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Victor Hugo Gutierrez-Velez

Assistant professorGUS- Victor Velez
(215) 204-7692
321 Gladfelter Hall
1115 W. Polett Walk


Sustainability science, Remote sensing, Environmental change, Landscape ecology, Land change science, Spatio-temporal modeling, Climate change adaptation and mitigation, Social-ecological systems


I am interested in promoting resilient and sustainable interactions between people and nature. In my research, I develop remote sensing methods and products to characterize human transformations of landscapes. I combine these products and other spatial information with spatio-temporal statistical models to understand the relative and synergistic effects of landscape transformations and climate variability on environmental changes.

My current research includes the characterization of commodity cropland expansion and the influence of agricultural conversion and other land cover changes and climate variability on fire susceptibility and water integrity in Colombia and Peru. I am also interested in understanding the influence of current and projected agricultural investments, people’s urban-rural mobility and climate on land cover changes and socio-ecological vulnerability and resilience in post-conflict regions.

I have a master’s degree in Geography from Clark University and a Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology from Columbia University.

Selected Publications

  • Schwartz, NB, Uriarte, M, Gutierrez-Velez, VH, Baethgen, W, DeFries, R, Fernandes, K, Pinedo-Vasquez, M. 2015. Climate, landowner residency, and land cover predict local scale fire activity in the Western Amazon. Global Environmental Change. 31:144-153.
  • Gutierrez-Velez, VH, Uriarte, M, DeFries, RS, Pinedo‐Vasquez, M, Fernandes, K, Ceccato, P, K, Baethgen, WE, & Padoch, C. 2014. Land cover change interacts with drought severity to change fire regimes in Western Amazonia. Ecological Applications. 24: 1323-1340.
  • Meyfroidt, P, Carlson, KM, Fagan, ME, Gutiérrez-Vélez, VH, Macedo, MN. Curran, LM, DeFries, RS, Dyer, GA, Gibbs, HK, Lambin, EF, Morton, DC, Robiglio, V. 2014. Multiple pathways of commodity crop expansion in tropical forest landscapes. Environmental Research Letters. 9. 13pp.
  • Gutiérrez-Velez, VH, DeFries, R. 2013. Annual multi-resolution detection of land cover conversion to oil palm in the Peruvian Amazon. Remote Sensing of Environment. 129: 154-167.
  • Uriarte, M, Pinedo‐Vasquez, M, DeFries, RS, Fernandes, K, Gutierrez-Velez, V, Baethgen, WE, & Padoch, C. 2012. Depopulation of rural landscapes exacerbates fire activity in the Western Amazon. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS). 109, 21546-21550.
  • Gutiérrez-Velez, VH & Pontius Jr., RG. 2012. Influence of carbon mapping and land change modelling on the prediction of carbon emissions from deforestation. Environmental Conservation. 39: 325-336.
  • Gutiérrez-Velez, VH, DeFries, R, Pinedo-Vasquez, M, Uriarte, M, Padoch, C, Baethgen, W, Fernandes, K & Lim, Y. 2011. High-yield oil palm expansion spares land at the expense of forests in the Peruvian Amazon. Environmental Research Letters. 6. 5pp.
  • Gutiérrez-Velez, VH & MacDicken, K. 2008. Quantifying the Direct Social and Governmental Costs of Illegal logging in the Bolivian, Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon. Forest Policy and Economics. 10: 248-256.
  • Gutiérrez, V, Zapata, M, Usma, C, Laguado, W & Santacruz, A. 2006. Maximizing the profitability of forestry projects under the Clean Development Mechanism using a forest management optimization model. Forest Ecology and Management. 226: 341-350.

Courses Taught

  • Remote sensing
  • Advanced remote sensing