Dr. Maria Zubkova is an Assistant Research Professor who works with MODIS and VIIRS Burned Area and Active Fire group that develops and validates official NASA fire products. Her research in satellite-based wildfire mapping addresses the need to enhance ecosystem and community resilience to fire, as well as those that promote the use of beneficial fire, since, in recent years, catastrophic fires have led to the loss of billions of dollars, lives, and undesirable ecological and environmental consequences. Specifically, she is interested in disentangling the complex interaction between vegetation, climate, humans, and wildfire. Dr. Zubkova focuses on developing countries that do not get enough attention from the press or scientists but where changes in fire behavior or land cover can be as detrimental or even more compared to countries with higher fire management and suppression budgets. Her most recent work explores shifts in fire activity resulting from violent conflicts, massive human migration, and extreme weather events in the Middle East and Eastern Africa.

Dr. Zubkova received her Ph.D. in Natural Resources with an emphasis on Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Sciences from the University of Idaho. Before that, she earned an MS in Geoinformation in Environmental Management from the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICh) in Greece and a BA+MA in Landscape Design from the Russian State Agrarian University, Moscow, Russia.

Outside of research, Dr. Zubkova dedicates a significant portion of her time to mentoring early-career geoscientists from high school to Post-Doc level. She is especially passionate about supporting and empowering women in STEM through the Association for Women Geoscientists mentoring platform Mentoring365 and NSF Full STEM Ahead.

She is also a Board member of the Society for Conservation GIS (SCGIS) and a co-chair of the SCGIS conference committee. In 2022, Dr. Zubkova received an Outstanding Post-Doctoral Associate in the Department of Geographical Sciences Award. In 2024, Dr. Zubkova received an Outstanding Research Faculty in the Department of Geographical Sciences Award.

Areas of Interest

  • Wildfire
  • Climate change
  • Global environmental changes
  • Fire-climate-human interactions
  • Professional
    Peer Reviewed Journal Referee
  • Campus
    Graduate Committee's Research Faculty representative
  • Campus
    Collaboration with a MS student as part of MSGIS Research Opportunity program
  • Campus
    MSc Capstone Project mentor
  • Campus
    Undergraduate student mentor
  • Professional
    Co-Editor of a Remote Sensing special issue “Remote Sensing Applications in Wildfire Research...
  • Campus
    Judge at the 2021 and 2022 Graduate Research Appreciation Day
  • Professional
    A member of The Society for Conservation GIS Conference Committee
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Department of Geographical Sciences
mzubkova [at] umd.edu