Professor Crystal Schaaf’s Lab

at the University of Massachusetts Boston





       Crystal Barker Schaaf, PhD


Professor of Remote Sensing/GIS
School for the Environment,
University of Massachusetts Boston

Summary CV
Faculty Webpage

Work phone: 617.287.7440
Fax: 617.287.7474

Research Fellows


Dr. Zhan Li

Zhan Li received a BS degree from Nanjing University in Nanjing, China, in 2008. He earned an M.S. degree from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China, in 2011, and the PhD degree in geography from Boston University, Boston, U.S.A., in 2015. After his PhD work on a novel dual-wavelength terrestrial laser scanner, he continues his research interests by characterizing ecosystem structure with the terrestrial lidar in the SPECTRALMASS group.

His current research topics also expand into various Earth observation satellite data, such as MODIS, VIIRS, Landsat and Sentinel-2, for the study of land surface process, especially the surface anisotropy, land surface albedo and their spatiotemporal patterns.

Outside work, he likes to dance tango and swing, lift some weights, and tinker with a few crafts.

Qingsong Sun received his PhD degree in Geography (Remote Sensing) from Boston University in 2014. Currently he is a research fellow at UMASS Boston, working on MODIS, VIIRS, and Landsat BRDF/albedo products. 

Dr. Qingsong Sun



Graduate Students

Peter Boucher works as a scientific communicator, a teacher, and a remote sensing scientist. Peter graduated from the University of Chicago with a BA in English with honors awarded for his creative writing. He went on to complete post-baccalaureate study at Appalachian State University, conducting ecological research in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Peter spent his first year at UMass Boston studying Environmental History, particularly looking into warfare and pesticides in the 20th century US.  As a graduate fellow, he also reported and produced radio stories for the PRI environmental news program, Living on Earth

His current work in the SpectralMass Lab seeks to map out and understand the forces, both human and natural, that bring about widespread environmental change. He is exploring techniques for recording environmental disturbance with LiDAR in New England salt marshes and forests. In his spare time, Peter loves to hike, bike, read, write, and play music. 


Peter Boucher

PhD Student

Angela Erb
PhD Student

(Under Construction)

Daniel Genest has a BS in Environmental Science. He considers himself a generalist problem solver, and he enjoys analyzing systems and their components.  Things that fascinate him in the natural sciences include long term processes (e.g. nutrient cycles) and human-induced change of the earth, its landscape, and systems.

Daniel's current research is focused on mapping vegetation species in salt marshes as well as LiDAR applications in both object geometry and spatial properties of ecosystems.   He is fascinated by LiDAR as a burgeoning technology in the investigation of natural systems. 

He enjoys music, rugby, MMA, and reading. 


Daniel Genest
PhD Student


Yan Liu 
PhD Candidate

Yan Liu is a PhD candidate working in Dr. Crystal Schaaf’s lab in University of Massachusetts Boston. Her current research mainly focuses on the production and evaluation of VIIRS BRDF, Albedo, NBAR product, and phenological monitoring over semi-arid and elevational zones cross different spatial scales.

She received her master's degrees from University of Massachusetts Boston in 2015 and from Beijing Normal University, China in 2012. Her bachelor's degree is from Lanzhou University, China in 2009.

She likes painting, jigsaw puzzles, and watching TV drama programs and movies in her spare time.

Ian Paynter is a PhD candidate in the SPECTRALMASS lab. He works on ecological applications of structural modelling, utilizing various forms of remote sensing instruments. In particular, Ian helps develop processing and analysis methods for laser scanners such as the Compact Biomass Lidar (CBL).


Ian Paynter
PhD Candidate

Eddie Saenz

PhD Candidate

Edward Saenz is a PhD candidate in the School for the Environment at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where he also received his Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science with a specialization in geographic information systems (GIS).  During his graduate studies at UMass Boston, he has been a recipient of NASA’s Harriet G. Jenkins Graduate Fellowship, which is geared to support the development of future underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) individuals.  Given this opportunity he is collaborating with scientists on current NASA objectives and applying new remote sensing methodology to better characterize tropical and temperate forest ecosystems.He enjoys giving his fellow lab members a hard time, anything that has to do with Costa Rica, and driving an absurd amount.

(Under Construction)

Shabnam Rouhani
PhD Candidate