Tuesday, 01 December 2009
The Faculty welcomed Dean Vikas Chandhoke and Associate Professor John Qu from the College of Science at George Mason University (Virginia, USA) from 5th to 8th October 2009. Vikas and John were here to develop research links and potential student and staff exchanges between ECU and George Mason University, particularly involving the Faculty of Computing, Health and Science. Their visit was organised by Dr Eddie van Etten (Senior Lecturer in School of Natural Sciences) and Dr Allen Riebau (formerly of US Dept of Agriculture’s Forest Service, and now Adjunct Researcher with ECU), and was sponsored by the Centre for Ecosystem Management at ECU. Vikas and John met with Professor Tony Watson, Exec. Dean of the Faculty, and toured facilities of the School of Natural Sciences and the Electron Science Research Institute. A Memorandum of Understanding between the two universities has been developed.
Research collaboration with GMU will initially commence in the area of remote sensing technology and its applications. John Qu heads a research centre at GMU (the Environmental Science and Technology Center) which specialises in the science and application of satellite imagery of the earth. There are today numerous satellites in orbit around the earth providing imagery at many different scales and across a range of different spectral bands (or wavelengths), some of which is readily and freely available from space agencies like NASA. Together we plan to use satellite remote sensing in research projects within the Centre for Ecosystem Management, including the detection of fire scars to map fire history in the Murchison and northern wheatbelt regions, and for real-time monitoring of fuel levels and fuel moisture within a range of WA ecosystems. We are also interested in working with John Qu and GMU to use remote sensing to detect bushfire smoke and to monitor air quality. As part of the research agreement, GMU will train 1-2 postgraduates or staff per year in the use of remote sensing technology, with short-term visits by researchers, in both directions, already planned.
While here John Qu kindly gave a workshop on ‘Satellite Remote Sensing of Climate and Environment’ which focussed on the use of satellite-derived imagery in fire research and management, and in air quality monitoring. The workshop was attended by some 30 representatives from government and industry (including FESA, Dept of Environment and Conservation, Australian Wildlife Conservancy, City of Joondalup), as well as ECU staff and students. John also gave a lecture to 2nd year students studying Geographic Information Systems.