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a research center of the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Indiana University Bloomington
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Portfolio for Mikaela Schmitt-Harsh

School / Program:
School of Public and Environmental Affairs
Major: Environmental Science
Minor: Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change
Research Areas:
Land change science; Carbon dynamics; Tropical forest systems and coffee agroforestry systems in Guatemala; Geographic Information Systems; Remote Sensing
Dissertation Title:
Land-Cover Change and Carbon Sequestration under Diverse Land Use Systems in Guatemala
Dissertation Committee:

  • Tom Evans, Chair (Geography)
  • J.C. Randolph (SPEA)
  • Burney Fischer (SPEA)
  • Catherine Tucker (Anthropology)

Current Dissertation Progress and Expected Defense Date: 
 Expected Defense Date: May 2012
Dissertation Description:

My research focuses on land-use/cover change, carbon dynamics, and land use management activities in tropical forest ecosystems and coffee agroecological systems. In 2010, vegetation inventories and soil samples were collected in shade-grown coffee systems and a mixed tropical dry forest system in Guatemala to determine carbon in three pools – aboveground, belowground, and soil. A manuscript detailing the results of this research was submitted to the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment in June 2011.

Remote sensing analysis to spectrally differentiate shade-grown coffee from forests is currently underway and involves utilizing and comparing various spatial techniques to maximize classification accuracy. Such techniques include a maximum likelihood classifier, spectral mixture analysis, topographic correction, and a stratified model based on elevation. Initial classification of a Landsat TM 2010 image using spectral mixture analysis and a stratified model has yielded an accuracy of 85% (Kappa = 0.79).


Schmitt-Harsh, M., T. Evans, E. Castellanos, and J.C. Randolph. In review. Carbon stocks in coffee agroforests and mixed dry tropical forests in the western highlands of Guatemala. Agroforestry Systems.

Schmitt-Harsh, M., and J. Harsh. In review. The development and implementation of an inquiry-based poster project on sustainability in a large non-majors environmental science course. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences.

Evans, T., M. Schmitt-Harsh, and D. Robinson. In review. The representation of carbon in land use models. In Land Use and the Carbon Cycle: Science and Applications in Coupled Natural-Human Systems, eds, D.G. Brown, D.T. Robinson, N.H.F. French, and B.C. Reed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Schmitt-Harsh, M., T. Evans, and S. Sweeney. 2011. Historic land use and social policy affecting large-scale changes in forest cover in the Midwest United States. In Engineering Earth: The Impacts of MegaEngineering Projects, ed, Stanley D. Brunn. Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Springer Science and Business Media.

Fleischman, F.D., K. Boenning, G.A. Garcia-Lopez, S.K. Mincey, M. Schmitt-Harsh, K. Daedlow, M.C. Lopez Perez, X. Basurto, B. Fischer, and E. Ostrom. 2010. Disturbance, response, and persistence in self-organized forested communities: Analysis of robustness and resilience in five communities in Southern Indiana. Ecology & Society 15(4): 9.

Strauss, S., M. Schmitt, and R. Sedjo. 2009. Forest scientist views of regulatory obstacles to research and development of transgenic forest biotechnology. Journal of Forestry 107(7): 350-357.

Mikaela Schmitt-Harsh