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Heather Reese sitting on the ground with a drone.
Photo: Malin Arnesson

Heather Reese receives the Faculty of Science’s 2021 Pedagogical Award


AI, big data with satellite images and drones. Her research field includes new, exciting methods that are now available to her students. Heather Reese is a senior lecturer at the Department of Earth Sciences and this year’s recipient of the Pedagogical Award.

Congratulations on the Pedagogical Award.
“Thank you. I was really great to hear that I’d received the award.”

You have received the award in part for your use of programming, AI and big data in your teaching. How do you incorporate them?
“I have been using AI methods like machine learning for a long time in my research field of remote sensing. Remote sensing has become increasingly popular, and I have introduced algorithmic methods needed for data analysis. Many students know about remote sensing and the use of satellite images, perhaps through Google Earth and the popularity of drones. The students are very interested in drones; they are fun.”

Heather Reese
Photo: Malin Arnesson

How has it been distance teach?
“I had already developed a distance course and knew that the teaching would work even when given in this way, so I was somewhat prepared. The students did their calculations using open source software that they use on their own computers, which worked pretty well.”

When is teaching most fun?
“When I see that the students become just as enthusiastic about the subject as I am and want to apply the techniques in the field that they are interested in. I am also happy when students can overcome the threshold and realize that programming isn’t so complicated.”

What will be happening during the autumn?
“I’m currently developing a doctoral course in AI for earth and environmental sciences. There is a growing interest in the subject, and other departments have also asked me to hold a workshop or course on remote sensing. This is a technology that can be used in many different areas. When we move to the new Natrium building, I hope to set up a VR room to use 3D models to study terrain, for example, that is inaccessible for physically moving around in or that we want to ‘fly around in’. This would be as a complement to excursions, since you always need to link remote sensing data to what you can see in reality.”

Award explanation

Heather Reese began teaching at the Department of Earth Sciences in 2018 and quickly introduced remote sensing with drones as an obvious part of undergraduate courses and projects. She has also integrated her expertise in programming, AI and big data in her teaching, which provides the students with highly in demand skills when they enter the workforce. Heather is being recognised with this award for using her educational expertise and creativity to develop new courses, both on campus and online, where she has succeeded in communicating the state of the art in a way that everyone can understand. Her courses are greatly appreciated by both students and teaching colleagues, who in turn benefit of the students’ knowledge of the subject.

The Faculty of Science’s Pedagogical Award

The Pedagogical Award recognises excellence in teaching. The award is in the form of a grant to the department of SEK 250,000 for appreciated and successful teaching. It can be awarded to one person or be shared among multiple recipients. The award ceremony will take place on 2 December.