RSGAL Members and Alumni


Dr. Chad Babcock

Chad is an Assistant Professor of Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis. His 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. More info here.

Chad teaches multiple UMN courses (more to come):

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

Dr. Marvin Bauer

Marvin is Professor Emeritus of Remote Sensing. His 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. More info here.

Dr. Paul Bolstad

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. More info here.

Dr. Jennifer Corcoran

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

Joe is Professor of Remote Sensing and Director of the RSGAL. 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. More info here.

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.

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.

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.

Patrick completed his Master's degree in the NRSM program in 2018, 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.

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.

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.

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.

Graduate Students

Ben Allen

Ben is a Master's student in the NRSM program. After working as an undergraduate with Leif Olmanson on lake clarity research, Ben joined our graduate program. His research focuses on forest mensuration using remote sensing methods.

Connor Anderson

Connor is an NRSM Master's student. His research interests lie in 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

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.

Willy Mekeel, M.S.

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.

Danielle Sackett

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

Recent Alumni

Listed in reverse chronological order

Trevor Host, M.S.

Trevor completed his Master's degree from the Natural Resources Science and Management (NRSM) 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.

Whitney DeLong, M.S.

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.

Peter Stangl, M.S.

Peter completed his M.S. in NRSM in 2019. His research focused on developed accessible methods for flood modeling using widely available geospatial software and methods.

Muratbek Kudaibergenov, M.S.

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.

Neal Pastick, Ph.D.

Neal completed his Ph.D. in the Natural Resources Science and Managment (NRSM) program in 2017. 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. Visit Neal's ResearchGate page

Courtney Blouzdis, M.S.

Courtney completed her Master's degree in the Natural Resources Science and Managment (NRSM) program. Courtney earned her Bachelor's degree from Purdue University. She subsequently expanded her geospatial knowledge while working for the Plum Creek Timber Company in Michigan and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. Courtney's Master's project focused on mapping riparian areas using OBIA methods.

Geovanna Hinojoza, M.S.

Geovanna was a Master's student in the UMN MGIS program. She returned to Minnesota in 2014 after spending the summer of 2012 in the lab. Her summer project focused on developing a land cover map for part of her home country of Mexico. She completed her MS in 2016 and continued on to a Ph.D. program in Spain. Visit Geo's ResearchGate page.

Yan Wang, M.S.

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.

Jim Klassen, M.S.

Jim was a student in the Natural Resources Science and Managment (NRSM) program. Jim completed his M.S. in 2013, focusing on automated creation of 3d aerial image mosaics and point clouds.

Jennifer Corcoran, Ph.D.

Jennifer completed her Ph.D. in Natural Resources Science and Management (NRSM), minoring in Water Resources Science (WRS) in 2013. For herPh.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. Jennifer's dissertation is here. Visit Jennifer's ResearchGate page.

Lian Rampi, Ph.D.

Lian was a Research Associate in the lab. She completed her Ph.D. in the Natural Resources Science and Managment (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's dissertation is here. Visit Lian's ResearchGate page.

Christopher Anderson, M.S.

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.

Don Kilberg, M.S.

Don competed his Master's in MGIS in 2011 under Marv Bauer's direction. His project focused on urban tree canopy mapping using remote sensing.

Molly Martin, M.S.

Molly competed her Master's in MGIS in 2011 under Marv Bauer's direction. Her project focused on urban tree canopy mapping using remote sensing.

Maybelline Frias-Bonilla

Maybelline is originally from Ecuador, but studied at the same school Lian graduated from in Honduras. Maybelline spent a summer in the lab learning about remote sensing.

Haleh Shenas, Ph.D.

Haleh was a Master's student in the NRSM program. 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.

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. She currently works for URS Inc., a technical and engineering consulting company.

Bryan Tolcser, M.S.

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