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Sandra Poppenga

Sandra Poppenga is a Geographer with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) at the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Since 2000, Sandra has worked at the USGS/EROS on a variety of geospatial research projects. She is one of the original team members of the Coastal National Elevation Database (CoNED) project and is the scientific task lead for satellite-derived bathymetry and lidar-based topographic and hydrographic research. Sandra was instrumental in developing the Elevation Derivatives for National Applications database, one of the first nationwide surface water models from high-resolution elevation source data. Sandra has advised Federal, State, and local entities on her research, which has become the catalyst for numerous lidar-based water projects. Her research has been showcased in the Journal of Coastal Research, Journal of the American Water Resources Association, Remote Sensing, International Association of Hydrological Sciences, National Academies Press Elevation Data for Floodplain Mapping, and Association of American Geographers. Sandra’s career was recently profiled in a USGS Circular, Women of the USGS Survey in STEM and Related Careers at

Professional Experience

  • 2008 to present: Geographer, U.S. Geological Survey, Earth Resources Observation and Science Center

  • 2000 - 2008: Science Analyst / Scientist, Raytheon / SAIC at the U.S. Geological Survey, Earth Resources Observation and Science Center

Education and Certifications

  • M.S., 2000, Geography, South Dakota State University, Thesis: Air Cargo Activity and Land Use Change Around Joe Foss Field, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

  • B.S., 1997, Geography, South Dakota State University

Science and Products