What is Ecoinformatics?

We view ecoinformatics as integrating cutting-edge informatics tools (data analytics, computing, statistical analysis, and modeling) with knowledge, theory, and data from ecology, climate science, and other environmental science disciplines to address pressing environmental issues. 

The Ecological and Environmental Informatics (“Ecoinformatics”) research group at NAU employs cutting-edge computational, analytical, and modeling (“informatics”) tools to conduct research in major terrestrial biomes from the tropics to the tundra to deserts. Our ecological expertise spans physiological ecology, ecosystem ecology, forest ecology, biosphere-atmosphere interactions, disease ecology, remote sensing, and more. We augment this expertise by collaborating with other world-class research centers across NAU and other institutions.

We would love for you to join us! Learn more about our research labsfaculty and research staff, new team-science based PhD program (funded by the National Science Foundation), other graduate research and funding opportunities, and our undergraduate program.

On This Page

T3 Statement on Racism and Inequality News Living in Flagstaff

T3 Statement on Racism and Inequality

The T3 Program Advisory Committee (PAC)  recognizes that there are structural inequalities that permeate our society, and the sciences are not immune to racism. As a program supported by the National Science Foundation’s National Research Traineeship (NRT) program, the T3 program is committed to broadening participation in the sciences and to being part of the solution to these systemic problems. T3 Program Affiliates are committed to engaging in training and awareness activities that address issues of racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sciences, and the T3 PAC is discussing concrete actions we can take as a group. We will provide updates about our plans as they take shape.


Student News

Blase LaSala surveys a cave in the Grand Canyon’s deep karst aquifer system. Photo Credit: Garrison Loope (GRCA)


Congratulations to Drs Yiqi Luo (left), Scott Goetz (middle), and Kevin Gurney (right), who were named as 3 of Reuters’ Top 1000 Climate Scientists

electronics in a red box
SICCS professor wins NAU 2022 award for Most Significant Innovation in Technology Transfer or Commercialization

Congratulations to Dr. Kevin Gurney, who won NAU’s 2022 award for Most Significant Innovation in Technology Transfer of Commercialization

Research News

Broadening Our Impact


Return to Top

Living in Flagstaff

With more than 250 days of sunshine per year, Flagstaff provides a beautiful setting for living and learning. Outdoor opportunities in Flagstaff are unrivaled and include local hiking, running, and biking options, our very own ski resort, and easy access to the world-renowned Grand Canyon National Park and other national parks and monuments around the 4-Corners region. Flagstaff, located at an elevation of 7000 ft, is situated on the edge of the Colorado Plateau. The proximity to lower elevation deserts ensures year-round access to hiking, camping, and world-class rock climbing.

In addition to outdoor activities, there is a vibrant science and arts community in Flagstaff. Annually, the Flagstaff Festival of Science provides free science-related activities for all ages. Lowell Observatory is open to the public with programs for all ages. Arts events include summer festivals, free activities year-round in Heritage Square, art galleries, First Friday Art Walk, the Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival, aerial artists, and much, much more.

Northern Arizona University is an accredited postsecondary minority-serving institution as well as a Hispanic-serving institution and is committed to building a diverse community of scholars and improving opportunities for historically underrepresented students and faculty.

You can learn more about Flagstaff here.


Return to Top

What We Do

Our faculty and affiliates engage in a broad range of collaborative research projects with our academic, government, and industry partners. While most of our projects expand beyond traditional disciplinary divides, projects in this area are closely related to ecology, remote sensing, and environmental modeling.

Our Research Groups

Who We Are

Our ecoinformatics group at NAU includes 17 faculty, representing a broad range of expertise from plant and ecosystem ecology to remote sensing to statistics to ecohydrology to disease ecology, among others. The faculty is paralleled by our diverse group of postdoctoral researchers, research support staff, and graduate students.

Faculty Postdoctoral Researchers Research Staff Graduate Students Recent Graduates & Affiliates


Jay Barber
Associate Professor
Bayesian statistics, spatial statistics, ecological and environmental applications
Logan Berner
Assistant Research Professor
Forest ecology, carbon cycling, climate change, satellite remote sensing, geospatial modeling
Chris Doughty
Associate Professor
Climate change, biodiversity loss, forest carbon cycling, remote sensing
Scott Goetz
Regents Professor
Ecosystem responses to environmental change, Arctic biodiversity, remote sensing
Kevin Gurney
Climate change, biogeochemistry, ecology, energy, science policy
Deborah Huntzinger
The carbon cycle, climate change, terrestrial biogeochemistry, modeling of land-atmosphere carbon dynamics, carbon footprint analysis
Patrick Jantz
Assistant Research Professor
Forest canopy structure, geoinformatics, remote sensing, sustainable development
Żaneta Kaszta
Assistant Research Professor
Landscape ecology and genetics, species distribution and biodiversity modeling, decision support systems for conservation, impact of land use change on wildlife and ecosystems, tropical ecology, remote sensing
Nicholas McKay
Associate Professor
Paleoclimatology, data analysis, paleoclimate informatics
Joseph Mihaljevic
Assistant Professor
Ecological informatics, multi-pathogen communities, infectious diseases
Kiona Ogle
Ecological synthesis and analysis, Bayesian applications in ecology, plant and ecosystem ecology
Andrew Richardson
Regents Professor
Terrestrial ecosystems, forest ecology and the carbon cycle
Ben Ruddell
Professor, SICCS Director
Urban ecology, complex systems, networks, macroscale ecology, hydrology and water resources, information theory, data science, food-energy-water
Richard Rushforth
Assistant Research Professor
Adaptive water management, socio-hydrology, water policy
Kimberly Samuels-Crow
Assistant Research Professor
Stable isotope geochemistry, climate change, paleoclimate, hydroclimate, science communication and outreach  
Temuulen "Teki" Sankey
Associate Professor
Remote sensing, desert plant communities, cropland distribution and change
Alexander Shenkin
Assistant Research Professor
Forest structure, tropical ecosystems, carbon cycling, ecosystem and plant ecology, climate change, drought, tree physiology, tree architecture, functional traits, remote sensing, forest governance
Xanthe Walker
Assistant Professor
Ecosystem and plant ecology, disturbance, climate change, northern terrestrial ecosystems

Return to Top

Postdoctoral Researchers

Pawlok Dass
Carbon cycle; biogeochemistry; terrestrial biosphere; climate change; earth system science; energy; geospatial data science
J. Camilo Fagua
Biodiversity conservation at large scales in tropical ecosystems, spatial analysis and statistics, remote sensing, climate, economics, social systems, hydrology, biophysics
Camille Gaillard
Traits, Functional traits, Trade-offs, DGVM, Ecosystem Services, Biodiversity, Science for Society, Climate Change, Anthropogenic Impact, Ecosystem Models, Data Science, Savanna, Vegetation cover change, Tropical ecosystems
Chris Hakkenberg
Landscape ecology, biodiversity, forest structure and dynamics, remote sensing, geospatial analysis, conservation, urbanization
Anna Kato
Climate change, Carbon cycle, Vegetation Phenology, Remote sensing, Geospatial analysis and mapping
Ana Miller-ter Kuile
Wildlife population modeling, community ecology, predator-prey interactions, conservation biology, DNA metabarcoding, global change and biodiversity, data science education and communication
Bhaskar Mitra
Carbon Cycle, Time Series Analysis, Spatial Statistics, Bayesian Analysis
Drew Peltier
Tree physiology under climate change and drought, tree ring syntheses, ENSO ,North American Monsoon, Bayesian hierarchical modelling, non-structural carbohydrates, radiocarbon, drought legacies and memory
Alison Post
climate change, grasslands, precipitation extremes, ecosystem modeling
Geoffrey Roest
Anthropogenic carbon emissions, trace gas emissions, climate change, meteorology, air quality, oil and gas, environmental policy
Yang Song
GIS, remote sensing, environment, transportation, fossil fuel carbon
Jon M. Wells
Earth system modeling, Data-model integration, Global carbon cycling, Bioenergy production
Melakeneh G. Gedefaw
Remote sensing, geospatial analysis, data-sciences, landscape ecology, rangeland degradation, vegetation dynamics,  drought, land use/land cover change, food-energy-water nexus, hydro-informatics, network analysis, and complex systems

Return to Top

Research Support Staff

Patrick Burns
Research Associate, Goetz Lab
Earth observation, remote sensing, lidar, hyperspectral imaging

Return to Top

PhD Students

Bilal Aslam
PhD Student
Remote sensing, Geospatial analysis and mapping, Machine learning, Time Series Analysis, Spatial Statistics
Cameron Bodine
PhD Student
River ecology, fisheries, remote sensing, spatial ecology, machine learning
Abraham Cadmus
PhD Student
Forest tree ecophysiology, community genetics, ecohydrology, plant hydraulics, conservation and restoration.
Jennifer Diehl
PhD Student
Remote sensing, ecological modeling, conservation biology, forest ecology
Alicia Formanack
PhD Student
Dendroecology, Bayesian modeling, natural climate solutions, forest carbon
Kat Fowler
PhD Student
Hydrology and water resources; data integration and harmonization; ecological modeling; climate change
Iván González - Garzón
PhD Student
Ecohydrology, remote sensing, land use change, spatial and quantitative ecology
Xin Huang
PhD Student
Tree growth, bayesian statistics, ecological modeling, software engineering, high-performance computing
Jenna Keany
PhD Student
Biodiversity loss, animal-plant interactions, remote sensing, ecosystem ecology, climate change
Blase LaSala
PhD Student
Hazardous environment documentation, geoinformatics, data interface and visualization, high performance computing
Scooter Nowak
PhD Student
Data manipulation and analysis, software tool development, aquatic entomology, aquatic ecology
Anna Odell
PhD Student
Macrosystems ecology, vegetation response to climate and land-use change, satellite remote sensing
Kathleen Orndahl
PhD Student
Arctic vegetation ecology, climate change impacts on arctic ecosystems, UAV operations, satellite remote sensing
Emily Palmquist
PhD Student
Dryland plant ecology, riparian plant ecology, rare plants, plant genetics, Grand Canyon, river regulation
Jeralyn Poe
PhD Student
Carbon cycling, land-atmosphere interactions, geospatial analysis, Arctic vulnerability
Tomos Prys-Jones
PhD Student
Animals transport of microbes and pathogens, impact of animal extinctions on emergent infectious disease
Colin Quinn
PhD Student
Biogeography, Remote Sensing, Environmental response to climate and human impact, landscape archaeology
Emma Reich
PhD Student
Plant ecophysiology, stable isotope analysis, evapotranspiration partitioning, flux tower measurements
Melissa Rose
PhD Student
Remote sensing, ecological modeling, conservation biology, consequences of biodiversity change
Vova Saruta
PhD Student
Bayesian statistics, emulators, process based models, terrestrial ecosystems, carbon cycle
Shelby Sundquist
PhD Student
Ecological modeling, climate change, and arctic and boreal vegetation
Julia Tatum
PhD Student
Forest ecology, soil moisture dynamics, geospatial analysis, remote sensing, ecological modeling, machine learning
Aaron Teets
PhD Student
Forest carbon dynamics, phenology, woody biomass increment, non-structural carbohydrates, eddy-covariance
Sam Watson
PhD Student
Climate change; forest ecology; phenology; land-atmosphere interactions; data synthesis and statistical modeling
Natasha Wesely
PhD Student
Landscape ecology, fire ecology, abiotic drivers of ecosystem heterogeneity, spatial modeling, remote sensing
Ethan Yackulic
PhD Student
Paleoecology, lake sediments, hyperspectral imaging, water quality, Holocene climate

Return to Top

Recent Graduates

  • Rohan Boone (2022) MSc in Informatics
  • Andrew Abraham (2021) PhD in Informatics
  • Adam Belmonte (2021) Phd in Informatics
  • Laura Puckett (2021) MSc in Informatics
  • Nancy Peterson (2020) MSc in Informatics
  • Jessica Guo (2019) PhD in Biological Sciences

Recent Affiliates

  • Adrianna Forst, former Ecoinformatics postdoc (GEODE [Goetz] Lab), currently at NCAR Boulder
  • Tim Rademacher, former Ecoinformatics postdoc (Terrestrial Ecosystems & Global Change [Richardson Lab])
  • Richard Massey, former Ecoinformatics postdoc (GEODE [Goetz] Lab), currently at BAE systems in Ogden, Utah
  • Bijan Seyednasarollah, former Ecoinformatics postdoc (Terrestrial Ecosystems & Global Change [Richardson Lab]), currently a senior data scientist in the private sector
  • Larissa Yocom, former Ecoinformatics postdoc (Ecological Synthesis Lab), currently at Utah State University
  • Yao Liu , former Ecoinformatics postdoc (Ecological Synthesis Lab), currently at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Return to Top