Photo Credit: Mike Gough
Remote Sensing for Good
August 21, 2019 -- Rebecca Degagne will attend Google's highly-competitive Geo for Good Summit in September!


Rebecca Degagne, M.S.
Geospatial Scientist, Conservation Biologist

CBI’s Rebecca Degagne has been invited to Google's highly-competitive Geo for Good Summit, September 16-19 in Sunnyvale, California. From the Google Earth Summit website:

“This Summit will bring together the Earth Engine and Earth Outreach communities to one larger event where scientists, nonprofits and changemakers can learn from each other and potentially collaborate on projects for positive impact for our planet and its inhabitants.”

Google’s invitation stems from Rebecca’s long-term involvement in the conservation GIS and remote sensing communities, as well as her recent work with CBI to build capacity in both arenas. With the advent of revolutionary technology like Google Earth Engine, it’s quite an exciting time for remote sensing, which is the science (and art) of monitoring phenomena from afar. There’s a plethora of new satellite data, a variety of free imagery available, and increased access to cloud computing to do data analyses MUCH faster.

One of the most exciting aspects of this cutting-edge technology is it basically makes super-computing available to scientists outside of academia, which up until recently was not the case. In fact, CBI is in a unique position as a non-profit with the expertise and capacity to incorporate such innovations into our mission-driven conservation work. With our diverse staff, from biologists working on the ground to folks developing online tools, CBI can both produce science and communicate findings in ways easily leveraged by decision-makers.

Rebecca’s interest in remote sensing extends back to her undergraduate days at Juniata College, where she began dabbling in it  during a summer research fellowship. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree, Rebecca’s focus shifted from pursuing field biology toapplying geospatial technology tosolve conservationchallenges.In her Master’s work at Humboldt State University (HSU),Rebecca used Landsat satellite imagery toidentify and locate ecologically important monodominant (Dicymbe corymbosa) forests in Guyana, South America, which were not previously mapped. This allowed field mycologists to better sample the forests for unique fungi - many of which were unknown to science!Rebecca’s thesis work was published in the journal Biotropica. After receiving her MS, Rebecca stayed in Northern California to teach GIS and remote sensing at HSU and College of the Redwoods. 

Rebecca is especially interested in sharing GIS/remote sensing technology with fellow scientists and others working in conservation. Her passion for sharing knowledge is exemplified by the seven years she’s been with CBI. During this time, Rebecca joined the board of the Society for Conservation GIS (SCGIS) and began hosting the SCGIS/CBI webinar series. The recent session “Conservation Remote Sensing” included a webinar presented by Google’s Rebecca Moore titled “Earth’s Vital Signs - Planetary-scale monitoring with Google Earth Engine”. At CBI, Rebecca also works with Remote Sensing Conservation Network (CRSnet), and presented two talks on CBI’s work at a special remote sensing session at the SCGIS conference.

Through Rebecca’s attendance at the Geo for Good Summit, CBI will expand our remote sensing capacity with Google Earth Engine to move towards near-real-time monitoring of landscape and habitat characteristics. We will put this increased capacity to work right away, partnering with USDA's Conservation Reserve Program to help quantify and sustainably-manage their program's land holdings. We also hope to apply this approach to conservation of the endangered Stephens’ Kangaroo Rat; the new technology will allow us to quickly access satellite imagery and extract habitat indices, which reflect recent landscape conditions. These analyses are easily updatable and can allow us to monitor land over time, which is important for adapting to changing conditions. Even better, once the process is optimized, the remote sensing advancements can then be applied to a multitude of other species of conservation concern.

We are incredibly proud of the focus and hard work required by Rebecca to qualify for an esteemed opportunity like Google’s Geo for Good Summit. Rebecca’s invitation is a testimony to her skills and is a huge ‘win’ for CBI and conservation work, in general.

Other remote sensing projects that Rebecca’s been involved with include:

Below is a sampling of images taken by Rebecca during her time in Guyana:

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