4. September 2018
Leopoldina Early Career Award 2018

DLR Earth ob­serv­er Xi­aox­i­ang Zhu wins prize for her achieve­ments

Professor Xiaoxiang Zhu of DLR’s Earth Observation Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen
Pro­fes­sor Xi­aox­i­ang Zhu of DLR’s Earth Ob­ser­va­tion Cen­tre in Oberp­faf­fen­hofen
Image 1/3, Credit: ©TU München.

Professor Xiaoxiang Zhu of DLR’s Earth Observation Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen

Xi­aox­i­ang Zhu works at the DLR Earth Ob­ser­va­tion Cen­ter in Oberp­faf­fen­hofen, where she heads the EO Da­ta Sci­ence de­part­ment at the Re­mote Sens­ing Tech­nol­o­gy In­sti­tute. Among oth­er things, she is re­search­ing the link­ing of satel­lite Earth ob­ser­va­tion da­ta with so­cial me­dia da­ta.
3D LoD1 mod­el
Image 2/3, Credit: ©Xiaoxiang Zhu, DLR/TU München.

3D LoD1 model

First im­pres­sion of the glob­al 3D ur­ban LOD1 mod­els: Mu­nich city re­con­struct­ed us­ing on­ly five Tan­DEM-X ac­qui­si­tions. The build­ing foot­prints have been re­con­struct­ed from op­ti­cal da­ta, and the build­ing heights (colour) from the To­moSAR point cloud.
Project So2Sat
Image 3/3, Credit: ©Xiaoxiang Zhu, DLR/TU München.

Project So2Sat

The ERC Project So2Sat in a nut­shell. To bet­ter un­der­stand glob­al ur­ban­i­sa­tion, to­geth­er with her team, Xi­aox­i­ang Zhu com­bines Big Earth Da­ta from satel­lite and so­cial me­dia to de­rive a first and unique glob­al and con­sis­tent 3D/4D spa­tial da­ta set on the ur­ban mor­phol­o­gy.

  • Xiaoxiang Zhu of the Earth Observation Center in Oberpfaffenhofen has been awarded the Leopoldina Early Career Award 2018
  • The DLR scientist researches artificial intelligence for remote sensing and is a pioneer in the research field of deep learning in Earth observation
  • Focus: space travel, Earth observation, Big Data, people at DLR

Xiaoxiang Zhu of the Remote Sensing Technology Institute at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has been awarded the 30,000 euro Leopoldina Early Career Award 2018. The German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina honours her for her outstanding achievements in satellite-based Earth observation, focused on mapping worldwide urbanisation and assessing natural hazards.

"At the age of 33, Professor Zhu is already an eminent and internationally renowned scientist in the field of mathematical signal processing techniques and Earth observation, with a focus on tracking urban areas and civil infrastructure. She has had an exceptional meteoric career so far," stated the jury. Xiaoxiang Zhu heads theEarth Ob­ser­va­tion Da­ta Sci­ence De­part­ment at the DLR site in Oberpfaffenhohen. She is also a professor at the Department of Civil, Geo and Environmental Engineering at the Technical University of Munich. Zhu joined the faculty in 2015, becoming one of the youngest professors in Germany at the age of 30.

As part of her research, the DLR scientist maps cities using satellite-based Earth observation. Climate change and urbanisation are among the most severe challenges faced by our planet. Satellite data is evaluated in order to track such developments. Zhu has developed new radar techniques and algorithms for this purpose, and supplements this data with information from social networks. In order to analyse large quantities of data from such a vast array of sources, Zhu uses machine learning with deep neural networks to automatically detect and evaluate images. This work has made Zhu a pioneer in the field of deep learning applied to Earth observation.

Zhu will be presented with the Early Career Award 2018 at the Leopoldina annual assembly, which will take place in Halle (Saale) on 21 September 2018. The award is sponsored by the Commerzbank Foundation.

  • Information

    The DLR scientist studied Aerospace Engineering in Changsha, China, and successfully completed the Earth Oriented Space Science and Technology (ESPACE) study programme in Munich. She received her doctorate from the Technical University of Munich in 2011, where she became a professor in 2013. As part of her doctorate, she was the first to use radar satellite signals to create reconstructions of buildings and traffic routes. She was presented with the Dimitris N. Chorofas Foundation Research Award for her work in 2011. In 2015, she was also awarded the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize, Technology Review magazine’s ‘Best Innovators under 35’ prize and the Helene Lange Prize for her work. In 2016 she won the Early Career Award from the IEEE Geoscience & Remote Sensing Society and the Science Prize from the German Aerospace Center (DLR). She was awarded one of the prestigious ERC Starting Grants in 2017.

  • Philipp Burtscheidt
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    Pub­lic Af­fairs and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions
    Telephone: +49 2203 601-2323
    Fax: +49 2203 601-3249

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