Mission Team

Principal Investigators

Ralph Dubayah

(Principal Investigator)

Professor of Geographical Sciences at the University of Maryland.

Dr. Dubayah is the Principal Investigator for the GEDI mission. He has taught at the University of Maryland, College Park since 1990, after earning his dissertation from the University of California. His research interests are in the areas of remote sensing, carbon modeling, biodiversity, and surface energy and water balance studies. A common goal of his research is to develop and apply emerging technologies of spatial data acquisition and analysis to address environmental issues at policy-relevant scales. He has been a principal investigator for over 25 NASA projects, including two Interdisciplinary Science Investigations (IDS).  


J. Bryan Blair

(Deputy Principal Investigator and Instrument Scientist)

Lidar  Instrument Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Blair has more than 25 years of experience developing advanced laser altimeters, lidar measurement applications and algorithms, including LVIS and SLICER, demonstrating the waveform lidar technique for measuring vegetation structure. He leads the overall GEDI lidar sensor design and continues to work to ensure the science requirements will be met by the GEDI lidar design and implementation.


Scott Goetz

(Deputy Principal Investigator)

Professor at Northern Arizona University

Dr. Goetz is NAU Professor in informatics and computing, studying satellite remote sensing applications in environmental science. He has a lead role in exploring the potential of GEDI for ecosystem research, particularly canopy structure as it relates to habitat and biodiversity.



George Hurtt


Professor at University of Maryland

Dr. Hurtt is interested in the theory and application of community and ecosystem ecology. His research is focused on the use of data and models to reduce uncertainties in terrestrial carbon stocks and fluxes. He leads the investigation of GEDI’s demonstrative product on using GEDI derived structure in the Ecosystem Demography (ED) model to constrain biomass modeling.


Matt Hansen


Professor at University of Maryland

Dr. Hansen is a remote sensing scientist with a research specialization in large area land cover and land use change mapping. Within the GEDI science team he leads the demonstrative product of integration of the Landsat forest cover change product with GEDI’s biomass product, quantifying biomass loss over time.


Sean Healey


Research Ecologist at the US forest service

Dr. Healey is in charge of the algorithms of GEDI’s gridded biomass product (Level 4B product), exploiting his experience in the use of different types of remote sensing data for monitoring forest carbon with remote sensing data.


Michelle Hofton


Research professor at University of Maryland

Dr. Hofton has worked with full-waveform airborne lidar data for the last two decades, leading deployments of NASA’s Land Vegetation and Ice Sensor (LVIS), GEDIs airborne predecessor. She therefore has extensive experience in processing waveforms and plays a key role in turning GEDI’s return signal into lidar waveforms with indicated ground and vegetation height.


Lola Fatoyinbo


Research Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Dr. Fatoyinbo lead NASA’s AfriSAR campaign in Gabon in 2016: an effort to collect unprecedented calibration/validation information for future spaceborne missions to estimate biomass, such as GEDI and NISAr, opening a gate-way to radar/lidar fusion.


Jim Kellner


Assistant Professor at Brown University

Dr. Kellner is a biologist and remote sensing scientist at Brown University with experience in the application of lidar to quantifying forest structure and changes. He is leading the development of algorithms for GEDI’s footprint aboveground biomass data product (Level 4A). Dr. Kellner is also contributing to calibration and validation activities.


Scott Luthcke


Geophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

He is the lead of the Science Operations Center, as well as the Level 1B and 3 products.  He is responsible for all geodetic aspects of the mission, including the precise geolocation of the altimeter surface returns, as well as mission sampling.


Research Scientists

John Armston

Associate Research Professor at University of Maryland

Dr. Armston is interested in the quantitative measurement and mapping of forest and woodland structure using spaceborne remote sensing in combination with a wide range of in situ and airborne measurement technologies. He’s co-leading development of vertical canopy profile and above-ground biomass data product algorithms, and the GEDI calibration and validation plan.


Laura Duncanson

Assistant Professor at University of Maryland

Dr. Duncanson is a remote sensing scientist focused primarily on modeling and mapping biomass, biomass change, and individual tree structure. On the GEDI team she plays a key role in the development of the footprint Level 4A biomass algorithms, and the management of the GEDI cal/val database of global field and airborne lidar datasets.  


Paul Patterson

Statistician at US Forest Service

Dr. Patterson assists Dr. Healey with the Level 4B biomass product algorithms, analyzing the statistical procedures going into the conversion of the footprint level biomass product (4A) to a gridded product (4B).


Steven Hancock

Lecturer at University of Edinburgh

Dr. Hancock uses his extensive knowledge of radiative transfer modelling and programming expertise to model GEDI waveforms from a variety of airborne and terrestrial lidar datasets in order to calibrate and validate GEDI data algorithms.


Patrick Jantz

Assistant Research Professor at Northern Arizona University

Dr. Jantz studies the vulnerability of forest ecosystems to climate and land use change using remote sensing data. GEDI lidar data plays a key role in his research as it will provide much needed structural information for characterizing habitat and biodiversity.


Seung-Kuk Lee

Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Dr. Lee is experienced in retrieval of 3D forest structure parameters by means of polarimetric SAR interferometry. Within the GEDI team he studies the fusion of information from SAR and lidar data to improve forest height and biomass estimates by fusing data from future space missions.


Patrick Burns

Research Specialist at Northern Arizona University

Previously Burns worked for an airborne remote sensing company, specializing in lidar and hyperspectral data acquisition, processing, and analysis. His contribution to the GEDI project focuses on using (simulated) GEDI waveforms to model faunal and floristic biodiversity.


Hao Tang

Assistant Research Professor at University of Maryland

Dr. Tang has been with the GEDI team from the beginning and, being an expert in the retrieval of vertical foliage profiles from lidar data, is in charge of the development of GEDI’s Level 2B data product.


Wenlu Qi

Post Doctoral Associate at University of Maryland

Qi’s research focuses on the use of lidar, in fusion with radar data, to estimate biomass and other important ecosystem structural variables. Together with Fatoyinbo and Lee, she investigates fusion between Tandem-X radar data and GEDI data to estimate biomass.


David Minor

Research Specialist at University of Maryland

David Minor has a background in forest ecology. He studied community and ecosystem dynamics using both traditional and lidar approaches to measure forest structure. On the GEDI team, he works with Dr. Armston and Dr. Duncanson to manage the calibration and validation database of global field and airborne lidar datasets.


Graduate Students

Suzanne Marselis

PhD Candidate at the University of Maryland

Ms. Marselis joined the GEDI SDT team in August 2015, she has been working as a research assistant to help with GEDI biomass cal/val activities but is currently mainly focused on her dissertation in which she studies the use of GEDI data to identify and characterize ecotones.


Jamis Bruening

PhD Candidate at the University of Maryland

Jamis started his PhD in Geographical Sciences at UMD in the fall of 2018 and has a background in physics and environmental science. He is working as a research assistant on GEDI partaking in cal/val and geolocation activities, and he plans to use GEDI data products in his dissertation work investigating forest ecosystem structure and carbon cycling.


Affiliated Scientists

Chengquan Huang

Research Professor at University of Maryland

Chengquan Huang has devoted over a decade to studies of land cover and vegetation dynamics using remotely sensed data. He investigates the use of GEDI’s biomass product in combination with the Landsat forest cover change product to estimate forest regrowth rates after disturbance.


Crystal B. Schaaf

Professor at University of Massachusetts Boston

Dr. Schaaf has extensive first-hand science experience with different NASA missions as a team member on the MODIS and VIIRS science teams. She is also active in the field of Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS), using point clouds to characterize biomass and vegetation structure for carbon stock monitoring. TLS point clouds can be used to calibrate and validate the GEDI biomass product.


Engineering Team

Jim Pontius

(Project Manager)

Instrument Project Manager at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Pontius has more than 30 years experience developing and delivering aerospace flight hardware, with his most recent instrument delivery being the Astro-H Soft X-ray Spectrometer to JAXA. He is GEDI’s project manager and responsible for every aspect of developing, fabricating, assembling, testing and delivering the GEDI instrument to the International Space Station.


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