PhD student Yilun Zhao awarded NASA Future Investigators Fellowship



PhD student Yilun Zhao (advisor: Dr. Chunyuan Diao) has been awarded a Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology (FINESST) fellowship for her project "Evaluating the Influence of Biocontrol Program on the Colorado River Biodiversity with Multi-Source Time Series Imagery."

From Yilun's abstract:
Biodiversity is essential to maintain ecosystem health, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and provide commercial, agricultural, and recreational values. Based on current studies, the Sixth Mass Extinction is arriving, and more than 20,000 species have been extinct or endangered in the past few decades. Invasive species is the second most common driver that leads to the extinction of native species. One important way to control invasive species is to introduce their predators to decrease the population size and dispersion range. However, it is critical to monitor the effects of biocontrol programs on biodiversity in case that the introduced predators threaten native species. The invasive species Tamarix, together with its biocontrol program using Diorhabda, will be studied in this project. The advances in multisource satellite remote sensing, in combination with drone and in-situ observations, provide new opportunities to investigate the plant biodiversity change in the context of Tamarix biocontrol at both local and landscape scales.