Data and Earth Observation Core Group

Richard Lawford

Member of the Planning Committee and Chair of the Data and Earth Observation Core Group

Richard Lawford is a member of the Planning Committee for the Sustainable Water Future Programme (SWFP) and the co- principal investigator of SWFP’s cluster activity on Water Energy Food Nexus. He explores the linkages between Earth observations of water and climate as they relate to observational methodologies (including satellites), data processing and visualization systems, information interpretation and the use of information in decision support and policy development. His specific areas of application involve climate and hydrological information, water resource management and capacity building.

As a senior scientific advisor of SWFP, Ricchard Lawford provides advice related to Natural and Social Capital in the water sector and the role of Earth observations and integrated information in achieving these goals. He also maintains links between the activities and goals of the Water Resources programme within the Group on Earth Observations and the SWFP. Beyond his role in SWFP, he also serves as the chair of the Integrated Global Water Cycle Observations Community of Practice and as a coordinator for the GEO Global Water Sustainability (GEOGLOWS) Initiative. His experience includes conducting hydrometeorlogical research, managing research programmes, directing a global science programme, science policy development for water and natural resources and training meteorologists.


Balázs Fekete

Member of the Data and Earth Observation Core Group

Balázs Fekete’s research interest is applying engineering principals to Earth science research. Throughout his career Dr. Fekete has worked on hydrological applications at various scales, employing advanced computer technologies ranging from geographical information system and database management through remote sensing, image processing and complex modelling. Dr. Fekete pioneered image processing designed for video image processing in the late 1980’s and developed highly specialized GIS for hydrological studies throughout the 1990’s. The tools he developed are the backbone of developing data products such as gridded river networks and assimilated runoff estimates by combining in-situ discharge observations with complex water balance calculations.


Vanessa Aellen

Member of the Data and Earth Observation Core Group

Vanessa Aellen studied at University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, where she received an MSc in Hydrogeology. She has worked both in Switzerland and abroad. In Switzerland, Vanessa worked on data collection and analysis for the National Groundwater Monitoring Project (NAQUA), and for an SME on environmental data processing. Her international experience has been acquired in India and Senegal. In India, she worked for the Indo French Center for Groundwater Research (IFCGR, Hyderabad), on an international project where she developed a water cycle model on an experimental watershed. In Senegal, she worked for a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) on a sanitation and waste management project in a rural context. She is presently working with the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), where she is in charge of both the Water and Disaster resilience domains.


Philipp Saile

Member of the Data and Earth Observation Core Group

Further information will be available in due course.


Adrian Strauch

Member of the Data and Earth Observation Core Group and Member of the Freshwater Biodiversity Working Group

Adrian Strauch is a Research Associate at the Center for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces (ZFL) of the University of Bonn (Germany). His scientific background is in physical geography with interests ranging from geomorphology and soil science to catchment hydrology and sustainable development. Since 2013 he is strongly involved in the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) through several EU and German funded projects and part of different GEO working groups and committees in the thematic areas of ‘Water Resources Management’ and ‘Biodiversity and Ecosystem Sustainability’.

Adrian’s current focus is on the global science-policy interactions related to the use of EO methods and tools for mapping, monitoring and assessment of global wetland ecosystems in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. He is a founder and co-lead of the new GEO-Wetlands initiative.

Water Future Is Important To Me Because…


Malcolm Wolski

Member of the Data and Earth Observation Core Group

Malcolm Wolski is the Director, eResearch Services at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia. In this role, he oversees the development, management and delivery of eResearch services to support the University’s research community, which includes the associated information management systems, infrastructure and data management services. Malcolm and his team play an active part in working with research groups to: build information systems that manage the capture, collection, analysis and preservation of data; develop collaboration and communication tools; and use advanced information technology tools and techniques. Malcolm is a member of the Organisational Advisory Board (OAB) of the Research Data Alliance.

Examples of national and international activities in the environmental area include the Biodiversity Climate Change Research Virtual Laboratory which is a cloud hosted modelling platform with access to a federated repository of over 4000 data layers; and Pacific iCLIM which aims to support climate change resilience and adaptation planning in the Pacific, by working with regional partners to implement a regional approach to climate change information management.

Water Future Is Important To Me Because…

I am keen to work with an interdisciplinary, international group focusing on the local to global problems of water security for humans in the future.

Mirela G Tulbure

Member of the Data and Earth Observation Core Group

Mirela is an environmental remote sensing scientist, working at the complex interface of geospatial science, landscape ecology and water dynamics. She has initiated and now leads a number of competitive research projects in applied ecological remote sensing funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC). In addition to receiving an ARC DECRA fellowship in 2014, Mirela is the lead CI on an ARC Linkage in partnership with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. As a result of this work, she and her team have quantified the high spatio-temporal variability in surface water dynamics in the Murray-Darling Basin and its decline during the Millennium Drought. This work was featured by NASA, became NASA’s image of the day (July 2016) and Mirela was awarded a NSW Tall Poppy Award (2015) for this work.

Mirela is currently a senior lecturer with the University of New South Wales (Sydney), where in 2012 she built the Geospatial Analysis for Environmental Change Lab with funding from the ARC. You can find her online at and follow her on twitter (@MirelaGTulbure).

Water Future Is Important To Me Because…

Scarce water resources worldwide are exposed to intensely competing demands – climate change and multi-year droughts still lead to significant water shortages and changes in surface water also result in disasters such as flooding. Freely available Earth Observation data over decades as well as increased compute power allow us to dynamically quantify surface water across space and time, improving the assessment of water resources. Being part of the Earth observation would allow me to contribute my expertise to one of the most challenging environmental problems of the 21st century and be part of an international, multi-disciplinary, cross-sector team.