Outstanding Thesis Award Recipient, Joshua Pritsolas

“What we’re doing is taking spatial and temporal information and using it to make more informed decisions.”

Joshua Pritsolas

The Graduate School announced Joshua Pritsolas as recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Thesis Award for his contributions to the field of Geography. Filling a huge gap in the literature, his research involves modeling and mapping agricultural crop yield using multitemporal and multispectral aerial imagery. Through data collected from aerial imagery, he analyzed the spectral signatures of corn and soybean and in turn, determined crop yield and important crop growth stages to identify potential yield limiting factors.

“You can look at a plant through multispectral data and it will tell you a lot of the information you need to know about the health of a crop,” said Pritsolas, in a broad explanation of his research. “I obtained remote sensing imagery from an aircraft and from that, I was able to tell what was going with the plant’s pigments and cell structure to ultimately model crop yield.”

For his project, Pritsolas worked at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Laboratory for Applied Spatial Analysis (LASA) under the direction of his thesis advisor, Dr. Randall Pearson, who is also a faculty member of the Geography Department. LASA is a research organization that is directed by Pearson and is involved with a diverse range of projects associated with Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies and spatial analysis.

Now working full-time at LASA, Pritsolas discussed how the information from this type of technology is widely transferrable to topics within other disciplines.

“It’s not just about mapping, it’s also about the analyses that can be done over time and across space. This technology can be used in almost any industry to better understand how certain phenomena can change,” said Pritsolas.

At present, LASA is working on a project with Illinois Department of Natural Resources to digitize locations of underground coal mines. Other projects that LASA is currently involved in include optimizing book delivery routes for the Illinois State Library System, analyzing complex socio-economic topics like early childhood development issues in East St. Louis, and continuing research in agriculture with Iowa Soybean Association and other partners.

Pritsolas graduated from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville last May with a Master of Science in Geography, and his work is of particular interest as it is at the intersection of geography, physical and social sciences, and geospatial techniques. His thesis is titled “Principal Component Analysis and Spatial Regression Techniques to Model and Map Corn and Soybean Yield Variability with Radiometrically Calibrated Multitemporal and Multispectral Digital Aerial Imagery.”

Photo credit: 2016 Dean’s Report




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