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Sergio Bernardes

Associate Director, Center for Geospatial Research
Director, Disruptive Geospatial Technologies Lab
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Geography

Research Interests:

My primary research involves the analysis of remotely-sensed and other geospatial data applied to environmental studies and includes time series of remotely sensed images, ground-based climate data and derived metrics to assess vegetation responses to natural and anthropogenic-related environmental changes. I am particularly interested in the use of spectral bio-indicators to investigate responses of vegetation to extreme climatic events, including changes in photosynthetic potential and primary productivity associated with reductions in water availability to plants.

Since 1989, I have worked on the interface between applications and the development of new software solutions for the geospatial field. My areas of expertise include geography, software development and the design and implementation of large geospatial projects for government, industry and academia. I am an FAA certified remote pilot and have been using unmanned aerial systems for remote sensing since 2013.

I direct the Disruptive Geospatial Technologies Lab (DiGTL), dedicated to software/hardware solution development and applications of unmanned aerial systems, augmented, mixed and virtual reality, applied to acquisition and exploration of geospatial data. I teach courses on unmanned aerial systems-based remote sensing and the application of geographic information systems.

  • Ph.D. Geography, University of Georgia
  • Certification in Geographic Information Sciences, University of Georgia
  • M.Sc. Remote Sensing, Brazilian National Institute for Space Research
  • B.Sc. Agricultural Engineering, University of Viçosa, Brazil
  • United States Army Corps of Engineers. “Evaluating Physical, Chemical, and Biological Impacts from the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project” – Database, Software and Hardware Infrastructure. PI. U$1,535,560. (2013-2024)
  • United States Department of Agriculture. "AI Innovations for UAS-based biomass estimation and regional extrapolations in the Gulf Atlantic Coastal Plain". Co-PI. U$370,655. (2022-2025)
  • Interdisciplinary Seed Grant Program – UGA. "Rubber-Modified Asphalt- A Potential Urban Heat Island Mitigation Strategy". Co-PI. U$59,800 (2024-2025)
  • Learning Technologies Grant - UGA. ““Education for the Digital Age: Creating Experiential Learning Opportunities at the Intersection Between Drones, Remote Sensing, Augmented/Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence” PI. U$24,873 (2023-2024)
  • National Endowment for Humanities. “Mapping the People of Early America”. Co-PI. U$278,363 (2018-2023)
  • Enterprise Information Technology Services - UGA: Unmanned aerial vehicles, remote sensors and other data collection equipment in support of teaching, learning and research in the Geosciences. PI. U$170,000+ (2022)
  • Learning Technologies Grant - UGA. “Integrating Multiple Technologies into Immersive, Experiential and Inclusive Solutions for Teaching and Learning in the Geosciences and Other Fields” PI. U$24,973 (2022-2023)
  • Learning Technologies Grant - UGA. “Supporting Safe and Inclusive Virtual and Augmented Reality Educational Experiences at the University of Georgia”  Co-PI. U$19,796 (2022-2023)
  • Learning Technologies Grant - UGA. “Integrating State-of-the-Art Technologies to Bridge Physical and Digital 3D+Time Worlds for Immersive and Experiential Teaching and Learning in the Geosciences”. PI. U$24,974 (2021-2022)
  • Learning Technologies Grant - UGA. “Creating Augmented and Virtual Reality Applications and Instructional Content for Mobile Devices to Enhance Face-to-Face and Remote Teaching and Learning at UGA”. PI. U$24,258 (2020-2021)
  • Learning Technologies Grant – UGA. “Training the Next Generation of Geoscientists: Using Innovative Teaching and Learning Strategies Based on Cutting-Edge Technologies to Prepare Students to Monitor a Changing Planet”. PI. U$24,989 (2019-2020)
  • Learning Technologies Grant – UGA. “Using State-of-the-Art Technologies to Explore Modified Perception: Creating Open Educational Resources Based on the Psychology of Virtual and Augmented Reality”. Co-PI. U$22,582 (2019-2020)
  • Learning Technologies Grant – UGA. “Innovative Technologies in Teaching and Learning: Incorporating Recent Developments in Augmented Reality into Active Learning at UGA”. PI. U$24,989 (2018-2019)
  • Office for the Vice President of Research – UGA. "Athens – Layers of Time (Phase II): Serving Datasets and Tools for Time-Series Visualization of Historical and Contemporary Geospatial Data in Athens, Georgia”. PI. U$28,024 (2018-2019)
  • Office of International Education and Office of the Vice President for Research - UGA. "Multiscalar Participatory Conservation: Biocultural Heritage for Landscape Services in Sustainable Development Planning in the Andes". Co-PI  U$8,000. (2018)
  • Learning Technologies Grant – UGA. “A 3D Active Teaching Tool for Learning about Atmospheric Sciences (3D-ATTLAS): Incorporating Augmented Reality into a Cutting-Edge Weather and Climate Teaching Solution at UGA”. PI. U$21,014 (2017-2018)
  • National Parks Service. “Photointerpretation Support for Vegetation Mapping at Six National Park Units of the Southeast Coast Network”. Co-PI. U$219,588 (2016-2018)
  • The Carter Center. “Geospatial Contributions to Worldwide Elimination of River Blindness (Onchocerciasis): Using Earth Observations to Locate At-Risk Yanomami Populations and Airstrips in the Amazon Region”. PI. U$ 39,850 (2016-2017)
  • Office for the Vice President of Research - UGA. “Dynamic Time-Series Visualization of the Cultural and Natural Landscape Surrounding Baldwin Hall: 1800s to Present”. Co-PI. U$40,351 (2017)
  • Learning Technologies Grant – UGA. “Bringing 3D Immersion through Virtual/Augmented Reality and Geovisualization Technologies to Geography-Geology Courses”. PI. U$24,949 (2016-2017)
  • NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP) (two proposals awarded: 2014-2016). PI. U$146,764
    • Light Use Efficiency and PRI of Multiple Biomes Under Variable Water Availability” (2014-2015)
    • Multi-Scale and Multi-Temporal Analyses of Relationships Between Spectral Bio-Indicators, Model Outputs and Plant-Vegetation Status Under Multiple Environmental Conditions” (2015-2016)
  • NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF). “Vegetation Responses to Extreme Climatic Events: Changes in Primary Productivity, Vegetation and Drought Indices in the Southeast U.S. Following the 2006-2009 Drought”. PI. U$90,000 (2009-2013)
  •  AmericaView Mini-Grant. “Augmenting AmericaView Earth Observation Day Materials and Advancing Education: The Development of MultiSpec© Tutorials for K-12 Students and Educators”. Co-PI. U$10,000 (2012-2013)
  • Wormsloe Foundation. “The Use of Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to Investigate Potential Upland Rice Cultivation at Wormsloe”. Co-wrote proposal/Researcher. U$8,380 (2013)
Of note:
  • Editor: Remote Sensing of the Amazon Special Issue, Remote Sensing Journal (2022-2023).
  • Editor: Image Processing and Analysis Methods chapter of the Manual of Remote Sensing 4th Edition. Editing book contributions by 45 authors from 36 organizations and nine countries. American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). (2020)
  • Science Advisor – NASA DEVELOP Program at the University of Georgia
  • Administrator: ArcGIS Online. University System of Georgia
  • Assistant-Chair: Climate Change Committee. Remote Sensing Applications Division of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). (2012-2014)
  • FAA Certified Remote Pilot

Honors and recognition:

  • NASA Postdoctoral Fellowship at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) (2014-2016)
  • Excellence in Research by Graduate Students Award, UGA (2014)
  • United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation Scholarship, USGIF (2013-2014)
  • NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) (2009-2013)
  • James L. Carmon Scholarship, Office of the Vice President for Research - UGA (2013)
  • Z/I Imaging Scholarship, American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) and Z/I Imaging (2013)
  • Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research Program Assistantship, Coweeta LTER (2013)
  • Erdas Imagine-DigitalGlobe 2012 Geospatial Challenge Worldwide Competition, 1st place, Intergraph and DigitalGlobe (2012)
  • William A. Fischer Memorial Scholarship, American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (2011)
  • Robert N. Colwell Memorial Fellowship, American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (2009)
  • Doctoral Level Teaching Assistantship (2009-2010): declined, UGA
  • Tinker Award, Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute - UGA (2008)
  • The Graduate School Dean’s Award, Graduate School, UGA (2008)
  • GeoEye Award, GeoEye Foundation/American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (2008)
  • Graduate School Assistantship Competition, Graduate School, UGA (2006-2008)
  • IBM Rio de Janeiro Scientific Center - Fellowship (1995-1996)
  • Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development Scholarship (1994-1995)
Courses Regularly Taught:
Selected Publications:

Recent works:

  • Bernardes, S., Presley, H., Cejalvo, R., Missaoui, A. UAS-based spectral and morphometric descriptors of alfalfa (Medicago sativa) in support of plant breeding and estimates of biomass yield-related traits. Frontiers in Plant Science (in review)
  • Bacchus, S. , Bernardes, S., & Madden, M. (2023) Implications of declining ground water and water quality in the US Southeastern Coastal Plain Ecoregion and Areawide Environmental Impact Statement required for mining in the Greater Okefenokee Swamp Basin—Part 1. Journal of Geoscience and Environment Protection, 11, 201-276. doi: 10.4236/gep.2023.113014.
  • Xu, R.; Li, C. & Bernardes, S. Development and Testing of a UAV-Based Multi-Sensor System for Plant Phenotyping and Precision Agriculture. Remote Sens.  2021, 13, 3517.
  • Bernardes, S., Madden, M., Walker, A., Knight, A., Neel, N., Mendki, A., Bhanderi, D., Guest, A., Healy, S., & Jordan, T. (2020). Emerging geospatial technologies in environmental research, education, and outreach. Geosfera Indonesia, 5(3), 352-363. doi:10.19184/geosi.v5i3.20719.
  • Çöltekin, A., Lochhead, I., Madden, M., Christophe, S., Devaux, A., Pettit, C., Lock, O., Shukla, S., Herman, L., Stachoň, Z., Kubíček, P., Snopkova, D., Bernardes, S. & Hedley N. (2020). Extended Reality in Spatial Sciences: A Review of Research Challenges and Future Directions, Invited Paper in, Li, S., S. Zlatanova, M.A. Brovelli and M. Sester (Eds.) Special Issue, State-of-the-Art in Spatial Information Science, ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information 9(7):439. 
  • Fragomeni, M., Bernardes, S., Shepherd, M. & Rivero, R. (2020). A collaborative approach to heat response planning: a case study to understand the integration of urban climatology and land-use planning. Urban Climate 33, 100653. doi:
  • Bernardes, S., Howard, A.M., Mendki, A., Walker, A., Bhanderi, D., Le, L., Tsao, A. & Madden, M. (2020) Innovative technologies in teaching and learning: Incorporating recent developments in virtual and augmented reality into active learning at the University of Georgia. Earth and Space Science Open Archive. doi:10.1002/essoar.10502013.1
  • Bernardes, S., & Madden, M. (2020). Characterization of canopy anisotropies over a forested area using a multispectral imager integrated into an unmanned aerial system: the Droniometer Experiment. Earth and Space Science Open Archive. doi:doi:10.1002/essoar.10502014.1
  • Bernardes, S., Manglass, L., Bacchus, S., & Madden, M. (2019). Analysis and extent of Santa Fe River flooding in North Florida attributed to rainfall and wind damage associated with Hurricane Irma. Journal of Geoscience and Environment Protection 7(11). doi: 10.4236/gep.2019.711019.
  • Bernardes, S., Madden, M., Knight, A., Neel, N., Morgan, N., Cameron, K. & Knox, J. (2018). A multi-component system for data acquisition and visualization in the geosciences based on UAVs, augmented and virtual reality. International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences. XLII-4, 45-49. doi: 10.5194/isprs-archives-XLII-4-45-2018, 2018.
  • Bernardes, S. (2018) A global multimodel analysis of predicted changes in plant water use efficiency and biomass accumulation in the 21st century. Proceedings of the 2018 IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium. Valencia, Spain.
  • Bernardes, S. (2018) A MODIS-derived primary productivity dataset for North America based on topographically-aware weather data and light-use efficiency. Proceedings of the 2018 IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium. Valencia, Spain.
  • Adami, M., Bernardes, S., Arai, E., Freitas, R.M., Shimabukuro, Y.E., Espírito-Santo, F.D.B., Rudorff, B., Anderson, L. (2018) Seasonality of vegetation types of South America depicted by Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) time series. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 69. doi: 10.1016/j.jag.2018.02.010.
  • Xu, W., Bernardes, S., Bacchus, S.T. & Madden, M. (2018) Management implications of aquifer fractures on ecosystem and habitat suitability for panthers in Southern Florida. Journal of Geoscience and Environmental Protection 6(2). doi: 10.4236/gep.2018.62012.
  • Bernardes, S. & Madden, M. (2016) Vegetation disturbance and recovery following a rare windthrow event in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences. XLI-B8, 571-575. doi: 10.5194/isprs-archives-XLI-B8-571-2016.
  • Shepherd, M., Burian, S., Liu, C. & Bernardes, S. (2016) Satellite precipitation metrics to study the energy-water-food nexus within the backdrop of an urbanized globe. Earthzine. May 2016.

Books & book chapters:

  • Howard, A., Bernardes, S. Virtual Perception and the Accessible Implementation of VR/AR Technology in Psychology Education. In Ethical Considerations of Virtual Reality in the College Classroom: Cross-Disciplinary Case Studies of Immersive Technology Implementation. Routledge Publishing.
  • Bernardes, S. & Madden, M. 2021. Digital Preservation of Historical Heritage Using 3D Models and Augmented Reality. In: Fundamentals of Capturing and Processing Drone Imagery and Data (Frazier, M. and Kunwar, S., Editors). CRC Press.
  • Bernardes, S. & Madden, M. 2020. Editors for Chapter 7: Image Processing and Analysis Methods. Invited Chapter, In, Moran, S., Renslow, M. & Budge, A. (Ed). Manual of Remote Sensing (4th Edition). American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing - ASPRS, Bethesda, Maryland.
  • Bernardes, S. 2020. Domain transforms and analyses using Fourier and Wavelets. In, Moran, S., Renslow, M. & Budge, A. (Ed). Manual of Remote Sensing (4th Edition). American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing - ASPRS, Bethesda, Maryland.
  • Bernardes, S. & Madden, M. 2020. Current status and future developments in image processing and analysis. In, Moran, S., Renslow, M. & Budge, A. (Ed). Manual of Remote Sensing (4th Edition). American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing - ASPRS, Bethesda, Maryland.
  • Cotten, D., Jordan, T., Madden, M. & Bernardes, S. 2020. Structure from motion and 3D reconstruction. In, Moran, S., Renslow, M. & Budge, A. (Ed). Manual of Remote Sensing (4th Edition). American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing - ASPRS, Bethesda, Maryland.
  • Zhang, Q., Yao, T., Sun, G. & Bernardes, S. 2020. Vegetation radiative transfer theory and modeling with PROSAIL2. In, Moran, S., Renslow, M. & Budge, A. (Ed). Manual of Remote Sensing (4th Edition). American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing - ASPRS, Bethesda, Maryland.
  • Madden, M., Jordan, T., Bernardes, S., Goetcheus, C., Olson K., & Cotten,D. 2019. Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) and Structure from Motion (SfM) for Identifying, Documenting and Monitoring Cultural and Natural Resources, Invited Chapter, In, J.B. Sharma (Ed), Applications of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Best Practices and Case Studies, CRC Press Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Raton, Florida.

Web, digital media & other products:

Articles Featuring Sergio Bernardes

Dr. Sergio Bernardes from the Center for Geospatial Research (CGR) is training federal and state agencies on the use of geospatial tools to monitor the performance of mitigation features associated with large engineering projects. The series of workshops…

Committee Advisees

Graduate Research Assistant
Post-Doctoral Research Scientist

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