School of Engineering

Staff Profile

Magdalena Smigaj

Research Associate


Magdalena Smigaj is a research associate, who first joined the Geomatics group as a PhD student in 2013. Her research interests lie in the use of remote sensing technology for monitoring vegetation dynamics, in particular in the use of miniature low-cost sensors mounted on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Recently, Magdalena has also been involved in projects that explore the use of remote sensing for hydrological applications to improve assessment and understanding of catchment water balances in data-scarce regions.


September 2013 - June 2018

PhD Geospatial Engineering, Newcastle University.

Thesis title: "Hyperspectral, thermal and LiDAR remote sensing for red band needle blight detection in pine plantation forests."

Funding: This research was funded by a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) studentship award (No. 1368552)

September 2010 - June 2013

First Class BSc (Hons) in Surveying and Mapping Science, Newcastle University.

Previous positions

October 2017 - October 2018

Lecturer in Remote Sensing, Newcastle University.


June 2018 – present:

The Royal Society Global Challenges – PAPPADAAM (Pluri-scalar Approaches for co-Production of Pan-Asian Drought Assessment and Adaptive resource Management)

To address threats from environmental disasters, specifically drought, we utilise approaches, which are both pluri-scalar – ranging from individual communities to continental extents – and trans-disciplinary, drawing upon environmental science (climatology, remote sensing, agronomy) and people-focused activities (participatory monitoring, resource management, policy uptake). By focusing on a water-forestry-agriculture nexus our research yields valuable insights on increasing resilience to drought for the institutions and countries (in China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) with whom we partner.  

June 2018 – present:

NERC Innovations Water Risk project – CARISMA (Catchment Risk Assessments using Multi-Scale data)

The aim is to develop a framework methodology for integration of community-led hydrological monitoring in areas of data scarcity in sub-Saharan Africa with remote sensing information, to improve assessment and understanding of catchment water balances. The project focuses on two river basins, one each in Ethiopia and Tanzania, working with key stakeholders representing different interests (including communities, environmental organisations, industrial water users, government bodies) to design and evaluate a prototype software integration platform / water management toolkit to allow multiple stakeholders within a river catchment to visualise and interpret hydrological information in support of catchment-based water management. The project is in collaboration with Imperial College London, WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), the Abay River Basin Authority in Ethiopia, and the Rufiji Basin Water Office in Tanzania.