Zach Marston - Ph.D. Student



Robert Koch 
Ian MacRae


Minneapolis, MN

Research Topic

The use of unmanned air systems (UAS’s) has been gaining a considerable amount of attention lately, and remote sensing technology has been making leaps and bounds. One of the components necessary to make utilizing this technology for agriculture and pest management successful is the development of accurate pest and stress detection algorithms that incorporate numerous variables. My goal is to develop spectral reflectance vegetation indices that can both differentiate between brown stem rot and aphid pressure in soybean fields as well as quantify their destruction. It is my hope that the development of differentiating stress detection algorithms for remote sensing in aerial platforms can improve farm management strategies; this will help us to improve our environment, economic efficiency, and food security.

Previous Education

B.S. Applied Plant Sciences, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

Why Insects?

The raw diversity of morphological and behavioral attributes of insects makes them incredibly fascinating.  Often times studying insects can feel like observing an alien race. It is this feeling of exploring the unknown that has me hooked.

Why University of Minnesota?

What is your favorite thing about UMN? Growing up in Minneapolis I started coming to the University of Minnesota at a young age for numerous events as well as PSEO classes. I have developed a great fondness for the school, the people here, and the myriad opportunities the school and surrounding cities have to offer. My favorite thing about the University of Minnesota is that this school has always been home for me and there is no place like home.


I want to be a part of the research community that will be responsible for improving remote sensing systems and their use in agricultural settings.  The ability to take numerous complex components and integrate them into a finely tuned design has always seemed like a fun puzzle to me. It is my goal to continue integrating new technology into field applicable systems that improve farm management practices.

Favorite Insect

I am very partial to dragonflies, and more specifically the Globe skimmer. The Globe skimmer’s amazing migratory habits have brought it high up into the Himalayas as well as all the way out to Easter Island. It is this insect’s incredible ability to conquer the world that makes it my favorite.

Other interests/hobbies

I love designing hydroponic systems, cooking great meals, brewing new beers, and enjoying them with friends. I am also quite fond of traveling, fishing, biking, and just about any activity that means I can spend time outdoors. 

Coffee or tea?

I definitely enjoy both, but coffee in the morning and tea in the evening is my preferred caffeine delivery system.