Robert Washington-Allen: Remote sensing of drylands for rangeland degradation


Remote Sensing of Drylands


Robert Washington-Allen


Agriculture, Veterinary, & Rangeland Science


I was born in Northampton, England to a Jamaican Mother and an US Air Force Father from North Carolina. I did my undergraduate in Zoology at The Ohio State University where I also received Varsity letters in Cross Country and Track & Field. My specific area of study was Ethology where I conducted an undergraduate research project looking at the effects of selection for high and low pollen collection in honeybees on recruitment of workers in stable hives. I went into the US Peace Corps upon graduation, serving for 3 years in Lesotho, a small mountainous country in southern Africa which is completely surrounded by South Africa, which at the time was under Apartheid. I lived another 3 years in Lesotho working for USAID as a sub-contractor teaching agricultural resources courses, including Rangeland Management & Science, at the Lesotho Agricultural College. I then went to school for my MS (Range Science) and PhD (Ecology) at Utah State University where I specialized in the use of ground to satellite Remote Sensing data to assess the status and trends of Dryland landscapes. While working on my PhD I also worked for DOE Oak Ridge National Lab on Remote Sensing Studies and went from the Lab to work for the University of Virginia and then to Texas A&M University, University of Tennessee, and now here at UNR. I have conducted rangeland and forest inventory & monitoring projects in the US, the Philippines, Colombia, Bolivia (My MS) , Mozambique, Costa Rica, South Africa, Mexico, Ethiopia, and Jordan.

Project Overview

I conduct remote sensing studies in Rangelands/Drylands that focuses on their sustainability. I specifically am interested in looking at rangeland degradation and question as to whether this actually exists. I look at:

  1. Livestock impact on primary productivity at the National and International Scale
  2. Livestock impact on growth form at the National Scale
  3. Changes in 3-D vegetation structure using terrestrial laser scanning, drones, and virtual reality
  4. Changes in 3-D soil structure, particularly rilling, using terrestrial laser scanning, drones, and virtual reality
  5. Changes in 3-D soil structure, particularly belowground biomass using ground penetrating radar (GPR)
  6. Historical Reconstruction of 300 - 500 yrs of rangeland primary productivity using remote sensing and tree ring records.

Student(s) will have an individual or related group choice of these 6 projects including international summer research in Mozambique assessing carbon stores in Miombo woodlands.