She studies the human transformation of land and the links among urbanization, global change, and sustainability. Using remote sensing, field interviews, and modeling methods, her research includes characterizing urban land-use, understanding the drivers of urban land-use change, forecasting urban expansion, and assessing the large-scale environmental consequences of urban expansion.
“Her contributions to the field of remote sensing has been exceptionally influential, especially in the use of Earth observation data and remote sensing techniques to understand and document urbanization, urban land use, and spatial structure,” Qihao Weng, professor of geography and director of the Center for Urban and Environmental Change at Indiana State University, wrote in nominating Seto.
“By bridging the social and natural sciences, her research surrounding conceptual frameworks for urban teleconnections — zones of influence beyond the immediate urban surroundings — has brought international attention to the environmental consequences of urbanization.”
Seto was also cited for helping to modernize the study of land use transitions, including the application of remote sensing data and new methods to understand the global impacts of local urban processes.
“Her seminal works on urban remote sensing have illustrated the power of ‘remote sensing big data’ and ‘millions of pixels’ to elucidate urban processes on the ground,” Weng wrote.
In nominating Seto, Weng was joined by Chengbin Deng, associate professor of geography at SUNY-Binghamton, and Miguel Roman, founding director of the Earth to Space Institute at the Universities Space Research Association, and principal investigator of NASA’s VIIRS Day/Night Band onboard the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership platform, and NASA's Black Marble product suite.
The award was announced during the AAG Annual Meeting held in Washington, D.C. in April. Seto is the second female scientist to receive the award in its over 30-year history (View past awardees here