“We’re in this golden age of information about the Earth at a time when it’s more important than ever to have that information because humans are beginning to really rapidly change our planet,” said founding director Ronald Smith
, the Damon Wells Professor of Geology & Geophysics.
An atmospheric scientist who holds a dual appointment at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES), Smith founded the center to assist others conducting research using remote sensing. After a quarter century at the helm, Smith is stepping down as director. Xuhui Lee
, the Sara Shallenberger Brown Professor of Meteorology at F&ES has been named as his replacement.
“We have reached a milestone with the center,” Smith said. “We’re really proud of what we’ve done over the years, and I’m really happy that Professor Lee is going to take it over.”
In contrast to other universities that house their remote sensing lab within a specific department, Yale’s center, a project of the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies
(YIBS), is non-departmental. Students and faculty — from forestry and history, to public health and archeology — utilize the YCEO for remote sensing training and research.
In “Observing the Earth from Space,
” the center’s flagship course, students learn how to identify which satellite data is best for a particular research project, where to find the data, and how to analyze it using powerful image processing software. Larry Bonneau
, a research associate in the Department of Geology and Geophysics and YCEO manager, is in charge of day-to-day operations. He maintains the center’s 13 computers and software, which have been upgraded several times. But his primary focus is assisting both students and faculty with research.
“My biggest responsibility is to the users,” Bonneau said. “My real duty is to those people who come in and say, ‘Can satellites help me?’”