UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Karen Schuckman, associate teaching professor of geography and lead faculty for the certificate program in Remote Sensing and Earth Observation, was appointed as the executive director of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), starting Aug. 1, 2021.
“We are very excited to have Karen assume the executive director position at ASPRS,” said Jason Stoker, ASPRS president. “Karen’s long tenure with the society, and leadership at many levels over the years, including being a past president, will be extremely valuable as we chart the course for the future of ASPRS. Karen’s leadership will help the society and the board of directors not only continue our tradition of being at the forefront of geospatial and remote sensing technologies, but help the society move forward to tackle many of the issues of both today and tomorrow.”
Schuckman has been engaged in the society since she joined as a student in 1990. She served as a regional officer, national officer, board member and as president in 2007. She has won numerous awards from ASPRS including the 2018 Outstanding Service Award.
“It’s fair to say that my ASPRS involvement over three decades was probably the biggest single influence on my career path, through government, private industry and now academe,” Schuckman said. “ASPRS has given me so much over the course of my career that it seems fitting to give back at this point. I really love working with the very dedicated cadre of volunteers who comprise the society leadership.”
Schuckman said she has several goals for the society. First, she wants to increase student and international engagement in conferences and events by continuing to use virtual platforms. Second, she wants to expand participation in the ASPRS certification throughout the geospatial profession.
“Third, I plan to increase the role of ASPRS in educating the geospatial community in fundamental principles of photogrammetry and remote sensing, as well as standards that are used to assess and communicate product accuracy,” Schuckman said. “Technology advancements, including drone mapping, machine and deep learning, and cloud-computing put many expert-level analytical functions in the hands of far more potential users with less formal training. There is a real need for vendor-neutral guidance in the appropriate use of these new technologies and meaningful interpretation of the results.”
Schuckman says that serving as the executive director complements her role as the lead faculty for the certificate program in Remote Sensing and Earth Observation.
“Regardless of the hat I am wearing, the goal is to educate the current and future workforce and enable the use of remote sensing technology for the betterment of society and our planet,” Schuckman said. “In the certificate program, I have the opportunity to develop the formal and in-depth curriculum intended to lead a student to real mastery of fundamental concepts. At ASPRS, I want to provide meaningful continuing education at a more advanced level addressing specialized topics of interest to working professionals, government agency leaders, and academic researchers.”
“Our Remote Sensing and Earth Observation certificate program students truly benefit from Karen’s engagement with the profession,” said Fritz Kessler, teaching professor of geography and interim director of online geospatial education. “Her advocacy of professional certification and lifelong learning helps our graduates be successful.”
Schuckman said she also encourages her students to consider the value of participating in a professional association, because she believes that certification and continuing education are key to their ultimate success in the profession.
“I also believe that there are those who put their toe into the remote sensing water through contact with ASPRS who will seek the type of in-depth learning afforded by institutions of higher learning. So it’s really all about reaching as many people as possible in whatever form or format suits them,” Schuckman said.
Schuckman said she did not initially aspire to the executive director role, but when the call came, she realized that she “owed it to the profession.”
“When I say ‘owed it to the profession,’ I mean to those who inspired and mentored me in the early days of my career, many of whom have now passed on,” Schuckman said. “I also mean to those who will come after me, my own students and the next generation who will be the future leaders. Leadership is not about having all the right answers or doing the job alone; it’s about recognizing the talents of others who are willing to show up day after day, paid or volunteer, because they care. Leadership is about giving others a structure to work within and providing opportunities for them to take initiative to get things done. Mainly it’s about being honest about what you know and what you don’t know, what you can do and what you can’t do. If you are honest and you show up, others will trust you and be willing to do the same.”
Established in 1934, ASPRS is a scientific association serving over 2,000 professional members around the world, providing its members professional development through education and networking experiences, professional certification, publications, scholarships and other services. ASPRS advances the knowledge and improves understanding of mapping sciences to promote the responsible applications of photogrammetry, remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS) and supporting technologies.