Project Participants

VISTAS Key People shown below in the composit, and listed below as:  Principle Investigators (PIs), Environmental Science Collaborators, Senior Researchers, Software Developers, Ph.D. Students, and Master’s and Undergraduate Students.

Principle Investigators

  1. Judy Cushing, Evergreen (Computer Science and EcoInformatics) is responsible for overall project coordination. She is responsible for the EcoInformatics research, and coordinates the Northwest Computer Science Consortium to Enhance the Study of Climate Change.
  2. Denise Lach, OSU (Social Science) is responsible for tracking, documenting, and publishing regarding the co-development process and works closely with the computer and domain scientists to determine which visualizations work and why.
  3. Barbara Bond, OSU (now Emeritus) provided the initial environmental science vision for this project, and was instrumental in building this project team and setting the domain science goals and objectives.  She continues to participate in annual retreats/workshops, and advises the co-PIs.

Environmental Science Collaborators  were chosen for scientific expertise, fit with the project, and record of collaboration. They work closely on VISTAS’ co-development, visualizations, and visualization sorts, defining VISTAS requirements, and contributing data, algorithms and models.  Each collaborator works at a different spatial and temporal scale within the HJA LTER.

  1. Bob McKane, Ecologist, Western Ecology Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  He is a major user and co-developer of the VELMA model and  collaborated with Bond, Bolte, and others on hydrology and climate change for the HJ Andrews and Willamette Region.  In that role, he worked with Cushing and her developers on visualizatiaons prior to this project.  See Bob’s presentation from the Fall 2013 VISTAS retreat.  Bob has been VISTAS’ primary science collaborator.
  2. Allen Brookes, Modeler, works with McKane at the EPA Corvallis, and has been responsible for rewriting VELMA from Processing to Java, and now to C++.  He is also primary author of EPA’s FISH model.
  3. Jonathan Halama, now Visiting Professor of Environmental Science at Willamette, continues to work with Bob McKane on integrating solar (irradiance) data with VELMA.  He used VISTAS extensively while conducting his Ph.D. research at OSU.
  4. John Bolte,  Prof. and Dept. Head, Biological & Ecological Engineering, OSU.  Develops multi scale bio-complexity models for resource management, and authored Envision. Bolte worked with VISTAS developers on visualizations, visualization sorts, and implementation of the VISTAS API as a backend to Envision.
  5. Christophe Thomas, since June 2014 Professor and Director of the Micrometeorology Group at Universitat Bayreuth, Germany, focuses his research on atmosphere-vegetation interaction, atmospheric turbulence, and scale transitions. While at OSU, he worked with students Kendra Schmall and Jerilyn Walley and developer Taylor Mutch visualizing windflow.  See Christoph’s presentation from the Fall 2013 VISTAS retreat.
  6. Dominique Bachelet, Senior Research Associate Professor at Oregon State University, was formerly Senior Climate Change Scientist at CBI, and Director of Climate Change Science at The Nature Conservancy.  One of the authors of the MC1 Dynamic Global Vegetation Model, Dominique’s primary interests are in the effects of climate change on vegetation.  We worked with Dominique to determine the extensibility of the VISTAS software.

Senior Researchers

  1. Mike Bailey, OSU (Computer Science) guides graphics and visualization research, leads the VISTAS development effort with the graduate student, and works on curricular development for graduate and upper division CS and middle school girls.
  2. Susan Stafford, Prof. and Dean (emerita) Univ. Minnesota.  Her role in the project has been to help organize our annual retreats and the Year 3 Symposium, and to contribute to outreach to resource managers.
  3. Jenny Orr, Professor and CS Dept. Chair, Willamette Univ. works with the VISTAS development team on the software and visual analytics research;  she also develops curricular materials.

Software Developers, professionals from The Conservation Biology Institute.

  1. Nik Stevenson-Molnar, VISTAS Chief Architect and Project Manager, holds a B.A. degree from The Evergreen State College where he studied software design and media and worked with PI Cushing on VISTAS precursor The Canopy Database Project.  Nik joined CBI in 2010 as a software engineer.
  2. Ken Ferschweiler, VISTAS developer, joined the team after Taylor Mutch left CBI.  He has 30 years experience, joining CBI’s climate change research group in 2010 as Senior Software Architect/Modeler. Ken has worked in the US and Europe in AI and parallel computing, but prefers working with scientists.
  3. Taylor Mutch, VISTAS developer, first worked on the project as an undergraduate at Willamette, then as a research programmer at OSU and finally at CBI.  He left the project in December 2017, and is now a Site Reliability Engineer at Unity Technologies in Seattle.
  4. Lee Zeman worked as a VISTAS developer from 2012 – 2013, primarily on the user interface.

Ph.D. Students

  1. Kirsten Winters, holds a BA in English and Masters Degree in Environmental and Resource Policy. She was a Ph.D. student in Environmental Science at OSU, working with Dr. Denise Lach focusing on the development of visualization tools and their potential use in scientific research, communication and public policy.  She went on to conduct postdoctoral research at the Environmental Protection Agency in Corvallis and is now Instructor in Computer Science at OSU.
  2. Chad Zannoco completed his Ph.D. in Public Policy at OSU, also with Denise Lach, where he studied software co-development on the VISTAS project.  He is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar at Stanford University, studying energy lifestyle for tweens.

Undergraduate and Master’s  Students

Three Evergreen Masters of Environmental Studies students received research funding from the VISTAS project, and two completed thesis research  relating to the project.

  1. Jerilyn Walley (2013) Valley circulation experiment a classification of wind flow in the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest
  2. Evan Hayduk (2012) Using LiDAR data to estimate effective leaf area index, determine biometrics and visualize canopy structure in a central Oregon forest with complex terrain .
  3. Alison Smith Osterberg (2011) received a prestigious research grant to do work in public policy after working one year with VISTAS;  her thesis was submitted in 2014:  Whose Shore — Assessing the Effects of Public Participation on Shoreline Master Program Updates in Puget Sound.

Two OSU Computer Science Masters’ Students Viriya Ratanasanpunth and Chris Schultz were supported by VISTAS and implemented the VISTAS graphics engine under the direction of Mike Bailey.  They went on to work for Amazon and NVIDIA, respectively.

Undergraduate Students from EvergreenDani Witherspoon and Justin Mangue (REU recipient) and from WillametteKendra Schmal, Taylor Mutch and Caden Kesey also worked on VISTAS.  Dani is current working at IBM Research in Yorktown Heights, NY, and Justin works as a software engineer in Seattle.  Kendra works as a software engineer in Salem, Taylor joined the VISTAS team after graduation, and Caden started his senior year at the completion of the project.

  • Dani worked on color, montage and data extrusion.
  • Justin improved the user interface.
  • Kendra implemented a web GL implementation (VALCEX) of the wind flow between McRae and Lookout Valleys in the HJA LTER: She continued work on this project after graduation, with funding from Christoph.
  • Taylor Mutch took over Kendra’s work on VALCEX (Christoph’s project).
  • Caden implemented user axes control for the VISTAS statistics feature.