Dec 7, 2015
Please accept my warmest greetings from Ann Arbor, Michigan. About a month ago the IEEE GRSS held its Fall AdCom meeting in Dearborn, Michigan. I am delighted to report that our society is in great shape both technically and financially. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you the highlights of our progress and activities. In the financial front, our 2015 operational budget was increase by a modest level of 5.5%, but more importantly we were able to access about $150K of the GRSS 2014 budget surplus under the IEEE 50% rule and about $210K of our reserves under the IEEE 3% rule to support our strategic initiatives. These funds were used in support of GRSS Globalization efforts (initiation of new chapters, direct support of chapters, regional workshops, etc.), and Educational initiatives (travel support for young professionals, GRSS Caravans, regional speakers, etc.). Such investments are necessary to support and expand our membership. We are focusing on membership growth in developing countries in regions 9 and 10. This is in recognition of important contributions of scientists from developing countries in all scientific areas of interest to IEEE GRSS. I am very happy to report that based on our noticeable achievements and accomplishments, IEEE Headquarter agreed with our request for a substantial operational budget increase of about 50% for 2016 so we can further invest in our growth and support our members. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. James Smith, GRSS CFO, for his dedication in getting our finances in such great shape.

To accelerate IEEE GRSS engagement in Region 10, we have established an initiative named “Capacity And Innovation Building in Region 10 Program”. The objective of the project is to initiate a series of activities that will improve the geoscience and remote sensing capacity in Region 10 and by doing so grow the IEEE membership and GRSS presence in this region. For this project we have the backing of IEEE Headquarters and the IEEE office in Beijing, China. We are hoping our presence there will facilitate collaboration and integration of many geoscience and remote sensing scientific organizations and groups in region 10. Apart from this initiative for China, a substantial amount of funds from GRSS strategic initiatives has been made available to support travel expenses of colleagues and young professionals from India to participate in IGARSS 2016 in Beijing. The local organizing team of IGARSS 2015 have also made a significant effort to facilitate participation of these colleagues through affordable accommodation and transportation. I have to thank the efforts of our Globalization co-Directors, Melba Crawford and Tony Milne for their forward-looking activities and enthusiasm.

2015 also marked a successful year for our conferences and symposia. IGARSS 2015 with the theme “Understanding the Earth for a Safer World” was a major success in all aspects. This IGARSS hosted 2071 participants and included close to 2000 paper presentations and provided 13 tutorials on a wide range of topics. In addition, IGARSS 2015 hosted GRS4 Summer School, Industry Lunch, Student Exhibition Visits, Young Professional meeting, and the Awards banquet at the Leonardo da Vinci Museum. Much of the success of this conference is due to the efforts of the local organizing team, Sebastiano Bruno Serpico and Vito Pascazio. IGARSS 2016 (Beijing), 2017 (Dallas), and 2018 (Valencia) planning is proceeding well. We also selected the venue for IGARSS 2019 to be at Yokohama, Japan, and IGARSS 2020 to be at the Big Island, Hawaii. I want to thank our Vice President for Meetings and Symposia, David Kunkee, for his oversight and significant help in making our conferences successful. We also had 13 technically and financially sponsored small symposia around the world in 2015 which were facilitated by Irena Hajnsek and Akira Hirose to whom my gratitude goes. In 2015, I established the GRSS Conference Publications Committee, chaired by Leung Tsang, to monitor the quality of our conference and specialty symposia papers.

Our society offers multiple venues for dissemination of knowledge through our publications. Over the past few years I have witnessed steady improvements of our journals’ ranking and growth in the number of published pages. In 2015 our publication page budgets increased by 36% ( +4150 pages) representing a significant increase while improving our impact factors. The impact factor of IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, and Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters , have attained values of 3.51, 3.02, and 2.09 respectively. We are all indebted to our devoted Editors-in-Chief, Antonio Plaza (TGRS), Jocelyn Chanussot (J-STARS), and Alejandro Frery (GRSL) for the great job they doing with our journals. Of course, the GRSS Magazine has been a great success as well under the leadership of its Editor-in-Chief, Lorenzo Bruzzone. J-STARS has a new EIC, Prof. Jenny Du who will take over from Jocelyn Chanussot at the start of next year. We would like to thank Jocelyn for all of his hard work in building J-STARS from a floundering publication into a well respected journal. GRSL has also reached a quasi-steady state which was a quantum leap during the tenure of Alejandro Frery. Special thanks goes to our VP of Publications, Bill Emery, for managing all of our publications and ensuring a high standard of quality and integrity.

The technical activities of our society have been managed by John Kerekes. John has been instrumental in revitalizing and reorganizing of GRSS technical activities. Currently GRSS technical activities is organized through 5 Technical Committees: 1) Frequency Allocations in Remote Sensing (FARS), 2) Instrumentation and Future Technologies (IFT), 3) Image Analysis and Data Fusion (IADF), 4) Earth Science Informatics (ESI), and 5) International Spaceborne Imaging Spectroscopy (ISIS). These committees have been very active in 2015 and I try to highlight some of them here. The IADF Technical Committee has been working on developing a Standardized Data Website and held the EarthVision Workshop at IEEE CVPR Meeting. The International Spaceborne Imaging Spectroscopy TC held the International Cal-Val Workshop for Spaceborne Hyperspectral Imaging in Edinburgh, UK this Fall and are working to develop a textbook on spaceborne hyperspectral calibration and validation. The IFT Technical Committee organized two workshops and supported student travel to GNSS+R Workshop in Potsdam, Germany and UAVSAR Workshop in San Francisco, USA. The ESI Technical Committee actively participated in ISO/TC211 Meeting, Southampton, UK and Open Geospatial Consortium Meeting, Boulder, CO. The FARS Technical Committee had pivotal roles in the Space Frequency Coordination Group meeting, which occurred at Tsukuba, Japan and the NSF Enhancing Access to the Radio Spectrum meeting that occurred in Arlington, VA. The FARS TC has begun implementation of an RFI Reporting webtool in conjunction with the VP of Information Resources. Steve Reising, the IEEE GRSS VP for Information Resources, has been working tirelessly to enhance our society presence in digital media, enhance our society webpage, and publicity. Thanks to the valuable efforts of Editor-in-Chief of the GRSS eNewsletter, Fabio Pacifici, our members have easy access to important technical news and events related to IEEE GRSS and its members.

I take this opportunity to thank Dr. John Kerekes for his many years of service as the VP of the IEEE GRSS Technical Activities. John is stepping down from this role at the end of December 2015. I have appointed Dr. Irena Hajnsek as the new VP of Technical Activities whose term will start in January 1, 2016.

Our society members’ support, promotion, and expansion have been steadily improving under the leadership of Wooil Moon, the VP of GRSS Professional Activities. IEEE GRSS recognizes and celebrates the achievements of its members through a wide range of recognitions and awards. The variety and number of these awards and recognitions are more than what are offered by any other IEEE society. IEEE GRSS offers 16 awards including 4 Major Awards, 4 special awards, and 8 different publications awards. We were just notified that the IEEE TAB Awards Review Committee approved our request to establish a new award named the “Industry Leader Award” to enable us to specifically recognize our industry members for their significant achievements. I greatly appreciate the efforts of our Award Committees and want to specifically thank their chairs: Werner Wiesbeck, Martti Hallikainen, and Mahta Moghaddam. Another area where we promote our members is through their elevation to Senior and Fellow level memberships. In 2015, 9 deserving members of our society were evaluated to the rank of IEEE Fellow and 32 were elevated to the rank of Senior member.

As mentioned previously, we are expanding our footprint around the world by establishing more GRSS Chapters. Currently GRSS has 55 chapters around the world of which 11 were established in 2015 thanks to the efforts of Paolo Gamba and Wolfgang Boerner. Our society also celebrates inclusion and diversity. To enhance our activities in this area and have a higher impact I have established the IEEE GRSS Underrepresented Committee, Chaired by Linda Hayden, to examine and create opportunity for further engagement of underrepresented and minority groups. Dr. Wooil Moon has done a great job taking care of our society’s Professional Activities and I would like to thank him on behalf of our entire society for his services. I have appointed Dr. Paolo Gamba as the new VP for Professional Activities and am looking forward to his leadership in this role.

In conclusion I would like to express my best wishes for a very Happy Holiday season and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Best regards,

Kamal Sarabandi
2015-16 IEEE GRSS President
Rufus S. Teesdale Endowed Professor of Engineering
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA