Postdoctoral Fellows

Doug Bolton

Doug Bolton was born and raised on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. He received his bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and his master’s degree in Remote Sensing and GIS from Boston University. Doug’s work at BU included predicting crop yields in the United States with MODIS data and mapping the spread of insect infestations through New England with Landsat time-series data. Following the completion of his master’s degree, he took off to the west coast to pursue his PhD at the University of British Columbia. Here at UBC, Doug’s work involves using a combination of LiDAR and optical remote sensing to better understand forest recovery following disturbances.

In addition to his work at UBC, Doug enjoys exploring British Columbia, snowboarding at Whistler, and learning (to love) the metric system.

Robbie Hember

RobbieHember Born and raised in Kitchener, Ontario, Robbie is the second son of his parents, who are both teachers with the public school board. Long family vacations on the lakeside of the Bruce Peninsula profoundly influenced his strong interest in nature. Leaving home at age 19 to live in Peterborough, Ontario, Robbie attended Trent University and studied physical geography and plant biology. During this time, his studies focused on boundary-layer climatology and he gained considerable experience working as a research assistant.

In his free time, Robbie hikes, paints, and plays guitar, aspiring someday to have a vegetable garden. Ulysses and All Quiet on the Western Front are among his favourite novels; Quest for Fire, The Big Lebowski, and Snake in the Monkey’s Shadow are among his favourite films. He enjoys listening to Bob Dylan and John Lennon. Robbie now works at the Pacific Forestry Centre.

Txomin Hermosilla

TxominHermosillaTxomin was born and raised in the medieval town of Portugalete, close to Bilbao, Spain. He studied Technical Engineering in Land Surveying at the University of the Basque Country (2002), Engineering in Geodesy and Cartography at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (2005), and obtained his MSc in Geographical Information Management at the Cranfield University (UK) in 2005. Afterwards, he moved back to the Polytechnic University of Valencia, earning his PhD in 2011 and working for 8 years within the Geo-Environmental Cartography and Remote Sensing Group. His research experience has been focused on integrating multiple-source remote-sensing data for automatic land-use/land-cover mapping and geospatial database updating on multiple scenarios: agricultural, urban, and forest. He developed multiple methods and scripts for processing massive datasets of discrete and full-waveform LiDAR (both aerial and terrestrial) in addition to high-spatial resolution images. Txomin first came to IRSS as a Postdoctoral Fellow for six months between December 2012 and May 2013. Enjoying the experience and the people, he decided to return for further collaboration. His current project develops advanced methods for image compositing and time-series analyses of massive Landsat data for monitoring Canada’s boreal forest. Txomin enjoys biking, exploring cities, and eating great international food. Unfortunately, in the time that he has been in Vancouver, Txomin has been unable to learn how to ski better than a fifth grader.


Giona Matasci

GionaMatasciGiona was born in Locarno and grew up in the sunny Italian-speaking corner of Switzerland surrounded by beautiful mountains and lakes. At 19 he moved to the French part of the country to study Environmental Sciences at the University of Lausanne. He received the M.Sc. degree in 2009 with a thesis on the forecasting of snow avalanches.

Introduced to remote sensing, he decided to continue with a doctorate in this field, obtaining the Ph.D. degree in 2014. His research tackled the problem of the portability across images of land-cover classifiers and leveraged machine learning approaches to ease their adaptation.

After a year spent discovering Latin-America, he is now ready to start this new adventure here at IRSS. His post-doctorate focuses on the combination of LiDAR acquisitions and optical images through data-driven methods to study forest dynamics.

While in British Columbia, he is looking forward to explore and ski down as many powder-filled slopes as possible. Also, he is an avid hockey fan and passionate about travel photography.


Paul Pickell


Paul was raised in the United States mid-west before landing at Puget Sound in Washington. In 2011, he graduated from the interdisciplinary Evergreen State College with a BAS in forest ecology. As a post-doctoral research fellow at IRSS, Paul is undertaking research of forest fires to better understand how the boreal forest landscape mosaic has evolved over time. Specifically, Paul works with aerially-derived forest inventory data and moderate scale satellite imageries to map forest fires and forest recovery. His work will provide tools and information necessary to re-create the historical boreal forest landscape as well as forecast future burning conditions.




Piotr Tompalski
PiotrTompalskiPiotr was born and raised in Poland and studied forestry at the University of Agriculture in Krakow. He spent 6 months on exchange at Wageningen University in the Netherlands where he became very interested in GIS and remote sensing, then deciding to write a master’s thesis at UAKrakow concerning applications of terrestrial laser scanning in forestry.

After obtaining his M.Sc. in forestry in 2008, Piotr began his PhD studies, expanding his research on the applications of various geotechnologies for forestry and nature conservation with a focus on vegetation growth in greatly disturbed areas. His research employs both airborne and terrestrial laser scanning data in addition to satellite imagery. He often uses OBIA tools to process his data, skills he acquired during his internship at Trimble Geospatial Division in Munich, Germany (2010). His research methods were influenced not only by the scientists at his home university but also by the researchers at Vienna University of Technology, where he spent a short time as a visiting PhD candidate.

Aside from his scientific work, Piotr enjoys teaching and loves photography and travelling; he often listens to jazz or progressive rock.


Riccardo Tortini

RicardoTortiniThe first of two brothers, Riccardo was born and raised in rural Secugnago, Italy, in the heart of the Po Valley. He first encountered remote sensing while studying Urban, Environmental and Landscape Planning (2005) at Polytechnic University of Milan, Italy. This interest was furthered while studying engineering after having joined the Laboratory of Remote Sensing. His research activity within the lab focused on the effects of hydrocarbon seepage on sparse vegetation, a topic that he continued to study in the two years following his Masters in Environmental Engineering (2009). In 2011 he crossed the pond and landed in Michigan’s beautiful upper peninsula, where he obtained his PhD in Geological Engineering (2015) at Michigan Tech. There, his research covered the effects of sulfur dioxide deposition from volcanic passive degassing on vegetation types.

Initiated to soccer in his early years, Riccardo is now an avid outdoor enthusiast and endurance freak: he loves trail ultrarunning, long mountain bike rides, and cross country ski tours. When not on the trails training for his next marathon or dabbling with landscape photography, you can find him enjoying a beer or espresso at his favorite Vancouver spots.