2022 Nominee for MAGS Excellence in Teaching Award – Parth Bhatt

“Those who know, do. Those who understand, teach,” is how Greek philosopher Aristotle put it.  My name is Parth Bhatt and I come from the western coast state of Gujarat in India. I came to Michigan Tech in the Fall of 2016 for a master’s in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science (CFRES). Before coming to the states, I completed my master of science in the field of Environmental Science in India and was working as a trainee at the Space Application Center, Indian Space Research Organization. It was during my time at the space agency I got exposure to the field of Geographic Information Science and Remote Sensing and realized that I want to go abroad for higher education. When I got the admit letter from  Michigan Tech, I was assigned Dr. Ann Maclean as my advisor, and to be honest, the email conversations I had with her were the driving factors for making Michigan Tech and CFRES my choice. I should say choosing Michigan Tech, CFRES, and Ann as my advisor were some of the best decisions of my life. I completed my MS here at Tech in Fall 2018 and continued the journey further by joining Ph.D. under Dr. Maclean. My master’s and Ph.D. project involve working with the USDA Forest Service, mapping the Hiawatha National Forest at the Natural Habitat Community level. We use high-resolution UAV and airborne NAIP imagery coupled with machine learning algorithms to classify the forest. The project is significant for the USFS as the end products (i.e. classified maps) help the management authorities to protect and manage the forest and help in better decision making. I also work on a national level project of mapping and monitoring the Forest Health by ecoregions across the contiguous United States using Google Earth Engine with the USDA Forest Service. Along with research, I have been enjoying teaching GIS classes in CFRES since Spring 2017, I mainly teach the undergraduate and graduate-level GIS classes and labs. Since Fall 2020, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to be a Graduate Teaching Instructor (and thanks to my advisor Dr. Ann Maclean and my dean Dr. Andrew Storer, who trusted and motivated me) to take on this opportunity. I am thankful to my department who nominated me and grateful to the university for selecting me as a nominee for the Midwestern Association of Graduate School Excellence in Teaching Award. It is an absolute honor to represent Michigan Tech at the MAGS 2022.