Here you can find many event details for the virtual 2021 STRATUS Conference, including the event synopsis, schedule, program committee, keynote speakers, and virtual field trips.


About the Conference

The virtual 2021 STRATUS conference brings together academics, industry representatives, and domain specialists to share perspectives on this rapidly evolving field of a wide range of topics. Since its inception in 2016, STRATUS went from a one-day to a two-day and then to a three-day annual workshop and is now a three-day conference and includes previously recorded field trips. Based on the received request from attendees, we have expanded the workshops to reach entities beyond the original scope of a Western New York audience.

This conference is virtual only without in-person attendance.

What sets the non-profit virtual 2021 STRATUS Conference apart from other specialized or larger UAS meetings are the important interdisciplinary topics ranging from the latest challenges in UAV platform design and technology to sensor design, information gathering and processing, and modeling to produce data that support decision-making.

The virtual 2021 STRATUS Conference topics include:

  • Remote Sensing
  • 3D and Multi-view Imaging
  • Environmental Monitoring and Modelling
  • Platforms, Calibration, Sensor, and Imaging Systems
  • Technologies and Applications
  • Algorithm and Image Processing
  • Photogrammetry
  • Geohazards and Extreme Events
  • Single Unit and Swarm Missions

The Special Focus of the 2021 STRATUS Conference is “Geohazards and other Extreme Events”. We invite participants who are interested in sharing their insight, latest research, and technical challenges to engage in scientific and practical conversations to identify collaborative partners for facing the complex challenges under extreme conditions with holistic approaches in designing and testing integrated UAV mission planning, information gathering and decision making for extreme conditions, rapid response or emergency management. 

The conference has a two-track submission process for program consideration. You can either submit an abstract (plus presentation, i.e., track 1) or a 4-page paper (plus presentation i.e., track 2). The first track is for workshop participants who desire to share their work during the conference without submitting a full paper. This first track will require an abstract only for program consideration.  The second track is for authors wishing to present a full paper to be published in the proceedings. A paper is required and will undergo a full peer-review process for those wishing to seek this option.

Our Program includes both oral paper and lightning talk sessions, student prizes for best paper/lightning talk, breaks for networking, browsing exhibits, live demonstrations, and previously recorded field trips. Thanks to our sponsors, we keep the conference fees affordable.

The virtual 2021 STRATUS Conference is a collaborative organizational effort including researchers from some of the region’s leading universities. The general organizing committee is made up of researchers working at the interface of universities, industries, government agencies, and other community stakeholders from these institutions: 

• University at Buffalo (UB)
• Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)
• SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) 

We all hope to see you at the virtual 2021 STRATUS Conference.


– the Conference Organization Team

If you have any questions about the conference, please contact

Event Schedule


Keynote Speakers

peter webley

Peter Webley

Research Associate Professor of Remote Sensing at the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Dr. Peter Webley is a Research Associate Professor of Remote Sensing at the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks and is the Associate Director of Research at ACUASI. Peter has a BSc in Geophysics and an MSc in Atmospheric Sciences, both from the University of East Anglia, UK and a Ph.D. in Remote Sensing from the University of Reading, UK. His research focuses on natural hazards, especially volcanic eruptions, the application of unmanned aircraft systems to hazard mapping, and the use of remote sensing data from the ground to space and back to develop change detection algorithms.

Peter is a geoscientist, entrepreneur, and innovator. He was a 2017 inductee into the State of Alaska Innovators Hall of Fame, has patented his research on volcanic ash cloud modeling, and co-founded V-ADAPT, Inc. in 2013, the first start-up company developed from UAF intellectual property, that focuses providing real-time decision support tools for volcanic hazard mapping and ash dispersion.

Peter’s Keynote: ACUASI and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Arctic Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Test Site

Peter’s keynote introduces the various different systems developed in and for Alaska: small to large UAS, various sensors used (including onboard for flight and detect and avoid) as well as applications and missions to collect information on the dynamics of natural hazards and other extreme events.

Learn more about Peter

David Benowitz

David Benowitz

Head of Research, DroneAnalyst

David Benowitz is the Head of Research at DroneAnalyst, where he publishes exhaustive research about the state of the drone industry, industry trends and more. This includes a variety of publicly accessible information and private data for clients.


David joins the DroneAnalyst team from DJI, where he contributed as a founding member of its Enterprise business. During his 4-year tenure at the company, David most notably spearheaded the launch of a series of industry-first product lines and was key to the establishment and growth of AirWorks, DJI’s annual commercial drone conference.

In addition to bringing his past drone experience, David also brings his education background in econometrics to DroneAnalyst.

Ken Stewart

Ken Stewart

President and CEO of NUAIR

Ken Stewart serves as President and CEO of NUAIR (Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance Inc.) joining the organization in late 2020 where he is responsible for setting the overall vision and product strategy for the organization. Mr. Stewart is an experienced industry veteran in wireless telecommunications and cloud-based software market with a specialization in building Enterprise SaaS, Federated digital marketplaces and platforms.  Prior to joining NUAIR Mr. Stewart served as the CEO of AiRXOS, a GE aviation company, where he led innovation, development and commercialization of Unmanned Traffic Management services.  After beginning his career in engineering and management positions at IBM and GTE, Stewart served as an executive with several venture capital and private equity-backed companies commercializing and scaling pre-revenue start-ups and transforming organizations for growth.

Student Prizes

There will be prizes for best student presentation and best student poster! These awards not only include a cash prize to the winner(s), but also 2-year memberships to IEEE and the Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (GRSS)!

Fees, Dates, and Topics

Registration fees

Early registration (available until April 16): $50
Students are free.

Late registration (after April 16): $65
Students: $15

IEEE Members registration: $40

Important Dates

Conference: May 17-19, 2021 | Virtual event

Abstract submission deadline: extended to March 15, 2021

Notification of acceptance: extended to April 1, 2021

Early registration deadline: April 16, 2021

Full paper submission deadline: September 1, 2021

ReTopics (UAS-focused)

Remote Sensing

3D and Multi-view Imaging

Environmental Monitoring and Modelling

Platforms, Calibration, Sensor, and Imaging Systems

Technologies and Applications

Algorithm and Image Processing


Geohazards and Extreme Events

Single Unit and Swarm Missions


Program Committee

General Chairs

Chris Renschler

Chris Renschler, Department of Geography, University at Buffalo
View Chris’ professional webpage

Emmett Ientilucci

Emmett Ientilucci, Digital Image and Remote Sensing Lab, Rochester Institute of Technology
View Emmett’s professional webpage

Technical Program & Publications Chair 

Bahram Salehi

Bahram Salehi, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY
View Bahram’s professional webpage

Poster Chair 

Peter Spacher

Peter Spacher, Rochester Institute of Technology
View Peter’s professional webpage

Financial Chair

Emmett Ientilucci

Sponsor and Exhibits Chair

Emmett Ientilucci

Field Trip Chairs

Souma Chowdhury

Souma Chowdhury, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University at Buffalo
View Souma’s professional webpage

Ingo Sonder, UB

Ingo Sonder, Department of Geology, University at Buffalo, Center for Geohazards Studies
View Ingo’s professional webpage

Local Arrangements Chair

Marianne Sullivan

Dr. Marianne Sullivan
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
University at Buffalo

Guiding Coalition

erin rowley

Erin Rowley, University Libraries-VPUL, University at Buffalo

Robin sullivan

Roberta “Robin” Sullivan, University Libraries-VPUL, University at Buffalo

Call for Abstracts


The emergence of low-cost and easy-to-use Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), commonly referred to as drones, has led to an explosion of their use for numerous applications. In particular, these new platforms have enabled new imaging and earth remote sensing technologies and applications previously unavailable due to the high cost of manned aircraft or satellites. This event is the 4th conference of STRATUS that will bring together academics, industry representatives, and domain specialists to share perspectives on this rapidly evolving topic.

Abstract Submission

Abstracts must be written in English and should not exceed 250 words. Abstracts should include title, authors’ contact information, and abstract body. The abstract can be presented either orally or as a poster. Please indicate in your submission for a poster or oral presentation.


The program will include student prizes for the best presentation and poster!

Full Paper Submission

A special issue of Remote Sensing-Open Access Journal (Impact Factor of 4.118) will be dedicated to selected full papers of this conference.

All full paper submissions will go through the normal peer-review process of RS-Open Access. Up to 5 high-quality submissions (based on the reviewers’ recommendation and guest editors’ decision) will be published free of charge (the article processing fee is 2400 CHF, equal to about 2400 USD for each paper).

Guest editors for the special issue are:

• Dr. Bahram Salehi (SUNY ESF)
• Dr. Emmett Ientilucci (RIT)
• Dr. Chris Renschler (UB)
• Dr. Peter Spacher (RIT)


A future notice regarding the special issue, including the website and submission link, will be available to the public.

For any questions regarding the abstract or full paper submission, please contact the Conference Technical and Publication Chair, Dr. Salehi, at or by phone at +1 (315) 470-6550.

Virtual Field Trips

Virtual field trips will be pre-recorded without in-person attendance and are included in the registration fee.

Virtual Field Trip 1: Lava Pour – High-Temperature Reference Application

For the STRATUS 2021 focus on extreme events, we will conduct and record a pre-conference temperature reference experiment that allows us to observe and record the flow of a known, high-temperature melt (molten volcanic rock), and its subsequent cooling and solidification. The initial temperature and emissivity of the melt are known, which allows us to calibrate experimental sensors at these temperatures. A team of collaborators will report on testing ground-based and UAV-based multispectral sensors, including on-site temperature and radiation measurement equipment.

Virtual Field Trip 2: Robot Swarm Technology

Read more about robot swarm technology

Virtual Field Trip 3: Roof Inspections

Read more about EagleHawk Roof Inspections

Virtual Field Trip 4: Drone Cage

Read more about the Drone Cage

About the test site and location

The event/experiment will happen at the Geohazards Fieldstation, close to Springville, NY. At the site, we typically conduct experiments on hazardous volcanic processes, such as explosive crater formation, or intense magma-water interaction.

Location of the Fieldstation:

Directions from UB North:

More information about the Fieldstation:

Here is what the last two popular news outlets had to say about us: