Forestry Graduate Student Spotlight – Georgios Arseniou

Georgios Arseniou, Ph.D. candidate, focuses on understanding the structure and function of urban forests which provide various socioeconomic and ecological services to human societies.

Hometown: Thasos - Kavala, Greece.

Degree in Progress: Ph.D. candidate in Forestry with specialization in urban forestry, tree measurements and modeling, and remote sensing.

Expected graduation date: I expect to graduate in Spring 2021.

Research Focus

My research focuses on understanding the structure and function of urban forests which provide various socioeconomic and ecological services to human societies. More specifically, I'm interested in understanding how the various anthropogenic factors in cities (paved surfaces, buildings, land-use, etc.) affect the architecture of trees which relates to their physiology.

I accomplish this by using remote sensing techniques (i.e., Terrestrial Laser Scanning and Digital Image Analysis), and destructive tree measurements to create hierarchical models of the woody skeleton of trees (main stem, branches of different orders and size), and their leaf surface area in relation to their growing- environment at different spatial scales.

What inspired your interest in pursuing a Ph.D. in Forestry?

I have always been interested in exploring patterns in nature and ecology. Therefore, I decided to study Forestry and Natural Environment at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, and later I pursued my Master's in Photogrammetry and Geoinformatics at the University of Applied Sciences in Stuttgart in Germany.

After my Master's, I realized that I'm interested into researching complex ecological patterns using remote sensing, and therefore I decided to pursue my Ph.D. in Forestry at Michigan State University in the U.S.

Why did you choose to study at MSU?

The main reason that I decided to pursue my Ph.D. in Forestry at MSU is the in-depth and high-level graduate program with professors and researchers who are internationally recognized for their contribution in ecological and forestry research.

Furthermore, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, where I graduated with my Bachelor's, awarded me the prestigious Vouyoukos fellowship to pursue my Ph.D. studies at MSU, which has played a crucial role in my professional development and career.

What has been one of your best experiences within graduate school so far?

I have gained several valuable experiences within graduate school so far. My favorite experiences are the collection of field data on trees, the analysis of data in the lab, my regular interaction with my advisor, Dr. David W. MacFarlane, and my colleagues, and my participation in national and international conferences where I was able to build my professional network and interact with other researchers. 

What do you want others to know about this program?

I would like Ph.D. candidate students to know that this program offers the opportunity to conduct research in several fields of forestry science and in various places of the world.

What are some of the best things about being an MSU student?

I believe that MSU is a safe studying place for international students. Coming from a foreign country to pursue my Ph.D. studies at MSU helped me to broaden my horizons by getting to know several other international students with similar or different research interests to me. I have also been able to work on my personal development and growth by learning new cultures and ways of thinking.

Any thoughts or advice for current students?

I would recommend that current students participate in the several activities organized by MSU, which will help them to successfully grow both professionally and personally.

The MSU Science Festival is only one example of the several opportunities MSU offers for students to celebrate science. There is also a wide range of resources that current MSU students should use for their mental and physical well-being and social development.

What are your future plans? 

My future plan is to pursue a career as a researcher in the field of urban forest ecology, in order to support the sustainable management of urban forests to mitigate climate change not only in my home country, but also internationally. I also enjoy the interaction with students through teaching. Therefore, I want to continue working in academia.

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