Professor of Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (NRES) at the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture (COLSA) Russell Congalton encourages his students to walk before they run. Taking it slow can be hard among the swift technological advances of the digital age, which has expanded the tools available to students and their understanding of remote sensing methodology. Congalton has always been on the cutting edge of his field, benefitting from use of the latest technology available over the course of his career and he ensures that his students have access to the tools they need to succeed professionally.
The quantum leap he has witnessed in the last thirty-five years includes the transition from analog (film) to digital, and also the radical improvement in the development of satellite imagery. Amazingly, film holds strong as a primary method for capturing aerial images, and Congalton still teaches students how to use these photos and maps in his classes and out in the field, specifically College Woods.
Congalton is the recipient of the 2012 Estes Memorial Teaching Award from the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) Foundation, recognizing his achievements in promoting remote sensing and GIS technology through education. A leader in his field, Congalton’s contemporary research on spatial data uncertainty, accuracy analysis, and the application of remote sensing methods to natural resource issues is the platform for his exciting and effective teaching.
As the chief scientist for an environmental mapping company, Congalton is a professor who emphasizes practicality in his classes. “My students know what they want,” says Congalton who educates them to be job ready in all aspects of geospatial technologies. “I teach my labs and lectures with the principle of why you do what you do. It’s not just about technology, but understanding the concepts and principles behind the use of technology.”
Congalton joined the ASPRS as a graduate student and has attended annual conferences as a presenter ever since. “They really helped me out,” he says. “As we get older, I believe it is our responsibility to give back.”