Distinguished Researcher, Universitat de Valencia & Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Maryland
Dr. Franch is part of the University of Maryland Harvest Hub, providing research support for Harvest activities. She's also the co-lead of the Crop Yield Estimates working group and is a member of the GEOGLAM Executive Committee. Her areas of research include:
Belen Franch Gras (Valencia, 1984) received her Cum Laude PhD in Physics on April 2013 by the Department Física de la Terra i Termodinàmica of the Universitat de València. From 2013 to 2019 she worked as Associate Research Professor at the University of Maryland and as an associate researcher at NASA. Since 2019 she works at the Universitat de València as a distinguished researcher and at the University of Maryland as Adjunct Associate Professor.
Her main research is focused on the use of remote sensing satellite images to analyze the Earth's surface. On the one hand, Belen works on the estimation and analysis of surface albedo, an essential parameter in climate models since it controls the radiative balance, that is, how much heat a surface absorbs or reflects. During her PhD, Belen developed a model that allows the estimation of this parameter on a daily basis and reducing its uncertainty. Currently, her work focuses on adapting this model to medium to high spatial resolution sensors to improve water balance estimates and correct directional effects.
On the other hand, Belen works on estimating the production of the main cereals exported internationally before being harvested. The main objective is to provide early, transparent, objective and quantitative information on the status of these cereals in the main exporting countries. Currently, Belen co-leads the crop yield estimates working group within NASA Harvest. In addition, since 2019 she is a member of the Executive Committee of the Group on Earth Observations Global Agriculture Monitoring (GEOGLAM) initiative.
In 2018 Belen Franch was awarded by NASA with the Early career achievement medal of honor for her exceptional contribution in the field of remote sensing and her contribution to a better understanding of the Earth system and its agricultural resources. Additionally, in 2019 she received the NASA Goddard Exceptional Achievement for Science award as a member of the Land Long Term Data Record Team.
In December 2018, she obtained the highest score of the senior category in the Generació Talent program of the Generalitat Valenciana.