Name Position Bio
Dr. Paul Laris Professor and Lab Director Paul Laris is Professor and former Chair of Geography. He has been a faculty member of the Geography Department since 2002. Paul studies and teaches about human-environmental relationships in the geographic tradition. He is keenly interested in the relationships between human use of fire on the landscape and its long-term consequences. He started the Savanna LABO to better understand the tree-grass dynamics in the context of disturbances in Africa, California and beyond. He is the author of dozens of articles with his students. Paul’s research has been funded by NASA, CSULB, National Geographic and the National Science Foundation. He teaches courses on environmental change and field methods and supervises graduate student research. Click here for full bio.
Scott Winslow Lecturer and GIS Lab Manager Scott is a reformed geologist who admittedly has always had a greater affinity for maps, drones, and GPS equipment than dirt and rocks.  After having practiced engineering geology in the private sector for over three decades, he found a home here in Geography in 2015 after earning his MA under the guidance of the Department’s tenured faculty.  His areas of expertise include low-altitude remote sensing using small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), digital image processing, GIS, and the collection of spatially-referenced field data.  He is particularly fascinated with the application of geospatial techniques to reconstruct historical landscapes.
Mystyn Mills Dr. Mystyn Mills Assistant Professor My research interests broadly focus on how environmental heterogeneity and species interactions shape traits and metacommunity variation. I am especially interested in how trait-based approaches can help us understand novel ecological communities and inform our efforts at restoration and rewilding to restore functional ecological trajectories in the face of environmental uncertainties.
Graduate Students
Kenya Creer Photo Kenya Creer Graduate Research Associate Kenya Creer is a Geography graduate student with a deep-seated curiosity about the human-environment nexus. After graduating from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy, Kenya spent two years working in Ethiopia as a Conservation and Natural Resource Management Volunteer for the US Peace Corps. A big believer in community-led change, Kenya continued doing conservation and environmental education work at the community level once stateside. Currently immersed in all things spatial, Kenya is studying Geographic Object-based Image Analysis (GEOBIA) as an important paradigm shift in remote sensing and as a useful methodology/tool for deriving information from high spatial and spectral resolution imagery.
Brendan Schultheis Brendan Schultheis Graduate Research Associate Brendan is a Geography graduate student interested in studying physical and environmental geography through the use of field work, remote sensing and GIScience. He works as a Research Associate for Paul Laris, which has offered him opportunities to do work from georectifying years of sUAS imagery and flying drones to collecting data in the field and teaching students how to conduct research. He is also a Lab technician in the Geography department’s Open Lab where he helps students with remote sensing and GIS lab exercises. Brendan is thrilled to be a part of the Savanna LABO and eager to pick up some new skills.
Alex Pakalniskis Graduate Research Associate Alex was an ornery graduate student with interests in UAV remote sensing of plants, high resolution image analysis, and Python programming. He was perhaps best known for frequently lingering by our department’s coffee machine.  After CSULB, Alex was a graduate teaching assistant and Ph.D. student in the School of Geography and Development at the University of Arizona, and currently works as a product engineer at Esri.
Rebecca Jacobs Graduate Research Associate  

Lilian  Yang

Graduate Research Associate Lilian was a graduate student with interests in fire hazards and human interactions as well as scientific programming.  After graduating in 2017 from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Earth Science, Lilian interned for the NASA DEVELOP National Program as a team lead at the National Center for Environmental Information where she studied annual climate variations throughout the Northeast US.  After that, Lilian briefly worked as a GIS contractor for Apple Inc. before deciding to return to the academic world as an intern for the Climate Hazards Group at UC Santa Barbara.  There she studied precipitation patterns and learned python programming. Lilian is currently a PhD student at Simon Fraser University.

Savanna LABO Field Associates

Image of Associate Name Affiliation Position
Portrait of Dr. Gary Adest Dr. Gary Adest River Ridge Ranch & Institute Founder and President
 Photo of Faidiala Dembele Fadiala Dembele Institut Polytechnique Rural de Katibougou, Mali Professor and Forester
 Photo of Moussa Kone Moussa Kone Universite Felix Houphouet-Boigny a Abidjan, Ivory Coast Assistant Professor
Niarja Dembele Institut Polytechnique Rural de Katibougou, Mali Student
Fakuru Camara Village of Tabou, Mali Traditional Forester / Village Leader