mike velin '06 and Claire porter '00Congratulations to Claire Porter ’00! The MPA Alumni Association Board of Directors is pleased to announce this year’s recipient of the MPA Alumni Association Award. This award is intended to honor alumni of outstanding talent pursuing their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations, while embracing the spirit of MPA’s commitment to community and social outreach.

Since graduating from MPA, Claire Porter ’00 has pursued academic excellence and has made a big impact on her field and the world. Claire received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biological Anthropology from Harvard University in 2005 and has earned two Master’s degrees, both from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Since that time, she has authored numerous publications to advance research in the fields of Geographic Information Science and Software Engineering.

Porter currently serves as a Remote Sensing Scientist at the Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota, a group that provides geospatial data, derived products, and expertise to polar researchers. She leads the product development team in building automated workflows for production of orthorectified imagery, imagery mosaics, and elevation models from stereoscopic imagery. She serves as a mentor and informal advisor to undergraduate and graduate students and carries on the MPA tradition of supporting others and making an impact on the world.

Porter recently won the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) David Johnson Award for the Scientist Under 40 Who Has Made Outstanding Innovative Use of Earth Observation Satellite Data. She received the award at the Dr. Robert H Goddard Memorial Dinner in March 2019 at the National Space Club in Washington, D.C. This award is the culmination of Claire’s work for the past ten years to produce never-before possible elevation models of the Arctic and Antartica.

With the support of the National Science Foundation, Claire and her team at the Polar Geospatial Center have devised techniques to process continuous satellite imagery into maps with one meter of accuracy and a precision measured in decimeters. As one of her nominators wrote, “Claire Porter has turned the topographic world upside down. With her contributions, her work has led to an achievement with far-reaching scientific and real-world applications. I cannot overstate the importance of her fundamental and first-person singular contributions to earth observations.”

On Friday, May 31, Porter accepted the award from Mike Velin ’06, chair of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, at MPA’s 2019 Senior Awards Ceremony, providing inspiration to the next generation of MPA alumni.

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