Stephen J. Leisz, PhD

Stephen J. Leisz, PhD

Professor cum Director of New Initiatives

Interim Vice Dean

College of Arts and Sciences


Prior to his current appointment at VinUniversity, Stephen Leisz was a full professor, Director of the Land Change Science and Remote Sensing Lab, and Co-Director of the Center for Archaeology and Remote Sensing, at Colorado State University. He is a member of the US NASA’s Land-Cover and Land-Use Change Program’s Science Team and Co-Director of the Earth Archive NGO. He is known for his work researching the rate of land-use and land-cover change and the drivers of these changes in Southeast Asia.  He utilizes remote sensing, geographic information science, and anthropological methodologies in his research.  Since 2010 he has researched and applied multi-spectral remote sensing and lidar technologies to archaeological investigations. He has over 80 articles in top-rated peer-reviewed journals including the U.S. Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, World Development, Remote Sensing, International Journal of Remote Sensing, Global Environmental Change, Human Ecology, BioScience, and Conservation Biology. He is a member of the American Association of Geographers, The American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, and the Global Land Programme.


Land-Cover/Land-Use Change, Geographic Information Science (GIS), Remote Sensing, Political Ecology, Agrarian and Forest Transitions, Rural Livelihood Change, International Development


Journals and Book Chapters

  1. Leisz, S.J., Tuyen, N.T., An, N.T., Duong, N., Yen, N.T.B. (2022). Agricultural Land-Use Trends in Vietnam 1990–2020. In: Vadrevu, K.P., Le Toan, T., Ray, S.S., Justice, C. (eds) Remote Sensing of Agriculture and Land Cover/Land Use Changes in South and Southeast Asian Countries. Springer, Cham.
  2. Fisher, Christopher, Stephen Leisz, Damian Evans, Diana H Wall, Kathleen Galvin, Melinda Laituri, Geoffrey Henebry, James Zeidler, Juan Carlos Fernandez-Diaz, Shrideep Pallickara, Sangmi Pallickara, Thomas Garrison, Francisco Estrada-Belli, Eduardo Neves, Kathryn Reese-Taylor, Rachel Opitz, Thomas Lovejoy, William Sarni, Rodrigo Solinis, Grace Ellis, Milena Carvalho, Cheryl White, Louisa Daggars, Rafael Angel Gasson-Pacheco, Aldo Bolaños, Vern Scarborough (2022) Creating an Earth Archive. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 119(11), e2115485119;
  3. Nguyen, Yen Thi Bich, Stephen J. Leisz (2021) Determinants of livelihoods vulnerability to climate change: Two minority ethnic communities in the northwest mountainous region of Vietnam. Environmental Science & Policy 123: 11-20;
  4. Nghiem, T., Kono, Y., Leisz, S.J. (2020) Crop Boom as a Trigger of Smallholder Livelihood and Land Use Transformations: The Case of Coffee Production in the Northern Mountain Region of Vietnam. Land 9(2). 56;
  5. Shirai, Y., Leisz, S. J., Fox, J., Rambo, A. T. (2019). Commuting Distances to Local Non-Farm Employment Sites and the Impact on Rural Out-Migration: The Case of Northeast Thailand. Asia Pacific Viewpoint.
  6. Hoover, Jamie D., Stephen J. Leisz, Melinda E. Laituri (2017) Comparing and Combining Landsat Satellite Imagery and Participatory Data to Assess Land-Use and Land-Cover Changes in a Coastal Village in Papua New Guinea. Human Ecology 45(2): 251-264 doi:10.1007/s10745-016-9878-x.
  7. Leisz, Stephen, Eric Rounds, Ngo The An, Nguyen Thi Bich Yen, Tran Nguyen Bang, Souvanthone Douangphachanh, Bounheuang Ninchaleune (2016) Urban-rural telecouplings in the East-West Economic Corridor within borders and across. Remote Sensing 8 (12), 1012; doi:10.3390/rs8121012.
  8. Leisz, Stephen J. (2013) “An overview of remote sensing and archaeology during the

twentieth century,” In: Space Archaeology: Mapping Ancient Landscapes with Air and Spaceborne Imagery (in Observance of the 40th Anniversary of the World Heritage Convention), (Comer, Douglas, and Michael Harrower (eds.)), Springer Press, pp. 11 – 20.

  1. Leisz, Stephen J., Michael Schultz Rasmussen (2012) Mapping fallow lands in Vietnam’s north central mountains using yearly Landsat imagery and a land-cover succession model. International Journal of Remote Sensing 33(20):6281-6303.
  2. Schmidt-Vogt, Dietrich, Stephen J. Leisz, Ole Mertz, Andreas Heinimann, Thiha Thiha, Peter Messerli, Michael Epprecht, Pham V Cu, Vu K Chi, Martin Hardiono, Dao M Truong (2009). An Assessment of Trends in the Extent of Swidden in Southeast Asia. Human Ecology 37(3): 281-290.
  3. Leisz, Stephen J., Kjeld Rasmussen, Jorgen E. Olesen, Tran Duc Vien, Bo Elberling, Jens Jacobsen, Lars, Christiansen (2007). The impacts of local farming system development trajectories on greenhouse gas emissions in the northern mountains of Vietnam. Regional Environmental Change 7(4): 187-208.
  4. Leisz, Stephen J., Nguyen thi Thu Ha, Nguyen thi Bich Yen, Nguyen Thanh Lam, Tran Duc Vien (2005). Developing a methodology for identifying, mapping and potentially monitoring the distribution of general farming system types in Vietnam’s northern mountain region. Agricultural Systems 85: 340-363.


  1. Leisz, Stephen J. “Differences in patterns of rice cultivation in the Red River Delta of Vietnam 2000 to 2020.” Session: The Agrarian Transition in Mainland Southeast Asia: Changes in Rice Farming—2000 to 2018. American Association of Geographers Annual Conference. Seattle, WA, USA. 2021.
  2. Stephen Leisz, Nghiem Thi Phuong Tuyen, and Jen Mulgrew “Changing Agricultural Land-Use Patterns and the Drivers of these Changes in Vietnam’s Red River Delta”, Land Use/Cover Changes, Environment and Emissions in South/Southeast Asia – An International Regional Science Meeting, Johor, Malaysia, June 22 – 24, 2019.
  3. Stephen Leisz. “Roads, Transportation Corridors, and Telecoupling: Impacts on land-use/land-cover in Southeast Asia”, Global Land Programme 2018 Asia Conference: Transitioning to Sustainable Development of Land Systems through Teleconnections and Telecouplings, Global Land Programme – Taipei. 2018.
  4. Stephen J. Leisz. “Transportation Corridor Development and Land-Use/Cover Changes in Southeast Asia: A case study of the East-West Economic Corridor between Da Nang, Vietnam and Khon Kaen Thailand”, Boundary Spanning: Advances in Socio-Environmental Systems Research, National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, National Science Foundation, Resources for the Future, and University of Maryland. 2018.
  5. Stephen Leisz, “Telecoupling and secondary cities growth in transitional economies in Southeast Asia.” Regional Workshop on “Coupled Human Nature Systems in Mongolian Plateau” & “Urbanization and Sustainability Under Global Change and Transitional Economies in Southeast, East, and North Asia (SENA)”., Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. June 2- 5, 2017.
  6. Stephen Leisz, “Telecoupling and secondary cities growth in transitional economies in Southeast Asia.” Regional Workshop on “Coupled Human Nature Systems in Mongolian Plateau” & “Urbanization and Sustainability Under Global Change and Transitional Economies in Southeast, East, and North Asia (SENA)”. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. June 2- 5, 2017.
  7. Stephen Leisz. “Urban-rural teleconnections along the East-West Economic Corridor within borders and across borders,” in Forest, agricultural, and urban transitions in Mainland Southeast Asia: Synthesizing knowledge and developing theory. AAG Annual Meeting, San Francisco, California, March 29 – April 2, 2016.
  8. Stephen Leisz. “Urban-rural teleconnections in Vietnam, Laos, and Northeast Thailand: are urban/rural boundaries still evident?” Southeast Asian Studies in Asia Conference, Kyoto, Japan, December 12 – 13, 2015.
  9. Leisz Stephen J., “Investigating land-use/cover changes along the East-West economic Corridor in Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand.” NASA Land Cover/Land Use Change, Science Team Meeting, Bethesda, MD, USA, April 23 – 25.
  10. Leisz, Stephen J., Christopher Fisher, “LiDAR: A great tool for archaeology; how do you interpret it?” in Geodetic Imaging using light detection and ranging (Lidar). American Geophysical Union Meeting of the Americas, Cancun, Mexico, May 14 – 17.


  • Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award, United States Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. 2022
  • Visiting Fellow, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan. 2008.
  • Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, University of Wisconsin -Madison. 1991.
  • Durkin Prize for American Studies, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. 1986.


  • 2007 D., Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 1996 S., Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
  • 1986 A., College of Arts and Sciences, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., USA