People

Faculty and Staff

Anita MorzilloAnita Morzillo

Anita Morzillo is an assistant professor at UConn’s Department of Natural Resources of the Environment. Anita specializes in human dimensions of natural resources, a social science focused on understanding why humans make the decisions they do about natural resources, and the characteristics of humans that influence those decisions. She uses this information to learn about how humans interact with their natural world in a landscape context (across geographic space and time). Anita leads social science research for the Stormwise project, the objective of which is to understand public concerns about “barriers” and opportunities for tree and forest management in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Read more about her research: http://www.nrme.uconn.edu/Faculty_and_Staff/Morzillo.php

Robert FaheyRobert Fahey

Dr. Fahey is interested in understanding linkages between the composition, structure, and functioning of forest ecosystems and designing and testing management strategies focused on manipulating these aspects of forests to increase their resilience to a variety of stressors. He works across the spectrum of anthropogenic impacts in forests from urban to rural, and is particularly interested in adapting ecological and silvicultural knowledge to human-dominated landscapes. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Connecticut and received his B.S. in Natural Resources from Cornell University, M.S. in Forest Science from Oregon State University, and Ph.D. in Forest Ecology and Management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

John VolinJohn Volin

Dr. John Volin is Professor and Department Head in the UConn Department of Natural Resources and the Environment and Director of Environmental Science. He is working with a talented doctoral candidate, Jason Parent, to investigate how remote sensing technologies can be applied to assessing and managing the roadside vegetation. They will introduce you to Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) and how this technology can paint a digital 3-d picture of the forest edge, providing utilities and communities with important information about potential risk and work prioritization.

Tom WorthleyTom Worthley

As Associate Extension Professor, UConn Extension Forester Tom Worthley is examining the potential for wood product value recovery from roadside forest management. Working with non-traditional harvesting methods and local utilization scenarios, perhaps our roadside forests might also become “working lands,” generating local jobs and economic activity. In addition, economic benefits are anticipated with a more resilient power infrastructure and long-range through dramatic reductions in trimming schedules.

Jeffrey WardJeffrey Ward

Dr. Jeffrey Ward, Chief Scientist, Department of Forestry and Horticulture, at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station is currently conducting Stormwise forest roadside vegetation management research and the creation of demonstration areas at locations across the state. Jeff has decades of forestry research experience in Connecticut and offers insight as to how research results can translate to management recommendations.

Jason ParentJason Parent

Jason Parent is an assistant research professor in UConn’s Department of Natural Resources and the Environment. He specializes in the application of remote sensing and geospatial technologies to address problems involving natural resources. His current research focuses on 1) mapping tree hazards to utility infrastructure with air- and ground-based laser scanner data, 2) determining environmental conditions that can be used to predict tree failure, and 3) understanding how trees respond to the increased wind exposure that results from vegetation management.

Chandi Witharana

Chandi’s efforts broadly capture the methodological developments and adaptations to unseal faster, deeper, and more accurate analysis of large volumes of high-resolution remote sensing data. Geographic object-based image analysis, point cloud analytics, machine learning, unmanned aerial systems stand out as some of the key pitches in his agenda. He conducts interdisciplinary remote sensing research with high international visibility, speaking equally to the transformational uses of remote sensing in environmental, industrial, and humanitarian applications. His scope is global and diversity is an integral part of Chandi, himself, as well as his research. Some of his work includes satellite-based tracking of Antarctic wildlife, mapping ice-wedge polygonal Arctic tundra, aerial laser scanning for archeological reconnaissance, 3D infrastructure analytics for electric utility industry, and on-demand censusing of refugees in armed-conflicted areas in south Asia. Thinking beyond its research and industrial merits, he always appreciates the strengths of remote sensing to address the requirements of the Next Generation Science Standards via the key elements from physics and engineering. He is actively seeking creative ways, such as imagery-enabled lesson plans to harness remote sensing in K-12 STEM education.

cartoon drawing of Tom MeyetTom Meyer

Tom Meyer was awarded a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas in 1998, where he was a research associate in the Mapping Sciences Laboratory. He now is an associate professor of geodesy in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Connecticut, where he teaches courses in geomatics, GNSS surveying, geodesy, digital terrain modeling, and spatial statistics. Dr. Meyer has published an undergraduate textbook on geodesy, and is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Surveying Engineering and Surveying and Land Information Science. His work with Stormwise combines his background (Master’s degree) in Computer Science and geomatics. He is writing algorithms and data structures to detect and extract features, like utility poles and wires, from LiDAR data sets. Read more about Dr. Meyer’s work: http://www.nre.uconn.edu/pages/people/bios/meyer.php

Zhe Zhu

Zhe Zhu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT. His research interests include Remote Sensing, Particularly of Forests, Urban, and Clouds; Land Cover and Land Use Change; Time Series Analysis; Digital Image Processing; and Climate Change. He has been selected as the USGS-NASA Landsat Science Team Member (2018-2023) and EROS CalVal Center of Excellence (ECCOE) Science Interface Panel (2018-2021). He is also the Associate Editor of Remote Sensing of Environment , Science of Remote Sensing, and on the Editorial Board of PeerJ and Remote SensingIn his spare time, he likes fishing, hiking, and playing basketball.

Students

Nancy MarekNancy Marek

Nancy Marek is in her third year of doctoral work in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment. She received a B.A. in biology from Mount Holyoke College and completed her M.S. at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Her research interests include using drones to map the distribution of understory invasive species in the temperate deciduous forest, deep learning, and L-Systems. Nancy’s study sites are located across Connecticut, as part of the UConn Stormwise Project.

Steven DiFalco

Steven DiFalco, Master’s Student in the College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources, is interested in invasive species ecology, forest management, and how humans interact with the environment. Before coming to UConn, he worked for NYS Parks doing forest restoration, native plant propagation, and vegetation monitoring. He is excited to work on the Stormwise project focusing on human dimensions and spatial analysis.

Amanda BunceAmanda Bunce

Amanda Bunce received a B.A. from Central CT State Univ. in studio art in 2009, and an M.S. in Natural Resources from UConn in 2017. She is a naturalist, artist, lumberjack, avid hiker and native New Englander. She works on the Stormwise project as a research technician, up-keeping the 3 biomechanics sites in Storrs, Orange and Torrington. Her research interests include the ecological effects of forest management in southern New England and increasing resilience of the forest in the face of climate change, fragmentation and other challenges faced by northeastern forests today.

Kerste Milik

Kerste is a master’s student at UConn’s Department of Natural Resources and the Environment. She received a B.S. in Environmental Science at Northeastern University and has a background in research and informal science education. Her research uses acoustic monitoring to study how Stormwise forest management may affect soundscape, the distribution of sounds in the environment. She is interested in whether management can enhance the ability of trees to absorb and scatter traffic noise, an important ecosystem service with implications for recreational value and wildlife habitat quality. Kerste is excited to be a part of this important collaborative project promoting resilience in the face of environmental change.

Danielle Tanzer

Danielle is studying the effect of disturbance interactions on forest ecosystems. Danielle completed a BS with Honors in Earth and Environmental Sciences and Anthropology at the University of Michigan and was previously a research technician at Michigan Tech.

UConn Forest Crew

photo of forest crewThe UConn Forest crew is responsible for the majority of the harvesting, logging and milling operations for the Stormwise research demonstration sites. We hire a group of talented undergraduates every year from the College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources. Working on research projects in the UConn forest and surrounding areas, they gain valuable on-the-job training about sustainable forestry practices, land cover types, forest inventory and woody plant identification. They also maintain a vibrant firewood business in eastern CT. UCONN Forest Crew members from 2014 to 2017: Bailey McNichol, Mike Heyn, Brandon, Cherico, Tom the younger, Meg, Andrew, Carl, Ryan, Taylor (1), Taylor (2), Nick V., Mike, Sophia, David, Lauren, Izzy, Dwayne, Tanner, Travis, Clay and Alana. 2018-2020 crew: Max, Chris L., Deanne, Noah, Anna, Chris D., Nick C.

Stormwise Alumni

Frances ChampagneFrances Champagne

Frances Champagne used her broad background in forest resources and horticulture, as well as an interest in forest entomology, for research that focused on local forest resources, including wood products. She hopes to see an increase in Connecticut forest product production through appropriate management practices, harvesting of roadside trees for milling, and species appropriate planting.

Danielle KlosterDanielle Kloster

As part of the Stormwise team Danielle’s research focused on societal perceptions of roadside forests and roadside tree and forest management, as well as the biophysical an economic potential for use of wood recovered from roadside management. Danielle moved on to become an instructor at SUNY ESF.

Daniel Hale

Dan’s Masters research focused on public attitudes toward roadside vegetation management, and how attitudes are influenced by the context of the landscape where people live. His research combines social science and landscape ecology to understand public perceptions of vegetation management across a gradient from urban to rural areas. He moved on to work as a stewardship manager for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Julia Rogers

Julia Rogers is an avid hiker, canoeist, and lumberjack. Her research for Stomrwise focused on the response of roadside forest understory communities to the Stormwise management prescription, and especially exotic plant invasions. She is now the Stewardship Coordinator for the Hudson Highlands Land Trust in New York.

David R MillerDavid Miller

David R. Miller is Professor Emeritus, Natural Resources and the Environment, UCONN. His education and 40 year career have been in forest and agriculture meteorology, hydrology and climatology. He is an expert in the physics of wind-in-trees. He is advising and helping the field researchers to insure scientific rigor and the practical application of their work in Stormwise.