Makhan L Virdi

R&D Associate Staff and ORNL MODIS Tools Lead

Dr. Makhan Virdi is a researcher at NASA’s Distributed Active Archive Center for biogeochemical dynamics at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Dr. Virdi has a background in Water Resource Modeling, Soil Physics, Remote Sensing, Biogeochemical Modeling, and Environmental Sciences.

Dr. Virdi joined the Environmental Sciences Division in September 2013. He received a Ph.D. in Water Resources from the University of South Florida (USF Tampa) in 2013, and a BS (B.Tech) in Civil Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee, India. In India, Dr. Virdi worked at the Center for Remote Sensing (IIT Roorkee) on landslide hazards using satellite data. He also worked at the Microwave Remote Sensing laboratory (IIT Bombay) on IRS-P4 satellite data to determine snow/ice for the Himalayan region using the brightness temperature (Tb).

While at USF, he worked for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) from 2007 to 2010 studying surface-groundwater interactions by modeling long- term climatic effects on a karst lake. His graduate research included geospatial analysis, time-series analysis, hydrological modeling, variably-saturated flow modeling, and numerical simulations. His current research interests include analytics, management and visualization of geospatial and time-series data. Currently, he is developing subsetting and visualization tools for MODIS data from NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. It received the Doug D. Nebert National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) Champion of the Year Award (2016) awarded by the United States’ Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC). These subset data, tools, and visualizations are used by researchers from a variety of disciplines to study ecology, earth science, and global change.


  • Ph.D. Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of South Florida, Tampa, USA (2013)
  • M.S. Civil Engineering, University of South Florida, Tampa, USA (2008)
  • B.Tech. Civil Engineering, Indian Institue of Technology Roorkee, India (2004)


Doug D. Nebert National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) Champion of the Year Award for developing an innovative suite of tools for using MODIS data sets.