EO Detective ID PL6-1203-SL-x8yk5

What do you work on?

I run Pixalytics, the company I co-own with my husband, which involves a combination of helping other companies understand what EO can be used for and undertaking research to extract new information. We have employees and placement students, and I also supervise PhD students so it is great to support people in developing their knowledge and interests.

How did you come to be an EO Detective?

Originally I wanted to be a vet, but I didn’t have the ‘A’ level grades I needed. Instead I went to Plymouth to do a degree in Fisheries. Once I was studying at Plymouth, I moved more towards meteorology, ocean science and computing and that meant I ended up taking some remote-sensing classes in my final year. I stayed at Plymouth to do a PhD in remote sensing, finishing that when I was 25, and have continued to live in Plymouth ever since.
My ‘A’ level subjects were art, the sciences and mathematics with all being important for my current job – producing EO images is both artistic and scientific, as we need to convey the information in as an appealing way as possible. The science provides a fundamental understanding of the Earth, and mathematics is important for understanding the research of others as well as describing your own.

What do the images show?

This is an image from my PhD. Data collected on an aircraft flight across the mouth of the Humber estuary has been processed to show the concentration of suspended sediment. It shows plumes of sediment being re-suspended by strong currents.
This is a pseudo-true colour image (i.e. similar to what you’d have from a colour photo, but very much enhanced) of the UK’s waters, which I created when I was working at Plymouth Marine Laboratory on an automated processing system for the SeaWiFS data. SeaWiFS was going to be used a data source for my PhD, but the launch got delayed and so instead it became the focus of my early working life.

How is the data you use collected and used?

Pixalytics uses data from a whole array of satellites to support researchers and businesses in a range of ways. I also work behind the scenes helping ESA to ensure the data they provide scientists is of the highest quality.  This can involve both assessing and improving historical datasets, and looking at data from satellites that have just been launched.
On a personal level, I’m a hoarder of data! I try to keep all my files, migrating them as I change my computer. Sometimes this comes in useful – for example, when I want to look at code I wrote during my PhD.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I have a great job as my passion is what I do every day – although I might forget that if there’s a late night when I’m trying to meet a deadline.  I love exploring data, and the advantage of working in a small team is that it’s very collaborative and I end up writing code on most days. Running a company also means that I can create the environment I want to work within.
The world is a small place: my sister Lorraine also has a scientific job, working on smart cities, and we often run into people the other one knows.

Tell us about your favourite image of the Earth from space

Image from NASA

Pale Blue Dot was taken in 1990 when the Voyager 1 spacecraft (launched in 1977) was more than 4 billion miles from the Earth. This is remote sensing at a remote distance!
(The yellow circle was added by another of our EO Detectives, Joey McNorton: this is his favourite picture too.)

What do you do in your spare time?

I don’t have much spare time as I tend to take work home – and volunteer in support of the EO community. I do keep an aquarium of tropical fish, and like to go out for a long run on Sunday mornings.

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