NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Accepts Guttman Biology Lecturer’s Project



August 3, 2020 | Academics, Faculty, Global Guttman, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Research, STEM

Derek Tesser

Lecturer of Biology Derek Tesser

Guttman Lecturer of Biology Derek Tesser’s project was accepted by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a federally funded research and development center managed by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA. Prof. Tesser describes his innovation: “I proposed to utilize Ecost​ress, an experimental NASA sensor recently placed on the International Space Station, for an integrative method to mapping Earth’s ecosystems from space. The approach will merge the thermal data acquired by Ecostress with information from Earth science radar satellites in orbit to characterize components of the carbon, water, and energy cycle in priority ‘hotspot’ ecosystems around the world.”

“This work is critical for advancing Earth science, tropical forest and biodiversity studies,” Prof. Tesser explains, “and is motivated by Goal 15 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals – Life on Land.” Importantly, the research is connected to the ITAPOA Project in Ecuador, where Prof. Tesser has led four groups of Guttman students as part of the Global Guttman Program. “The Ecuador research site where we have based our Global Guttman investigations will be one of the validation sites for the tropical focus of this project.” Originally planned for completion on location at Caltech/JPL, the work will proceed remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prof. Derek Tesser, Lecturer of Biology, received a B.A. in History from Brandeis University and a M.S. in Biology from NYU. He has taught STEM courses at Guttman Community College since it opened in 2012. He has been involved with the development of the Global Guttman Program since its inception and has led multiple student field expeditions to the Chocó rainforest in Ecuador to study endemic species, biodiversity indicators, and deforestation related to the region’s changing ecosystem dynamics. Prof. Tesser’s broader research is in the field of terrestrial ecosystem remote sensing. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Earth and Environmental Science at the CUNY Graduate Center and is conducting research at the Ecosystem Science Lab at the City College, CUNY. Prof. Tesser’s doctoral work is focused on the integration of satellite remote sensing data products into hydrological models that inform the New York City water supply.