Marco Contreras, Assistant Professor
Marco Contreras graduated from the Universidad de Talca, Chile with a BS in forest sciences and a Forest Engineering Diploma. He earned a MS and PhD in forestry from the University of Montana, USA. His research interests broadly include forest operations planning, forest management planning, biomass utilization, use of LiDAR information in forestry application, and spatial analysis.
David Parrott, Research Assistant
David earned his B.S. and M.S. in forestry from the University of Kentucky. He is currently investigating the accuracy of LiDAR-derived data in the rugged broadleaf forests of the Cumberland Plateau, and collaborating on projects related to identifying suitable locations for dedicated biomass plantations within Kentucky, and validating models to design optimal skid-trail networks.
Sandhya Nepal, MS student
Sandhya received a BS in forestry from Tribhuvan University in Nepal and a Masters in Environmental Management from the University of North Dakota. Her current master’s research project focuses on identifying suitable sites for bioenergy plantations in northern Kentucky. Her general interests include spatial analysis and natural resource management.
Pengpeng Lin, PhD student
Pengpeng, Lin is a computer science PhD candidate at the University of Kentucky. He is currently working with Dr. Jun Zhang and Dr. Marco Contreras to develop a self-configured, multi-level Ant Colony Optimization algorithm to solve large-scale, constrained forest transportation planning problems, which are NP-hard combinational optimization problems. He is interested in: i) applying heuristic algorithms to all kinds of large-size, real-world optimization problems, ii) automatic configuring algorithms, and iii) parallel computing.
Wesley Staats, MS student
Wesley received his BS in forestry from the University of Kentucky. His research interests include invasive species ecology and herpetology. He is investigating the use of LiDAR data to identify hemlock trees along riparian areas, and determine if the presence of hemlock woolly adelgid has an effect on ephemeral stream salamander populations.
Suraj Upadhaya, MS student
Suraj received his BS in forestry from Tribhuvan University in Nepal. He is interested in conducting research to address his country’s many current problems with sustainable development, resource use and conservation. Particular interest areas include forest management and economics, ecology, and human-forest interactions. His MS project involves the use of Landsat Imagery to quantifying fire severity and to monitor vegetation changes after fire.