Meet Esther Oyedele, USGIF Scholarship Winner

One of our 2023 scholarship winners is Esther Oyedele, a recipient of a USGIF doctoral scholarship and current doctoral student at Virginia Tech


Each year, USGIF offers scholarships to students who demonstrate a passion for geospatial intelligence, geospatial sciences, and related disciplines. This financial assistance supports the rising generation of GEOINT professionals.

One of our 2023 scholarship winners is Esther Oyedele, a recipient of a USGIF doctoral scholarship and current doctoral student at Virginia Tech. She is a first-generation scholar with a bachelor’s degree in geophysics and a master’s degree in geology. Oyedele’s research focuses on utilizing satellite observations and hydrologic and climate data to investigate the profound effects of ongoing droughts in the southwestern United States.

Can you summarize your doctoral research about climate and hydrologic data and how it pertains to droughts in the southwestern U.S.?

I am using a multidisciplinary approach, which combines satellite observations, hydrologic data, and climate information to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of the ongoing drought conditions in the southwestern U.S.

Using geospatial analysis techniques, I aim to monitor access and predict the effects of these droughts which have far-reaching consequences on the various critical sectors in the U.S. My research incorporates cutting-edge technologies such as remote sensing and GIS to analyze the evolving water landscape. Additionally, based on the current courses I’m taking this fall semester, I intend to integrate emerging technologies like machine learning to enhance the accuracy and the efficiency of my geospatial analysis.

In essence, I’d say my work aligns with the broader mission of USGIF, as it contributes to enhancing our understanding of a pressing environmental and socio-economic challenges, which is directly tied to national security in the U.S.

What do you plan to do after completing your Ph.D.?

This is my first year, so I still have about three or four years to complete my studies, depending on how fast I round off my research projects and complete the prerequisites coursework.

After completing my Ph.D., I’m deeply motivated to continue my research and contribute to addressing pressing environmental and geospatial challenges. I’m highly interested in pursuing a career as a researcher with organizations like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), because I did my summer internship with them, or with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). My attraction to institutions like NASA and NCAR is because these institutions are at the forefront of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Their work aligns perfectly with my research interest in geospatial analysis, climate study, and hydrology.

What does receiving a USGIF scholarship mean to you?

I was elated. It not only represents a recognition of my academic achievements, but also a validation of my commitment to the field of GEOINT, and its broader mission. This scholarship is a testament to the faith and support of the USGIF in my research which provides me financial means to pursue my doctoral studies, allowing me to focus on my research without the burden of excessive financial stress.

I would also say being the recipient of a USGIF scholarship represents a connection to a community of likeminded individuals who share a passion for geospatial intelligence and its crucial role in addressing complex global challenges. And this provides me with more platforms for networking opportunities, and the chance to also learn from other experts in the field while collaborating with them. I know that I have a community that supports my growth, a platform where I can do knowledge exchange, and the potential for impactful contributions of my research to the field.

How can GEOINT professionals and experts utilize academic work like your own?

Professionals can apply these findings to better understand regional vulnerabilities, support disaster response efforts, and make informed policy recommendations. GEOINT experts can also consider adopting the technologies in their work to improve the data processing and interpretation that they may be doing. In addition, my research will enhance collaboration opportunities. For instance, my research integrates diverse disciplines which include remote sensing, hydrology, climatology, socio-economic analysis, and data science. These interdisciplinary approaches can yield more comprehensive and actionable GEOINT outcomes.

The USGIF scholarship program aims to support and encourage talented individuals who demonstrate a passion for geospatial intelligence, geospatial sciences, and related disciplines. Successful applicants receive financial assistance to pursue their education and achieve their academic goals. Interested in learning more? Visit our website at

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