Molly Brown

Associate Research Professor

Research Interests Molly E. Brown, PhD

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

·       Exploring the impact of changing cost of petroleum on the global food system, particularly in the context of increasing use of renewable fuels


  • 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
Professional Lead Author, USDA-NCA report entitled 'Food Security, Global Climate Change and the US Food System'
Professional Editor in Chief, Remote Sensing Applications: Society and Environment (Elsevier)
  • Picture of Molly
LeFrak Hall
Department of Geographical Sciences
Phone: (703) 855-6190
Office Hours:
7:30 am to 4:00 pm