Amanda Armstrong, Senior Scientist

Amanda Armstrong

Contact Info

Phone: (434) 242-1175

Research Interests

Ecological Modeling, Individual-Based Gap Modeling, Remote Sensing, Forest Dynamics, Forest Ecology


Dr. Armstrong’s areas of interest include: Characterizing the vulnerability and response of forested ecosystems to disturbances from land use and climate change; Development and use of high resolution remote sensing data products toward improvement of metrics and understanding of forest structure and biodiversity; Application and fusion of individual based gap models with remote sensing data products (for both parameterization and initialization/calibration) to improve estimates of vegetation structure, carbon stocks and land cover change at multi-temporal and multi-spatial scales; Derivation of hyperspectral vegetation indices for use in forest model input datasets. She is an expert in high resolution forest modeling and has simulated and quantified forest change from the tropics to boreal-tundra regions via a variety of frameworks including ED, SIBBORK, UVAFME, and FORMIND.

Dr. Armstrong’s recent work has focused on: 1) developing a high resolution spatially explicit tundra and forest gap model to investigate the drivers of Tundra-Taiga ecotone shift in current and future climates. The research project is funded by NASA’s Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) on which she serves as the PI. 2) Deriving Ecosystem Functional Types and Ecosystem Functional Diversity for the circumpolar Arctic Tundra (CAVM) as part of a NASA- Applied Sciences/GEOBON EBV project. Included in this work is an investigation of the drivers of EFT Distribution and Diversity, and a time series analysis of changes in EFTs and EFTs for the CAVM. 3) using forest models to develop and test new techniques combining remote sensing with ecological modeling toward measurement and prediction of forest growth and response to changing conditions.

Prior to becoming a Research Scientist at GESTAR, Dr. Amanda H. Armstrong was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Biospheric Sciences Lab at NASA GSFC with the NASA Postdoctoral Program (administered by Oak Ridge Associated Universities). Her research applied methods in remote sensing and economic research in conjunction with ecological modeling applications to track and project patterns of land use change associated with staple food markets on the island nation of Madagascar. Dr. Armstrong has extensively studied Madagascar rainforests and the drivers and effects of their deforestation, building connections with its park managers and conservation organizations. Fluent in Malagasy language and culture, she worked on the East Coast of Madagascar both as a Peace Corps Volunteer (2001-2002) and a doctoral researcher (2003-2008). Dr Armstrong received her Doctorate in Environmental Sciences in 2009 from the University of Virginia with a focus on forest ecology of tropical rainforests. Following the achievement of her PhD, she taught multiple courses as an adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies at Washington and Lee University for one year before accepting a postdoctoral research associate position at the University of Maryland in 2011. Her previous research fellowship at UMD was focused on scaling down a large-scale ecosystem model as part of year-one of the NASA Carbon Monitoring Systems (CMS) program in 2011.