After a distinguished 29-year career as a research scientist with the federal government, Dr. Philippe Teillet (Physics) couldn’t be happier to be going back to university.
Teillet began his career with the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS) after receiving a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Toronto in 1977.
“Like many people who obtain their PhD, I enjoyed academic life and initially wanted to become a professor. It didn’t work out that way, but I’m glad to be here now,” says Teillet, who is the recipient of the Canadian Remote Sensing Society’s 2006 Gold Medal Award.
Much of Teillet’s research focuses on the physical underpinnings of remote sensing satellites. His work helps to ensure that the images of the Earth acquired by satellite sensor systems are calibrated to account for such factors as the atmosphere and sun angle and view angle effects.
“Satellite images of the Earth from space can contribute information of significant value to society, provided developments in the physical underpinnings keep pace. My research has been and continues to be concerned with the physics of terrestrial imaging with a special emphasis on advancing vegetation monitoring applications,” says Teillet.
The wide-ranging applications for vegetation monitoring include environmental assessments, forest inventories and crop yield predictions.
“Satellite imaging allows you to see large areas of the Earth in great detail. When I test my physics ideas, I collaborate with people who are interested in vegetation monitoring from space and want to develop new ways to use these satellite images in their operations,” says Teillet.
Teillet’s past collaborations with the Lethbridge Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, brought him to southern Alberta long before he began his professorship at the U of L in August.
“I hope to continue working with the Research Centre to test my ideas in an application setting,” says Teillet. “Particular emphasis will be placed on rangeland and crops such as potatoes and sugar beets because of their economic importance here in southern Alberta.”
Teillet’s work will further enhance the University’s strong research program in imaging. Dr. David Naylor (Physics) is the Canadian co-investigator on the Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE) for the European Space Agency’s Herschel mission, and the University is a partner in the Alberta Terrestrial Imaging Centre (ATIC) for optical remote sensing.
In October, U of L officials opened a new imaging centre at the Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience that will house two functional magnetic resonance imaging units.
“The imaging research conducted at the U of L was critical in my decision to come here. I was impressed by the University’s strategic vision, the strong research base and the collegiality,” says Teillet.
Teillet wants to work with imaging scientists across the academic disciplines. “Is there some way we can use the tools we’ve developed in astronomy or earth science in neuroscience or vice versa? With the experience that some of us have, we hope to work with other universities and the province to see where this cross-fertilization of ideas can bear fruit,” says Teillet.
Establishing relationships with students is equally important to Teillet. He is teaching a 2000-level quantum mechanics course in the spring semester and developing a new course on the physics of satellite imaging for next year.
“I have done some co-supervision of graduate theses as an adjunct professor at the Université de Sherbrooke and University of Ottawa, and I’m now looking forward to having my own graduate students to do the research with me,” says Teillet. “Interacting with young people is exciting.”
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