TGI Names Deputy Director and SLU Appoints Inaugural Associate Vice President for Geospatial Science

Photo collage of 2023 TGI Fellows.

by Bob Grant

ST. LOUIS – Vasit Sagan, Ph.D., will become Deputy Director of the Taylor Geospatial Institute (TGI) and Associate Vice President for Geospatial Science at Saint Louis University, effective September 1, 2023.

Sagan has served as TGI’s Acting Director since its April 2022 launch, leading TGI’s efforts to harness the power of partnership with industry, government agencies, and research entities to address some of the world’s greatest challenges. As TGI’s Deputy Director, Sagan will work hand in hand with TGI’s inaugural Executive Director, Nadine Alameh, Ph.D. The Deputy Director role will focus on shaping TGI’s scientific agenda, building research collaborations, growing geospatial computing and data infrastructure, engaging consortium partners, and recruiting talent.

Sagan will also serve as SLU’s inaugural Associate Vice President for Geospatial Science in the Office of the Vice President for Research. In this role, he will work with University and faculty leaders to advance SLU’s institutional geospatial priorities, including faculty and staff recruitment, educational programs, research infrastructure, and faculty grant support. This assignment solidifies SLU’s commitment to advanced geospatial science as a key University priority.

“Dr. Sagan has been a primary force behind SLU’s and TGI’s emergence as leaders in geospatial research,” said Vice President for Research and Partnerships, Kenneth A. Olliff, who also serves as the Chair of TGI’s Governing Council. “I look forward to working with him to further elevate St. Louis as the nation’s center of excellence in geospatial science.”

Sagan has been central to SLU’s geospatial science progress for many years. In 2007, he joined SLU as a geospatial analyst. He began establishing geospatial certificate and degree programs in 2010; and in 2012, as a newly minted assistant professor, launched the University’s Remote Sensing Lab, which focuses on studying the environmental impacts of land use, land cover, precision agriculture, GeoAI, and climate change. As that lab’s Director, Sagan mentored dozens of students, postdoctoral fellows, and research faculty while authoring more than 150 peer-reviewed journal publications. Over his career at SLU, he has been a principal investigator or co-principal investigator on more than $40 million in funded grants. 

He was also the founding Director of the Geospatial Institute (GeoSLU), SLU’s campus-wide geospatial Big Idea, from 2018–2022. In this role, Sagan directed SLU’s campus-wide geospatial research and training programs, and under his leadership, GeoSLU secured more than $10 million in external grants and contracts, and created three new faculty lines. These accomplishments positioned SLU as a regional geospatial leader and laid the foundation for the Taylor Geospatial Institute. Sagan collaboratively shaped TGI’s vision, mission, and scientific priorities through convening dozens of faculty and stakeholders.

Sagan has helped to build TGI into a world-class research consortium, to create a robust geospatial data infrastructure that empowers consortium faculty, and to establish numerous incentive programs. In TGI’s first year, Sagan assisted in recruiting dozens of geospatial leaders to TGI’s partner institutions and secured more than $15 million in external grants. 

He currently serves as a member of the National Geospatial Advisory Committee under the U.S. Department of the Interior, where he chairs the committee to advance U.S. global geospatial excellence and innovation. He is also Associate Editor of the Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Director of the MissouriView Consortium, and has been Primary Investigator for SLU’s CRADA with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency since 2018. He has served on NASA’s Air Quality Applications Science Team and NASA’s recent mission focused on studying Earth’s atmospheric composition, TEMPO (Tropospheric Emissions: Measurement of Pollution). He was the Vice President and President of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing Heartland Region from 2013–2015.

“I am excited to serve as TGI’s Deputy Director to bolster its mission to advance geospatial science with our partners and build TGI into the nation’s leading geospatial research center,” Sagan said. “And I am excited about my new role as the Associate Vice President for Geospatial Science. It shows SLU’s strong commitment to advance this field, which sets an example for other academic institutions to follow.”

About Taylor Geospatial Institute

The TGI consortium includes Saint Louis University, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Harris-Stowe State University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Missouri University of Science & Technology, University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Washington University in St. Louis. Collectively, these institutions encompass more than 5,000 faculty and 100,000 students. 

TGI aims to advance geospatial science through multi-institutional, interdisciplinary collaborations to create innovative, real-world solutions to grand societal challenges. It supports a collaborative research and training environment and while shaping the future of geospatial science in the U.S. For more information, visit taylorgeospatial.org