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Personal profile

Personal profile

Chris Hecker has an MSc degree in Earth Sciences from the University of Basel, Switzerland (1999) and a PhD degree in Remote Sensing of Earth Resources from the University of Twente, The Netherlands (2012).

From 2000 to 2001 he worked at the Belize Audubon Society, where he implemented and managed a small GIS and Remote Sensing unit to support sustainable decision making of tropical natural resources. In 2001 Chris joined the then International Institute for Aerospace Survey and Earth Sciences (ITC), where he combined his background in earth sciences with remote sensing and GIS. In 2003 he joined ITC’s department of Earth Systems Analysis, teaching MSc level courses in various topics of remote sensing for earth resources exploration.

In 2012 Chris defended his PhD thesis (“with distinction”) on thermal infrared spectroscopy of feldspars. From 2014 to 2019, Chris was an Assistant Professor in Geological Remote Sensing. Since 2019 he is an Associate Professor (with Tenure Track)in Thermal Infrared Sensing, focusing on thermal remote sensing of earth resources, such as geothermal systems and critical raw materials (e.g. gold, REEs).

Prizes and awards

  • PhD awarded “with distinction”, November 2012 (top 5-10%).
  • Best PhD thesis nominee for Overijssel PhD award 2013 (top 3-5% per year nominated).
  • University of Twente Graduation Award, August 2015 (with MSc student Babatunde Fagbohun 2013-2015)
  • NASA Science Team membership ECOSTRESS (2019-2022)


In his work Chris teaches geological remote sensing topics in the MSc spezialization Applied Remote Sensing for Earth Sciences, and tailor-made courses in Enschede and abroad. His educational involvements are related to the following topics:

  • Teaching advanced remote sensing topics (thermal IR, hyperspectral, laboratory spectroscopy).
  • Coordination of the faculty-wide learning line on Academic Skills for Masters of Science students.
  • Support and supervision of Doctoral (PhD) and Masters of Science (MSc) field work and research theses.
  • Contact person for the thermal infrared spectral laboratory facilities, including the laboratory (Bruker Vertex) and field (MIDAC) thermal FTIR spectrometers and the thermal infrared cameras (various models of FLIR).

Research interests

Chris focuses his research on the mineralogy of hydrothermal and geothermal alteration systems to facilitate the exploration of mineral deposits and renewable energy sources. To study these systems, he applies laboratory, field and imaging spectroscopy in the thermal infrared. He uses these techniques for predictions of mineral compositions and to study spatial distributions of minerals in the landscape at different scales (from thinsection to outcrop). He is currently working on understanding the behaviour of minerals in thermal infrared core scanners, to better quantify the mineral compositions in drill core of geothermal and mineral systems; and to improve the assessment of the exploration potential for these systems.

Chris is the initiator and founder of the thermal infrared spectroscopic facilities at ITC. As an expert in TIR spectroscopy, he often collaborates with researchers from other domains, such as vegetation studies, egg-shell emissivity, as well as TIR spectral laboratories across the globe.

Chris has a current (2016dec) Hirsch-Index of 13 (Web of Science) and 18 (Google Scholar). He has an expansive international network and publishes with top international researchers in the field of Remote Sensing.

Other academic activities of Chris include:

  • Founder and Chair of the European Special Interest Group on Thermal Remote Sensing, which is a subgroup of the European Association of Remote Sensing Laboratories (

  • Member Editorial Board European Association of Remote Sensing Laboratories (EARSeL) Journal.

  • Reviewer for numerous journals, such as, Int J Remote Sens, Int J Appl Earth Obs, Geosphere, Appl Geophys, Rem Sens.


Chris has been active in research and concultancy projects for mineral and geothermal exploration.

At present he is NASA Science and Application Team member (2019-2022) for the ECOSTRESS sensor and the PI for the ECOSTRESS project (2019-). In this project he investigates a novel approach to detect geothermal surface temperature anomalies through multi-temporal observations from Space Station-based thermal infrared imaging.

He is furthermore project leader of the KenGen project (2019-2021), a Public-Private-Partnership collaboration project with KenGen, the national electricity producing company of Kenya with a large geothermal segment in their portfolio. In the current agreement (3 years; renewable) the University of Twente collaborates with KenGen on a scientific basis and at the same time develop their internal capacity further through shortcourses as well as PhD and MSc students. Research activities include the installation (July 2019) of thermal and geophysical monitoring equipment in a “Living Laboratory” in Olkaria, which monitors the activity of the “geothermal motor” during the commercial exploitation of the field.

In the past Chris has been deputy project leader of the GEOCAP project (2014-2019; 5.7MEur) The Geothermal Capacity Development programme Indonesia – Netherlands, was a 5 year programme that was subsidized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It was a multi- workpackage public-private-partnerships with multiple companies, knowledge institutes and Universities in both countries. Chris was also work package leader for the WPs “Modern exploration methods” as well as “Data Dissemination”. As part of the project he organized multiple shortcourses on Advanced Remote Sensing for Geothermal Exploration with Universities in Bandung (ITB) and Yogyakarta (UGM). He also organized a pilot project with combined airborne LiDAR and thermal infrared survey data over a geothermal prospect area on Flores, Indonesia.

He was PI for the Montelago project(2013; 4 k€): An Industry research grant to develop remote sensing thermal anomaly mapping techniques specific to a geothermal prospect in the Philippines. It was based on satellite-based thermal anomaly detection in and around a geothermal prospect in the Philippines. 

He was PI for the Warmtekaart project (2011; 35k€): A Government research grant to develop remote sensing algorithms to detect thermal heat signatures of industrial sources. Funded by AgentschapNL, Energy and Climate, Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Chris has contributed to many other projects, such as (a selection):

  • EP-NUFFIC NICHE Tanzania-Netherlands Energy Project.
  • EU Asialink project BRIDGE Building Human Resources In the Development of Academic Programmes in Sustainable Geosystem Exploration and Engineering with partners in Thailand (AIT), Laos (National University of Laos), Vietnam (Vietnam National University) and Sweden (Stockholm University).
  • San Alberto (2012; 20 k€): Geothermal consultancy. Industry research grant to develop remote sensing thermal anomaly mapping techniques specific to a geothermal prospect in Chile.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land


  • QE Geology


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