Interview with Brigitte Leblon faculty member with UNB
I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to have a conversation with Brigitte Leblon who is a faculty member with UNB. She sat with us to tell us why she feels Remote sensing is important and why you, our reader should attend the 40th Symposeum of Remote Sensing being held in Fredericton, New Brunswick in early June.
Early life and career
Murrium Zaheer: What universities did you attend as a student?
Brigitte Leblon: The first university that I attended was the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, which is one of the oldest universities in the world since its inception in 1425 AD. I did my PhD in École Supérieure Agronomique de Montpellier in France, which is dedicated to agricultural sciences.
Murrium Zaheer: Please tell us more about your academic career and teaching.
Brigitte Leblon: From 1992-1994, I was a lecturer and a post-doc at Cartel, a research center in remote sensing at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec. I applied for a job to the Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management at UNB in 1994 and got it. I was the first female faculty member in the faculty since 1908. The class I am currently teaching is Remote Sensing for Forestry and a GIS course for the Master students. I have also taught some radar remote sensing and photo-interpretation courses. All the courses that I teach are online, and all 7 of them are available in both English and French. One is also available in Spanish. The radar course was sponsored from the Canadian Space Agency.
Murrium Zaheer: If you could have gone back in your life and done something differently academically in your youth, what would you have done?
Brigitte Leblon: Nothing. I like my agronomy background and remote sensing is very interesting and it opens a lot of doors. The most important thing is that I was open enough to working anywhere in the world and training broadly enough to be able to work in a lot of domains. Training broadly in your subject is a huge advantage.
Remote Sensing involvement
Murrium Zaheer: What made you want to originally get involved with the Canadian Remote Sensing Society?
Brigitte Leblon: I wanted to get involved with the CRSS earlier but it wasn’t possible. Once it was possible, I became a Board Director. Then, the society secretary for two years, after which I was Vice President and now President. I was perfectly bilingual which gave me an advantage.
Murrium Zaheer: How many years have you been with them and are there any significant changes or research that you have seen the CRSS produce while in existence.
Brigitte Leblon: The CRSS was previously under the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute. We became independent of them in 2014, after having been a society under them for several years. Another major change is that we replaced the Canadian Institute of Geomatics as ordinary members to the International Society of Programmetry and Remote Sensing. We hired an executive assistant that we share with CIG so our relationship with CIG is stronger.
Murrium Zaheer: What have you accomplished since being the president of CRSS? What are your plans with CRSS moving forward?
Brigitte Leblon: First, I created a student program that has two flagged events at our annual conference. The first is a special session where industry present to the graduate students to let them know what job skills they are looking for. Afterwards there is a networking lunch for the students to be able to mingle with the employers. I created a list server where everyone (even non CRSS_SCT members) can register as a means to exchange information, job offerings, etc. I created the “Outstanding Service Award” as well as suggesting to PCI Geomatics to create the “Young Scholar Award” similar to the ESRI Young Scholar award. The International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society held a conference in 2014 in Quebec City. As part of this conference, they held a summer school which our students very much enjoyed. The students wanted to continue this tradition so we hold a summer school every year. I organized the summer school since then. I also created the Atlantic chapter of the society which include PEI, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador. I am trying to encourage the creation of a student chapter, for students by students. I also started a webinar series, only for the Atlantic so far but I am hoping that it will be done across Canada next year to promote remote sensing.
40th Canadian Symposium on Remote Sensing
Murrium Zaheer: What can visitors expect from this event? What is the value proposition of the conference? Why should someone attend?
Brigitte Leblon: The 40th Canadian Symposium on Remote Sensing will be the first time that we will have a lecture open to the public. The exhibitors will also be invited to do a short commercial pitch of their products. We will also have a Mapathon for the first time. The symposium has also an excellent technical program together with an exhibition fair.
Murrium Zaheer: What are you hoping the event will accomplish?
Brigitte Leblon: It’s a common joined conference between Geomatics Atlantic (CIG) and CRSS. For students, there will be good opportunities for connecting with a potential employer as lots of people from the industry will attend. At the public lecture, we will show to officials and the public of NB how remote sensing and Geomatics can help in flood monitoring. I hope this will increase the awareness of the powerfulness of remote sensing and Geomatics.