Drone Activities

Learn how various groups at University of Idaho are using drones.
Please contact us to add your drone-related activities!

Jason Karl (Drone Lab PI)
Forestry, Rangeland, and Fire Sciences
College of Natural Resources

Dr. Karl's research focuses on how imagery collected from drones can be used for measuring and monitoring rangeland and arid ecosystems. Jason is particularly interested in how drones might be used to improve the measurement of indicators that are challenging to measure using traditional field methods like vegetation biomass and utilization, and soil erosion. Jason leverages graduate and undergraduate students in his research and is always on the lookout for talented students who are interested in contributing. With over 5 years of experience in flying drones and using drone-collected imagery in research, Jason coordinated the establishment of the UI Drone Lab to help facilitate the use of drones in high-impact research by sharing resources and lessons learned.

Jason Karl research

vegetation biomass
Vegetation mapped from drone imagery

Northwest Knowledge Network (NKN)
Office of Research

NKN provides research computing support for faculty and staff at University of Idaho. They offer UAS services including aerial imagery collection, image processing and data storage. NKN has collected promotional stills and video for UI marketing purposes, captured aerial time-series images of dye dispersion for lake health studies, and collected orthoimagery for UI Agriculture Experiment Stations. Do you have a need for aerial imagery? Let NKN's certified drone pilots navigate the rules & regulations, the details of flight planning, and computationally intensive data processing — allowing you to focus on the big picture.

tracer experiment
Dye tracer experiment
Parker Farm orthoimage
Parker Farm orthoimage

Sanaz Shafian
CNR, Soil and Water Systems

Sanaz's research focuses on developing methodologies for economically and environmentally sustainable nutrient and water managements using drone images. She is particularly interested in developing learning algorithms and decision-making tools. She uses different multispectral/hyperspectral and thermal sensors to study food crops and fruit tress response to water and nutrient treatment in different climate. Sanaz also has collaborations with food crop commodities to make the best nutrient and water recommendations for new varieties across the Idaho.

Sanaz Safian research
Sanaz Shafian

Jae Ryu
Soil & Water Systems
College of Agricultural & Life Sciences

Dr. Jae Ryu's research focuses on sustainable water resources planning and management in Idaho and the west. He flies drones carrying everything from nets to high-end hyperspectral sensors to study agriculture and semi-arid environments in a changing climate. Dr. Ryu was also a recipient of a VIP grant (Vandal Ideas Project) aimed at supporting STEM education and improving go-on rates in Idaho. Through this grant (titled iDrone), Dr. Ryu and Dr. Kirsten LaPaglia held workshops for 7th-11th grade students across Idaho focusing on the basic concepts of unmanned aerial systems.

Drone carrying net
Drone carrying sweep net
iDrone workshop
iDrone workshop

Karla Eitel
McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS)
Natural Resources & Society
College of Natural Resources

A team of UI investigators, led by Dr. Karla Eitel, received NSF funding for their project, Building STEM Identity and Career Interests in Native American Students By Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and Remote Sensing Technologies. About 90 Native American students worked hands-on with remote sensing technology to explore local ecological issues through summer camp, school-based programs and internships to support the development of culturally connected STEM identities.

Building STEM Identity
Building STEM identity using UAV/remote sensing

Arjan Meddens
Natural Resources & Society
College of Natural Resources

Funded by a NASA Idaho Space Grant, post-doctoral researcher (now research assistant professor) Arjan Meddens used lidar mounted to a UAV to gather data on forests and streams. Specifically, these data were used to: (1) determine fuel load estimates near homes within the wildland-urban interface to assess future fuel treatment effectiveness; (2) quantify forest structural properties; and (3) establish a baseline for stream habitat that can be used to monitor restoration progress. The data have also been used to develop curriculum on UAV technology for Lapwai High School students, with the goal of increasing interest and participation in STEM activities. Industry partner Alta Science and Engineering, Inc., headquartered in Moscow, provided the UAV and flight services for the project.

Lidar imagery of trees captured from UAV
Lidar imagery of trees captured from a UAV

Alysson Statz
4-H coordinator for UI Extension
Valley County

Teens in Valley County are getting first-person flying lessons aimed at getting youth excited about science and math as part of a new drone camp offered by University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development. The program teaches youth about the rules and regulations of owning drones, along with the science of flight. The first drone camp was held in the summer of 2018 in McCall and Cascade, and a future camp is planned for summer of 2019.

4-H youth development
4-H Drone Camp