Gund Affiliate, Research Professor, University of Maryland

My research focuses on the nature-society interface, where environmental variability and change affects food security, nutrition outcomes, agricultural development and other aspects of society.  I use satellite remote sensing to understand environmental dynamics, and use social and economic datasets that allow for exploration of the impact of these dynamics on communities at a broad scale. 

I conduct research in four areas: using long term data records in vegetation and rainfall to understand environmental change, particularly in Africa; research to develop new methods for ensuring the use of new and existing satellite remote sensing in applications with societal benefit; use of satellite data with demographic and nutrition household surveys to measure the impact of environmental shocks on human health outcomes; and the development of models and methods that enable the quantification of the impact of environmental and international food price shocks on local food prices.

Ongoing projects include:

  • Developing new methods to integrate remote sensing data into econometric, nutrition, and food security models to improve our understanding of the effect of weather and climate on society;
  • Exploring the use of long term records of vegetation, rainfall, soil moisture and evaporative stress in agriculture insurance programs in Africa;
  • Working with local, national and international organizations to incorporate Earth science data and models to improve hazard early warning and understand of the threats of climate change;
  • Understand the value of satellite remote sensing data in decision making communities; and
  • Engaging with decision makers across the agriculture value chain in tropical countries.

I recently have begun working with 6th Grain Corporation as their Chief Science Officer. 6th Grain is a highly innovative and agile digital agriculture technology company with solutions being used by leading input suppliers and other AG holding companies in both low and high-income country settings. 6th Grain provides high quality, actionable intelligence that will guide focused marketing and infrastructure investments by agricultural companies in Europe, Africa and Asia.


  • K. Zhao, M. Wulder, T. Hu, R. Bright, Q. Wu, H. Qin, Y. Li; E. Toman, B. Mallick, X. Zhang, M.E. Brown (2019) Detect change-point, trend, and seasonality in satellite time series data to track abrupt changes and nonlinear dynamics: A Bayesian ensemble algorithm. Remote Sensing of Environment. In press.
  • M.E. Brown, V.M. Escobar (2019) NASA’s Early Adopter Program Links Satellite Data to Decision Making. Remote Sensing Journal. 11:4, 406; doi: 10.3390/rs11040406
  • Osgood, Daniel; Powell, Bristol; Diro, Rahel; Farah, Carlos; Enenkel, Markus; Brown, Molly E; Husak, Gregory; Blakeley, S. Lucille; Hoffman, Laura and McCarty, Jessica (2019) Farmer Perception, Recollection, and Remote Sensing in Weather Index Insurance for Agriculture in the Developing World: an Ethiopia Case Study. Remote Sensing Journal 10: 12, 1887; doi: 10.3390/rs10121887
  • T. Iizumi, M. Kotoku, P.C. West, J.S. Gerber, W. Kim and M.E. Brown (2018) Uncertainties of potentials and recent changes in global yields of major crops resulting from census- and satellite-based yield datasets at multiple resolutions. PLoS One 13: 9, e0203809. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0203809
  • Enenkel, M., D. Osgood, M. Anderson, B. Powell, J. McCarty, C. Neigh, M. Carroll, M. Wooten, G. Husak, C. Hain, M.E. Brown (2018) Exploiting the convergence of evidence in satellite data for advanced weather index insurance design. Weather, Climate and Society 11: 1 doi: 10.1175/WCAS-D-17-0111.1
  • Niles, M. and M.E. Brown (2017) A multi-country assessment of factors related to smallholder food security in varying rainfall conditions. Scientific Reports. 7: 16277, doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-16282-9.
  • D. Davies, M.E. Brown, K. Murphy, N. Stavros, B. Zavodsky, M. Carroll (2017) NASA Data for Time-Sensitive Applications: A Workshop Summary.  IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Magazine. Doi: 10.1109/MGRS.2017.2729278
  • M.E. Brown, Funk, C.C., Pedreros, D., Korecha, D., Lemma, M., Rowland, J.D., Williams, E., Verdin, J.P., 2017. A Climate Trend Analysis of Ethiopia—Examining Subseasonal Climate Impacts on Crops and Pasture Conditions. Climatic Change 142(1-2): 169-182. doi:
  • 10.1007/s10584-017-1948-6
  • M.E. Brown, E.R. Carr, K. Grace, K. Wiebe, C. Funk, W. Attavanich, P. Backlund, L. Buja (2017) Do markets and trade help or hurt the global food system adapt to climate change? Food Policy Journal. 68 pp154–159. doi: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2017.02.004

Associations and Affiliations

Gund Affiliate Molly Elizabeth Brown

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

Remote sensing of vegetation, private sector agriculture, food security, Africa food prices, technology applications


  • PhD, Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland College Park
  • MA, Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland College Park
  • BS, Biology and Environmental Studies, Tufts University