|Haiti taps UND geospatial technology expert|
Space studies professor Santhosh Seelan recently returned from Haiti following an invitation by a group of expatriate Haitian scientists and engineers to survey that troubled nation's environmental situation.
"I went there primarily to look at environmental indicators," said Seelan, a widely respected authority in geospatial technologies and satellite imaging and one-time head of India's satellite data distribution center. Seelan joined Space Studies after chairing the Department of Earth System Science and Policy. He also helped to establish a sophisticated geospatial lab and lead a National Aeronautics and Space Administration-sponsored project aimed at promoting geospatial technologies among farmers and ranchers of the upper Midwest.
Seelan, a world-recognized expert in the application of satellite imaging technologies to resource development, believes that there is a need to develop Haiti in the areas of water and agriculture resources. His status as a geospatial technologies expert and his global connections encouraged the Miami-based Haitian-American Association of Engineers and Scientists to invite him to Haiti on a fact-finding mission and to produce recommendations and strategies to redevelop Haiti's economy.
"The HAES board asked me to help suggest the areas that we could collaborate on in developing Haiti," Seelan said. "Now, the situation there is much more peaceful, with a democratically elected government in place; slowly things are returning to normal in a country has been in turmoil for quite a while."
While in Haiti, Seelan visited with the nation's prime minister and other top officials. "Their mood," Seelan said, "was cautiously upbeat."
"HAES is very interested in doing something for Haiti," he notes. "They want to invest money, bring in more international aid, and they want to make sure that their efforts directly reach people."
"Bottom line," Seelan says after his fact-finding mission, "is that Haiti needs to improve literacy, provide more water, introduce modern agricultural methods, and reverse its environmental degradation." Seelan says he'll stay connected with HAES and now is drafting a preliminary proposal to that organization for collaborative research involving UND students.