PhD Earth System Science, Stanford University
Current Position: Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles (Starting July 2021)
Elsa Ordway is an Earth system scientist studying the interactions between ecological processes, human transformation of the land, and climate change in tropical forests.
Elsa earned her BA in environmental science and African studies from New York University in 2009 and her MA in conservation biology from Columbia University in 2013. She earned her PhD in Earth system science at Stanford University. During her PhD studies, Elsa used a mixed methods approach to understand commodity crop expansion dynamics in tropical forests. Combining remote sensing analyses with farmer surveys, econometrics, and supply chain analysis, she examined the socioeconomic aspects of oil palm expansion and deforestation in Cameroon. Using high-resolution hyperspectral and LiDAR data, she analyzed the impacts of large-scale oil palm plantations on the ecosystem function of adjacent tropical forests in Malaysia.
As an Environmental Fellow, Elsa worked with Professor Paul Moorcroft of the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology to explore how heterogeneous tropical forests respond to climate change. This work integrated an understanding of prior anthropogenic and natural disturbance histories with high-resolution airborne data on tropical forest structure, function, and composition to quantify variation in sensitivity across two tropical forest regions in Sabah, Malaysia, and the Western Amazon. This work was carried out in collaboration with Gregory Asner of the Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science at Arizona State University.
Paul Moorcroft, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology