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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 research involves 1) the translation of remote sensing data into knowledge for decision-making 2)  the characterization of commodity agricultural expansion and its influence on socio-environmental processes in rural tropical landscapes and 3) the understanding of social and environmental drivers of infectious disease risks in 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