Laura received her B.Sc. Honors in Earth Systems Sciences in 2007 from Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario. She then moved to the University of Victoria where she received her MSc in Geography in 2009. Her masters thesis was titled ‘Aboveground biomass estimation using spaceborne LiDAR in managed conifer forests in south central British Columbia.’ In 2010 she started her phd at the University of Maryland working with Ralph Dubayah. She defended her dissertation thesis entitled ‘Fusing Allometric Scaling with LiDAR Remote Sensing for Improved Biomass Estimation and Ecosystem Characterization’ in 2014. From 2015 – 2017 she was a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow (NPP) at NASA Goddard working on research related to the upcoming GEDI mission and individual tree level dynamics. She is currently an assistant research professor at NASA Goddard, appointed through the department of Geographical Sciences at the University of Maryland.
Assistant Professor (2019-present) Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park. Research focuses on global-scale ecology and biomass mapping, with an interest in waveform lidar biomass algorithm development, data fusion (lidar, SAR, optical data) for mapping biomass and forest degradation, and developing validation techniques for new global biomass products.
Research Assistant Professor (2017-2019) Research focuses on global-scale forest biomass mapping and preparation activities for the NASA GEDI mission, as well as biomass calibration and validation, and data fusion.
NASA Goddard: NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow (2015-2017) Research focuses on three main avenues of enquiry: First, support of the upcoming footprint level biomass product for the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI), second, an analysis of individual tree structural and functional dynamics across environmental gradients in southeast Alaska, and third, assessing the utility of high resolution stereo optical datasets for forest structural analysis.
University of Maryland: NASA NESSF Fellow (2011-2014) Research focused on applying large field and airborne LiDAR datasets to address questions of forest allometry from both theoretical and applied perspectives.
University of Maryland, Research Assistant (2012-2014): NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System (CMS) is a project focused on developing best practices for local-regional forest carbon mapping and monitoring. Research has been conducted to determine optimal field data collection techniques, lidar processing, and empirical modeling for aboveground biomass estimation across Maryland. My work focused on developing and applying empiral models to predict field estimates of aboveground biomass from lidar metrics, both in Maryland and Sonoma County, California.
NASA Earth Exchange Summer Shortcourse (2012): This summer course, offered at the NASA Ames campus, provided eight students from across the US with one week of exceptional lectures from world leaders in Earth science, and one week of hands-on practice allowing students to conduct their own research on Pleiades, the supercomputer at NASA Ames. Students were granted three years of access to the supercomputing system to expand the scope of their PhD research projects.
University of Maryland, Research Assistant (2010): Assessed the accuracy of global forest height products with airborne LiDAR data, generated gridded North American forest height maps at various resolutions.
University of Victoria, NSERC Fellow (2008-2009): Evaluated GLAS waveform Lidar for canopy height and biomass in high relief areas.
Queen’s University Summer Research Assistant (2004-2006): Field work was conducted in Ontario and the Yukon territory, studying turbidity currents in a glacially-fed lake (Yukon), and forest biomass dynamics (Ontario).
Instructor, SERVIR, Lidar training at SERVIR East Africa & West Africa hubs (2019)
Instructor, University of Maryland, Geography 372: ‘Principles of Remote Sensing’ (2014)
Instructor, University of Maryland, Geography 372: ‘Principles of Remote Sensing’ (2013)
Teaching Assistant, University of Maryland, ‘Field Methods Course’ (2011-2013)
Instructor, NASA Goddard LiDAR workshop for Costa Rican Scientists, San Jose, Costa Rica (2011)
Teaching Assistant, University of Victoria, ‘Digital Remote Sensing’ (2009)
Teaching Assistant, University of Victoria, ‘Introduction to Quantitative Methods’ (2008)
Teaching Assistant, University of Victoria, ‘Resource Management’ (2008)
Teaching Assistant, University of Victoria, ‘Biophysical Systems and the Human Environment’ (2007)
Duncanson, L., Armston, J., Disney, M., Avitabile, V., Barbier, N., Calders, K., Carter, S., Chave, J., Herold, M., Crowther, T.W., Falkowski, M., Kellner, J.R., Labrière, N., Lucas, R., MacBean, N., McRoberts, R.E., Meyer, V., Næsset, E., Nickeson, J.E., Paul, K.I., Phillips, O.L., Réjou-Méchain, M., Román, M., Roxburgh, S., Saatchi, S., Schepaschenko, D., Scipal, K., Siqueira, P.R., Whitehurst, A., Williams, M. The importance of consistent global forest aboveground biomass product validation. In press, Surveys in Geophysics.
Paul L Patterson, Sean P Healey, Göran Ståhl, Svetlana Saarela, Soren Holm, Hans-Erik Andersen, Ralph Dubayah, Laura Duncanson, Steve Hancock, John Armston, James R Kellner, Warren B Cohen, Zhiqiang Yang. 2019. Statistical properties of hybrid estimators proposed for GEDI – NASA’s Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation. Environmental Research Letters.
Hancock, S., Armston, J., Hofton, M., Sun, X., Tang, H., Duncanson, L.I., Kellner, J.R. and Dubayah, R., 2019. The GEDI Simulator: A Large‐Footprint Waveform Lidar Simulator for Calibration and Validation of Spaceborne Missions. Earth and Space Science, 6(2), pp.294-310.
Kellner, J.R., Armston, J., Birrer, M., Cushman, K.C., Duncanson, L., Eck, C., Falleger, C., Imbach, B., Král, K., Krůček, M. and Trochta, J., 2019. New opportunities for forest remote sensing through ultra-high-density drone lidar. Surveys in Geophysics, pp.1-19.
Chave, J., Davies, S.J., Phillips, O.L., Lewis, S.L., Sist, P., Schepaschenko, D., Armston, J., Baker, T.R., Coomes, D., Disney, M. and Duncanson, L., 2019. Ground Data are Essential for Biomass Remote Sensing Missions. Surveys in Geophysics, pp.1-18.
Duncanson, L., and Dubayah, R. Monitoring Individual Tree Change with Airborne Lidar. 2018. Ecology and Evolution, 8, 10, 5079-5089.
Fatoyinbo, L., Pinto, N., Hofton, M., Simard, M., Blair, B., Saatchi, S., Lou, Y., Dubayah, R., Hensley, S., Armston, J., Duncanson, L., Lavalle, M. 2017. The 2016 NASA AfriSAR campaign: Airborne SAR and Lidar measurements of tropical forest structure and biomass in support of future satellite missions. IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS), 4286-4287.
Duncanson, L., Huang, W., Johnson, K., Swatantran, A., McRoberts, R., Dubayah, R. 2017. Implications of allometric model selection for county-level biomass mapping. Carbon Balance and Management, 12, 1, 1-11.
Huang, W., Swatantran, A., Duncanson, L., Johnson, K., Watkinson, D., Dolan, K., O’Neil-Dunne, J., Hurtt, G., Dubayah, R. 2017. County-scale biomass map comparison: a case study for Sonoma, California. Carbon Management, 8, 5-6, 417-434.
Stavros, N., Schimel, D., Pavlick, R., Serbin, S., Swann, A., Duncanson, L., Fisher, J., Fassnacht, F., Ustin, S., Dubayah, R., Schweiger, A., and Wennberg, P. International Space Station observations offer an opportunity to understand plant function. Nature Ecology & Evolution, in press.
Montesano, P., Neigh, C., Sun, G., Duncanson, L., Van Den Hoek, J., Ranson, J. 2017. The use of sun elevation angle for stereogrammetric boreal forest height in open canopies. Remote Sensing of Environment, 196, 76-88.
Duncanson, L., Rourke, O., Dubayah, R. 2015. Small sample sizes yield biased allometric equations in temperate forests. Scientific Reports. 5, 17153. doi:10.1038/srep17153
Duncanson, L., Dubayah, R., & Enquist, B. 2015. Assessing the general patterns of forest structure: Quantifying tree and forest allometric scaling relationships in the United States. Global Ecology & Biogeography. doi: 10.1111/geb.12371
Duncanson, L., Dubayah, R., Cook, B., Rosette, J., & Parker, G. 2015. The Importance of Spatial Detail: Assessing the Utility of Individual Crown Information and Scaling Approaches for Lidar-based Biomass Density Estimation. Remote Sensing of Environment, 168, 102-112.
Huang, W., Swatantran, A., Johnson, K., Duncanson, L., Tang, H., Dunne, J. O. N., Hurtt, G.C. & Dubayah, R. 2015. Local discrepancies in continental scale biomass maps: a case study over forested and non-forested landscapes in Maryland, USA. Carbon balance and management, 10(1), 1-16.
Basu, S., Ganguly, S., Nemani, R. R., Mukhopadhyay, S., Zhang, G., Milesi, C., Michaelis, A., Votova, P., Dubayah, R., Duncanson, L., Cook, B., Yu, Yifan, Y., Saatchi, S., DiBiano, R., Karki, M., Boyda, E., Kuman, U., & Li, S. A. 2015. Semiautomated Probabilistic Framework for Tree-Cover Delineation From 1-m NAIP Imagery Using a High-Performance Computing Architecture. IEEE Geosciences and Remote Sensing, 53, 10, 5690-5708.
Duncanson, L., Cook, B., Hurtt, G., Dubayah, R. 2014. An efficient, multi-layered crown delineation algorithm for mapping individual tree structure across multiple ecosystems.’ Remote Sensing of Environment, 154, 378-386.
Duncanson, L.I., Niemann, K.O., & Wulder, M.A. 2010. Integration of GLAS and Landsat TM data for aboveground biomass estimation. Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing, 36, 2, 129-141.
Duncanson, L.I., Niemann, K.O., & Wulder, M.A. 2010. Estimating forest canopy height and terrain relief from GLAS waveform metrics. Remote Sensing of Environment, 114, 1, 138-154.
Selected Conference Presentations
Duncanson, L, Armston, J., Hancock, S., Dubayah, R & the GEDI Science Team. Global biomass modeling with GEDI waveform Lidar. Invited special session presentation at the Brazilian Remote Sensing Symposium, May 2017, Santos, Brazil.
Duncanson, L., Armston, J., Hancock, S., Tang, H., Kellner, J., Marselis, S., Dubayah, R. 2016. GEDI empirical biomass model development: First Results. Oral presentation at American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, December 2016.
Duncanson, L., Armston, J., Hancock, S., Tang, H., Kellner, J., Marselis, S., Dubayah, R. 2016. GEDI Biomass Model Development in Tropical Forests. Oral presentation at ForestSat in Santiago, Chile.
Duncanson, L. 2015. Applying Individual Tree Structure from Lidar to Address the Sensitivity of Allometric Equations to Small Sample Sizes. Oral presentation at American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, December 2015.
Duncanson, L., Cook, B., and Dubayah, R. 2015. Individual Tree-Based Change Detection with Repeat Pass Lidar at Teakettle Experimental Forest, California. Oral presentation at Silvilaser in La Grande Motte, France.
Duncanson, L., Huang, W., Johnson, K., O-Neil Dune, J., Hurtt, G., and Dubayah, R. 2015. County-level Aboveground Biomass Estimation Implications of Allometric Equation Selection. Poster presentation at NASA’s Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems Joint Science Workshop, College Park, Maryland, April 2015.
Duncanson, L., Dubayah, R., & Enquist, B. 2014. Mapping Forest Allometric Variability: Implications for Allometric Scaling Theory and Biomass Mapping. Presentation at Forestsat, Riva del Garda, Italy, November 2014.
Duncanson, L. & Dubayah, R. 2014. Allometric Scaling Across Environmental Gradients. Oral presentation at the American Geophysical Union AGM, San Francisco, December 2014.
Duncanson, L.*, Rourke, O., Cook, B., Dubayah, R. 2013. Evaluating the Importance of Local Environment on Tree Structural Allometries. Poster presentation at the American Geophysical Union AGM, San Francisco, December 2013.
Duncanson, L.* 2013. From GLAS to G-LiHT: An overview of NASA’s LiDAR instruments for forest research. Invited talk at the Chinese Academy of Forestry, October 2013.
Duncanson, L.*, Cook, B., Dubayah, R. 2013. Modeling height to crown allometries as a function of environment using lidar-derived crown delineations. Oral presentation at Silvilaser in Beijing, China, October, 2013.
Duncanson, L.* Fusing allometric scaling theory with lidar remote sensing for improved biomass estimation. Oral presentation at the American Association of Geographers AGM, Los Angeles, April, 2013.
Duncanson, L.*, Ralph Dubayah, George C Hurtt, Naiara Pinto, Bruce D Cook, Anu Swatantran. 2012. How important is individual tree information for biomass modeling and mapping? American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, December, 2012.
Duncanson, L.*, R. Dubayah, M. Brolly, B. Cook, and A. Swatantran. 2012. A novel canopy delineation algorithm for discrimination of understory and overlapping crowns with high-resolution LiDAR. Silvilaser, Vancouver, Canada, 16-19 September 2012.
Duncanson, L.*, Dubayah, R., Huang, C., Dolan, K., Pinto, N., Fisk, J. Cook, B. and Hurtt, G. 2012. Modeling tree size distribution as a function of stand age: an application of novel remote sensing datasets. Oral presentation at ForestSAT, Corvallis, Oregon, September, 2012.
Duncanson, L.* and Dubayah, R. 2012. Beyond Empiricism: Exploring mechanistic allometric scaling theory with LiDAR remote sensing for forest biomass estimation. Conference presentation at Canadian Association of Geographers AGM, Waterloo, Ontario, May 2012.
Duncanson, L.* and Dubayah, R. 2012. Applying allometric scaling theory to link forest structure and dynamics. American Association of Geographers AGM, New York City, February, 2012.
Duncanson, L.* Dubayah, R. and Hurtt, G. 2011. Evaluating spaceborne technologies for modeling forest structure. Conference presentation at American Association of Geographers AGM, Seattle, WA April 12-16, 2011.
Duncanson, L.* and Dubayah, R. 2011. Combining lidar/radar fusion, allometric scaling theory, and ecosystem modeling for improved estimation of forest biomass, structure and dynamics. Poster presentation at NASA Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems Joint Science Workshop, Washington, D.C., October 3-7, 2011.
Duncanson, L.,* Dubayah, R. Hurtt, G., Huang, C. Fisk, J., and Dolan, K. 2011. Expanding carbon stock and flux modeling capabilities through the improvement of LiDAR-derived forest age estimates. Poster presentation at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, December 5-9th, 2011.
Duncanson, L.*, Niemann, K.O., Wulder, M.A; 2009; Development of a Methodology to Estimate Aboveground Biomass and Forest Structural Properties from GLAS Data. Conference presentation at American Association of Geographers AGM, Las Vegas, NV., March 2009.
- NASA CMS 2016, Co-Investigator (PI Fernando Sedano), Title: ‘Forest Degradation Drive by Charcoal Production: Characterization, Quantification and Forecasting to Improve Carbon Monitoring Systems in Southern Africa’
- NASA CMS 2016, Co-Investigator (PI Jonathan Greenberg), Title: ‘Three Dimensional Change Detection of Aboveground Biomass’
- NASA CMS 2015.Title: ‘Future Mission Fusion for High Biomass Carbon Accounting’. PI: Lola Fatoyinbo, Science PI: Laura Duncanson.
- NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellowship. Title: ‘Exploring Individual-Tree Scale Responses to Climate Change in Alaska: An Assessment of Potential Carbon Feedbacks in Sensitive Northern Forests’
- Graduate Student Research Award, Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland (2014)
- Baker Award for Outstanding Graduate Student, Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland (2013)
- NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship. Title: Combining lidar/radar fusion, allometric scaling theory, and ecosystem modeling for improved estimation of forest biomass, structure and dynamics. (2011-2014)
- Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Postgraduate Scholarship (PGS) – Doctoral. (2010-2013)
- Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS) – Masters (2008-2009)
- University of Victoria President’s Research Scholarship (2008)
- Derek Sewell Memorial Graduate Scholarship (2007)
- Graphic Office Interiors Graduate Scholarship (2007)
- University of Victoria Graduate Fellowship (2007-2008)
- Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Undergraduate Student Research Award (2006)
- Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Undergraduate Student Research Award (2005)
CEOS LPV Biomass Focus Area Co-Lead: The Committee for Earth Observing Satellites (CEOS)’s Working Group on Calibration and Validation has a sub-group on Land Product Validation. A new (2017) focus area has been launched for biomass, co-lead by Laura Duncanson, Mat Disney and John Armston. This group is actively working to develop a protocol of good practices for the cal/val of global biomass products in advance of several active upcoming missions (GEDI, ICESAT2, BIOMASS, NISAR).
Organizing Committee Member, ForestSAT 2018: Helping plan ForestSAT 2018 which will be jointly hosted by NASA GSFC and the University of Maryland, College Park, in October 2018.
Session Primary Convener: Monitoring vegetation structure from space. American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, December 2016.
NASA Goddard Biospheric Sciences Lab Brownbag Seminar Coordinator: 2015-2016: Organized the seminar series for the Biospheric Sciences lab at Goddard.
Session Primary Convener: Characterizing Vegetation Structure with Remote Sensing. American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, December 2015.
Graduate Student Representative: Graduate Committee, Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland (2012-2013)
Session Organizer: Measuring and Modeling Terrestrial Ecosystem Structure and Dynamics. American Association of Geographers AGM, New York City, February, 2012.
President, Graduate Student Organization (GSO), Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland (2011-2013)
Graduate Representative, University of Victoria Geography Department (2008-2009)
Founder and Chair, Queen’s University ASUS Environmental Committee (2005-2007)
Environmental Editor, Queen’s University Syndicus Magazine (2006-2007)
Reviewer: Remote Sensing of Environment, IEEE Transaction on Geosciences and Remote Sensing, Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing, Remote Sensing, PLOS One, ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Global Ecology and Biogeography, Journal of Ecology, Ecological Applications, Global Change Biology