife in the Lapa Rios ecolodge nature reserve in Costa Rica. She currently is based at Lapa Rios Ecolodge in Costa Rica, where she is leading up projects on citizen science, soundscapes, and camera traps in private nature reserves, prior to starting law school end of summer 2019.
Guillermo Mulder is a Costa Rican conservation biologist and ecologist with great experience in the fauna and flora of the Osa Peninsula and region. He was the guides leader, and is now director of sustainability, at the Lapa Rios Ecolodge on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica. He is also leading the field work of the SPEC Lab - Lapa Rios camera trap project. Please see www.laparios.com or www.blog2.laparios.com for more information on this lodge and the surrounding area.
Sandra L. Almeyda Zambrano holds a BS degree and forest engineering certification from “Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina”. She is a Masters student alumni with the SPEC Lab, advised by Eben Broadbent, in the Department of Geography at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. Her MS thesis studied forest structural determinants of primate movement patterns in the Peruvian Andes. She is now the manager at AmaZOOnico Rescue Center for Wildlife in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
Please see her personal site at: http://www.peruconservation.org/sandra
Please see her personal site at: http://www.peruconservation.org/sandra
Carlos Alberto Quispe Gil is a Biologist educated at the National University San Antonio Abad in Cusco, Perú. He is an affiliated researcher with the SPEC Lab and served as the scientific coordinator at the Amazon Conservation Association Los Amigos field station in the Peruvian Amazon. He is led the field work of the SPEC Lab - Amazon Conservation collaborative project monitoring the terrestrial biodiversity at the Los Amigos biological station using camera traps and animal track monitoring, linked with satellite, airplane, and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) based remote sensing. His core interest is to contribute to biodiversity conservation in Peru, and since 2007 he has collaborated on conservation projects with government, non profits and private institutions. Please see his personal webpage at: http://www.peruconservation.org/carlosalberto
Andrés Jiménez Monge is a biologist with a deep passion towards herpetology, a keen eye for photography and a strategic vision for problem solving. Andres started working on conservation and environmental management when he was fifteen years old, with his effort in the field award him as Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leader by the International Found for Animal Welfare and the United States Wildlife and Fisheries Service. He has taken an active role in political advocacy on the country towards the improvement and refurbishing of the Costa Rican fisheries management, shark fining regulations and the involvement of Costa Rica on the International Whaling Commission. As Wetland program manager for Osa Conservation he worked along with the SPEC Lab on the assessment of land use change in the Térraba Sierpe National Wetland. In this project he directed the implementation of business strategies for local communities focused on sustainable management of mollusk and the implementation of the protected area management plan. He strives towards improving the way environmental management implements environmental solutions; his passion for environmental problem solving has directed his work to strategy, business development, project management theory and change management in environmental transformation projects. His research wants to help redefine how humans relate with wildlife, focusing on well being and saving “the ordinary”. He can be contacted via email at: andresjmo (-at-) gmail.com. His personal photo blog is available at: www.razaverde.com
Kelsi Davis is a researcher and graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Geography at the University of Alabama. She is attending as a master’s student under the advisory of Dr. Eben Broadbent within the Spatial Ecology and Conservation (SPEC) lab. Kelsi attended Texas A&M University, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Geosciences with a minor in Geography. While attending Texas A&M, she worked on a wide variety of research and projects. In 2012, she served an assistanceship with the USGS to analyze water quality in the region of San Antonio, Texas. In 2013, she attended a study abroad trip where she focused heavily on the effects of ecotourism in both Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and variation of microclimates within a tropical cloud forest in Costa Rica. In her last two years of earning her undergraduate degree, she worked under the advisory of Dr. Daniel Goldberg and in collaboration with the Audubon Society to analyze Volunteered Geographic Information and its capabilities of serving as accurate scientific research data. Kelsi also assisted Dr. Brendan Roark with lab work concerning collecting the isotopic signatures of chemosynthetic mussels from the Atlantic Ocean. Kelsi’s current research interests pertain to secondary forest biomass accumulation spatio-temporal patterns and drone-borne LiDAR monitoring. She is also interested as to how the depletion and deforestation of tropical forests will affect global climate change.
Cindy Taylor graduated with a B.S. in biology from Ursinus College in Pennsylvania. She worked for two and a half years as a lab technician at the University of Pennsylvania, studying the epigenetic mechanisms contributing to neuropsychiatric disease. She then spent one year in Costa Rica studying the foraging behavior of capuchin monkeys. For her thesis, she examined the spatial and temporal determinants of the composition and abundance of bat species within the Oakmulgee Ranger District of Talladega National Forest.
Austin Pinkerton is an undergraduate majoring in Computer Science from Madison, Mississippi. He is working with the SPEC Lab through the University of Alabama’s Computer-based Honors Research Program ( http://honors.ua.edu/computer-based-honors-program ). For his project, which started Spring 2015, Austin will be working with Dr. Broadbent on the design, programming, field validation and parameterization, and implementation of an automated pattern recognition algorithm to identify individual tree-crown dimensions and related forest structural and compositional attributes from high spatial resolution visual and multi-spectral sensors acquired from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Specifically, the project will focus on using IDL as the primary programming language on Micasense multispectral and visual (RGB) imagery collected from the PrecisionHawk UAV platform (www.precisionhawk.com) and post-processed in Pix4DPro software (www.pix4d.com) which uses photogrammetric correlation analyses to produce 3D point clouds, digital surface and elevation models, and ortho-mosaics at spatial resolutions as high as 1 cm2. This project is a collaboration with both PrecisionHawk and their subsidiary web based imagery analysis platform www.datamapper.com.
Philip Shimel is an undergraduate from Colorado, majoring in Environmental Science. He will be working with the SPEC Lab through the University of Alabama Honors College. He completed an REU internship researching pollination at the University of Virginia's Mountain Lake Biological Station (See "Shimel, Philip" http://mlbs.org/2014REUProjects). He has field experience catching amphibians with UA's Rissler Lab, surveying cloud forest in Ecuador (See https://ecomingafoundation.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/two-new-magnolia-species-discovered-in-our-rio-zunac-reserve/), and traversing rainforest in Belize to help study jaguar conservation with SPEC Lab alumnus Michael Dobbins. Starting Fall Semester Philip will be working on landscape – pollinator interactions in Alabama forests, specifically Lake Lurleen State Park. A recent copy of his resume is available for download at download.
Valerie Valdelomar León is a Costa Rican conservation biologist and ecologist with great experience in the fauna and flora of the Osa Peninsula and region. She is a guide at the Lapa Rios Ecolodge on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica. She worked on the SPEC Lab - Lapa Rios camera trap network.
Katy Shay is an undergraduate majoring in Environmental Science. She has been working with the SPEC Lab through the University of Alabama Emerging Scholars Program. Katy led the Arboretum Soundscape Program (arboretum.ua.edu) monitoring seasonal changes in avifauna composition and abundance as well as a project comparing phylogenetic vs. ecological factors defining avian song similarity.