Faculty Spotlight – Dr. Raechel Portelli

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Dr. Raechel Portelli, Teaching Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science at Illinois received her Ph.D. in 2014 from Pennsylvania State University where she conducted research on human-machine cooperation in land use and land cover change from earth observation imagery. This research was inspired by her previous research in applied remote sensing of forest environments at the University of Idaho. Her research has touched on various facets of Geographic Information Science, and her favorite topic to explore is the human stories behind geospatial technology development during the twentieth century. She has amassed an impressive collection of historical training documents and texts on aerial photography.

Dr. Portelli shares that “my teaching philosophy is that learning must balance both technical skills and conceptual understanding, especially in technology courses.  To do this, learning assessments must assess both coding competence and understanding of the spatial concepts that these analytical workflows model. Proper use of computational algorithms has far-reaching implications, and it is necessary for students to compute mindfully.”

Dr. Portelli teaches courses for both residential and online graduate program students. She wants students to know that “As a former non-traditional student, I am well aware that adult learners face a number of challenges.  Transitioning to fully online learning experiences can add another dimension to these difficulties. For these reasons, I can best help students meet their expectations by developing courses that build a course community, allow for flexibility, and provide clear expectations for them.”

If you would like to read another interview with Dr. Portelli to learn more please visit:

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