CE's Crawford receives esteemed IEEE Mildred Dresselhaus Medal
Purdue University’s Melba Crawford, Nancy Uridil and Francis Bossu Professor in Civil Engineering, is the recipient of the 2023 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Mildred Dresselhaus Medal for "contributions to remote sensing technology and leadership in its application for the benefit of humanity.”
IEEE Medals are the highest-ranking awards granted by IEEE, the world’s largest professional and educational organization for the greater engineering, computing and technology community. Each year, IEEE's Awards Board selects individuals who’ve demonstrated considerable contributions to their field and whose work has had a ”lasting impact on technology society and the engineering profession,” according to the IEEE Awards website.
“Dr. Crawford has made outstanding contributions to algorithms for advancing analysis of remotely sensed data, and particularly for hyperspectral data. Her work in nonlinear feature extraction, transfer learning, and active learning for analysis of high dimensional remotely sensed data has been at the international frontier of the field for more than a decade,” nominators wrote in Crawford’s nomination application to IEEE.
A pioneering force in remote sensing, Crawford’s work has provided novel capabilities related to geotechnical engineering, environmental mapping and monitoring, and agriculture. Her interdisciplinary research and education pursuits have been invaluable to understanding and addressing modern challenges affecting humanity, including the impact of climate change, natural disasters, and environmental degradation.
“I’m flabbergasted, frankly,” she said about receiving the highly recognized medal. “It was very surprising to me, and I’m very grateful.”
Crawford received the award on May 5, 2023, during IEEE Vision, Innovation and Challenges Summit and Honors Ceremony in Atlanta.
Crawford is a fellow and life member of IEEE. Since joining the organization in the early 1980s, she’s been involved In a wide range of activities, initially with IEEE’s Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (GRSS) and more recently the Technical Activities Board, of which she was treasurer from 2017-2020. She’s served in several leadership roles within GRSS, including education director, vice president for technical activities and vice president for conferences. She was also associate editor of the IEEE Transactions of the GRSS and served a two-year term as executive vice president from 2012-2012 and a two-year term as president from 2013-2014.
Her IEEE medal is not the first award she’s received from IEEE, a testament to the value of her contributions to her field. She was awarded IEEE Fellow for applications of satellite data and airborne lidar in 2007 and served as an IEEE Distinguished Lecturer (GRSS) from 2012-2016. She was the 2020 recipient of the IEEE GRSS Outstanding Service Award for the benefit and advancement of the GRSS, and the 2021 recipient of the David Landgrebe Award for outstanding contributions in the field of remote sensing analysis.
Prior to arriving at Purdue in 2006, Crawford was a professor at the University of Texas, Austin, where she founded an interdisciplinary research and applications development program in space-based and airborne remote sensing. She received her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois in 1970, master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois in 1973 and a doctorate in industrial and systems engineering from Ohio State University in 1981.