Dr. Goward joined the department faculty in 1982 as the first Research Scientist in BSOS. He was trained as a geographer at Boston University (BA and MA) and Indiana State University (PhD). From 1978 to 1982 he was a post-doctoral researcher and instructor at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University, Geography Department in New York City. In 1985 he joined the UMD Geography tenure-track faculty member and guided development of the department emphasis on land remote sensing, including recruitment of John Townshend as Dept. Chair. In 1992, Dr. Goward was promoted to Professor and from 1995 to 2001, he served as Dept. Chair. During this time, he supported the rapid development of funded research activities and reformation of the academic program. He continued an active teaching and research career within the department until 2015 when he retired from the University of Maryland. He continues today as Professor Emeritus keeping an eye on the department and discipline.

Throughout his career Dr. Goward has been actively involved in land remote sensing.  While at Indiana State University, he participated in the interchange between Geography and the Laboratory for Applications of Remote Sensing, Purdue University.  At Columbia University/NASA GISS his primary research focus was the NASA AgRISTARS program within which he explored new Landsat Thematic Mapper capabilities. After moving to Maryland, he continued collaboration with NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center, Earth Resources Branch (now Biospheric Sciences). Primary research foci during this time included was exploitation of the NOAA AVHRR observations, as a member of NASA GIMMS group, and vegetation field spectral measurements. From the mid-1990s, in association with UMD and NASA colleagues, he innovated high volume Landsat data processing for time series studies. They applied this knowledge to evaluate national forest disturbance patterns across the North American continent, as a core project of the inter-agency North American Carbon Program.

In 1985, he spent one year at NASA Headquarters managing the Earth Resources Hydrology and Remote Sensing Science programs. In 1992, Dr. Goward was selected to serve as Landsat Science Team leader.  He also served as co-chair of the federal advisory committee for the USGS National Satellite Land Remote Sensing Data Archive. In recognition of his long-standing commitment to land observations and the Landsat mission, Dr. Goward received the USGS John Wesley Powell award (2006), the USGS/NASA William T. Pecora award (2008) and the ASPRS SAIC Estes Teaching award (2008).  In 2017, Dr. Goward was recognized as an outstanding alumni of the Indiana State University Graduate Program. Also in 2017, after over 15 years of effort, he and his NASA colleagues completed Landsat’s Enduring Legacy, documenting the first 50 years of the NASA Landsat Program.

Areas of Interest

  • Land Remote Sensing
  • Biophysics
  • Global Change


  • Degree Type
    Degree Details
    Geography, Boston University, 1967
  • Degree Type
    Degree Details
    Geography, Boston University, 1974
  • Degree Type
    Degree Details
    Physical Geography, Indiana State University, 1979
Teaching Philosophy
An empiricist at heart, Dr. Goward is captured by the beauty and complexity of land observations. In exploring the links between the Earth's environment and satellite observations he has found simplicity and elegance in Earth systems

Former Students

Samuel N. Goward
1115 LeFrak Hall
Department of Geographical Sciences
sgoward [at] umd.edu