Dr. Leslie A. Morrissey, Professor Emerita, passed away on Saturday September 2, 2017. Dr. Morrissey was an Associate Professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources from 1995 to 2013 having previously received degrees from Oregon State (Ph.D. Geosciences) and San Jose State Universities (M.S. Geography)
Leslie came to UVM wanting to give back to the community but specifically to build a geospatial technologies program. Today, the results of her efforts can be measured in part by how remote sensing and GIS (geographic information systems) technologies have become so widely ingrained in UVM, State and local environmental planning and management activities. As an educator she developed curricula in GIS, remote sensing and global environmental assessment. She was highly dedicated to her students and was sought by both undergraduate and graduate students as a fair but demanding mentor equally valued for her expertise, caring attitude, sense of humor and healthy irreverence towards bureaucracy. Leslie participated on a variety of advisory panels and developed many cross-disciplinary collaborations including a popular university-wide minor in geospatial technologies that was first offered in 2007 and continues today
Dr. Morrissey’s research was both local and international in scope and centered about the application of satellite and aircraft remote sensing (multi-spectral optical, off-nadir, Synthetic Aperture Radar and LIDAR) and GIS in a wide variety of environmental applications. Prior to her academic career, Leslie was an accomplished Senior Research Scientist and Project Manager at the NASA Ames Research Center in California where her research focused on biogenic greenhouse gas (methane) emissions in Arctic and Boreal ecosystems and their role and response in regional and global climate change. While at UVM, Leslie published on greenhouse gas emissions from wildfires in northern environments and refocused her research to address storm water management, water quality, stream geomorphology, and the role of streambank erosion on phosphorus loading to stream waters. More recently in collaboration with colleagues from CEMS, Biology and external investigators, Leslie’s research addressed vector-borne Chagas disease in rural Latin American communities.
A memorial celebration of Dr. Morrissey's life will be held at a time still to be determined. In lieu of flowers, tell someone that you love them, call a friend or family member, perform an act of kindness, forgive someone – this is what Leslie would have wanted. Donations, if desired, may be forwarded to the McClure Miller VNA Respite House, 3113 Roosevelt Hwy, Colchester, VT 05446 (https://www.vnacares.org/donating-to-vna/make-an-online-donation/), the Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation (https://netrf.org/) or to a cause close to your heart.