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Robert McGaughey

Robert McGaughey
Research Forester
Resource Monitoring and Assessment
400 N 34th St., Suite 201
PO Box 352100
Seattle, WA 98103-8600
United States
Current Research
My current research focuses on methods and tools to analyze LIDAR (light detection and ranging) data to describe vegetation structure and spatial distribution. My primary focus is using LIDAR data to augment or replace conventional forest inventory practices. My research efforts feature strong development and technology transfer components that provide methods and tools for other scientists and natural resource specialists to use on their own analyses. My work has been proven on projects ranging from several hundred to several hundred thousand hectares in size and in a variety of forest conditions.
Past Research
My past research interests include digital terrain modeling, visual simulation of forest characteristics at stand- and landscape-scales, and planning and analysis of forest operations. I also am the developer of the Preliminary Logging Analysis System (PLANS), Stand Visualization System (SVS), EnVision (landscape visualization), and FUSION/LDV (LIDAR data analysis and visualization) software systems.
Research Interest
Remote-sensing data, improved data collection methods, global positioning system hardware and protocols, measurement tools, and semi-automated measurement of individual tree characteristics.
Why This Research Is Important
The questions being asked of forest managers are becoming more complex, thus managers require more extensive descriptions of resource characteristics to do their jobs. New remote sensing tools can provide information describing large land areas and capture more detailed characteristics for small, spatially explicit sites. The potential applications for such information range from land allocation planning (forest plans) to resource monitoring. In addition to forestry applications, these technologies are being used by state and local governments to produce detailed topographic models for use in surface water managment and flood risk assessment. In many cases, remotely sensed data are being collected over forested areas for reasons not related to forest management. It is important for forestry professionals to be aware of such data acquisitions and have the knowledge to help specify the kinds of data that can be useful for their needs to ensure that remotely sensed data meets the needs of all interested parties.
  • Purdue University, M.S.F., Forest Products and Harvesting, 1983
  • Purdue University, B.S.F., Forest Products and Harvesting, 1981
Professional Experience
  • Research Forester,  USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station,  1991 - Current
    I work to develop stand- and landscape-scale visualization systems for use by foresters, landscape architects, and silviculturists. I started working on LIDAR data processing and analysis in 2000 and released the FUSION/LDV LIDAR visualization and processing package in 2006. I continue to work on enhancing the capabilites in FUSION and improve workflows to process LIDAR data for large acquisitions.
  • Forester/Research Forester,  USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station,  1984 - 1990
    I worked to develop computer methods to assist with planning and analyzing logging operations. Early work was done on HP minicomputers with attached graphics terminals, digitizing tablets, and plotters. The Preliminary Logging Analysis System (PLANS) was released for this eraly platform in 1987. I developed a PC version of the package (released in 1992).
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Research Highlights

Mapping Hardwood and Softwood Vegetation Types with LiDAR

Year: 2012
Study informs forest management activities and assesses woodpecker habitat