Current Members

Professor david coomes

Head of Group

Conserving the world’s dwindling biological diversity is one of the most pressing issues facing mankind. I lead a research group that is actively engaged in addressing these issues, as well as tackling more fundamental ecological questions. Focusing on forest conservation and ecology, my research uses large databases and modern computational approaches, alongside traditional field approaches.

dr yi zhang

Lab Manager

Yi provides lab management, developing analytical procedures, supervising Part II undergraduates and PhDs students, training postdoctoral RAs within Ecology laboratories. She has been involved in leaf traits analysis as part of projects to map ecosystems from airborne imagery. She has also contributed to the QGIS image analysis to allow continued data processing … Read more

Dr Thomas Swinfield

Research Associate

I work on tropical forest restoration based jointly between the University of Cambridge – Wolfson College – and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. I use a variety of remote sensing techniques from structure from motion, LiDAR and multi-temporal satellite observations to assess forest condition and how it responds to external pressures. Much of my recent work has involved developing metrics that describe 3D habitat structure from LiDAR data … Read more

Dr toby jackson


Toby is working on the effects of wind on tropical forests. Wind causes large-scale damage to forests but the rates of damage are poorly constrained, especially in the tropics. In addition, trees adapt to their local wind conditions, meaning that wind can affect canopy height and carbon storage even in the absence of damage. This 4 year NERC funded project uses both airborne and terrestrial LiDAR to map forest structure … Read more

Ms Laura Bentley

PhD student (4th year)

I am interested in how we adapt landscapes to our needs, and how we can make those landscapes work for us and the wider environment long-term. Increasing forest cover is widely known to affect carbon storage and biodiversity, but less known are its interactions with hydrology. The Mediterranean is facing increasing climatic uncertainty as a result of climate change and I am asking what the effects of forest regeneration will be for water security in this context, using a combination of remote sensing data and field measurements, to pick apart historic trends.

Ms Sacha Khoury

PhD student (4th year)

Sacha is interested in how climate change is affecting Mediterranean forests. She is working on determining Mediterranean forest resilience to drought from space. The first part of her work consists in using the latest cloud-computing infrastructure provided by Google Earth Engine to analyse time series of remote sensing data collected by a NASA satellite constellation. Following that, she is working on linking those satellite determined resilience to ground measurements from the Spanish national forest inventory and other datasets collected over Spain, including sap flow measurements and high spatial resolution hyperspectral imaging. Her work aims to … Read more

Mr Jonathan Williams

PhD student (4th year)

Jon is working on developing methods to make use of the growing availability of small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones to aid restoration of rainforests in Southeast Asia. Jon’s work focuses on developing tools to map individual tree crowns and species extent from UAV imagery and will soon work on hectare scale methods to quantify recovering ecosystem change. Jon is supported by both NERC and RSPB and has a particular focus on working with the team at Hutan Harapan, a 100,000 ha are of previously logged forest currently being managed on its path to recovery.

Mr Kyaw Sein Win Tun (O’Neill)

PhD student (second year)

Tun (O’Neill) works on (1) Myanmar’s forests’ carbon storage; (2) role of forests in the national economy and socioeconomic development through REDD+; (3) species compositional variations in the forests due to ecological factors. During his first year PhD, he investigated the ecological drivers which affect standing forest carbon stock and tree diversity variations of the five major forest types in Myanmar and whether these forests continue to exist for the future national REDD+ scheme by taking into account  the response of standing forest carbon stock to environmental conditions, forest tenure, and understanding stand diversity and structure of the forests.

mr chan hei yeung (aland)

PhD student (first year)

Aland is studying the resilience of subtropical forests against natural disturbances, especially typhoons and landslides. In particular, he will be using high-resolution aerial images, LiDAR, and satellite multispectral to study the forests in Hong Kong, which contain over 100,000 recorded landslides and are hit by multiple typhoons yearly. Through the project, he hopes to better understand the complex relationships between environmental factors and the rates of recovery of vegetation, as well as the role of disturbance events on global carbon cycling.

Mr james ball

PhD student (first year)

James is using high frequency repeat UAV lidar scanning and satellite remote sensing to better understand the phenology of tropical forests and their response to future climate change. By conducting regular surveys in the Amazonian forests of French Guiana, he hopes to assess subtle seasonal changes to leaf area/density down to the level of individual trees, and thereby decipher enigmatic rainforest phenomena such as … Read more