Dr. Raechel Portelli

Raechel A. Portelli
  • Assistant Professor
  • Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences
  • Geography Building
  • 673 Auditorium Road, Room 234
  • East Lansing, MI 48824
  • 517-353-0308


Geographic Information Science


Dr. Portelli has a Ph.D. in Geography from Pennsylvania State University (2014). An MS degree in Physical Geography (2010) and two B.S. degrees (2009), one in Social Environmental Science and one in Physical Geography. She began her appointment here at Michigan State University in 2014.


Dr. Portelli’s research examines the development of computational methods of emulating human image interpretation using Geographic Object-Based Image Analysis (GEOBIA) and machine learning. Her current research examines the linkages between ground-based imaging techniques, Unmanned Aerial Systems, and plant community dynamics in grazed and disturbed landscapes.

Her prior research has addressed geologic applications of high-resolution remote sensing imagery for understanding coastal, forestry, and planetary geology processes. Her dedication to the remote sensing discipline led her to study historical trends in knowledge diffusion in air photo training texts during the early twentieth century and their survivability through the latter part of the twentieth century as disciplinary focus shifted towards machine-based image analysis.


She is a former McNair Scholar and first-generation college student. She attempts to support students with similar backgrounds through her outreach work and inclusion in her research. She is currently not taking on new students for Fall 2020.


Dr. Portelli teaches a hodgepodge of courses here at MSU. Her favorite classes to teach are Geographic Object-Based Image Analysis and History and Philosophy of Geography. She also oversees and instructs the two cartography courses at MSU, Map Design and Thematic Mapping. She is currently developing a course on the history of women in remote sensing that will be taught in the near future.