August 16, 2022

Director of NASA Earth Science Division to give Aug. 22 Heuermann Lecture

NASA officials to visit farms near Mead, Giltner, Lexington

Color photo of Karen St. Germain, over campus and downtown background

Karen St. Germain

Karen St. Germain, director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, will visit the University of Nebraska–Lincoln later this month to take part in a Heuermann Lecture on the agency’s work to support agriculture.

St. Germain will be the keynote speaker during the Aug. 22 lecture and roundtable discussion titled “Space for Ag: NASA Satellites and Science to Support Food and Water Security.” St. Germain, along with three panelists, will discuss NASA satellite data and space technology and how that data can be used in production agriculture. Panelists are Brandon Hunnicutt, farmer and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board; Jackson Stansell, Husker graduate student and founder of ag-tech company Sentinel Fertigation; and Mark Svoboda, director of the National Drought Mitigation Center, which is housed in the School of Natural Resources at Nebraska.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will take place in the Great Plains Room of the Nebraska East Union. A reception will begin at 3:30 p.m., with the lecture scheduled for 4 p.m. The event will also be livestreamed.

NASA’s Earth Science Division uses satellites and other technologies to capture an enormous amount of data about weather patterns, climate, water and air quality, cloud cover, soil, air moisture and more. Farmers, ranchers, ag-tech companies and entities such as National Drought Mitigation Center at Nebraska use this data to make management decisions and to create tools, such as the biweekly U.S. Drought Monitor, which provides information on drought conditions across the country.

“NASA uses the unique vantage point of space to observe and understand the Earth — from how and why severe weather develops, to long-term temperature trends and water availability,” St. Germain said. “We are striving to share that knowledge with partner organizations, farmers and ranchers who could use it to make their best decisions. By engaging with agriculture producers now, we are also hoping to learn more about what data and tools they need to inform their planting, irrigation and management practices, so we can build the most impactful satellites and analytic tools for the future.”

While she is in Nebraska, St. Germain and several other NASA representatives will visit farms near Mead, Giltner and Lexington to discuss how farmers are currently using satellite data from NASA and other sources, as well as how this data could be used in the future.

“It’s an honor to host Karen St. Germain and her colleagues and to discuss the important work that NASA is doing to promote agricultural efficiency and resilience,” said Mike Boehm, NU Vice President and Harlan Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “As agriculture becomes more data-driven and complex, and as we strive to feed a growing world as efficiently as possible, programs like those at NASA will only become more important. This is a chance for Nebraskans to learn about this program and have a voice in its future.”

Heuermann Lectures, in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, are made possible through a gift from B. Keith and Norma Heuermann of Phillips. The Heuermanns are longtime university supporters with a strong commitment to Nebraska’s production agriculture, natural resources, rural areas and people. For more information about this event or about the Heuermann Lecture Series, or to view the livestream, click here.