University of Leicester geographer recognised for outstanding achievements

Posted by er134 at May 05, 2015 09:05 AM |
Professor Heiko Balzter achieves rare distinction

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 5 May 2015

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A University of Leicester Professor has been honoured for his outstanding and distinctive achievements.

Professor Heiko Balzter, of the Department of Geography, is this year’s recipient of the Cuthbert Peek Award from the Royal Geographical Society. The award is made ‘for advancing geographical knowledge of human impact through earth observation.’

The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)’s prestigious medals and awards recognise excellence in geographical research and fieldwork, teaching and public engagement. They are presented annually to individuals who have made outstanding achievements. Recipients join a prestigious list that includes Sir Alexander Burnes, David Livingstone, Alfred Russel Wallace, Captain R. Scott and more recently Professor Peter Haggett, Sir Crispin Tickell and Sir David Attenborough

This year, the Society’s medals and awards recognise eighteen different people for their outstanding contributions to geography.  The awards will be presented on Monday 1 June 2015 as part of the Society’s Annual General Meeting in London.

Professor Balzter said: “I am absolutely delighted to receive the Cuthbert Peek Award from the Royal Geographical Society for my research on earth observation of human-environment systems. My gratitude goes to all the people who supported me over the years, including my PhD students, postdocs, fellow academics and industrial colleagues, the funders who supported my research over the years and not least to my family who put up with my busy working life on a day-to-day basis.

“In my career I have changed disciplines several times, from an agricultural/environmental scientist by education to an ecologist and now a physical geographer. This has done me good and I still firmly believe in the power of interdisciplinary thinking. For the last two decades, earth observation has been a constant thread in my research.”

Professor Balzter was awarded the degree of Dipl. Ing. agr. (equivalent to an MSc) in 1994 from Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen, Germany, and the Dr. agr. (PhD) from the same University in 1998.

He is a research professor and director of the Centre for Landscape and Climate Research at the University of Leicester. Before joining the University he was Head of Section for Earth Observation in the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Monks Wood, UK, where he worked from 1998-2006. His research interests include interactions of the water cycle with ecosystems across multiple spatial and temporal scales, pressures from climate change and land use change on ecosystem services, and the effects of spatial patterns and processes upon biological populations in evolving, three-dimensional landscapes. Prof. Balzter has extensive expertise in Earth observation and remote sensing of the land surface and lakes, particularly of forests.

Professor Balzter holds the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award, and is a member of the NERC Food Security Evaluation Working Group. He is a member of the European Space Sciences Committee, the Steering Committee of the NERC Airborne Remote Sensing Facility, and the AIRSAR Steering Board for the Satellite Applications Catapult and Airbus Defence and Space. He is coordinator of the European Centre of Excellence in Earth Observation Research Training GIONET, member of the NERC National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO), co-investigator in the ESA project GLOBBIOMASS and actively involved in Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) research in preparation of the launch of the UK satellite NovaSAR-S. He is also a fellow of the Higher Education Academy, member of the American Geophysical Union, British Ecological Society, Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society and Chartered Management Institute, as well as fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and the Royal Statistical Society.

He won the President’s Cup for the Best Paper at the annual Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society conference 2009 and serves on the International Geosphere/Biosphere Programme (IGBP) UK National Committee, European Space Sciences Committee (ESSC) of the European Science Foundation (ESF), LULUCF Scientific Steering Committee for the Department for Energy and Climate Change, AATSR Science Advisory Group to DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Peer Review College.


Notes to editors:

For more information and to arrange interviews contact Professor Balzter at:

The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) is the learned society and professional body for geography. Formed in 1830 for 'the advancement of geographical science', today we deliver this objective through developing, supporting and promoting geographical research, expeditions and fieldwork, education, public engagement, and geography input to policy. We aim to foster an understanding and informed enjoyment of our world. We hold the world's largest private geographical collection and provide public access to it. We have a thriving Fellowship and membership and offer the professional accreditation 'Chartered Geographer’

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