Dr. Nakalembe is an Associate Research Professor at the University of Maryland, the Africa Program Director under NASA Harvest, and a member of the NASA SERVIR Applied Sciences Team on which she serves as the Agriculture and Food Security Thematic Lead. Catherine has broad research interests and leads projects focusing on the development methods and applications of satellite remote sensing and machine learning to agriculture and food security, land use and land-use change mapping, humanitarian mapping, and climate change, and supports several capacity-building in the use of remote sensing for agriculture monitoring and research.


She was the 2020 Africa Food Prize Laureate for her dedication to improving the lives of smallholder farmers by using satellite technology to harness data to guide agricultural decision-making. Her efforts have also promoted the formulation of policies and programs that are directly impacting farmers against the impacts of food failure. Dr. Nakalembe was a 2020 UMD Research Excellence Honoree and in 2019 was a recipient of the Inaugural GEO Individual Excellence Award. She was featured in the 2020 Women and GIS, Volume 2:  Stars of Spatial Science ESRI Press book. Her work led to the development and establishment of food security and crop monitoring bulletins that integrate satellite data including the Tanzania National Food Security Bulletin, the Uganda National Integrated Early Warning Bulletin, Kenya, Rwanda Crop Monitor reports, and the Eastern Africa Crop Monitor as well as designing the trigger mechanism of the disaster risk financing program in Uganda that supported over 300,000 households in the Karamoja region as part of her Ph.D. research. Born and raised in Kampala, Uganda, and has a Bs. in Environmental Sciences from Makerere University, a Master of Science in Geography and Environmental Engineering from The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore Maryland, and a Ph.D. in Geographical Sciences from the University of Maryland, College Park



  • Degree Type
    Degree Details
    Geographical Sciences, Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland College Park
  • Degree Type
    Degree Details
    Geography and Environmental Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Degree Type
    Degree Details
    Environmental Sciences, Makerere University, Kampala
4321 Hartwick Building, Suite 410, College Park MD, 20742
Department of Geographical Sciences
cnakalem [at] umd.edu