Keynote Speakers

We are very happy to annouce our keynote speakers: Dr Pablo Zarco-Tejada
Dr Anttoni Jaakkola, Dr Karen Joyce, and Dr Bek Christensen.


Pablo J. Zarco-Tejada holds a degree in Agricultural Engineering from the School of Agricultural Engineering and Forestry, University of Córdoba, Spain, an MSc degree in Remote Sensing from the University of Dundee, Scotland, UK, and a PhD degree in Earth and Space Science from York University, Toronto, ON, Canada. He has been a contract faculty in remote sensing at the University of California, Davis, USA, and is currently on a leave of absence as Director of the Laboratory for Research Methods in Quantitative Remote Sensing (QuantaLab), Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC). Since 2015 he joined the Forest Resources and Climate Unit of the Joint Research Centre (JRC, European Commission) to implement research methods focusing on the assessment of health of trees in forests and croplands through the analysis of thermal, hyperspectral, and multispectral remote sensing data, in particular related to the outbreaks of the Pine Wood Nematode (PWN) and other diseases in crops such as the outbreak of Xylella fastidiosa in olive orchards. His main interests are related to the use of high resolution remote sensing from manned aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAS/RPAS) for the assessment of physiological condition through leaf and canopy modeling, and the use of vegetation indices in the context of precision agriculture and forestry. Dr. Zarco-Tejada has been the principal investigator of EU, European Space Agency (ESA) and Spanish-funded projects on hyperspectral remote sensing using unmanned aerial vehicles for precision agriculture and forestry. He is author of over a hundred papers listed in SCOPUS published in international journals. He is Associate Editor of Remote Sensing of Environment, belongs to the scientific committee of EJA, and has been recipient of awards during his scientific career for the work conducted in remote sensing in Spain, United Kingdom, and Canada.

Anttoni Jaakkola received his D.Sc. degree in Automation Technology from Aalto University in 2015 and is currently a Research Manager leading the Mobile Laser Scanning research group, Department of Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry, Finnish Geospatial Research Institute FGI, National Land Survey of Finland, and a Project Manager of the Centre of Excellence in Laser Scanning Research. In 2008, he invented the world’s first mini-UAV-based laser scanning system for mapping applications, and has since studied different applications of UAV-based laser scanning including forestry and topographic mapping. His current research interests include multispectral laser scanning and autonomous driving. He is the secretary of ISPRS Working group I/5 and guest editor for MDPI Remote Sensing. Despite his young age, he has published more than 60 peer-reviewed scientific articles and has an H-index of 15 based on the Web of Science. He is an inventor of 7 patents and a co-founder of Sharper Shape, the leading UAV-based utility inspection service provider.

Karen Joyce graduated in 2005 with a PhD in Geographical Sciences from the University of Queensland. Her focus was on mapping live coral cover using remote sensing. Using her remote sensing expertise for a variety of applications, she has since worked as a Geomatic Engineering Officer in the Australian Army, developed models for spatially explicit mapping of recreation opportunities across New Zealand’s conservation estate, and developed techniques for integrating remote sensing into all phases of the disaster management cycle. Karen’s primary area of interest is in creating, applying and automating remote sensing tools for environmental monitoring and management problems. While the environmental target may vary from marine and coastal through to savanna ecosystems, her common approach is to optimise models for rapid quantitative information extraction and communication purposes. Karen is currently the Senior Lecturer in Remote Sensing and GIS at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia. She is also the Co-Founder of She Flies – an initiative designed to encourage more women and girls to engage in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) through the world of drones.

Karen will talk about this: As people, we are naturally curious. We ask questions and face challenges on a daily basis. Yet sometimes it’s easy to forget the hard work and science that has gone into finding the answers that Google so cleverly curates for us. We can take for granted that the answers will always be there, but that isn’t the case. And science in its many shapes and forms – from lab coats to drones – is critical to finding our answers and solutions. However in Australia like in many countries, people are questioning the value of science and the impact of investment into it. There are concerns about the modern day relevance and perceptions of science within the community. Students electing to study science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) are waning. These are all significant issues, yet as a remote sensing community working with drones, we are actually well placed to reinvigorate interest and use our science to solve the challenge. I will discuss three key factors within our discipline that I believe sets us aside and gives us the power to enact a change in science perceptions.

Bek Christensen is the Science Partnerships Manager for TERN, the terrestrial ecosystem observatory component of Australia’s national research infrastructure. Bek has a background in ecosystem research and policy, completing her PhD in ecology at Flinders University in 2008. She has worked in research and policy across university, state government, and NGO contexts, and has diverse networks across the ecosystem science and management communities in Australia.

Bek helped to lead the development of Australia’s first national decadal plan for ecosystem science across 2013-2014, and in 2016 also helped to coordinate the development of the Australian Earth Observation Community Plan 2026 with the AEOCCG ( ). Bek is passionate about engaging the ecosystem science community to work collaboratively in setting the agenda for their future, and in maximizing the impact of their work for downstream users of our science. She currently serves as Vice President (Public Policy and Outreach) of the Ecological Society of Australia, and Chairs the National Working Group for Essential Measures for Native Vegetation.