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Charles E. Olson, Jr. Selected as ASPRS Honorary Member

December 7, 2009

Charles E. Olson, Jr. has been selected as the next Honorary Member of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). His nomination was recently approved by the ASPRS Board of Directors. This is the highest award an ASPRS member can receive, and there are only 25 living Honorary Members of the Society at any given time. Candidates are chosen by a Nominating Committee made up of the past five recipients of the award and chaired by the most recent recipient. Thomas M. Lillesand served as the current chair.

The Nominating Committee stated that, “We feel that Chuck is an outstanding candidate for this honor. Chuck has made substantial contributions to the profession throughout his career, having taught and performed research as a faculty member at both the University of Illinois and the University of Michigan for more than four decades. His contributions to ASPRS have been substantial and continue. It is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that we recommend Dr. Olson as the next ASPRS Honorary Member.”

Initiated in 1937, this life-time award is given in recognition of individuals who have rendered distinguished service to ASPRS and/or who have attained distinction in advancing the science and use of the geospatial information sciences. It is awarded for professional excellence and for at least 20 years of service to ASPRS. Olson, who has been a member of ASPRS and the American Society of Photogrammety (the predecessor of ASPRS) since 1956, will receive the award at the ASPRS 2010 Annual Conference in San Diego, California.

Olson is a Professor Emeritus of the University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and Environment and is currently Senior Image Analyst, Michigan Tech Research Institute, Ann Arbor, Michigan. He received his B.S.F. in Forestry from the University of Michigan, a M.F. from the University of Minnesota in Forest Management, a M.F. from the University of Illinois in Photo-Interpretation Photogrammetry and a M.F. from the University of Costa Rica in Tropical Biology. His Ph.D. is from the University of Michigan in Forestry (Resource Inventory).

He served as Air/Photo/Radar Intelligence Officer, U.S. Naval Reserve, retiring with the rank of Captain in 1987. He was a Remote Sensing Instructor at the Remote Sensing Center for East Africa, Nairobi, Kenya in 1981.

During his 36 year career at the University of Michigan, Olson taught undergraduate and graduate courses in Air Photo Interpretation, Remote Sensing of Environment, Digital Processing of Remote Sensor Data, Applications of Geographic Information Systems, Forest Fire Ecology, and Multiple Use Forest Management. As Director of the School of Natural Resources and Environment Remote Sensing Laboratory, he supervised operations of the image interpretation facility, a nearly self-supporting authorized recharge facility serving the University and appropriate outside government and industrial clients. His research included early detection of stress in forest vegetation, thermal inventory of large animal populations, design and completion of land cover/use inventories, and environmental monitoring with low cost remote sensing systems. From 1963 to 1969,Olson held a joint appointment in the Infrared Physics Laboratory of the University's Willow Run Laboratories.

Olson has presented many workshops for ASPRS on remote sensing of vegetation and thermal remote sensing and has had numerous papers published in Photogrammetric Engineering and, the International Archives of Photogrammetry. He received the Presidential Citation for Meritorious Service for several years and the Ford Bartlett Award. In 1998, he was elected an ASPRS Fellow and served as National Director from the Eastern Great Lakes Region from 2002 until 2008. He also began the Oral History Project completing 56 interviews, several of which were the basis for Reflection of the Past series in PE&RS.


Founded in 1934, ASPRS is an international professional organization of 6,000 geospatial data professionals. ASPRS is devoted to advancing knowledge and improving understanding of the mapping sciences to promote responsible application of photogrammetry, remote sensing, geographic information systems and supporting technologies. For additional information about ASPRS, visit our web site at www.asprs.org.