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In memoriam: Sylvia Shen, spectral remote sensing scientist

19 September 2013

Sylvia Shen


Sylvia Shen, Distinguished Scientist at The Aerospace Corporation and an SPIE Fellow, passed away September 13 after a six-year battle with cancer.

Shen was the long-time chair for both the Algorithms and Technologies for Multispectral, Hyperspectral, and Ultraspectral Imagery (SPIE Defense, Security, and Sensing) and Imaging Spectrometry (SPIE Optics and Photonics) conferences.

Dr. Shen's presence and contributions provided important focus for the exchange and evolution of ideas and technology by the community of researchers in the field of spectral remote sensing, said colleague and co-chair Paul Lewis, through her committee service and study contributions to the NASA Landsat Program, as a technical consultant to the Department of Energy Multispectral Thermal Imager Satellite Program and as a journal reviewer for SPIE and IEEE.

"Sylvia was one of the smartest and most capable people I have ever known," Lewis said. "I am extremely fortunate to have had the privilege of working with her. Within her petite body dwelled a kind, determined and noble spirit. Her friendship, teachings, courage of conviction, fortitude and intellect have enriched my life, as well as the lives of other friends and colleagues. The remote sensing community has lost a pioneer in the field of spectral remote sensing."

Her contributions to the collaborative efforts of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency to evolve the Airborne Spectral Photometric Environmental Collection Technology (ASPECT) Program have been essential to its decade of airborne emergency response successes, Lewis said. As a member of the ASPECT Team, Shen deployed, analyzed and developed state-of-the-art spectral infrared analytical and imagery situational awareness products. These products were deemed essential by first responders and Joint Operation Center personnel since 2003 for mitigation of disasters ranging from Hurricane Katrina to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.