Charles E. Olson Jr.

Professor Emeritus


PhD, University of Michigan (1969) 
MF, University of Minnesota (1953)
BS, University of Michigan (1962)


Charles E. Olson, Jr., Ph.D., professor of natural resources in the School for Environment and Sustainability, retired from active faculty status on May 31, 1999. From 1953-56, he served in the U.S. Navy as an instructor in photo interpretation, photogrammetry and radar targeting; he remained in the naval reserve until retiring in 1987 with the rank of captain.

From 1956-63, Professor Olson was a faculty member at the University of Illinois. He returned to the University of Michigan in 1964 as a lecturer and research associate with a joint appointment in the School for Environment and Sustainability and the Infrared Physics Laboratory of the University's Willow Run Laboratories. He was promoted to associate professor in 1969 and to professor in 1973.

Professor Olson taught undergraduate and graduate courses in map and image interpretation, remote sensing of environment, and imaging radar. He has also taught courses in digital processing of remote sensor data, applications of geographic information systems, multiple-use forest management, and fire ecology. He has served the School for Environment and Sustainability as director of the Remote Sensing Laboratory since 1970; as graduate chair from 1972-74; and as dean from 1974-75.

  • FMA Photo Interpretation Award, The American Society of Photogrammetry (1965).

  • In addition, the society has honored him with three presidential citations and election as fellow (1998).

  • Named professor emeritus of natural resources


Society of American Foresters

 American Society of Photogrammetry


A registered forester in Michigan, Professor Olson has been active in the Society of American Foresters and served as chair of the Remote Sensing Working Group in 1990-91. He served as a member of the society's Remote Sensing Specialist Certification Committee from 1991-96, and as chair, Biology Panel, NAS/NRC Committee on Remote Sensing Programs for Natural Resource Surveys from 1972-77.

Professor Olson has also been a consultant and expert witness for analysis of land cover/use from historic and current aerial photographs and served as special consultant to the president of the National Academy of Sciences during the review of damage assessment resulting from defoliant spraying in Vietnam, 1972-74. The Regents salute this distinguished scholar by naming Charles E. Olson, Jr., professor emeritus of natural resources.

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