Research and learning with J.B. Sharma
Dr. J.B. Sharma, 1999 CASE Georgia professor of the year, is an eminent scholar and professor of physics and remote sensing at University of North Georgia. His main research interests are in environmental and urban remote sensing, modeling of Earth surface processes and physics education, and he is also involved in curricular design and pedagogy for both remote sensing and physics courses. He teaches courses in remote sensing, image processing and the introductory college physics course sequence.
|Dr. J.B. Sharma|
How is research in these topics impacting the average individual?
Geographic Information Science (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) are rapidly emerging disciplines critical for urban planning and environmental stewardship. Novel satellite, aerial and ground based sensors are being increasingly deployed in our society that are generating massive data sets that need to be processed and converted to actionable information. The information extracted from this remotely sensed data is essential input into modeling of Earth surface processes using GIS techniques. These have applications in urban/ environmental planning and natural resource/disaster management. RS and GIS promote interdisciplinary scholarship that can meaningfully impact complex problems faced by society today and create bridges between the social and physical sciences. Products of geospatial science and technology have already been irrevocably integrated in the life of the average person in the form of GPS units, weather forecasts and Google Earth, and all location-based services, to name a few.
What are the benefits and impacts on students?
My remote sensing students are active in undergraduate research projects utilizing Landsat and ASTER satellite imagery and aerial optical and LiDAR sensors for urban and environmental projects in Northeast Georgia. The large data sets from these multiple sensors are analyzed using novel Geographic Object Based Image Analysis (GEOBIA) techniques to create a whole range of value-added geospatial products such as detailed land cover maps, impervious surface determination, urban tree canopy, surface temperature mapping, mapping unauthorized trails in the forest, hydrologic modeling, and floodplain mapping. Students get course credit for projects, deliver their work to a regional stakeholder and many present their work at regional and national conferences.
You mentioned an interest in curricular design and pedagogy for remote sensing and physics courses. How would you like to see teaching in these subjects change?
All types of effective teaching practice lead to deep, meaningful and sustained learning. In order for there to be true learning there has to be context, engagement and active involvement of the student. I believe that this holds true for learning across all disciplines. I strive to incorporate these elements in the courses that I teach and would like to see a greater experimentation with the various active learning pedagogies that have been developed across the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The advent of portable inexpensive sensors and rapid computing now personalizes the teaching and learning in STEM disciplines. Students can collect and analyze their own data rapidly and explore the underlying mathematical patterns. This helps connect the ideas on the chalkboard to their own experiential domain, making science come alive.