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Kerry Cawse-Nicholson

Photo of Kerry Cawse-Nicholson


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 183-518

Pasadena, CA 91109



Curriculum Vitae:

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Member of:

Carbon Cycle And Ecosystems



Dr. Kerry Cawse-Nicholson is a member of the Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems group at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She is an expert in spectroscopic imagery, particularly in fusing datasets acquired over different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum and in quantifying uncertainty. Kerry works as part of several product development and applications teams, as the Deputy Science Lead for ECOSTRESS – a thermal radiometer mounted on the International Space Station – and the co-lead for the Algorithms Working Group for an upcoming space-borne mission designated to study Surface Biology and Geology (SBG). Kerry produces hourly land surface temperature (LST) products over North and South America through a MEaSUREs project, produces evapotranspiration (ET) products over the continental US for ECOSTRESS, and serves as an invited working group member of the land processes distributed active archive center (LP DAAC) which distributes these products.


  • PhD.,Computational and Applied Mathematics, University of the Witwatersrand (2012)
  • M.S., Computational and Applied Mathematics, University of the Witwatersrand (2009)
  • B.S., Computational and Applied Mathematics, University of the Witwatersrand (2008)

Professional Experience

  • Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2016 - present)
  • Image Processing Specialist, TerraCore Africa (2015 - 2016)
  • Remote Sensing Specialist, Southern Mapping Company (2014 - 2015)
  • Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Center for Imaging Science, Rochester Institute of Technology (2012 - 2014)
  • Student Researcher, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (2009 - 2012)

Research Interests

  • Using spectroscopic imagery to study the properties of Earth's surface
  • Dimensionality estimation for the study of diversity on land and in water
  • Fusion of different data sources for a full understanding of scene composition
  • The use of evapotranspiration in water resource management
  • Uncertainty characterization

Selected Awards

  • NASA Early Career Public Achievement Medal, 2020
  • NASA Honor Award (Group Achievement Award), 2020
  • JPL Voyager Award, 2020
  • JPL Group Achievement Award, 2019
  • JPL Voyager Award, 2017
  • Best PhD Thesis in Computational and Applied Mathematics, 2012
  • Best Honours Student in Computational and Applied Mathematics, 2008

Selected Publications

  1. Cawse-Nicholson, K., et al. (2021) NASA's surface biology and geology designated observable: A perspective on surface imaging algorithms. Remote Sensing of Environment, 257, 112349.
  2. Chen, W., Pinker, R.T., Ma, Y., Hulley, G., Borbas, E., Islam, T., Cawse-Nicholson, K.A., Hook, S., Hain, C. and Basara, J., 2021. Land Surface Temperature from GOES-East and GOES-West. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology.
  3. Loveless, M., Borbas, E.E., Knuteson, R., Cawse-Nicholson, K., Hulley, G., Hook, S. (2021). Climatology of the Combined ASTER MODIS Emissivity over Land (CAMEL) Version 2. Remote Sensing, 13(1), 111.
  4. Anderson, M.C., Yang, Y., Xue, J., Knipper, K.R., Yang, Y., Gao, F., Hain, C.R., Kustas, W.P., Cawse-Nicholson, K., et al. (2021). Interoperability of ECOSTRESS and Landsat for mapping evapotranspiration time series at sub-field scales. Remote Sensing of Environment, 252, 112189.
  5. Carmon, N., Thompson, D.R., Bohn, N., Susiluoto, J., Turmon, M., Brodrick, P.G., Connelly, D.S., Braverman, A., Cawse-Nicholson, K., Green, R.O., Gunson, M. (2020). Uncertainty quantification for a global imaging spectroscopy surface composition investigation. Remote Sensing of Environment, 251, 112038.
  6. Cawse-Nicholson, K., Braverman, A., Kang, E.L., Li, M., Johnson, M., Halverson, G., Anderson, M., Hain, C., Gunson, M., Hook, S. (2020). Sensitivity and uncertainty quantification for the ECOSTRESS evapotranspiration algorithm–DisALEXI. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 89, 102088.
  7. Fisher, J.B., Lee, B., Purdy, A.J., Halverson, G.H., Dohlen, M.B., Cawse‐Nicholson, K. et al. (2020). ECOSTRESS: NASA's next generation mission to measure evapotranspiration from the International Space Station. Water Resources Research, 56(4), e2019WR026058.
  8. Hook, S.J., Cawse-Nicholson, K., Barsi, J., Radocinski, R., Hulley, G.C., Johnson, W.R., Rivera, G., Markham, B. (2019). In-Flight Validation of the ECOSTRESS, Landsats 7 and 8 Thermal Infrared Spectral Channels Using the Lake Tahoe CA/NV and Salton Sea CA Automated Validation Sites. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 58(2), 1294-1302.
  9. Cawse-Nicholson, K., Hook, S.J., Miller, C.E., Thompson, D.R. (2019). Intrinsic Dimensionality in Combined Visible to Thermal Infrared Imagery. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, 12(12), 4977-4984.
  10. Schimel, D., Schneider, F.D., JPL Carbon and Ecosystem Participants (incl Cawse-Nicholson, K.) (2019). Flux towers in the sky: global ecology from space. New Phytologist, 224(2), 570-584.
  11. Thompson, D.R., Cawse-Nicholson, K., Erickson, Z., Fichot, C.G., Frankenberg, C., Gao, B.-C., Gierach, M.M., Green, R.O., Jensen, D., Natraj, V., Thompson, A. (2019). A unified approach to estimate land and water reflectances with uncertainties for coastal imaging spectroscopy. Remote Sensing of Environment, 231, 111198.
  12. Bogue, R. R., Schwandner, F. M., Fisher, J. B., Pavlick, R., Magney, T. S., Famiglietti, C. A., Cawse-Nicholson, K., Yadav, V., Linick, J. P., North, G. B., Duarte, E. (2019). Plant responses to volcanically elevated CO2 in two Costa Rican forests. Biogeosciences, 16 (6), 1343-1360.
  13. Pinker, R.T., Ma, Y., Chen, W., Hulley, G., Borbas, E., Islam, T., Hain, C., Cawse-Nicholson, K., Hook, S., Basara, J. (2019). Towards a unified and coherent land surface temperature earth system data record from geostationary satellites. Remote Sensing, 11(12), 1399.
  14. Cawse-Nicholson, K., Fisher, J. B., Famiglietti, C. A., Braverman, A., Schwandner, F. M., Lewicki, J. L., Townsend, P. A., Schimel, D. S., Pavlick, R., Bormann, K. J., Ferraz, A., Kang, E. L., Ma, P., Bogue, R. R., Youmans, T., Pieri, D. C. (2018). Ecosystem responses to elevated CO2 using airborne remote sensing at Mammoth Mountain, California, Biogeosciences, 15, 7403-7418.
  15. Bandyopadhyay, M., van Aardt, J.A.N., Cawse-Nicholson, K., Ientilucci E. (2017). On the fusion of lidar and aerial color imagery to detect urban vegetation and buildings, PE&RS, 83(2) 123 – 136.
  16. D. Kelbe, J. van Aardt, P. Romanczyk, M. van Leeuwen, K. Cawse-Nicholson. (2016). Marker-free registration of forest terrestrial laser scanner data pairs with embedded confidence metrics, IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing (TGARS), 54(7), 4314 – 4330.
  17. A. Robin, K. Cawse-Nicholson, A. Mahmood, M. Sears. (2015). Estimation of the Intrinsic Dimension of Hyperspectral Images: Comparison of Current Methods, IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, 8(6), 2854 – 2861.
  18. D. Kelbe, J. van Aardt, P. Romanczyk, M. van Leeuwen, K. Cawse-Nicholson, Single-scan stem reconstruction using sparse terrestrial laser scanner data, Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observation and Remote Sensing (JSTARS), Vol. 8 (7), pp. 3414 – 3427, 2015.
  19. J. McGlinchy, J. van Aardt, B. Erasmus, G. Asner, R. Mathieu, K. Wessels, D. Knapp, T. Kennedy-Bowdoin, H. Rhody, J. Kerekes, E. Ientilucci, J. Wu, D. Sarrazin, K. Cawse-Nicholson, Extracting structural vegetation components from smallfootprint waveform lidar for biomass estimation in Savanna ecosystems, Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observation and Remote Sensing (JSTARS), Vol. 7 (2), pp. 480 – 490, 2014.
  20. K. Cawse-Nicholson, S. Damelin, A. Robin, M. Sears, Determining the intrinsic dimension of a hyperspectral image using Random Matrix Theory, IEEE Transactions on Image Processing, Vol. 22 (4), pp. 1301 –1310, 2013.
  21. K. Cawse-Nicholson, A. Robin, M. Sears, The effect of correlation on determining the intrinsic dimension of a hyperspectral image, Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observation and Remote Sensing, Vol. 6 (2), pp. 482 – 487, 2013.
  22. P. Romanczyk, J. van Aardt, K. Cawse-Nicholson, D. Kelbe, J. McGlinchy, K. Krause, Assessing the impact of broadleaf tree structure on airborne full-waveform small-footprint lidar signals through simulation, Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing, Vol 39 (S1), pp. S60 – S72, 2013.
  23. J. Wu, K. Cawse-Nicholson, J. van Aardt, 3D tree reconstruction from small footprint waveform lidar, PE&RS, Vol. 79 (12), pp. 1147 – 1157, 2013.