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Sanaz Shafian

Assistant Professor
Sanaz Shafian
1880 Pratt Dr, Rm 1119
Blacksburg, VA 24061 – 0493


I have a two-way appointment in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences covering 60% research and 40% teaching. My research program focuses on using advanced technologies and methodologies for agronomically, economically, and environmentally sustainable nutrient, water, and herbicide management for crops and fruit trees. I am also affiliated with center of advanced innovations in agriculture (CAIA); and currently am developing two courses in regard to introduction to precision agriculture and drone use in Ag systems.


  • Ph.D. Plant and Soil Sciences, Texas Tech University, 2014
  • M.S. Remote Sensing, Khajeh Nasir Toosi University, 2008  
  • B.S. Geomatics Engineering, Khajeh Nasir Toosi University, 2005

Program Focus

My research program goal is to integrate deep learning techniques and remotely sensed big data to precisely, efficiently and intelligently mine the useful information for developing decision making tools and making the best application recommendation for water, fertilizer and herbicide in agronomy crops and fruit trees in smart farms. My research also aims on using satellite remote sensing for environmental monitoring and study the effect of climate change on crop production.

  • CSES 4984: Drone Use in Ag Systems

Assistant Professor | 2021-current
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Assistant Professor | Jan 2019- Dec 2020
Department of Soil and Water Systems, University of Idaho

Research Associate | June 2017- Dec 2018 
Department of Plant Sciences, University of Idaho

Postdoc Research Associate | Jan 2016- June 2017
Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Texas A&M University

  1. Walsh, Olga S., et al. "Grain yield, quality, and spectral characteristics of wheat grown under varied nitrogen and irrigation." Agrosystems, Geosciences & Environment 3.1 (2020): e20104
  2. Shafian S, Rajan N, Schnell R, Bagavathiannan M, Valasek J, Shi Y, Olsenholler J. Unmanned aerial systems-based remote sensing for monitoring sorghum growth and development. PLoS One. 2018;13(5):e0196605. PubMed PMID: 29715311; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5929499. 
  3. Shi Y, Thomasson JA, Murray SC, Pugh NA, Rooney WL, Shafian S, Rajan N, Rouze G, Morgan CL, Neely HL, Rana A, Bagavathiannan MV, Henrickson J, Bowden E, Valasek J, Olsenholler J, Bishop MP, Sheridan R, Putman EB, Popescu S, Burks T, Cope D, Ibrahim A, McCutchen BF, Baltensperger DD, Avant RV Jr, Vidrine M, Yang C. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for High-Throughput Phenotyping and Agronomic Research. PLoS One. 2016;11(7): e0159781. PubMed PMID: 27472222; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4966954.
  4. Shafian S, Maas SJ. Improvement of the trapezoid method using raw landsat image digital count data for soil moisture estimation in the Texas (USA) high plains. Sensors (Basel). 2015 Jan 16;15(1):1925-44. PubMed PMID: 25602267; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4327109. 
  5. Shafian S, Maas SJ. Index of soil moisture using raw Landsat image digital count data in Texas high plains. Remote sensing. 2015 February 26; 7(3):2352-2372. Available from: 
  6. Walsh OS, Shafian S, Marshall JM, Jackson C, McClintick-Chess JR, Blanscet SM, Swoboda K, Thompson C. Assessment of UAV based vegetation indices for nitrogen concentration estimation inspring wheat. Advances in Remote Sensing. 2018 May 04; 7(2). Available from: 10.4236/ars.2018.72006
  7. Walsh OS, Shafian S, McClintick-Chess JR, Belmont KM, Blanscet SM. Potential of Silicon Amendment for Improved Wheat Production. Plants (Basel). 2018 Mar 28;7(2)PubMed PMID:29597277; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6026889. 
  8. Walsh OS, Shafian S, Christiaens RJ. Nitrogen Fertilizer Management in Dryland Wheat Cropping Systems. Plants (Basel). 2018 Jan 29;7(1)PubMed PMID: 29382118; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5874598.