The Team

Academic staff

Professor Arko Lucieer


Founder, Team Leader, and UAV Controller
Website / UTAS

I am the founder and team leader of the TerraLuma research group. I am an Associate Professor in Remote Sensing. My expertise is in environmental remote sensing focusing on the analysis of satellite and airborne imagery, in particular image texture measures, classification, object-based image analysis, change detection, and terrain analysis techniques. Since 2009, my research focus has shifted to the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) for environmental remote sensing and aerial surveying applications. I lead the TerraLuma research group and I am involved in a wide range of UAS remote sensing projects.

 Dr Darren Turner


Chief Controller, Maintenance Controller, UAV engineer, and Postdoctoral Fellow
Website /

With 25 years of aero-modelling experience, Model Aeronautical Association of Australia (MAAA) instructor ratings for both fixed and rotary wings, a Private Pilots License (PPL) and a Remote Pilots License (RePL) my primary roll on the Terraluma team is to fly and maintain our UAS. In 2015 I graduated  with a PhD (2010 – 2015) looking at the development of a UAS for ultra high resolution remote sensing. In particular, I have developed algorithms to process the vast amount of imagery collected by our UAS. For example techniques to automatically georectify and mosaic imagery without the need for ground control points. I am also researching the applicability of using UAS to monitor landslide dynamics by using modern Structure from Motion (SfM) image processing algorithms to recreate the landslide in 3D from a series of highly overlapping photographs.

 Dr Zbyněk Malenovský


Research Fellow (2012 – 2015), Adjunct Researcher (2015 – 2017), ARC Future Fellow (2017 – present)

The centre point of my research is the interaction of vegetation with light (optical wavelengths). Starting from leaf up to vegetation canopy, I am interested in assessing quantitative bio-chemical/physical parameters (e.g. photosynthetically active pigments) and eco-physiological processes (photosynthesis) of plants using the ground, airborne, and space borne imaging spectroscopy coupled with the light radiative transfer modelling. Working at NASA GSFC (Greenbelt), I collaborate with TerraLuma on investigating physiological responses of Antarctic moss ecosystems to rapid environmental changes and developing plant chlorophyll fluorescence remote sensing methods for optical sensors on-board of Unmanned Aircraft Systems. For more information about my science and publications please visit

Dr Steve Harwin


Drone Pilot and Research Fellow
Website /

After graduating from a B.Surv (Comp. Sci.) in 1997, I completed an MSc (Research) in change detection and visualisation in 1999. I recently completed a PhD in Spatial Science focusing on 3D mapping with drones and I am currently researching drone mapping applications for mapping change focusing on fine scale landform change monitoring with drones, photogrammetry, LiDAR and remote sensing. I am a licensed drone pilot (multi-rotor and fixed wing) and I have over ten years’ experience as a GIS, remote sensing and web mapping specialist and spatial software engineer. I have a strong interest in commercialisation, with a Graduate Certificate in Research Commercialisation completed in 2013 and successful stint at Stanford Ignite (formally the Stanford GSB Summer Institute of Entrepreneurship) in 2011. I currently split my time between commercial drone mapping, online course development and research (tasks ranging from developing and producing video training content, systems integration programming and web mapping development (

Associate Professor Guy Williams

guy_williamsARC Future Fellow at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), UAV Controller

I am a polar oceanographer specialising in autonomous observations of Antarctica ocean/sea ice interactions, working in the Oceans and Cryosphere program at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies and in the Sea Ice Processes and Change project at the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre. It has taken 20 years to come full circle from the completion of an Aeronautical Engineering degree at the University of Sydney in 1995 to the uptake of Unmanned Aerial Systems in ship-based observations of floe-size distribution and surface topography of Antarctic sea ice. My current research goal is to combine UAS with autonomous underwater vehicles for the complete mapping of both sea ice draft and surface structure. After successful polar UAS operations in the Antarctic (April 2015), the Arctic (October 2015) and the Sea of Okhotsk (March 2016), I am now working towards further ship-based UAS operations in the Ross Sea, Antarctica in 2017 with the US Antarctic Program. I am a certified UAV controller for both multi-rotor and fixed-wing UAS with the TerraLuma group.

PhD Students

Gustavo Togeiro de Alckmin


PhD Candidate (2016 – present)

I majored in Agriculture at the College of Agriculture “Luiz de Queiroz” of the University of São Paulo and I hold a Msc. on Agricultural Systems for Local Development from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and Montpellier SupAgro. During my MSc, I was granted the opportunity to do my fieldwork, as a visiting scholar, at the Kansas State University researching the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and modified digital cameras for biomass estimation on grasslands. My current research topic is focused on the use of UAS and ultra-high spatial resolution imagery for pasture management. I am keen to explore a range of techniques in order to address day-to-day management decisions on forage-based livestock systems.  Coming from a long family line of agricultural producers, I am driven to make a strong impact and establish valuable collaborations with the agricultural sector. I am proud to be a member of TerraLuma and I will strive, in the years to come, to deliver high-level scientific outputs and actionable tools for dairy producers.

Leonard Hambrecht

PhD Candidate (2019 – present)

The aim of my PhD is to develop methods to asses essential biodiversity variables (EBVs) such as habitat structure in forest habitats using UAS Laser Scanning (ULS). EBVs aim to monitor critical aspects of global biodiversity. To achieve this, I will evaluate different 3D structural parameters of forest canopies at a range of spatial scales, from single trees to landscape elements leveraging the ultrahigh-resolution point clouds that can be collected with ULS. I completed my B.Sc. with Honours in Wildlife Management at the Van Hall University of Applied Science in the Netherlands in 2016 and continued my Master’s degree in Wildlife Conservation and UAV Technology at the Liverpool John Moores University. My thesis focused on an experimental comparison between a thermal and RGB camera mounted on a UAS for detecting suspected poachers in open forest habitat in Tanzania.

Nicolò Camarretta

PhD Candidate (2016 – present)

In 2008 I started a bachelor degree in Forestry and Environmental Studies at the University of Florence (Italy), which I finished in 2011. During my bachelor studies, I gained fieldwork experience through a summer internship at the USDA South-West Fire Laboratory of Riverside (California). In 2011 I started a master’s degree in Science and Technologies of Forestry Systems, at the same university. In 2013 I conducted an internship at NMBU, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Norway), in Erik Naesset’s laboratory. In 2014 I graduated from my Master’s degree and afterwards I worked for a year as a research fellow in the Forest Geomatics Laboratory at the Forestry Research Centre of CREA in Arezzo (Italy). I am currently doing a PhD at the University of Tasmania (Australia), on restoration ecology effectiveness monitoring and forest structure quantification in the context of biodiversity conservation, working in collaboration with Greening Australia. I joined the TerraLuma research group in 2017, and I am now looking at UAV-based LiDAR and hyperspectral data application to establish and test a methodology to measure and assess forest structural complexity. Results from this project will improve knowledge on fauna land-use and connectivity in highly modified production landscapes. It will also provide a baseline for monitoring restoration effectiveness and information on the amount of structural complexity required in restoration plantings.

Technical Staff

Richard Ballard

richard-terralumaDesign Engineer, Technical support

I graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours (Mechatronics) in mid-2016. Within the TerraLuma team, my role is to provide engineering skills that allow integration of sensors for remote sensing application on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). My role involves design of electronic circuits, mechanical structures, and software and signal amalgamation. Since joining Terraluma in February 2015, I have worked on integration of LiDAR, hyperspectral, and spectroradiometer sensors, including GNSS and IMU devices and machine vision cameras. I have improved previous designs, by making the sensor mounting and integration more robust and modular. Specific tasks have included custom printed circuit boards, complex design and machining of parts to provide strength while taking weight and space requirements into consideration, and writing low-level hardware interfacing code.

Former members

Dr Juliane Bendig


Research Associate since April 2018 (Postdoctoral Fellow 2016 – 2018)

I am a qualified geographer specialising in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) remote sensing. My areas of interest are solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence, agriculture, hyperspectral sensors and sensor calibration. During my doctor of science (2011-2015, University of Cologne, Germany) I started operating small multirotor UAS for precision agriculture applications. I worked with optical RGB, multispectral, hyperspectral, and thermal sensors. My doctor thesis was about using optical imagery and structure from motion techniques to measure plant height and estimate biomass from crop surface models (CSMs). Currently, I explore Solar-Induced chlorophyll Fluorescence (SIF) from a UAS-mounted spectroradiometer to understand the influence of geolocation, scale, zenith angle, and crop structure on the fluorescence signal. Recently, I am involved in building a UAS sensor calibration lab.

Iain Clarke

Turkey Gin ZuluPhD Candidate (2015 – present)

I was employed in IT in Australia and New Zealand (1980-1996), before running away to sea based in the Mediterranean (1996-2008). While living in Turkey I took up paragliding. One day a mountain jumped out in front of me and I found myself back in Hobart. After a couple of years of things not healing I enrolled at UTAS in 2010, studying a Bachelor of Computing. My elective subjects in the Spatial Sciences came to take over, and after graduating completed an Honours degree working in remote sensing with a UAV-borne thermal infrared sensor. I commenced my PhD in 2015, working with a hyperspectral line scanner. My project has a number of goals: solving problems with georeferencing imagery from a multi-rotor UAV-borne line scanner, and using imagery from the scanner to explore aspects of Pinot Noir grape quality. I have returned to flying paragliders.

Bechu KV Yadav

bechuPhD Candidate (2015 – 2019)

After having graduated with M. Sc. Forestry from the Institute of Forestry, Pokhara, and M. A. Sociology from Trichandra Multiple Campus, Kathmadu, Tribhuvan University, Nepal, I studied M. Tech. in Remote Sensing and GIS (2012-2014) at the Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific (affiliated to United Nations) in collaboration with Andhra University, India. The research aim of my M. Tech. thesis was to assess aboveground carbon stock using airborne LiDAR and very high resolution satellite imagery. I have 18 years of working experience in the fields of forestry at the Department of Forests, Government of Nepal. My ongoing PhD research aims to develop an approach to map mature wet sclerophyll and mixed eucalypt forest structure and species composition exploiting multi-source remote sensing data (airborne LiDAR point clouds and airborne hyperspectral imagery for the core study site; and spaceborne LiDAR and medium resolution satellite imagery to cover large geographical areas). This study should result in an objective and repeatable approach to forest biodiversity mapping and monitoring at local to regional scales, and contribute to sustainable management of forest biodiversity.

Irfan Akhtar Iqbal

PhD Candidate (2015 – 2019)

After completing my Masters degree in Forestry from Pakistan Forest Institute, Peshawar, I did my postgraduation in Geo-information Science and Earth Observation (the Erasmus Mundus GEM Course 2008-2010). Since 2005, I am involved in the application of GIS and Remote Sensing in many projects, with a primary focus on the quantitative and qualitative assessment of forests. My PhD research aims to explore contemporary digital Aerial Photography (AP) as an alternative to Airborne Laser Scanning (ALS) to reduce the cost, time, labour and workplace risks associated with commercial forest inventory operations. Detailed and in-depth comparative analysis of the ALS and AP point clouds in this research will provide insights about their relationship with the field data. An overview of this research is given in the poster, which also won the Best Poster Award at the 9th Annual Graduate Research Conference (3-4 Sept., 2015) in Hobart, Australia.

Dr Faheem Iqbal

PhD Candidate (2014 – 2019)
Website /

I completed my  in agricultural engineering in 2006 focusing on precision agriculture and completed MS degree in Remote Sensing and GIS in 2008. My research interest is Utilising Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) for Precision Agriculture. In 2014 I started PhD working within TerraLuma research group. The main focus of my PhD is the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) based imagery to estimate poppy opium yield. This includes the development of methodology to study the variability of environmental factors affecting opium yield and devising mechanism for achieving maximum possible yield. Prior to joining UTAS I have  been involved in a number of GIS and remote sensing based projects for natural resource management in the capacity of Scientific Officer at Global Change Impact Studies Center Pakistan and as a Lecturer at National University of Science and Technology, Pakistan. PhD project.

Dr Deepak Gautam


PhD Candidate (2014 – 2018)
Website /

In 2009, I completed B.Eng degree with a project on design, fabrication and flight test of a fixed wing Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). In 2013, I graduated with a MS degree focusing on control and path planning of a UAS. After working for over a year on wing parts manufacturing of Boeing 787 Dreamliner, I joined Terraluma research group in 2014 to work on airLIFT project whose goal is remote sensing of active chlorophyll fluorescence in plant canopy using a UAS-borne spectrometer. Working on geometry aspect of the project, my research focus is on precise geolocation determination of the point measuring spectrometer’s ground footprint. This includes identification of suitable GNSS/IMU, machine vision and data fusion technique for robust position and orientation estimation of the spectrometer’s reference point, multi-sensor (GNSS, IMU, Machine vision camera, Spectrometer) integration, synchronisation, and processing algorithm to georeference the spectral data.

Deepak now works at the University of Adelaide.

Dr Bethany Melville

bethany_melvillePhD Candidate (2012 – 2017)

In 2012 I completed my Honours Bachelor of Science in Geography at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. My Honours’ research aimed to quantify historical change in treed and untried urban greenspaces using aerial photography captured over a forty year period. In addition to my HBSc, I completed a certificate in Mapping Sciences, focusing on remote sensing, GIS, and cartographic design. In mid-2012 I started my PhD at the University of Tasmania, focusing on object-based image analysis techniques for vegetation mapping. My PhD thesis aims to produce a remotely sensed methodology for identifying and mapping endangered grassland communities found in the Tasmanian Midlands. The approach uses multiple spatial scales of analysis, ranging from coarse resolution satellite data to ultra-high resolution UAV data. I am most interested in the use of remote sensing and UAVs for environmental applications. Areas of interest include community distribution modelling, vegetation mapping, community monitoring and assessment, habitat fragmentation, and identification of priority sites for future conservation.

Bethany now works at the Hochschule Rhein-Waal, Germany.

Dr Luke Wallace

lukePhD Candidate (2010 – 2014)

I completed my Bachelors degree in Spatial Science with Honours in 2007 focusing on GIS, geodesy and geodetic GPS analyses. From 2007 I been involved in a number of GIS and remote sensing based projects in the role of research assistant/associate at the University of Tasmania. In this time I have also been involved in the development of a GIS based Statewide Bushfire Risk Assessment Model with the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife.  My cu main areas of interest were sensor integration and optimal combination for position and attitude determination and LiDAR remote sensing.  The main focus of my PhD was the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) LiDAR for the assessment of forest inventory. This included the development of a sensor package and processing algorithms to generate accurate point clouds and using this data to extract individual tree metrics and analyse change.

 Dr Josh Kelcey

PicPhD Candidate (2010 – 2014)

I am a graduate from the University of Tasmania with a Bachelor of Science with Honours. My primary research interests include remote sensing, plant ecology and bio-geography. In 2010 I commenced a Ph.D working within the TerraLuma research group, undertaking tasks within both the development and application of UAV based remote sensing platforms. Previously, I have successfully researched and applied suitable image-based multispectral sensor corrections and radiometric calibration techniques. My research was focused upon the development of multiscale analysis techniques within Tasmanian salt marsh communities. This multiscale development was focused particularly upon the identification of suitable scales for vegetation classification separation and linking these scales to biophysical characteristics.

Tony Veness

tonyPhD student and Senior Technical Officer (2010 – 2013)

I was involved in a PhD (2012-2013) researching the use of small VTOL UAVs as robust platforms for hyperspectral remote sensing. I have provided technical support to a wide variety of science programs over the last twenty years. Supporting scientific programs such as inland-Australia airborne geophysics, Antarctic continental shelf underwater photography and South Pacific seabed mapping has required me to spend many days either at sea or in the air.


Bjarke Madsen

PhD student, Aarhus University, Denmark (Dec 2017 – Mar 2018)

I graduated as a MSc in Biology in 2016, specializing in Ecology with the use of an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).  For my MSc project I joined a field campaign in Greenland with the UAS4Ecology group at Aarhus University, surveying arctic vegetation. More specifically, I made use of UAS-based multispectral images to map the presence of arctic shrubs and link it to field- and satellite-based observations. After a year positioned as a research assistant, including UAS related work and another trip to Greenland, I began my PhD in May 2017. My ongoing research is about detecting and investigating taxonomic, structural, and functional elements of biodiversity with UAS-based LiDAR and multi-/hyper-spectral observations. PresentIy, I am visiting TerraLuma to collaborate on my PhD projects, which, for now, involves high density LiDAR data from a Danish semi-natural grassland. Here I am investigating the effects of an introduced species (Cytisus scoparius) on plant diversity. I appreciate the opportunity to stay here and be a part of a very innovative research group.

Shannon de Roos

University of Utrecht, Netherlands (Nov 2017 – Apr 2018)

As part of my Master education at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands, I am currently doing an internship at TerraLuma. I have a background in Natural Hazards and Earth Observations and completed my MSc thesis in 2017, about the effect of contour bunds on soil erosion in the Ethiopian highlands. The spatial science courses of my education at Utrecht University were mostly aimed at the use of satellite data, and at TerraLuma I have the opportunity to extend my knowledge to UAS applications. The research I am part of concerns damaged peatlands by wildfire and the use of ultra-high spatial resolution imagery from UAS, to monitor the effects on hydrology. My present focus is on finding efficient methods to generate Digital Surface Models (DSM) of high quality.

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