Stephen J. Leisz

Stephen J. Leisz, PhD

Interim Vice Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

Director of New Initiatives, College of Arts and Sciences


Stephen Leisz has a PhD in Geography from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, a Master of Science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison (USA), and a BA from Georgetown University (Washington, D.C., USA). Prior to his current appointment at VinUniversity, he was a 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 land-use and land-cover changes and the drivers of these changes in Southeast Asia. He utilizes remote sensing, geographic information science, and anthropological methodologies in his research. 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

  • Global Political Economy
  • Geography
  • Cross-Culture/Intercultural Adaptations
  • Remote Sensing and GIS modeling
  • International Development

  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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

  • Bachelors Degree, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., USA;
  • Masters Degree, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA;
  • PhD University of Copenhagen, Denmark

  • 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.