Thomas M. Lillesand has been named an Honorary Member of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), the highest award an ASPRS member can receive. Lillesand is a Professor Emeritus of the Department of Forest Ecology and Management, the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. There are only 25 living Honorary Members of the Society at any given time. Lillesand, who has been a member of ASPRS since 1969, will receive the award in 2009.This lifetime award is given in recognition of individuals who have rendered distinguished service to ASPRS and/or who have attained distinction in advancing the science and use of the geospatial information sciences. It is awarded for professional excellence and for at least 20 years of service to ASPRS.
ASPRS is an international professional organization of 6,000 geospatial data professionals. ASPRS is devoted to advancing knowledge and improving understanding of the mapping sciences to promote responsible application of photogrammetry, remote sensing, geographic information systems and supporting technologies.
Lillesand obtained his formal education in Civil Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (BS, 1969; MS, 1970; PhD, 1973). He began his career as a remote sensing educator in 1973 as a faculty member at the State University of New York (SUNY/Syracuse) College of Environmental Science and Forestry. From 1978-1982, he taught at the University of Minnesota and directed that university’s Remote Sensing Laboratory. He joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1982 and was the director of Wisconsin’s Environmental Remote Sensing Center (ERSC). For many years he chaired UW-Madison’s Environmental Monitoring Graduate Program.
Lillesand has taught numerous courses and advised a total of 76 M.S. and Ph.D. graduate students over the course of his career. The scope of his highly interdisciplinary research activity has spanned from statewide and regional land cover classification and change detection to applications of remote sensing in forestry and agriculture, civil engineering, long-term ecosystem science, climate change, and water resources management. Sponsors of his research have included NASA, NOAA, USDA, NSF, USACE, USGS, DOE, and EPA, among others. He has also been active in U.S. remote sensing policy issues.
He has authored or co-authored over 200 professional publications. He is senior author, along with coauthors Ralph W. Kiefer and Jonathan W. Chipman, of the book Remote Sensing and Image Interpretation, published by John Wiley & Sons. First published in 1979, this book is currently in its sixth edition and has been translated into several languages, making it one of the most used remote sensing texts and references in the world.
Over the years, Lillesand has provided frequent service as a consultant and scientific advisor to numerous governmental agencies, as an expert witness, and as a leader in professional organizations. He served on the Science Advisory Panel for the Earth Observing System (EOS) Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center. He was appointed by Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldridge to represent ASPRS on the Land Remote Sensing Satellite Advisory Committee, and has provided both U.S. House and Senate subcommittee testimony on four occasions dealing with the policy and management of the U.S. Landsat satellite program and defining the basic research requirements underpinning U.S. commercial opportunities in geospatial science and technology.
Lillesand has chaired and served on numerous key committees for ASPRS. He has served as an officer within three ASPRS Regions and as the Director of the Remote Sensing Applications Division. He served as the National President of ASPRS from 1998 to 1999. Presently he serves as President of the Board of Trustees of the ASPRS Foundation and is a Fellow in ASPRS, a Certified Photogrammetrist, and a Certified Mapping Scientist in the area of Remote Sensing
He has received several national awards for his professional accomplishments, including: the Alan Gordon Memorial Award for Scientific Achievements in Remote Sensing and Image Interpretation, the Talbert Abrams Award for excellence in Authorship and Recording of Scientific Development in Photogrammetry, the Earle J. Fennell Award for Outstanding Contributions to Education in the Mapping Sciences, and the SAIC/Estes Memorial Teaching Award.
After 33 years as a teacher, researcher and advisor, Lillesand retired in 2006 and continues to consult on a part-time basis, primarily as an expert witness.