Margaret Kalacska

Associate Professor
Margaret Kalacska
Contact Information

Burnside Hall Room 622

Email address: 
margaret.kalacska [at]
Research areas: 
Remote sensing
Hyperspectral imaging
Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPAS)
Satellite Imagery
Thermal Imaging

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at McGill University. My current research contributes to the advancement of remote sensing applications in environmental science and natural hazard monitoring and response.

In my lab we extensively use Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), and airborne hyperspectral remote sensing from manned aircraft. We also work with satellite imagery (e.g. PlanetScope, Landsat, Sentinel-2), LiDAR and thermal imaging for detailed investigations of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, natural hazards (e.g., wildfires, volcanoes) and infrastructure. We are a world leader in RPAS hyperspectral imaging.

In collaboration with the National Research Council of Canada's Flight Research Laboratory we developed the second fully operational RPAS-HSI system in the world. This system has been in use for the Canadian Airborne Biodiversity Observatory (CABO) since 2018 to estimate biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. We are currently working on an exciting new custom heavy lift RPAS specifically for hyperspectral imaging to be unveiled in the spring 2023!

Through the Fish + Forest project we study aquatic habitats of endemic and endangered ichthyofauna, producing the first aerial and underwater 3D reconstructions of riverscapes in Brazil. Our research also examines large-scale land use change for biodiversity conservation from satellite imagery and contribute to satellite data product validation (Landsat 8 OLI and Sentinel-2) for Canadian peatlands.

I was the first Canadian woman to lead an airborne hyperspectral mission (MAC-13) in Costa Rica in 2013 for forest carbon stock and biodiversity estimation. My interdisciplinary research is carried out in Canada, Brazil, Tanzania, Ghana, Peruvian Amazon, Panama, Madagascar and Costa Rica.

In 2014, I was awarded the Fessenden Prize for Science Innovation by McGill University and in 2018, the Silver Medal from the Canadian Remote Sensing Society, the highest mid-career achievement award recognizing excellence in remote sensing in Canada. I was nominated by the National Research Council Canada for the 2020 Steacie Prize in Natural Sciences.

  • PhD Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta (2006)
  • MSc Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta (2004)
Selected publications: 
Back to top