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Earth System Science

Krishna Rao

I am an Earth Scientist. I develop data-driven methods to monitor forest dryness and understand their role in droughts and wildfire risk. My work spans across scales — from creating a hand-held sensor to non-invasively measure canopy water of a few trees — to estimating fuel aridity and wildfire danger across the western USA. I combine our understanding of physical processes with data-driven methods to answer questions like- “How can wildfire danger forecasts be improved by accounting for plant physiology’s influence on live fuel aridity?”, “How can drought impacts on forests be quantified in real-time?”, etc. To answer those questions, I carry out fieldwork, or where appropriate, use deep learning with satellite data.

I received my bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, after which I worked as a field engineer in the oil and gas industry. I then came to the USA to pursue my master’s in Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Hydrology at Stanford University. I am now a Ph.D. student in the Earth System Science department. In my free time, I love to travel on my bicycle to remote places. Or eat donuts. To learn more about me and to connect with me, please visit my website.