RSGAL Members and Alumni

Faculty

Dr. Chad Babcock

Position: Assistant Professor of Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis
Links: Forestry Dept   |   Google Scholar   |   ResearchGate

Chad's research focuses on developing geostatistical approaches using remotely sensed information to predict natural resource characteristics and address pressing questions related to their inventory, monitoring and management. His research work to date supports an overarching objective to contribute novel methodological and application oriented analyses to the growing body of research implementing statistically rigorous spatial and spatio-temporal analysis methods in natural resources and remote sensing through collaboration with scientists across the natural resource fields, ecology, remote sensing and statistics.

Chad teaches the following UMN courses (more to come):

  • FNRM 3262/5262 Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis, 3 credits, Fall
  • FNRM 3462/5462 Advanced Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis, 3 credits, Spring
  • FNRM 3562/5562 Field Remote Sensing, 1 credit, Fall (new course in 2020)

Dr. Marvin Bauer

Position: Professor Emeritus of Remote Sensing
Links: Forestry Dept   |   Water Remote Sensing

Marv's research has emphasized the development of quantitative satellite remote sensing for monitoring lake water quality, crop and forest inventory, impervious surface mapping, and land cover classification, change detection and analysis. He is a fellow of the American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing and recipient of the USGS/NASA William T. Pecora Award, NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, ASPRS SAIC Estes Memorial Teaching Award, and Minnesota GIS/LIS Consortium Lifetime Achievement Award. He was editor-in-chief of Remote Sensing of Environment journal from 1980-2014.

Dr. Paul Bolstad

Position: Professor
Links: Forestry Dept   |   GIS Courses

Paul's primary research interests are the measurement, analysis, modeling, and error propagation in studies of ecological phenomena at broad spatial scales. During the last ten years he has concentrated on quantifying forest mass and energy cycles, structure, and disturbance. More recently his work has focused on integrating these data with spatially-explicit models of important biophysical parameters, chiefly photosynthesis and respiration, temperature, water vapor pressure, and precipitation in the development of process-based ecosystem models at landscape scales. This collaborative work is being conducted in cooperation with a number of scientists, including projects on bark beetle population dynamics from tree to landscape scales in the Intermountain West, and forest canopy ecophysiology and carbon fluxes in deciduous forest systems of the eastern United States.

Paul teaches our upper level GIS courses:

  • FNRM 5131 Geographic Information Systems in Natural Resources
  • ESPM 4295/5295 GIS in Environmental Science and Management

Dr. Jennifer Corcoran

Position: Adjunct Assistant Professor
Links: Forestry Dept.   |   ResearchGate   |   LinkedIn

Jennifer is an Adjunct Assistant Professor focusing on remote sensing of Minnesota's forests. She is the Remote Sensing Program Consultant with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in the Division of Forestry, Resource Analysis program. She works with the lab on her Landscape Scale Restoration (LSR) project and on our GLRI projects. She contributes to remote sensing courses and is active on several NRSM students' advisory committees.

Dr. Joe Knight

Position: Professor of Remote Sensing
Position: Director, Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis Lab
Links: Forestry Dept   |   UAS Lab   |   Google Scholar   |   ResearchGate  

Joe holds a Ph.D. from North Carolina State University and previously worked as a Biologist with the United States Environmental Protection Agency.  He is an author of numerous publications, including peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and technical reports.  Joe is a recipient of the 2017 Center for Transportation Studies Research Partnership Award, the 2012 Richard C. Newman Art of Teaching Award, the 2011 College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Science (CFANS) Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award, and the 2007 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science and Technology Achievement Award.

Joe teaches several UMN courses:

  • FNRM 3262/5262 Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis, 3 credits, Fall
  • FNRM 3362/5362 Drones: Data, Applications, and Operations, 3 credits, Spring
  • FNRM 3462/5462 Advanced Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis, 3 credits, Spring
  • FNRM 3562/5562 Field Remote Sensing, 1 credit, Fall (new course in 2020)
  • FNRM 8205: Research Problems: Spatial Data Analysis, flexible credts and semester

Joe is the editor of the Remote Sensing Core Curriculum. Joe's CV can be found here. If you need an updated version, please email Joe.

Research Staff

Dan Heins, M.S.

Position: Researcher 5  |  UAS Coordinator
Links: UAS Lab   |   Forestry Dept

Dan coordinates operations in our UAS Laboratory. He earned his M.S. in the Masters of Geographic Information Science (MGIS) program at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Dan is an FAA-certified Remote Pilot in Command and holds a certification from the USGIF in GIS and Analysis. He formerly worked for the Office of Naval Intelligence and Lockheed Martin Corporation in operational, analytic, and engineering capacities. Dan is broadly interested in data acquisition, analysis, and production to support sense-making across the spectrum of natural and human activity. Dan co-instructs FNRM 3362/5362 Drones: Data, Applications, and Operations.

Andrew Jenks, M.S.

Position:
Links: Forestry Dept   |   GIS Courses 

Andy's primary interest is in teaching Geographic Information Systems and Global Positioning Systems. He has more than 26 years experience with using GIS technology for large commercial businesses. He returned to the University and completed graduate studies specificity to teach and promote geospatial technologies within Natural Resources. His research interests have been: overland sediment transportation, how land use affects conservation reserve lands and various watershed district spatial analytical projects.

Andy teaches several geopspatial courses:

  • FNRM 3131/5131 Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for Natural Resources, 4 credits
  • ESPM 3031/5031  Applied Global Positioning Systems for Geographic Information Systems, 3 credits
  • ESPM 4295W/5295 GIS in Environmental Science and Management, 4 credits

Patrick Landisch, M.S.

Position: Researcher 5
Degree: NRSM M.S. 2019
Advisor: Joe Knight
Links: Forestry Dept

Patrick completed his Master's degree in the NRSM program in 2019, and has continued in the lab in a research staff position. His graduate research focused on using terrestrial lidar to estimate biophysical parameters of forests. His current research involves exploring the relationships between land cover/use, including forest structure, and cold water fish habitat.

Leif Olmanson, Ph.D.

Position: Researcher 6 (Research Associate)
Degree: NRSM Ph.D. 2012
Advisor: Marvin Bauer
Links: Dissertation   |   ResearchGate   |    Water Remote Sensing

Leif is a Research Associate with more than 20 years of experience developing remote sensing applications to create multi-temporal, spatially comprehensive datasets of water and land resources to characterize large ecosystems and ecoregions, and he has authored/co-authored many highly cited articles on these topics. Applications include lake and river water quality and aquatic plant assessments using multispectral and hyperspectral imagery, and land cover mapping using multispectral imagery and lidar data with object-based image analysis using random forest classification,. His current research focuses on new, enhanced satellite systems, such as Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2 to measure colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM), chlorophyll and non-algal suspended sediments in optically complex inland waters across broad regional scales. He is particularly interested in using cutting edge geospatial analysis to improve understanding of the natural environment. More info here.

Ben Page, M.S.

Position: Research Fellow
Links: Water Remote Sensing

Ben is a research fellow in the Water Resources Center at the University of Minnesota. He has an extensive background in satellite-based remote sensing and geospatial analysis of inland waters. During his M.S. studies in Geography at the University of Georgia he participated as a project lead at NASA DEVELOP. He then joined NASA SERVIR as a regional science associate, evaluating strategies to implement satellite-based remote sensing for monitoring of inland water quality in developing regions. His current work focuses on calibrating Landsat and Sentinel imagery to characterize optically active constituents in Minnesota’s > 10,000 inland water bodies. More info here.

Keith Pelletier, M.S.

Position: Researcher 5 (Research Associate)
Degree Objective: NRSM Ph.D. Candidate
Advisor: Joe Knight
Links: Forestry Dept

Keith is a Research Associate and Ph.D. candidate in the Natural Resources Science and Managment (NRSM) program. Keith came to the group from the Spatial Analysis Lab at the University of Vermont, where he earned a Master's degree and taught GIS and remote sensing classes. Keith is focusing on developing new classification and assessment methods for object-based image analysis of forests.

Current Graduate Students

Connor Anderson

Degree Objective: NRSM Ph.D.
Degree: NRSM M.S. 2020
Advisor: Joe Knight

Connor's research interests lie at the intersection of geospatial analysis and wetland monitoring. In particular, he is working to develop remote sensing-based methods to map the invasive species Phragmites australis.

Jeff Disbrow

Degree Objective: NRSM M.S.
Advisor: Joe Knight

Jeff is an NRSM Master's student. His research focuses on developing methods to use high-resolution satellite-derived surface models to map permafrost change in Alaska.

Ethan Emick

Degree Objective: NRSM M.S.
Advisor: Chad Babcock
Links:

Willy Mekeel, M.S.

Degree Objective: NRSM Ph.D.
Advisor: Joe Knight
Links: Riverland

Willy is a Ph.D. student in the Natural Resources Science and Managment (NRSM) program. Willy came to the group from Mankato State University, where he earned a Master's degree in Geography and taught GIS courses. For his Ph.D. work Willy is interested in studying precision agriculture applications such as the effects of pests and disease on apparent plant reflectance. Willy is a geography, physics, and agriculture instructor at Riverland Community College.

Danielle Sackett

Degree Objective: NRSM M.S.
Advisor: Joe Knight

Danielle is an NRSM Master's student. Her research focuses on developing models to estimate the prevalence of the invasive species Phragmites australis.

Recent Alumni

Listed in reverse chronological order of degree or position completion

Ben Allen, M.S.

Degree: NRSM M.S. 2019
Advisor: Joe Knight
Links: Thesis

Ben completed his Master's degree in the NRSM program. After working as an undergraduate with Leif Olmanson on lake clarity research, Ben joined our graduate program. His research focused on using lidar and multispectral imagery for improved forest inventory. Ben is now a Ph.D. student at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Norway.

Trevor Host, M.S.

Degree: NRSM M.S. 2017
Staff Position: 2017-2019
Advisor: Joe Knight
Links: LinkedIn

Trevor completed his Master's degree in the Natural Resources Science and Management program and then continued into a research staff position in the RSGAL. His research interests included mapping and monitoring tree canopy change using lidar point clouds and object-based image analysis. Trevor worked to incorporate point clouds and their derivatives with aerial imagery for analysis and data visualization. His other experiences in the RSGAL included UAS image processing/operations, land cover mapping, and automated feature extraction. Trevor is now the Remote Sensing R&D Coordinator at Rayonier, Inc.

Whitney DeLong, M.S.

Degree: MGIS M.S. 2019
Advisor: Joe Knight
Links: LinkedIn

Whitney complelted her Master of Geographic Information Science (MGIS) degree in 2019. She developed object-based image analysis methods for mapping beaver habitat in northern MN. Whitney is now a Conservation Easement Monitoring and Support Analyst at the Minnesota DNR.

Melilsa Platson, M.S.

Degree: MGIS M.S. 2019
Advisor: Joe Knight

Melisa complelted her Master of Geographic Information Science (MGIS) degree in 2019. Her research focused on analyzing the variability in the ArcticDEM product using ground control points and digital terrain models. She is now with KBR at the USGS EROS Data Center.

Peter Stangl, M.S.

Degree: NRSM M.S. 2019
Advisor: Joe Knight

Peter came to us from Bethel University. He completed his M.S. in NRSM in 2019. His research focused on developing accessible methods for flood modeling using widely available geospatial software and methods. Peter now works for 3M, Inc.

Muratbek Kudaibergenov, M.S.

Position: Visiting Scholar 2019
Advisor: Joe Knight
Links: ResearchGate

Muratbek is a PhD student at al-Farabi Kazakh National University (KazNU) in Almaty, Kazakhstan. He visited the RSGAL in 2019 to learn techniques to support his doctoral research in the use of geospatial methods to assess land subsidence caused by ore mining in the area of Kentau, Kazakhstan. Among his accomplishments are: learning to use the Erdas Imagine image processing software package, learning the ESA SNAP software package, pre-processing a large amount of Sentinel-1 Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery, and conducting Interferometric SAR (inSAR) analysis of land subsidence in Kentau. Muratbek wrote a report about his stay in Minnnesota, which is available here.

Barry "Ty" Wilson

Degree: NRSM Ph.D. 2018
Advisor: Joe Knight
Links: Dissertation  |   Forest Service

Ty is a Research Forester with the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program at the USDA Forest Service. His research interests are in geospatial modeling, small area estimation, and Bayesian models, and nonparametric models. His NRSM dissertation focused on making FIA relevant to stakeholders.

Neal Pastick, Ph.D.

Degree: NRSM Ph.D. 2018
Advisor: Joe Knight
Links: Dissertation  |   ResearchGate

Neal completed his Ph.D. in the Natural Resources Science and Managment (NRSM) program in 2018. Neal came to us from Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies, where he was a contractor at the U.S. Geological Survey's Earth Resource Observation Science (EROS) Center in Sious Falls, SD. Neal's research focused on quantifying the distribution of near-surface permafrost throughout Interior Alaska with the use of nonparametric modeling and remotely sensed data. 

Courtney Blouzdis, M.S.

Degree: NRSM M.S. 2016
Advisor: Joe Knight
Link: LinkedIn

Courtney earned her Bachelor's degree from Purdue University, and subsequently expanded her geospatial knowledge while working for the Plum Creek Timber Company in Michigan and the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. Courtney completed her Master's degree in the NRSM) program. Courtney's Master's project focused on mapping riparian areas using OBIA methods. Courtney is now a GIS Specialist at Hampton, Lenzini, and and Renwick, Inc. in Illinois.

Geovanna Hinojoza, M.S.

Degree: NRSM M.S. 2016
Advisor: Joe Knight
Link: ResearchGate

Geovanna spent the summer of 2012 doing an undergraduate research project. Her summer project focused on developing a land cover map for part of her home country of Mexico. She returned to Minnesota in 2014 and completed her MS in 2016. She continued on to a Ph.D. program in Spain. 

Yan Wang, M.S.

Degree: NRSM M.S. 2016
Advisor: Joe Knight

Yan came to the United States from Beijing, China. Her Master's research focused on assessing historical wetland change from the 1930s to today, and sources of uncertainty in random forest classification of wetlands.

Jason Dally, M.S.

Degree: MGIS M.S. 2015
Advisor: Joe Knight
Link: LinkedIn

Jason's MGIS project focused on using lidar to discover sinkholes in Minnesota. He is currently a Designer at Xcel Energy in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Jim Klassen, M.S.

Degree: NRSM M.S. 2013
Advisor: Joe Knight
Links: SharedGeo

Jim is a wizard with anything to do with programming and geospatial data. His thesis focused on automated creation of 3d aerial image mosaics and point clouds. Jim is now the Chief Programmer at SharedGeo, where he specializes in Open Source solutions.

Jennifer Corcoran, Ph.D.

Degree: NRSM Ph.D. 2013
Advisor: Joe Knight
Links: Dissertation   |    Forestry Dept.   |   ResearchGate   |   LinkedIn

Jennifer completed her Ph.D. in Natural Resources Science and Management (NRSM), minoring in Water Resources Science (WRS) in 2013. For her Ph.D. work, Jennifer focused on wetland mapping using RADAR image data. After working as a post-doctoral researcher at NASA JPL, Jennifer is back in the Twin Cities as Remote Sensing Program Consultant for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Division of Forestry.

Lian Rampi, Ph.D.

Degree: NRSM Ph.D. 2013
Staff Position: 2013-2017
Advisor: Joe Knight
Links: Dissertation   |   ResearchGate

Lian was a Research Associate in the lab after graduate school. She completed her Ph.D. in the NRSM program in 2013. Lian came to the United States from Honduras, and joined the lab after completing the U's MAST international exchange program. She brought solid geospatial analysis and programming skills to the group. For her Ph.D. work Lian focused on improved methods to map wetland boundaries using topographic models and image data. Lian had a strong interest in working with lidar and OBIA-based methods. She also managed the statewide land cover mapping project, mentored students, and helped the lab to run smoothly. Lian is now the CEO of Rampi Geospatial Solutions, Inc.

Christopher Anderson, M.S.

Degree: MGIS M.S. 2015
Links: LinkedIn 

Chris completed his Master's in the Master of Geographic Information Science (MGIS) program. He came to us from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where he earned a B.S. in Computer Science and a B.A. in GIS. Chris was our web development and web mapping guru. He created new versions of the RSGAL website and data portal. He is now a Web Application Developer with RESPEC Consulting and Services.

Don Kilberg, M.S.

Degree: MGIS M.S. 2011
Advisor: Marvin Bauer

Don's Master's project focused on urban tree canopy mapping using remote sensing. He and Molly Martin created the 2009 UTC classifications of the Twin Cities and Woodbury that appear on our Data List page. Don worked in MNDNR's Division of Lands and Minerals as a Conservation Easement Monitoring and Support Analyst. When Don left that position, Whitney DeLong, a 2019 M.S. grad from the lab, took over from him at DNR. Don is now a Senior Program Administrator with the MNDNR.

Molly (Martin) Shoberg, M.S.

Degree: MGIS M.S. 2011
Advisor: Marvin Bauer
Links: LinkedIn

Molly's Master's project focused on urban tree canopy mapping using remote sensing. She and Don Kilberg created the 2009 UTC classifications of the Twin Cities and Woodbury that appear on our Data List page. Molly is now a GIS Principal with the St. Louis County Planning and Community Development Department – Enterprise GIS Division.

Maybelline Frias-Bonilla

Objective: Summer study in RSGAL 2015
Links: LinkedIn

Maybelline is originally from Ecuador, but studied at EAP Zamorano, the same school Lian Rampi graduated from in Honduras. Maybelline spent a summer in the lab learning about remote sensing. She is currently an Especialista de proyecto in the Ministerio de Agricultura for Ganaderia, Acuacultura, y Pesca in Ecuador.

Haleh Shenas, Ph.D.

Degree Objective: NRSM M.S.
Advisor: Joe Knight

Haleh was a Master's student in the NRSM program in 2013-14. After earning a Ph.D. in Computer Science and working in that field for a while, Haleh decided to make a career change and join the NRSM program. Her research involved the use of lidar for forest biomass and structure measurement.

Maggie Voth, M.S.

Degree: MGIS and NRSM Master's degrees 2012
Advisor: Joe Knight
Links: LinkedIn

Maggie completed her dual Master's degrees in the Master of Geographic Information Science (MGIS) program and NRSM. Maggie's M.S. work focused on lake clarity as assessed using MODIS image data. Maggie is currently a Project Manager/Biologist at WEST, Inc.

Bryan Tolcser, M.S.

Degree: WRS M.S. 2010
Advisor: Joe Knight
Links: LinkedIn

Bryan completed his Master's degree in the Water Resource Science (WRS) program in 2010. Bryan now works as a Senior Scientist at Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. (SEH), a multi-disciplinary engineering and consulting firm.