Faculty   |   Graduate Students   |   2005-2006 HERO Fellows

2005-2006 HERO Fellows

Sarah Assefa

I’m a junior now, majoring in Biology (emphasis on ecology) and Economics (emphasis on development).

I think interactions between humans and the environment are fascinating and very important for us to understand. Working in the Vulnerability stream of HERO research has been an incredible opportunity to learn about and help others understand such human-environment interactions.  The way our research investigates the links between climate, geology, ecology, economics, government and social justice concerns is awesome. I’ve learned tones about New England and particularly about Eastern Massachusetts. I feel I’ve developed skills (like qualitative analysis techniques and public speaking) which will be useful wherever I may live and work in the future. After school I aim to build upon this experience by working with similar human-environment issues in Kenya where I grew up.

Looking and working for peace on earth!

Kate Del Vecchio

I am a junior at Clark and double majoring in Psychology and  Environmental Science & Policy.  Currently I am working with other students in the Clark REU program assessing vulnerability to drought in the Ipswich River Watershed.  I am interested in water resource issues here in the north eastern United States as well as South America. I am hoping a background in psychology will give me a deeper understanding for the social and cultural implications surrounding water use.  I enjoy swimming, canoeing, and hiking, among other things (hence my preoccupation with water resources)! 


Ryan Frazier

My name is Ryan Frazier and I am an undergraduate senior student at Clark University. I was born (the younger of two brothers) and raised in the town of Beachmont, Ma. When I'm not working with HERO or for classes at Clark, I am usually found with friends or exploring the area around Worcester and Boston.  A few of the things that I like are the ocean, rocks, maps and seeing new places. I have always been interested in maps, whether they were road maps or sea charts, but I would say my interest in Geography stemmed first from a physical Geography class where the basics of weather, climate and landform were taught. I intend to graduate from Clark in the Spring of 2006 with a major in Geography. Currently I am working on an Honors Thesis which seeks to establish a historical Land Cover Database for the Worcester Area and the surrounding nine-towns representing the land as it was in 1951 in fine spatial and thematic detail. Once the database is created, Land use/Land cover change analysis will be examined for the years 1951, 1971, and 1999.

 My work in the HERO program this year continues with the Massachusetts Forest Mapping Project (MAFoMP) which began last year. This year we are conducting a pilot Study on Eastern and Southern Massachusetts using a Decision Tree classifier and environmental variables. Last year we went through a great deal of preprocessing the data and I learned an enormous amount about data processing for Large Area Monitoring and Mapping.

 In the near future, I hope to be joining the 5th year in GIS program here at Clark and applying my GiScience knowledge to a Masters Thesis.

Joe Fortier

I’m currently a junior at Clark, majoring in Geography with a minor in Government. In geography I’ve been specializing in GIS and Remotes Sensing, especially how they pertain to environmental issues and forest ecology. I hope to enter into the 5th year masters program in GIS.

I really enjoy spending time outdoors, whether it be through biking, hiking or camping. This has fostered an interest in environmental related issues; I try to advocate for energy conservation and recycling, and you may even catch me on a rant or two against light pollution. Working on the Massachusetts Forest Monitoring Program has been a phenomenal learning experience and has given me some really good ideas as to the direction I want to take for my honors thesis, which I plan to be starting soon.

Awards and Such:

Massachusetts Forest Monitoring Program, HERO-CM Fellowship 2005-2006

John O’Connors Environmental Research Award, 2005

Gamma Theta Upsilon

NESTVAL 2005: 1st Place Graduate/Undergraduate Research Poster Competition

Nicholas Malizia

I am currently pursuing a M.A. degree in geography at Clark University.  My research interests broadly pertain to the areas of geographic information science, remote sensing, land change science, and landscape ecology.

My undergraduate honors thesis, “Effect of Category Aggregation on Measurement of Land-Use and Land-Cover Change,” received Highest Honors from the Clark University School of Geography. This paper was selected as a finalist in the Association of American Geographers Geographic Information Science Specialty Group’s Student Paper Competition and is currently in publication in Lecture Notes in Computer Science.

My current HERO research includes studying land-use and land cover change across the country with researchers from the Human-Environment Regional Observatory (HERO) Project, investigating the link between a precipitation decline and NDVI over the past twenty years with the Southern Yucatan Peninsular Region (SYPR) Project, working with researchers at Harvard Forest to assess the effectiveness of conservation land acquisitions in central Massachusetts as part of the North Quabbin Conservation Study, and working with Gil Pontius and Anna Versluis of Clark University to extrapolate the uncertainty of land use change models into the future.

Christopher Lippitt

Currently a senior geography major at Clark University, I am in my second consecutive year as a HERO fellow. Originally from Providence, Rhode Island, I grew up in a rural town called Amherst in southern New Hampshire. A lifelong career of outdoor activities left me with a strong interest in helping to promote the coexistence of humans and nature.

This year I am collaborating with Professor John Rogan to development a long term timber harvest monitoring program for the state of Massachusetts using LandSat MSS/TM/ETM+ data. I am continuing my work to develop new methods for assessing change assessment/prediction accuracy with Professor Gil Pontius. We plan to submit “A method to distinguish landscape change from map error during map comparison” for publication in the journal Remote Sensing of Environment this fall.  The paper is currently published in the proceedings of the TIES Accuracy Conference 2004. I am working on my honors thesis “Timber harvest monitoring in western Massachusetts; a comparison of machine learning algorithms” with advisors John Rogan and Ron Eastman and expect to defend in December 2004. This paper will be presented at the 2004 conferences of the American Society for Photogrammetry & Remote Sensing and the Association of American Geographers. I have continued to work on the production of 1951 land use maps.  With the help of some of the “fellow fellows,” we hope to complete the map by December 2004.

Next year, I will continue at Clark University in the M.A. in G.I.Science program.  I expect to graduate in May, 2006.  For a closer look at what I have been up to the past couple years, here is my resume.

Daniel Pomerleau

My name is Daniel Pomerleau. I am a graduate student in Clark's new fifth year Masters program in GIScience. I was born and raised in the town of Vassalboro, ME., and am the youngest of three children. I graduated from Clark in the Spring of 2004 with a major in Geography, minor in International Development and Social Change, and concentration in Asian Studies. Since high school I have had a strong interest in Chinese history, culture, philosophy, and language, and I had an opportunity to combine these interests with Geography during my senior year with work on my honors thesis. The thesis was titled When Persecution Meets Principle: The Chinese Communist Party, Human Rights, and Falun Gong, and investigated the political history of Communist China, the current persecution of the spiritual practice Falun Gong, and the effectiveness of an international human rights effort to get prisoners of conscience out of China's forced labor camp system, Laogaidui. The thesis received high honors under joint advising by faculty in Clark's Geography and History and Asian Studies departments.

My work in the HERO program this year will be with the Massachusetts Forest Mapping Project (MAFomp) where we will begin detecting and mapping the history of timber harvesting in Massachusetts using GIS and Landsat imagery. This project will be particularly interesting and beneficial for me because it will give me the opportunity to experiment with different change detection techniques for use in my Masters thesis this year. My Masters thesis will involve detecting and mapping ice storm damage to forests in Maine that occurred during a major icing event in Northern New England and Southern Quebec in January 1998. The ice storm of 1998 was classified as a 100 year storm and devastated forest agriculture in the region. The results of my study will be compared with previous mapping efforts completed by the Maine Forest Service in conjunction with the USDA Forest Service following in the summer of 1998.

My future interests lie in GIS and Remote sensing for forestry management, or a related field. I would like to gain a few years experience before possibly going for my PhD in GIS/Remote Sensing. 


Graduate Students

Kevin Keenan


Colin Polsky
Vulnerability Analysis, Human Dimensions of Climate Change, Spatial Statistics

Robert Gilmore Pontius Jr
GIS, Quantitative Modeling, International Development, Spatial Statistics

John Rogan
Landscape Ecology, Fire Ecology, Remote Sensing, GIS

B. L. Turner II
Human-Environment Relationships, Global Change, Third World Agriculture