Guttman Alumna Hailey Ayala is one of a select few winners of the 2021 CUNY Research Scholars Program Symposium for her research presentation of “Quantifying tropical land cover change in the Chocó Hotspot of Biodiversity between 2006-2011 utilizing Palsar-1 satellite imagery”. Ayala worked with mentor and Professor Derek Tesser, who specializes in Environmental and Geological Sciences, to present her research at the Symposium.
Ayala indicates, “I joined CRSP (CUNY Research Scholars Program) because I had Prof. Tesser as a Biology teacher and he learned that I had experience in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) since high school and he thought we would work really good together on a research project since our interests aligned… I was inspired to dig into deforestation after listening to Prof. Tesser speak about the Choco rainforest and explain how understudied it is, despite its vast amounts of undiscovered flora and fauna. Prof. Tesser spoke about the rainforest being used as an agricultural spot for African Palm trees in order for companies to get Palm oil, and the effects it’s had on the Choco.” Ayala became interested in this project because she could look at how evidence uncovered from the past could have an effect on the future.
Hailey Ayala has since graduated Guttman Community College and is now a student at City College where she is interested in their NASA/NOAA centers and is currently studying Marine Biology.
As an instructor of Science, Dereck has taught STEM courses at Guttman Community College since the college opened in 2012. More recently he has been involved with the development of the Global Guttman study abroad program. He has led 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. His broader research is in the field of terrestrial ecosystem remote sensing. He is currently pursuing his PhD in Earth and Environmental Sciences at CUNY Graduate Center and is conducting research at the Ecosystem Science Lab at City College.