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Departments & Programs


Nancy Thomas

Title:Spatial Analysis Center Manager
Primary Affiliation:Department of Environmental Earth System Science
Office Location:Y2E2 366A
Research Group:Spatial Analysis Center


My research is primarily in satellite and airborne remote sensing of land surfaces. My recent focus has been on mapping forest disturbance in the conterminous United States using dense time series satellite data. In addition, I have developed techniques for validating time series disturbance maps using satellite data along with Google Earth imagery and U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) field plot data. Working with Dr. Lambin and other researchers at SAC, we are studing land use transitions, including shifts from deforestation to reforestation, that are taking place in some countries and regions around the world. Current research includes using object-based analysis to better distinguish plantations from native forests in regional mapping assessements.


I currently co-teach "Fundamentals of Geographic Information Science", which is a introduction to geographic information science and the systems used to develop and answer spatial questions. This course is for both graduate and undergraduate students and builds an understanding of the theoretical foundation of working with spatial information and a hands-on familiarity with the methods and technology used to solve spatial inquiry.


  • M.A. Geography, University of Maryland, 2006                                     
  • B.A. Geography, San Francisco State University, 1996  

Professional Experience

  • 2011 - Present| Spatial Analysis Center Manager, Stanford University
  • 2006 - 2011| Project Manager and Research Analyst, Department of Geography, University of Maryland
  • 2004 - 2006| Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Geography, University of Maryland
  • 2000 - 2003| Remote Sensing Coordinator, Space Imaging Solutions 
  • 1996 - 2000| Remote Sensing and GIS Analyst, Pacific Meridian Resources

Professional Activities

  • 2008 - Present| Member of the American Geophysical Union
  • 1996 - Present| Member of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing

Courses Taught

  • 2011 (Fall): EARTHSYS 144, EESS 164 Fundamentals of Geographic Information Science


  • 2011| Thomas, N.E., Huang, C., Goward, S.N., Powell, S., Rishmawi, K., Schleeweis, K., and Hinds, A. (2011). Validation of North American forest dynamics derived from Landsat time series stacks. Remote Sensing of Environment, 115, 19-32.
  • 2011| Huang, C., Thomas, N., Goward, S.N., Masek, J., Zhu, Z., Townshend, J.R.G., and Vogelmann, J.E. (Accepted).  Automated Masking of Cloud and Cloud Shadow for Forest Change Analysis. International Journal of Remote Sensing.
  • 2010| Huang, C., Goward, S.N., Masek, J.G., Thomas, N., Zhu, Z., and Vogelmann, J.E. (2010). An Automated Approach for Reconstructing Recent Forest Disturbance History using Dense Landsat Time Series Stacks. Remote Sensing of Environment, 114, 183-198.
  • 2009| Huang, C., Goward, S.N., Masek, J.G., Gao, F., Vermote, E.F., Thomas, N., Schleeweis, K., Kennedy, R.E., Zhu, Z., Eidenshink, J.C. & Townshend, J.R.G. (2009). Development of Time Series Stacks of Landsat Images for Reconstructing Forest Disturbance History. International Journal of Digital Earth, 2, 195-218.
  • 2009| Huang, C., Goward, S.N., Schleeweis, K., Thomas, N., Masek, J.G., & Zhu, Z. (2009). Dynamics of National Forests Assessed Using the Landsat Record: Case Studies in Eastern U.S. Remote Sensing of Environment, 113, 1430-1442.

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