Keynote Speakers

Nicholas Coops (University of British Columbia, Canada)

Towards near real time forest inventory using satellite and laser scanning data

Nicholas Coops is a faculty member in the Department of Forest Resources Management at UBC, and holds a Canada Research Chair (CRC) in remote sensing. He obtained his PhD from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, and then worked at CSIRO, the Australian government research labs.

Nicholas’ research focuses on the application of remote sensing imagery to the monitoring and mapping of forest and vegetation health and productivity. A key research focus is the development of forest inventory techniques using high spatial resolution optical remote sensing imagery and LiDAR.

Laura Duncanson (University of Maryland, USA)

Global forest biomass budgets from GEDI and ICESat-2 – How can satellite data inform forest conservation and policy

Laura Duncanson is an Assistant Professor of Geographical Sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park. She received her B.Sc. Hons. from Queen’s University if Kingston, Ontario, MSc at the University of Victoria, and PhD from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2015.

Her research focuses on using LiDAR remote sensing for biomass mapping, ecological studies, and policy relevant applications. She has worked with spaceborne LiDAR for over a decade starting with ICESat’s GLAS, and has worked for the past five years on algorithm development for GEDI’s biomass products.

Dr. Kate Fickas (Ladies of Landsat)

Community over Competition

The Ladies of Landsat is a supportive and intersectional organization for underrepresented earth observation scientists. The Twitter-based organization was founded in 2018 by Dr. Kate Fickas and joined soon after by co-director Dr. Morgan Crowley and lead-organizers Dr. Flávia de Souza Mendes, Dr. Meghan Halabisky, and Dr. Crista Straub. Led by a group of women hoping to make the field of Earth observation (EO) more equitable and inclusive for underrepresented scientists, they now have grown over 10,300 members on Twitter. 

In this talk, Dr. Fickas discusses how the field of EO has been dominated by the voices of those who have historically held positions of power, and how Ladies of Landsat are working from multiple directions to achieve a broader mission to make an impact on the field. First, they work bottom-up to amplify the representation of women and other underrepresented scientists in EO science. Second, they lead top-down calls for action from leaders in power and active allies who have the capacity to change the status quo when it comes to diversity, equity, justice, inclusion, and accessibility (DEJIA) in remote sensing.  

It’s an exciting time to be in the field of EO as significant advances are being made every day towards increased gender representation. In the past, barriers to mentorship, data accessibility, education, outreach, and collaboration limited women and other underrepresented scientists from using remote sensing and EO. However, these barriers continue to be broken down with the burst of free and open cyberinfrastructure, open science, and accessible communication. With a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive EO community comes more thoughtful, meaningful, and innovative research and applications. Importantly, there is also an increase in representation of who is using the data along with this progress, which is essential for girls and women of all ages to see that folks from all backgrounds, careers, and fields can be part of a broader EO community.  

Plenary Panel: Diversity and inclusivity of local and Indigenous community knowledge in earth observation

Following Dr. Fickas’ introduction to Ladies of Landsat and DEJIA in earth observation, she will moderate a panel of earth observation and social scientists who will discuss the importance of including local and indigenous community voices and knowledge in forestry earth observation research. Because of the current and increasing breadth of earth observation sensors and access to analysis and tools it is more possible now than ever to research an area of the globe without having ever visited that location. Incorporating local ecological and cultural knowledge in remote sensing of forested systems creates the opportunity for more impactful research, meaningful collaborations, and a deeper understanding of ecological systems. The panel will touch on paths towards and barriers to inclusion of local ecological knowledge in earth observation as well as success stories of this type of collaborative science.