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David Shean

Faculty Photo

Assistant Professor
Civil & Environmental Engineering

Adjunct Assistant Professor
Aeronautics & Astronautics

Pronouns: He/him/his


David's research involves the development and application of new methods to study dynamic Earth system components with real-world implications for water resources, sea level rise, and natural hazards. His current research uses satellite, airborne, UAV, and terrestrial remote sensing observations to understand the Earth’s cryosphere, with focus on mountain glaciers, seasonal snow, and ice sheets. Much of this work requires the development and application of automated data processing pipelines, modern data science approaches, and cloud computing to answer questions that cannot be addressed using traditional approaches. David is also interested in satellite mission operations, commercial smallsat constellations, and satellite instrument development, specifically high-resolution cameras and laser altimeters.

David’s early research involved documenting past glaciation and evidence for climate change on Mars. He went on to work for Yellowstone National Park, where he studied dynamic hydrothermal features, and then Boston University, where he performed geophysical surveys of glaciers in the Transantarctic Mountains. From 2007-2011, David worked for Malin Space Science Systems as a member of the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Context Camera (CTX) and Mars Color Imager (MARCI) science operations team. His PhD research at the University of Washington documented the evolution of ice-shelf basal melt and ice-stream dynamics in West Antarctica to better understand future ice-sheet stability.


  • Ph.D., Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington, 2016
  • Sc.M., Geology, Brown University, 2006
  • Sc.B, Brown University, Geology-Physics/Mathematics, 2004

Previous appointments

  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, 2016-2017
  • Visiting Scholar, Boston University, 2006-2007