Conserving Fish and Wildlife Through Science, Technology, and Partnerships
H. Alexis Londo is the GIS and forestry expert who will be starting September 17, 2012 as the GCPO LCC’s Geomatics Coordinator. Working as an employee of Mississippi State University (MSU), Alexis will step into the latest dedicated GCPO LCC position to be added to the Cooperative. Her position represents a portion of MSU’s contribution to the GCPO LCC and is yet another example of how GCPO partners are leveraging their resources to work toward the goal of sustainable natural and cultural resources on a landscape scale. Alexis will be co-located with the MSU Geosystems Research Institute, alongside the FWS Inventory & Monitoring positions attached to the GCPO.
Alexis has a wealth of experience and her background is seemingly tailor-made for this position. “All my hours of statistics, programming and remote sensing training combined with my forestry and biology education have prepared me to take on this position,” Alexis recently told me.
Alexis is enthusiastic about her new role in the LCC, but not the type to brag on herself. I did, however, manage to pry the following tidbits from her over the course of our conversation.
Texas raised (Montana native), Alexis obtained her undergraduate degree in forestry with emphasis in recreation and wildlife management, then went on to pursue a master’s in forestry concentrating in biometrics by developing compatible individual-tree volume equations for bottomland hardwoods - both degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX. After a stint working at Temple Inland Forest Products Corporation helping to maintain their land and fiber databases, she moved with her husband up to Michigan. For four years, she worked with the Michigan Technological University School of Forestry and Wood Products developing growth and yield models and stand dynamics for forests worldwide.
A Desire to Do More than Modeling at the Stand Level
“I got to work with Paul Desanker, who is one of my role models. He works as a Manager for a subprogramme on National Adaptation Plans and Policy at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat. He’s currently working in Bonn, Germany on national planning in the context of adaptation to climate change including how ecosystems can be managed to best cope with the changing climate. My work with him on IUFRO (International Union of Forestry Research Organization) projects gave me a desire to do more than just modeling at the stand level. It’s exciting to contribute to projects which address and predict the effects of hugely significant factors like climate change.”
After Michigan, Alexis and her husband Andy (who is now Coordinator of Forestry Extension, Mississippi State University) moved to Mississippi. Alexis began working as a research associate for David Evans in the Spatial Information Technologies Lab (SITL) in the Department of Forestry. While working, she earned a PhD under David in Forest Resources, specifically using remote sensing LiDAR inputs to improve forest growth and yield modeling.
While working in the SITL, she has been involved in several diverse projects. These projects include the use of satellite land cover data to develop a statewide forest inventory; using LiDAR to describe the suitability of habitat for the red-cockaded woodpecker; and evaluating the performance of GIS, remote sensing, and field-based models for identifying gopher tortoise burrow locations. These projects have given Alexis experience with several data types at multiple scales and all the caveats therein. Alexis’s forestry and wildlife background also makes her cognizant of the types of data and measurements people often need when working in the field.
Ensuring Access to the Best Information and Tools
Over the course of their careers, Alexis and her husband have also grown a family that now includes an 8-year-old son, a 10-year old daughter, and both a cat and dog. They spend most vacations visiting family in either the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or Montana (just 30 miles as the crow flies from Yellowstone!).
In talking to Alexis, it’s easy to feel her excitement about working for the Landscape Conservation Cooperative. “It’s a little overwhelming trying to learn about all that is going on in the GCPO,” Alexis says. “I have been so impressed with how everyone is highly interested in getting a handle on what is out there with respect to conservation data and management. Everyone wants to ensure we have access to the best information available so we can make the best tools for the people on the ground who need them.”
That sounds like a pretty good description of her job for the next several years. Welcome, Alexis!