On co-​​op with an envi­ron­mental con­sulting firm in Van­couver, Canada, called ESSA Tech­nolo­gies, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity senior Emily Snead tested remote-​​sensing tools that will be used to pin­point the impact of cli­mate change on forest life.

The expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­nity has con­vinced Snead to pursue a master’s degree in remote sensing. The tech­nology allows researchers to col­lect geospa­tial data — including infor­ma­tion on soil and veg­e­ta­tion, fault zones and tem­per­a­ture changes over time —using elec­tro­mag­netic radi­a­tion emitted from air­craft or satellites.

I want to keep working with these remote-​​sensing tools and hope­fully build a career out of it,” said Snead, an envi­ron­mental sci­ence major with a con­cen­tra­tion in biology. “I love the idea of being able to manip­u­late dif­ferent wave­lengths of light to figure out exactly what’s on the ground without having to go to that spe­cific location.”

Her main project involved researching and ana­lyzing remote sensing data to help ESSA assess the effects of forestry and cli­mate change on water­sheds with impor­tant fish­eries in the province of British Columbia. Snead — who said remote-​​sensing tech­nology could be used in tandem with more costly and time-​​intensive field­work by tech­ni­cians on the ground — also worked with expert ecol­o­gists on a habitat– and migration-​​monitoring pro­gram for the endan­gered Tailed Frog species.

The co-​​op in Canada, she said, built on her knowl­edge of remote-​​sensing technology.

Last year, Snead com­pleted a co-​​op with NASA, where she used sim­ilar tools to deter­mine the haz­ards of poten­tial landing sites for the Mars Rover. At North­eastern, she took an intro­duc­tory course in geo­graphic infor­ma­tion systems.

Today, all of these expe­ri­ences have com­bined to expose her to a promising field with vast poten­tial, from exploring Earth’s nat­ural resources to climate-​​change mitigation.

It’s an inter­esting field because you can do so much with it,” said Snead. “I like the flex­i­bility, and it’s a very effi­cient way to mon­itor things and to keep tabs on what the earth has and what the earth might have.”