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SLU, NGA Sign Agreement to Partner on Geospatial Research Projects

by Carrie Bebermeyer on 01/09/2019
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Carrie Bebermeyer
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Saint Louis University has signed a Collaborative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA), establishing a new relationship that will allow SLU to collaborate with the NGA on geospatial research, training, and innovation initiatives. 

 Vasit Sagan, Ph.D.

 Vasit Sagan, Ph.D., associate professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, teaches Geographic Information System  (GIS), Remote Sensing and Geospatial Methods in Environmental Studies, among other courses at SLU. These advanced geospatial skills increasingly are in demand in the workforce. 

CRADAs are formal agreements that allow federal agencies and partner organizations to optimize their resources, share technical expertise, enhance workforce development and to leverage the national industrial base and innovation communities.

As a part of SLU’s agreement with the NGA, the University will provide the agency with subject matter expertise, test support and technical assistance in emerging research areas, such as unmanned aircraft systems and predictors of regional conflict and instability. SLU also will provide geospatial training and professional development.

“Because of SLU’s diverse geospatial research and training portfolio, we are well positioned to support the NGA’s work,” said Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., president of Saint Louis University. “Our expertise is an asset for the agency as well as the region, and I am pleased that we will be able to partner with the NGA on their vital work.

The agreement follows the NGA’s recent decision to invest in a new $1.7 billion campus north of downtown St. Louis, keeping its western headquarters in the city. 

The federal government’s decision to expand the agency’s presence in the city positions St. Louis as a regional powerhouse in geospatial expertise, benefiting from a vibrant innovation community, including Cortex and T-Rex, a robust geospatial industry base, including Ameren, Monsanto, Boeing, Ball Aerospace, OGSystems and Harris Corp, and local civic-minded investment organizations such as Arch-to-Park.

“With the agency’s decision to invest in NGA West in St. Louis, the region is destined to become a geospatial research and training hub,” Pestello said. 

“We look forward to collaborating with the NGA and with our industry partners in developing and applying the next generation of geospatial technologies here in St. Louis,” said Ken Olliff, vice president for research at SLU. “SLU’s outstanding researchers are using geospatial tools to tackle a host of real-world challenges – from predicting crime and health disparities in urban environments, natural disasters and storm preparedness, and conflict and social instability globally.”

The recent agreement is a key milestone supporting Saint Louis University’s commitment to build on current strengths in geospatial science through a new initiative called GeoSLU.


With its GeoSLU initiative, SLU seeks to leverage existing nationally and internationally recognized geospatial expertise at the University to create the leading center for geospatial research, training, and innovation in St. Louis.

GeoSLU aims to leverage and coordinate current geospatial capabilities in:

In addition, GeoSLU seeks to build the local geospatial workforce. Geospatial science and technology research is a multibillion-dollar industry, and those with advanced geospatial skills increasingly are in demand in the workforce. 

GeoSLU is actively engaged in community outreach, and an April 2019 conference co-sponsored by SLU and the NGA will bring together government, academic and industry partners who are growing the geospatial enterprise in the St. Louis region. 

Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic institutions. Rooted in Jesuit values and its pioneering history as the first university west of the Mississippi River, SLU offers nearly 13,000 students a rigorous, transformative education of the whole person. At the core of the University’s diverse community of scholars is SLU’s service-focused mission, which challenges and prepares students to make the world a better, more just place. For more information, visit

Approved for public release, 19-198