The Center for Geospatial Research (CGR) was created in 1985 as the Laboratory for Remote Sensing and Mapping Science (LRMS). Find below a timeline with the main events in the center’s history:

1985The Laboratory for Remote Sensing and Mapping Science is created as part of the Department of Geography at the University of Georgia. Roy Welch is appointed Director
1986LRMS releases Flight Planner, the first commercial software to be developed at The University of Georgia
1987LRMS becomes The Center for Remote Sensing and Mapping Science (CRMS)
1989CRMS in partnership with R-WEL, Inc. releases the Desktop Mapping System (DMS), one of the first PC-based softcopy photogrammetry systems
1998CRMS starts mapping the Everglades, Big Cypress and Biscayne National Parks
1998CRMS was named a NASA Center of Excellence
2003CRMS starts mapping the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM) and 17 other parks in the Southeastern United States
2005Marguerite Madden named Director of CRMS
2009CRMS was given a Special Achievement in GIS Award by ESRI
2010CRMS, Gainesville State College and PhotoScience Inc. awarded USGS-funded contract to provide high-resolution LiDAR and orthophotos of North Georgia and the Great Smoky Mountains
2012CRMS changed its name to Center for Geospatial Research (CGR) to better reflect the current mission and future goals of the Center
2016The Center for Geospatial Research (CGR) helped found the Small Satellite Research Laboratory (SSRL) at UGA


In 1989, the LRMS was elevated to the status of a Center and renamed the Center for Remote Sensing and Mapping Science (CRMS). In 1998, the CRMS was named a National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) Center of Excellence and his leadership resulted in over $5M of externally funded grants from agencies including NASA, USGS, National Science Foundation, National Park Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, along with numerous state agencies, non-profit organizations and private companies.

Dr. Welch founded and was President of R-WEL, Inc., a company that developed and marketed mapping software for small computers. Dr. Welch was President of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) in 1984 and between 1992 and 1996 he served as President of Commission IV, Mapping and Geographic Information Systems, International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS).

He is a member of the ASPRS, the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping, Association of American Geographers, British Photogrammetric Society, and Society of Sigma Xi.  He has the distinction of being a Fellow of both ASPRS (1995) and ISPRS (2010) and he received many awards throughout his career including the ASPRS 2006 SAIC/Estes Memorial Teaching Award, The University of Georgia Research Foundation 1996 Inventor of the Year Award, ASPRS Alan Gordon Memorial Award (1993) for contributions to desktop mapping with personal computers including digital photogrammetry, radargrammetry and three-dimensional terrain visualization, Sigma Xi Active Member Research Award for significant research on the cartographic applications of satellite imagery (1982), ASPRS Fairchild Photogrammetric Award for research leading to significant contributions in remote sensing, image quality assessment and digital image processing (1981) and the University of Georgia Research Foundation Creative Research Medal (1981) for remote sensing studies of land use changes in China.

Dr. Welch mentored nearly 40 doctoral and masters graduate advisees and invited many international scholars to conduct research at the CRMS. His former students and associates hold positions of leadership in several government agencies, private companies, universities and professional societies, owing much to his influence and high standards.

Professor Welch completed his B.S. degree in Geography and Biology from Carroll College, Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1961.In 1962 he conducted glacial geomorphological and ecological studies in southeast Alaska for The Ohio State University Institute of Polar Studies and from 1962 to 1964 he was a photo-analyst with the U.S. Government. He received his M.A. degree in Physical Geography from the University of Oklahoma in 1965 and his Ph.D. in photogrammetry, remote sensing and physical geography from the University of Glasgow in 1968. His doctoral research involved the development and application of aerial photographic methods for studying glacial areas in southeast Iceland and Britain. This work resulted in several publications in The Photogrammetric Record and Photogrammetric Engineering. Following his graduation, Dr. Welch worked as a Manager in the Earth Science Department and Senior Photogrammetric Engineer for the Iteck Corporation (1968 to 1969) and as a National Academy of Sciences Postdoctoral Research Associate for the National Research Council (1969-1971) evaluating factors influencing image quality of air and space photographs. He also taught photogrammetry at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Graduate School. In 1971, he joined the faculty of The University of Georgia (UGA) Department of Geography where he was responsible for undergraduate and graduate courses in field methods, photo-interpretation, photogrammetry, remote sensing and geographic information systems. He reached the highest faculty rank of Distinguished Research Professor in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Science and retired in 2003 as Emeritus Distinguished Research Professor.