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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, Adaptation and Mitigation, Social-Ecological Systems


My research aims to identify, understand and anticipate changes over space and time in order to facilitate transitions toward sustainability. I do this through a combination of remote sensing, spatial-temporal simulation, machine learning, and prediction modeling, among others.

My current research includes the characterization of commodity cropland expansion and the influence of agricultural conversion and other land cover changes on landscape socio-environmental processes in rural tropical landscapes and the understanding of social and environmental drivers of infectious disease risks in urban areas of South East Pennsylvania.

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

  • Croog R, Saenz-Montoya A, Hayes-Conroy A, Gutierrez-Velez VH. From Scholar-Activists to Co-conspirators: Real world food justice and the enigma of the scholar-activist label. ACME (in press).
  • Schwartz NB, Uriarte M, DeFries R, Bedka K., Fernandes K., Gutierrez-Velez V., Pinedo-Vásquez M. Fragmentation increases wind disturbance impacts on forest structure and carbon stocks in a western Amazonian landscape”. Ecological applications (in press).
  • Schwartz, NB, Uriarte, M, DeFries., Gutierrez-Velez, V., Pinedo-Vásquez, M. 2017. Land-use dynamics influence estimates of carbon sequestration potential in tropical second-growth forest. Environmental Research Letters 12(7).
  • Sierra CA, Mahecha M, Poveda G, Álvarez-Dávila E, Gutierrez-Velez VH, Reu B, Feilhauer H, Anáya J, Armenteras D, Benavides AM, Buendia C, Duque Á, Estupiñan-Suarez LM, González C, Gonzalez-Caro S, Jimenez R, Kraemer G, Londoño MC, Orrego S.A, Posada JM, Ruiz-Carrascal D, Skowronek S. 2017. Monitoring ecological change during rapid socio-economic and political transitions: Colombian ecosystems in the post-conflict era. Environmental Science & Policy 76:40-49.
  • Fernandes, K, Verchot, L., Baethgen, W, Gutierrez-Velez, V, Pinedo-Vasquez, M. Martius, C. 2017. Heightened fire probability in Indonesia in non-drought conditions: the effect of increasing temperatures. Environmental research letters. 12(5): 054002
  • Hergoualc’h K, Gutierrez-Velez VH, Menton M, Verchot LV. 2017. Characterizing peat palm forest degradation in the Peruvian Amazon from space and on the ground: An exploratory study in the Peruvian Amazon. Forest Ecology and Management. 393: 63-73
  • Baptiste B, Pinedo-Vasquez M, Gutierrez-Velez V, Andrade GI, Vieira P, Ming Lee T, Estupiñán L. 2017. Greening Peace in Colombia. Nature Ecology and Evolution. 2: 0102.
  • 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
  • Graduate seminar on sustainable natural-human systems