New Faculty: ABE Welcomes Dr. Vitor Martins

March 3, 2022

Vitor MartinsDr. Vitor Martins, originally from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, was intrigued by satellite optical sensors when he first saw images of the Amazon River delta taken by Landsat, which provides image pixels of roughly 30 m square. Advances in satellites and types of missions are growing rapidly, and satellite images are improving and providing new capabilities for agricultural and environmental research in the area of terrestrial monitoring. As a new faculty member in ABE as of March 1, 2022, Dr. Martins will use satellite imaging and machine-learning/artificial-intelligence techniques to study land cover and water quality. He says space-borne sensors like the new low-cost CubeSats can provide near real-time alerts for situations of concern, but huge challenges exist in data assimilation and processing, including atmospheric correction, cloud and shadow masking, time series analysis, and thematic classification. In teaching, Dr. Martins will contribute to ABE’s mission of developing future engineering leaders who apply data and inter-disciplinary knowledge to solve complex agricultural and environmental problems around the world.

Dr. Martins received his B.S. in agricultural and environmental engineering from the Federal University of Viçosa, and his M.S. in remote sensing from the National Institute for Space Research, both in Brazil. His work early work focused on atmospheric correction of satellite data and water quality monitoring with a variety of satellite sensors. For example, he created a time series of satellite images to assess water quality and availability in a large reservoir during drought events. Later, he earned his Ph.D. in agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State University, where he developed a novel deep-learning framework to generate 1-m land cover maps from satellite and aerial images, requiring innovation in training data collection and efficient image processing. During his graduate studies, Dr. Martins was named a Fellow of Tau Beta Pi (the Engineering Honor Society) and received a graduate fellowship award for research work in soil and water conservation. After completing his Ph.D., he joined the Center for Global Change and Earth Observations at Michigan State University as a Postdoctoral Fellow, working on a NASA-funded project to map burned areas on 3-m PlanetScope Cubesat data. Dr. Martins has experience with a range of aquatic research instruments such as acoustic doppler current profiler, TriOS Ramses radiometers, and water quality sondes. At MSU he plans to integrate field sample collection and satellite images for coastal and inland waters studies.

Outside of his scientific pursuits, Dr. Martins enjoys biking and running, barbecuing with friends, movies, and visiting new places. Mississippi will be well-suited to these interests, but he chose to come to MSU because of its leadership in land and water quality research across Mississippi and the Northern Gulf of Mexico. He will now contribute to the ABE tradition of excellence in soil and water conservation research. “Working closely with faculty and staff, I want to learn and share knowledge to continue building on MSU strengths in geospatial research, and I’m deeply proud to be part of the ABE team” he said. “I believe that ABE courses encourage problem-solving skills for students who will benefit from learning data analytics.” For his future students, he notes three aspects for their success: dedication, creativity, and resilience. He says, “engineering problems should intrigue you, and you should take advantage of the challenges as opportunities for new discoveries.”