Dr. Pivot’s background is both in physical geography and remote sensing. Her main research interest is in developing enhanced observing systems capabilities (technology and algorithms) for monitoring the spatio-temporal dynamics of various Earth’s surface parameters and processes. Dr. Pivot is currently looking into multi-stage remote sensing approaches, using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) – also known as drones, or UAVs. Her research equipment in that area includes a fixed-wing UAS, with good autonomy (6+ hours) and payload capability (up to 10 kg), who she lovingly calls Penny Belle. Dr. Pivot’s UAS research projects and collaborations presently relate to the applications as varied as direct georeferencing techniques, tracking springtime snowmelt timing and spatial pattern in the forest-tundra ecotone in Northern Manitoba, and monitoring the impact of climate change on permafrost landscapes in Northwest Territories communities. She is also looking into other applications, including the aerobiological sampling of pollens and pathogens, multiple UAS cooperation, navigation, and collision avoidance, and monitoring populations of free-range mammals. Dr. Pivot is also interested in finding technological ways to innovate the teaching and learning of geography online and at a distance. She is collaborating with scientists from the School of Computing and Information Systems at Athabasca University to implement field work into her courses by means of mobile technology-guides field trips and collaborative virtual geographic environments.
Dr. Pivot will complete her first two missions with Penny Belle this summer! A UAS reconnaissance survey for snowmelt studies at treeline will be conducted in Churchill, Manitoba, supported by the Churchill Northern Studies Centre through the Northern Research Fund 2012. As part of an interdisciplinary team led by the Jean Marie River First Nation and involving PACTeam Canada and University of Alberta, Dr. Pivot was also awarded a grant on Climate Change and Health Adaptation Program for Northern First Nations and Inuit Communities with Health Canada to conduct unmanned aerial survey and mapping of permafrost degradation in the context of climate change and disturbances.
Updated June 18 2014 by FST Technical Staff