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GGE News - 2013

GGE Attends 2013 American Geophysical Union Meeting in San Francisco

More than 22,000 Earth and space scientists, educators, students, and others gathered in San Francisco, California, 9-13 December, to present groundbreaking research and to connect with colleagues. Among the presentations was a talk by GGE's Dr. John Hughes Clarke on "Acoustic imaging of the passage of turbidity currents and associated hydraulic jumps on underlying cyclic step bedforms. Squamish, BC." Another presentation, co-authored by Drs. Richard Langley (UNB), Yu-Ming Yang (JPL) and Xing Meng (JPL), and presented by Dr. Attila Komjathy (JPL, UNB) was entitled "Detection of natural hazards generated TEC perturbations and related new applications." Conference attendees had to manage their time juggling between oral and poster presentations, lectures, press conferences, side meetings, workshops, and various social functions.

Click on the thumbnail image to look at photos taken during the meetings.

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GGE Ocean Mapping Group Completes Another Research Season in the Arctic

With the ice quickly closing in on the Arctic, the MV Nuliajuk, a 19-metre Nunavut research vessel utilized by the GGE Ocean Mapping Group (OMG), finished the 2013 research season in mid-November.

This is the second year of a collaborative partnership among OMG, the Government of Nunavut, the ArcticNet Network of Centres of Excellence and the Canadian Hydrographic Service. This partnership is investigating collaborative yet focused approaches to mapping Canada's Arctic waters, which have been historically closed to shipping. With decreasing summer ice, there is increasing demand for navigable waters.

This past summer was productive for OMG and the Nuliajuk. During the final seabed mapping cruise of the season, a previously uncharted "inside passage" on the west coast of Cumberland Sound and a previously uncharted deep-water approach to Iqaluit in Frobisher Bay were both mapped. The information acquired will not only provide safer passage to vessels, but will be useful for investigating novel approaches to processing hydrographic data in sparsely referenced areas of the Canadian Arctic.

Click on the thumbnail image to look at photos taken during the expedition.

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Fall Graduate Seminar and Student Technical Conference

The GGE Fall 2013 Graduate Seminar and Student Technical Conference was held on Tuesday, 26 November, and Monday, 2 December. The well-attended activity showcased the work of one Ph.D. and five M.Sc.E. students making presentations of their selected topics previously submitted in formal papers. This round included high quality presentations covering topics from three of our GGE disciplines: four on GIS, one on geodesy, and one on ocean mapping. The sessions were chaired by Titus Tienaah, a GGE Ph.D. student. Through this event GGE celebrated the 2013 GIS Day. Download the seminar agenda by clicking here.

Click on the thumbnail image to get a better look.

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Canada Research Chair in Advanced Geomatics Image Processing Renewed

During a visit to the UNB Fredericton campus on 21 November, the Honourable Keith Ashfield, member of Parliament for Fredericton, announced the renewal of the Canada Research Chair in Advanced Geomatics Image Processing held by GGE's Yun Zhang for a second round of five years.

Dr. Zhang will be developing new technologies for gathering geospatial information from remote sensing imagery to strengthen Canada's role in the geomatics industry.

See the UNB News Room article for further details:

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Attila Komjathy Wins Yet Another Award

Jet Propulsion Laboratory principal investigator and GGE adjunct professor Attila Komjathy has received a NASA Group Achievement Award on behalf of his seimic-ionosphere exploration team. The team, lead by Dr. Komjathy, received the award for outstanding development of real-time techniques to detect ionospheric perturbations due to tsunami using the Global Positioning System.

Such NASA honour awards are presented to a number of carefully selected teams who have distinguished themselves by making outstanding contributions to the NASA mission.

The presentation of the award was made during JPL's 2013 NASA Honor Awards Ceremony on 10 October.

Updated 2013-October-28: Added an official JPL photo.

Click on the thumbnail image to get a better look.

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GGE Grad Alumnus Receives Navigation Institute Parkinson Award

UNB GGE alumnus, Dr. Felipe Nievinski, received the Bradford W. Parkinson Award for 2013 at The Institute of Navigation's GNSS 2013+ meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, during the week of 16-20 September. The honour is bestowed on an outstanding graduate student in the field of global navigation satellite systems and is sponsored by the ION's Satellite Division. The winner is judged from the theses and dissertations submitted by university departments all over the world.

The award, which consists of a plaque and a $2,500 honorarium, was presented to Dr. Nievinski for his work on modelling GPS multipath for snow monitoring, which he undertook in the Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences at the University of Colorado under Prof. Kristine Larson. The goal of his work was to develop the technique of GPS multipath reflectometry for ground-based measurement of snow depth. He found that the resulting GPS results compared against independent in situ measurements during a 1-3 year period in three different environments (grasslands, alpine, and forested), yielded a correlation of 0.98 with a root-mean-square error of only 6-8 centimetres.

His award-winning Ph.D. dissertation may be downloaded from here:

Dr. Nievinski obtained his M.Sc.E. in the Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering at the University of New Brunswick where he was mentored by Prof. Marcelo Santos.

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GGE Adjunct Professor and UNB Alumnus Receives Prestigious GNSS Industry Award

At the GPS World Leadership Dinner and Awards Ceremony held in conjunction with The Institute of Navigation GNSS+ 2013 meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, last week, GGE adjunct professor and UNB alumnus Dr. Attila Komjathy received the GPS World 2013 Leadership Award for Significant Recent Achievements in GNSS Services.

Dr. Komjathy received the award for the introduction of GPS remote sensing for detecting tsunamis, nuclear blasts, and meteor explosions. He was featured on our website last year for the development of his tsunami-tracking technology. At the ION GNSS+ 2013 meeting, his postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Y-M. (Oscar) Yang, gave a paper entitled "Investigating Natural Hazards Using GNSS Measurements: The Chelyabinsk Meteor Ionospheric Impact," which was co-authored by Dr. Komajthy and GGE professor Dr. Richard Langley among others.

Click on the thumbnail image to look at a frame from a video taken during the ceremony and a photo of the award. New photos added 15 October 2013 (courtesy GPS World).

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GGE GPS Technology Set for Space Launch

A GPS device designed by GGE researchers Drs. Richard Langley and Don Kim is set to begin operation in orbit later this month. The device, the GPS Attitude, Positioning, and Profiling (GAP) apparatus, is one of eight scientific instruments in the Enhanced Polar Outflow Probe, or e-POP, payload on the CAScade, Smallsat and IOnospheric Polar Explorer (CASSIOPE) satellite. CASSIOPE is Canada's first multi-purpose small satellite, which will be launched later this month on a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

e-POP will provide scientists with unprecedented details about the Earth's ionosphere, thermosphere, and magnetosphere, helping scientists better understand the cause and effects of potentially dangerous space weather.

GAP employs five dual-frequency GPS (Global Positioning System) receivers and associated antennas to provide the e-POP payload with high-resolution spatial positioning information, flight-path velocity determination, and real-time, high-stability timing. In addition, by measuring the arrival times of the GPS signal wave fronts at each antenna against a very stable time base, the relative range between antennas can be determined, yielding real-time spacecraft attitude determination.

GAP will also be used for measurements on setting or occulted GPS satellites to determine profiles of ionospheric electron density. These measurements will be correlated with those of the other instruments on board CASSIOPE.

The GAP receivers are slightly modified, commercial, off-the-shelf units that should help establish the use of lower-cost equipment for scientific space missions.

GAP was developed in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency, the University of Calgary, and Bristol Aerospace in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

See the UNB News Room article for further details:

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Shad Valley Students Visit GGE

On July 4, 2013, more than 60 Shad Valley students visited the Canada Research Chair Laboratory in Advanced Geomatics Image Processing (CRC-AGIP Lab), directed by Prof. Yun Zhang, in the Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering (GGE) on the Fredericton campus of the University of New Brunswick.

More ...

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GGE Now on Twitter

The Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering has opened a Twitter account: (a.k.a. Geodesy&GeomaticsEng). We will be tweeting anytime there is an update to our website or if we have other important information to convey. You can quickly reach our Twitter account by clicking on the Twitter Bird icon at the bottom of our Web pages. Follow us.

By the way, the GGE undergraduate society, GUESS, runs a Facebook account, which can be accessed here:

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New GGE Adjunct Professor in Geographic Information Science

Dr. Raid Al-Tahir is a new adjunct professor within the Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering at UNB. Dr. Al-Tahir has more than twenty years of experience in lecturing, research, and service in the Department of Geomatics Engineering and Land Management at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago, where he holds the position of senior lecturer.

Dr. Al-Tahir has more than forty scholarly publications that reflect his interest in multidisciplinary geographic-information-science-based research in the mapping and modelling environmental and human-induced land cover dynamics using aerial and satellite images and GIS.

While on leave at UNB, he will continue some of his work that he initiated in Trinidad including the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for collecting images for environmental and natural resource problems; environmental geoinformatics to address issues and applications that demand temporal and spatial data collection and analysis, such as mapping and modelling changes in land cover/use, forestry, deforestation, and carbon sequestration; and adaptation of geoinformatics technology for climate-change monitoring, mitigation and adaptation strategies.

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GGE Professor Made Officer in the Brazilian Order of Cartographic Merit

GGE's Prof. Marcelo Santos has been awarded membership in the Brazilian Order of Cartographic Merit at the rank of officer. The Order of Cartographic Merit was formally created by the Brazilian Society of Cartography, Geodesy, Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing in the 1970s.

According to its rules, membership in the Order is awarded to professionals who have rendered outstanding service to Brazil in the fields of cartography, geodesy, photogrammetry and remote Sensing, or who have distinguished themselves in the exercise of the profession, and to national and foreign citizens who have rendered outstanding services to the Brazilian Society of Cartography, Geodesy, Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing in particular. Dr. Santos' award is in recognition of his contribution towards Brazil's adoption of SIRGAS (Sistema de Referência Geocêntrico para as Américas), the new geodetic reference system for South America.

The award ceremony took place on 3 May 2013 in Rio de Janeiro.

Click on the thumbnail image to get a better look.

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GGE Retirement Dinner

On Friday, 3 May 2013, a retirement dinner was held at the Delta Hotel in Fredericton, New Brunswick, to celebrate and honour the accomplishments and dedication of two of UNB's Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering professors, Dr. Susan E. Nichols and Dr. James M. Secord. Dr. Nichols, who has spent 33 years at UNB as both a lecturer and professor, has been extensively involved with land management projects over the entire world and has been the GGE director of graduate studies for ten years. At the start of his time at UNB, Dr. Secord, who has spent 27 years at UNB as a faculty member, was involved with many research projects involving geodetic and precise surveying. Throughout his later years, he has been thoroughly involved with the undergraduate program, being the GGE director of undergraduate studies for 25 years.

To honour their accomplishments over the years they served at UNB as faculty members, past professors and students spoke about the relationships and experiences they had with Dr. Nichols and Dr. Secord. Dr. John D. McLaughlin, professor emeritus and former president of UNB as well as being Dr. Nichols' Ph.D. supervisor, spoke about his excellent experiences with Dr. Nichols – being one of his best graduate students. In addition to Dr. McLaughlin, Dr. Michael Sutherland, one of Dr. Nichols' numerous graduate students and a GGE adjunct professor, spoke about how much knowledge he gained from Dr. Nichols and how rewarding his experiences were as one of her graduate students. Dr. Adam Chrzanowski, former chair of GGE and Dr. Secord's Ph.D. supervisor spoke about how Dr. Secord was one of his best students, both as an undergraduate and as a graduate student. Following this, Jodi Isenor, a former undergraduate student of Dr. Secord, spoke about the positive experiences he had at UNB and how Dr. Secord helped him become a better student than he had ever been.

Others who spoke included Douglas Morgan, Association of New Brunswick Land Surveyors, who has been a friend and colleague of Dr. Nichols and Dr. Secord since their early days at UNB; Dean of Engineering, Dr. David Coleman; current GGE chair, Dr. Marcelo Santos; Centre for Property Studies coordinator Veronica McGinn; and current GGE graduate students Patrick Adda and Andy Kubiak.

With the assistance of Sylvia Whitaker and Michelle Ryan, Dr. Santos presented plaques to Drs. Nichols and Secord to celebrate their contributions to the department and the profession.

The night was a huge success with approximately 100 past and present students, professors, and colleagues and friends and family members in attendance. Dr. Nichols' and Dr. Secord's accomplishments and dedication to UNB have been greatly appreciated by countless students, professors, and colleagues. On behalf of the Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering, we would like to congratulate Dr. Nichols and Dr. Secord on their achievements throughout their careers at UNB and wish them best of luck in their future endeavours.

(Written by Brad Poirier)

Click on the thumbnail image to look at photos taken during the evening. (Photos: Sina Adham-Khiabani, 2013-May-3)

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Graduate Seminar and Student Technical Conference

The GGE 2013 Graduate Seminar and Student Technical Conference was held on Friday, April 5th. There were ten students presenting eleven papers covering topics from many of our GGE disciplines. Nearly half of all presentations were on GIS or GIS-related implementations alone!

Also presented were novel approaches to remote-sensing data-analysis techniques, controlling LiDAR campaigns, and improved subaqueous analysis algorithms and techniques.

Following the presentations, Dr. Sue Nichols led a conversation amongst the audience. Topics discussed included non-specific feedback regarding the structure and execution of technical presentations in general. Also discussed were the opportunities for improving the Graduate Seminar experience.

During this discussion, three judges, Dr. Anna Szostak-Chrzanowski, Dr. Emmanuel Stefanakis, and Dr. Marcelo Santos, excused themselves to endure the difficult task of deciding the top three presentations. Three awards were generously donated by the New Brunswick branch of the Canadian Institute of Geomatics, and finally presented by Dr. Santos. A special note of recognition and gratitude was made in Dr. Nichols' honour, thanking her for the thirty-some-odd years of expertise and diligence, helping to make the GGE department what it is today.

Third Place: "Enhanced target recognition from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) using thermal and daylight cameras" by Capt. Denise Sweet.

Second Place: "Grand Lake Meadows since the 17th century: a mapping and awareness project" by Heather McGrath.

First Place: "Developing spectral analysis tools for quantitatively determining riverbed roughness" by Danar Pratomo.

Yves Léger, chair of CIG-NB, sent his congratulations to all the winners and thanked Drs. Szostak-Chrzanowski, Santos, and Stefanakis for judging on behalf of CIG-NB.

The organizing team of Andrew Kubiak and Emad Mousavi would like to give our hearty congratulations to all of the presenters whose hard work provided an interesting and insightful day. And special thanks to Sylvia Whitaker, without whom this seminar would not have been the great success it was.

(Written by Andy Kubiak)

Click on the thumbnail image to get a better look.

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Marcelo Santos Selected as UNB Research Scholar

GGE's Prof. Marcelo Santos was chosen as this year's recipient of UNB's University Research Scholar Award. This award is intended for UNB researchers who have demonstrated a consistently high level of scholarship, and whose research is, or has the potential to be, of international stature.

Prof. Santos received this award in recognition of his work in geodesy and geodetic applications of global navigation satellite systems. His research team developed algorithms and software dealing with precise point positioning (the online-software GAPS has been used by over fifty-thousand users worldwide), and with ray-tracing through the atmosphere (which has led to the development of a UNB-based mapping function service in support of the Global Geodetic Observing System). Prof. Santos has also been involved with the development of the theory related to the rigorous determination of so-called Helmert orthometric heights used around the world. He has attracted nearly three million dollars in research funds to UNB. Prof. Santos is a fellow of the International Association of Geodesy and has served several organizations at different levels, such as the International Association of Geodesy, the Canadian Geophysical Union, the Canadian Institute of Geomatics, and the Canadian National Committee for the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics.

Prof. Santos received his award at a special ceremony on 4 April 2013.

Click on the thumbnail image to look at photos taken during the ceremony.

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Technical Report Presentations 2013

The Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering annual student technical report conference was held on March 26th, 2013. It took place in the Dineen Auditorium in Head Hall, on the University of New Brunswick's Fredericton Campus.

This year's conference was divided into four sessions, which were chaired by Lydia Penner, Samuel Arsenault, Danielle Kim, and Bradley Poirier, respectively. The final session was the annual Canadian Institute of Geomatics (CIG) undergraduate student competition.

There was a break between the first and second sessions, which was sponsored by Edwards and Associates (headquartered in Marystown, NL), and a break between the third and fourth session sponsored by the Department. Additionally, there was a reception following the presentations, sponsored by McElhanney (headquartered in Vancouver, BC) and the Department.

There were five undergraduate presentations involved in the CIG competition, competing for three awards. The competitors were Samuel Arsenault, Michael Haines, Conner Mazier, Lydia Penner, and Michael Sheng. The judges for the competition were from the CIG, and included Yves Léger, Robert Harris, Stephen Hartley, Doug Morgan, and Remy Reyjal.

The winners of the undergraduate student paper competitions were announced at the reception. The first place $1000 award, offered by the CIG, went to Lydia Penner who spoke about geodesics in relation to long lines. The second place $700 award, offered by McElhanney, went to Conner Mazier, who spoke about the Red River Settlement in Winnipeg. The third place $500 award, offered by Midwest Surveys (headquartered in Calgary, AB), went to Michael Sheng, who spoke about the effect of meteoric impacts on the gravity field.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Canadian Institute of Geomatics, McElhanney, Edwards and Associates, Midwest Surveys, and the Department for their generous sponsorship. Furthermore we would like to thank Michelle Ryan for enabling the success of this event.

(Written by Kate Sonier, photos by Ryan Billard)

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UNB Varsity Reds Hockey Team Win Atlantic University Sport Championship

For the third consecutive year, the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds men's hockey team are Atlantic University Sport Champions.

The V-Reds shut out the Saint Mary's University Huskies 2-0 before a sold-out crowd on Wednesday, 6 March, at the Aitken Centre in Fredericton.

GGE year-three student Matt Fillier plays forward for the Reds.

At the game, the passing of GGE founder and long-time Reds supporter Willis Roberts was acknowledged with a brief tribute and a moment of silence.

Game details can be found on the Varsity Reds website.

The Reds will play for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Potashcorp University Cup this week in Saskatoon.

Click on the thumbnail image to get a better look.

Updated 2013-March-18: The V-Reds went on to become national champions in the same way, a 2-0 win over Saint Mary's. Details here and here.

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GGE Founder Willis Roberts Passes

Dr. Willis F. Roberts, NBLS, P.Eng, RPF of Fredericton, NB, passed away on 5 March 2013 at his residence in the Veteran's Health Unit. Willis married his wife, Joyce, in 1941 and together they raised their family: two daughters, Regi Miles (James) and Kris Harvey. Joyce predeceased Willis in 1993 and he is survived by his daughters, five grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

Willis was a modern day pioneer in land surveying, land administration and surveying education in New Brunswick, and he made significant contributions in the broad surveying and mapping field in the province and throughout the Maritimes.

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GGE Master's Student Invents Patented Image Analysis Technique

Image segmentation is an emerging technology in the processing of digital images acquired by remote sensing satellites and aircraft. It is used to automatically identify object boundaries in the images, such as boundaries of buildings, trees, streets, rivers, crop fields, and forests. Stat-of-the-art technologies require an experienced operator to train the software repeatedly through a trial-and-error approach until acceptable segments are obtained. This trial-and-error process usually takes more than two hours for an experienced operator. It may take days or weeks for an inexperienced operator.

A much quicker technique for segmenting a digital image has been developed by a GGE graduate student and the innovation has been awarded a United States patent.

The breakthrough technology introduced by GGE's M.Sc.E. student Travis Maxwell, supervised by Prof. Yun Zhang, significantly decreases the time for segmentation from more than two hours to half an hour. When fully integrated into eCognition, a state-of-the-art commercial application, the segmentation time can be further reduced to a few minutes. In addition, an inexperienced operator can also achieve good segmentation results within a few minutes.

The initial algorithms were developed by Mr. Maxwell. The fully functional software for the process was developed by Dr. Hengjian Tong, a postdoctoral fellow, and tested by M.Sc.E. student Vivek Dey under the supervision of Prof. Zhang.

The technical details of the approach were published in Mr. Maxwell's thesis and in a refereed paper in Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing, the journal of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. The U.S. patent, number 8233712, was granted on July 31, 2012.

The software is being used in Prof. Zhang's research lab and by others. For example, the U.S. Geological Survey is working with the software, having acquired a testing license from UNB's Office of Research Services.

Click on the thumbnail image to get a better look.

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Noted NASA Scientist Becomes UNB Adjunct Professor

UNB is pleased to announce that Dr. Attila Komjathy, a principal investigator and senior member of the technical staff at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has been appointed an adjunct professor in the Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering.

Dr. Komjathy is a world-leading expert on geoscience applications of GPS, most notably on the use of GPS to monitor the ionosphere. His latest achievement has been to use GPS to track the progress of tsunamis via ionospheric perturbations. He has received a number of awards for his work including one for exceptional scientific and technical contributions from NASA's Inventions and Contributions Board.

A GGE alumnus (Ph.D., 1997), Dr. Komjathy was featured in the Fall 2012 issue of UNB Alumni News, where he was quoted as saying “My ultimate goal is to use GPS technology to detect ionospheric signatures caused by tsunamis in real time so people in affected areas may be alerted even before the tsunami reaches them.”

Dr. Komjathy was one of the first to investigate the use of GPS signals to study the ionosphere. His pioneering Ph.D. research under Prof. Richard Langley was awarded a Governor General's Gold Medal.

In his new role, Dr. Komjathy will help to mentor GGE graduate students, especially those who are using GPS and other global navigation satellite systems to study the Earth's atmosphere and other features of the Earth's dynamic behaviour. He will also facilitate the exchange of knowledge in the area of GPS monitoring technology between JPL, a NASA facility managed by the California Institute of Technology, and UNB.

Click on the thumbnail image to get a better look. (Image Credit: JPL)

Read the associated UNB news release.

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Prof. Sue Nichols Receives Honorary Membership in Land Surveyors Association

The Association of New Brunswick Land Surveyors presented GGE's Professor Sue Nichols with an honorary membership during the Association's annual general meeting in Fredericton on Friday, 25 January.

According to Stephen Hartley, a former executive director of the association and UNB alumnus, “This membership is in recognition and appreciation of Sue's thirty years of involvement in – and dedication to – the land surveying profession. The Association's honorary membership is awarded to persons who 'through their close association with land surveying, have contributed greatly to the advancement of the profession and the Association.'

“Sue has demonstrated this locally, nationally, and internationally through her extensive teaching and consulting in the field. She has also been very supportive of the relationship between the Association and the students in the Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering, and has promoted this relationship through her long service on the joint ANBLS-GGE Liaison Committee.

“In the Association's 59 year history, only 11 people have received this recognition, and the Association is very pleased to add Sue Nichols as an honorary member.”

Other GGE faculty members who have received this recognition include Professor Emeritus Angus Hamilton and Professor and Dean Emeritus Dr. Wolfgang Faig.

Click on the thumbnail image to get a better look.

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