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Office of the Chief Scientist and Chief Technologist


Fernando  Espírito-Santo's Picture
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
M/S 300-331D
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109

Fernando Espírito-Santo
Caltech Postdoctoral Scholars

Dr. Fernando Espírito-Santo is a CalTech Postdoctoral Scholar at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in the Radar Science and Engineering Section. He joined JPL Radar Science team in May 2012 and has enjoyed his work studying tropical forest using remote sensing technologies. His research activities include field trips to LiDAR campaigns over remote forest areas of the Amazon. Dr. Espírito-Santo received the B.A. degree in Forest Engineer (2000) from the Federal University of Lavras (UFLA) and M.S. degree (2003) from the Brazilian Institute for Space Research (INPE) both in Brazil and Ph.D. degree (2011) from the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in the United States. He has been awarded with the Brazilian Counsel for Technology and Science (CNPq) fellowship during his B.A., the Brazilian Post-graduation Coordination (CAPES) and the Sumitomo Mitsui Bank fellowship during his master, the NASA Earth System Science Fellowship (NESSF) during his doctoral program and currently with the CalTech scholarship from NASA Postdoctoral program. Dr. Espírito-Santo has been collaborating with several ecological studies in the Amazon since 2000 and he is member of the Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA) since 2003. Recently Dr. Espírito-Santo worked with 21 co-authors in five nations to measure the carbon impacts of natural disturbance processes in the Amazon (see NASA-JPL press release) study published at Nature Communications.

  • Post-Doc. Earth Observation, Ecology and Modeling, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and California Inst. of Technology (CalTech), Radar Science and Engineering, US, 2012 – current;
  • Ph.D. Earth and Environmental Science, University of New Hampshire (UNH), Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space (EOS), US, 2005 – 2011;
  • M.S. Remote Sensing, National Institute for Space Research (INPE), Brazil, 2001 – 2003;
  • B.S. Forest Engineer, Federal University of Lavras (UFLA), Brazil, 1995 – 2000.

Research Interests
My primary research focus is to understand tropical forest structure and function over the Amazon region. I have been examining tropical forest disturbances from natural (tree mortality, blow-downs, and droughts) to anthropogenic processes (deforestation, selective logging and fires) using remote sensing technologies, ecological models and long-term ecological experiments. Currently, I have been working with several projects of LiDAR, Radar and Optical Multi-Satellite Sensors at NASA-JPL to better understand and quantify ecosystem processes through the application of emerging technologies, including remote sensing and process-based modeling.

Professional Experience
  • 2012 – now CalTech Postdoctoral Scholar at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), US;
  • 2005 – 2011 NASA Earth System Science Fellow (NESSF), Univ. of New Hampshire (UNH), US;
  • 2001 – 2005 Research Assistant, National Institute for Space Research (INPE), SP, Brazil;
  • 2000 – 2001 Research Assistant, EMBRAPA Genetics Resources and Biotechnology, Brasília, Brazil;
  • 1998 – 2000 Research Assistant, Federal University of Lavras (UFLA), MG, Brazil.

Selected Awards
  • CalTech Postdoctoral Scholar, at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), 2012 – 2013;
  • NASA Earth System Science Fellowship, one of the 58 awards from 250 applications, 2007 – 2010;
  • National Counsel of Technological and Scientific (CNPq) assistance fellowship, 2003 – 2005;
  • Sumitomo Mitsui Bank, Japan, first master thesis selected from 91 projects, 2002 – 2003;
  • Brazilian Post Graduation Coordination (CAPES), master fellowship, 2001 – 2003;
  • Brazilian Counsel for Technology and Science (CNPq), undergraduate scholarship, 1998 – 2000.

Selected Publications
  1. Espírito-Santo F.D.B., Gloor M., Keller M., Malhi Y., Saatchi S., Nelson B., Oliveira Junior R.C., Pereira C., Lloyd J., Frolking S., Palace M., Shimabukuro Y.E., Duarte V., Mendoza A.M., López-González G., Baker T.R., Feldpausch T.R., Brienen R.J.W., Asner G.P., Boyd S.D. and Phillips O.L. (2014) Size and frequency of natural forest disturbances and Amazon carbon balance. Nature Communications.
  2. Espírito-Santo F.D.B., Keller M., Linder E., Oliveira Júnior R.C., Pereira, C., Oliveira, C.G. (2014) Gap formation and carbon cycling in the Brazilian Amazon: measurement using high resolution optical remote sensing and studies in large forest plots. Plant Ecology & Diversity (special issue). 7: 305-318.
  3. Espírito-Santo F.D.B., Keller M., Braswell B., Nelson B.W., Frolking S., and Vicente G. (2010) Storm intensity and old-growth forest disturbances in the Amazon region. Geophysical Research Letters 37: L11403.
  4. Chambers J.Q., Asner G.P., Morton D.C., Anderson L.O., Saatchi S.S., Espírito-Santo F.D.B., Palace M., and Souza C. (2006) Regional ecosystem structure and function: ecological insights from remote sensing of tropical forests. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 22: 414-423.
  5. Morton C.D., DeFries R.S., Shimabukuro Y.E., Anderson L.O., Arai E., Espírito-Santo F.D.B., Freitas R., and Morisette J. (2006) Cropland expansion changes deforestation dynamics in the southern Brazilian Amazon. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) 103: 14637–14641.
  6. Morton D.C., Defries R.S., Shimabukuro Y.E., Anderson L.O., Espírito-Santo F.D.B., Hansen M., and Carroll M. (2005) Rapid Assessment of Annual Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon Using MODIS Data. Earth Interactions 9: 1-22.
  7. Lefsky M.A., Harding D.J., Keller M., Cohen W.B., Carabajal C.C., Espírito-Santo F.D.B., Hunter M.O., Oliveira R., and Camargo P.B. (2005) Estimates of forest canopy height and aboveground biomass using ICESat. Geophysical Research Letters 32: L22S02.
  8. Espírito-Santo F.D.B., Shimabukuro Y.E., Santos J.R., and Kuplich T.M. (2005) Geographic database as a support tool for mapping and monitoring the Tapajós National Forest region (PA). Geografia 30: 159-176.
  9. Espírito-Santo F.D.B., Shimabukuro Y.E., and Kuplich T.M. (2005) Mapping forest successional stages following deforestation in Brazilian Amazonia using multi-temporal Landsat images. International Journal of Remote Sensing 26: 635-642.
  10. Espírito-Santo F.D.B., Shimabukuro Y.E., Aragão L.E.O.C., and Machado E.L.M. (2005) Analysis of the floristic and phytosociology of Tapajós National Forest with geographic support of satellite images. ActaAmazonica 35: 167-185.
  11. Espírito-Santo F.D.B. and Shimabukuro Y.E. (2005) Validation of tropical forest area mapping using aerial videography images and data from fieldwork survey. Revista Árvore 29: 227-239.
  12. Aragão L.E.O.C., Shimabukuro Y.E., Espírito-Santo F.D.B., and Williams M. (2005) Landscape pattern and spatial variability of leaf area index in Eastern Amazonia. Forest Ecology and Management 211: 240-256.
  13. Aragão L.E.O.C., Shimabukuro Y.E., Espírito-Santo F.D.B., and Williams M. (2005) Spatial validation of the collection 4 MODIS LAI product in eastern Amazonia. IEEE Transactions on Geosciences and Remote Sensing 43: 2526-2973.
  14. Aragão L.E.O.C., Shimabukuro Y.E., Espírito-Santo F.D.B., and Williams M. (2005) Geo-spatial data integration for mapping landscape units in the Tapajós region. Geografia 30:583-598.
  15. Espírito-Santo F.D.B., Santos J.R., and Silva P.G. (2004) Image processing and spatial analysis techniques to study areas covered by rainforest under timber exploration. Revista Árvore 28: 699-706.
  16. Souza J. S., Espírito-Santo F.D.B., Fontes M.A.L., Oliveira-Filho A.T., and Botezelli L. (2003) Analysis of the floristic and structural variations of a tree community in a tropical semi-deciduous forest fragment on the margins of the Capivari River, Lavras, Southeastern Brazil. Revista Árvore 27: 185-206.
  17. Espírito-Santo F.D.B., Oliveira-Fillho A.T., Machado E.L.M., Souza J.S., Fontes M.A.L., and Melo Marques J.J.G.S. (2002) Environmental variables and the distribution of tree species within a remnant of semi-deciduous tropical forest in Lavras, southeastern Brazil. Acta Botânica Brasílica 16: 331-356.

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