------------------------ Research Interests


Graduate Opportunities






Research Associates







Department of Geography
McGill University,
805 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, QC H3A 2K6

Office: Burnside Hall 622
Telephone: +1(514) 398-4347
Fax +1 (514) 398-7437


Dr. Margaret Kalacska

Assistant Professor

My main research interests include ecological and forensice applications of remote sensing, HPC hyperspectral data analysis, machine learning (pattern recognition, Bayesian Networks, classification), spatial modeling and tropical ecology.

Other Professional Activities

2008-2009: Research Fellow, Canadian International Council – Border Security Working Group

Co-Coordinator of ecosystem composition and modeling componentTropi-dry Research Network

Previous Appointments

2008: Sessional Instructor, School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University, Canada

2006-2008: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University, Canada

2006-2007: Post Doctoral Fellow, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Canada (TROPI-DRY Network)

mer bleue

Ongoing Research

My current ongoing research includes:

  • Estimation of vegetation characteristics from hyperspectral data
  • Detection of clandestine graves
  • Remote sensing for border security
  • Application of remote sensing to ecosystem health
  • Long-wave infrared hyperspectral image analysis
  • High Performance Computing for remote sensing

  • Graduate Student Supervision

    I welcome MSc and Phd applications for three specific areas of research:

    1) Development of image processing algorithms using CUDA (previous experience with CUDA and GPGPU required)

    2) Bayesian Network analysis of historical data (previous experience with Bayesian Netoworks required)

    3) Distributed computing and remote sensing (previous experience with Torque Server, OpenMPI and one of Matlab, R, IDL or Octave required)


    I am currently teaching the following courses in Geography:

    GEOG 308: Prnciples of Remote Sensing

    GEOG 535: Remote Sensing and Interpretation

    GEOG 201: Introductory Geo-Information Science

    GEOG 494: Urban Field Studies



    Kalácska M. and Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A. (Eds) 2008. Hyperspectral Remote Sensing of Tropical and Sub-Tropical Forests, CRC Press - Taylor and Francis Group.


    Refereed Journal Articles:

    2003. Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A., Castro K.L., Rivard B., Kalácska M. Remote sensing research priorities in tropical dry forest environments. Biotropica 35:134-142.

    2003. Kalácska M., Keresztes R., Kalácska G. Engineering polymers or engineering wood? Tribological examination of nature's and science's composites. Plastics and Rubber 40:403-407.

    2004. Kalácska M., Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A., Rivard B., Calvo-Alvarado J.C., Journet A.R.P., Arroyo-Mora J.P., Ortiz-Ortiz D. Leaf area index measurements in a tropical moist forest: A case study from Costa Rica. Remote Sensing of Environment 91:134-152.

    2004. Kalácska M., Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A., Calvo-Alvarado J.C., Quesada M., Rivard B., Janzen D.H. Species composition, similarity and diversity in three successional stages of seasonally dry tropical forest. Forest Ecology and Management 200:227-247.

    2005. Kalácska M., Calvo-Alvarado J.C., Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A. Calibration and assessment of seasonal changes in leaf area index of a tropical dry forest in different stages of succession. Tree Physiology 25:733-744.

    2005. Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A., Kalácska M., Quesada M., Calvo-Alvarado J.C., Nassar J.M., Rodriguez J.P. Need for integrated research for a sustainable future in tropical dry forests (Editorial). Conservation Biology19: 285-286.

    2005. Kalácska M., Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A., Caelli T., Rivard B., Boerlage B. Estimating leaf area index from satellite imagery using Bayesian Networks. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 43:1866-1873.

    2005. Arroyo-Mora J.P., Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A., Kalácska M., Rivard B., Calvo-Alvarado J.C., Janzen D.H. Secondary forest detection in a Neotropical dry forest using Landsat 7 ETM+ imagery. Biotropica 37: 497-507

    2005. Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A., Quesada M., Rodriguez J.P., Nasser J.M., Stoner K.E., Castillo A., Garvin T., Zent E.L., Calvo J., Kalácska M., Fajardo L., Gamon J., Cuevas-Reyes P. Research priorities for Neotropical dry forests. Biotropica 37: 477-487

    2005. Kalácska M., Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A., Rivard B., Calvo-Alvarado J.C., Quesada M. Seasonal and successional changes in leaf area index in three Mesoamerican tropical dry forests. Biotropica 37: 486-496

    2006. Kalácska M., Bell L.S. Remote Sensing as a tool for detecting clandestine graves. Canadian Society of Forensic Sciences Journal 39: 1-13.

    2006. Morisette J.T., Baret F., Privette J.L., Myneni R.B., Nickeson J., Garrigues S., Shabanov N, Weiss M., Fernandes R., Leblanc S., Kalácska M., Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A., Chubey M., Rivard B., Stenberg P., Rautiainen M., Voipio P., Manninen T., Pilant A., Lewis A., Iiames J., Colombo R., Meroni M., Busetto L., Cohen W., Turner D. Warner E.D., Peterson G.W., Seufert G., Cook R. Validation of global moderate resolution LAI Products: a framework proposed within the CEOS Land Product Validation subgroup. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 44: 1804-1817.

    2007. Kalácska M., Bohlman S., Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A., Castro-Esau K., Caelli T. Hyperspectral discrimination of tropical dry forest lianas and trees: Comparative data reduction approaches at the leaf and canopy levels. Remote Sensing of Environment 109:406-415.

    2007. Kalácska M., Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A., Rivard B., Caelli T., White H.P., Calvo-Alvarado J.C. Ecological fingerprinting of ecosystem succession: estimating secondary tropical dry forest structure and diversity using imaging spectroscopy. Remote Sensing of Environment 108:82-96

    2008. Kalácska M., Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A., Rivard B., Quesada M. Baseline assessment for environmental services payments from satellite imagery. Journal of Environmental Management 88:348-359

    2009. Kalácska M., Bell L.S., Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A., Caelli T. The application of remote sensing for detecting mass graves: an experimental animal case study from Cost Rica. Journal of Forensic Sciences. 54: 159-166

    2009. Sanchez-Azofeifa G.A., Castro K., Wright S.J., Gamon J., Kalacska M., Rivard B., Schnitzer S.A. Differences in leaf traits, leaf internal structure, and spectral reflectance between two communities of lianas and trees: Implications for remote sensing in tropical environments. Remote Sensing of Environment 113: 2076-2088

    2009. Sanchez-Azofeifa G.A., Kalacska M., do Espirito-Santo M.M., Fernandes G.W., Schnitzer S. Tropical forest succession and the contribution of lianas to wood-area-index (WAI). Forest Ecology and Management 258:941-948.


    Book Chapters and Monographs:

    2003. Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A., Kalácska M., Quesada M., Stoner K., Lobo J.A., Arroyo-Mora J.P. Tropical dry climates. In: Schwartz M.D., (Ed.) Phenology: An Integrative Environmental Science. Kluwer Academic Press. pp 121-137.

    2003. Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A., Kachmar M., Kalácska M., Hamilton S. Issues in field data collection for land use and land cover classifications in Boreal and Tropical environments. In: Wulder M. and Franklin S. (Eds) Methods for remote sensing of forests: Concepts and case studies. Kluwer Academic Publishers pp 433-446

    2005. Kalácska G., Kalácska M., Keresztes R., De Baets P. Friction and wear of polymer composites under different load systems. In: Füleky G., Mézes M., Csizmadia B.M., Kiss T.T., Huszenicza G., Reischl G. and Sz?cs I. (Eds) Bulletin of the Szent István University. Szent István University, Gödöll? Hungary pp 165-172

    2008. Castro-Esau K.L and Kalácska M. Tropical dry forest phenology and the discrimination of tropical species using hyperspectral data. In: Kalácska M. and Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A. (Eds) Hyperspectral Remote Sensing of Tropical and Sub-Tropical Forests, Taylor and Francis Group. pp 1-25.

    2008. Calvo-Alvarado, J.C., Kalácska M., Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A., Bell L.S. Effect of soil type on plant growth, leaf nutrient/chlorophyll concentration and leaf reflectance of tropical tree and grass species. In: Kalácska M. and Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A. (Eds) Hyperspectral Remote Sensing of Tropical and Sub-Tropical Forests, Taylor and Francis Group. pp 87-123.

    2008. Arroyo J.P., Kalácska M., Caraballo B., Trujillo J., Vargas O. Spectral expression of gender: a pilot study with two dioecious Neotropical tree species. In: Kalácska M. and Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A. (Eds) Hyperspectral Remote Sensing of Tropical and Sub-Tropical Forests, Taylor and Francis Group. pp 125-140.

    2008. Arroyo J.P., Kalácska M., Chazdon R., Civco D., Obando G., Sanchun A. Assessing recovery following selective logging of lowland tropical rainforests based on hyperspectral imagery. In: Kalácska M. and Sánchez-Azofeifa G.A. (Eds) Hyperspectral Remote Sensing of Tropical and Sub-Tropical Forests, Taylor and Francis Group. pp 193-212.

    2009: Kalacska M. Technological integration as a means of enhancing border security and reducing transnational crime. Foreign Policy for Canada's Tomorrow, No. 2. Candian International Council.

    Recent Conference Presentations

    2008. Kalacska M. and Bell L.S. Remote detection of clandestine mass graves using field spectroradiometer and airborne hyperspectral data. American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Washington, DC.

    2009. Snirer E., Kalacska M. and Parent R. Spectral analysis of Canadian currency as a potential tool for counterfeit detection. American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Washington, DC.

    2009. Arroyo-Mora J.P. Kalacska M., Chazdon R. Spectral unmixing of forest canopy recovery in selectively logged units in a tropical lowland forest, Costa Rica. XIV Brazilian Remote Sensing Symposium. Natal, Brazil.

    2009. Arroyo-Mora J.P., Kalacska M., Chazdon R. Significance of tree diameter thresholds in forest structure and species composition for sustainable forest management in Costa Rica. Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, Marburg, Germany

    2009. Arroyo-Mora J.P., Chazdon R., Kalacska M., Obando G., Aguilar L., Salas L.F. Development of a Forest Management GIS for Costa Rica, a case study for the Central Volcanic Cordillera Conservation Area: findings, recommendations and potential use in ecological research and conservation planning. XIII World Forestry Congress, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    2010. Kalacska M., Costopoulos A., Moore T., Megret F., Arroyo-Mora P. Remote detection of clandestine graves: a comparison across ecosystems. American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Seattle, WA.

    2010. Costopoulos A., Kalacska M., Moore T., Gupta N., Nielsen C., Megret F., Herzog C., Algozin S. An Interdisciplinary and Community Approach to the Identification of Clandestine Mass Graves: The McGill University - Parc Safari Project. American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Seattle, WA.

    2010. Herzog C., Kalacska M. Location of Graves Through Soil Spectroscopy: Differentiating the Reflectance of Grave Soils From Common Fertilization Treatments. American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Seattle, WA.

    2010. Kalacska M., Moore T., Allux S., Lalonde M., de Gea J. Hyperspectral characterization of plant species, plant communities and peatland at Mer Bleue. 2010 Mer Bleue workshop, Montreal, QC and Canadian Carbon Program Annual General Meeting, Montreal, QC.


    Research Associates

    Dr. J. Pablo Arroyo-Mora


    Hyperspectral characterization of peatland - Mer Bleue

    • Sarah Allux
    • Mark Lalonde (with T. Moore)
    • Julie de Gea

    Remote detection of clandestine graves - Parc Safari

    • Carrie Herzog

    Distributed computing in remote sensing

    • Jin Xing (with R. Sieber)

    Forest cover assessment

    • Zakir Jafry (with N. Ramankutty and J. Rhemtulla)


    Print Media:

    Science News Online: March 8, 2008

    SFU News Online: July 10, 2008

    Burnaby NOW: July 19, 2008

    Vancouver Sun: August 11, 2008

    Wall Street Journal: August 12, 2008

    Reuters: August 12, 2008

    Democrat and Chronicle: September 11, 2008

    Television and Radio:

    CKNW Radio 980am Vancouver, August 15, 2008 Interview: Remote sensing and border security

    CTV Canada AM, August 18, 2008. High-tech tools for border security


    Canada AM Border Security, August 18, 2008

    Interdisciplinary Research in Mathematical Computational Sciences Centre, Simon Fraser University, Interdisciplinary Colloquium - Remote Detection of Clandestine Graves, April 5, 2007


    Contact Information

    Department of Geography

    McGill University

    805 Sherbrooke Street West

    Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 2K6

    phone: (514) 398-4111 fax: (514) 398-7437

    Undergraduate Email

    Graduate Email

    Last updated 28/08/2008